My Goals For 2012

I’m a big fan of having goals. Goals give you something to shoot for, they’re a target so that you can track your progress. Putting goals down on paper, and then showing them to the world does a couple things. First, by actually typing these goals up I realize them in a physical form. If the goals only exist in my head they’re easy to forget. Second, by showing them to the world I obviously want to save face and do my best to reach the goals as my pride is on the line.

I try to make goals challenging, but achievable. This sets the bar high and forces me to do my best, but also reinforces positive results. Without further ado:

Goal #1 – To receive $2,000 in dividends in 2012.

It would be fantastic if I could reach, and exceed, this goal. That would be an average of $166 a month throughout the year, and a big increase over my ~$1,200 year-end dividend total in 2011. With the amount of money I have in my Freedom Fund, I could easily reach this by investing strictly in high yield securities, but I’m a dividend growth investor and I do favor stocks with strong entry yields, but more important to me is the growth rate. With high yield securities, one usually sacrifices the growth rate a bit for that high yield. So, my dividend totals may not “wow” anyone, but the compound growth will start to take shape 5-10 years from now. That’s when the wow factor will begin. It’s important to note, that this is not a running annualized total. I actually want to receive $2,000 in dividends from January 1-December 31 of this year.

Goal #2 – To save 65% of my net income earned in 2012, averaged monthly.

This would be huge. I lived a fairly frugal life in 2011 and was able to achieve a net income savings rate of 59.3%. To improve on that would be fantastic, as I think the ~60% savings rate is pretty phenomenal. Although I was able to consistently get over 60% a month for the last few months of 2011, some key things that will make reaching 65% difficult this year will be some hefty taxes owed in the spring (due to investment gains) as well as some alternative transportation plans I have. The bus is great, but is late more often than I’d like and was late yet again this past week which resulted in me being late for work. So, this is something on my mind. A scooter or cheap used vehicle may be something I own in the near future. This leads me to goal #3.

Goal #3 – Develop or purchase a frugal transportation alternative to the bus. 

Unfortunately, this is necessary at this point. As I recently discussed, I received a promotion at work. This promotion comes with the possibility of more income, but definitely comes with more responsibility. Being late to work, especially in a new position is just something that I can’t do on a regular basis. The bus system here in my city is cheap, clean and has routes that cover most of the area. Unfortunately, the reliability and timeliness of said bus system leaves a little to be desired. If I could get by on the bus indefinitely that would be great, but I can’t. I will have to come up with a back-up plan in 2012 and this is something I will be addressing sooner rather than later.

Goal #4 – Weigh less than 190 pounds by the end of the year. 

I’ve discussed my affinity for physical fitness and staying physically active many times on this blog. In fact, one of my 5 steps to retire in 12 years involves staying physically active to try and help reduce health care costs. As a former competitive bodybuilder I took a big step toward frugality when I recently quit my gym membership. Although saving money is great, it’s not a good move if one lets their health go down the tubes. I currently weigh 193 lbs. at 5’9″. That may sound heavy to some, but keep in mind that a muscle weighs more than fat and I’ve always had a fairly muscular frame. Since quitting the gym, I’ve found it more difficult than I had planned to get exercise in. It requires motivation to strap on some shoes and go for a two mile jog everyday after a long day at work. But, part of my long-term plan is staying in shape with or without a gym membership and 2012 will be a big test for me.

I’ll be updating my goals page accordingly.

What are your goals?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles

Comments

  1. Peter says

    Your dividend goal is way to low. With your monthly investments, you should have no problem hitting $2800 or more.

    • says

      Peter,

      I certainly hope you’re right!

      I thought hitting $2k last year would have been easier. I barely hit it, and that was only with my investments in TEF (high yield), which I no longer have. I generally count on an average yield of about 3.5% for my investments. To hit $2,800 or more in dividends would require an investment of $80k at 3.5%. I don’t even know if I’ll end the year with that much money, and I’m certainly not starting anywhere near it. We’ll see. Like I said, I hope you’re right!

      I could have targeted a higher number, but I have to purchase some kind of transportation this year which will impact my capital availability.

      Best wishes.

  2. says

    Hey Mantra,

    You won’t have any problem with the 2K per year, but a reasonable goal to achieve :)

    I think however your pulling the purse-strings of frugality a little too tight here. Saving 65% of your income but being miserable or frustrated, becuase your giving things up you enjoy isn’t realy a quality of life, is it?

    Here’s what I think. Keep 50% of your income for investing, as you currently have now, this is far beyond what most people do anyway, no need to raise it IMO.

