2013 Goals Reviewed

2013 has come and gone, and it did so quite quickly it seems. I don’t know if it’s just me, but time seems to move faster and faster as I get older. The hours seem to blend together and before I know it entire weeks have passed me by. This is a bit of a gift and a curse, because the faster time appears to move the faster I reach my overarching goal of retirement by 40 years old, but meanwhile time moving too fast means I’m also spending away moments that I’ll never have again. I’m dying minute by minute, so haste is never wasted when it comes to trying to acheive financial independence. And nothing keeps me committed to chasing financial freedom like setting up goals that keep my mind focused on remaining consistent and persevering through the days I’d rather stay in bed.

I set up some challenging, but achievable goals at the beginning of last year. I thought if I gave it all I had I could accomplish everything that I had set out to, and below you’ll all see exactly how I did!

Goal #1 – To receive $3,500 in dividends during the year of 2013

Whoo-hoo! I killed this goal by earning a full $3,926.12 in dividend income throughout 2013. This was my biggest goal, and really my personal barometer for whether or not I’m on pace to exceed my expenses by the time I turn 40. Hitting almost $4k in dividends means the compounding snowball that is my portfolio is able to organically grow all by itself at a substantial rate from here on out. This is serious income that can be reinvested and rolled back into the portfolio without any work at all on my part. My part-time worker is now pulling down a pretty decent wage, and it’s a wage that will likely outpace inflation for decades to come; the dividend raises my little worker bee will see annually will likely be greater than any I’ll ever receive at my day job!
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Goal #2 – To save 60% of my net income earned in 2013, averaged monthly

This was probably the most challenging goal of all. I have only so much control over my income at work, as I discussed recently. I’m paid on a 100% commission basis, so my income can fluctuate from month to month wildly. Luckily, I was good at controlling the expense side of the ledger all year and I eclipsed this goal by a small margin. With December’s budget logged in the books, I was able to save 61.5% of my net income this past year. This was an all-time high for me, and I’m very proud to hit that high of a number since I don’t have a fancy job or six-figure income. It required plenty of bus rides and Saturday nights at home, but it was all worth it in the end. Looking forward, it’ll be difficult for me to replicate this success since I now have a car, but I’m going to work extremely hard to maintain a respectable savings rate.

Goal #3 – To weigh 185 pounds or less by the end of 2013

I’ve been working extremely hard on this goal all year. I’ve been exercising as hard as ever, spending hours and hours at the gym. I’m actually in some of the best shape of my life right now, and I currently weigh just a little less than I did when I graduated high school almost 14 years ago. I smashed this goal to bits: I ended the year at 176 pounds! I’m rocking the six-pack (instead of a keg), which is pretty impressive considering I started out 2013 at 194 pounds. I believe consistent exercise and eating fairly healthy with portion control is paramount to maintaining good health. And while good health is a wonderful reward all in itself, limiting healthcare spending is simply sweet icing on that cake. If you’re interested in retiring early in life, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re in tip top shape so you’re not spending exorbitant amounts of cash on medical costs because of poor health. While not all health issues can be contained with exercise and reasonable caloric intake, they go a long way. 

Goal #4 – To diversify my wealth

This goal was a bit more subjective and open-ended than I’d usually like, but I did want to diversify my wealth away from traditional common stocks. While I’m extremely bullish on equity in high quality companies over the long haul, my almost 100% allocation to this asset class does concern me just a tad from time to time due to the severe fluctuations that are inherent with stocks. I’m going to consider this goal accomplished due to the fact that I diversified into real estate in 2013. REITs took a major hit in the summer on concerns of rising interest rates. I took these falling prices as a sign of opportunity. I initiated positions in three different REITs (O, ARCP, DLR) and as a group they now occupy almost 5% of my portfolio – my target allocation. Before these moves this past summer and fall I had no direct investment exposure to real estate, but that has since changed.

Looking Back

I nailed every goal – I went 4/4 this year! I’m really proud of this. I only exceeded two out of four of my goals last year, so I’m really glad that I did this well in 2013. It was really a banner year on all fronts, and while that can’t be replicated year in and out it’s certainly nice when it does occur. I don’t always succeed like this, but that’s why I enjoy writing live on an going basis like this. It chronicles all of my success and failures as they happen. But I will tell you that I couldn’t have done it without you guys – you readers have been instrumental in my ability to do as well as I’ve done. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for inspiring me even more than I inspire you. We’re all in this together, and I really believe that we’re accomplishing more as a community of like-minded investors and freedom fighters than we ever could by ourselves. 

