I knew that I had written my 2019 goals down somewhere, but I couldn’t remember where. It occurred to me earlier today that it’s nearly mid-August and I hadn’t looked at our personal goals for 2019 since jotting them down in January.
This is how it’s done, right?
Ideally you want to keep your goals front-and-center on a regular basis. They should be a constant reminder of where you’re heading and what you want to accomplish. So, yeah, we didn’t do any of that.
Even though I haven’t looked at our goals in eight months, I’d like to believe that the act of thinking through and writing down goals earlier this year planted them firmly in my subconscious.
We’ll go with that at least.
This will be my fifth blog post on goals. Updates were also provided at year-end 2017, beginning of 2018, mid-year 2018, and year-end 2018. It’s a fun exercise to read through progress over the last couple years.
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Whether you look at your goals regularly or not, I believe that goal setting is a powerful way to hold ourselves accountable for our behaviors. Without further ado, below is the list of our personal goals for 2019 and progress so far. (My handwritten copy is featured below!)
Review of Our Personal Goals for 2019: Mid-Year Update
1) Rebuild Emergency Fund to 6 Months of Expenses
Status: On Target
Last year we remodeled our kitchen and used much of our emergency fund for the project. Not the best idea as this was far from an emergency. After paying off our mortgage in August 2018, the smart thing to do would have been to save diligently until we had the money to fund our kitchen project. Instead, we jumped right in and we grossly underestimated the cost.
By the end of 2018, we had burned through all but $5,000 of our emergency fund. Sometimes I wonder how I can call myself a personal finance blogger when I can’t even follow my own advice.
We’ve slowly been able to build our emergency fund back up to six months of living expenses. It’s currently 85 percent funded and hopefully will get to 100 percent by the end of September.
2) Save $20,000 for Down Payment on Rental Property
Status: At Risk
This one probably isn’t going to happen this year. In May, we had a lot of rain which flooded our basement. Water was coming in around the perimeter of the basement floor and completely ruined our laminate flooring, which I’m still in the progress of ripping out.
As a result, we took the plunge to have someone come out to waterproof our basement. They had to jackhammer out a foot of concrete around the edges to install piping leading to a new sub-pump. The back wall of the basement was slowly closing in as well so braces were installed to keep it from moving further.
We actually had our emergency fund up to six months of expenses right before June. As soon as we built it back up, we had to cut a check for more than $10,000 for the waterproofing. There’s still a lot of work to do in the basement to install new flooring and finish a bathroom, which will cost money as well.
Once we save up the $20,000 for a rental property, likely some time next year, I’m still on the fence if we’d move forward with a purchase or try to continue saving to buy a property with cash. Even though this would likely take a couple more years, it falls in line with our debt adverse approach.
The most likely situation is that we’ll start looking at property once the $20,000 is saved and only pull the trigger if we find an unbelievable deal. With the real estate market hot in most areas, this will be unlikely. A recession is coming at some point and I want to have money on hand to take advantage when it hits.
3) Max 401(k) Contributions of $19,000
Status: On Target
Right now I am on target to max out my 401(k) at my workplace for the first time ever. Since starting at my organization 12 years ago, I’ve always contributed somewhere between 6 and 10 percent (plus a 7 percent match). After paying off the mortgage last year, contributions at the beginning of this year were increased to be able to max out my 401(k) through monthly contributions.
Even though I have little regret about becoming completely debt free, it is tough to look back and see how much the market has increased since the bottom of the great recession. It would have been really difficult to max out my 401(k) early in my career, but could have been possible after a few salary bumps. Regardless, hindsight is 20/20 and I am excited to max out my 401(k) for the first time this year, barring unforeseen circumstances.
4) Max at Least One IRA of $6,000
Even though we have intention to max out at least one individual retirement account (IRA), it’s hard to mark this one as on target given that neither Mrs. FP or I currently have an IRA. The plan is to start putting money into an IRA once the emergency fund is back up to six months of expenses.
Based on savings projections, we should have enough to fully fund one IRA, but probably not both. Deciding to max out our IRA means with almost certainty that goal #2 to save for a rental property will not be achieved this year.
The debate is whether to max out a traditional or Roth IRA. Maxing out a traditional IRA will provide immediate tax benefits for the current year. However, the tax benefits are only available for individuals up to a certain income threshold. I need to spend some time researching if we will be above or below that threshold because after a quick review, we’ll be close. Regardless, the Roth IRA is appealing as most of my 401(k) is in traditional so it will provide balance as a lot of taxes will be paid once I begin to withdraw years down the road.
5) Give Away 10 Percent of Take Home Pay
Status: On Target
Giving is an important part of our financial journey. In fact, it’s probably my favorite part. Every month nearly 8 percent of our take home pay is automatically deducted and given away to causes that are important to us. This leaves us with another 2 percent to give away on an ad hoc basis throughout the year.