    Keep your Gym Membership or renew it, you obviously love working out and that has a great benefit. Your health is more important than a few dividends here and there…

    OK so the bus isn’t working, time to carpool or get a good used car ;)You know my employer has a discounted bus pass, but I find with evening shifts it’s just a lot easier to share the auto expenses with my step-duaghter’s car than take the bus at 12am with a bunch of drunk teenagers.

    Sometimes there are things that cost money, but you just can’t put a price on them. Just my thoughts Mantra ;)

    Cheers
    Dividend Ninja

    • says

      Ninja,

      Thanks for the comment!

      You make some great points there. I agree on maintaining a certain quality of life. I constantly try to balance the frugality with a satisfactory quality of life and it’s something that I’m getting better at, but is an almost organic experience. It’s constantly changing. I maintained what I thought to be a pretty satisfying lifestyle over the past year while also hitting a high savings rate. There is a line there, and 65% is probably as high as I’d like to go. We’ll see.

      I also agree on the health factor. That’s something that is closely being watched. I would be disappointed in myself if I can’t stay motivated to work out without a gym membership, but if that’s how it’s gotta be…then it is what it is.

      No carpooling options are available to me, unfortunately. I’m carefully weighing my options between a cheap used car ($2k or so) and a used 50cc scooter (~$700). The car would serve as more of a primary transportation alternative, whereas the scooter would simply be a back-up to when the bus is running late. See, at least you have a bus option at midnight. Here, the bus stops running at 10 p.m. with very limited Sunday service. Not really a big deal though.

      We’ll see how 2012 goes. 2011 was a big success for me as I successfully navigated a high savings rate, high quality of life, as well as experiencing invaluable investment experience.

      Best wishes for you!

  3. says

    DM,

    A couple of comments…

    I would like to see you get a car vs. a scooter. I enjoy reading this blog and I don’t want to read about you getting squashed on a scooter. That wouldn’t be healthy for the bottom line and it goes against your health goals. I think it’s better to error on the side of safety and pony up a few extra dollars for a reasonable vehicle with good mileage and seating for the girlfriend.

    Your savings rate is incredible. If your not feeling “squeezed” then I say go for it. Only you can gauge that the best.

    I think $2k in dividends is a great goal. As we have discussed in the past, chasing yield does not always have the best outcome. I was doing some of that in 2011 and had to readjust. I will surely miss the $560 in dividends from AGNC, but I just felt the risk was too great. I hit $1200 in 2011, so I will try and meet or exceed your dividend goal, but it will be challenging. I weeded out stocks like AGNC, CHI, AGD, EOD and ANH so my average yield plummeted. Plus you have twice the funds that I have ($25k). I think my average yield is closer to 6% so I am comfortable there and getting better capital growth as well as dividend growth. I’m holding BIP, EPD, MO, MAIN and UTG. I have $4800 in cash on the sideline. I am looking at LMT and APL for additions to the portfolio. I’m open for any suggestion from you or any of your readers as I am waiting for a good entry point on a new dividend play.

    Good luck on your goals. The readers here are going to hold your feet to the fire and I expect the same in return. Remember iron sharpens iron as far as accountability goes…

    DPS

    • says

      DPS,

      Haha. Yes, I don’t want to get squashed either. If it wasn’t for that risk the scooter would win hands down. But, we have a large demographic of senior citizens here and they’re not known for prolific driving skills. Having all the money in the world is no good if you get killed on a scooter. If I was to buy a scooter, it would simply be a back-up to when the bus is late…which is about once a month. It would also allow me to do errands in my local area. We’ll see.

      I’m glad you got out of some of those high fliers. I think you picked an excellent time. Some of those mREIT’s are serving investors well, but when does the well run dry? I think it’s better to get out early and stay conservative. Fire eventually burns.

      $4,800 in cash on the sidelines is great. That’s a lot of capital to play with. I personally have about $3k waiting to invest. I plan on publishing an article highlighting some of the stocks I’m looking at, but right now I’m strongly looking in the direction of BDX, NVS, INTC, V, MSFT, EMR, ITW.

      It seems the tech, financial, health care and industrial sectors still have some value. A lot of the defensive consumer stocks have been bid up.

      I hope you reach your goals. It’ll be fun to keep each other motivated!

      Take care.

  4. Anonymous says

    If you are going to make more money, then 50% of this higher amount is going to be more than 50% of what you earned before.

    I agree with Ninja, the gym membership should not be sacrificed for the sake of dividends. If your gym as everything from cardio machines, free weights, machines, swimming pool, skating rink and other activities it should not be let go.

    Running outside, doing push ups and situps will not keep you motivated as it is free. “I don’t feel like running today”…”I don’t feel like running tomorrow..” which eventually eventually turns into weeks and months for most people. I think by paying for a membership, a person is more likely to exercise.

    Just my 2 cents

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Great stuff. Thanks for adding that.

