It’s another year, which is another huge opportunity in front of us to move closer to the versions of ourselves we want to be. Like I recently discussed, I believe there’s a future me that’s already financially independent, waiting for the me of today to reach this eventuality.
However, I still need to keep walking the path if I want to get to that eventuality. It’s not going to happen magically. Believing in yourself is extremely important, but execution is just as critical.
So I set SMART goals at the beginning of every year. And I not only set these goals, but I announce and track them publicly, which keeps me incredibly motivated to give it my all. Each one of the goals I set this year, like every other year, are extremely aggressive, but also have the long-term picture in mind. Each goal, if reached, gets me exactly as far in one year as I’d need to travel to stay on pace for my overarching goal of financial independence by 40 years old. Exceeding goals, which is always wonderful, means I’m ahead of pace. Perhaps the future me is getting impatient?
I’m extremely excited for what 2015 has in store. Not just for me, but all of you in this community as well. A year can fly by so quickly, but it’s actually a fairly long period of time. And it can bring you so much closer to what you want out of life, if you consistently and routinely stick to good habits and make good choices.
Here are my goals for 2015:
Goal #1 – Receive $7,200 In Dividends During The Year Of 2015
Whew! I’d LOVE to hit this. I’m actually a little ahead of pace, so missing my mark for the first time since I’ve started investing wouldn’t be totally devastating. That said, I’m somewhat confident I can generate this kind of income this year. This adds up to $600 per month. Let me repeat that. $600 per month. And I’ve only been at this since 2010, and even then it was a few months into the year. So stick with it. This is real-life progress. No backtesting. No theories. Nothing hypothetical. What you see here is real-life cash flow from real-life saving and investing.
I finished last year with $5,721.60 in total dividend income. So achieving my goal this year would be an almost $1,500 improvement, or just over 25%. I was more confident about this goal before the sale of American Realty Capital Properties Inc. (ARCP), but I’m still in fairly good shape. The power of diversification means the elimination of a big payer like that didn’t really set me back all that far. Reinvested dividends and dividend raises alone should account for about 10% of the 25% I’m aiming for. The other 15% will have to come from new capital, so this will be really tough. I’m actually excited just to be able to live out my dream and write for a living, so coming up with more than $20,000 worth of new capital this year to invest would just be out of this world. It’ll be a big challenge.
This is the goal I’m most anxious about this year. It’s very, very exciting to think about averaging $600 per month in dividend income. That’s getting pretty close to covering my expenses in a few cheaper foreign countries out there. The possibilities are just amazing. If I hit this number, that means I’ll pass through $6,000 and $7,000 this year, after blowing past $4,000 and $5,000 in annual dividend income last year. The snowball is definitely accelerating.
Goal #2 – Save 50% Of My Net Income, Averaged Monthly
I honestly thought about scaling this one back a bit. I know it’s going to be incredibly difficult to save 50% of my net income after taking a fairly large pay cut by moving over to writing full-time. But I’m going to keep the difficulty level cranked way up to see just what I’m capable of. I think this is an achievable goal, but probably about as tough as it can possibly get. Hey, why not?
I didn’t miss 50% by much last year, but I definitely noticed the extra challenge without the occasional monster commission check from the old dealership job. So not only am I out to get back on track and exceed 50% like I’m used to, but also aiming to do so without the benefit of a traditional paycheck for the first six months of the year like I benefited from in 2014.
We’ll see how this one goes. A major headwind beyond just the lower income is higher taxes. I’m absolutely positive I’m going to owe well into the thousands when I do my taxes this year due to not paying enough quarterly estimated taxes last year. I set up payments before my online income increased fairly dramatically toward the back half of the year. Another headwind is going to be potentially higher expenses from the likes of a wedding, traveling to Omaha this year to see Warren Buffett in person, and possibly FinCon. We’ll see how it goes!
Goal #3 – Weigh 180 Pounds Or Less By The End Of 2015
I’m starting the year at 179 pounds, so this may not seem particularly challenging. Maybe I need a break after some big challenges above. Seriously, though, this is a long-term goal of mine that I’ll likely repeat every year. I’m not taking it easy, however, since this is a tough weight for me to maintain.
I have a slightly larger frame than most, something I cultivated in my early teen years as a competitive bodybuilder. But whereas I was previously interested in anaerobic exercise, I’ve been shifting to more aerobic fitness over the last few years. This has allowed me to slim down, require less protein, and put less stress on my body. It’s still a challenge for me since I almost subconsciously try to constantly push myself in terms of strength training.
This goal will also obviously require careful calorie counting. I love to eat like most everyone else, so this is tough. I’m certainly not an ascetic eater, though I did divert my diet early on in my journey closer to basic subsistence to save as much as possible. Now that the days of extreme frugality are somewhat behind me, I have to probably watch calories more than pennies. It’s always something, isn’t it?
Goal #4 – Net $36,000 In Online Income This Year
I’m being a bit more specific on this goal this year, while also tripling the number I’m aiming for. So what I’m hoping to achieve here is $36,000 in income via all online sources, be it blogging, freelancing, etc. And my goal is to do so net of taxes. I think I could easily gross this figure, but it’s not money in my pocket if Uncle Sam is taking his portion.
I will note that I’m not including expenses like hosting. I certainly look forward to deducting these expenses, which will help with the tax burden, but the number I’m looking at will be gross minus taxes. I’ll also be setting up a rather aggressive quarterly estimated tax schedule this year, so whatever I net this year should be very accurate.
This goal is made more difficult by the fact that, as aforementioned, I’m confident I’ll owe a fairly hefty sum this spring for taxes. But what fun is it if I’m not setting the bar extremely high? If I can achieve this goal and hit my dividend income numbers, they both work as means to the end of hitting my savings goal this year. So I kind of have to really hit this number here in order to have a good shot at the other two goals. I’m obviously going to give it 100% and then some and am doing my best to stay busy.
There you have it. Each goal is a SMART goal, though exactly how attainable some of these goals are is debatable. I have a pretty good record with hitting my goals thus far, but I truly believe this is my most difficult set of goals yet. The bar has been raised pretty high here.
As always, I appreciate all the support all of you throughout the community give me. I’m doing my best to give back through content and inspiration. I don’t write articles just to “put something out there”. Each article comes from my heart and I only write what I think is interesting and worthwhile to read. And I’ll continue this mantra throughout 2015 and beyond. I put a lot of time into this blog and all the content I create across the internet, so thank you for appreciating that and supporting my vision of a community.
I’ll do a mid-year checkup on these goals once June comes around. I think it’s somewhat likely I’ll be behind, relying on the second half of the year to catch up. Stay tuned!
Full Disclosure: None.
What do you think of these goals? Challenging? What are your goals for the year? Anything you really want to accomplish?
Thanks for reading.
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