Mid-Year Goals Review

Goals5Where did the year go?!

June is ending, and 2014 is now halfway over. Truly amazing how fast time flies by. It’s exactly because of this that I’m pursuing financial independence so aggressively. Time slips through our fingers whether we like it or not, but I’m anxious to slow things way, way down. Buying our time is the only way we can truly control what time we have left.

So I put together some challenging, but realistic goals at the beginning of 2014. And today I’m going to share exactly where I stand as we cross over the midway point of the year. I think I’ve made some tremendous progress thus far, but I also suspect that some of my mojo will slow as I earn less income in the second half of the year.

So let’s review the goals and where I stand thus far:

Goal #1 – Receive $5,200 in dividends during the year of 2014

Well, you can see that as of May I’ve earned $2,013.09 in dividend income for the year. Adding in yet-to-be-posted June’s dividends, which should finish near $700, and I’m solidly on pace to exceed this goal. I think I should exceed it by a healthy margin as I continue to make regular monthly equity investments, but we’ll see. I’m slowing my pace a tad as I’ve moved from a high-income, but stressful job into writing for a living, which is wonderful, but also pays much less. Exceeding this goal keeps me on pace to become financially independent by 40 years old, as this is the fourth year of my 12-year journey. I expect to need approximately $15,000/year in passive income, so the math works out here. The only question is whether or not future years will be as successful as past years, especially with less free cash flow with which to invest. Let’s see how it goes!

Grade: Passing!

Goal #2 – Save 50% of my net income, averaged monthly

I’m slightly behind this goal with a 40% savings rate so far for the year, which is disappointing. And I don’t know how much ground I can realistically make up with all of the aforementioned changes. But I’m extremely hopeful that I’ll catch up and exceed this goal before the end of the year. I can tell you that June is shaping up to be one of my best months ever in terms of my savings rate, and I’m excited to share the details! I’m failing at this goal right now, but if you know me then you’ll know that I’m going to give it all I’ve got to come back from behind and claim victory here.

Grade: Failing!

Goal #3 – Maintain a weight of less than 180 pounds during 2014

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’m stomping this goal. I weigh one less pound than what I started the year at, and I’m currently tipping the scales at 175 pounds. I’ve historically been a bigger guy due to my bodybuilding background (I was 220 pounds at my peak). But I’ve been determined to transform my body into a lean, mean fighting machine. And as I shared recently, my exercise routine without an expensive gym membership is working fantastically. I suspect I’ll definitely maintain this approximate weight level throughout the year, but one challenge is making up for the fact that I’m not running around all day at a car dealership. And it’s easier to snack here and there being at home more. I just gotta keep my hands and my mouth away from pizza. What can I say? It’s my Kryptonite!

Grade: Passing!

Goal #4 – Earn $12,000 during the year from online income 

This one is turning into a more important goal than ever for me as it will now be a primary source of income for me going forward. I’m extremely excited by my progress in this department, and it’s really thanks to all of the support from you readers out there. I’ve been writing more than ever, as the content here on the blog has increased and I’ve been freelancing more. It’s just a tremendous change in my life and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I’m currently a month into a three-month experiment to see if this will work for the long term, and so far it looks good. I’ve earned $4,846 in online income through May, which is an average of $969.20/month. But I’ll be posting June’s numbers very soon and you’ll see this average will be raised way up. I’m proud to say I’m exceeding this goal when June’s numbers are included, and I’m hoping I can keep that up through the rest of the year as I plan to earn more than $1,800/month from online activities. I’ll have to likely change this goal in future years to be more specific and compensate for taxes, especially if I don’t have a day job which would otherwise withhold income tax. So future goals will be a figure net of costs and taxes. The income I’ve posted thus far this year is net of hosting fees, and from July on will also be net of taxes as I’ll reduce my figure to compensate for my quarterly estimated tax payments of $233.33 per month.

Grade: Passing!

Well, things are looking pretty good. I’m passing three out of four goals, which isn’t spectacular on the surface. But if I can catch up on the savings rate and exceed all four goals all while moving halfway across the country and quitting my day job I’ll be extremely proud.

How about you? How are you doing with your goals for 2014? Passing or failing? How’s the second half of the year look?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    I think you’re doing great! Looking forward to seeing you post June’s numbers – I reckon you’re going to smash your aims come the end of the year. I’m doing great on some of my aims, and not so great on some of the others. I need to get my head in gear! Hope you’re having a relaxing weekend :)

    • says

      Nicola,

      Thanks for the support! :)

      I’m doing pretty well thus far, and I’ll be incredibly grateful if I’m able to keep pace and exceed my goals even after all of the changes. I’m really lucky!

      You’ve still got the back half of the year to catch up if you’re behind on some of your goals. Don’t give up yet. :)

      Best regards.

  2. says

    Thanks for the update.

    You have been through a major life transition so not all things will go according to plan so u should give yourself some leeway.

    Your online income is quite exciting. From working for the MAN to being your own MAN and you yourself is making things happen.

    Any positive increase in your dividend income is a great thing and your savings rate fluctuating is not necessarily a bad thing as long as its the green.

    Will be interesting to see where your writing income peaks at and how it will relate to your ultimate retire by 40 goal. Still think you need a product to sell to really hit that accelerated next level.

    Good Day and Grind On!

    • says

      Asset-Grinder,

      Thanks, bud.

