February is almost over so it’s a good time to create my goals and plans for 2019. My first goal is stop procrastinating. I guess I already failed on that one ;-). I admire all the bloggers out there who have their act together and get these things out in late December or even the first week or two of January.
Before I jump into 2019, I have to very briefly review 2018. There’s a saying that you can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. Like every year, I had a lot of grand plans in 2018 and like every year, I feel like I didn’t get them done. That feeling doesn’t always match up with reality. Part of the problem is that I planned for the year to go one way, but life doesn’t go as planned. You learn to pivot and adjust for a new course. So even though I didn’t stick to many of the plans, I can look back at 2018 and consider it a success.
Last year, I created a brief productivity plan. I’ll try to remind myself to focus more on these in 2019:
- Plan my most productive day – I’m self-employed and work from home full-time. That works for a lot of people. It’s not ideal for me, but it’s necessary to support the kids and my wife’s military career.
- Work with Pomodoro Technique – I find that I’m most productive when I’m using the Pomodoro Technique, which is a method consisting of working hard for a while and taking short breaks. This goes hand-in-hand with the above item.
- Making SMARTER Goals – I’ve been writing about making SMARTER goals for more than a decade and I still have trouble doing it.
- Review my old Success Guide – I wrote an article How to be Successful around 2006. It’s a good time to review my thoughts from a dozen years ago and see what I can take away for 2019. With a wife and kids, I’m in a very different place in life.
Those are tools. They may help get something done, but they aren’t the goals that I want to accomplish.
Home and Family
Let’s start the list with the most important items… home and family.
This is an overly broad item. Every parent has a focus on their kids (I hope). I helicopter more than most. Part of the reason I consider 2018 a success is that I feel very comfortable about the quality of time spent in this area.
In 2018, we tried a lot of new things like soccer, swimming, chess, cooking, and ice skating. Swimming, chess, and cooking were the only activities that seemed to stick. We’re looking karate, more team sports, piano, and maybe a beginning computer programming class (designed by myself). I want them to experience as much as possible.
I thought about not mentioning this because I don’t plan on quantifying it. However, it dominates almost every other goal or activity, so it was impossible to leave out.
I’ve had that KonMari book in my Amazon cart (saved for later) for probably 5 years now. Someday I’ll pull the trigger. Last year, we made major progress in cleaning and organizing by buying a few IKEA Kallaxs.
Unfortunately, we I haven’t had the time to organize them efficiently. We also have a whole garage and basement in desperate need of cleaning and organizing.
The goal for 2019 is to pick one area a month and clean and organize that. In January we did a lot of the office stuff. In February, we did much of the kitchen. The garage and basement are probably going to take a couple of months. They are bigger projects because disposing some of the stuff is very large and can only be thrown out at certain times of the year. Some other things are sold on Ebay/Craigslist and they take a long time to go.
We’ll try to have a yard sale too, but I often find that they are a lot of work for almost literally a dime or nickel here and there.
The very next step I need to take to is to match up areas with months. That will help with accountability.
Once again, we have a lot of vacations planned for 2019. We’ll be going to Disney World for the third time. What’s unique about it is that we have never actually planned or wanted to go to Disney World. It’s happened through some outside source or circumstance combined with my wife’s military status allowing us to hack a relatively cheap Disney trip. This year, the kids’ grandpa wanted to use his timeshare to spend time with the kids.
We’ll also take our annual staycation to disappear to Block Island. It’s good to get away from technology for a bit.
We may go to our timeshare in Aruba, but we might also sell the week this year and use the money for a cruise. I usually like to break up the New England winter with a trip to someplace warm and tropical.
We’re trying to fit in one more small road trip. We’d like to drive to New York City to explore for a few days and then continue to Pennsylvania and Hershey’s Park. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been there and that’s too long. It’s much, much cheaper than Disney and the kids enjoy it just as much, so it’s a shame to not do it more often.
Since this is a personal finance website, I feel like I should make some money goals.
First, I have a confession. I have problems making money goals. That’s not a good thing for a personal finance blogger.
One of the problems is that I don’t track our savings and I don’t stick to a budget. I just believe in making frugal choices. I watch the big expenses and don’t have a lot of daily spending habits (i.e. latte factor). It seems to work well for us.
However, I’m not going to use that as a free pass. I’ve come up with some money goals.
When most of your money is in the stock market or real estate, it’s not a good idea to set net worth goals. I can’t control what those markets do over the next year.
