Mid-Year 2012 Financial Goals Check-In and Progress Update

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401k's, estimated taxes, financial goals, Individual 401k, New Years, Roth IRA, self-employed retirement accounts, taxes, Vanguard

Happy beginnings of Summer 2012 everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying the warmer weather and have been able to get outside every once in a while! 


Back in January of this year, I set my financial goals for 2012. Since the year is now almost officially half finished, I figured it would be a good time to sit down and take a few minutes to review how I’ve been doing thus far in reaching or NOT reaching (in some cases) the various targets I set for myself. 

Overall, I would financially rate the 1st half of the 2012 year as being good, but not out-of-this-world stellar. However, I suppose this is somewhat of a normal thing, as I tend to have a greater number of financial commitments that occur during the 1st half of the year, and then during the last part of the year is when I play “catch-up.” The main reason for this is because my big fundraising event that I do each year takes place in early June, so I have to essentially save up and donate a year’s worth of donations in only 5 months or so. Then, the rest of the year, I only give small amounts of money to friends that are doing various fundraising events. 



In addition, I’ve been having to save up larger amounts of cash this year in order to a) build up a savings for dog health care expenses and b) pay estimated taxes. Of course, I’ll go in to more details on each of these points below. Read on! 

So, here goes, a progress update (in bold below) on how I’ve been doing so far in 2012 reaching my financial goals. 
Enjoy, and I look forward to reading any comments you all have!  

