Hey everyone, Happy New Year! Did you enjoy Christmas and New Year? We went to visit my brother and college friends in the Bay Area and had a great time. Alas, vacation is over. It’s time to go back to school, work, and real life. That’s alright. It’s another new year and we can start off with a clean slate. Actually, I did pretty well in 2019 and accomplished most of my goals. However, there was one lingering goal that I really need to take care of in 2020.
This year, my goals are pretty similar to last year. I’ve been doing this for a few years and I know what I can accomplish.
In previous years, I had moderate expectations and set goals accordingly. This worked well because I was able to accomplish most of the things on my list. I find that setting high expectations doesn’t work for me. I can’t achieve them and then I become discouraged. My style is to go slow and steady. Shooting for the moon is probably better for younger folks, though.
Here is my approach to New Year Goals.
- Set achievable goals – Don’t shoot for the moon unless you have a sterling record of high achievement. Most of us will just become discouraged and give up.
- Make the goals specific and measurable – New Year goals need to be very specific. Don’t make vague goals like saving more or losing weight or. You can’t keep track of it and you’ll forget about them by March. A better goal would be maxing out your 401(k). You also need to figure out a way to get there. Will you increase your 401(k) contribution right away? You need a plan.
- Write them down and track your progress– Write down your goals and put them where you will see them. The refrigerator door is a good spot for many people. Personally, I put my goals here on Retire by 40 and update the status every month. This has been working very well over the last 8 years. I have a public audience and you give me the motivation to improve. I made tremendous progress with our finances and personal life since I started blogging. It’s been terrific. I recommend starting a blog if you don’t already have one. It really helped me and it might help you, too.
- Academic scale – Last year, I graded some goals on an academic scale. It worked out really well. 90% is still an A-. It’s motivating and I feel good about the result. That’s better than getting 90% and counts it as a failure.
Ok, on to the goal sheet.
Check out my goal sheet below. It’s simple and helpful. I can see my progress at a glance and it’s easy to update every month.
Real estate crowdfunding $150,000
I plan to increase our real estate crowdfunding investment at CrowdStreet to $150,000. This is a multiyear goal because I want to take my time on this. All of our money is invested in something else already so it’s not easy to come up with a lot of cash. Also, I don’t want to invest a big lump sum in one year. These RE crowdfunding projects usually have a big payout at the end of the project. If too many projects end in the same year, we’d have too much income and pay more taxes.
Currently, we have $88,000 invested. I’d like to get to $120,000 by the end of this year and finish this goal in 2021. You can see how our investment is doing here – real estate crowdfunding monthly update.
FI Ratio > 110%
Last year, our FI ratio was 122%! Wow, that’s our all-time high. Our housing cost decreased after we moved into our duplex. We rent one unit so we have a little rental income and can split some expenses with our renter. We also spent very little on vacation last year. Our Thailand trip was mostly paid with travel hacking. We saved a lot there.
This year, I’m sure we’ll do well, but probably won’t surpass 2019. I’ll set this goal modestly at 110%. You can see how I’m doing with passive income so far here.
*FI Ratio = passive income / expense
Saving rate > 50%
This one is really tough because I use pretax income. If you make a lot of money, your tax rate is higher. If you don’t, then your expenses overwhelm the income. I’m sure only a few people can reach 50% saving rate. Here is a quick look at our savings and expenses in 2019.
Last year, taxes and deductions took up 22% of our income. That’s actually not too bad. It used to be higher. Our housing cost was pretty good. We spent about 9% on housing last year. I think spending under 10% on housing is really good. However, there was a big category we didn’t expect. I sent over $10,000 to help out my parents last year. My dad had some health issues and he needed some extra money. This year should be much better because my brothers are helping out. We’ll try our best to save this year and see how it goes.
Side hustle income > $5,000
Last year, we had our best side hustle income year ever. We made about $9,000! Unfortunately, almost $6,000 of that is from a car insurance payout. A teenager crashed his bike into the back of our car and punched a bit hole in the liftgate. I opted to DIY the repair and pocketed the money. The rest was from gifts and charging scooters.
