The year is over. Did everyone enjoy reading a thousand different “Best of 2023” articles over the last week? I didn’t. They get repetitive quickly.
So it’s with extreme irony that I present the best of Lazy Man 2023. No, they’re not the best articles I wrote – that may be quite useful to you. Instead, here’s a look at my life’s journey in some specific areas. Even if you don’t have a blog, I suggest you try it. Hopefully, it helps you see how much you accomplished at the end of the year. On the other hand, if you only maximized the value of your Netflix membership, maybe it’s better to skip this kind of analysis.
Back in January, I made some New Year’s Resolutions and Goals for 2023. I planned to give updates eight times a year – twice a quarter. This is my fourth and final update. So, I already failed at tracking goals. Let’s hope the goals themselves went better.
Here’s my updated goal spreadsheet. It may be useful to refer back to this as you read the explanations below.
Lazy Man’s 2023 Goals and Resolutions
Income: $83,000 (Goal: $90,000)
My income started the year coming from three main sources: boarding dogs, this blog, and a customer service gig for a small Silicon Valley tech startup.
The customer service gig pays a set amount each month. I know exactly what to expect. The main variables are the blog and dog boarding. Each of those is still somewhat predictable.
I added a four income source at the end of the year! I developed the website for a local business group, and they are paying me $125/month to maintain it. It’s not a lot of work, so I don’t mind. I was going to do it for free because I get a lot of connections through it.
Managing all four can be a lot, but most of the work is flexible and not too challenging. I joke that a 14-year-old could probably do all three jobs – if they weren’t in school. It gives me a lot of other time to do dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, and cook. I also shuttle the kids to/from school and after-school activities. Of course, my wife does a lot of this stuff, too, but her military work isn’t nearly as flexible.
At $83,000, I only got to 92% of my $90,000 goal. A 92% is an A-, so that’s pretty good. Last year, I earned $98,000, but I boarded more dogs, and my blogging income was better. I don’t mind earning less money, because it’s easier.
Maybe next year, I can grab more website work.
Wife Retirement Savings: $25,000* (Goal $30,000)
I put an “*” here because she might have reached the goal. We make our monthly money meeting several days after the New Year. At the start of December, she was $5,000 away, but I bet she could have made that up.
This goal used to be more important, but my wife will likely work another two to five more years to maximize her pension. She also wants to be a TSP (the government’s version of a 401K) millionaire. With a big pension and those savings, we don’t need this cash account to be huge.
We had a bunch of unexpected and extra expenses this year. We also spent a lot of money to upgrade the house. We got new interior paint, new carpets, and recessed lighting everywhere. We bought a new television and a $8000 on a coach with advanced surround sound.
One of my other goals is to get more comfortable spending money, so I consider this a good thing. With good earnings, savings, and back-up plans on top of back-up plans, it’s time to spend money.
Estate Planning (25% complete)
I read More Than Enough by Mike Piper and contacted him about estate planning. He’ll be accepting new clients towards the end of January.
Obviously, I still failed because I didn’t get to 100%. It’s a step in the right direction, though.
I got our home insurance information to our insurance agent. She quickly looked at it, and it seemed like it was mostly okay, but she pointed out a couple of issues.
I expected it to be policy by policy, but I think she does specialty insurance and not the kind of thing that will work in this case.
Kid Wealth: 13,670 views, 17 articles (Goal 50,000 PV, 75 articles)
Last year, Kid Wealth had 4,200 page views. In 2023, I had three times the growth but didn’t write many articles. I took on too many other projects.
I started a Patreon for Kid Wealth. I’ve spent several thousand dollars on the website. It purposely has no advertising and doesn’t sell a product. I’m looking for people to support me at $1/month. I haven’t gotten anyone to do it yet.
It’s a fun but disappointing experiment at this point.
Content Audit: 1 Article (Goal: 15 Articles)
A content audit reviews and refreshes older articles on a website. Lazy Man and Money has published over 2700 articles in 17 years. That’s a LOT of outdated articles. For several years, I’ve wanted to go through some of my old articles and update them to make them more relevant today.
I created one article that was in the spirit of a content audit. I wrote about how to save money at McDonald’s, which incorporated some ideas that were “blasts from the past.” In other words, I included tips from older articles that don’t work nowadays from a historical perspective. I’m unsure if that part is useful, but I put all the current, relevant stuff at the beginning so readers can get that information first.
