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January 2019 Goals and Financial Update


January 2019 Financial UpdateJanuary 2019 is over! Did you do make any progress with your New Year goals? I know it’s early in the year, but we really need to get going. It is much more difficult to make progress once summer begins. I blame my son for that. Once school is out, he’ll be around all the time. It will be impossible for me to achieve any goals then. That’s why I try to get started early and then stay on the right track the rest of the year.

Also, it looks 2019 is going to be a tough year for us. We’re moving from our condo to a house. That’s always a debacle. It seems to be more difficult every time we move. My back isn’t getting any younger either. On the financial side, the stock market probably will be very volatile this year. January was a very good month, but I’m not optimistic about 2019. There are way too many problems going on the world. I’m just hoping our net worth stays even with inflation this year. Anything above that is gravy. Is that too much to ask?

I’ll go over my 2018 goals first and then share the details of our net worth, cash flow, and savings.

2019 Goals

Here is my goal scheduling spreadsheet. I have used this system for 2 years now and it worked really well. Try it out if you have problem keeping up with your New Year goals. The key is to update the spreadsheet once a month to check progress. That will remind you which goals need attention.

2019 goal sheet

Financial Goals

  1. Passive Income > $60,000. This one might be too ambitious. In 2018, we had $56,628 in passive income. This year we probably will have less than that. We’re consolidating our properties so the rental income will drop. I’ll use the proceeds to invest in dividend stocks and real estate crowdfunding. I’m not sure if we can generate $60,000 this year, but I’ll try.
  2. FI Ratio > 100%. This is my main goal for 2019. The FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. Once we reach 100% consistently, then we’re set. So far, our FI Ratio is 72%. That’s pretty bad. It should improve over the next few months, though.
  3. Save and invest > $100,000. Last year, we saved and invested over $102,000! That was awesome and I hope to repeat it this year. However, we probably won’t be able to do it. In 2018, my blog income was excellent. That income slowed down tremendously this year so it’s going to be tough to reach $100,000. We’ll see how it goes.

Blog Goal

  1. Update Retire by 40. I need to clean up the menu, talk to some partners, and rework a few affiliate posts/pages. This isn’t that difficult, but I have to find the time to do it. Then, I’ll hire someone to install a new theme. This kind of work isn’t fun for me so I usually put it off. I hope to get it done before summer.

Personal Goals

  1. Travel Hack 100,000 points. This is the same goal I had last year, but this year will be much more difficult. Last year, I signed up for a new credit card whenever I needed to pay estimated tax. It was easy to meet the spending requirement. This year, I’m not making as much and my estimated tax will be very small. Luckily, I just received $530 signup bonus for the Capital One Savor card. This goal got a huge boost from that deal. I’ll count $1 as 100 points.

***I just signed up for the Capital One Savor and received the $500 bonus. Sign up before the bonus expires if you want the same deal. Click through on the banner below.

  1. Consolidate down to 1 property. We are making solid progress here. Our tenants moved out on February 3rd. We’ll pack and move over the next two weeks. I’m going to talk to our realtor this week to discuss listing our condo. Our tenant at the other condo is moving out at the end of March and we’ll put that one on the market, too. I hope the condos sell quickly so we can mark this one done.
  2. Drop weight to 125 pounds. I rarely make a weight loss goal because it never worked before. However, I think I’ll be able to do it this year. I’m intermittent fasting* and exercising 5 days per week. It’s working well so far. I lost 3 pounds in January and my weight is now 130 pounds. I’m optimistic I’ll accomplish this goal by summer.

*Here is how I do intermittent fasting. I eat only from noon until 8 pm on the weekdays. This cuts 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 highly recommend Martin Dasko’s Fasting Course. It was very helpful when I first started.

Fun Goals

  1. Keep my happiness level at 8 or above. This is totally subjective. I’ll give myself a score at the end of the month and try to average about 8 this year. For January, I rate my happiness level at 7. I’ve been a bit melancholy lately. The move is stressing us out. I’m also having a tough time with RB40Jr. He’s been yelling and arguing with me a lot lately. It’s been hard to keep my temper with him. Just do what I say! Jeez! I’ll try to be calmer in February.
  2. Visit Chiang Mai for 6-10 weeks. I haven’t even started here. We’ll deal with this after we finish moving.

