January 2017 Goals and Financial Updates

January 2017 Goals and Financial UpdatesJanuary is over! Did you have a good start in 2017? It’s been tough to get going in real life this year because the weather was so bad in Portland. We had a bunch of snow days and the whole town slowed down to a crawl for quite a while. I couldn’t go to gym much because school was canceled due to bad weather and I had to supervise RB40Jr. Hopefully February will be better with fitness.

On the other hand, things are going pretty well on the financial front. Our income was much higher than usual and our expenses were very low in January. That’s partly due to bad weather. We just hunkered down at home and didn’t go out much. We haven’t gone out to eat since we came back from Thailand in November! On that trip, we ate out every day and we just got tired of it. It’s been nice to cook and eat at home. We also didn’t want to go out much when it’s rainy and cold. Okay, let’s go over my 2017 Goals first and then see how we did with our cash flow in January.

2017 Goals

This is my goal scheduling spreadsheet. Things are getting pushed off already, that’s not good. At least, I checked off one item. You can get a quick status update from the chart and see the details below.

Jan. Goals

Financial Goals

  1. Save $50,000 in our tax advantaged account – Going well here.
  2. Dividend Income $11,500 – I’ll update our passive income post next week and you can see the details there.
  3. FI ratio > 78% – This is passive income/expense. Currently, our FI ratio is at 91% so far in 2017! That’s really awesome. We didn’t spend much money in January and that helped a lot.
  4. Net worth gain > VFORX – We’re about 0.5% behind the 2040 target fund. Not good so far.
  5. Move RB40Jr’s 529 plan to Vanguard – I’ll have to put this off until after we’re done with taxes.
  6. Move Mrs. RB40’s IRAs to Vanguard – I’m putting this one off, too.

Blog Goals

  1. Online income > $36,000/year – We had a very good month and we’re ahead of the curve here. You can see the detail below in the cash flow section.
  2. Redesign Retire by 40 – This one is a huge job and I’m not quite ready to start yet…
  3. Pinterest > 25,000 visits – I’m trying to grow traffic from Pinterest. The growth is slow and steady.

Personal Goals

  1. Fitness – January was a really bad month for fitness. The weather was just so bad and RB40Jr’s school was canceled a bunch of times. I averaged ~5,100 steps per day which is way below my goal of 7,000 steps/day. You can see my fitness log here if you’re interested. I’ll give myself a C- in January.
  2. Start a new site – Yes! I started a new site with a focus on fitness – Fit by 40. You can see how I started the site here – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should.
  3. Join Toastmasters – I’m putting this off until the 2nd half of the year.
  4. RB40Jr’s after school programs – I wanted to start this in February, but I’m going to delay it until March. We’ll probably sign him up for a martial art program.


  1. See the total solar eclipse – I reserved a campsite at the beach. We’re set for August.
  2. National Park – Not sure about this one year. I’ll have to reserve a campsite soon before they are all booked up.
  3. International Trip – I think we’ll visit Cancun this year. We haven’t been there yet.

Whew! I may have too many goals this year.

Net Worth

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we’ve made. For 2017, I’ll make it simple and try to beat the Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund, VFORX. Their current allocation is about 88% stocks and 12% bonds at the end of 2016. I think this is a good measuring stick and we should be able beat it.

In January, our net worth increased about 1.2%. VFORX did very well and gained 1.7%. We are a bit behind, but I’m not too worried. The year is still young. I’m sure we’ll gain on VFORX soon.

Jan. net worth

If you need help keeping track of your finances, try using Personal Capital to manage your investment accounts. We have many accounts and Personal Capital helps us see the big picture quickly. Also, I’m a huge fan of their awesome retirement calculator. You can read my review here – The Best Free Retirement Calculator.

January 2017 Cash Flow

We had a really good month in January. I think this is the best month we’ve had in years as far as finance goes. Our income streams were all on a roll and we didn’t spend much money at all.

January cash flowTake Home Income (target > $5,000)

Our take home income target is $5,000 and we came in way above that in January at $12,700! It was an extraordinary month and I’d love a few more like this in 2017.  Here are the details.

Mrs. RB40’s paycheck: $8,401. I love these 3 paycheck months!

Rental income: $1,064. Our rental income was great too. There were no maintenance calls last month so all the rent went into the bank account. We’ll need to save this for exterior painting later this year.

Online Income: $5,916. I had a great month with online income. This year I’m focusing on increasing our income so Mrs. RB40 can retire soon. I’m adding more affiliate links and focusing on writing relevant articles that will be helpful to investors.