This feels like the right balance between automatic donations and ad hoc giving. Sometimes it can be challenging to realize the benefit of giving when the money is simply withdrawn from an account every month. We usually give several small donations throughout the year to random causes and then find an additional cause that we give a larger amount to.
Giving is tough to write about without coming across the wrong way. I’ve talked about how I wish more personal finance bloggers gave away more money (and time), only to have many come out of the woodwork to provide examples of their generosity (which is awesome). Regardless, for anyone who calls themselves an influencer in the personal finance space, I can’t think of a better way to influence than by encouraging giving to important causes.
6) Workout Goals: Complete P90x3, Bench Press 250, and Squat 275
Status: Mostly On Target
Our next topic is on a few workout targets I set at the beginning of the year. I’m happy to report that Mrs. FP and I did complete one 90 day cycle of P90x3 in the January through April timeframe.
During the summer I play on a couple different baseball teams (managing one), so that usually keeps me busy and active. Therefore, I usually don’t lift weights much except for the period between September and December. I’m kind of a little guy (5′ 11″ and 175 pounds) so benching 250 and squatting 275 is a bit of an aggressive goal. Plus, I’m not getting any younger. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to hit these numbers so it will require some hard work beginning in September.
7) Finish Remaining Personal Residence Rehab
Status: On Target
The one downside of having a nice new kitchen is that the parts of the house that haven’t been updated stick out like a sore thumb. The house we live in now needed to be completely remodeled when we moved in 10 years ago. We’ve slowly made updates over the years, and the hope was to make any minor updates before the end of the year. Well, then the basement flood happened.
I’m not the most handy person, but I’m going to try to do much of the basement remodel work by myself. There is some drywall that will need to be replaced which may be over my head. However, laying flooring, painting, and installing bathroom fixtures should be doable. I also need to bring someone in to check for mold with the recent flooding in the basement.
As for our upstairs, only minor updates are needed such as new door knobs, minor repairs to our master bathroom, and a new front door. Hopefully we’ll be able to knock these projects out by end of year!
8) Blogging Goals: 30,000 Views, 1,000 Monthly SEO Views, and 2,500 Twitter followers
Status: On Target
In case there was any confusion, that’s 30,000 views for an entire year, not per month. This blog is very much a hobby for me right now and like most things in life, you get in to something what you put into it. Only having 5-10 hours per week to spend on the blog makes it challenging to really grow this hobby. Plus, when I started I was a complete newbie to blogging so there’s still much for me to learn. Some day it may pivot into a business, but right now it serves as an outlet. Plus, I really enjoy interacting with people in the personal finance community. I don’t spend any money on paid traffic so any views are mostly through organic search and social media. (That sounded like a whole lot of excuses, but wanted to set some context :))
With that being said, all of my blogging goals should be met by end of year.
My search engine optimization (SEO) traffic continues to steadily increase. During 2018, there were about 900 total visitors to my site from SEO. So far during 2019 there have been almost 4,000. It’s still not much but I’m encouraged by the growth. When I set these goals in early January, my highest SEO month to that point had been 150 so getting to 1,000 monthly SEO views seemed unreachable. My highest month so far has been 800 in May so I’m hoping to hit 1,000 once we get through the summer lull.
As for other activities, I just hit 2,500 followers on Twitter as that is my main social media channel. I do have Facebook and Instagram accounts but rarely use them. I’ve also started using Pinterest again, though I am admittingly terrible with that platform so we’ll see if things ever take off. My traffic is also ahead of the 30,000 view projection but not by much. All in all, blogging is a really fun hobby that helps fill a void left by my day job and I’m excited to see the growth even though it’s slower than many others.
9) Save $2,400 in College Funds
Status: On Target
Every month we put $100 for each of our two kids in a 529 account. I know that at this pace we’ll have nowhere near the amount needed to fully pay for college through their 529. At the same time, I’m not sure I want to fully pay for my kids’ college. For one, who knows what college will look like in another 15 years and 529 plans have limitations. Also, I want my kids to have some skin in the game and think about how to pay for their own tuition, either through scholarships, work, internships, or (gulp) loans.
Realistically, as long as my kids are somewhat responsible and work hard in college we’ll do our best to help them get through without loans. I’m really hoping that the financial lessons we’re trying to teach them will stick.
10) Write 30 Minutes Every Morning
Status: At Risk
This is probably the simplest yet hardest goal on the list. I’m really trying to be a morning person here but it’s just not my thing. If I’m being honest, most mornings when the alarm clock goes off I’m hitting snooze once or twice then casually browsing my phone before heading to the shower.
There are stretches where I do write for 30 or so minutes every morning though it hasn’t been consistent. Instead, I end up finding a couple hours during the week to churn out my blog posts. I’ll try to do better!
