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Well, it’s 2017, which means it’s time to take stock of how your previous year went, but more importantly, you should set your sights to the future and get your personal and financial goals put in place for the year.
Here are my plans for the year…
My 2017 Financial Goals
Buy another rental property
Buying rental property is an important stream of passive income that I’m working on building. Currently, we own a couple of rental properties – a single-family house and a duplex. They’re both filled and the duplex brings in a much better cash flow, but either way, I’m happy with the direction things are going.
But now it’s time to expand. One of my financial goals in the long-run is to buy two or three more duplexes. If I’m quitting the 9-5 in eight more years, that’s one thing. But if the Panama dream pans out and I’m able to quit my job in around 3 years, then I better get my butt in gear.
We’ve built up our savings enough to put down a 20-25% down payment on another duplex. I’ve also got my agent starting to look for something similar to last year’s duplex. Now we just need to find one. I would also prefer to locate one sooner than later before the rates continue to go up much more since every penny counts.
Sell the single-family rental property?
This one is questionable. I’ve told the story of how I’ve learned quite a bit since buying this first property. I’ve been very lucky to have the same tenants in it for the past 8 years paying down the mortgage for me.
However, it’s in a bad neighborhood and I’ve heard from my property management company that this might be the last year that the tenants are planning on staying. If that holds true, it might be time to sell.
I could probably do a 1031 Exchange and pick up another duplex (in addition to the one in the goal above) that would cash flow much better. If the tenants stay, I’ll leave it alone. If they decide to go, then it might be time to pull the trigger.
Max out my Roth IRA
In 2016, I was able to contribute $4,400 to my Roth IRA. I still missed the $5,500 limit for the year by $1,100, but it was about $500 more than I contributed the previous year.
Although, for the most part, I like the Roth IRA better than 401(k) plans, the company match I get can’t be passed up. My company does a 35% match, but with no max. In other words, for every dollar I put in, I’m getting a free 35¢ right off the rip. So I’ve maxed out my 401(k) every year for as far back as I’ve been able to.
But that’s no reason to shun my Roth IRA!! I gotta step up my game!!
I’ve already got the ball rolling and upped my contribution from $200 every other week to $211.53… ok, that’ll only get me $5,499.78, but I think that’ll be close enough to call it a max.
So as long as I don’t run into anything unexpected, this goal is now pretty much a slam dunk.
Increase contributions to my HSA
As with the Roth IRA, that 401(k) of mine has taken priority. However, I didn’t do too shabby with my Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions for 2016. Including some money that my employer throws in, my contributions last year totaled $4,449. This is actually a lot more than I thought it was, but I didn’t hit the $6,750 family limit (the individual limit was $3,400).
I would love to max this out, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. However, my game plan will be to increase this contribution in the next month or so based off of any pay increase I receive at work.
Invest in my HSA
The minimum amount required to be able to start investing in my HSA is something like $5,000 or $6,000. I’m well past this and have to decide what to do with the money in my account. If I leave it alone in there, even with the interest I accumulate (very little), inflation will eat away at what I have in there. So, it’s probably time I start investing in it.
The good news is that with the new fiduciary rule taking effect, my HSA is currently gutting the funds they had in place and adding all Vanguard funds. It’s scary to realize just how much these firms have been screwing their customers for so long with fees. Most investors don’t even realize just how bad they’ve been hurt by these fees. I’m certainly glad this change has come.
So, I’m going to wait for them to finish their transition this year and hopefully for the market to at least dip down before I buy in. It’s recommended to keep enough in cash to cover our annual deductible ($5,800.00), so that will leave me with about $7,000 to invest into some Vanguard index fund. They didn’t have the Vanguard Total Stock Market fund so I’ll have to find something comparable.
Find a possible suitable replacement for Quicken
I love Quicken. It does everything it needs to for me. It brings in all my accounts into one place and downloads all the latest transactions. I can easily see exactly where I’m at down to the penny.
So why think about changing?
Well, for as good as Quicken is, it’s a bloated program and is known to have bugs for month after each new release.
There are also a lot of more nimble companies coming out all the time offering “free” services that are like Quicken but more accessible from anywhere.
For instance, Mint is probably the most well-known and you access it from the web instead of desktop software running on a Windows PC or Mac. This is important to me because I want to get rid of Windows down the line and move to something simpler like a Chromebook. Mint also offers smartphone apps which would be pretty convenient.
Right now, I have a few hurdles I need to get past or figure out:
- These services are read-only for the most part. This is tough for me. I like to run my checking account extremely lean, so I need to know to the penny what I have in my account. I enter everything into Quicken as soon as the transactions are made and download the data to match it up. I can’t do that with most of these online services as they won’t show you pending transactions. Mint might show that I have a current $1,000 balance in my checking, but what if I had $1,200 in pending transactions? Not good.
- These services keep a limited amount of data. Usually, these services store the past few months of data. If I need to look back for a transaction that happened a couple of years ago, Quicken is great for that and I can pull up the results very easily. I’d be outta luck with the online services and have to hope that I could find the data directly through my bank or whichever institution handled the actual transaction.
- My credit union doesn’t support it. I could probably get over the first two problems, but this one is a big deal. I’m currently talking with them about this and they are going to let me know in the next few weeks if they’re going to work on offering support for it. If not, I might have to stick with Quicken for a while.
