2012 Goals Reviewed

2013 is well on its way already, but it’s not too late for me to look back on 2012 with fond memories. It was a fantastic year for me overall, and one that I’d love to repeat again in 2013 if I could. But, of course, it’s always prudent to shoot for even bigger successes as time inevitably marches forward. Below, I’m going to review my 2012 goals and how I did with each one of them. I didn’t do as well as I had intended, but I try to keep perspective on life. Relatively speaking, I live in the most prosperous society has ever known and I’m living fairly well within even those boundaries. So I’m keenly aware of how fortunate I am. I may not have nailed every goal, but I’m living phenomenally well by historical standards all the while saving tons of money. I’m a very happy man!

Let’s take a look at the four goals I laid out for myself at the beginning of 2012, and how I fared:

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

I blew away this goal. This was my primary goal, and the most important of all four. I received a total of $2,602.58 in dividends throughout the year of 2012. Awesome! To some people this is just small potatoes, but for me being in only my second full year of dividend growth investing I’m pretty excited about that number. That’s a full $216 per month that I didn’t have to go to work for. It’s not enough to pay all my bills, but it’s a pretty good start.

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

Ehh, I didn’t do so hot with this one. I ended up with a full year net income savings rate of 56.6%. While still an excellent number, it was well below my goal. Looking forward, a 60% savings rate is probably more realistic for me unless I’m able to substantially raise my income. My expenses are probably not going to get much lower, and in fact may rather go up over time as I’ve bottomed out a bit. So, unless my income rises from here my savings rate probably will not be able to go much above 60% long-term. I probably would have come pretty close to my goal, or perhaps even exceeded it, had I not taken a couple months off during the summer to take a break from my frugal ways. It’s okay, as the break was refreshing and rather enlightening. Again, a great number to finish with, but one that leaves a little to be desired. We’ll see if I can improve at all in 2013.

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

This goal was only necessary because of issues with the bus that takes me to work being consistently late about once a month or so. This is, of course, really unacceptable. So, I took charge and purchased a 49cc scooter. Actually, I purchased two! I initially purchased a 2008 Yamaha Zuma scooter. I later sold it due to a close call with a truck. I regretted this knee-jerk reaction and decided to purchase a 1997 Yamaha Zuma a few months later. I’m happy to say I’m still a scooter owner! Goal achieved.

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

Epic failure. Which is surprising. I’m used to being able to manipulate my weight relatively easily, and for the longest time was a gym rat as I would spend countless hours working out and shaping my physique. My, how times change. As of early November I was exactly 190 pounds. I figured I’d just tweak a bit as I finished up the year and come in around 188 or so. Unfortunately, I did not calculate an extended break (over 3 weeks) from the gym and continuous lapses in reason when it came to food choices over the holidays. I didn’t eat well over Thanksgiving, and fared even worse around Christmas as I spent considerable time in Michigan in late December. I ate well beyond my means and didn’t pay any attention to my weight. I paid for this. I ended the year at 194 pounds. The figure I put forth was a bit arbitrary, but nonetheless was a goal I was fully able to achieve and failed due to lack of attention and focus. That’s my fault. I’m going to be a bit more aggressive with my physical fitness in 2013 and going forward as I believe consistent exercise is paramount to an early retirement plan as it can significantly reduce health bills and give one something to focus on once work is no longer a primary concern.

Looking Back

I scored 2/4. That’s 50%. In high school that’s an F. The great thing with setting big goals and trying to achieve financial independence at such an early age, however, is that even when you fail at such lofty goals you’re still doing much, much better than the overall population. I thought I would fare better in 2012, and to be honest should have gone 3/4 and missed goal #4 out of sheer thoughtlessness. Goal #2 might be a tad bit difficult for me given my income level and the fact that my expenses can’t go much lower. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how the past year went. I saved up a lot of money, invested in a lot of attractive long-term dividend growth stocks and had a great time through it all. Best of all, I had a lot of you readers stop by and share stories and mutually inspire each other. That’s probably the best part of the journey. A lot of you are doing way better than me, so keep it up!