Net Worth (+3.9% YTD)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we’ve made. However, I’m not optimistic about 2019 at all. There are too many bad news lately. This year, I just hope we beat inflation, 2%. January was a great month for stock investors. Our net worth increased 3.9%. That’s already better than the whole 2018. It’s a long year, though. We’ll see how it goes.

Here is a graph of our investment portfolio on Personal Capital.

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

net worth 2019

2019 Passive Income ($3,894 YTD)

Here is a quick summary of our passive income. You can see all the details on my Passive Income page.

2019 passive income

Our FI ratio isn’t so good so far. Our expense was higher than usual in January. You can see the detail in the next section. The passive income looks okay for now, but there will be many changes in 2019. Next month, we’ll see a decrease in rental income because we’re moving into our rental duplex. Our housing expense will drop so it should even out, more or less. After that, we should get some cash infusion from the home sale. I’ll invest it in real estate crowdfunding and dividend stocks. These passive income streams should increase at some point. It will take time to execute. So our passive income probably will take a hit for a few months. You’ll have to follow along and see how it plays out.

2019 Cash Flow

Our cash flow was pretty good in January. Our income was in good shape. The only big issue is the blog income is lower than average. I think this is going to be the new normal so we’ll just have to get used to it.

As for the expenses, RB40Jr and I were in Thailand for half of January so that skewed a few things. We spent a bit more than usual, but that’s okay since we were traveling.

Here is the Sankey diagram for January. You can get a quick overview here and see the details below.

Jan 2019 Sankey

Gross Income (target > $12,000/month)

For 2019, our monthly gross income target is $12,000/month. I think we should be able to meet this goal almost every month. In previous years, I tracked take-home income and it was all over the place. The 401k contributions threw off the average quite often. This year, I’ll track gross income. This will be more stable. We grossed $13,094 in January, that’s quite good.

  • Mrs. RB40’s paychecks: $7,578.
  • Blog Income: $2,499. You can read more details on my Blog Income pageRB40Jr is on the payroll now as model and photographer. The income will go straight into his Roth IRA. I’m excited to see how this experiment will turn out.
  • Rental Income: $995. No issue at the rental in January. Next month, this income will be much lower. Read more at the Rental Property Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $1,294. The dividend income was great in January. See more details at my Dividend Passive Income page.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: $40. We should see more income next month. Most of my investments payout then. Read more at my Real Estate Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Interest Income: $27.
  • Misc:$661. I got $531 signup bonus from Capital One. That’s awesome. In addition, Mrs. RB40 sold a few used items and made $130.

Monthly Expenses (target < $5,000/month)

For 2018, our monthly spending budget is $5,000/month, an increase of $200 from 2018. We’re moving so I anticipate more spending this year. We’ll probably have to buy some new furniture and fix a few things around the house. I plan to put off remodeling for at least a year. We’ll figure out what needs to be done and make a priority list.

In January, we spent $5,371*. That’s a little higher than budgeted. We were traveling so that accounts for part of the problem. Another issue was the health expense. Mrs. RB40 and I both got some cavities filled at the dentist. I also got a new pair of glasses. These things pushed our health expense way higher than normal, but we should get some money back through a flexible spending account. Lastly, I added a new category – parents. I’ll send some money to my parents to help them throughout the year. I think $400/month sounds about reasonable. My brothers will help out, too.

*I don’t count savings, taxes, and deduction as part of our monthly expenses.

  • Housing: $2,386. Our housing expense is too high. This category is over 50% of our spending most months. This includes mortgage, HOA fees, and property taxes. This should improve after we move.
  • pad thaiGroceries: $169. We spent way less than average on groceries this month because RB40Jr and I were out of town.
  • Transportation: $30. We share one car and usually don’t drive much.
  • Parent: $423. I gave my parents some money when we were in Thailand. They’ll withdraw from the ATM as needed.
  • Kid: $0.
  • Pet: $0.
  • Bills: $229. Electricity and insurance (auto, home, term life, and umbrella).
  • Health: $1260. Gym membership fee, dentists, and new glasses.
  • Travel: $817. This was for the last segment of our 5 week Thailand trip. We stayed at a few hostels and ate out quite a bit. I used lots of reward points to help pay for this trip so we didn’t spend as much. Travel hacking is a great way to reduce your travel expense.
  • Clothing: $0.
  • Entertainment: $37. Eating out in Portland.
  • Misc.: $20. Mrs. RB40 made a small donation to a nonprofit organization.
  • Taxes and deductions: $2,164.
  • 401k and Roth: $3,930. I contributed $1,500 to my 401k. Mrs. RB40 contributed $1,430 to hers. We also contributed $500 each to our Roth IRAs.
  • Extra Savings: $1,628. This went into our checking account for now. I’ll invest it when I can.