Looking Forward

I’ll be publishing my goals for 2014 in the coming days. They’ll be challenging, but realistic in the same manner that these goals were. However, some of them may be a bit less aggressive than I’m used to. My available capital for investing by way of savings will be lighter than usual as my budget was hit from both sides: a pay cut at work and increased expenses from a car and health insurance. I’ll be powering through it all and doing my absolute best to continue striving for freedom. Please follow along and stay tuned!

Full Disclosure: Long O, ARCP, DLR

How did you do with your 2013 goals? Did you do as well as you expected?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Enjoy reading your work as and investor. I opened couple accounts and now have 50,000 in the stock market myself. I made $1,700 in dividends this past year. Of course I made several mistakes, but hopefully I learn from them. Hope to increase that next year. Now just have to be smarter on what I buy and stay away from those high yield stocks as they seem to lose money and just don’t get ahead with them.

    Thanks Larry

    • says

      Larry,

      Wow! Nice job there. $1,700 in dividends is very solid. :)

      You’re off to an excellent start!

      You’re making a good choice in staying away from high yielding stocks. Don’t get tempted by unsustainable payouts – it will only lead to capital loss. You’ll notice the highest yielding stock in my entire portfolio is a little north of 7% right now, and it’s also one of my smallest positions. While high yield isn’t always a warning sign, it’s usually indicative of higher risk. Buyer beware.

      Keep up the great work!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      BuySmart,

      Thanks! It feels great to smash these goals like I did. I didn’t do as hot last year, so I was anxious to come back this year with a vengeance. :)

      I hope you kill it this year!

      Take care.

  2. says

    Excellent job DM, I did set some goals for 2014, we’ll lets see how things shape this year looking forward to it. Whatever u set , I believe you would try your best to achieve it.
    dividend Mom

    • says

      Dividend Mom,

      I just read through your goals for 2014. Good luck! They’re really cool, diverse goals there. The international trip in particular sounds really exciting. And growing your portfolio to $100k would be fantastic – crossing the six-figure mark was a big mental barrier for me.

      And you’re right: I’m going to give it 100% this year, as always!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      Frihetsfonden,

      Thanks for the support. I really appreciate it!

      I couldn’t do it without you readers, so please continue to stop by. I’ll do my my absolute best to produce quality and inspirational content.

      Cheers!

    • says

      D-S,

      Thanks! I didn’t do so great for my 2012 goals, so I felt that I really needed to to blow it out of the park for my 2013 goals. I did better than I anticipated. :)

      I’ve already got a great reward in this blog, the dividend income and the intense passion I get to indulge in every time I talk financial independence and investing. :)

      Best wishes!

  3. says

    Well done on hitting all your goals ��

    I have posted my goals for 2014, hopefully will have 100% success rate to report this time next year.

    Like you, I have found that my part time worker is becoming increasingly productive, and I can’t wait until I can employ them full time. I will then have reached the ultimate goal of Freedom from Wage Slavery ��

    Hope you have a great 2014, and look forward to seeing your goals

    • says

      FI UK,

      Great looking goals there. I wish you the best of luck with all of them, especially the £5,500 in dividends!

      Your part-time worker is definitely working very hard right now, and your pockets are getting lined nicely. It’s a wonderful relationship, isn’t it?

      Thanks for the well wishes. I wish the same for you!

      Take care.

  4. says

    Great job on your goals DM! Hopefully in another year you’ll also be celebrating a job well done. Looking forward to reading your 2014 goals.

  5. says

    Great work in 2013! Looking forward to your goals/results for 2014.
    I’m interested in your analysis of how reaching the $4,000 mark for dividend payments for the year plays into your goal of financial independence.

    • says

      Matt,

      Thanks! I’m really fortunate to be where I’m at, even factoring in all the hard work I’ve put in.

      As far as the dividend totals go, I’m aiming to get to the point to where dividends cover 100% of my expenses by the time I’m 40. I have about 9 years to go (I’m currently 31). So if I’m able to increase my dividends by $1,200 per year on average that puts me at almost $15k in dividends based on what I’m already earnings. $15k was my original goal when all of this started, but my expenses have crept up a little lately. It’s tough to forecast this out over 9 years, because a lot can happen. However, I feel fairly confident I’m on pace here since I was able to actually increase my dividends by more than $1,200 YOY and this ability should increase over time due to dividend growth within the portfolio.