      It’s really exciting right now. To be able to work on my schedule and follow my dream is so amazing. I’m in such a great place.

      I’ll definitely be incredibly happy if I can still exceed my goals even after all of these changes. I think the savings rate goal will be the most difficult because of the reduced income, but I’ve also made some key changes in the expense department to compensate for some of that. We’ll see how it goes!

      The writing income is really interesting. I’m not sure where all of that is going. I enjoy writing, but even that has a limit. I can only write so much before I’m out of time. So there’s definitely a peak somewhere in there. As far as a product goes, I’m still planning on writing a book at some point here. It’s just a matter of finding the time to actually sit down and start putting the words together. I’m busier than I thought I’d be, which is a good thing. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best wishes.

  3. Jarmo says

    Good going Jason! 3/4 with all the changes this year is outstanding.

    My goals for this year :

    Earn 2800€ (about 3800USD) in dividends
    Possible. I’m projecting 2750-2850€
    Let’s say: Passing

    Diversify away from Finnish stocks. Add more US based stocks (Currently KO, IBM, WMT, PM, MDT, AFL)
    I’ve got new stocks: XOM, DE. I’ve added to positions in KO, IBM.
    Passing.

    Loose some weight
    Failing. A big disappointment. I gotta buy myself a new bike and get some sweat pumping.

    Save 60% of net income
    I’ve clocked in a lot of OT thus far. I’m projecting 63-65% savings rate for the years!
    Passing big time!

    • says

      Jarmo,

      Nice work there! $3,800 in dividends is really solid income. That’s basically where I finished last year, so you’re not far behind!

      Congrats on the savings rate. I know firsthand how difficult it is to save 60% or more of your net income. Keep it up!!

      Take care.

  4. says

    DM,
    Your life has changed a lot since you set those goals, but your progress is still quite good. I’ll be posting my mid-year financial goals update on Wednesday. Looking good so far, need to make some adjustments too. Have a great rest of the weekend!
    -RBD

    • says

      RBD,

      My life has changed dramatically, but I think I can still keep marching forward. The savings rate will be difficult, but I’m excited to give it my best shot. I’d hate to end the 50% savings rate streak, as I’m on a four-year streak right now.

      Looking forward to seeing how you’re doing!

      Cheers.

    • says

      Investing Pursuits,

      Ha! I wish I was up there with one of those sites. The income/expense reports would certainly be a lot more exciting to post! :)

      I still operate as a sole proprietorship, but I plan to convert to a LLC at some point here.

      Cheers!

      • Kipp says

        I have kind of wondered about this and what is the best way to setup a blog to limit liability. I am surprised that you haven’t tried to establish an LLC or an S-Corp structure yet. Especially now that your income is starting to ramp up, you probably don’t want your entire portfolio subject to liability if for some reason you receive a stupid lawsuit. MMM received a lawsuit, so who knows? People in America like to sue unfortunately.

        • says

          Kipp,

          Well, I was thinking of setting one up down in Florida. But then when the idea of moving back to Michigan came into view I scrapped it. I should definitely look into it now.

          Although, I don’t think MMM was sued. From what I know of the situation he would have been sued if the thread on his forum wasn’t removed…and I’m pretty sure he removed it. I think that’s where it ended. But I could be wrong on that.

          You never know about lawsuits. They can be completely frivolous, but still force you into court. It’s a shame.

          Best regards.

          • Kipp says

            Hi Jason,

            Unless if I am mistaken they had threatened to sue because of the form post and then he had removed it and blogged about it. And then they threatened to sue for him making a blog post that he was getting sued. But I never saw an update since, so maybe nothing has become of this, but maybe it has and I missed it. For some reason with the new layout the latest article isn’t showing on the front page for me and I have to go to the classic view to see if there is a new post.

            But yea, just because of sue happy America is the reason I would try to get some sort of legal separation.

            • says

              Kipp,

              Yeah, it was due to a forum post. From what I remember Pete saying he shut down that thread while he explored options. That seems to have pretty much ended it.

              But I definitely need to get the LLC thing going. Seems easy enough. I’ll just have to change the names on checks, which shouldn’t be hard.

              Best regards!

              • Chad says

                Ask a lawyer, but I don’t believe that the LLC will protect you from the liability. They will just sue you personally since you wrote the offending article. Only way an LLC would really protect you is if someone else wrote the article. To help with taxes, go the S-Corp route instead of the LLC.

                • says

                  Chad,

                  I actually looked into this a bit more, and it seems an LLC would be better designed to protect you from liability if you had employees and they did something wrong. As an LLC where you’re the only employee and there’s some legal blurred lines between you and the entity that gets a bit iffy. The better way to go might just be insurance, but I’ve had difficulties securing insurance for this. There’s general business liability insurance, media liability insurance, and then there are some small companies offering “blogger insurance”, but I’d rather have a large company backing me in case something did happen. Although, I’d be looking at small claims court at the worst with what I talk about here.

                  At first I was going after umbrella insurance, but that’s for personal liability. If you face liability from a business that earns money (no matter how its legally defined) that could also put you in a bad spot.

                  Thanks for the suggestion.

                  Best regards.

    • says

      Jon,

      I read that article, and it didn’t concern me. I actually think the e-cig developments are quite positive for PM and other tobacco manufacturers. Cigarettes are slowly dying anyway; e-cigs are simply accelerating this. But this is an exciting, new growth product for PM. They recently bought one of United Kingdom’s largest e-cig companies, and they’re quickly increasing their production capacity for their own brands. And PM can also acquire any that seem to have a large local market share and go from there. The short term may be volatile and uneasy, but I think this is a great long-term development.

