2011 Goals Reviewed

With 2011 behind us I wanted to take a moment to review my goals I set forth for the previous year and see how I did. I’m pleased to say that for the four goals I set out to attain at the beginning of last year I achieved all of them! They were pretty challenging, and to be honest I didn’t think I’d achieve them all. I was determined and worked hard and because of that I can look back and proudly say that 2011 was a huge success.

Goal #1

My first goal for 2011 was to earn $1,200 in dividends during the calender year. This was actually a pretty challenging goal for myself, seeing as how I only attained $269 in dividends in 2010. I knew that I’d have to stay committed to investing in quality companies at attractive valuations every single month and that I’d have to be pretty aggressive with my capital commitments. I’m proud to say that I achieved this goal by receiving a grand total of $1,202.06 during the course of last year! I beat my goal by $2.06. Pretty tight forecasting, but I was actually doubtful I’d achieve this goal as 2011 was drawing to a close. You can view my dividend history here.

Goal #2

My second goal for 2011 was to reduce expenses by $150 per month by the end of the year. I easily did this, and actually reduced my expenses much further. I achieved this goal by selling my car, cutting my cell phone bill, moving to a cheaper apartment, cutting my food expenses and budgeting my income and expenditures. This was probably the easiest goal of the four and I attained this goal quite early in the year.

Goal #3

My third goal for last year was to get rid of and/or pay off my car by the end of 2011. I did this by selling my car last May. This was a huge step for me. I had long sought to live car-free, but it’s much easier said than done. I think it was mostly fear that kept me from doing this earlier, but I decided it was time to stop living in my head and go out and aggressively pursue financial independence. So, the car went and this goal was achieved.

Goal #4

My final goal was to average a 50% savings rate of my net income, monthly. With December’s budget now posted I can proudly say that I easily exceeded this goal with a final savings rate of 59.3% on the year. I think that saving 60% of one’s net income is extremely challenging but equally rewarding. It’s because of my frugality and adherence to a strict budget that has afforded me the opportunity to invest in quality dividend growth companies monthly and set out on the path to financial independence at a young age!

Looking Back

All in all, 2011 was a huge success. I achieved every single personal and financial goal I set out to attain and I did it with gusto and enthusiasm. I think that when I finally do reach financial independence I’ll look back on 2011 as the turning point; the year when I really took control of my future. This is the year I stepped out of the cave and opened my eyes.

2012 And Beyond

Looking forward, I’m extremely excited about the way things are going. I’ll be setting forth some challenging goals for 2012 very soon. Please stay tuned!

How did you do with your goals?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: jscreationzs

Comments

  1. says

    It’s hard for me to set goals because I don’t really have any real world expenses. But with that aside, I’ve set an ambitious goal for myself. Which is to contribute $100k in my retirement fund by the time I’m 25. That gives me 3 years, and I’m 30% there. And to say humble!

  2. says

    Henry,

    Great goal there! I hope you make it. You’re off to a great start my friend.

    You just need to contribute another $70k in 3 years, correct? So that’s a little over $23k per year. Sounds doable. Stay focused!

    Best wishes.

  3. says

    Yep, that’s about right. It’s going to be tough. I’m pretty sure you’ll surpass that level way before me. Keep up the great work! =)

  4. Anonymous says

    Well done Dividend mantra!

    As someone who is the same age your a great inspiration, looking forward to seeing the new goals this year!

    Geoff

  5. Anonymous says

    DM

    Well done man. I found your blog right about the time you started it and have been following your progress since. Impressive and motivating are the words I would use to describe what you have done over the year. However, you have set the bar high for this years performance my friend. Here is what I would like to see in your goal write up. Continued improvement in your investment stratgey and increased income. You have a solid system in how you select your stocks, there is always room for improvement. If you haven’t already, read The Intelligent Investor by Graham. The copy with commentary by Jason Zweig is great, it’s like getting two books in one. I just finished it myself and going back to read over my notes and highlights. I’m in the middle of reading Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits which is turning out to be a great one as well. I think with the combination of these two you will do well in the coming year. You will notice a different tone with Fisher, but the balance is nice and the underlying philosphical framework that he offers will only help you become a better investor.

    Now for the income. You’ve got your expense as low as they can go so your not going to find any additional seed money from that well. Now consider increasing your income. Perhaps a raise from work (never hurts to ask, esp. if you are a solid performer and are producing for the company, they pay for productive assets) or look look at other opportunties. Your any a perfect spot to look as you’ve cut your expense and you know it doesn’t take much to live.