Another option is Empower (formerly Personal Capital). This is a great service that offers tons of great tools for managing your investments. If you don’t have an account, it’s worth signing up for a free account to review your fees and investment options. Although I use them for these purposes, they don’t focus on the day-to-day as much as Mint does, which I need to replace Quicken.
I would love to switch to something like Mint, but we’ll see how this all plays out.
Build up income on my blog
Since my blog came out a couple of years ago, I’ve focused on building up a following. I’m happy with the growth so far, but like any writer, I want to continue to build it up even more.
However, it’s time to put a little more effort into bringing in some money from the site. I already have a small amount of ads on the site and do some affiliate marketing. But this has all been a little haphazard.
In other words, the ads are placed just where I think they’ll work well. And the affiliate links are only for a handful of things I like that I went after the affiliate marketing on.
This year, I want to optimize while not detracting from the content. For instance, I don’t plan to put any more ads on the site. But I would like to figure out the best places on the site to put them to help bring in the most income. This can be done with heat maps and other tracking tools, but I just haven’t put in the time to do it yet.
And when it comes to affiliate links, I’m not about to add links to products or services that I don’t use myself. However, there are a number of products and services that I do recommend in previous articles, but I didn’t use an affiliate link to them. Maybe it was because I didn’t know to do it at the time or maybe it was because I didn’t sign up to be a partner for it. Either way, that’s just money left on the table.
So this year, I’ll try to do a better job of these things in relation to this site.
So that’s the game plan for my financial goals for the year, but what about my personal goals?
My 2017 Personal Goals
Vacations – including a recon mission to Panama
This might sound counter-intuitive to a personal finance blog, but I need to stop focusing on putting every single penny away for retirement.
Why? Because you need to take the time to stop and smell the roses. Who knows if I’ll even live long enough to reach financial independence?
That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop saving and investing. It just means I need to ensure that my family and I enjoy the present day.
We have two vacations already planned for this coming year and I’m excited about both of them…
In June, we’re planning a trip to Panama, along with my brother and his wife. This is an important trip and I’ve been setting the stage to book it in a particular way. Although we’re going to be enjoying the trip as a vacation, I made sure that we didn’t just book an all-inclusive resort.
The reason being is that both my family and my brother’s family are considering the possibility of early-retiring there. If you’re at an all-inclusive resort anywhere in the world, you’re gonna say it’s the best place ever and that you could live there for the rest of your life.
Instead, we’re going to get local on this trip. We’re going to try to be there as if it’s a place we might be living and not just a vacation spot. We’ve booked the lodging already and once we get the flights booked, I’ll post more about what we have planned for this trip.
This is a trip we’ve gone on before with my wife’s side of the family once before. Loved it. Just a secluded cabin right on the lake, with a pool and a hot tub. Very laid-back and enjoyable. Hanging out, fishing, swimming, boating, etc… can’t get much better than this.
Find new friends with similar interests
I’ve made quite a number of “friends” here in the personal finance blogging community that I definitely appreciate, but these aren’t people I’ve ever hung out with. I’m looking for more…
I want to have a beer and just shoot the crap with some of these personal finance blogging friends! 🙂
So where do I find these new friends?
Boy am I glad you asked! I’m heading to FinCon this year! What’s FinCon?? Only the largest financial content expo in the world! It’s been around for a handful of years now and although, I’ve never attended, it sounds right up my alley.
This year it will be in Dallas, TX and I decided to pull the trigger. I’ll hopefully gain some good insight and advice to build up my blog, which makes it a great investment. But I’m actually more excited about meeting some like-minded bloggers and other personal finances peeps.
Get more exercise
Everyone and their brother makes this resolution every year and then it goes straight downhill after a month or so. I’m a skinny guy and have very good blood work numbers.
The one thing that’s not so good though is my cholesterol. That’s been trending up over the past few years and my doctor is now threatening to put me on medicine.
We actually eat pretty healthy so I tend not to think that it’s necessarily my diet. The biggest contributing factor I’m going to guess is that I don’t get any exercise. I have an office job and sit on my butt too much.
My mid-day walk I take at work in the summer is good, but definitely not good enough. And that doesn’t help in the winter because this guy doesn’t go out to play in the snow!
So I’ve decided to take a different route and not start out strong. I think this is what ends up making people quit exercising so quickly after starting… dreading doing it.
My plan is to do just two things for the time being – walk on the treadmill and do push-ups. I hate running, but I don’t mind walking, so I’m going to do some fast-walking on the treadmill every day after work. And before and after that, I’m going to do some push-ups.
This might not be the perfect plan, but I think it’s a good start and should keep me from hating it. I started it last week and it seems to be going well.
I don’t drink excessively, but I want to cut back. I sometimes would have a beer after I would get home from work just because I craved it and it tasted so good!
My plan is to just not drink at all if I have to work the next day unless I go out with anyone after work (which only happens a few times a year). I’m also going to cut back on my weekend beers.
I’ll miss you beer, but I think we’re seeing too much of each other!!
So there you have it – my plans for 2017… all my personal and financial goals wrapped up in this post like a burrito! We’ll regroup later this year to see how well I’ve done.
Have you set any personal and financial goals for this year?
Have a great year and thanks for reading!!