Short Term (<1 year) Goals:
  • Contribute $5000 (or ~$420 per month) to my Roth IRA with Vanguard this year (maximum allowed).
    • On track – have contributed $4,205 so far in 2012. Only about $800 left to contribute!
    • Normally, I max out my Roth IRA long before the timing for this year, so that has been a slight change for me. But, all in all, I suppose 6 months isn’t too bad! 
  • Reach net worth target for this year (not displayed here).
    • On track (hopefully, if market cooperates).
  • Maintain target 6-9 months of expenses in cash reserve emergency fund in Dollar Savings Direct account.
    • On track.
  • Rebalance mutual fund portfolio to meet asset allocation target %’s (75% equity, 25% fixed income overall). 
    • On track.
  • Obtain 30% ownership / equity in condominium. Pay $500 per month for condo mortgage payment.
    • Not on track. Currently, I have only 20% equity.
    • However, I am OK with not being exactly on track with this goal because I have been committing money to a good cause by investing in a my Roth IRA. 
  • Put together a will and have it reviewed by a lawyer.
    • Not yet done. Need to investigate. 
  • Continue to save money for trip to Grand Canyon. Currently, I have $470 saved up for this trip.
    • On track – Currently have saved $820 for this trip. 
  • Invest $500 in Microloans with Microplace.com to support Latin American micro entrepreneurship. This equates to $41.67 to invest per month. 
    • On track – I’ve been investing in a microloan that pays 2.5% per year and helps fund Nicaraguan entrepreneurs
  • Donate $1,150 to Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in 2012 (5% of take-home pay in my graduate school research assistantship job).
    • Done – Donated probably close to $1,500 this year. I need to add up this total actually! haha
  • Fund raise $7500 for MS 150 bike event in June 2012.
    • Not on track. Currently have raised $5,050. 
    • Likely to end up being over $6,000 after company matches. 
    • Close to the goal, but not quite there! I’ll have to try again next year! I have some innovate new ideas to try for next year’s fundraising to get even more of the community involved. 
    • If you’d like to donate to my event, I still have until July 12th to collect donations. If you’re interested, just click here
  • Save 3% of take home pay each month (after taxes) for Dream Account.
    • On track. 
  • $30 per month save for doing running races as part of health life values account.
    • On track and doing a good number of cycling events and running races. Nice! 
  • $20 per month save for buying fresh vegetables as part of health life values account.
    • On track – Just went to the Farmer’s Market this weekend actually get fresh veggies! 
  • Save ~33% of blogging income (if any) + untaxed graduate fellowship income from my research job in a high yield online savings account in preparation for 2012 taxes.
    • On track – Saving 33% of income.
    • This is an extreme buzz kill each month since it is slightly more than I need to be saving to pay my estimated quarterly tax payments. However, last year, I really needed the cushion that 33% savings afforded me, so I’ll keep it at this level for the rest of the year.
  • $30 per month save for trips to visit friends in other states I have not seen in a long time.
    • On track. 
  • $10 per month save for purchasing food for backpacking trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
    • On track financially, but need to start backpacking since the weather is nice now!! Stop being lazy Jacob!
  • Contribute 20% of blogging income to Individual 401(k) with Vanguard.
    • Not on track. Have not put any money in to my 401k yet this year. 
    • Instead, I have been prioritizing my investing to my Roth IRA first. 
    • Once that is maxed for the year, then I’ll start to focus my attention/extra money here.
  • Investigate and execute any business tax deductions I can for 2011 taxes.
    • Done. Deducted home as a business expense with the help of my accountant.
    • Use 1% home value home maintenance fund to fix various small things that are broken around my condo after 2 years of use. These things include a closet door off the hinges, the light-switch in the bathroom not working all the time, and some pipes under the sink that need to be re-caulked. Once I get these things repaired, I will then need to replenish the depleted funds in the home maintenance account. 
      • Not yet done. Need to investigate.
      • Execute 4 estimated tax payments for blogging + graduate research fellowship income on the following dates – 1) April 17, 2012, 2) June 15, 2012, 3) Sept. 17, 2012, and 4) Jan. 15, 2013.
        • On track. Have paid the 1st and 2nd payments with no problems. Will continue paying going forward. 
        • I’ve realized paying estimated taxes is actually no big deal at all, once you get used to it and know you have to do it (which was the hard part for me!). 
      • Organize move in of my girlfriend in to my condo in June-July 2012. 
        • Done. She moved in this past week in fact! 
        • Start saving a little money each month to attend the Financial Bloggers Conference, 2012 in Denver in September. 
          • Cancelled due to lack of vacation in graduate school. 
          • Although I was making good financial progress saving $111 per month to attend the conference, I realized that I didn’t have enough vacation days left in graduate school to be able to attend. Sucks! I was really looking forward to going this year! 
        • Save $111 per month until have a total of $1600 for health expenses for new Greyhound we adopted (for annual health checkup, Frontline/Interceptor, and miscellaneous health emergencies/treatments needed – Greyhounds can have a lot of health issues because they were bread for racing!)
          • On track – It actually worked out pretty well since I just am using the money that I was accumulating for the FINCON12 above towards savings for the dogs. 

            Mid-Term (3-5 years out) Goals:
            • Continue contributing $5000 to Roth IRA each year and using dollar cost averaging.
            • Reach intermediate net worth target (not displayed here, but is 2X my current net worth).
            • Own a rental property by 2016.

            Long-Term (>5 years out) Goals:
            • Obtain a net worth of $1,000,000.
            • Own a home free of mortgage payments.
            • Own a vacation home in the mountains or a ski resort.
            • Accumulate enough funds not have to work, but will probably anyways because I would get bored. 

            How about you all? How are you doing so far in reaching the goals you laid out for yourself in 2012? What techniques do you find are most effective in holding yourself accountable and on-track for your goals you set?  



            Share your experiences by commenting below!

              ***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaybock/6030739393/sizes/l/in/photostream/

              Comments

              1. Great story!

                This is the type of thing more people should be doing. Trying to convince clients to do this (or stick to it) can be a monumental chore.
                My recent post Nine Common Mistakes Investors Make

                • Thanks for sharing your experiences Robert! Do you have any techniques you use in order to convince them of the value of the planning process?
                  My recent post The Pros and Cons of a Down Payment Assistance Program

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