This year, I’ll charge scooters when the weather isn’t horrible and try to pick up some cat-sitting gigs. It’ll be a miracle if I make $5,000 with these side hustles. Stay tuned and see if I can do it.
This is a new category. It used to be just the blog, but I’m trying to expand our brand this year. Sadly, I’m 46 now so the “by 40” brand doesn’t quite apply anymore. However, my son is only 8 years old. I’m trying to get him involved so he’ll get a head start on personal branding. He can take over when he’s ready! IMO, this is going to be extremely important in the future. He needs to learn how to blog, make videos, and do all the backend stuff. For the blog, he’s our model/photographer. I pay him a few dollars every time I use his pictures and we put it in his Roth IRA. We also started a new YouTube channel – Eat by 40! It’s a lot of fun making videos together. If the channel ever makes any money, we’ll split it.
This year, I’m stepping up the content creation big time. Here is the plan.
- 100 personal finance blog posts. I’ll post 2 blog posts every week on Monday and Thursday.
- 26 SAHD recipes. I was thinking about posting a recipe every week, but that’s too much. I’ll just do one every other Sunday.
- 52 videos. We’ll post one video on Friday every week on Eat by 40!
Wow, that’s a lot of content. We’ll see if I can do it. For the record, I published 106 blog posts and 3 videos last year. This is a huge increase in production. It should be doable in the first 2 quarters, but it’ll be much more difficult to keep up the pace once summer starts. We’ll see how it goes.
Refresh Retire by 40
My goal for content creation is ambitious, but I’m pretty sure I can do it. It’s fun to create. However, I also need to refresh Retire by 40. I need to move to a new theme, revamp the layout, refresh the banner, and more. This part is difficult and tedious for me. That’s why I kept putting it off. This year, I put this task into my schedule. I’ll work on the backend every Tuesday. If I don’t get it done by June, I’ll hire someone. This can’t wait anymore because my old theme stops updating. Ugh!
1,000 subscribers on Eat by 40!
This is RB40Jr’s suggestion. He watches these YouTubers with millions of subscribers and he thinks it’s easy. However, getting traction will be pretty tough. Currently, we only have 32 subscribers. It’s a long way to go to 1,000. Check out Eat by 40! Like and subscribe if you enjoy our videos.
I want to bring RB40Jr to see my parents in the summer. Last year, we visited Vietnam and Japan while we’re in that part of the world. It was fun to see other countries so I want to do it again. We’ll probably tack on Korea, Taiwan, or Myanmar to this trip. Mrs. RB40 might join us for a couple of weeks.
Travel hack 200,000 points
This one is going to be hard as well. I usually go for 100,000 points per year with travel hacking. However, that’s not enough because it cost over 300,000 points for 3 people to travel to Thailand. I need to step up my travel hacking game so we can save on our trips.
Actually, this should be okay with 4 new credit cards. I can get 2 personal cards, 1 business card, and Mrs. RB40 can get a card. She really hates getting a new card, though. I’ll have to convince her to work with me on this.
Update our Will
I made a DIY Will with a software a while back. It’s time to talk to a lawyer and get it officially done. I was thinking about a living trust, but we probably don’t need it at this point.
Happiness level > 9
I started this goal in 2019 and it was good. It confirmed that I’m a naturally happy person. My happiness baseline is pretty high, around 8. I was stressed out in the first half of 2019 because we were trying to sell our condos. Once that was over, I felt much better. Then in October, my dad had some health issues. That stressed me out a lot too. I was pretty happy when there were no external issues.
I think 2020 will be a good year. There shouldn’t be too many stressful events this year. Yes, the election is coming up and it will be stressful for many people. However, I’ll just vote and don’t worry too much about the result. It’s not worth stressing over. The wildcard here is health. Hopefully, everyone will be healthy in 2020.
Alright! Those are my goals for 2020. I’ll check on them at the end of every month and share my progress. I think this is the key. If you don’t track your progress, you’ll forget about New Year goals.
What about you? Do you have any New Year resolutions for 2020? Happy New Year and good luck!
Source: Retire By 40
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