      Take care.

      • Jon says

        How can you possibly think that a transition from high margin cigs to low margin e-cigs would be a great long-term development? I also fear that brand recognition will go down with e-cigs.

        • says

          Jon,

          Traditional cigarettes are slowly becoming extinct. This was true before e-cigs came around. Take a look at volumes. E-cigs are a way for these companies to stay relevant for the next few decades, as long as regulation doesn’t kill the product before it can take off.

          I’m not concerned about brand recognition. Take a look at blu. This market isn’t as fragmented as it might look. And some of the major players aren’t even in play yet. We’ll see what happens to net and operating margin, but I’m not concerned about that either. Once you have an oligopoly in play the margins should stay attractive.

          Best wishes.

  5. says

    DM,

    The fact that you are receiving all of your income without being an employee is awesome. I know your goal is to have passive income cover all of your bills without having to rely on writing/blog income, but the fact that you are living your life on your terms doing what you want instead of working to build an employer’s dreams is amazing. You are so much further ahead of the game than I think even you realize. Congrats and keep fighting to reach all of your goals!

    MDP

    • says

      MDP,

      I’m with you all the way. Even if someone gave me a million dollars tomorrow, and I was instantly financially independent, I’d still wake up and do exactly what I’m doing right now. So I’m technically already where I want to be. And it’s really fantastic. I’m very, very happy. However, I still want to be able to cover expenses via passive income by 40 because online income can be quite fickle. Passive income is much more reliable, and so my goals are just as concrete as ever. But the path to true freedom is certainly becoming much more enjoyable. :)

      Thanks for all the support. I really appreciate it. I’m excited to keep reaching higher and inspire others to do the same.

      Best wishes.

  6. Ravi says

    I try and set a fairly broad goal, as the main metric I track is net worth. I also look at dividends, capital gains, but am most interested to see how the big picture is trending.

    Late 2013, I set a target for 12/31/14 of $165k, and now it’s trending to be closer to $180k (some big market gains, and also doing well with staying on budget). Even if the market pulls back, I won’t surpass my goal by as much, but my purchases will buy more shares, so I’ll still be happy… just in a different way.

    Originally, I had a mostly income-based approach in my taxable account, but now with the market where it is, I really am just going for anything I believe is a good value (hence, WFM in the past month).

    My 5-yr goal is to have enough in tax deferred accounts to shift most new investments there. Can you imagine what it would be like if dividends and capital gains were all of a sudden tax free (until I withdraw many years later, anyway)? At that point, I would only need to be concerned about trading and really take advantage of the compounding! It’s something I need to do a bit more research about and to see how others have experienced it, but it seems like a solid idea going forward to get a bit more mix in my tax strategy.

    • says

      Ravi,

      I don’t really track net worth. I know where it’s at at all times simply because I know every aspect of my finances so well, but it’s not something that really concerns me. If my net worth was $5 but my passive income covered all of my expenses I’d be extremely happy. Of course, it’s hard to not have a sizable net worth if you’re financially independent. :)

      That sounds like a great goal there. I still have no plans to use a tax-advantaged account, and instead will remain as aggressive as ever building the taxable account. We’ll see how it goes. But I’m sure you’ll really enjoy withdrawing that income tax-free!

      Best regards.

      • Ravi says

        Absolutely. I do want solid passive income as well, hence the rental property and taxable investments which generate an average of $550 and $300 per month.

        I considered several times to cut my 401k contribution to 4% to just get the company match, and then invest the rest on my own in brokerage accounts, but started getting busier at work and decided to just leave the majority on autopilot.

        Dividends in a brokerage account are fairly tax efficient anyway, as they’re only hit with 15% (same with cap gains if held > 1 yr), so it’s not the end of the world. Considering I pay just over 30% in total taxes on ordinary income, 15% is like a walk in the park!

        I think my biggest draw toward 401k and Roth accounts is tax deferral, which, given my age will be a powerful force in building wealth over the next several decades.

        I’m dipping my toe into P2P with a Prosper IRA for $10k, as those loans are horribly tax INefficient, and will wind down my taxable account over the next few years. We’ll see how that goes, though I need to be careful and not get overexposed to that product even though it’s very tempting!

        Happy MI summer!

  7. Debbie M says

    I think your goals were created under the assumption that you would be working at your same job all year. I think you should make some revised goals using the updated information you have.

    Normally I would say you should revise goals 1, 2, and 4, but you’re going to make goal 1 anyway if you can just keep from withdrawing any of your investments. Woo hoo!

    So I’d recommend a lower saving percentage and a higher online income goal. And you can still compare against your original goals as well.

    • says

      Debbie M,

      That’s an interesting point there. Perhaps I should adjust.

      I think the changes will simply allow goal #4 to be easier, while goal #2 will just be more difficult now. I think I still want to aim for a 50% savings rate, though. Even if I come close I’ll be extremely excited knowing that I almost made it while not working a conventional job for half the year. But goal #4 will definitely be easier now that I have more time for it. Maybe I’ll adjust this goal to compensate.

      Thanks for the suggestion! :)

      Best wishes.

  8. says

    Congrats on completing your goals! The online income is extremely impressive! At this rate, you might be blogging full time, surprised you haven’t written a book yet!

