Personal and Financial Goals for 2018

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Personal and Financial Goals for 2018That’s right, folks – it’s time for me to set some goals for 2018.  Sure, it’s a little blasé, but it’s that time of year after all.

So why do a blog post on goals I’m setting?  There’s one good reason – it keeps me accountable.

I’ve always hated the idea of “writing down my goals.”  You’ve probably heard time and again that putting your goals on paper (or digital paper!) will help push you to make them happen… such a lame idea!!

Except for one thing – it actually worked for me.

I’ve held off from ever doing this in my past until last year.  Writing out my 2017 Personal and Financial Goals last year was my first time I ever caved and actually wrote out my goals.

And you know what – I nailed a lot of ’em!

It wasn’t perfect, but it’s nice to be able to gauge how I did over the course of the year.

Here’s a quick recap of how I did with my 2017 goals…


2017 Goals Recap

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - 2017 Goals Recap
What if every year someone read over how you did on a scroll like this one? That’d be pretty bad-ass!

I was able to max out both my Roth IRA and Health Savings Account (HSA) accounts.  I also started to make some money on my blog (which I’ll discuss in a future post).

We did our vacation/recon mission to Panama and it was everything I hoped for and more!  We actually decided we’re going to take the plunge and move there in 2020.

Another goal that I thought would be harder was finding new friends with similar interests.  But then I went to FinCon and truly had a blast.  I made a ton of new friends there and had one of the best times ever at this event… I found my people!

I also got in better shape with exercising a few times a week, though I’ve fallen off that train over the past couple of months.  Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, I’ll be back on track!

Moreover, I cut back considerably on drinking… mmm, beer.  I’m now only drinking on days when I’m not working the next day and (most of the time) I’m only having a beer or two.

Not all goals were a success though.  I didn’t find another rental property to buy.  The market’s a little hot right now and I didn’t come across a good fit.  To be honest, though, I didn’t put that much effort into it either.

I also decided not to sell our single-family rental house.  This was more of a question anyway, but I think we’re making the right move by keeping it.

With the new tax reform coming into play, I’m thinking that more people are going to be renting than buying in the long haul.  Since it won’t make sense for most folks to itemize, that mortgage interest deduction loses its luster.  We’ll see what happens though!

I also planned to find an alternative for Quicken.  I started on that but didn’t get as far as I had hoped.  More on that one shortly!

And with that, it’s time for me to lay out some new goals for 2018…


My Financial Goals for 2018


Iron out the details on current expenses and potential income

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - Iron out the details on current expenses and potential income
Ironing is one skill I can’t seem to master. I can spend 20 minutes ironing a shirt and it comes out looking worse than when I started.

One of my biggest goals for 2018 is to get a more solid picture of where we’re at on our expenses and, more particularly, what our income will look like when I enter early retirement.

I have a good handle on the rough numbers, but I’d like to have more concrete numbers.  Sure, things will never be 100% solid as laws change, markets swing, and expenses change.  However, the more accurate I can get, the more comfortable I’ll be making this move.

We know our expenses today because I track everything in Quicken down to the penny.  But we’re going to be making a move to Panama in mid-2020 where things are more unknown.

I can see some comparisons in Numbeo like we looked at in my post, The Cost of Living in Panama… Geoarbitrage at Work!.  However, I’m really going to need to think this through to get a ballpark of where we should expect our expenses to fall.

The other half of the equation is to look more at our income and drawdown.  Once again, I have an idea of how everything’s going to flow, but it’s time to get more serious.  I want to look closer at the effect of taxes and detail the flow from my retirement accounts a little better.

As I write this, the market’s still doing extremely well.  Are we do for a crash?  Nobody knows.  But having one right after I quit my job in a couple years could be devastating if not laid out right.  I want to plan this to help ensure we have enough cash to cover us without the volatility of the stock market really hurting us.

