July is here, which means we’ve officially finished six months of 2017. (Happy Fourth of July week to all you US readers out there!).
How’s your year going so far? Our family is currently on an extended road trip/family visit in the Southeastern United States, so I’m logging in “from the road.”
Earlier this year, I shared our 2017 goals for this year. We’re on a three year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, so we have some pretty specific goals for this year to make that happen.
Since we’re halfway into the year, I thought a check-in was in order, to see how we’re doing with our goals.
First of all, just a recap. At the beginning of each year, we sit down with a piece of plain white printer paper and divide our goals up into a couple of sections. We organize our goals from least specific and time-sensitive to most specific and time-sensitive. It may seem like we repeat ourselves a bit, but this system seems to work.
The first section is our BHAG, our Big Hairy Audacious Goal, one that will take more than one year to complete, that will stretch us, and that we’re not completely sure we’re able to achieve. This is the big guiding goal that informs all of our smaller goals, to a greater or lesser extent.
The second section is our yearly focus. This is where we’ll focus most of our efforts this year to achieve our BHAG.
After that, we write our biggest seven goals. These are more specific goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
Finally, we subdivide each quarter into goals we’d like to achieve that quarter, just to make sure we’re on track during the year.
So let’s see how the ThreeYears are faring with our 2017 goals:
BHAG: Double our net worth by 12/2019.
ON TRACK: I’ve been posting periodic net worth updates (find the latest here) so our progress in this area isn’t too big a surprise. We are roughly aiming to increase our net worth by about one third of the total amount we’ll need each year. I don’t expect to hit that number this year, since because of the laws of compounding, we’ll inevitably make most of our gains in Years Two and Three, but we’re working to get as close as we possibly can to 33.33% of our goal by December. Currently, as of the end of June, we’re 18.2% of the way–progress.
Yearly Focus: write weekly blog posts of at least 1000 words and pay off all non-mortgage debt.
ON TRACK: So far this year, I’ve written 58 blog posts (including this one), so I’ve surpassed my modest goal to write one per week (I usually publish 2-3 times per week). Most of my posts are 1000 words at a minimum, but as I write more and become more practiced at writing, it has gotten a lot easier to write longer posts–so I would guess my average post is around 1500 words or so, which was the length I was shooting for.
As for paying off all of our non-mortgage debt, we’re on track for that too. We currently have one car loan with $5754 left on it. Yes, we have a car loan. I know, I know. But we got a very low interest rate and wanted to keep our cash handy. We’re paying extra each month and will have it paid off in December. We also have about $9800 left on our Chile apartment mortgage and are paying it down as well. The apartment is technically mortgage debt, but it will be such a relief to finish paying it off this year.
Big Seven Goals:
- Finish all Masters courses by 12/31/2017. PRETTY MUCH ON TRACK. This Spring, I took a break from my masters courses, although I did officially apply for the Masters program, which I had not previously done (I was just taking all the classes but had never bothered to officially enroll). I am supposed to have signed up for a course this summer, but I’m pushing it until the Spring, because with our big roof spend this summer (see below), I just don’t want to have to pay another $1650 for school. I think I will still be on track. I can always take two classes this fall if I need to.
- Pay off Prius car note. ON TRACK. See above.
- Save up cash for a new roof. ON TRACK. Although we scraped together the $14,000 dollars!!!!!! that it ended up costing to replace our roof and had to dip into our emergency fund to do it, we did technically reach this goal. We got half a dozen quotes for our roof, and $14,000 was actually the cheapest quote. We live in an expensive area for house work, and northern shingles apparently cost a lot more. I am really excited for our roof to be fixed, because the shingles have deteriorated to a point that they’re shedding daily onto the ground and look terrible.
- Purchase tickets to Chile with points. FAIL. We were able to earn 120,000 American AAdvantage miles in the first six months of the year (we decided American points worked better for us because they flew out of New York). And we’re planning our trip for Christmas, definitely a peak visiting time. So, we need to purchase these in cash, and the tickets seem like they’re increasing in price daily. So we’ve got to get going on buying tickets, soon.