    • says

      Henry,

      Thanks! I’m doing pretty well thus far. Just gotta keep it going for another six months. I’m optimistic that I can still come back and exceed a 50% savings rate.

      I’m actually already blogging full-time. After quitting my job at the car dealership and moving back home to Michigan recently I’m now focusing all of my efforts on writing. It’s really exciting!

      I do hope to write a book at some point here. I’m actually just busier than I thought I’d be. I figured I’d have all of this unstructured free time to use as I pleased, but it’s not quite like that. It’s nice, though. I like staying busy and focusing my efforts on all of this. But I do hope to carve out some time here and there to start putting a really good book together. We’ll see how it goes.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best regards.

  9. says

    You’re doing great. Halfway through the year and you’re passing on most of your goals. I’m sure it’ll be a completely different set of challenges the second half of the year as you get settled into your new life. Best of luck going forward and I expect to see some great things. Don’t get discouraged by coming up a little short on the savings rate. What’s great is that even though you’ve missed the savings rate goal you’re still ahead on your goals.

    • says

      JC,

      Thanks. Appreciate the note of support.

      I’m really optimistic about the second half of the year. It’s definitely going to be challenging to still hit the savings rate goal, but I’m confident in my ability to adjust on the go and make things happen. It’s been a tough go so far, though!

      I know you’re doing great over there. Your income is impressive, but your consistency in saving a large portion of it is even more impressive. Keep it up!!

      Cheers.

  10. KeithX says

    Jason,
    Excellent progress, dude! And it’s nice to have a good person return to MI instead of going the other way.

    Compared to your goals, mine are:
    Goal 1: convert 401k and Roth IRAs from index funds to dividend paying stocks. All funds converted, but with 3 non-dividend paying exceptions that I will probably keep: CMG, GOOGL, and PNRA. Currently averaging over $1K in dividends per month. I will note that about 25% of these accounts is in cash because I am hesitant to reinvest everything at current market prices.
    Pass
    Goal 2: Maximize our 401k and Roth IRA contributions. My wife and my Roths are funded, and I’ve been putting 50% of my pay check in the 401k. The 401k contributions drop to the maximum after tax rate of 10% when the pretax hits $23,500.
    Pass
    Goal 3: Keep my morning weight below 190 pounds. My weight fluctuates during the day, sometimes by up to 5 pounds, so I weight myself in the morning for consistency. I weighted 192.0 this morning.
    Fail
    Goal 4: Uh, earn zero from online activities.
    Pass!

    I think that I could substitute exercise for Goal 4. In that case, I try to do at least 15 minutes of aerobic and 5 to 10 minutes of flexibility exercises every day, plus lift weights for at least 30 minutes a week. I think that I have missed about 10 days of the daily exercises this year, most because I got sick in February. At 57, it might be even more important to exercise since the body is naturally slowing down. I saw the pics you posted, and I need to amp up the weights if I’m going to get biceps like yours. ;)

    Great job,
    KeithX

    • says

      KeithX,

      Thanks! It’s good to be back home in Michigan. Born and raised here. :)

      Sounds like you’re killing it with most of the goals. Your dividend income is especially impressive. I’m still a few years away from hitting $1,000 per month, but I’m slowly getting there.

      And you’re only a couple pounds away from your weight target. That’s solid. A day or two of really light eating will surely get you to where you want to be. Keep at it!

      Best wishes.

  11. says

    We have many similar goals, but the one that is most striking is the weight loss. I’m currently 184 lbs and want to be around 175. I’m trying to drop a few pounds while also maintain my muscle weight, so I do a lot of squats, dead lifts, power cleans, lunges, push ups and pullups. I didn’t see burpees on your “frugal fitness” article though?! That is one of my favorite free exercises and consider it an essential part of my routine! Snacking over the weekends when I’m not at work is a big problem for me too. Sometimes I go a little crazy on my days off (what box of cookies?!). Congrats with all the success on your goals!

    • says

      John,

      The only thing I would caution is that some of those power moves like cleans and squats may not actually lead to weight loss because you’ll be building up core muscles. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but rather that I’ve found when I do heavy weight with those exercises that my weight goes in the opposite direction. Of course, I was always glad to see this when I was bodybuilding!

      Nowadays, though, I focus on light weight, higher reps, less time between sets, and more ancillary exercises. It allows me to lean out while still having great muscle size, roundness, and tone. Just my take on it!

      I actually used to do burpees, and I’ve written about them on the site before. But I found them so exhausting that it was hard for me to bang out 100 push-ups or so with them. And so I was limiting my chest size and strength in favor of the cardio side. I find that burning myself out with a nice run, and then doing 100 push-ups is exhausting in itself anyhow.

      And I hear you on going a little crazy on the days off. I’ve always been pretty good with sweet snacks, but stuff like cheeseburgers and pizza really get me. Sometimes I find myself grabbing a fourth slice of pizza on a Saturday, and I’m like “I should put this back in the box.” :)

      Keep up the great work!

      Cheers.

  12. says

    I think you’re doing great! Looking forward to seeing you post June’s numbers.

    My goal this year is € 1200. ($1500) in dividend
    Portfolio €45,000,- (now €40,000.-)
    Diversify my portfolio away from Dutch stocks (on my way)
    Build a website to tell my story (building in progress)

    Pollie
    @Polliesdividend

    • says

      Pollie,

      $1,500 in dividend income for the year is a great goal. I was hitting that level not long ago myself.