Looking Forward

I’ll be setting some goals for 2013 very soon. There are some concerns over my position at work right now, as there has been some ongoing dialogue between management and myself over the future of my continued employment due to some lackluster results lately. Unfortunately, a lot of this is out of my control. But it is what it is. I’m likely going to set pretty conservative goals in 2013, as capital will be precious and invaluable during an uncertain time like I’m going through right now. At any rate, I’m looking forward to 2013 and beyond. I’m 30 years old, with a fully stocked dividend growth portfolio, in good health, with a loving family, good friends and the rest of my life ahead of me. Life is good!

How did you do with your goals?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: jscreationzs

Comments

  1. says

    I think you did a great job with respect to your goals in 2012 — I wouldn’t put much emphasis on missing by a few percent or a few pounds. I think what matters most is your dividend income, and you did well on that front.

    Regarding my own goals, I handily exceeded both my dividend and savings targets in 2012. However, I didn’t have much history to go on when I set them, and it is clear I was too conservative. But that’s a lot better than overestimating what I could achieve.

    Looking forward, I am not sure whether I will set specific dividend and savings goals for 2013, mainly because my estimates are likely to be far off. I’ll explain why in a forthcoming post on my blog. I hope your work situation gets straightened out — I’m rooting for you!

    • says

      DGM,

      Congrats on far exceeding your goals. They were pretty solid goals to start with, so for you to blow them away just shows the amount of progress you’ve made. Keep up the great work.

      I’m looking forward to your thoughts on your (lack of) goals.

      Yeah, I hope the work situation gets straightened out as well. Anyone who reads this blog knows I hate my job, but at the same time I’m making great progress and don’t want to stop just yet. I could see myself going for a semi-retirement in a couple years instead of full-blown retirement at 40, however. Working part-time until I’m at a regular retirement age would give me more time now while not having to sacrifice much for later. Might be a nice trade-off. We’ll see!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      You exceeded your dividend income by 30%. Also, based off your portfolio posted on your site, your estimated dividend income will be over $3,200 in 2013 and that is if you do not add any money to your portfolio or if none of the stocks raise their dividends. I think you will make at least $300/month in 2013. That should bring your savings rate up above 60%.

    • says

      DGI,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I always appreciate your time. I know you stay pretty busy.

      The dividend income was definitely the biggest goal, and I’m very excited that I was able to surpass it by such a wide margin. That was a big win.

      If I am able to contribute fresh capital this year at the rate I was able to in 2012, I’m sure I’ll be able to hit that $300/month mark…but based on the uncertainty regarding work I’m likely to allocate more of my capital towards a short-term cash position.

      We’ll see. Things could improve at work and clear up.

      I agree with that last part. Rising dividend income will allow me to increase my savings rate, and also allow me to compound at a faster rate. Double whammy!

      I see you did great in 2012, and I remember reading you’re now covering 50% of your expenses through dividends. That’s simply fantastic. Reaching 60% in 2013 would be phenomenal. That only leaves you 40%, which at that rate of growth would be less than 4 years. I’ll be anxiously watching your journey come full circle!

      Best wishes!

  2. says

    Hey DM,

    Sounds like you had another great year! Keep up the good work! Maybe for your 2013 goals, you can borrow one of my goals from 2012, which was to get a new job… it worked out for me.

    • says

      Big J,

      Hey, long time no see. I hope all is well! You’re killing it with those dividends.

      I’m definitely ready to move on at this point. I’ve been employed with this particular place for 3 years now and I’m wondering if it’s time to look into something else. It’s frustrating to have such a thankless job. It’s unfortunate.

      I’m glad the new job is working out so well for you. Sounds like you made a great move!

      Best regards.

  3. says

    Grats on a great year:} Glad to see you promoting physical fitness on your blog, something Im trying to get a bit better at too. Last year I had to do my annual two mile timed run for the Army and although I passed, it was more of a struggle than normal, and it was all because of the extra 10-15 pounds Ive been toting around for the last year or so…time to get rid of it!!!…so I bought a bike and have been riding a few miles each day, its healthy and inexpensive exercise, plus I live near the beach so when summer comes there will be lots of good scenery, if you know what I mean. Your savings rate is amazing, I tried for 50% and never got close, lol. Take care.

    • says

      High Yield Soldier,

      Great job on riding the bicycle. That’s a mode of transportation and exercise all wrapped up in one neat little package. Very cool!

