Reviewing Goals for 2014

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It seems like whenever I have a title with the words "review goals" things get ugly real quick. Unfortunately, I don't think this will be an exception.

On Martin Luther King Day last year, I wrote an article about Setting Goals for 2014. Though it wasn't related to any of my goals, I always like to bring the special day into focus. While it may not have been the most outrageous call of the year, in review of 2014 two sentences really caught my attention:

"I like to think if he was alive today, he'd be pleased at the progress. However, I wonder if he'd be focused on about how much work we still have to do."

Personally 2014, was a year of transition just like 2013. When 2013 started, our first child was 3 month old and we moved from San Francisco to Boston. When 2014 started we had another boy (yes, they are close). So while we didn't relocate, it was a transition to have another boy. I imagine that for the next 18 years (or more) there will be transitions related to their growth and development. The first few months of the year though were dedicated to help the new Mini Man with his transition to the world.

Though it might not seem like it due to my somewhat sporadic writing over the last couple of months, I wrote more in 2014 than I had in some time. I had this crazy theory that if wrote almost every day, the audience would grow and I'd get more income opportunities. It didn't work out that way. Writing more simply lead to... writing more.

That's not to say it didn't have it highlights and lowlights. I wrote about quite a few more MLM companies and put a spotlight on their misinformation and disinformation. I have covered a couple dozen now in fairly extensive detail. I've also received tens of thousands of comments on them, without a single comment making any kind of legitimate case that they are a real business. It should be clear to any objective person that they are financial fraud, plan and simple.

One of lowlights of the year was when I wrote about Beachbody's Shakeology scam after Side Hustle Nation's interviewed a top distributor who claimed it wasn't a pyramid scheme. This was despite admitting that she made much more via recruiting and that selling wasn't viable... and that happens to be the very definition of a pyramid scheme according to the FTC's guidelines. Part of the problem is that there's little unbiased education on these pyramid schemes and people presume that the authorities would shut them down if they were illegal. Unfortunately, law enforcement and the legal process for doing so is too extensive and costly for the regulators' limited time and budgets. It's an ongoing problem. However, it is getting better with the attention that Herbalife has received and the ease of information on the Internet.

The other lowlight was when I received a death threat because of my article exposing a pyramid scheme. It seems clear that it was from one of their distributors as it originated from an IP address that was just outside the location of their Global Convention. You'd think that an American company would be against this kind of terrorism and put some investigation into it, but it didn't happen. Perhaps that mentality is why their stock is in the tank, down 18% this year and 35% over two years.

Getting back my online income, it is very disappointing not to have increased it more. I had set a goal to make 50% more than 2013, noting that 50% of a small number isn't as crazy as it seems. While there are still a few days left in the year, it is looking like I might make only about 5-10% more. I can sugar-coat it by saying that I've learned a lot and doing all the extra writing has helped me improve my skills. It's all true, but the bottom line is that I need to do better.

We'll try something new in 2015, but we'll save that for an article about setting goals for 2015.

Another of my goals was to keep expenses down. In 2013 we put a lot of money into a new fence, a new deck, and central air conditioning in the house. In total that was around $30-40K. We took advantage of 0% interest financing for the central air, the last payment we made a few weeks ago. I'd like to say that we used the year to build up savings, but there were some major renovations to rental properties that made it feel like swimming upstream.

I learned that I need to do a better job of anticipating and amortizing the necessary rental property maintenance. The result of that is an Excel spreadsheet with all major expenses and an anticipated schedule of when they'll likely come due. In addition to this we need to set up two bank accounts (even if virtual): one for rental property maintenance, and one for an emergency fund in the event that we can't find tenants in a timely manner.

Getting back to keeping expenses down, perhaps out biggest move of this year is going solar. It's a move that doesn't pay off for 6-7 years, but after that we'll reduce our necessary expenses by $125 a month on average. It's almost like giving ourselves a $2000 raise every year and keeping $1500 after taxes.

My final goal was to lose two pounds to get under the 25 BMI mark. I had achieved it for most of the year, but there was some Aruba weight that thwarted the goal in late November. While I had a little time to recover, a stomach virus and the holidays made sure that wasn't going to happen. The end result is that I'm now 6 pounds more than I was. Now I need to lose 8 pounds to get to the high end of where I want to be.

If I am being honest with myself, there's a lot of room for improvement, particularly in the exercise area. While walking the dog is better than nothing, it's not nearly enough.

Final Thoughts

On the surface, it feels like 2014 was a complete failure with regard to these goals. However, when I look deeper, I see many more bright spots. There were a lot of quality of life aspects that can't be quantified here. I think we went to a dozen (free) concerts this summer. My wife and I got some kayak time in. There was the aforementioned long vacation in Aruba.