  • Banner ads: $1,953. These are the banner ads you see on Retire by 40. Q4 is particularly good for banner ads due to the holiday season.
  • Affiliates: $3,320. These are referral fees from affiliate links. If a reader signs up for a service through our links, then we sometime earn a referral fee. You can see an example from the Starting a blog link right below.
  • Brand promotion: $800. I worked with an insurance company to promote their brand.
  • Expenses: -$157. Internet, email service, CDN, cell phone, hosting, etc…

Thank you for your support! Starting a blog is a great way to build your brand and generate some extra income.

Dividend income: $892. Dividend income was steady in January.

Interest: $20.

Crowdfunding: $126. Not bad

  • P2P lending: $65. I’m slowing getting out of P2P lending. I just don’t think they will do well when the economy turns south.
  • KickFurther: $62. I have about $2,000 invested here. Kickfurther is similar to P2P lending, but investors lend to small businesses instead of individual borrowers. The big difference here is the money will be used to fund inventory. The investors own the inventory and we can vote to liquidate the inventory if the business can’t sell it. You can find out more andreceive $5 to start through this link.
  • Realty Shares: $0. I just funded my first deal at RealtyShares. It’s a commercial property in Arizona. I started with $8,000 and I’m willing to add a little more if I see a good deal. The extra income in January came in really handy to help me fund this deal.

Pre-tax savings: -$3,649. I sent $1,500 to my solo 401k. Mrs. RB40 saved $2,085 in her retirement account.

Expense (target < $4,500)

Our monthly expense target was $4,500 per month and we did great. Portland had an unusually cold winter so we mostly stayed home and didn’t go out and spend money. We spent more on our heating bill, but everything else was way lower than usual. Our main pass time was reading and watching movies at home. All in all, we had a great month expense wise and spent just $3,183.

Housing: $2,289. This includes the mortgage, HOA, and property tax. Housing is a huge part of our monthly expense. We may have to move to a cheaper location to make an improvement in this category.

Cash Allowance: $0. We didn’t take any cash out last month. We’re almost completely out now so we’ll need to drop by the ATM this month.

Groceries: $407. This is pretty good considering we didn’t eat out at all.

Transportation: $23. This is gasoline and car maintenance. I just filled up once in January.

Pet: $0.

Kid: $30. RB40Jr goes to public school now so we don’t have to pay for childcare anymore. I love it! This $30 is for his birthday present.

Bills: $299. Electricity and insurance (auto, home, term life, and umbrella).

Healthcare/Medical: $86. Mrs. RB40 and Junior went to the dentist to get their teeth cleaned.

Entertainment: $49. Gym membership fee. Ahh… We ordered pizza once in January.

Travel, Clothing, Misc: $0. January was a quiet month.


YTD Extra Savings: $9,587

Wow! January was an awesome month. We haven’t been able to save this much since I quit working full time in 2012. Everything came together just right. This was very timely because I was wondering where I’d get the money to invest at RealtyShares. We have some cash, but I don’t want to drain our liquidity too much. Anyway, I invested $8,000 and I’ll leave the rest in our bank account for now.

Can Mrs. RB40 retire?

This is a new section I’m adding for 2017. I want to see what happens if Mrs. RB40 stop working full-time. Basically, I will remove Mrs. RB40’s income from our spreadsheet and stop contributing to our tax-advantaged accounts.

Drum roll please … so far in 2017, Mrs. RB40 could retire early! We had a really good month and it would be great if we can continue this for the rest of the year.

As of now, we’re ahead $2,686. I’m sure this will erode as our expenses increase back to the normal level. It’s a nice start, though.

January 2017 wrap up

We had one of the best financial months we’ve had in years and it felt great. This is the way to start a new year. I think February will be pretty good too. My online income should do pretty well and we don’t have any huge expenses coming up. I’m also getting better with my fitness goal. It was a rough start due to bad weather, but I’m starting to get into the groove now. Okay, on to February!

Did you have a good January? This winter has been terrible, but I guess it’s good for the pocketbook because we’ve done quite well. I’m sure my vitamin D level is dangerously low now, though.

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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57 thoughts on “January 2017 Goals and Financial Updates”

  1. Just found your site and I’m loving it! I love the detailed lists and cash flow charts. That’s something I need to start doing instead of being on autopilot with my spending and saving.

    I look forward to keeping up with these updates and digging a little deeper into your site!