On top of some of these “what-ifs” is something else I need to consider that could affect my taxes and be somewhat of a big deal for our Roth IRA Conversion Ladder


Increase my blogging income

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - Increase my blogging income
Definitely not my setup – notebook (I’m all-digital!), MacBook (not happening here), and coffee (I don’t drink caffeine).

I started this blog in early 2015.  My plan was a little simplistic back then – document our journey and build a following.  Then hopefully we’d be in a position to earn a little side money from it once I quit my job.

After I started it, I quickly learned that I don’t have the time to post more than once a week without hindering my time with my family.  That’s Ok – I’ve been posting religiously every week since (haven’t missed a week yet!).

Nevertheless, the more often you post, the more traffic you garner.  When I retire, I’ll have time to post more often.  In fact, I’d like to put out 2-3 posts a week.  In the meantime, my site continues to grow slowly but surely.

I also figured from the beginning that I’d start seeing a slight bit of income after two years.  Sure enough, I nailed that one.  For 2017, Route to Retire made around $2,000.  It’s not a huge number, but it does show some potential.  I’ll be talking more about this in a post in the near future.

That said, one of my goals for 2018 is to increase this.  I’m thinking an achievable goal might be for the blog to bring in $5,000 for 2018.

Going back to my first goal of detailing my flow of income and expenses, income from this site can make a big difference in my plans.  In a few years, once I’m retired and working on it more consistently, I would like to see around $20-25k in income from it.

If that happens though, that’s going to have an effect on my Roth IRA Conversion Ladder.  The additional income might mean less we need to convert yearly from our 401(k)/IRA to cover our living expenses.

However, the blogging income isn’t a guaranteed stream of income so we’ll still need to figure out the right amount to convert to use 5-years-out (the wait time before we can withdraw it).  And the higher we go, the more we have to consider hitting a higher tax bracket for the year.

It’s a good problem to have, but still something we need to figure out.


Get out there a little more

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - Get out there a little more
I got a microphone for the podcasts, but it’s not as cool looking at this one!

I’ve been writing this blog for a little under three years now.  And I’ve also been pretty quiet in the blogosphere.

Sure, I comment on other sites and try to lend a hand to others out there when asked.  But for the most part, I just sort of keep to myself.

I’m not tremendously active on social media and I don’t do guest posts for others (due to a lack of time).  Additionally, I’ve only ever had one guest post written for my site.

It’s not a matter of any problems with the community – you couldn’t ask for a group of better people.  It’s just a matter of time, which always seems to be my big anchor.

However, this year, I’m going to try to put myself out there a little more.  In particular, I’m going to try to be a guest on some of the podcasts in the community.  I already have a couple in the works for the first quarter of this year.

I’m as nervous as can be (and it’s not even like it’s the day of the show!), but I think it’ll be good for others to get to know me better.  In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to drive a little more traffic to the Route to Retire site.

I’ll let you guys know when I do these so you can give me some feedback – good, bad, and ugly!


Let it go… Quicken that is!

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - Let it go... Quicken that is!
Pie charts… ooohh, aaahhh

Since my battle to get out of consumer debt 15 years ago, I still track every single penny religiously with Quicken.  I’ve been pretty obsessed with monitoring every detail of my finances to make sure I was exactly where I needed to be.

That was so long ago and now we’re on the other end and planning to FIRE in 2 years.  For the most part, the boat now steers itself.  The consumer debt’s been gone for years, the savings and investments are automated, we keep our expenses low, and we’ve found some other income streams.

The point is, do I still need to be getting a receipt for every gas station or restaurant visit and entering it into Quicken as soon as I get home?

Probably not.

Technology’s changed and made some things much easier than it was 15 years ago.  I can easily see where I’m at using an aggregator service.

I have accounts at both Mint and Empower (formerly Personal Capital), but I haven’t completely switched yet.  Mint is fantastic at tracking your daily finances and for budgeting, while Empower (formerly Personal Capital) is awesome for tracking your investments.

Empower (formerly Personal Capital) also has the ability to easily see what you’re paying in fees and that helped me save over $50,000 over the course of ten years… thanks, PC!!