- Date night once per quarter. I guess we’re technically on track, but we definitely haven’t done a good job planning a date night. We’ve just taken opportunities where we can find them. For example, in the early part of June, we both attended a graduation for a Leadership program we’d both attended. We had to get a babysitter for the kids, so we took advantage and had a quick bite to eat after the graduation ceremony. I’d like to make this a date that we put on the calendar and look forward to for the last two quarters of the year.
- Write one good blog post per week, for a total of 52 posts by the end of the year. ON TRACK. See above.
- Keep my word—my “yes” means yes and my “no” means no. MEH. I don’t really have a way to measure my progress on this goal, so it is technically not a SMART goal, is it? I tacked it on the end of our goal sheet this year, almost as an afterthought. This is something I suspect I’ll work on for the rest of my life. It is a good reminder on the goal sheet, though. It’s basically a reminder to wait–wait to commit to new activities or opportunities until we’re sure they’re right for our family.
This is where we break down how we’ll achieve our Big Seven Goals each quarter. Breaking it down makes it so much easier for me to assess, during the year, if we’re making progress on my goals and/or if we need to make any mid-course corrections.
JANUARY to MARCH:
- Save $3000 for roof (@ least $1000/month). DONE.
- Meet a friend at my sister’s house for a girls’ trip. DELAYED. My friend and I have talked about her possibly coming to visit NH later in the year.
- Write one blog post per week, for a total of 12 by end-of-quarter. DONE. I’ve slayed this goal.
APRIL TO JUNE:
- Take a vacation to South Carolina, paid for in cash. DONE. This is actually the vacation we took for Spring Break. We had a fantastic time–read more about it here. And now we’re back at the beach. I feel very fortunate this year.
- Save another $3000 for the roof. DONE. We ended up saving $7000 in cash and taking $7000 from our savings, so we technically surpassed our goal. But it doesn’t really feel that way, just because we were short half the money we needed to save.
- Find a job for the 2017-2018 school year. DONE. The two schools I taught at for the 2016-2017 year will have students who need an ESOL teacher for next year, so I expect to have a total of about 20 hours.
Still to Come:
JULY TO SEPTEMBER:
- Earn $100/month from this blog. TBD. I have actually amended this goal, since I don’t think it’s realistic. I’ve changed the goal to earn at least $100/month freelancing. I feel like this is more than doable.
- Spend one month in South Carolina with family and friends. DONE. I am in South Carolina right now with all the ThreeYears and my extended family, and we’re having a great time!
- Put new roof on the house. TBD. We have the roofer lined up to start roofing on July 10th, so I’m hopeful it will be a smooth process.
- One cool summer camp for each son. DONE. Well, we have identified and paid for the camps. The boys will each have a week in August at two fun outdoor local day camps.
OCTOBER TO DECEMBER:
- Save as much as possible for my 401K (seriously playing catch-up here). TBD. I think this will be the biggest challenge for last quarter.
- Pay off car. TBD. I feel pretty good that we’ll achieve this one.
- Purchase Chile tickets with miles. TBD. As I mentioned above, we won’t be able to purchase all the tickets with our miles, so we’re looking into paying for tickets outright.
Why These Goals for 2017?
As a recap, we chose the goals above because we want to pay off any outstanding debt that gets in the way of our ability to double our net worth. In 2016, our net savings rate was 42% (and that includes everything: home equity, kids’ college, retirement, etc.). While that number is nothing to scoff at, it won’t be enough to keep us on track to double our net worth by December 2019. So, we are working to kill off our monthly payments by the end of the year so that in 2018, we’ll have a lot more cash to invest in a taxable fund (more on that in a future post). We also made it a priority to visit our family in Chile, since it will have been three years since we’ve seen them at the end of this year.
We’ve made solid progress in the first half of the year. Our biggest task for the second half of the year will be to refund our emergency fund and pay off the last remaining debts on the books (besides mortgage debt). I’m also a little nervous about those Chile tickets, but I’m hopeful we’ll get those purchased soon, so we can just focus on visiting our family there in December.
Hope you have a happy Independence Day if you’re in the US, and a very happy week otherwise!
How are your goals coming for the year? I’d love to hear your biggest wins or challenges so far!