      I wish you the best with your portfolio as well as building your website. I’m sure you’ll find success if you work hard at it. :)

      Best regards!

  13. rickrack says

    Hi D-M,
    I am a regular reader of your blog from Germany. And – I hope I am not to “offensive” – I am a brother in mind. Working on financial independence for about five years. Being at roughly the same level as you are. And also just quit my fulltime job looking for a better future.
    Just wanted to say “hello”.
    Very good work on your year’s targets.
    And very good work on the blog. I am always enjoying reading.
    Thanks for your writing and best of luck for the second half of 2014.
    Best regards from Germany
    rickrack

    • says

      rickrack,

      Thanks for stopping by all the way from Germany! Your readership is very much appreciated. Good to know I’ve got a brother-in-arms over there. :)

      I wish you the best of luck with your goals both this year and going forward. To our success!

      Cheers.

  14. says

    Congrats on a great half year so far. It’s going to be fun to watch the increases in savings rate and online income help you keep up the purchases for dividends received. It might catch up to your old work income sooner than expected. You can do it! Keep taking care of your body; it’s very motivating. I’m finally starting to do some work in that area. I’ve had such a great half year myself. I’m killing my “new capital invested” goal, and I’ve seen my small portfolio grow steadily bigger in these last 6 months. Thanks for all the content lately :)

    Have a great coming week,
    Ryan

    • says

      Ryan,

      Thanks! Appreciate the ongoing support!

      Looks like you’re definitely killing it over there. Really glad you’re receiving more income now and you’re putting that excess capital to work. That’s awesome that you’re so far ahead of where you thought you’d be. It’s amazing how even big goals can seem easily achievable in hindsight when you keep working at them.

      I’m definitely doing my best in the health department. It’s a bit harder to stick to my diet up here in Michigan because my family loves to get together and eat big meals and what not, but it’s experiences like that that convinced me to move back…so I’ll just do my best to keep it in moderation and work out to compensate. :)

      Best of luck with continuing your progress through the second half of the year!

      Best wishes.

  15. says

    congrats! looks like you are doing great! I am still working on my goals list because I have to scratch or revise some… I went off truck with my studying for CPA test but hopefully I will be able to catch up soon. For investments, I am still in process of rearranging my portfolio. By rearranging I mean selling some non dividends stocks and buy dividends stock instead. But I am very happy with my investment path for this year so far. I finally found my way of investing for now and your blog was a great inspiration. I am glad for you that you were able to leave your unhappy job and can do good without it.

    • says

      Happy,

      So glad you’ve found some inspiration here and you’re converting your investments to those that produce income for you. Dividend income is the proof in the pudding. :)

      That’s great you’re studying for your CPA designation. Very, very cool. Wish you the best of luck with that!

      I hope you have a great second half of the year.

      Take care.

  16. says

    Excellent progress Jason! You are well in your way to reach your 2014 goals.

    You don’t need to say you are going retire in 40, actually you already retired when you quit your job and do what you like to do in rest of your life.

    Best of luck!!!

    • says

      Finance Journey,

      Thanks so much. I’m doing really solid so far. I just hope I can keep it up! :)

      Best of luck with your goals. I hope to see you as a millionaire 10 years from now!!

      Take care.

  17. says

    DM,

    Passing 3/4 is a very solid start to the year. You should get a +2 for the online goal if it continues to grow the way you are thinking! I am sure a lot of the averaged savings rate is due to the expenses of moving. I just moved two months ago and let me tell you, the costs can add up quickly. The worst part is that you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have a hunch you will bring that rate up with based on how driven you are and how committed you are to financial independence. Lastly, and most imressively, you are doing very well in the dividend income goal.

    Keep up the great work. I am looking forward to following your progress and watching your savings rate increase throughout the rest of the year!

    Best Regards,

    Bert

    • says

      Bert,

      Hey, I’ll take the extra credit in one of the categories. :)

      I’ve done pretty well. I knew the savings rate was going to be difficult, and some of my changes added to the difficulty. But I’m confident with some aggressive expense cutting and a little more writing that I can still come from behind and zoom past the 50% mark before the end of the year. It’s probably going to be a close one. It’ll be exciting!

      The dividend income is definitely kicking butt. This sets me up for a very successful second half of the year and a good run in 2016.

      To our success! Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers.

      • says

        It doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line as long as you cross it! You’ll get there a lot faster than you realize. I’m predicting your cost cutting measures will have a much greater impact than anticipated. I’m excited to see how this plays out.

        Let’s keep this momentum for the second half.

        Bert

        • says

          Bert,

          I’m excited to give it my best shot, that’s for sure. I also agree the cost-cutting will have a pretty big impact if I can stay strict with it. June was a smashing success in regards to the budget, largely because of some great income numbers. But the expenses looked pretty solid too. I expect July to be even less expensive, so things are definitely looking up. :)

          Congrats on recently crossing over $40k. That’s really great stuff. The snowball is gaining speed!

          Cheers.

  18. Spoonman says

    Thank you for giving us the update. I think you are doing well for the most part. Some goals, namely #2, had a specific purpose that may no longer be commensurate with your current life trajectory. A 50% savings rate made sense when you had that stressful job. In any case, I think it’s great that you are getting passing grades even after leaving that awful job. I wish you the best with the second half of the year!

