2019 New Year Goals and Resolutions

2019 New Year Goals and ResolutionsHey Everyone! The first week of 2019 is already over, did you make some New Year Resolutions? I love the New Year because we can start off with a clean slate and forget about last year. Actually, I did pretty well in 2018 and accomplished most of my goals. I only missed a few and I’m okay with that.

This year, I’m going to keep it simple and have fewer goals. I’ll keep them under 10. Read on to see what an early retiree’s New Year goals look like.

Setting goals

In previous years, I had moderate expectations and set goals accordingly. This worked well because I was able to accomplish most of the things on my list. I find that setting high expectations doesn’t work for me because I can’t achieve them and then I become discouraged. My style is to go at a slow and steady pace. Shooting for the moon is probably better for younger folks, though.

Here is my approach to setting New Year Goals.

  • Set achievable goals – Don’t shoot for the moon unless you have a sterling record of high achievement. Most of us will just become discouraged and give up.
  • Make the goals specific and measurable – New Year goals need to be very specific. Don’t make vague goals like losing weight or saving more. You can’t keep track of it and you’ll forget about them by March. A better goal would be to lose 10 pounds or maxing out your 401(k)this year. You also need to figure out a way to get there. How will you lose 10 lbs? Will you increase your 401(k) contribution right away? You need a plan.
  • Write them down and track your progress– Write down your goals and put them where you will see them. The refrigerator door is a good spot for many people. Personally, I put my goals here on Retire by 40 and update the status every month. This has been working very well over the last 8 years. I have a public audience and you give me the motivation to improve. I made tremendous progress with our finances and personal life since I started blogging. It’s been terrific. I recommend starting a blog if you don’t already have one. It really helped me and it might help you, too.
  • Academic scale – On some goals, I’m grading myself on the academic scale. For example, I plan to save and invest $100,000 in 2019. Even if we fall short and saved $90,000, I’ll get an A-. That’s not bad.

Ok, let’s get on to the goal sheet.

2019 Goals

Check out my goal sheet below. It’s simple and helpful. I can see my progress at a glance and it’s easy to update every month.

2019 Goal Sheet

I try to schedule most goals in the first half of the year because I usually don’t get much done in the 2nd half. Summer is always tough because RB40Jr will be out of school. I’ll try to get 3-4 things done by June. I plan to visit Chiang Mai in July and it’ll be tough to accomplish much then.

Financial Goals

Increase our Passive Income > $60,000

We spent about $60,000 in 2018. That’s a bit higher than I’d like, but it’s still a pretty good level. In 2019, I’ll try to increase our Passive Income above $60,000. This is going to be somewhat tricky because there are a lot of changes in 2019.

  • We’ll sell our rental properties so our rental income will disappear in early 2019. I’ll use the money to invest in dividend stock and real estate crowdfunding. I’m not sure if the income from these two will be able to replace the rental income. We’ll have to wait and see.

Here is our Passive Income spreadsheet.

2019 Passive Income

I’ll grade this on an academic scale because there are too many changes in 2019. I think everything will settle down in 2020 and it’ll be easier to predict what our passive income will look like. It might take a couple of years to push our passive income above $60,000.

FI Ratio > 100%

Unfortunately, we took a step back in 2019. Our expense was higher than normal and our FI Ratio* dropped to 95%. That’s not bad, but I need to get this to 100% before Mrs. RB40 retires. There are many changes in 2019 so I’m not sure if we’ll achieve this goal. I think our expense will drop after we move, but I’m not sure. Hopefully, we can increase our Passive Income to $60,000 and reduce our annual expense at the same time. That’s a tall order, though. You can see how I’m doing with passive income so far here.

*FI Ratio = passive income / expense

Save and Invest > $100,000

In 2018, we saved and invested $102,817! That was fantastic! However, the primary reason why we could save that much was due to a banner year with my blog income. I saved a ton in my solo 401k account last year, over $40,000. I seriously doubt I we could replicate it this year.

The starting points for saving and investing have always been our tax-advantaged accounts. The contribution limits have all increased for 2019. Here is what we plan to save.