      What beach do you live near? I personally live near Siesta Key beach in Florida. I hear running down the beach is excellent exercise, but I rarely get the chance.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Using a bike for transportation such as riding to the store and back is kind of dangerous around here…few sidewalks, no safety lanes for bikes…I live near Ocean Isle Beach NC, which is just north of the SC/NC border on the coast, great place to live. Im from Fla originally, Jax

  4. says

    Nice job DM you didn’t do 50% school wasn’t pass or fail, and neither were your goals. You still made great strides and having a 55% savings rate definitely doesn’t give you a 0.0 to average into your gpa

    • says

      Took2Summit,

      Thanks for the support! Much appreciated.

      Having a 55% savings rate is still relatively great. It’s funny – a few years ago I could not have imagined having a savings rate of 55%. I was barely making it. Just having enough for bills was stressful enough. How times have changed, but I always try to keep perspective.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Take care.

  5. says

    Hey DM,

    Sorry to hear about some work anxiety. You seem like a really driven and focused individual, I am sure that wherever you end up, you will excel.
    One day at a time, as they say!

    i wouldn’t consider 4 pounds overweight an “epic failure”, but that’s just me:)

    Keep fighting the good fight and I’ll do the same. I am inspired by your convictions and knowing there are people out there who live happily with less! Culturally it is hard to duck those social mores, it is comforting to know that we are out there!

    Joe

    • says

      Joe,

      I’ll keep fighting the good fight on my end, and I know you’ll hold up your end of the bargain.

      One day at a time is right! I’m keeping my head up and maintaining a positive attitude right now. Hell, the way I look at it if I get fired it’s a nice time to vacation right now in Florida! :)

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well on the west coast.

      Best wishes!

  6. says

    DM,

    The work concerns should be one of the biggest reasons to keep you motivated toward reaching FI whether you stay with your current job or get another one. Just imagine how much less concerned you’d be with it if you had already reached FI but still wanted to work. Another thing for those that choose to continue their employment is that since you know you can already support yourself, you have the liberty to be more free at work and take more risks since you no longer have to worry about what would happen should you lose your job.

    I think you did great considering you blew past your dividend goal while coming up a little short on the savings.

    I’d still say it was a very successful year and best of luck with 2013!

    • says

      Pursuit,

      The work concern definitely is one of the big reasons I’m doing what I’m doing. I hate my job, and the recent rhetoric from management makes me seethe even more. I simply make too much money to do anything else right now, but as the dividends continue to pile up my flexibility continues to increase.

      I’m definitely happy with the way 2012 turned out. In fact, if 2013 is an exact repeat I would be pretty happy with that as well, as long as I do a little better with the fitness goal.

      You had a knockout year. I hope you do even better in 2013. You’ll be retired and sipping pina coladas in a few years while the rest of us are slaving away in the rat race!

      Take care.

  7. says

    DM,

    Good luck at your job. The more you earn in dividends, the less of a worry your job becomes. This is a great reason to focus on your end goal of FI.

    I think you did great. You beat your main goal, collecting $2k in dividends and you are only 30. You are way ahead of where most people are at your age for sure.

    I look forward to seeing your 2013 goals and I’ll keep stopping by for motivation!

    • says

      AAI,

      Absolutely! As passive income increases, the need for active income equally decreases. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing myself semi-retired in a few years and working at a leisurely part-time job and enjoying more of my time. We’ll see.

      I look forward to seeing how 2013 transpires for you as well. You kicked major ass in 2012, and it looks like you are picking up steam. Keep it up!

      Best wishes.

  8. Danny says

    You may have covered this at some point but I’ve always wondered why you have not included rental property in your passive income strategy. I am by no means an expert but I have purchased a small home that yields $850 per month in rent. Once I pay the home off (hopefully in 2015)it should net $775 per month in income and at a much lower capital investment than dividend stocks yield.

    Anyways, I love watching your progress and it keeps me going in my own debt paydown/passive income pursuits.

    • says

      Danny,

      I’m not against owning real estate, but if I were to buy something I’d probably buy something for me to live in first. Rental real estate can definitely be profitable, but it can also be a big headache. I personally have no desire dealing with tenants or having a major source of my net worth tied up into one physical building. Leverage, of course, generally works for you in real estate…but that also can work against you as we seen recently.