It is impossible to quantify spending this time with family. However, it is time when I'm not actively working to increase income. So what looks like a failure because it is quantifiable may not be so in reality.

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Goal Progress, Goals

Last updated on October 13, 2015.

A Look Back at 2007 Goals

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You know how to take the [rental car] reservation, you just don't know how to hold the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them. - Jerry Seinfeld

Goals are a little bit like rental car reservations. Making goals is extremely easy. It's achieving them that requires work. With that in mind, allow me to look back my goals for the last year and see how I did. I give myself grades depending on how well I've done.

Max out both mine and my wife's retirement plans - Grade: B - I failed in this goal, but only because I resigned from my day job. I ended up contributing over $12,000 to my 401k before that happened. My wife (we got married during the year) has maxed out her accounts. I have to focus on my Roth IRA, but we have until tax day in April to do so. It will be a challenge with my limited income, but one I look forward to.

Look into educational plans for my nephew - Grade: A - My search lead me to start a 529 Plan in Ohio Choosing a 529 Plan. My nephew now has $450 dollars from us waiting for him.

Bring in $300 in alternative income - Grade: A+++ - I had no idea that people would be willing to pay money for sponsorship on Lazy Man and Money. At the time I made this goal, I had 10,000 total visitors to Lazy Man and Money in the first 7 months. This month alone, I'm on pace to have 35,000 visitors. I couldn't anticipate that kind of growth. I had a stretch goal of $1000/mo. and it looking like I'll pass that by 80% with over $1800/mo. this month and last.

Start a new blog on another entirely different topic - Grade C- - Have you visited Lazy Man and Health?  That blog isn't as highly trafficked as I had hoped. I haven't been writing the amount of content or doing the marketing/networking that I should be.

Finish development on my most recent business idea - Grade F- - This has been a total failure. I had hoped to start an online game where you play the role of the general manager of a baseball team. The idea was to trade and draft players while you build a championship team. This isn't a new idea, other games like this exist, but I had a couple of twists and I thought I could compete on price. This idea isn't dead, but I will try to build this game in such a way that I learn new technologies such as Ruby on Rails. This will give me a valuable skill if I decided that I need to re-enter the workforce.

Overall, I feel like I did a fine job in 2007. I fell short in some areas, but most of those were related to spending more time trying to make this website a success. That was a trade that I was very comfortable with. In the next couple of days, I'll create some new goals for 2008.

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Goal Progress

Last updated on January 2, 2008.

Non-Financial Goals: What if Your Money Problems were Solved?

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About four months ago, Kenric of e-mailed me with a question. He has just written about post about non-financial goals and asked me "Do you have non-financial goals and how do they affect your financial goals?"

In his post he gives examples of some non-financial goals: visiting the Grand Canyon, climbing Mt. Everest, sailing around the world. I'd like focus on these goals because they have a financial prerequisite. Kenric brings up a great point in his point that having these goals in mind allows you to focus your attention on the task. For us, we'd like to have a newer construction house in the suburbs of Boston. I imagine my wife and I hosting a BBQ, with people playing bocce and some smoothing jazz in the background. Owning a house with enough land to accommodate this scenario requires financial planning and forethought.

When I started Lazy Man and Money, I hadn't put specific thought in my non-financial goals. If you could call it a non-financial goal, I aimed to have the financial freedom to explore other goals that I knew would have financial prerequisites. As I mentioned yesterday, I knew that money was a tool in my quest for happiness. Here are some thoughts on some non-financial goals in the upcoming years.

  • Housekeeping Service - We are expecting to get a house keeper this week. We are hoping to get a great recommendation from someone in San Mateo County. This will give me and my wife one less thing to argue about (remember that I'm Lazy for a reason) and a few more precious hours on the weekends.
  • Early Retirement - This is one our bigger goals.
  • Trips to Europe and Australia - We'd love to take multiple months off to do all the tourist activities.

What non-financial goals with financial prerequisites do you have ?

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Goal Progress

Posted on August 21, 2007.

Planning and Goal Setting Week: Lazy Man’s 2007 Goals

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Almost like a great high school guidance councilor Flexo has laid down the gauntlet to define my 2007 goals. I had been planning them in the back of my head, but it's about I put those thoughts into electrons for all to read. You will see some similarities to Jim's Blueprint for Financial Prosperity goals.

  • Max out both mine and my fiancée's retirement plans. This includes her thrift savings plan and Roth IRA as well as my own 401k and Roth IRAs.
  • Look into Coverdell's and 529 savings plans. While Energi Gal and I do not have children yet, there's little reason to wait. If it's not in the cards for us we could always gift it to my newborn nephew.
  • Get my alternative income streams' "to go" column to $1300. I plan to reduce my costs by around $75 a month (paying down my HELOC), while raising my alternative income to $300 a month. Stretch goal: "to go" at $1000 a month
  • Start a new blog on another entirely different topic. I'm going to need Energi Gal's help on this one as it's more up her alley.
  • Finish development on my most recent business idea. Since I haven't started it, I don't expect any income to be made by it in the next 12 months.
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Goal Progress

Posted on December 27, 2006.