  • $38,000 in our 401k accounts. That’s $19,000 each.
  • $12,000 in our Roth IRAs. That’s $6,000 each.
  • $4,000 in RB40Jr’s 529 college savings account.
  • $11,000 as employer contributions in my solo 401k. This one depends on how much money the blog makes in 2019.

Add these up and it’s already $65,000. That’s a good starting point. We’ll have to figure out how to save more as we go. Oh, I almost forgot. We should receive some money from selling our rentals. We could invest that and it will help push us over $100,000. Is that cheating?

Blog Goal

Update Retire by 40

Retire by 40 still needs a facelift. In 2018, I changed to https, got a new logo, and made a few minor updates. This year, I’ll hire someone to install a new theme. Hopefully, it will work out. I’m always scared of hiring people because I rarely get the result I want.

Personal Goals

Travel Hack 100,000 points

This is the same goal I had last year. I paid less than $700 for 3 tickets to Thailand in December. The credit card points helped a lot. Accumulating credit card points is not too difficult for me because I have to pay estimated tax. Those tax payments were enough to push me over most credit card signup requirements. We’ll travel to Thailand again in 2019 so the credit card points will come in handy again.

***I just signed up for the Capital One Savor and got $500 cash bonus. Sign up before the bonus expires if you want the same deal. Click through the banner below to find the right card for you.

Consolidate down to 1 property

We’re planning to sell our 2 condos then move into our rental home. This will simplify our lives a lot. Our tenants are moving out in February so everything is lining up. I hope we can sell our condos quickly and then move. We lived at our condo for 11 years and we really enjoyed it. However, the HOA fee and property tax had increased considerably. It’s time to move on. I’m pretty sure our housing cost will be lower after we move into a house. Mrs. RB40 also doesn’t want to be a landlord. She was very disgruntled when I left her to handle the tenants on this 5 weeks trip to Thailand.

Drop weight to 125 pounds

I rarely make this kind of goal because it never worked before. However, I think I can do it this year. Last year, I got my weight down to 128 pounds. That’s really good! The key was intermittent fasting* and regular exercise. However, I’m probably up to 13x pounds now. I’m eating a ton of food in Thailand. My relatives keep pressuring us to eat more. It’s a way to show affection here. Also, Thai food is so cheap and delicious. Who can resist? We don’t get this kind of Thai food in the US. I’ll weigh myself when I get home and then work on getting down to 125 pounds before summer.

*Here is how I do intermittent fasting. I eat only from noon until 8 pm on the weekdays. This cut down on the calories and I don’t miss breakfast much. I’m busy getting RB40Jr off to school on the weekdays anyway. Try intermittent fasting if you want to lose weight. It really works. If you can’t do it by yourself, I recommend Martin’s Fasting Course. He calls it – What’s for dinner? How you can get jacked by fasting. He’s pretty helpful for a wrestler/blogger.

Fun Goals

Keep my happiness level at 8 or above

This one is a tricky one. The 2nd half of 2018 was tough for our family because my mom was diagnosed with dementia. She had hallucinations and she was having a really hard time in Portland. The situation was stressful and it dropped my happiness level from 9 to 8. We decided to move my mom back to Thailand and it’s been very successful so far. She is much happier here and her symptoms are greatly reduced. She rarely gets hallucinations anymore and that makes a huge difference.  Life in Portland should be less stressful once we get back. Hopefully, I can raise my happiness level back to 9 this year. It should be okay as long as there are no new problems. (Why are there so many problems in our 40s? Lots of my friends are having all sort of issues. It’s a tough decade.)

Visit Chiang Mai for 6-10 weeks

I’m typing this post in a nice little coffee shop in Chiang Mai. It’s pretty nice here for digital nomads. Chiang Mai changed a lot over the last 10 years. Now, there are nice gyms, coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and all sort of nice places for everyone to enjoy. I wouldn’t mind living here for a few years. However, Mrs. RB40 and Junior aren’t ready to move yet so I’ll have to put it off until later.

