Jan 17

It’s about time, I know. I remember last February, I ran into someone I see every month or so, and he wished me a Happy New Year. I responded in kind, but thought to myself that it was already February, time to move on. Since it’s still mid-January, I’m thinking it’s not too late to share my 2012 goals.

  • Run 1000 miles. Again. In 2011, I came up short, just over 900. This year, I need to be more consistent, once behind, it’s really tough to keep up, and the time off at year end isn’t time to run at all, so I need to end November well ahead of pace.
  • I still need to drop a few pounds. I ended last year about five less than I started, and this year would like to drop the last ten. The running isn’t enough. I need to stay away from the buffets, and when away from home avoid the temptation of all the sweets. Jane 2.0 has reprimanded for my eating habits, skipping breakfast and lunch and heading into dinner with a huge appetite isn’t a good habit to be in. I’m also avoiding processed flour. Cutting down on bread, pasta, and potato. Budweiser has a beer aimed at the low-carb crowd, Select 55, named for its 55 calories. No sweets, but I can have beer when I like.
  • I’ve been contracted for another year of writing for TurboTax, which has taught me a bit about writing. It’s interesting to have some topics you know so well that you have to cut down on how long the article goes, and then others that are so narrow focused a bit more effort has to go into the how and why it’s important to the reader. It’s also a motivator to have a topic and a deadline compared to here, where the topics are more varied and deadlines don’t exist.
  • My daughter and I are still are struggling with AnotherFineMeal.com as both of our schedules were busy this year. We put up 6 posts, and agree that in 2012 we’d like to work toward a regular posting schedule there.
  • The Basement. In November of 2010, the first batch of drywall (70 sheets) was dropped off. As I got into the summer of ’11, I realized I was coming up short and I changed from wanting to put in a drop ceiling to finishing it off with drywall. So another 50 sheets were ordered. I’m now within a few weeks of being done with that and will sub out the plastering. We’ll hire guys to put the floor in and this project will be behind me. It was a long project, and will add close to $40,000 to the house’s value and tax assessment. I’ll post a few before and after pictures once this is completed.
  • Finances – I’ve shifted gears. Last year I stated I’d like the mortgage paid by the summer of 17, when my daughter would start college. Instead, with rates as low as they are, we are refinancing to a fixed 15 yr mortgage at 3.5%. For some time, we’ve been saving 20% of our income, funding college savings, and prepaying the mortgage. We’ve managed to budget to such a low fraction of our income, it’s time to loosen up a bit. I still plan to pay the new mortgage at a faster pace, but now to be paid by 2021, when our daughter graduates. For the next five years, we just need to monitor college costs and add a bit to cover any increases. In other words, we have four year’s worth of college cost now set aside, at today’s rates. This decision came after a lot of time looking at the numbers, and reading articles with titles like “can you be saving too much?” I also saw a neighbor’s house for sale, a couple who both work, and have three kids. I found out they are downsizing to pull out money to use for college. We are close enough to our goals that such a downsize could let us retire. Instead, we’d like to keep working, but not worry about the extra trip or for that matter, some of the charities we’d like to better support.
  • Retirement – not this year of course, but I do need to plan. Specifically, I want to be sure that each year, I am shifting out asset allocation a bit so that we are at the allocation we want at retirement. The disaster of the 2008 downturn didn’t hit those with a decent allocation quite as badly as those who were fully invested in US stocks, which is closer to how we are today.
  • Last (I promise) – Declutter. No, I don’t have my gas, electric and phone bills in a file cabinet spanning decades, those get glanced at, paid, and shredded. I do, however, have too many brokerage account statements going back almost 30 years. This is the year I plan to start downloading PDFs of these statements, and discontinuing the mailings each month. My broker had access to download 10 years back, so for the accounts I need to keep cost data, I’ll download and shred. This year, the paper has to go.

Well, that’s it. Eight goals for the new year. How did you do with your goals in 2011? Do you write them down, or just think of a few, but never really do them? How many stay on the list year after year?


