Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2014 Goals - 1st Half Update


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.

2014 Budgeting Goals - 1st Half Results
Goal 2014 Amounts Status
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.

2014 Saving Goals - 1st Half Results
Goal 2014 Amounts Status
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.

2014 Investing Goals - 1st Half Results
Goal 2014 Amounts Status
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.

2014 Blogging Goals - 1st Half Results
Goal 2014 Amounts Status
Surpass 50k 100k monthly pageviews 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
Increase Decrease Alexa Rank to < 70,000 190,460 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.

2014 Personal Goals - 1st Half Results
Goal 2014 Amounts Status
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
Travel More


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?

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

38 comments:

  1. If I were you I'd focus more on not smoking rather then weight right now.
    I find myself quite surprised by the low food budget, I'm probably doubling that. (I'm quite concious (you might too) what I eat and I don't live in the US though..)
    However my speninding is <$2k

    I find your budget and saving paragraphs quite coherent though, since they come from each other. Or do you have a cyclical income stream?

    /V

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    Replies
    1. Anon,

      Well one of the things that helps with weight and smoking is exercising. Exercising helps to keep me motivated on both fronts.

      I'm not nearly as conscious with what I eat as I used to be but I still try and look for better options. Keep in mind though the grocery spending and restaurant spending needs to be combined. At over $300 per month I guess I'm around the US average but we also have lower food costs in general compared to a lot of the world.

      My income varies from month to month depending on how much I worked the previous month. So far this year I've ranged from $9.9k take home to $6.5k take home. Still good though even in the "bad" months. I could combine the budgeting and savings goals but for whatever reason I felt like I should break them out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  2. Good progress! Still being "in the game" in June gives you a great opportunity to push on towards making all your goals. If you can get near your $125k net worth improvement target, you are doing better than, well, pretty much everyone!! :)

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    Replies
    1. moneystepper,

      I think I should do quite well on my goals in the 2nd half. The main thing is that I need to get my savings/capital invested. That would help push me over the top of a lot of my goals or at least much closer than where I'm at right now. I hit a pretty monstrous $164k net worth increase last year although the markets' increase helped a lot with that.

      I'm pretty excited though for the 2nd half of the year. Lots of opportunity on the horizon.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. Nice work JC. I'm especially impressed by the side income. Great work all the way around. Personal goals are tough, otherwise we'd all be fit and healthy :) Have a great week
    -Bryan

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    Replies
    1. Bryan,

      The side income sure has been nice and I hope to bump that up some more over the 2nd half. I really just need to be more consistent in my writing. May/June were pretty bad and so my side income and progress on increasing the reach of PIP suffered. Hopefully I'll get back on track though with less surprises and travel throughout the 2nd half.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. Good job. Those are some great goals from financial progress to personal health. Looks like you're covering all fronts.

    Regards,
    Dear Dividend

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. deardividend,

      I try to push myself so I wanted to set a lot of goals. I know that's counter to what a lot of people do/recommend because it spreads your focus too thin. But all of my financial goals really build on themselves. If I do well with budgeting, I'll keep my expenses low, and have a high savings, and being able to have a lot of capital to invest which builds up the income stream. These are more targets for where I want to be at by the end of the year, well actually ahead of them!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Good work JC. I am sure you can pick up in second half of the year and make up any lost ground.

    And congrats on being smoke free. Keep it going.

    DGJ

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    Replies
    1. DGJ,

      Yeah the 2nd half holds a lot of promise. I expect to have somewhere in the area of $30k from savings to invest plus the $27k that I currently have. That would do a lot for increasing my passive income.

      I hope to keep it going. It's been tough but I think once I hit the one month mark it'll get easier.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
    2. Actually I might need to increase my forward dividend goal. That $57k would give around $1700 in annual dividends at a 3.0% yield.

      Delete
  6. Great work, JC. Keep up the great work!

    R2R

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    Replies
    1. R2R,

      Thanks and I wish you the best on the 2nd half of the year. Well, the last 5 months now!

      Delete
  7. JC,

    Great work, bud. The income is especially impressive.

    Looks like you might fall short of the dividend income goal, but you're still in pretty good shape. And you've got plenty of investment capital on the side as well. So if we see a major pullback you'll be ready to strike! :)

    I always struggle a bit with the food budget too. I consider my food budget partly an entertainment budget as well, as I eat out here and there with friends and family. So it's tough sometimes to keep a lid on things.

    Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DM,

      A high income and low expenses is always a good combination!

      I think I'll probably fall short of the dividends received goal but I should blow past the forward dividends target. I'll most likely be raising that up at the 3Q update.

      Yeah, I understand the food budget all too well. I spend a lot on restaurants whenever I'm home and getting to see friends and of course treating my wife to a nice dinner out. I'm sure that it'll come down once we reach FI and I have a lot more time on my hands so I'm not too concerned with it but I still want to improve it some.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  8. You're doing much better than me with the budgeting goals! It's so much easier said than done. I monitor my spending with my bank's Money Manager program (similar to Mint) and try to watch it like a hawk, but it's just so hard for me to cut down on things like groceries. I guess I need to change up my diet. It's inspiring to see others working towards accomplishing their goals though, and I strive to get on the same level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark,

      It is a lot easier said than done. For me, it's been pretty good. My expenses creep up when I'm not tracking that closely but it's usually less than a $100 increase. So even without tracking I usually get them in the ballpark of my budget.

