2018 Targets - Mid Year Checkup

Goals | Dividend Growth Investing | Financial Independence

The last few years we've been in a constant state of flux in regards to our finances and lives in general, but 2018 is finally looking to be a year of settling back into a groove.  Normally I would set out some very specific goals for the new year; however, for 2018 I decided to just lay out some targets.  

It's hard to believe that 2018 already half way over.  It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was setting these targets for the year and it's already time to check in on how things stand.

Budget Target

My income has made a big jump from 2017 while monthly expenses have remained relatively flat.  The last 5 months of 2017 which saw me back with my previous employer saw my income average $6,697 per month and through the first half of 2018 that's jumped up to $8,400 per month.  That's a fantastic increase on the income side of the equation and I hope to see that bump up more in the second half as there's the potential for a raise.

Despite having a lot more travel expenses in 2018 I'm pretty happy to see that expenses have declined slightly from 2017's monthly average.  Monthly expenses have averaged $3,815 in 1H2018 which is right around a $200 per month improvement.

Income is still likely to be choppy for the remainder of 2018 and there's still some large expenses that will be coming up such as property taxes at the end of the year and our big family vacation to the Cayman Islands.  However, those will all be paid with CASH so debt won't be climbing from this.

There's also the possibility of some pay raises in the near future which will just help boost the income and therefore savings each month.  We still need to do a better job of watching our expenses and I think there's easily another $1-300, if not more, of expenses that could be trimmed without "feeling" the pinch.  

Get Rid Of All Non-Mortgage Debt

The non-mortgage debt that we have isn't really hurting us; however, it's more just a burden to deal with each month and also eats into our monthly cash flow by around $875 per month.  Ouch!

We didn't make any progress on the debt reduction, except for the regular monthly payments, during the 1H2018 which was disappointing.  Although I had expected to make very little progress until around the middle of the year so we're about on pace with my expectations especially when you add in the extra travel expenses that have come up over the first half.

Since we're currently in the middle of our vacation to Cayman we won't be making any progress until that is completed and fully paid for.  However, with ample cash saved up I fully expect to make a lump sum payment sometime in August.  

Our outstanding balance is somewhere in the neighborhood of $19,400 which isn't bad considering that we started the year around $24,600 and haven't explicitly focused on reducing the debt just yet.  

Based on the monthly savings potential there's an outside chance to be done with this debt before the end of the year which will be a glorious day.

Net Worth Target

Since the majority of our net worth is tied to the markets that number is very much influenced by its ebbs and flows.  Luckily with the combination of savings and an overall higher market my net worth has climbed just over $22.8k in the 1H2018 or roughly 4.3%.

FI Portfolio Dividend Growth Target

Last year relatively muted organic dividend growth for our FI Portfolio of just 4.65%.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  Going in to 2018 I wasn't really sure what to expect and was hoping to see at least 6.0% weighted growth by the time the year was done.  

I wasn't really sure what to expect for dividend growth on the heels of the corporate tax cuts passed in late 2017, but I've been pleasantly surprised with the way the first half played out. 

The average announced dividend increase among my holdings has come in at 10.75% based on the 32 increases out of my 50 holdings.  What's really great to see is that the weighted dividend growth rate for my FI Portfolio is at 5.92% through the first half and that includes 0% increases for 18 of the companies that I own.  I think there's a pretty good chance to see that climb up to around 7% by the end of the year which is pretty encouraging.

Forward 12-month dividends

At the end of 2017 the forward 12-month dividends for my FI Portfolio was at $5,833.07 and my target was to see it increase to $6,183.05 by the end of the year.  Well, this is one target that we're looking very good on!  At the end of the first half of 2018 forward dividends for my FI Portfolio are up to $6,329.39.

That huge bump has primarily come from organic dividend growth; although there were a few small positions that have been added that boosted it up as well.  I received 33 dividend increases during the first half of the year combining to raise my forward dividends by $304.04.  That's even higher than my target that included an additional $5k of new capital being invested.  With the second half left and more raises in store I hope to see the forward dividends reach potentially reach the the $6,450-6,500 level thanks to organic dividend growth alone.

Blogging/Writing Target

The first half of the year went about as planned as far as being back into a routine; however, finding time to write has been difficult.  Although much of that has been my own doing.  I've been writing much more for my own blog; however, writing for Seeking Alpha is way behind schedule.  I only wrote 1 article for Seeking Alpha in the first half which is a far cry from my target of 12 for the year.  

Honestly, there's no one to blame but myself and there's no reason not to pursue this opportunity.  There's a greater reach than my own little spot on the internet which means more minds available to give their own thoughts on the company at hand.  And the extra pay will only help.  I hope to be able to maintain at least a 1 article per month pace during the second half of the year starting with August.

Passive Income Target

I consider my passive income to be dividends earned in my FI Portfolio, EBIT from my blogging/writing and the interest earned on my savings accounts.  

Dividends from my FI Portfolio came to $3,054.97 while interest from my savings accounts have totaled just $32.42.  The EBIT from writing/blogging has seen an unsurprising dip to just $242.79 completely because of a lack of writing.

That brings the total passive income for 1H2018 to $3,330.18 which is about 46% of the way towards my target of $7,200 that I laid out earlier this year.  With another 6 months of dividends, dividend growth and most importantly writing ahead of me I should be able to best that mark by the end of the year.


There's still another half left to 2018 and I think we can finally make some real headway on our targets for the year mainly the debt reduction.  I'm most eager to get that knocked out because that frees up monthly cash flow and gives us peace of mind which are two very valuable things.

How did you do on your goals through the first half of the yaer?  Are you on track?  Ahead of schedule?


  1. Nice check-in report. And you're right - that increase in income is fantastic - congrats! Even if you don't get a bump in the 2nd half of 2018, that monthly income increase will do wonders toward your investing & savings progress. - Mike

  2. Very nice update JC. I'm impressed and shocked by just how large your organic dividend growth has been this year. Isn't it crazy seeing that impact? Do you have a new goal in mind for your 12/31/18 dividend income total? I'm also pretty excited to see you start reducing your non-mortgage debt in the second half.

    I read this and see a lot of positives. Best of luck in the second half JC.



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