Chiang Mai coffee shop

I’ll come back in the summer to check on my mom and see how she’s doing. Hopefully, she will be stable for a few years so we don’t need to move her again. On the next trip, I plan to have a more structured routine. I’ll get a gym membership so I can continue my exercise program. We’ll also rent a place instead of staying with my dad. I can’t get anything done with my parent around. It’ll be a good opportunity to enroll RB40Jr in a Thai language program. He can only say “sawad dee krub” and “kob khun krub” right now. (Hello and thank you.) We’ll also try to take a week off to visit Vietnam. It should be a fun trip.

So those are my goals in 2019. I’ll give a status update every month so keep checking back to see my progress.

What about you? Do you have any New Year resolutions for 2019? Remember, the key is to track your progress. If you don’t, then you’ll forget about your goals and won’t accomplish them. Also, get them done early if you can. Let’s do it!

The following two tabs change content below.
Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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47 thoughts on “2019 New Year Goals and Resolutions”

  1. Joe,

    Good stuff! Your rental income looked really strong in 2018 but I think you can achieve even better returns. Personally I would focus less on crowdfunding and more on single family rentals that you own and control. Best of luck in 2019!

  2. I’ve decided on my small set of goals for this year but I’m suddenly struck by the desire to dump my rental property. Apparently my tolerance for nonsense is extremely low right now and I just ran out of patience for it! Not at all influenced by your plans to sell off, 🙂 but I’d be interested to hear how you handle it (fees, taxes, etc) in case there’s something I can learn before I commit to selling. I’m making myself sit on this feeling just in case it’s just a feeling and not a gut instinct.

    • At this point, we need to simplify our lives. Being a landlord is just too much complication for the family. It’s okay to optimize for finance when you’re young, but now we’re focusing on simplicity. I’m not looking forward to taxes, fees, and all that other stuff. 🙁

  3. Nice goals! I hope you will be able to sell the condos at the height of the market. Everyone is talking about an economic downturn and slow housing market now. I look forward to an update about the sale ? At least, simplifying your portfolio will give you some peace of mind in the new year.

  4. Great thoughts! I think having fewer goals is great — but still 10 goals! That’s a lot. What about reducing the number of goals to 3-4, and/or dropping goals altogether?

    I was just writing on this exact topic — setting goals versus setting values. See below for an excerpt. No pressure to read, of course, but it’s directly on point with what you’re writing about and trying to reduce the number of goals on your end. https://econdad.com/focusing-on-the-daily-timescale/

    Best of luck and keep writing!!


    “To some degree, setting smart goals is effective if you want to achieve specific, measurable outcomes. In the work domain, I set goals like this all the time — hit milestone X, reach completion objective Y — the strategies are effective. But in the life domain, goal setting doesn’t resonate with me.


    Lately, I’ve been more focused on the values and the journey. The outcome isn’t as relevant as it used to be. Instead, the journey and the principles that we stand by matter more.”

  5. Hi Joe, Yes, I do. I ran a quick calculation on our 2018 finances – sort of a bit disappointed. Even though the amount we saved was more than 2017 but our savings rate was about the same as the past year. So this year, I’ll have fewer goals (rather than trying to achieve everything I have in mind). The goals I’ll be focusing for 2019 are:

    1) save up a year worth of living expenses
    2) travel hack 100,000 points (want to visit my folks in Thailand sometime soon)
    3) lose 20 lbs by end of Summer

    I love how you said about “Write them down and track your progress”. I couldn’t agree with you more on this. Since I started my personal finance blog a year ago, our finances improved tremendously. It holds us accountable. And I love it.

    On your passive income from tax advantaged accounts, how do you get/calculate the number? I mean is it from its dividends? You don’t have to share if you don’t want to. I’m just curious as I plan to pour the majority of our money into our brokerage account after we achieved goal #1 and plan to live off the dividends (?) if we decide to retire early.

    Good luck with your rental sale. The market in my town is slowing down – seller market had its peak last year. I look forward to your update about the sale 🙂

    Happy 2019 and have a success year ahead!