2019 Savings

We saved $5,558 so far in 2019. Our current saving rate is lower than I’d like, 42%. I hope to increase it to 50% by the end of the year. It might be tough with our move this year.

  • Joe’s 401k: $1,500.
  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $1,430
  • Roth IRAs: $1,000
  • 529 College Savings: $0
  • Extra savings: $1,628

2019 saving Rate = 42%.

January 2019 Wrap Up

All in all, we had a good January. I made good progress on most of my goals. Our cash flow could be better, but that’s mostly due to travel and healthcare. These should go down to a normal level in February. Our net worth increased quite a bit in January due to the surge in the stock market. That’s great, but I’m still a bit nervous. Let’s see how the stock market performs in February.

How about you? Did you have a good January? Have you started working on your New Year goals yet?

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your investments. I log in almost every day to check on my accounts and cash flow. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you sign up with a service through the links on this page.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he couldn't stomach the corporate BS.

Joe left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle. See how he generates Passive Income here.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Mr. Tako February 4, 2019, 12:40 am

    Looks like a great start to the year Joe! I think you’re going to have your hands full this year, with the move, trips to Thailand, and everything else!

    I will say this though — not being a landlord sure is easier. It will free up some of your time. I grew up working on my parent’s rental properties, and I’m perfectly happy to own REITs now. A lot less work for a very similar financial return.

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 9:59 am

      Right. There are too many things going on this year so I’ll need to simplify life.
      I’ll look into REITs too. Thanks.

  • Michael @ Financially Alert February 4, 2019, 1:20 am

    Looks like you’ve already got your hands pretty full for 2019! I don’t envy your move, Joe. 😉

    I like your happiness rating. Even though it’s subjective, it’s good to monitor your emotional well being since it affects so many areas of life.

    Good luck with the property consolidation.

    I love that you’ve got RB Jr. working as a photographer and model. His Roth IRA is gonna be incredible when he’s our age!

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:00 am

      The happiness rating is tricky. If you think you’re happy, then that’s good enough. Right?
      Hopefully, we’ll finish moving by the end of February. That will simplify our lives and raise my happiness level. It’ll be great if the condos sell quickly too.

  • Dave @ Accidental FIRE February 4, 2019, 3:26 am

    Everyone had a great Jan but you will continue because your blog does so well for you. Get junior to do more 😉

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:01 am

      Good idea. I’ll see what else Jr can do here. Maybe I’ll make him read the blog. Hahaha. I doubt he’ll be interested.

  • Xrayvsn February 4, 2019, 4:54 am

    January was a very pleasant surprise for the majority of investors who were sort of beat up from 2018 especially how that year ended. Hard to know what is in store for 2019 and if January was more like a dead cat bounce or if it signals the rest of the year might be on an upward trend.

    I agree with the above commenters that you certainly have a lot on your plate especially with the move and Thailand components of your life but everything you set as goals is achievable so rooting for you.

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:02 am

      Who knows what’s going to happen in 2019. There are lots of bad news, though. I’m expecting a correction, but I’ve been wrong before.

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance February 4, 2019, 6:40 am

    Congrats on a great start to 2019!

    After our baby turns 1 in late August, I will start trying to lose weight as well. I’m way over 125 lbs and would love to drop to that level as well. I think I must be 135-139 lbs right now @[email protected]

    I’m excited about the move. I know moving is a hassle and is not cheap. But it’s great to move to a new house though! 😀

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:05 am

      Good luck with your weight. It’s hard. Try intermittent fasting. It really helps. The secret is lots of black coffee (or tea) in the morning and exercise. Good luck!

  • Helen February 4, 2019, 9:05 am

    Hi Joe, wow, you are going to put the two condos into the market. Hopefully the realtor could give you a better sales commission rate. It looks you had a decent month, that’s great. Have a great February.

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:06 am

      I’m meeting our realtor today. I really hope they sell relatively quickly. It’ll be tough to carry 3 mortgages for long.