    That is what I would like to see. Hope this doesn’t come off ass pushy. I just want to see you do well and then I can say, ” I knew that guy when…” :-)

    Regardless of what you do, I’m sure 2012 will be another great year.

    ExpatERE

    • says

      ExpatERE,

      Thanks for staying in touch. Always good to hear from you.

      I fully agree that additional income funds will not come from cutting the budget any further. I have cut the budget to a point where it will be just simply maintaining/managing it and this is where patience comes into play. I have little to do but manage my expenses and continue to save/invest monthly and let time/compounding to its magic.

      I agree as well on the income. I did actually take a new position at work, which will likely also come with increased income. I let that cat out of the bag on my “Happy New Year” post. I’m really excited, and although it comes with additional responsibility it could definitely make my journey shorter. We’ll see how it goes.

      BTW, I have read parts of Mr. Grahams seminal work. I have not read the whole thing simply because I’m not much of a book guy and I prefer my information in shorter bursts but someday I will get around to reading it cover to cover.

      Best wishes for your 2012! Thanks for your support.

  6. Anonymous says

    Greetings D. Mantra,

    Hope you and your family/friends had a good Holiday. Congrats on meeting your 2011 goals. Meeting these goals is quite an accomplishment and an inspiration to others. Best of luck in the New Year (curious to see what your Goals for 2012 will be).

    I haven’t commented on any of your posts over the last month or so, but I’ve been reading them on and off. I’ve read about your sale of TEF. I know you asked me my input on that one shortly before you sold it; sorry, I didn’t get back to you. But you didn’t need my opinion to make the right decision. Your humility in admitting a mistake is admirable. Like you, I actually sold it as well.

    Also, your article a few days ago (“Start Off Your New Year Right”) is a great introduction for beginning investors. As you advise there, I believe in building a dividend paying portfolio of stocks purchased at reasonable valuations. And having a handful of very solid holdings at the core of that portfolio is a key concept. The five you mentioned in your earlier article are all choices that would qualify well.

    Although I respect and agree w/ much of your input, I’ll like to respectfully offer a couple of my possible disagreements and maybe they can serve as food for thought and discussion. Please bear w/ the details.
    My intention is to eventually have approximately 15-20 stocks from about 6 or 7 sectors in my portfolio. I’m looking to have 4-6 “core” holdings and 10-15 “supporting players”. The core holdings would constitute a higher percentage of market value than the supporting players and would consist of stocks I consider stalwarts. Currently, my core is PG, JNJ, ABT, EXC and T while my supporting players are RY, TD, TU, DUK, PEP, GIS, VOD and INTC. I’m considering RCI, MSFT, LLY, NVS, NUE, AFL, SLF, APD and MDT as possible additions to my supporting cast. I’m also unsure how I’ll handle the ABT split; I might sell off some T and might add more PEP to make it a core holding. I prefer mostly defensive sectors (consumer, healthcare, utilities, etc.).
    Anyhow, there might be two points I disagree with you on and since I respect your input, I’m interested in getting your thoughts. It seems you and many other dividend investors I respect think about 30-50 stocks is necessary for adequate diversification, but I think it might be difficult to follow and perform due diligence on that many stocks. Secondly, I think it is important to balance high yield but slower dividend growth stocks (for ex, utilities, telecomm) w/ lo-med yield but higher growth (consumer). I know there’s a lot of interesting debate on this point in the dividend investor community. You seem to fall in the camp of placing more emphasis on the lo-med yield and higher growth. For example, I don’t think you are enthusiastic about utility stocks while I think they can serve as an important part of a dividend portfolio.

    Anyhow, the disagreements are not intended as personal. I respect your opinion and would like more input on them. Be brutal and honest but NOT quite as much as D. Ninja. Ha, just kidding. Thanx again for any input.

    P.S. I guess this verbose comment makes up for me not posting for awhile. LOL.

    -Rock the Casbah

    • says

      Rock,

      Hey no problem on the lack of comments. I really appreciate your support and it’s always good to get your input.

      Two things.