So one of my goals for 2018 is to try to let loose on the reins a little and let go of Quicken.  Although this sounds easy, this will be a struggle for me.  I feel like I’ll be letting go of some control even though I’ll get back a lot of my time switching.

The small hurdle I have is that my credit union won’t allow aggregators like Mint or Personal to access my accounts.  I definitely understand the security concerns, but this makes it a little hard for me to see my financial picture as a whole.


My Personal Goals for 2018


Get back on the exercise train

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - Get back on the exercise train
Come on, ride the train, hey, ride it…

If at first, you don’t succeed…

I’m very proud of how well I did on the exercise routine for 2017.  It was the longest I’ve ever gone without jumping ship.

However, I got screwed up after my backpacking trip this past fall.  I was beaten down and took a temporary break from my exercise routine.

This was a big mistake.  Before I knew it, I had missed weeks and then a couple months.

I tried to get rolling again and got a few days in, but then the holidays rolled around and the busy schedule won out.

So that sucks.  But it’s a new year and so, one of my goals for 2018 is to get my butt up again and get back to exercising.

I have a routine that worked so I’m going to go back to it.  The keep-it-simple method is what I need.  I hate exercise so I don’t want to turn myself off to it.

Three days a week, probably about a half hour to forty-five minutes each time.  Treadmill, push-ups, and sit-ups – that’s it.  It’s no huge workout, but that’s the point.  I need to do what works for me and this seems to be it.


Spend some more time outdoors

Personal and Financial Goals for 2018 - Spend some more time outdoors
Here’s a shot of our second day backpacking trip in 2017 – a great but exhausting trip!

Camping.  We love it.  It’s a great opportunity to get away and be together without interruptions.  And we always have a great time.

2017 was the first year that my daughter hasn’t gotten to go camping since she was a one-year-old.  This past year, we had too many vacations and other trips going on to make it happen (yeah, waaaaahhh – I get it).

I got some of my outdoor fix in by crossing a backpacking trip off my bucket list, but the rest of family missed that chance.

So regardless, I want to add this to the goals for 2018 – get out there and get at least a few camping trips in this year.  I hope to get in one trip ourselves and then a couple trips with some friends that we enjoy going with.

Nothing beats sitting around a fire at night and looking up at the stars covering the sky!


So that’s it – my goals for 2018.  I’m trying to keep it a little simple this year.  I hope you enjoyed it and maybe it even triggered some ideas for goals for yourself for the year.

Have you set any goals for 2018?

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

40 thoughts on “Personal and Financial Goals for 2018”

  1. I love your 2018 goals! I really do think that regular movement and getting outside help us feel more alive, even while we’re chained to mandatory work. Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures in Panama too!

    1. Just listened to you on ChooseFI and I think that I’m going to officially make you my podcast guest idol! You really know your stuff and come off so relaxed on these shows – nice job!

      Have a great 2018!!

      — Jim

        1. Don’t be trying to push yourself up even higher by making it “Idol: with a capital “I”… you need to mention me on your next podcast to move off the lower-case “idol”. 😉

          — Jim

  2. Great goals for 2018! I want to go camping but sadly the wife has no interest in it. We might do a one-night camping trip with my brother and his family. He’s got two little kids, so one day is probably all they could tolerate anyway.

    May be a good way to warm my wife up to the idea 🙂

    1. A one-night trip loses a little luster because the same amount of work still needs to be done, but it’s still better than nothing! Earn some points by bringing an air mattress or a cot for in the tent… it’s hard to win over the spouse after a night of sleeping directly on the ground. 🙂

      Good luck and have fun!

      — Jim

  3. Sounds like some great goals. I know I should posts some personal goals, but I don’t because, in some respects, they are all the same. 1) Work out more, eat less; 2) continue to publish articles and books for my job; 3) try to finagle a vacation or two.