      I hope this helps?

      Best regards!

  6. says

    Congrats on a great year! So many people never set any goals and are then surprised by lack of progress. You are doing it the right way setting measurable goals and keeping yourself accountable. I’m sure you will do great in 2014 despite the new challenges!

    • says

      Insourcelife,

      I believe in setting specific, realistic, measurable and time-bound goals (S.M.A.R.T. goals). Setting unrealistic or vague goals will get you nowhere, and give you an easy out when you fail.

      Thanks for the encouragement. I’m going to give 2014 my all!

      I hope you have a great year. Stay in touch.

      Best wishes.

  7. Anonymous says

    From a pie chart point of view, showing your various income streams, possibly you will not be taking a pay cut this year. While you may clear less from your day job, you also will make more from your dividends & your on line advertising in 2014 than you did last year. Perhaps by looking at the past couple years from this perspective while projecting your overall income & expenses for this coming year, you might be in better shape than you think.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      You could very well be correct about all of this. I may not take much of a pay cut overall, when factoring in online income and dividend income. In fact, it may go up slightly YOY. However, I was hoping for growth in the total income. I was factoring in flat income at work, and increases in other sources of income. But it is what it is. I’ll continue to strive and do my best in all areas of my life. When it comes right down to it that’s all I can hope for – my best. :)

      Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your perspective.

      Cheers!

  8. says

    Great stuff and I’m super impressed with how you crushed your health and fitness goals! Money and savings rate is great too, but well done on the discipline! Have a great 2014!

    • says

      Cash Cow Couple,

      Hey, thanks for stopping by. Hope all is well on your end. :)

      Thanks! I was really proud of how much weight I lost and the condition I’m currently in. I feel like I’m outdoing guys in their early 20s at the gym, and I’m eating much smaller portions right now than I was just a year or so ago. Although my food budget hasn’t decreased, I’m eating healthier and better food, but less of it. Unfortunately, I’ve found that healthy food tends to cost a bit more than unhealthy food. But the trade-off is generally worth it for your health, as long as you’re sticking with it.

      Stay in touch!

      Best regards.

  9. says

    I’m most impressed by Goal#2! Probably the most difficult to do. Congratulations on achieving all your goals! Let’s hope the coming year is as successful!

    • says

      moneycone,

      Thanks! Yeah, I agree that #2 was probably the toughest goal of all. I worked hard to save so much, but it was totally worth it in the end.

      I hope 2014 is likewise very successful for you!

      Best wishes.

  10. says

    Home run kid! Really kicked 2013 right in the face! I am looking forward to your 2014 goals, especially now that you have diversified your income as well with the blog. To spur some thought, perhaps you should consider a blog related one? It might help motivate you to increase your reach further and find additional ways to leverage your traffic and readership.

    • says

      w2r,

      Thanks, bud!

      I plan to release the 2014 goals here pretty soon. I actually didn’t consider a blog-related goal. That’s a pretty neat idea. Seeing as how this blog is now becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle for me this is something I’ll have to include. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Best of luck to you in the coming year. I’ll be rooting for you!

      Take care.

  11. says

    I hope my 2014 is like your 2013! We have some similar goals…and I, too, am trying to lose about 15 pounds this year through regular, daily exercise.

    Fantastic progress, friend. Here’s to another good year.

    • says

      DB40,

      Thanks! I really appreciate the support. :)

      I wish you the best of luck with the weight loss goal. I accomplished all of mine by being consistent throughout the entire year. I generally cheated on Saturdays, and sometimes Friday nights. But, the rest of the week was strict with the diet, portion controls and working out at least three times per week. I generally did 20 minutes of cardio, followed by 30-40 minutes of fast paced weight lifting. Solid compound exercises mixed in with isolated exercises, all with minimal rest between sets.

      Good luck!

      Best wishes.

  12. says

    Congratulations on 4/4 for your goals! Challenging but achievable goals are great — it keeps the focus where it needs to be. Looking forward to seeing how you adjust your goals for 2014. Good luck!

    • says

      FerdiS,

      Thanks! I’ll be releasing the goals for 2014 soon. They’ll be very challenging, but realistic and achievable. I’m going to stretch for all of them!