    As for us, well, we are more or less on track to meet our goals. We are still going to quit in mid August and our Escape Fund is almost fully funded. My wife and I are very much ready to leave our jobs and enter the next phase in our adventure!

    • says

      Spoonman,

      That’s a great point there regarding the savings rate. That’s something I’m personally wrestling with. I know I want to finish this year strong, but where does that leave me in 2015 and beyond? If I’m still writing for a living, what’s an appropriate savings rate? How aggressively should I still pursue true financial independence? I’m still aiming for 40, which will still require at least a 50% savings rate, but should I be less aggressive? These are questions that dance in my mind.

      I’m really excited to see you and your wife take full advantage of your Escape Fund, jump out of the plane, and pull the chute. A whole new adventure awaits! :)

      Best regards.

  19. Josh says

    Great work Jason! Having something to strive for is the essence of life. We are forever young as long as our goals matter more to us than our memories. Wishing you continued success in the second half of 2014!

    • says

      Josh,

      Thanks so much! I know I’d love to stay forever young. Aging sucks, but the experience is nice. :)

      I wish you the best of luck with the rest of 2014 as well. To our success!

      Cheers.

    • says

      SE,

      Thanks so much! I hope to hit 4/4 by the end of the year. We’ll see. :)

      Fitness is really important. No sense in owning all of your own time if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best regards.

  20. says

    Doing good DM, 3 of 4 is still great considering the huge life changing move that you made both in career and in location. There is still half a year yet and 100% is still not out of reach. :) Keep it up DM!

    Wishing you continued success in your journey! AFFJ

    • says

      AFFJ,

      Thanks for the support. I really appreciate it.

      I agree that I’m doing pretty solid considering all of the changes, but the second half of the year will be the real test. I won’t have any traditional job income, so it’ll be completely up to me to keep expenses under control and monitor everything closely. I’m excited for the opportunity! :)

      I hope all is well with your family’s journey as well!

      Take care.

  21. says

    Excellent work on your goals, DM, considering the big changes going on. Seems to me you may have already reached financial independence. You are your own boss now completely responsible for your own work and results. Ok, so you’re not living completely off your dividend income yet, but you still have multiple sources of income that should help cover your expenses. Sounds like freedom to me. Just as an aside, have you given any thought to selling options on your existing portfolio and keeping the premium for a little extra income between dividend payments?

    Trade wisely,

    • says

      Arizona Trader,

      I agree. I’m about as close to financial independence as one can be without being actually financially independent. I’m working on things that I truly enjoy every single day, and, for the most part, I’m my own boss. I feel so incredibly fortunate right now to be able to get up and write, focusing on how I can best inspire others out there to change their financial futures. It’s a real blessing. I’m still shooting for true FI by 40, but I suppose the desperation isn’t as strong as it used to be.

      As far as options go, I don’t plan to sell any options. I’ve looked into that strategy and find it unnecessary for what I’m trying to achieve. Just my $0.02. :)

      Thanks for the support! Much appreciated.

      Best wishes.

    • says

      Dutch Dividend,

      Thanks so much! It’ll be an interesting second half of the year.

      I’m glad you’re motivated to stick to your own plan and build sustainable wealth and passive income for yourself. Keep going!

      Cheers.

  22. says

    Jason,
    40% is a great savings rate. Have you done p90x? Best workout ever, got me lean and ripped. It’s the same type of work out you’re doing,
    We’ve had some events that I’ve spend some money on, so we’re looking to cut back on the back half. I’m going to post a six month review on my financial goals in the net few weeks.

    • says

      Charles,

      I’ve never done the p90x. I’ve seen the occasional infomercial, but that’s about it. Seems like a solid product. But I suppose if you have minimal equipment and plenty of internal willpower you should be fine. The p90x system is just extra motivation, which is never a bad thing. :)

      Looking forward to seeing your post. I’m sure you did very well over the first six months.

      Best regards!

  23. says

    Fantastic job, Jason! Overall you’re dominating your goals. A 40% savings rate is still very impressive. You’ve made a major change and you’ve adjusted accordingly. Keep up the good work!

    • says

      Addison,

      Thanks for the support! I think the second half of the year will be the real test, so we’ll see how things go. I’m optimistic and excited. :)

      You’re doing great over there as well. Keep it up! :)

      Best wishes.

  24. says

    Great job so far! I’m sure you will increase your writing income as you spend more time on it. Isn’t it a great feeling to be self employed? I’m looking forward to seeing if you can save 50% of your income especially with less income now. Good luck!

    • says

      Joe,

      It’s definitely a great feeling. I’m just so incredibly grateful for the position I’m in. I’ve worked really hard to get here, but I also know I’ve been lucky.

      I’m anxious to see if I can indeed hit that high of a savings rate with less income. It’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out, but I’m pretty determined. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      SFL,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      So glad to hear you’re doing really well on the financial side of things. And I hope that success eventually helps with the personal and career goals. Every day is a new opportunity. :)

      Best regards.

  25. says

    Nice work!
    Did my second quarter income check today too, got around 800$ its a start.
    did not actually set any goals for myself this year, maybe i should ?
    how’s life now when you just get to spend time with family and not doing any “real” work? or ?

    regards!

    • says

      Investingidiot,

      That’s a very nice start, indeed! Keep it up, my friend.

      Life is wonderful, thanks for asking. I’m spending a lot more time with family, which is great. I really hated just seeing everyone for a week or two per year. Now I get to see the family on a daily basis. It’s totally different. And it’s also great to be able to write more often. I’m thoroughly enjoying this. I just hope it can stay this way for a while longer. :)

      Cheers!