    • Good luck with your goals. Having fewer goals is a great way to focus.
      Yes, the passive income from tax advantaged accounts are from dividend.
      Once Mrs. RB40 retires, we can build a Roth IRA ladder and take the money out gradually.

  6. Hi Joe, that’s great you achieved most of your goals in 2018. I have not set up the 2019 resolutions yet, just set up a workout plan. It’s cool you plan to spend 6-10 weeks at Chiang Mai. Yeah, renting a place would be a great idea. After having lived with my mom for over 3 months in China, I just crave for privacy and personal space. Have a great time in Thailand!

    • I don’t mind living with my mom. She is pretty good. On the other hand, my dad is very bossy. I need my own space so I can feel like myself. Living with my dad is too oppressive. Take care. Hope you get back to the US soon.

  7. Good luck with your condo sale and the rest of your 2019 goals! I really admire your savings and investing goal of 100k, that’s an amazing target! It really should help with growing your portfolio and your passive income.

    You’ll love the coffee and food when you’re in Vietnam!!

    My goal in 2019 is to grow the blog.

    btw… reading both your’s and Bob’s weight goal makes me feel fat. Maybe I should have that on my goal list too :).


  8. Good luck w/ the condo sales! I see you don’t have as many blog goals compared to last year, any reason why? One of my goals is to weigh 70 kg/154 lbs. At 5’11”, that should be a good weight for me. 🙂

  9. Although I don’t have formal resolutions, I like your idea of raising your happiness level to an 8 or beyond. I have two thoughts about that. One is that I saw an interview with Dr. Weil on Joe Rogan and they were discussing how much exercise itself raises your happiness level. In fact, Dr. Weil said that people with depression would be better off than meds. The second thing is I found an older post from Financial Samaria about how the activity of saving itself increases your happiness level. So, I think your other goals should help.

    Also, I’m interested in seeing your results on dividend investing. I’ve done that in the past with individual stocks and as a retiree, I am interested in doing more of that. So, I’ll stay tuned.

    • Exercise, sleep, finance, eating well, family situation are all part of happiness. Let’s see how it goes this year. I’ll just control what I can control and try not to stress out on stuff I can’t. Best wishes to you in 2019.

  10. Great goals, Joe!

    Just curious what your travel hacking strategy is for this year to amass more than 100,000 points. Which cards are you eyeing?

    Also, I think your site already looks great. What are you planning to refresh? You don’t have to share if you don’t want to. But I just would like to know how a big time professional blogger thinks.

    Are you still going for 20 pull ups? 🙂

    • I haven’t checked which cards yet. I’ll need to research when I get back. No hurry right now because we don’t have a big bill until April (taxes.) Or maybe no tax payment at all this year. We’ll have to see.
      I want to clean up the menu a bit and maybe try a new theme. I like Steve’s design at Think Save Retire. Maybe something like that.
      I gave up on the 20 pull ups last year. My elbows couldn’t handle the stress.

  11. I haven’t thought too much about goals for this year. Off the top of my head:
    – Settle into new apartment in France and, in particular, make friends there.
    – Learn conversational French. This is going to be tough, I’m worse than hopeless.
    – Get back into running and cycling, as I dropped off while I travelled.
    – Think about how I may travel some more, but it will have to be differently to the 4 months travels that we did recently because my wife isn’t that keen.
    – Don’t break anything while skiing, fingers crossed.

    I’m sure there are some better things to target, but it’s a start.

    Good luck with your own targets, and enjoy the Chiang Mai coffee shops – I have very good memories of doing the same thing during our trip.

    • I’ll have to catch up with your blog when I get back. Your wife didn’t like the long trip? I’d like to read more about that. 4 months is a long time to be on the road.
      Good luck in 2019!

      • Sally was OK with the long trip, but she’d rather to the next trip a bit differently. She’d prefer to go somewhere for a month, or perhaps slightly longer, and rent a place for that time, and then do smaller trips out from that base. She wasn’t keen on us moving on every few days.