Dog Boarding Website (100% completed)
I get most of my dog boarding business through Rover.com. Rover takes a 15% commission, and it’s well-deserved as they bring me business. However, I’ve started getting more business through local connections. Rover also charges dog owners an 11% fee. Overall, Rover gets 26% of their management fee.
I finished my dog boarding website, and in 2024, I’ll try nudging people to book through there. Maybe this will push me back to a $90,000 goal.
Lose Weight: 188 lbs, 25% body fat (Goal: 175lbs 24%)
I had done so well in the last update. I continued it until about Thanksgiving. Travel to Aruba threw my whole eating plan off. Then we came back, and my wife had a birthday, and a holiday party happened. It’s been tough to be consistent.
I’m giving myself a grade of C for the year. I should have more progress in the vital stats, but look at the health wins below:
Health Wins: Estimated 300 (Goal: 360)
I wrote an Extreme Lazy Man’s Diet a couple of years ago. It’s really difficult to keep up with it consistently. However, picking one or two items a day isn’t as difficult.
One of my big “health wins” is to start the day with a salad bowl of raw baby carrots and broccoli. I make it and put it on the counter. Then I pick at it over the next few hours as I do stuff around the house. I also make a huge pitcher of water and try to finish it before eatting my first meal.
When all goes well, I eat about two meals a day. I try to make an omelet with chicken breast, pinto beans, and a little salsa in one of those meals. The idea is to eat more protein and fiber and less carbs.
I found that keeping track of each health win is nearly impossible. I’ve estimated it for now. Next year, I’ll have to just grade my whole week on a scale of 1 to 5. I’ll aim to reach around 200 points, averaging around 4 points weekly. I think that system will be easier.
I completed this one already this year. I needed to find a new dentist. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I’ve had a string of bad dentist situations. Fortunately, I’ve found a great dentist, and I’ve been a few times already.
Unfortunately, they canceled a couple of appointments with me in July and couldn’t reschedule them until January. At least they’ve been able to keep up with regular cleaning.
ADHD diagnosis: 50% Progress
I have reason to think I may have ADHD, but getting tested and a diagnosis is difficult. It’s especially difficult if you have ADHD since the medical system isn’t friendly with booking appointments and insurance.
I signed up for ADHD Online and completed a diagnosis, and had it sent to my doctor. I haven’t heard back because it’s the holidays, and I didn’t want to chase the doctor around this time of year.
The office assistant couldn’t understand why I didn’t just book a specialist through my insurance. Again, getting someone in insurance on the phone (or, God forbid, the “health portal” that’s terribly hard to work with) would take a week of phone tag. Then, it’s finding the right doctor for testing. Then, it’s multiple appointments. As you can see, I’m already overwhelmed.
For ADHD Online, I paid $180 once and completed the testing in a few hours. Now, I just have to hope my primary care physician provides an easy path forward.
My goal is to come up with hobbies. Lately, all my hobbies have largely been related to work or parenting. Kid Wealth is a perfect example of a hobby that covers both. (It might make $3 a month without that Patreon.) I need to come up with some other stuff.
Below are my ideas:
Read Three “Fun” Books – 100% Completed
On vacation, I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – just the first book. That’s an affiliate link, so I may make money if you click on it and buy the book.
I also read the graphic novel versions of Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas. My son read Coraline for school, so picking it up and reading it in a couple of hours was easy. We had Nightmare Before Christmas around, so I could read that quickly, too.
Drone Flying (10% Completed)
I only flew the drone for one day this year. It was my first time taking the DJI Mavic Mini in the air.
The kids switched off on a $15 off-brand drone for a bit.
When I felt comfortable with it, I eased each kid into trying it for a bit. The DJI Mavic Mini is supposed to be 16+, but parent supervision goes a long way.
Guitar (0% Completed)
When I published my goal for this earlier this year, I only wrote, “I want to,” before I must have gotten distracted by a shiny object. I published it just like that. I’d like to learn how to play a song.
I have made no progress in this at all. I haven’t even picked up a guitar.
My son brings his ukulele from school, so maybe I can use his materials and learn that in 2024
Program in Python (0% Completed)
Last year, I had this goal and didn’t make much progress. I want to create a “toy” app. It doesn’t have to be useful, but just something that gets me back to being the software engineer I used to be.
I’ve made no progress in Python programming. Instead, I programmed that website for the local business group.
Clean and Organize House
I’ve written about how we have been doing home improvement in the financial review at the top.
This has been a great year in cleaning and organizing the house. There’s always more to do, but it’s a big difference from the start of the year.
My wife booked an interior designer for January, and hopefully, we can do another year of improvements.