Paycheck Mystery is Solved

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I mentioned yesterday that something seemed to be off with my paycheck. My instincts were right and the math was indeed off. It should be fixed next week, but in the short term my net worth will be off. I suppose I'll make up for it next month.

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Goal Progress, Net Worth

Last updated on December 15, 2006.

Net Worth Update – December Edition

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My net worth has edged up so very little this month. It grew from 0.16% from $181,501.19 to $181,787.61. Quite frankly, I'm disappointed. Upon further review there were a number of factors at play that made this happen:

  1. My Hawaii Trip - Though it was a relatively cheap vacation, it's still a vacatio. That meant eating all my meals out and other associated costs.
  2. My home value dropped - I use Zillow as I feel it's fairly accurate for my area. The drop this month of $2,000 largely eliminates much of my savings. This is okay, because I'm going to hold the home for years. Some day it will recover and I'll have a fantastic month.
  3. It was a Short Month - Because I get busy, I don't do my net worth at the same time each month. Last month, with the trip, I didn't get it done until the 24th.
  4. I think I lost money - Poof... gone... I didn't even get to spend it. When I logged into my bank, it looks like I'm getting the same amount as what I got last pay check. Typically that would be fine. However, I've bumped up against the maximum 401k for the year, so only $100 went there instead of the $1,000+. Where did the rest of the money go? I don't know, but I'll be looking at my stub later today to find out.

On the bright side:

  1. My retirement accounts - With new additions and general market gains, things are moving in the right direction
  2. My Prosper account - I was able to increase that account by 22.58% and I'm now lending over $3,000.
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Goal Progress, Net Worth

Posted on December 15, 2006.

My Ever Expanding Retirement Goal

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I have had a lot of difficulty figuring out what my retirement goal should be. I'm not alone in having this difficulty - after all retirement planning is an industry on it's own. The biggest problem I'm having is trying to project 35 years in the future.

The more I think about it, the race towards retirement is going to be a journey. That being the case, it makes sense to update the goal along the way. Why not start with today? How much would I need to retire tomorrow? The answer to that question is also the answer to "How much would I need to replace to my income?" I think I'd be very comfortable with a 100K income. Working backwards from that, at 8% interest, I'd need about 1.25 million today. Over time, that 100K income will buy less (thanks a lot, Mr. Inflation), so I'll be raising the goal even as I chase it.

Can I run faster than inflation? Join me for the journey and we'll find out together.

Adverstisement may follow below...

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Goal Progress, Net Worth

Last updated on August 8, 2007.

My Net Worth Jumps

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It's the middle of the month, so it's time for me to do my net worth again. I'm not quite ready to do a compete open wallet view, but I am not as opposed to the idea as I used to be.

The big news this month is that my net worth jumped 6.7%. I realized some cash from getting the first check in my new job. However, most of the gains were in my retirement accounts which jumped over to $85K for the first time. In the seven months I've been tracking my net worth, this is the first time that it's jumped more than 1%. It's a little disappointing that it's tied to the stock market gains and wasn't due to anything in particular I did, but I'll take it.

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Goal Progress

Last updated on October 27, 2006.

Monthly Necessary Expenses

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Jane Dough of Boston Gal's Open Wallet references an article about keeping your mandatory expenses to a minimum. It seems that you should keep your ratio of take home pay to expenses under 50%. I did a look at mine and they are at 35.35%. I was helped out by splitting utilities with my fiancee and having my car paid off.

This weekend, I'll try to get my fiancee to put her numbers in and we'll see what our combined numbers are. I think we may get lower than 25%.

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Frugal, Goal Progress

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

Net Worth Update – August edition

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It's a little earlier than I usually do my net worth update. After the late one last month, I figured I'd get this one out now. There's lots of good news in the Lazy Man's accounts this month. Last Month I was concerned that my net worth was going in the wrong direction. It's not that I wasn't saving, but the stock market downturn was eating up a lot of my gains.

So I'm to where I was in April and making up the 6K that I've lost over the last 4 months. I think my experiment in maxing out my 401k has helped the short term bottom line. Instead of having the government take the money in taxes, it fills my 401k and I'll pay taxes on it years from now. And to make sure that the 401K stays healthy I rebalanced it today focusing a little more on large cap stocks which seem to have better P/E ratios than the smaller stocks recently.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Goal Progress, Net Worth

Last updated on July 29, 2011.

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