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Jan 02

Another year, and time to set our goals. On New Year’s Eve, I posted mine, now it’s time to share what some of my fellow bloggers decided would be their 2011 goals.

Jeff Rose at Good Financial Cents offered his Goals for 2011: Do What You Love. Jeff reminds us that if you have a goal or desire, you have a 90% greater chance of success of achieving it if you actually write it down. I think that’s probably true. The very act of thinking and committing to paper is a powerful process.

Lazy Man and Money listed his Goals For 2011, one personal and four relating to his blogging. His goals are pretty specific, 165lbs and 14.5% body fat. Hmm, I’ve never had my fat measured, maybe this is the year to do it.

At Budgets are $exy, J Money asked his readers to tell Him ONE thing you want in 2011. That’s focus, I’d say. J just has one goal to focus on.

At PTMoney.com, the most ambitious list I’ve seen, 35 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Finances.If you haven’t made your own list yet, perhaps you’ll find some goal here to adopt for yourself.

Evan at myjourneytomillions.com offers a very personal, introspective, set of 2011 Goals and Objectives. He breaks them down into Personal, Professional, Blogging, and Financial. A read of this post is a good introduction to Evan if you’re not already one of his readers.

At saving For Serenity, Matt Goulart guest posted his 2011 Financial Resolution. We are all at different stages in our lives, and for Matt, one simple goal is all he needs to get on track.

At ChristianPF, a non-disclosed guest poster wrote New Years Resolutions and the 80/20 Rule. A different approach to formulating and implementing your 2011 goals.

An English (as in “from England”) The Top 10 Financial New Year’s Resolutions You Should Be Making was posted at Everything Finance.Aside from the reference to Pounds vs Dollars and ISA instead of IRA, not too much is different across the Atlantic.

Sandy at Yes, I Am Cheap answers, What Are My Goals for 2011? She has some realistic, achievable goals. Maybe next time I visit NYC, we can meet her puppy at the dog park. I love dogs. Other people’s dogs, that is. Looking forward to seeing how Sandy does as the year progresses.

The Girl with the Red Balloon tells us that in 2011: My Year Without Frivolous Spending, she will only spend on necessities. Wow, that’s a tough one, don’t know how long I’d last at that, but I wish Red the best of luck.

Financial Samurai (Founder of Yakezie.com) shared his Goals And Resolutions for 2011. Sam has a lot on his plate, but I’d bet this will be a successful year for him, he’s always struck me as a go-getter.

At Upside of Money, Barbara tell us her UPSIDE: Goals and Gratitude – the Shortlist.Her list was unique in that it wasn’t just goals, it included a ‘wish’ as well as a ‘thanks.’ And, thank-you for tweeting me, Barb, glad to include you today.

And to finish this week’s roundup, Twenty Something Money shares his 2011 Goals. A nice list of five goals, one personal (seems we all need to eat right, whether to lose weight or just to stay healthy) and four financial.

Edit – many bloggers were still posting resolutions long after this post first went up, so I’ll share some more –

Fiscal Geek – 4 Best New Years Resolution Ideas for Your Money & Finances That Can Pay Off Big
My Pretty Pennies – 2011 Goals
Enemy of Debt – My New Year’s Resolutions for 2011
Taxgirl – Tax and Financial Resolutions for 2011
Cool to be Frugal – My Goals: 2011

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Dec 31

It’s the end of another year. I hope 2010 was a good year for you, but more than that I hope that ‘good’ isn’t just measured by your balance sheet. For me, there’s far more joy in watching my daughter give a speech at her fifth grade graduation than in any market related success my brokerage statement reflects. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the S&P was up again this year, and getting back to where I was before the crash of 2008 is still a good thing.

