Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future. Somehow the first half of the year is already over. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was reporting on my progress for the first quarter and now another quarter is over and done with. I think it's important to set specific, measurable goals at the beginning of each year to keep you focused and motivated towards hitting your goals. It's important for them to be measurable so you can see exactly how you're progressing. Back in January I set several goals covering budgeting, savings, investing, blogging, and personal goals, so it's high time I take a look and see how I'm doing.
|Grocery spending < $200 per month||$223.70||Needs Improvement|
|Restaurant spending < $110 per month||$106.76||Needs Improvement|
|Average monthly expenses < $2,350 per month||$2,638.12||Needs Improvement|
I'm still well behind where I'd like to be on my budgeting goals for the year but a little progress has been made. My grocery spending is still above my goal but I have decreased the monthly average by $5 since the end of the first quarter. Baby steps! Unfortunately restaurant spending has increased by $8 since the first quarter so it's essentially a wash with the grocery spending improvement. It has gotten better though and a lot of the increase in the restaurant spending was due to some rather unexpected dining out when my grandfather was in the hospital. My monthly expenses are still well above my $2,350 goal but they did improve by about $34 so it's at least heading in the right direction. If you back out the $300 debt payment then I'm beating my goal. Unfortunately that $300 payment won't be gone until very late this year or early next year assuming I don't just pay off all of the debt early. Overall it's been fairly steady as she goes on the budgeting side and I hope to make some more improvements especially with the grocery and restaurant spending.
|50%+ Investment Savings Rate||57.47%||On Target|
|$450,000+ net worth ($125,000 increase)||$384,833.17 ($64,718.95)||On Target|
I changed the way I calculated my savings rate starting this year and I think it gives a truer picture of my savings rate. That calculated savings rate now shows just the after-tax income that is saved each month and directly marked for investment. My savings rate has increased by 3.53% which is awesome. I don't expect to have any major expenses so as long as the budgeting goals stay in tact I'll easily exceed the 50% savings rate for the year. So I'm going to increase my target up to 65%. I think I should be able to hit some 70% savings rates over the second half of the year. If I assume a 70% 2nd half savings rate that would boost my annual savings rate up to a little less than 64% so I think 65% is a good target for an annual savings rate. If the 2nd half of the year goes the same as the 1st half then I'll beat my net worth target by $4k and some change. Not bad and I'll gladly take that. While I'd like to hit this goal it's not of utmost importance to me. A huge chunk of my net worth is tied to the performance of the stock markets so if we see declines over the 2nd half of the year my net worth will suffer and I'll most likely come up short. No worries though as that would also allow me to invest capital at much better valuations. It's a give and take thing.
|Receive $4,500 in dividends||$1,992.81 (Proj. $4,273.05 )||Needs Improvement|
|$5,000 Forward 12-month dividends||$4,507.40||Needs Improvement|
|Rental property providing $150+ per month in cash flow||--||Needs Improvement|
|Receive $1,500 in option premiums profit||$1,161.33||On Target|
|Increase invested assets by $100k ($361,500)||$48,310.55 ($308,989.66)||Needs Improvement|
Now let's get to the really fun goals. My goal is to receive $4,500 in dividends this year and right now I'm well behind that pace. Through the 1st half of the year I received $1,992.81 in dividends but thanks to investments made in the 1st half I should receive around $4,273 in dividends assuming just 5% increases for the companies that have yet to announce them. Plus I've got about $27k ready to invest which would add about $400 in dividends to this years total assuming a 3% average yield and receiving 2 payments from each position. Oh and of course the savings from the 2nd half of the year that gets invested. My forward 12-month dividends just passed $4,500 after an increase earlier this month. I've still got a lot of work to do to reach $5,000 but if all investable capital is put to work then this will be fairly easy to hit. I'm not going to increase this goal just yet though because of my next goal.
I think diversifying into rental real estate could really help out the monthly cash flow and diversification is good especially for those looking to live off of passive/semi-passive income in early retirement. I had kind of written this goal off because my work schedule has me out of town way too much but every now and then I go and search for properties online. I just happened to find one that could be interesting and I'm going to try and see it whenever I get home hopefully later this week. Using some fairly conservative numbers this property could provide 10% cash on cash returns with $227 in monthly cash flow. On the high end it could potentially provide $400+, 18% cash on cash return, so I'm definitely going to be looking into this. I hope to get a post up about this property later this week to let y'all see what I'm looking at.