  12. Nice goals! I hope you will be able to sell the condos at the height of the market. Everyone is talking about an economic downturn and slow housing market now. I look forward to an update about the sale 😀 At least, simplifying your portfolio will give you some peace of mind in the new year.

    I have some goals for 2019 too. Climbing up the career ladder is the one thing that I’m stressed out and focused on every day. Ahh job job job!

  13. These all sound like great goals to have: there achievable, quantifiable and realistic. The financial goals all appear possible, though counting the proceeds from the rental sale might sandbag those results. Regardless, the money will be real and can be put to work to accomplish your goals. Look at the goals holistically and you are taking steps toward realizing the larger mission: being financially independent with less risk.

    This year, my goals largely relate to my blog and growing the traffic and content. I’m hoping to utilize SEO to do most of the heavy lifting, but time will tell. Let’s hope we both get what we resolve to do this year!

    • You’re right about the proceeds from the rental. 🙂 I’ll account for that separately. Maybe put it in the next paragraph when I do the update or something like that.
      Good luck in 2019. I want to grow my blog, but I have higher priorities as well.

  14. This past year has been rough on my weight as well and I have gained at least 11 lbs over the weight I like to be at (this past year I also started blogging which honestly I think contributed a lot to this weight gain as the more time I spend doing this, the less time I had for exercise).

    Hopefully can reach a good compromise and still be productive and not neglect health as much. It is hard to get back into the exercise kick after being off of it for the majority of the winter months (that plus there is a lot more food tempting you this time of year).

    Good luck with hitting your goals. Hope 2019 is kind to us all

  15. Good luck selling your rentals Joe The market for single family homes in my area was a little soft in 2018. Perhaps due to higher interest rates and change in tax laws that favor lower tax areas and renting. Not exactly sure. Hopefully you will be selling into a firm market. Tom

    • Thanks. It’s uncertain now. I’ll have to check with an agent, but it seems like the Portland market is softening up slowly too. Hopefully, the rate will stay the same until spring so we can sell it quickly.

  16. Get a new 2 year contract teaching overseas, pay off last bit of mortgage … about 80 grand … if contract comes through … will pay most of it off immediately, my brother in law has a Maybach and Bentley etc … but I may buy A Ford Edge, Subaru, or Honda SUV … etc … what kind of cars do you drive and how old?, help family … kid with school, visit Canada and maybe Europe again, read some books, church stuff , health stuff etc etc

  17. I don’t have too many goals for 2019 aside from promoting “The Joy of Being Retired: 365 Reasons Why Retirement Rocks – and Work Sucks!” so that it sells at least 5,000 to 10,000 copies in its first year.

    Of course, I have my travel plans including going to Honolulu, Phoenix, London England, Toronto (twice), Vancouver (at least 5 times), and San Diego for the Blues Cruise in October.

    How long do you intend to be in Chiang Mai? I have a friend visiting there for several months and he wants to me to come down for a week or so. But I am too busy over the next month.

    But here is the real reason I am asking,. I just had an inquiry from a financial firm in Portland about possibly making a presentation about “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” in Portland sometime in April. I made a proposal that if they purchase 500 copies of “The Joy of Being Retired: 365 Reasons Why Retirement Rocks – and Work Sucks!” at a price of $7.79 per copy plus shipping, I will do the presentation for free provided they pay all the first class expenses for airfare, two nights at a hotel, taxis, and all meals.

    If this works out and you are in Portland at that time, I can buy you dinner. I won’t cheap out either.

  18. I ate a ton of food this holiday so I need to drop a few more pounds. The key for me is going to be getting more exercise.

    That, and keep growing my dividend income. Those are my two major goals for 2019! Good luck on the condo sales Joe!

    • Good luck with both goals. I find that exercise doesn’t help me lose weight. I need to manage my intake better. Which I could do at home, but it’s really difficult on the road. Thanks!

  19. Good luck w/ the condo sales! That will be an interesting experience given the rising eventory and the 4Q2018 stock market sell=off. I wonder how much buyer enthusiasm will there be in 2019? At least mortgage rates have come down.



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