  26. says

    Hi DM,

    Awesome job on reaching three out of four goals! That even beats Meatloaf who settled for two out of three! ;)

    And while it wasn’t a goal, I think you succeeded in getting more value out of your time and spending time with your family.

    Enjoy your day and best wishes on your continued FI journey!

    • says

      Dividend Life,

      Ha! I love the Meatloaf reference. That’s hilarious. :)

      And you’re right. Although it wasn’t a specific goal, the whole transition to living back home in Michigan and spending more time with family has been invaluable. It’s impossible to quantify the improvement in quality of life and overall happiness, but it’s been really great.

      Appreciate the support!

      Best regards.

  27. walletengineers says

    I want to:

    Buy and USE a bicycle this year, but something nice that I can keep for a lifetime. Larger inherent upfront cost with a purchase of a lasting durable good, but it’s something I believe in. My car insurance premium went up because I drive more than expected. Sad.

    Exercise at least three times a week – I climb at least twice a week. I have to make sure I do something constructive on the weekends like run or bicycle (with a borrowed bike).

    Eat more vegetables. (Or, ideally, grow my own vegetables if I find a home!). I’m working on making a list of vegetables that I like eating raw – like peppers. Pretty much just peppers. Ugh. Vegetable + fruit smoothies???? ??? ?

    • says

      walletengineers,

      Those are some real solid goals right there.

      I especially like the idea on the bicycle. I had a bicycle for a while down in Florida and eventually ditched it for the scooter. I don’t regret that, but it would be nice to ride a bike up here in Michigan for seven or eight months per year.

      That would be awesome if you could also fit in the time to exercise and eat more veggies. I’ve always been good about making the time for exercise, but veggies are another matter. I’m like Warren Buffett when it comes to eating my veggies. :)

      I hope you’re able to knock those goals out of the park! Wishing you the best of luck!!

      Take care.

  28. BCS says

    Great to see you are meeting or exceeding most of your goals DM, congrats!

    Financially, the only goal I really set this year was to make $1,000 in dividends. I had been slightly off pace of that all year thus far, until a fabulous month of June put me comfortably on track to meet the mark.

    Personally, I had set goals of wanting to quit my nasty habits: drinking, smoking, and chewing tobacco. Haven’t smoked since March 1, haven’t had a drink since April 1, and haven’t had a chew for 10 days. That is the toughest one so far though! I sure hope my investment in Altria (MO) can withstand not having my patronage any more!

    As always, keep up the good work.

    • says

      BCS,

      $1,000 in dividends is a very nice bedrock for future success. I still remember getting to that level myself. I felt like things were really starting to work for me at that point.

      And best of luck with quitting smoking. I personally have no aversion for smoking, and I’m not saying that as a shareholder. Rather, I view it much like my inclination to avoid eating veggies. I’d rather live the way I want in a way that makes me happy, even if that means I might not be completely maximizing my time on this planet. That being said, the negative health effects of smoking are clear, and your body will surely thank you if you quit. :)

      Appreciate you stopping by!

      Best regards.

  29. says

    I’m impressed with your progress, Jason. In short 4 years, its awesome.

    My passive income goal this year:
    1) $1500 in dividend income
    2) $1000 from various online activities
    + maximizing 401K contribution and exercise 3 times / week.

    I’m passing first 2 and not so other 2 :)

    Keep chugging along your full year goals!

    • says

      PIM,

      Thanks so much! I can only hope the next four years are anywhere near this successful for me. :)

      Those are some awesome goals there. An extra $2,500/year in income is more than $200/month. That’s awesome. That could pay for a couple of bills all by itself, and that number will only increase over time.

      I hope you’re able to also hit the other two goals, and make some progress in the back half of the year. You still have six months to go!

      Best wishes.

  30. says

    DM,

    Great job! You have 3 of 4 already passed and just have to maintain them and focus on what’s important to reaching FI by 40. I set a tough goal with dividend income for myself this year of $2700 and am falling behind now. Going to be a little tough to catch it without really focusing and putting the effort in.

    • says

      SWAN,

      Thanks so much. It’ll be an interesting second half of the year, but I’m super excited!

      I hope you come close to that $2,700 mark. You may even still end up hitting it. Six months to go! Although, even getting close is very solid, and sets you up very nicely for a solid run in 2015. :)

      Cheers.

  31. says

    Hey Jason,

    I must admit I love these posts. It’s great to see you making progress. I took the opportunity to share my goals back on your site back in Jan. So here’s our goals for my wife, three kids and myself:

    Goal #1
    Improve our health by working out 3x a week

    We are doing good on this one! My wife and son took a community college class together so they could spend time together and get a workout. Because it is graded it holds us accountable to workout regularly as my son is trying to maintain his 4.0. I have been ave about 3 times a week and now that the summer winds have arrived I get more time to catch up as I get out to kite more too. My daughters are also doing great with soccer, biking, running and gymnastics and little league. Come to think of it we are probably over doing it a little. So goes the life of a busy family with kids.

    Grade=passing

    Goal #2
    Strengthen Family Relationships by spending at least 6 hours a month with each family member.