      Food is definitely hard to cut down on. I'm trying to eat healthier myself but then I end up buying more vegetables and meat which are quite expensive. Although I did make a pretty cheap turkey chili last night that probably cost on the order of $6-7 for about 6 servings. Cheap but healthy!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. Thanks for sharing your mid year updates with us. This is pretty personal stuff as you delve into financial and personal goals you have set yourself. I appreciate your candor. Keep on improving. Look forward to a year end review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DivHut,

      By the 3Q and full year updates I should be doing a lot better on the goals and be able to swap a lot over to exceeded instead of needs improvement.

      I'm thinking of starting a second blog to try and motivate me to be a lot healthier. Just 4 years ago I was in the best shape of my life and it's annoying that I let go of myself as bad as I did.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  10. JC,
    Your savings rate is always very impressive. Nice to see the income coming in from other sources too. If you can add real estate, that would really charge things up. Its a big chunk down, but nice flow. As for smoking, congrats on getting this far. That's must be a very difficult one. But it will help your savings rate and health, double motivation.
    -RBD

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    Replies
    1. RBD,

      It's pretty cool to see the non-work sources continue to improve month after month. Blogging/writing has been pretty awesome. Actually I need to check with my aunt, she's a CPA, about the best route to go with the blog as far as taxes and what I can use the money from depending on how it's listed.

      Quitting smoking has definitely been tough and my best advice is to not start. But better health and more savings is a pretty good motivation.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  11. Way to go JC! It's always good to revisit your goals to see the progress or where things may need improvement. :)

    This is something I want to eventually do on my blog but just haven't got around to it yet. Maybe in January 2015 since I would then be able to do an annual goal as opposed to semi-annual if I was to start this late in the year. :)

    Wishing you continued success with your annual goals and also your Passive Income Pursuit. AFFJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AFFJ,

      Yeah it's pretty fun to set annual goals and get checkups on them. I'd still say to set a goal for the last 5 months of the year, if you haven't already, to keep yourself on track and pushing towards it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  12. Congrats on making progress on all your goals. You are quite brave to post these online to be accountable.

    Great work on quitting smoking. If you can kick the habit, it should help your budget .

    Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greg,

      I find that posting my goals online is a great way for me to stay accountable. I'd hate to disappoint myself and everyone that follows along.

      I'm doing my best and it'll definitely help the budget/savings rate.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  14. Good update JC
    Your spending looks alright but your savings rate is great! Keep that up. Your goal of increasing investable assets by 100k is quite lofty so you are doing really good on that front. $875 a month online revenue is great and it looks like it will keep increasing.

    As far as personal goals you need a bit of work. Keep a book in the bathroom at hit it up 5 min at time lol or a 10-15min before u sleep. Yah weight loss is a toughy as its a battle for most. I lost 20 pounds 3 months ago and I have slowly crept up a few pounds so I got to nip it in the bud.

    Overall pretty solid report especially financially!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A-G,

      I wish the $875 was a monthly average but unfortunately it's a YTD total. Although it's steady creeping higher each month and if I can actually get some more writing done on SA then I should bump that up a bit more. I think I should be able to hit the $100k well with counting savings that's invested, 401k contribution/match, and ESPP. But the big factor is out of my hands and that's the performance of the stock market.

      I used to read a lot until I started blogging a lot more now my reading mainly consists of blogs/online instead of books.

      I'm thinking of starting another blog to chronicle my weight loss and try to really keep myself on track. I'll do good for a week or two and then horrible for a week or two. Maybe a second blog would help to motivate me a bit more.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  15. Great breakdown of your goals, makes it very easy for you to track your successes and areas of improvement! Might take a leaf out of your book in my own financial updates.

    Great work quitting smoking, here's to a successful 2014!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joe,

      I know some people find that I have way too many goals but I like to set a lot. Plus they build on each other since sticking to a budget leads to a higher savings rate which leads to increased investments which leads to a higher net worth. I'd definitely recommend setting goals for yourself. The key is to make sure they're measurable and have a time limit.

      Thanks for stopping by and I wish you the best for the rest of the year.

      Delete
  16. Nice and informative post JC. Your 2014-Budgeting goals, saving goals, investing goals, blogging goals and personal goals is looking superb...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adam,

      Thanks a lot for the support. I know I need to improve on them in the second half of the year but I'm off to a pretty good start. Wishing you a great rest of 2014!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  17. Hi,

    Congrats on quiting smoking. I also just quite smoking but I'm having a hard time though. Two weeks now. It will save you massive amounts of cash which indeed could be invested elsewhere.

    Well done and keep on the good works.

    Regards,
    Fast Growth Investor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FGI,

      It's definitely a struggle especially since most of us use it as a stress relief mechanism. The key is to find something to replace our default reaction because I know we won't be able to get rid of a lot of the stressors. At least not until FI!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  18. Please continue to be smoke free! Please! I think you understand the benefits, but it's the same as dividend growth investing. You will begin to see more and more benefits as time goes on!

    I'm trying to target >50% savings rate. Goal is ~60-65%.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WE,

      I agree. That and my food budget are my two biggest goals for the rest of the year.

      Best of luck hitting the 50%+ savings rate. That's a huge chunk of income going to savings and that can be put to work for you.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  19. Good work. Definitely continue to be smoke free, that's going to be good for your overall health. It doesn't really matter if you have all the dividends when you're not healthy.

    Keep up with the good works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tawcan,

      The only way that FI/ER is really possible is to be relatively healthy. Plus what good is owning all of your time when you have to spend all of it at doctors or laid up because you're not feeling well.

      Best of luck the rest of this year!

      Delete