Travel (100% Completed)
In March, we went on a big Southern California trip. We did Hollywood, Legoland, Disneyland, and Phoenix.
We always try to do an annual staycation at Block Island. This year, we booked late and only got a couple of days. It was a good getaway, but it could have been longer.
We completed our trip to New York City, American Dream super hotel, Hershey Park, and the Cartoon Network Hotel. We all did a wind tunnel, and it was great. There are almost none in New England, so including this stop on the trip made sense.
My wife planned a weekend in D.C. over Columbus Day weekend to run the Army 10-miler. We all went. It wasn’t enough time to see much in D.C., but we did catch the pandas before they need to be returned to China.
The personal finance convention, FinCon, was in New Orleans two weeks later. I wanted the whole family to go, but my wife correctly pointed out that it was more suitable for adults. I greatly enjoyed four days off from all parent duties.
We went to our Aruba timeshare over Thanksgiving. We used to go all the time, but with COVID, we haven’t been since 2019. We ended up getting some good rates on flights and cashing in miles. The kids hadn’t remembered much of it, so it was good to refresh their memory. Plus, it was good to escape to the warmth.
Usually, we have 3-4 trips in a year. We fell right in line with that and consider this a successful travel year.
The kids have been back home for the holiday break for almost two weeks. Fortunately, they will be back at school when you read this.
YouTube Channel (20 videos)
The kids haven’t made any YouTube videos lately.
I had hoped they’d make something with all their Lego figures, but no luck. Oh well, it’s not for them. Or maybe they just need to have the right teacher, and I’m not that.
The kids have had successful fall baseball seasons. I measure success by showing up, trying, and having fun. There are a lot of kids that have been playing baseball since they were five or younger. My kids started late on that.
It’s the second baseball season this year for my nine-year-old. He’s also had a few surfing lessons this year. He loves that. They both are doing quite well in karate. My eleven-year-old is about a year away from his black belt.
This spring, the school will offer golf as a sport. Our oldest will give that a try.
They are good enough with skiing and snowboarding that we didn’t sign them up for lessons this year. We’ll have to find a place this winter to test their skills. There hasn’t been any snow yet.
My nine-year-old only picked up the Samsung tablet briefly. He’s mostly sticking to Lego building for now, which is fine. He finished his first 18+ build a few days ago.
Both kids expressed interest in making 3-D renderings, so I introduced him and his brother to TinkerCAD. That lasted a few days, but he learned a lot from a library book and YouTube. Santa brought us a 3-D printer for Christmas, so for next year, we’ll make some stuff.
I’m still trying to navigate computer programming with the kids. It’s kind of a desert here. It’s hard for me to get through to them when YouTube and a Nintendo Switch are close.
I’ve been trying to work with the school’s new curriculum director to see if I can get anything done. He politely pushed me to the after-school director, and I didn’t hear back for a while. She made some calls, but the only place that seems to teach kids programs near us isn’t available for the rest of the year.
The kids completed theater, cooking, animation, sailing, and rackets (tennis, pickleball, and squash) camp. One kid did the animation and sailing, and the other kid did Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. They both liked the rackets camp, but the older one had more natural talent at squash. We’ll have to think about moving that into the sports category for him.
All these camps are expensive, but they are learning some life skills that they aren’t learning in other places. They do Cub Scouts, too, which helps in that area. I almost forgot to add that in earlier.
Final Kids Thoughts
A lot of this stuff doesn’t stick, and they don’t go into a deep dive. I was worried about the cooking camp, which is just a few hours for one week, but it comes back when we need it. My 9-year-old made his own zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) on New Year’s Eve, and they came out pretty good. Our older kid looks like he’s becoming a theater star at the school.
As the Shakira song goes, Try Everything!
I failed at a lot of things in 2023! However, things turned out really well.
Finishing strongly at the end helped a lot. There was a lot of progress on things like estate plans, insurance reviews, ADHD testing, the dog boarding website, and reading books that had been failures for years. The only failure that I feel bad about is writing and promoting Kid Wealth articles. However, the traffic tripled, so that was a bit of a success.
This tracking system isn’t perfect. Things happened throughout the year that shifted my focus.
Those are typically adding new responsibilities. I added the local business association website stuff I mentioned above. I also became the school’s Parents’ Association Treasurer. Both greatly enhanced my local presence. Since that presence was close to zero, it’s a big change.
In 2024, I’m thinking about working this goal progress into the monthly financial report. I think there’s more value for readers in one monthly update rather than trying to manage both sets.