      Congrats to you on your goals. Looks like you did fantastic. Looking forward to seeing your progress throughout 2014. We’ll keep inspiring each other. :)

      Cheers!

  13. Spoonman says

    You’ve had a phenomenal year. In addition to meeting all of your financial goals you managed to develop a six-pack. I think most of us would cry uncle long before trimming all the fat in our stomachs (I’m a skinny guy, but still) =).

    If you keep this up you will end up dethroning the Dos Equis guy as the most interesting man in the world! I look forward to reading about your 2014 goals.

    • says

      Spoonman,

      Haha! Yeah, I did better than I set out to do as far as my fitness. But once my weight dropped below 180 and my body started to really transform I felt more motivated than ever.

      “He doesn’t invest in companies. Companies invest in him.” :)

      Best wishes!

  14. says

    Now the weight thing may prove to inspire me. I have gotten bored about my weight situation and just let it go for a while and I end up around 182lbs when I really start to feel great around 174lbs. I may take a closer look at that soon, thanks much!

    • says

      Katz,

      Hey, I’m glad you found some new inspiration here. I made it a point later in the year to push myself past previous boundaries and see where I could get. I’m naturally a bit muscular, so it’s tough for me to get below 180 – a mark I haven’t seen since high school. I was actually 174 just before the holidays hit, but taking time away from the gym and eating too much around family caused me to gain a couple pounds. I guess a margin of safety isn’t just important in investing. :)

      Best regards.

  15. Anonymous says

    Awesome !

    I am most impressed by goal #3. My own weight is nearly as large as your portfolio.

    Good luck in 2014

    Roger H

    • says

      Roger H,

      Thanks! I pushed myself to the brink this year in all areas of wealth and health, and I’m a better person for it!

      Best of luck to you in the coming year. I hope you continue to stop by! :)

      Take care.

  16. says

    Congrats on your success Jason!

    A few thoughts/questions…on goal # 1. You inferred in your post that this growing dividend helps you know if you are on track. Can you share your thinking/ math on this one?

    On Goal three….I can tell you that I totally agree with your thinking. Being very active thru my 30s and 40s and I think it is easier to maintain health then recapture it after a decade or so of inactivity. That’s not scientific but a strong hunch. For me finding a fun activity (kiteboarding and hiking) makes it easier.

    On goal 3….this one is tough for me. Even though neither of us have a 6 fig income you have a great advantage on this one. You are single with no kids. We have been able to get to about 40%. After that I would be forcing my wife and kids to live as frugally as me. When it’s your own choice to live simply incomes pretty easy. When it’s being forced its pretty miserable. Minimal activities, camps, vacations, pets, school pictures, no movies. As a Dad, it’s not how I want to be remembered.

    As far as #4…it’s not exactly wealth..but I too thought of your blog as increasing your wealth building power. I am so glad this is working for you because you deserve some compensation for the value you are giving your readers! Way to go!

    Now I need to finish my goals for next year.

    Chris

    • says

      Chris,

      As far as growing dividends, my original target when I first started this journey was $15k in annual dividends. That corresponded to $1,250 per month. Factoring out student loan debt (which should be paid off by then), this was well over what I knew I could get my expenses down to (and later did). However, my expenses have risen a bit since then. It’s tough to know how much I’ll be spending a decade from now, but I’m hopeful I can continue being as frugal as possible. Factoring in $1,200 in annual dividend growth over the next 9 years (I’m currently 31) along with the ~$4k I’m currently earning puts me at ~$15k. That’s where my thinking was on that one.

      I completely agree that staying active is very important. Getting back in shape after extended inactivity is very difficult. I never let myself get out of shape, and really never stopped going to the gym. You’ll see gym expenses show up in my budget reports going back years, and that’s because other than during a brief time I tried to work out at my apartment gym to save money I was going to the gym. However, I wasn’t watching portion controls and I wasn’t doing as much cardio. Some slight changes to the diet and the workout routine (along with more consistency) yielded big results for me.

      I agree that saving a significant portion of your income is tough when you have family. However, I don’t think it’s impossible. Some expenses have economies of scale when you share a budget with a significant other (food, housing, entertainment, transportation). And children can be encouraged to spend time on activities that are less costly. I don’t know the ages of your children, but I loved low-cost time with my family when I was a kid – stuff like watching a good movie with popcorn at home, playing board games, hide and seek inside and outside…stuff like that. And as a dad, would it not be in your best interest and your kid’s best interest for you to spend even more time with them? And how easy would it be to spend more time if you’re financially independent?