      You are correct in that if I earn more money, than it’ll be easier to have a higher savings rate percentage as the savings in absolute dollar amounts will be higher. This allows me to be a bit more flexible in terms of my lifestyle. We’ll see if I do indeed make more money this year, as I’m on a commission-based pay plan at work.

      I unfortunately also agree with you on the premise that paying for a gym membership keeps one more motivated to work out. I think if I challenge myself I can stay in great shape without the gym fees, but it’s proving to be harder than I thought it would be. This is something I’m monitoring. I’m pretty self-aware, and if I find my health slipping then I’ll act.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding that. It’s much appreciated!

      Best wishes.

  5. Anonymous says

    Hey DM,

    In terms of income I know you have ads on your blog, do you have a plan to turn this blog into another source of sizeable income or is it more a pet project and ncome through work the main goal?

    Cheers

    Geoff

    • says

      Geoff,

      I’d love to turn the blog into a money-making machine, but in the end I’ve only generated about $400 in income since inception. To be honest, I do it for the fun of it so it doesn’t bother me that much that I don’t make a lot of money from it.

      Right now, obviously most of my income comes from my employment but my main goal is to completely substitute that with dividend income.

      Hope that helps!

      Take care.

  6. says

    Strong goals Mantra.

    Like Ninja, you won’t have any problem with the 2K per year.

    As far as saving 65% of your income, just make sure you live life now and again. Sad to say, but it could be gone in a heartbeat!

    • says

      MOA,

      Thanks for the support!

      I agree. I hope that with the possibility of increased income I’ll be able to moderately increase my savings rate from last year while at the same time being a bit more flexible with my lifestyle.

      Life is short, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. :)

      Best wishes!

    • says

      The Executioner,

      You know…I’d love to bicycle to work if it was realistic. I’m right about that 8 mile mark away from work as well, but I have a few things working against me. The climate can be pretty brutal down here and I work around very wealthy clients. For me to show up to work sweaty and smelly would simply just not be realistic. Also, the roadways down here are so completely bicycle-unfriendly it’s not even funny. The main road running from my apartment to my work is a curb to curb 2-lane 50 mph road with no sidewalks.

      I agree that it would be a great way to kill 2 birds with 1 stone!

      If I could, believe me I would. I’m glad that it’s working out fantastically for you. I have a lot of respect and envy for you.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Ben,

      I’d love to! If it was even slightly realistic I’d make a go of it. I did bicycle to/from the bus stop when I lived in a different apartment last summer. I’d bicycle in the Florida summer heat and in the middle of thunderstorms. It was unpleasant and only 2 miles. The 8-mile trek to work just wouldn’t work.

      Take care!

  7. says

    Hi Mantra,

    Happy (belated?) New Year and congrats on the promotion. Many are commenting on the 65% savings rate and I do agree with them to some extent about enjoying life now (which I believe you are already doing). However, they may have missed that you got a promotion at work and if you save that extra income then a 65% savings rate wouldn’t change your lifestyle.

    You’ve inspired similar goals for myself as I also want to hit a certain dividend target and lose weight (go from 160 to 150). This weight goal of mine also ties in with biking to work more and saving gas money, which I could use towards buying more dividend growth stocks. These goals all go hand in hand!

    Take care,

    Mike

    • says

      Mike,

      Thanks for the congrats! It’s much appreciated. Yes, I agree that any increase in income would afford me the opportunity to increase expenditures while still being able to maintain a high savings rate.

      Your goals sound great! I wish you the best of luck. Bicycling to work would definitely go a long way toward saving money and losing weight. That would be awesome if that’s something you can maintain. I tell ya, I wish I could join you in doing that. If I was less than 5 miles away from work I’d take a stab at it. Or, if I didn’t work around the type of clients I do.

      Best of luck to you in 2012 Mike!

  8. Anonymous says

    Mantra,

    Since you live in Florida, I think the scooter is a very good option. I frequently ride a small motorcycle (250cc) 20 miles to work. At 80 mpg, it is very cheap; however, I can’t ride it in the winter, since I live in the north. I highly recommend motorcycle training, even for a scooter. The added confidence and street awareness provided by the training will be well spent.

    Ken

    • says

      Ken,

      Thanks for that. It seems most people are against the scooter idea, and I can understand that. They’re certainly not the safest option.

      But, they’re crazy cheap. I can purchase one for $700 and they don’t require insurance. Factor in the crazy gas mileage and you have yourself a financial winner. Plus, if I did get one it would only be a back-up to the bus so I’d probably only ride it a few times a month.

      I agree on the motorcycle training. I’m sure it’s a great idea. I’ve rode scooters a few times to get the feel for the, but nothing substitutes training and experience.

      Best wishes!

Join The Discussion!