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That’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
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
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
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
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!
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?
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 Personal Capital, but I haven’t completely switched yet. Mint is fantastic at tracking your daily finances and for budgeting, while Personal Capital is awesome for tracking your investments.
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
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
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!!