    Well this one is a little lopsided right now too. My son took an AP history class which was super challenging. He asked me to help him study. Since I love both history and my son we spent a lot of time together this winter and spring. Probably something like 15 hours a week. That along with about 30 min a day with the other 3 family members comes out to 75 hours divided by 4 family members is 20 hours a month. Not terribly accurate but I don’t like running in and logging it in..seems too impersonal. Good goal but hard to track.

    Grade=passing

    Goal #3
    Learn Spanish and Self Defences 30 min a day.

    This one went good until history class took over. Now that history is over my daughter, wife and I have started an online Spanish class as she is working to go on a student exchange program in Argentina. She is going to earn the money mowing grass, babysitting, helping people weed gardens etc. I am encouraging her to ask the rotary club who helps set this up for fundraising ideas. Our priest in our church says she has some ideas too. It should be fun starting to learn Spanish again..esp cause I felt guilty stealing away to study by myself so much earlier in the year. It’s way more fun to do it as a family. We will see I how this goes. As far as self defences goes I need to fit this in somewhere as I have my second degree black belt test in 12 short months.

    Grade=fail

    Goal # 4
    Save/Invest 40% of all income = $36k

    Pulling this off with a family of four on two take home salaries totaling about 70k isn’t easy. My wife and I are mostly on the same page. The kids are pretty reasonable too. I am not sure where I got 36k for this goal? We have brought home $37,862 as of June 30th, and forty percent is 15,145. We have saved only 7200 plus 2000 ready to go tonight and since it’s not midnight yet I will count it. Still it’s a fail..bummer! That’s like about 25%. If I add in the dividends and growth of stock prices ( about 10k) I get a higher net savings but it also increases the take home. How do you deal with that? Not sure how we can improve this as medical bills have been killer on top of the regular $800 per month for health insurance. And if course there is our addition to our little home that is sucking up money to the tune of $500 per month.

    Grade=failing

    Goal #5
    Complete Addition for our home and a Will

    Two years ago we started adding a 329 sq ft master suite cause we have been sharing our bedroom with our youngest. (Our teenage girl and boy have their own little rooms) Well we are making some progress on this..although it is slow. We try to spend about 20 hours a month and $500 per month. The first summer we borrowed a tractor and dug and built the foundation, the floor, walls, roof and got her dried it in. The next year was painting, elec and plumbing. We had never done this so it took super too long. Lots of learning though. This year we got the insulation, drywall, paint and cabinet built. We are spending these two months money plus on carpet and Lino in the bath. Plumbing fixtures, trim and water heater, gutters, landscaping, curtains, etc are gonna happen sometime in the fall as time and money permit. We are definitely saving money but it’s not what I call fun. The will needs to get in there too.

    Grade=passing

    Well that’s our crazy life in a nut house. Three out of five is a little disappointing but we are only humans.

    Thanks for asking and letting me post our progress too!

    • says

      Chris,

      Sounds like you’re doing great to me! The most important goals are the ones you’re doing the best with. The finances will work themselves out if you stay persistent, but the family time is invaluable. :)

      As far as savings percentages, I do count dividend income on the income side. However, I do not count unrealized or realized capital gains. And that’s because the dividend income will eventually sustain my lifestyle, while capital gains will not.

      Those are some pretty challenging and wide-ranging goals. Seems like you guys are making solid progress in all areas of your lives, and that’s what’s important. Better to shoot for the stars and land on the moon than never leave the ground. :)

      Keep up the great work.

      Best regards.

  32. says

    Hey DM,

    I would say that’s a very successful year so far, congratulations! 3 out of 4 is good going. I wouldn’t put it past you turning the saving % around by the end of the year too.

    I think your online income is now become a very important goal, as it could change your lifestyle and allow you to write full time. I have my fingers crossed for you on that front. Your articles are always well written and interesting, so I have no doubt that you can make a living from it. I might not write a comment on all of your posts, but I do make the effort to read all of them, as I find them motivating and interesting.

    I know your a DGI, and that’s a big motivation for you and I, and you’ve already proved that you know what you’re doing in that area, and it’s a slow burner in many ways. What you buy now will assist you in a few months time. I think the online income is a little more immediate, and the returns from it have been huge.

    As always, all the best DM, keep up the great work, and I look forward to seeing how your all of your goals turn out this year.

    Cheers
    Huw

    • says

      Huw,

      Thanks so much!

      I agree the online income becomes a very important goal now because it will determine how realistic it is for me to keep writing for a living. I’m optimistic and hopeful that things will work out, and I’m certainly keeping my eye out for fresh opportunities.

      I really appreciate the support and readership. Means a lot to me. I just hope I’m able to keep putting out content that people will enjoy and find value in. I only write what I think will be entertaining, informative, and educational. If I wouldn’t like to read it then I don’t put it out there. There’s not a bunch of sales pitches or anything here because I like sharing and learning, not selling.

      I hope you’re also able to close your 2014 out really strong over there and nail all of your goals! :)

      Best wishes.

  33. says

    75% is passing in my book so congrats DM! I read your blog to inspire me. I never set any goals on paper for the year other than to start a blog so I guess better late than never. Keep on writing!

    • says

      DFG,

      Glad you find inspiration here in what I write about. I write to inspire, so I’m really happy to read that. :)

      75% is solid, but I’m optimistic and hopeful I can come from behind and still hit 100% It’s going to be incredibly tough without the big day job paycheck, but I’m determined to somehow make it work. We’ll see!

      Thanks for stopping by. I promise to keep on writing. :)

      Best wishes.

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