Mid-Year Goal Updates from Other Bloggers
If you enjoy reading these types of posts, be sure to check out a recent update from Educator FI (formerly known as Principal FI). His family has been busy selling their home, maxing out tax advantaged accounts, and working to increase giving. They recently hit a huge milestone achieving seven figure net worth. Check it out!
I also really enjoyed reading through Deanna’s sustainable habits goals over at Recovering Women Wealth (formerly Ms. Fiology). If you haven’t checked out her story you should stop by her blog and do so. She has been sober from drug addiction and alcoholism since 2010 and returned to faith in Christ. Her goals reflect her continued personal growth.
Finally, the couple who blogs at Dragons on Fire recently posted an update on their goals through the end of June. They also have wide-ranging goals that go from learning a new language, playing tennis more often, reading lots of books, and much more. Dragon Gal is already retired after teaching for 17 years, and Dragon Guy is planning to retire within the next year or so.
Thanks for reading! How is your 2019 going? I’d love to hear how you’re doing below in the comments.
Mark is the founder of Financial Pilgrimage, a blog dedicated to helping young families pay down debt and live financially free. Mark has a Bachelor’s degree in financial management and a Master’s degree in economics and finance. He is a husband of one and father of two and calls St. Louis, MO, home. He also loves playing in old man baseball leagues, working out, and being anywhere near the water. Mark has been featured in Yahoo! Finance, NerdWallet, and the Plutus Awards Showcase.
G@From One Geek to Another says
Congrats on being on target for most of your goals! The writing for 30 minutes is hard for me as well. I am not sure what it is, but there is little motivation to do it. I had a friend suggest that I leave the house and go to a library/Starbucks etc… and do it there. Going to try that out.
Here’s to finishing your 2019 goals! Congrats again!
Let me know how that works out! When I’ve been successful at morning writing it’s been in bed on my phone. I’m sure there are many bad habits mixed in lol. Thanks for commenting!
I really like your goals format! I’m especially impressed by prioritizing the 10% giving right away. We are upping ours, but I do have guilt about not just jumping it to 10% immediately and letting some of our contributions slip. We’ll see how we approach that in next year’s goals.
I also appreciate the transparency in your blogging goals. I too treat it as a hobby, so your numbers seem both challenging and doable to me.
Thanks for including my post, but most of all thanks for sharing your update so thoroughly and transparently!
Thank you! We also made a gradual increase to 10% over the years. Only a few years ago we were giving 1% then increased a few % every year. Last year was the first time we hit 10%.
Hey nicely done! I hear you on writing 30 minutes each morning. It seems so simple but yet it’s so hard! I’ve struggled with writing at constient times; although, I do write when inspired. I just need to pump out more stuff during those moments.
Thanks for the mention 🙂
Thanks! Writing consistently is so hard at times but when I actually put the time aside the words usually pour out. Just need to get into better habits. Thanks for commenting and congrats again on the rebrand!
Grokking Money says
Wow!! It’s so inspiring and well rounded!! I haven’t been writing for a while now since I’ve had to focus a bit more on my work. But I have lots to share. Hopefully will get back to it.
Can’t wait until you start writing again! I’ve enjoyed your new interview series as it provides a lot of great perspective from a diverse audience.
Thanks for including us in the post.
Very nice details on the status of your goals. Writing every day is going to be one of my goals when I retire. I keep telling myself that I should start now try to write every evening. But after a full day at work I find myself distracted on too many other things to consistently write.
One thought on the Roth vs Traditional IRA is to wait until you start preparing your taxes next year before making the decision. You can run the numbers both ways through any tax software and it will let you know if you reached a limit. The only downside is you have to wait until early 2020 to make that investment. Dragon Gal puts a little bit of money into a SEP IRA every year, but we don’t know the amount until we prepare and get ready to file our taxes.
On the blog visitors from SEO, is there any easy way to see this on WordPress? I still haven’t figured all all of the different traffic statistics.
Hey DG! Waiting until after the year to decide between traditional vs Roth is a great idea. We may just do that. I also struggle writing at night after a long day. I’m sitting here now after 10 pm and my kid is still finding a way to not go to bed lol.
As for SEO, under referrers any SEO traffic will be included under “search engines”. It takes a while to start seeing traffic from search engines but keep writing and it will start to show up.
Thanks for commenting!
Chris Roane says
Considering the basement situation, it sounds like you were able to absorb that without too much hassle. Those unexpected expenses can really put a damper on our plans. I’m interested in your real estate journey, as we are contemplating getting into that as well. Thanks for the update and great work on your progress!
That’s exactly the piece of mind that an emergency fund can bring. It was tough cutting that check for $11k, but not having to go into debt to make it happen was awesome. I know you had a big unexpected expense earlier this year, so I’m sure the feeling is mutual. We’ll definitely need to chat if we start pursuing real estate at the same time. Would be great to have someone to go through it with as a beginner!