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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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