2013 Year-End Financial Goals Review

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all have enjoyed the holidays, were able to relax with family and friends, and got to have some champagne to bring in the New Year!

For the past week and a half, my fiancé and I have been on the road and in the air away from our home in Virginia. First, we celebrated Christmas with her family in Northern Kentucky (a little south of Cincinatti). Then, we headed out to my childhood home in Arkansas for my sister’s engagement party and to celebrate New Year’s. Currently, we are on our way back to Virginia to get started working again after the weekend.

Back in January of last year, I set my financial goals for 2013. Since the year is now officially finished, I figured it would be a good time to sit down and take a few minutes to review how I did in reaching or NOT reaching (in some cases) the various targets I set for myself. 

Overall, I would rate 2013 as top-notch financially and personally.
I got engaged back in March of 2013, and am planning to finish my PhD by August of 2014 and get married shortly after. On top of that, the stock market has increased over 25%! Nice!

So, here goes, a review (in bold below) on how I did in 2013 reaching my financial goals. Enjoy, and I look forward to reading any comments you all have!

 

Short Term (Less Than 1 Year) Goals

  • Contribute $5500 (or ~$458 per month) to my Roth IRA with Vanguard this year (maximum allowed, which increased $500 in 2013 compared to the $5000 maximum allowed in 2012!).
    • Done. I finished maxing out these contributions in around the May timeframe. Yahoo!
  • Reach short-term net worth target for this year (1.42X my current net worth).
    • I’m getting a lot closer, but not quite there yet.
    • I need an increase of about 10% more from where I am now, so that’s definitely better than a 42% increase needed back in January of 2013! 
  • Maintain target 6-9 months of expenses in cash reserve emergency fund in Dollar Savings Direct account.
    • Done. 
    • With me getting married in 2014, it will be interesting to see if this level changes / if I need to re-evaluate my savings level.
  • Rebalance mutual fund portfolio to meet asset allocation target %’s (70% equity, 30% fixed income overall).
    • Done. Going well. 
  • Put together a will and have it reviewed by a lawyer.
    • Have put together a will, but still have not gotten it reviewed by a lawyer. Need to though! 
  • Continue to save money for trip to Grand Canyon or to see Niagara Falls.
    • Done.  
  • Invest $500 in Microloans with Microplace.com to support Latin American micro entrepreneurship. This equates to $42 to invest per month.
    • Done. 
  • Donate $1,150 to Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in 2013 (5% of take-home pay in my graduate school research assistantship job).
    • Done. I actually donated $3,000 this year. Yah! 
  • Fund raise $7500 for MS 150 bike event in June 2013.
    • Done and surpassed. I ended up raising over $11,000 total this year for the MS Society, which puts my total in the past 5 years at above $25,000. Nice! 
  • Save 3% of take home pay each month (after taxes) for Dream Account.
    • Done.
  • $30 per month save for doing running races / bike rides as part of health life values account.
    • Done.
  • $20 per month save for buying fresh vegetables as part of health life values account.
    • Done.
  • Save ~20% of (blogging income (if any) minus amount of income deferred to Individual 401k with Vanguard plus untaxed graduate fellowship income from my research job) in a high yield online savings account in preparation for 2013 taxes.
    • Done.
  • Apply for new graduate research fellowships since the one I have from the NSF will run out in 2014 (and need to apply for new ones about a year ahead of time).
    • Canceled / no longer applies.
    • Since I am graduating by next August when my NSF Fellowship runs out, I will no longer need to apply for a new fellowship to take its place. It seems to have worked out nicely!
  • $30 per month save for trips to visit friends/family in other states.
    • Done.
  • $10 per month save for purchasing food for backpacking trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains once a month.
    • Done.
  • Contribute at least 20% of blogging income to Individual Roth 401(k) with Vanguard.
    • Done.
    • According to the account hierarchy priority order, in 2013, I first maxed out my Roth IRA before starting to contribute to my Roth 401k with Vanguard.
    • By the time of the 2013 tax deadline, I will have saved 100% of my blogging net income in my Roth IRA and 401k combined. Nice!
  • Execute any business tax deductions I can for 2012 taxes.
    • Done.
  • Use 1% home value home maintenance fund to fix various small things that are broken around my condo after 2.5 years of use. These things include a closet door off the hinges, the light-switch in the bathroom not working all the time, the bathroom towel rack holder coming unscrewed, 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.
    • Did not accomplish.
  • Execute 4 estimated tax payments for blogging + graduate research fellowship income on the following dates – 1) April 15, 2013, 2) June 17, 2013, 3) Sept. 16, 2013, and 4) Jan. 15, 2014.
    • Done.
  • Save $111 per month until have a total of $1600 for health expenses for dogs we adopted (for annual health checkup, Frontline/Interceptor, and miscellaneous health emergencies/treatments needed. I will have the $1600 total after March 2013.
    • Done.
  • Help friends become debt-free.
    • On track.
  • Continue investing in long-term content growth of blog.
    • On track. 
  • Continue building, optimizing, and balancing a Three-Legged Stool for Retirement
    • Done.
    • Since I am in the 15% tax bracket (and recently confirmed that I will be again in 2013), I first maxed out my Roth IRA for 2013.
    • My next move was to contribute an equivalent amount in an after-tax investment account in order to have money that is accessible for needs prior to retirement.
    • Next, I began to work towards contributing as much as possible to a Roth Individual 401k with Vanguard.
    • Since my graduate school fellowship income does not count as “earned Income” for retirement plan contribution purposes, I had to make sure that my combined Roth IRA and 401k contributions were less than my net blogging income minus the deductible part of self-employment taxes. It appears that by the tax deadline for 2013, I will be able to contribute the maximum possible to both of these retirement accounts. It has worked out well.

 

Mid-Term (3-5 years out) Goals:

  • Continue contributing maximum allowed to Roth IRA and Individual Roth/Traditional 401k each year using dollar cost averaging.
  • Reach intermediate net worth target (~2.2X my current net worth).
  • Own a rental property by 2018.

 

Long-Term (greater than 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 did you do with your financial goals for 2013? 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!