  2. What a fantastic article. I really enjoyed how you presented your goals on the spreadsheet and highlighted the progress. Really easy to set up and track! Might just set up my own goal sheet taking a queue from this. Congratulations on the rocket online income as well. Great going!

  3. Great job on the expenses. Like you , we endured the Portland snow and ice and didn’t get out much. I’m very impressed with your blog income and imagine that will really help Mrs. RB40 make the decision to retire!

    I haven’t focused on affiliates and banner ads yet on our blog, aside from setting up some accounts and inserting a few links. It’s something I’ll work towards.

    We moved our taxable account from another brokerage to Vanguard in late January and are going to convert the high expense ratio funds (some of them as high as 1.2!) to low fee Vanguard ETFs. I just need to assess the tax implications.

    Great post! See you around Portland!

  4. RB40,
    excellent job setting goals and tracking your progress….and great results too! Very impressive.
    You are sure correct about the Portland weather this season….terrible, and now we’re back to non-stop rain it seems! Oh well, looking forward to the summer!

  5. What a great month! Don’t push yourself down too much about the fitness part. You’ll make out for it if you stay focus. 😉 You’ve done a very good job, keep it forward!

    My month was good too on the blog side. I did a New Year’s promotion and it paid out. Hopefully I can keep the ball rolling for the next ones to comes.



  6. Outside the bad weather January looks like it was a fantastic month for you all!!! I have to admit it was a little difficult to get back into the swing of things at work. But that’s not unusual after Christmas time for me 🙂

    I have kept up with my 2017 goals of exercising 4x a week, it also helps when it’s 70 degrees today outside of DC. Although they are calling for snow tomorrow. So we’ll see how that goes.

  7. Thanks Joe. This is a great update and boost for us to get kick started on the annual savings.
    To simplify, I was planning to have a 6 nests retirement strategy wherein each nest yielding me a monthly egg of $1000 on an average.
    1. Rental #1
    2. Rental #2
    3. Dividend Portfolio (Following your foot steps here)
    4. Dividend from “Current employer’s stock” pile-up
    5. 72t (on my 401K, Roth-IRA, Pension from current employer)
    6. P2P Lending.

    That’s 72K gross (with ~15% tax rate on a MAGI of ~50K).

    PS: My primary residence will be paid off, college funds of $100K/kid is secured for 2 kids (in 529 and in Coverdell ESA), $115K in HSA and both cars already paid off.

    Does this sound like a good startegy? Where am I missing?

  8. What a great month!!!! Mine was opposite as far as spending goes…one of the most expensive months due to a leak in the roof. I live in California and it’s been a long time since we have seen this kind of downpour. The tile roof was only 10 years old, but past the warranty time to cover the leak and the damage that it caused.
    Thanks for updating your goals, I enjoy reading your month goal updates.

    • Oh, man. I hate roofing issue. It’s unfortunate that the roof didn’t last that long. I thought it should be longer than 10 years. Sorry to hear that.

  9. RB40 –

    Pretty cool month – and the coolest part is the new site – congrats, clean layout as well, very interesting and sticking with the model you have with the name, I like it. I understand with the taxes – want to see how it all “shakes” out in the end. You’re getting there, if anything, get off your chair now and start jogging in place and walk around!!! Come on!!! I am about to do that actually after hitting submit… here we go.


  10. Great month, Joe. You’re doing awesome with your online income. I’m curious, how long have you been invested in Kickfurther? I remember you mentioned this company in a previous post. I started a small lending club experiment last summer with just $5k invested. It’s been doing well so far, but I’m not sure if I want to invest further in it. I’m curious about Kickfurther and what your results have been vs. lending club or prosper.

    • I’ve been with Kickfurther about a year. They have been a bit better than Prosper. The cycle is shorter and the returns are higher. I need to go over the book to see the defaults, though.
      I wouldn’t put too much money there. They probably won’t do so great when the economy turns south either. P2P lending is okay, but it was a bit more work than I thought. ROI would plummet for both when we have a recession.

  11. Awesome month, you guys are killing it! That’s funny you are having such a bad winter, because this has been mildest winter in a long time here in CT. We had been getting used to storms dropping 3ft of snow on a regular basis, but this year I hardly even had to shovel. Temps are way higher than usual as well. Last week I even went mountain biking it was so nice 🙂

    • Our winter is usually pretty mild, but rainy. This year is a lot colder than usual so far. I’m really looking forward to nicer weather.