      I’m not against owning rental real estate, however. I can definitely see many of the advantages. I’ll probably consider it once my portfolio grows a bit more and that way it’ll allow me to diversify my assets a bit more. Having 90% of one’s net worth in one asset class is generally not advisable, so I’ll diversify away a bit as it grows. Bonds are not attractive right now, and I’m not a fan of direct ownership in commodities. The low interest rates, while working against bonds, work for you in real estate. Definitely something to consider.

      Best wishes!

  9. says

    DM,

    Nice work in 2012. You did better than me with your savings rate, and among the people I know, I did pretty well saving over half of my after tax income.

    You’re doing very well at under 30, having this much invested capital that’s working for you. It also serves as a stress reliever in uncertain employment times like these. Keep going strong and I’m sure this situation will work itself out.

    • says

      Kraig,

      Thanks for the compliments! Much appreciated. It was good chatting with you!

      You’re doing great too. Saving over 50% of your net income is very hard to do, as I know first hand. Keeping it up is fantastic.

      Having a decent amount of capital that could be easily accessed is definitely a stress reliever, as it acts a bit like an “F U” fund. There’s nothing scarier than being let go or leaving a job with nothing saved up.

      Keep up the great work!

      Best wishes.

  10. Steve says

    DM,

    Allow me to echo what others have said. The fact that you even had goals for 2012 puts you ahead of most people in America. I have set my first real goal for dividend growth for 2013 since it will be the first full year of concentrated investing using the DG formula. Your blog has helped me tremendously along the way.

    On a different note, I just read The Single Best Investment by Lowell Miller over the Christmas holiday. Great book.

    Hope your job works out.

    Steve

    • says

      Steve,

      Welcome to the club! It’s so exciting to be just starting down the path of investing. I wish you the best of luck.

      I’m glad this blog has helped you. That’s a tremendous compliment. I do appreciate it!

      I’ve heard that book is great. I found Lowell Miller’s fund a little while back, and you can access his investor newsletters via PDF. Very interesting stuff!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Take care!

  11. says

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve got high standards, and you’re well above an F.

    4 pounds overweight is just above 2% above your target. That’s not bad. Especially since you were measuring yourself at the end of December which is typically a time of too much eating and too little exercise. If it makes you feel any better, I was about 3 pounds above my goal at the same time.

    And a 56% savings rate is great. What’s better is that you’re consistent at it. Even if you get to 65% for a year or two, the excess frugality might burn you out and you might decide to be more of a spendthrift to compensate. The best savings rate is the one you can keep up with.

    • says

      Journey,

      Thanks so much for the reassurance. I guess sometimes I’m a bit harder on myself than I really should be. I do try to keep perspective on my age, situation and how truly lucky I am however.

      I agree with what you’re saying there. That’s probably something I should stress more often. You make a great point – if one has a savings rate of 70%, but can only maintain it for a year or two before going crazy, then it’s not sensible long-term. Only a viable and consistent strategy will really work, because not only is a lowered expense level needed to accumulate capital and invest in the first place, but it’s also necessary to keep your expenses down once retired.

      I’ll be stopping by your site and tracking your progress. Keep it up!

      Take care.

  12. says

    DM,

    You had an outstanding year, and the amount of progress you’ve made in such a short amount of time deserves a solid “A” in my book.

    I’ve always liked setting lofty goals as well, and even if I come up a little short, I can still look back and appreciate all that I was able to accomplish.

    For 2013, I want to save 80% of my income, which may be over-reaching my bounds. But I don’t want to limit myself either, and by setting this goal, I’m forcing myself to think of creative new ways to boost income and increase savings.

    $2600/year in dividends is something to be proud of. My 2013 projection (as of today’s portfolio) is around $2300. I received around $1150 in year 1, so I’m looking forward to the boost.

    Best wishes!

    • says

      FI Fighter,

      Saving 80% of your net income over the course of 2013 would be simply phenomenal. At that rate you’d be on pace to retire in less than 5 years based on the progress you’ve already made. Imagine retiring at 33 years old? How sweet would that be?

      I think you’ll blow past $2300 in dividends during 2013 based on your progress thus far. You’re hitting homeruns, plus you have the rental property profits to reinvest. Keep up the great work.

      Best regards.

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