  • Jørgen February 4, 2019, 9:40 am

    Hey Joe, great update!

    You’re not satisfied with a FI level of 72..? I know you’ve been doing better so I understand. A lot of people would kill for such a ratio though 🙂

    There’s a small typo in the FI ratio for 2018. It says 94% I think it should be 99% (56,628/56,918)

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:08 am

      72 is way too low. I’d like it to be 100%. 🙂
      Thanks for pointing the mistake. I screwed up the cut and paste on the spreadsheet.
      I’ll fix it.

  • mary w February 4, 2019, 9:55 am

    In addition to income taxes, there are several things that you can pay ahead on to meet credit card minimum spend: a year’s worth of gym fees, property taxes, anticipated utility bills, amazon gift cards added to your account, and travel gift cards if you know you’ll use them (e.g., AirBnB, airline, Uber, etc). In a pinch you could always intentionally overpay your taxes knowing you’ll get it back…eventually.

    Some of these will come with fees (e.g., taxes and utility bills) but should be worth it to get the bonus.

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:10 am

      We put part of the property tax on the credit card last year. It worked out really well. I’ll do that again in November.
      Utilities? Maybe, I’ll have to check that out. We don’t use Amazon that much so I don’t think that will work. Last year, we spent less than $500 on Amazon, and that’s already much higher than usual.
      I’ll check them out. Thanks!

  • f February 4, 2019, 10:00 am

    we had a good january in the markets. i’m just hoping to get both roths funded this year. we’re over 50 so that’s 7k each, even if some of that is just moving after tax money brokerage to roth. we’ll either do that or maybe start converting some IRA money to roth to get to 14k. i’m hoping mrs. smidlap can piece together 20k in income this year without it disrupting our plans.

    the big goal isn’t formal but i would like to cut down the wine expense by 25-30% this year. it’s a little out of control. good luck with the move. you’ll be glad to be down to one property i’m sure. i’ll race you to 14k in dividend income. we might hit that this year.

    • retirebyforty February 4, 2019, 10:11 am

      Good luck with the Roth. I just funded both our accounts over the weekend. Here, I just account for $500/m to make it look smoother.
      Sure, sounds good. Let’s see who get there first. 🙂

  • Mr. Nomad Numbers @ NomadNumbers February 4, 2019, 10:11 am

    Congrats on a great start to 2019 Joe! I hope you will be able to balance a relatively quick sell and a good return on your real estate! As for us, we were happy to see the market bouncing back a bit in January. We are still down from the top of 2018 and since we pulled the trigger last year, we will be watching the new few years very closely as we are well aware of bad return of sequence risk. Our mitigation is to have more cash on the site than what we should have until we get pass this point. And since we became world travelers, we can always pull the geo-arbitrage card further. What do you think?

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2019, 9:44 am

      Thanks. We hope to sell quickly too. I don’t want to carry 3 mortgages for long.
      More cash is a good idea right now. Cash is king, right?
      Geo-arbitrage is a great option for you too. Costa Rica is a great spot to spend a few years.

  • Lazy Man and Money February 4, 2019, 11:50 am

    That’s some incredible saving and investing. I actually don’t track our savings too closely because I usually just try to live frugally. I’m curious about it now and I think I’ll look into it more this year.

    If you can save and invest six figures a year, that’s going to go a long way towards not letting the markets impact your life too much.

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2019, 9:45 am

      I don’t think we can save six figures this year. Last year was an anomaly. I’ll try, though.

  • Frugal to FI February 4, 2019, 12:23 pm

    Your feed has been broken since the end of Oct. Once fixed, it could bring your traffic #s back up.

    Agrred, your family has had a great start to 2019!

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2019, 9:45 am

      I’ll work on the feed. The RSS? I’ll PM you later. Thanks!

  • Done by Forty February 4, 2019, 6:16 pm

    We sold our second and final rental and, yes, from a cashflow perspective I’m not sure it was the right move. But from a sanity & simplicity perspective, it sure feels like a layup. There just has to be an easy way to get reliable income, right?

    And you’ve got me envious on the weight! Seems like it’s time for me to set an ambitious figure for myself.

    Best of luck with your goals, Joe. I wouldn’t bet against you. 😉

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2019, 9:47 am

      Congrats! I’m looking forward to having just 1 tenant. It’ll be way easier than now.

  • Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early February 4, 2019, 8:29 pm

    Moving is never fun, but it’s sounded like the move would be a good idea for a while now. I’d like to do something similar to my blog, but since I’m hardly monetizing it, I can’t exactly make it make sense to pay someone to do it for me.

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2019, 9:48 am

      I would like to do it myself, but then it just won’t get done. There are always other higher priorities. Oh well, I hope it won’t cost too much. Thanks!

  • David @iretiredyoung February 5, 2019, 1:39 am

    I have a Canadian friend who was asking my opinion about buying a rental property as an investment. Although I don’t know much about them, I mentioned REITs as a possible alternative, but reading your post reminded me about your investments in Real Estate Crowd Funding. I know you had a few bumps in the road recently, so how is your thinking on Real Estate Crowd Funding now, and are you tempted by REITs because of this?

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2019, 9:49 am

      RE crowdfunding is still good for me. The payments are still coming in so I’m happy. There just aren’t any new deals from RealtyShares. I’ll have to work with other companies to invest more.
      We have plenty of REITs already so probably no more.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life February 5, 2019, 11:57 am

    Good luck with the sale!

    We’re aiming for a modest 35% savings rate this year, but I’ll be proud of it if we manage it!

  • Financial Samurai February 5, 2019, 2:33 pm

    Nice net worth increase! I think mine is only up about 2.4%, but I’ll take it. I need to cash in some checks as well, so that will help.

    I’m excited about your real estate selling experience!!

    FYI, looks like RS got at least one new fund administrator, so that’s good.

    • retirebyforty February 7, 2019, 10:16 am

      We trailed S&P 500 by quite a bit too. I moved some to cash near the end of January. The market is too volatile and I’m a lot more conservative these days. It seems like the Fed is willing to cut interest, though. That’s very interesting.
      I talked to our realtor and the prices are around what I expected. Not fantastic, but we’ll get some cash infusion if they sell quickly.

  • GYM February 6, 2019, 12:20 am

    You have done great and I like seeing your chart and goals for the year.

    Exciting to move- that’s going to be a big change. We are moving this year too (and having a baby) haha, lots going on for us too.

    Are you going to renovate or do some touch ups on your apartment before listing it? I haven’t decided whether I want to replace the laminate in my condo.

    • retirebyforty February 7, 2019, 10:18 am

      The move is getting stressful. Mrs. RB40 doesn’t want to throw stuff out. There are all kind of art and craft stuff I’m moving. I wonder she’d miss them if I toss a few boxes…
      Yes, we’ll fix some stuff and hire some people to help. I’ll go with what our realtor tells us. I don’t think you need to replace the laminate. The new owner might not like it.

  • Mrs. Groovy February 6, 2019, 3:42 pm

    Good luck with the move and the real estate!
    Do you do any specific things to raise your happiness and/or reduce the melancholy feelings?

    Mr. G does intermittent fasting but he’ll have one of those green tea concoctions with apple cider vinegar in the morning if he’s in the mood. Works for him.

    • retirebyforty February 7, 2019, 10:19 am

      Not really. The happiness is all in my head. Hopefully, after we’re done with the move, my mood will improve. It’s been a bit stressful. I’ll check out the green tea with apple cider vinegar. Sounds like something I’d enjoy. 🙂

  • Young FIRE Knight February 6, 2019, 6:31 pm

    Well done Joe! I can confirm firsthand after moving 4 times in a 4 year span that moving can absolutely be stressful. I hope it goes a little easier for you than you’re thinking! Awesome job on the weight goal as well. I’ve done IF for a while too and it’s helped me to maintain a healthy weight despite not being super consistent going to the gym.

    • retirebyforty February 7, 2019, 10:26 am

      OMG, that’s too many moves. Our move frequency dropped a lot as we age. My family used to move every few years when I was a kid. This time we stayed in our condo for almost 12 years. Mrs. RB40 would love to just never move again, but I’m not sure if that’s going to work. I can go to the gym consistently if there’s not much going on. However, this move is throwing me. I’ll have to take a few weeks off until I’m done moving. My back and knees are already aching from lifting these boxes.

  • WTK February 6, 2019, 7:58 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I think that you have a great Jan 2019. I believe that your finance will improve tremendously after your move to new place. This will free up a significant amount of loan from your liability.


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