However, I can’t resist setting a goal for net worth. I consider it the most important number in personal finance. In general, as long as this is going up, we are making good financial progress.
My goal this year is to grow our net worth 20%. That doesn’t mean much to you because I’m not saying what our net worth is to start. If we had $10 to our name, we could find two dollars on the street and reach that goal. However, we’re at the point where it’s getting tough to grow. Last year our net worth went up only about 7%.
How do we get to 20% in 2019? I made a website sale in early January and our net worth was up nearly 15%. That leaves us with another 5% to go. It may seem easy, but I don’t expect the stock market to do much this year.
I keep track of my “passivish” income every month. This is money in real estate or the stock market. I massage the numbers liberally as I explain in the link before. Once massaged, the result is a number of monthly income we could expect to earn from rentals and dividends.
At the start of February our “passivish” income was $39,223. My goal is to end 2019 with $45,000 or more.
Make More Progress on Energi Gal’s Retirement Plans
I started this blog 13 years ago, because my wife would be able to retire with 20 years of military service with a pension of 50% of her base pay. I didn’t want to continue doing traditional office work another 22 years after she was done. This year is year 20 for her. It’s very close to “Go time.”
Things have changed over the years. We moved to California and then back to New England. We got a dog. We got a house. We had two boys. We bought two new cars. We invested in retirement plans and rental properties.
The biggest thing that I couldn’t predict was that we’d have the very good problem of having the boys in a great private school at a great military discount. However, if my wife retires we may lose that military discount. That makes the expense go up tens of thousands of dollars at a time when income drops in half. No bueno!
An obvious solution is to send the kids to public school. However, we’re hoping we can find a way to work something out with the school. That’s a conversation that I hope we can have sometime this year.
Beyond the numbers, there’s a more psychological goal, but this one isn’t for me. My wife has to figure out what kind of work (if any) would make her happy. We made some good progress on that this week. Unfortunately, it’s far from a polished plan… or a plan of any kind.
It takes awhile to retire from the military. My wife says it is an 18-month process. So even after we get some of the answers to the questions, we got some time to implement all the plans.
Make $75,000 in self-employment income
Blogging income can be all over the place. I’ve picked up a couple of steady contract jobs to supplement that. I also do a lot of dog sitting. That’s four sources of income that I hope can add up to $75K. It’s a stretch goal.
I’ve found that the “lose 10 pounds” goals typically don’t work for me. I’m not alone in that.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
I’ve always been a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Except that it’s usually meat and ramen. It tastes great to me, it’s cheap, and it’s quick and easy to prepare. It’s not the healthiest way to eat obviously.
I often buy fruits and vegetables, but they sit in the “drawer of death” in the fridge and never get eaten. However, over the last four weeks, I’ve been doing something different. I’ve been eating a lot of broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and nuts. I went to the local Dollar Tree and got some stackable 1 cup containers. I fill them up with cut broccoli and baby carrots. Each day I take out two of them and put them on the counter to snack on throughout the day.
This tiny change of habit has worked wonders.
I’ve added tomatoes and nuts to the routine. I think I’ll do strawberries and blueberries as well.
Exercise with my Wife
I haven’t put in consistent time in the gym for several years now. I didn’t have easy gym access for awhile in CA and walking my dog felt like all the exercise time I had available. By the time we moved back to the east coast, there were babies to take care of. In short, I have a pile of excuses.
My wife has made time to get to the gym (it’s a military requirement for her), so I need to start doing the same. We’ll pay a small amount more ($15) to upgrade to the family membership at the local YMCA, vs. the previous plan that included her and the kids.
Run a 5K (stretch goal 5 miles?)
My wife has run a couple of 5Ks over the last two years. She’s looking to do a 10K this year. I’d like to get in shape enough to do it with her.
I need to look into some fun things for myself. My problem is that I’m not sure what I find fun anymore. I think I need to get into something completely new an random. I’m toying with the idea of learning to fly with a flight simulator or signing up for Masterclass.
If anyone has any suggestions, let me know in the comments.
Final 2019 Goal Thoughts
I feel that this post may be a microcosm of how 2019 is shaping up for me. I think I rushed through it. It’s almost as if I’m reacting to the hectic pace of life around me rather than planning and methodically moving towards the goal.
On the other hand, publishing imperfect content and feelings is what I have always loved about blogging. There should be an expectation that things are a little rough around the edges.