    Actually, one personal goal I should post is saying “NO.” I used to be really good about guarding my time, but I found I am not as good as it anymore. Part of it is because it makes me feel needed, but I am stressed out because I am being pulled in too many directions. I need to do a better job of that or my wife will make me. Good luck in 2018.

    1. That’s actually a great goal, albeit probably a tough one for a lot of people to pull off. Until you master it, I’m curious – can you give me $100? Oh, well, worth a shot! 😉

      Good luck and have a great 2018!

      — Jim

  4. If you don’t mind my asking, how are you monetizing the blog? By blog is averaging about 50k pageviews a month and growing fast. I’m trying to figure out monetization, but I really don’t like Adsense and the CPC stuff

    1. Wow, you’re blowing me out of the water in pageviews – that’s for sure! Congrats on all the traffic!!

      I’m planning to do a post on the monetization and what I’m doing hopefully in the next few weeks. But I’ll tell you that the bulk of income came from affiliate marketing and not from ads.

      — Jim

  5. You had a great 2017. It is cool that your blog is earning some income. Your goals for 2018 seem very achievable. Good luck with them. I hope to get the chance to meet you at FinCon 2018.

  6. I can so relate with you on the lack of time for blogging! Sometimes I wonder where some of our fellow bloggers find the time , between social media, forums and posts…it’s like a full time job!
    At least you are getting some income from blogging! Congrats:)

  7. Good set of goals, and I agree that writing them down and posting them helps you to keep them! I’ve been doing the annual review/goal setting thing for the last 7 years, and it has definitely helped me move ahead – only 30 months left to FI!

    I’ll have mine up on the blog by Friday.

    Good luck to all on their goals & objectives for 2018!

    Mr. 39 Months

  8. Accountability for your goals, great job listing and checking them off as you completed.

    Hello, my name is _____, I’ve been a Quicken addict for ___ years, updating 3x per day. Yes, I need reduce, but not eliminate. Quicken 2018 continues to be a tool, especially to export ledgers and reports to excel, import to the FIRE calculators out there and run multiple scenarios and projections. My goal, reconcile every Saturday morning.

    1. I’m definitely a Quicken addict – you’re so right about updating and checking it too much. It’s definitely a useful tool, but I spend too much of my time on it. Hopefully, I can wean myself off of it before upgrading to 2018.

      Your plan of a once a week reconcile sounds a lot more reasonable… wanna handle mine as well?! 😉

      Have a great 2018!!

      — Jim

  9. Good luck in 2018! I never had New Year goals before I started blogging. I just never believed in them. However, blogging about them helped a lot. You’re more accountable and they are easier to track. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll do well this year.
    Exercise is tough. Last year, I stopped exercising when our kid got out of school for the summer. Once school started again, I went back, but never got into the groove again. Q3 and Q4 just aren’t good for me.

    1. It’s funny how you don’t go into blogging with the idea of goals and accountability, but that seems to be an added benefit that we get!

      You and I sound similar in the exercise foray! 😉 Good luck to you as well and have a great 2018!

      — Jim

    1. It doesn’t seem like a lot so it’s hard to tell if you’re busting my chops, Mr. Tako! 😉 Either way, I hope to make that a better number to show for it for this year.

      Good luck to you for 2018 as well!!!

      — Jim

  10. I have been using Quicken for at least 25 years and track every facet of our financial lives with it. I enter and/or download transactions every few days. We use our Costco Visa credit card for almost all of our purchases so I don’t track items paid with cash unless they are larger (more than $20 or so).

    We achieved FIRE in May 2016 and my financial tracking habits remain the same. Although I use Personal Capital as an aggregator service, it does not allow for categorizing at the level I like.

    Until I find a product that can track income and expenses at as granular a level as Quicken, I don’t see changing products or my methods. It has worked for me all this time and I have more free time than I ever did.

    1. Sounds like you and I are on the same page with Quicken, Chris! I’m still trying out some of the other services, but so far, Mint’s not impressing me. I’m thinking I’ll probably be sticking with Quicken as well, but just simplifying my methods a little bit.

      — Jim

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