      First, I don’t necessarily believe that 30-50 stocks are necessary for diversification from a sector/company standpoint. I think you could probably own 9-10 stocks and be properly diversified. You could own one stock from each sector and be fine. I do plan on owning more than 30 positions before I’m done, but this is not to diversify my investments. It’s to diversify my income. Let me explain. If you have a concentrated portfolio of 12 stocks and you’re properly diversified across sectors/industries/markets and one of your companies cuts or eliminates their dividend that is 1/12 of your income and that’s likely going to hurt your income flow significantly. However, if you own 40 stocks and one cuts or eliminates the dividend that is only 1/40 of your income. That isn’t such a big deal any longer. My plan doesn’t work for everyone, but I hope that explains things a bit.

      Second, I completely agree with you about mixing in low growth/high yield and high growth/low yield investments. I’m just as likely to invest in Visa (less than 1% yield) as I am Vodafone (over 7% yield) because they offer my portfolio different things. The high yield offers me income now to reinvest the dividend aggressively and fuel compounding growth. The low yielding securities offer capital appreciation as well as a fast growing dividend that will hopefully provide me a large YOC when I’m ready to live off passive income. I like utilities, but I don’t love them. Also, utilities had a huge run last year and they’re trading for rich valuations. At one point or another I wouldn’t mind a utility or two in the portfolio. People need water and electricity.

      I hope this clears things up and don’t mind disagreeing. I love discussing ideas and learning from others.

      Best wishes!

  7. says

    Fantastic that you accomplished your goals for the year! I was looking at histories of Blue Chip companies and noticed during the 2008-2009 dips that if stocks were bought, then today yields would be 7-10% for Dividends.
    This is what is vital for your Core and Future Prospectus.

    • says

      FreeYourChains,

      Definitely! Investing in some solid large cap dividend growth companies back in the crisis would be providing you with huge YOC numbers today. Of course, most investments in general would have done well for you by investing in those lows. As they say…buy on the dips, and boy were those some dips.

      Take care.

  8. says

    Rock the Cashbah,

    I agree with you and think that 30+ is too much to manage as well. That is why I sold a lot of my holdings.

    Mantra,

    Great job on the goals for 2011. I accomplished mine as well! Looking forward to your 2012 goals. Take care,

    DivPartisan

  9. Anonymous says

    Hi dividend mantra,

    Sorry if you have answered this previously by why do you choose individual stocks over index funds which every advisor is raving about? Also, can i ask what brokerage you pay per trade, here in New Zealand it is $30 per each buy and sell which adds up fast.

    Cheers
    Geoff (again)

    • says

      Geoff,

      I choose individual stocks because I like to be an owner. I like voting rights if I so choose and I like to be the recipient of ever growing dividends. I believe in the power of the individual and my utmost priority is building a growing source of income to exceed expenses.

      On the broker side, I use Scottrade which charges $7 per transaction. I usually only make 1-2 transactions per month and am trying to get the point where it’s only 1.

      Best wishes!

  10. says

    I envy you for getting rid of your car. That’s a huge decision and really shows your commitment to reaching FI.

    My car is my biggest expense which is weird because I didn’t finance it and I don’t drive much. I was stupid and bought an SUV, I should have bought a car for fuel efficiency. I’m not convinced I should sell my wheels yet, but I have thought about it. I love to drive though, I’m torn.

    I agree with you about having 30-50 stocks. I think I’ll end up at 30-35 or so. If the best value at a particular time is a new company I don’t own then so be it. I try to pick the best values while maintaining diversity. I enjoy monitoring my portfolio, the extra work isn’t a big deal to me.

    • says

      Compounding Income,

      Don’t be too envious. Today, for instance, the bus was late this morning which resulted in me being late to work. With a new position at work, and added responsibility, this is something I really can’t have happen. So, a car (sub-$2,000) may be in my near future. It’s unfortunate, but the bus system here is just too unreliable for me.

      I also like having that many stocks. It’s not work for me, and the day when I’m no longer working full-time I can see this being a fun hobby (managing a portfolio).

      Take care!

  11. says

    That’s great news, congratulations. I paid off all credit card debt so was very pleased with that. Also transferred into a few dividend stocks such as National Grid (UK grid operator) and Telefonica, Spain (high dividend). Just out of curiosity (and apologies if you have posted on this previously), but do you reinvest your dividends or just pocket them?

    • says

      farmland investment,

      I reinvest all dividends. I do not DRIP, however, and I’ve discussed my reasons why I do not. I use dividends that have accumulated over a month, along with capital from my day job, and invest that combined source of funds into the most attractive equity that fits my allocation availability at the time.

      Best wishes!

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