  12. Fantastic savings month! I think I’ve seen a theme where fitness is always a goal for the year. Ironic work actually makes that possible for me because I’ve ingrained the habit that I just drive to the gym everyday at the same time. Wonder if you have anyway you can build that structure into your schedule with your financial freedom?

    • Yes, it was much easier for me to workout when I was working. I just went to the gym at lunch everyday. It’s a lot more difficult now because we have a kid. The best I can do is to go to the gym whenever he goes to school. It’s working out pretty well actually.

  13. What a month!
    January was great for us because we were finally able to sell our diesel VW back. It had been a weight around our necks for months and was causing some liquidity problems. We are in a much better position now that the car is gone and the cash is here.

  14. You guys are doing fantastic, congratulations! I’m also in the process of deciding how valuable sharing this type of information might be for readers, I’ll be taking a poll tomorrow to find out. I’m amazed by how successful your banner ads are, sounds like you’ve got great traffic. Keep up this way and you’ll definitely have an extra author to help out (hint Mrs. RB40)!

    • I’ll drop by to see the result! The banner ads were really awesome in December. It’s a bit slower in January, but still better than the previous adnetwork. We use AdThrive and MyFinance. I’d love some help with the site. Someday…

  15. Nice job making the big bucks online in January Joe! Have you been able to quantify whether doing these monthly income reports have helped you earn more? For example, how popular are these types of posts by traffic count and do you see more conversions from these types of posts?

    I just can’t get myself to do these income reports due to Stealth Wealth. My belief is that mostly only bloggers will care about these income reports, which is a powerful group, but not my core audience by far (<5% of readers).

    Love to hear your thoughts.



    • The monthly report has been good for me. I usually get a few conversions from these posts. However, this is the first time I put the online income report here. I think I might need to do another post separately for online income. There are just too many links in one post.
      The online income posts work really well for some people. Making Sense of Cents for example. She is converting a ton of people.

  16. What a great month on the money front! We have had a lot of snow and really cold weather here as well. I kind of like it though. It gives me a good reason to stay home and get stuff done. I made some really good progress on finishing our master bath!

    • Mrs. RB40 feels the same way. She’d rather be home puttering around than go out. I don’t bother her much in the winter, but I make them go out in the summer. 😀

  17. Joe, I just finished my “Top Ten List” things that I will focus on in the near term. One highlight will be a trip to Kenya where we will take a hot air balloon ride over the game preserves. A big focus will be on my health I want to get it back in time for my trip. I joined a swimming class and have gone three times in a row, have not missed a class yet. . My new motto is just show up and while it is hard work I know it will pay off in the years ahead.
    I joined Toastmasters a couple of years ago and highly recommend it. I was petrified about speaking in front of people but have finally broken through that barrier which was a big deal for me. Joe my advice to you is start now and you will be happy that you did. Best of luck hitting all your goals!


    • Your trip sounds really good. Great job with your fitness. You just need to put it into your schedule. Just showing up is 99% of the battle in fitness. Once you show up, you have to exercise. 🙂
      I’m looking forward to Toastmasters. Mrs. RB40 enjoys it.

  18. We all fall off the wagon at some point. I’ve been bad about my own fitness goals too. Oops! Congrats on starting the new site! I know how much work it is to manage only one site so I can’t imagine running multiples. Oy. But those numbers are looking fantastic! It’s great to see Mrs. RB40 could retire early. 🙂

    • Thanks! The new site is low maintenance. I just post once per week and that’s about it. I’m going to try the redesign there first so I don’t screw up Retire by 40. 🙂

  19. Joe,

    You are crushing it on the income front (online and dividend). Your expenses are low too. If you can keep it up, both you and Mrs RB40 will be able to retire on those two income streams alone (and know you have the rental property and the retirement accounts also)

    Good luck in your FI journey!


  20. Awesome goals! It’s amazing how great you guys already do with you not “working” – I’m always in awe!

    Just out of curiosity, what are the driving factors for moving moving RB40Jr’s 529 plan to Vanguard?

    — Jim

    • Can I step in here for a moment? Joe is probably still sleeping anyway, ha,ha.
      Vanguard has some of the lowest fees in the business.
      Go to their site and start w/college saving. They guide you through everything you need to know. There are about 4 options for college savings. See all the pros and cons.
      I never did the 529. My accountant told me they are too expensive. But I did the others-put money into several pots. Then we pulled $ out as we needed it-tuition payment time.
      Even a safe money market account, for $ needed asap.
      I will say this- Vanguard’s S&P 500 paid for the kids 4 yrs. of college (worst case scenario costs) more than 5 years before it was needed. All money earmarked for college should be moved to safe accounts 5 years before they start college.