      Not criticizing or questioning your methods above, just thinking aloud and offering inspiration. :)

      Thanks for the ongoing support! I really do appreciate it. I wish you the best of luck for your 2014 and building your wealth to the best of your ability. I’ll do my best to continue providing a ton of value here at Dividend Mantra!

      Best wishes.

  17. says

    Hey Jason,
    On your income from this blog why don’t you set up a SEP IRA. That way you pay no taxes on it and let it grow tax deferred. Once you retire you can do a 72T distribution, since you’ll be living off dividends you basically pay 0% taxes on the entire amount including dividends. If you paid it today you get taxed at your rate and the dividends get taxed also.

    • says

      Charles,

      I’ve thought about what you’re talking about (72T) quite a bit, and I came to the conclusion a while ago that it’s both not worth the hassle and not necessary for me to reach my goals. I wrote about investing 100% in a taxable account, and my reasons for doing so here:

      http://www.dividendmantra.com/2013/08/why-i-hold-100-of-my-equity-investments.html

      I think my concern with a 72T is that while people are quick to point at it as a method to access funds early and “circumvent” the system, there are few, if any, actual cases of people doing it. It seems like a ton of paperwork and a lot of headaches to me, at least on paper. I guess if it were absolutely necessary for me to acheive my goals to participate in a 72T I would, but if it’s not necessary I’d rather avoid it completely if possible.

      Just my thoughts on it. I’m sure it could work well to your advantage and save some cash, but if my end goal was all about the most cash I’d just continue working for another 5-10 years past my goal and amass more than I’d know what to do with.

      If you have any great examples of people using a 72T successfully and easily I’d love to hear about it more. I honestly just couldn’t really find any cases in my research.

      Best wishes!

  18. says

    I agree with what you said. Good stuff!

    My kids are 17,15 and 6. They are important to us and we chose to spend time and money on them just like you chose to spend money for gifts, trips back to Michigan to see your family and anniversary dinners for your girlfriend. We spend this money and time with them because we love them and they are the most important part of our life right now!

    One thing I notice is you spend those monies during holidays, birthdays,anniversaries, etc. We live together as a family of five people 24/7 which requires more money. Given any level of frugality 5 people do not live as cheaply as 1.We have approached saving 50% but it gets rather sparse…probably like if you were pushing 80%. Seeing your 60% makes me envious but then I realize we are spending less per person per month…so then I feel better.that’s the economy of scale. Slower to the goal perhaps but that’s what ya get when you chose to have a family which has its own benefits too…but that’s another topic for another time.

    Good day and thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Chris,

      I totally hear what you’re saying. We all have different goals and different methods with which to reach those goals. You have much more going on than I do, and that’s wonderful. As such, you have more expenses.

      It would be tough for me to accomplish what I’m doing with a family, but it wouldn’t really be all about me at that point. I’d have to figure out a way to get my significant other/wife on board and see if we could save close to half together. If not, well then that’s just how it is. Although, I will say that Pete over at MMM retired much earlier than I plan to (30) even with a wife and child. However, they both had big incomes – and that’s not easily replicable for many of us. They also started right out of the gate. That kind of foresight is quite rare.

      I wish you the best of luck with balancing your responsibilities as a father and husband with your desires to seek freedom. It sounds like you’ve found a happy medium, and in the end that’s all we can really ask for. :)

      Best regards.

  19. says

    DM,

    I personally like Goal #3. While dividends can buy financial freedom, they cannot buy life!

    I just started an exercise regimen of my own. I have had a relativiely sedentary job for 19 years. Finally I decided to get off the couch and invest 30 minutes a day in improving my overall health. I began running a few months ago and can now run over two and half miles. Like dividend investing a slow steady methodical process pays dividend for your overall health and well being!

    Congratulations on the achievement of all of your goals!

    • says

      Dividend Pipeline,

      You betcha. Can’t buy health, that’s for sure. And all the money in the world is meaningless if you’re in poor condition.

      Great job starting up the exercise regimen and getting your health on track. I’m really glad to hear that! Although fitness isn’t something I write about a lot on this blog, it’s something that’s a fairly large part of my life. I hope to include at least a couple articles on the subject over the course of 2014, and actually plan to write something special about how I lost so much weight over the last year and got in great shape while also saving as much as I did. :)

      Keep up the great work!

      Take care.

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