Option premiums are over 75% of the way towards my goal with half of the year left. I've been a little reluctant to pursue options, namely put selling, because I keep thinking the market is due for a pullback. I'll probably sit on the sidelines with options until I make a definitive decision about pursuing the rental property.
I'm just a little behind pace of increasing my invested assets by $100k for year with just a $48k improvement. But that also doesn't factor in the huge cash amount that is sitting in my savings accounts right now.
Overall the investing goals are looking really good half way through the year even though most of them are slightly behind pace of where they need to be. Once I get my cash invested I'll be well ahead of most of these goals.
|Surpass ||50,005 in April||Needs Improvement|
|Earn $1,000 from online activities||$875.06||Passed|
|Average 2 stock analysis reports per month||1.83 average||Needs Improvement|
Well I had been doing well on consistently increasing pageviews but after April my posting got put on hold a bit. With vacation in May and then my grandfather being in the hospital I only had 10 posts which is quite low for me. June was a bit better but it was still below where I'd like to be at although I was off about 1.5 weeks for vacation during the month. The decline in pageviews and posts also led to a decline in my Alexa rank. I had been hovering around the 100k mark but since then have dropped down to 190,460. If you want to help me out on that goal go and download the Alexa toolbar for your browser of choice. I came close to meeting my stock analysis goal but came up one short. Considering I had about 4 weeks total during the 2nd quarter where I wasn't writing much I'm happy with that. I've started the 2nd half well with an analysis on Johnson & Johnson and hope to get one up one Disney shortly, currently in progress.
What's really exciting is that I've received $875.06 so far in income from my blog and writing at Seeking Alpha. And there's over $350 that will get paid out later this month as well so I'm technically at $1,230.48. That's a pretty nice extra chunk of capital and almost enough to make an additional purchase based on my normal purchase sizes. It's still well behind what a lot of people have earned via the internet but every bit helps. I'm going to go on and push this goal up to $2,500 for the full year to try and push myself to earn even more.
|Lose 20 lbs||Lost 5 lbs||Needs Improvement|
|Quit Smoking||Smoke free since 6/26||Needs to be continued|
|Read 6 books||0 books read||Needs Improvement|
My personal goals are a bit of a disappointment through the first half but I've made some progress so I'm happy. I haven't lost nearly as much weight as I'd like to but I know part of that is that I've built up some muscle. Unfortunately I haven't dropped enough fat because my diet is still broken but my body feels better every day. I'm hoping that we move to a location for work that is more conducive to doing some interval training that will let me shed some pounds over the next month or so. I didn't do great with quitting smoking but it's been 20 days now through yesterday. Now I need to continue on that and resist the temptation to start back up. I've done very little reading this year, well reading of books. A lot of my reading is all of y'alls great blogs and not so much books. My time after work each day is fairly strained so I haven't got a lot of reading done afterwards but I am getting some done.
I know that travel more is a fairly vague goal but I've done decent with that so far. I took a trip to Las Vegas with some of my high school friends back in May and earlier this month my wife and I went to Nashville to see one of her college friends. I still want to take advantage of my wife being off of work, she's a teacher so she's off for the summer right now, and hopefully we can take a few day/weekend trips the next few times that I'm home.
If you look back there's a lot of needs improvement among my list of goals halfway through the year but overall I'm happy with where I'm at thus far. There's still a lot of work left to do but the good thing is that a lot of the goals build on themselves. For example, lowering my food spending helps my overall spending goal, savings rate, my investing goals, my health goals. A lot of the financial goals can be reached once I finally get some of my savings actually invested rather than just sitting in my savings account. My biggest focus for the 2nd half of the year is definitely going to be my spending, continuing with quitting smoking, and as always searching for value in the markets. I'm looking forward to what the 2nd half of 2014 brings and am really excited about what lies ahead.
How did you do on your goals in the first half of 2014? What's your number one goal for the second half of the year?
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