      • I was getting the kid ready to go to school. 🙂
        Yes, the main motivation is the low fees. The fees in the Oregon plan range from 0.3% to 0.7%. That’s much higher than Vanguard’s plan. We have $55,000 in the 529 so the fees are starting to make a difference.
        I’m moving the current balance to Vanguard and then starting another Oregon plan to get the tax deduction. Best of both world.

        • Thanks, guys – good info! Of course, that made me want to look at the 529 for our daughter. We only have around $10k in it and I have it through the state plan because of the tax deduction (the fees aren’t bad). According to the savingforcollege.com website, the fees for our state plan are 0.20% – 0.65%, and Vanguard’s are 0.17% – 0.45%.

          I’m going to have to actually dig into both sites to see if that’s accurate. You’ve peaked my interest on this one! 🙂

          — Jim

          • I looked more into it yesterday and you need to check if your state will recapture the tax deduction. I had conflicting information from different sources so I’m not sure what to do now. I might just try rolling over $3,000 this year and see how it goes.

  21. Solid month all around Joe!

    We have had the opposite happen in January, long out of town weekends and baby perp are increasing our spending – hopefully we can start trickling back to normal.

  22. Suggestion for your goals worksheet. Add a column to show the anticipated percentage, and another to show how your actual compares to the anticipated (budget). This will give you a quick visual tool to gauge your progress. Could prove to be quite exciting!

  23. A solid start to the year indeed, great work Joe! And now that your fitness goal is back on track, you can forget about the poor start. I look forward to checking out the new fitness site! A logical new choice for a site. Now that you’ve successfully retired by 40, you have more time to devote toward fitness. Thanks for the update.

    • The new site is making a big difference for me. It’s hard to go to the gym when it’s rainy and cold, but I push myself more this year because I’m sharing my fitness journal. It’s really rainy today and I’m not looking forward to it at all.

  24. You had an awesome month, Joe!

    Sorry about the snow though, but hopefully that had it’s own special perks too.

    I think it’s a great idea to get out of P2P lending. It’s a bit more risky for my tastes and it might just seem safer to stick it back with the dividends if the economy is going downwards.

    • Snow is fun for a few days, but school closed 10 times so far this year. Nobody is looking forward to the make up days in the summer…

  25. Oh my! Is that a picture of Portland on your post? Whoa. Looks more like Boston.
    Just know that (usually) one sunny day can melt it all away.
    Besides, think of all the trees and crops that can really benefit. Just saw a shocking documentary on the water woes of the west. Scary.
    Sorry, I got off subject here.

    • Heh heh, that’s just a stock picture. I took some pictures, but they didn’t turn out that great. It looks similar to that. 🙂
      Water is pretty good here in Oregon. California really needed the rain so I think it’s great for them.

  26. Wow, what a fantastic January Joe! Your expenses were so low, and your income was great! Incredible! That new advertiser is really be paying off!

    Sorry to hear you guys in Portland have been snowed-in a lot. We missed most of the storms that hit you guys… except we just got a big dump of snow tonight!

    So much for our normally mild Pacific Northwest winters…

    • December was really good for the banner ads. It will come down a bit, but I see other areas picking up the slack. February should be really good as well. I don’t mind the snow that much. It’d be nice if our kid has other kids to play with, though. He wears us down after a while. Enjoy your snow. 🙂

  27. Add some Vit D to your diet whether with supplements or food, your winter has been pretty rough so far! (as reported by friends in the area.)

    Awesome month – congrats! You sure have a lot of goals going this year. In a year that feels really quite overwhelming in a state of the world sense, I’m curious to see whether it works out to be manageable in the end. I set much fewer large goals in the interest of our sanity.

    I went ahead and bit the bullet on buying more stocks with my available cash like we’d talked about, this month, so I’m looking forward to seeing those dividends. 🙂

    Our spending / income was not quite as awesome as yours but it was steady, mostly. Will work on improving income through the year.

    • This winter has been a lot colder and more snowy than usual. I can’t wait until Spring! I really need to get some vitamin D supplement and eat more vegetables.
      Thanks! January was much better than usual. I do have a lot of goals, but some of those should be pretty easy, like moving some accounts to Vanguard. If I don’t put it here, I’d just keep putting it off.
      Good luck with dividend stocks. Just keep investing.


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