Now that 2011 is just hours away, it’s time for the obligatory New Year Resolutions. They say that people who put their plans in writing are far more likely to achieve them, so here it goes:

  • Run 1000 miles. I actually did this in 2009, but this year, I got a bit lazy in the exercise department. Less exercise meant putting on a few pounds.
  • Lose 15 pounds. See resolution one. It’s less about diet, and more about exercise. I need to stay disciplined.
  • Network more. Both to grow my readership and to build relationships with other personal finance bloggers.
  • Continue to explore freelance writing positions. I am very excited that TurboTax and American Express  Currency have taken me on as a guest blogger and hope to get discovered by a magazine such as Money or Kiplinger’s.
  • Work with my daughter to develop our cooking site AnotherFineMeal.com. It’s a great bonding project, a common interest we both share and it’s been a random side project for me. If we are to make a go of it, we need to get a regular schedule going.
  • Complete my basement finishing project. I took on this project some time ago, but the end is now in sight. Partition walls up, wiring in and inspected, walls insulated. The drywall remains, along with a floor and ceiling. It would be great to have this completed by the summer.
  • One Money goal – to pay the mortgage down by 1/7. My daughter will be entering college in August 2017, and my plan is to have no mortgage by then. There’s no other debt, so after retirement savings, this is the priority.

Have you written your goals down? Are they realistic or just a vague wish? Do you check your progress midyear? I will, look for an update on June 30th, but I hope to see you here before then!

Happy New Year,


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Jan 10

Last week, I found I had such a great selection of New Year Resolution blog posts, that I was unable to narrow it down to a list short enough to share in one post here. So let’s get going with the rest….


Jim Wang at Bargaineering plans to invest half of his emergency fund account into the stock market. At present, his EF is a full year’s expenses, a pretty healthy sum.

Matthew at Mint.com posted Financial New Years Resolutions You Can Keep, a top ten list of his resolutions of concrete, tangible goals. No “save more” or “spend less” on this list. Among the goals: (10) Make or update your will (amen!) (6) simulate bad news, a dry run to understand how to survive a financial disaster, and (1) don’t buy a house. Visit and read the full post to understand why Matt’s not buying this year.

Mark Miller at Retirement Revised offers a Resolution for a new decade: Work with meaning. This single resolution introduces this thought with “The Greatest Generation. . . the Silent Generation . . . And now, the Over-indulgent, Self-Centered Generation? It doesn’t sound too good–and it’s an unfairly harsh judgment, from my perspective.” A thought provoking post on the generational changes we are witnessing as boomers age.

On Gen X finance Charissa wrote Five Foolproof Financial Strategies That Will Ensure You a Better 2010. More  a list of suggestions of strategies to adopt than resolutions,  if you’ve not set up your own goals for the year, here’s a few thoughts to get you going.

Single Money Guy has five great New Year’s Money Resolutions focused on credit and debt. Among them, getting rid of the little extras that add up over time, such as that $4 latte that keeps you $1200 a year to the poorer.

Last post I’ll share in this resolution roundup is Free From Broke’s New Year’s Resolutions Are Bulls@%t! If only to provide a bit of a different view, a discussion of how resolutions are quickly broken and soon forgotten. FFB also offers suggestions on how to move from potentially unachieved resolutions to meaningful goal. A nice end to our two part resolution discussion.

What are your goals this year? Leave a comment, please, and let me know.


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Jan 03

Yesterday, I posted my own goals for the year 2010. Pronounced ‘twenty-ten’, or better still just ‘ten,’ not like someone will ask what century you’re talking about. Today, I’d like to share some goals or resolutions, if you must, of some of my fellow PF bloggers.


(This dollar is not photoshopped. I got it while in NYC last weekend, and believe it’s the Big Guy’s ™ way of telling me to call this decade simply ’10’)

Let’s start with Kelly at The Centsible Life who declares with conviction 2010 is gonna rock! Kelly has two groups of goals, first those for her website, and then goals for herself and family. Even if you are not a blogger yourself, her personal goals are worth a look, she really has her priorities in order.

Next, Trent at The Simple Dollar had four goals spread out over as many posts. He plans to lose 40 pounds (makes the 10-15 I need to lose a bit more manageable), pay cash for a replacement truck, learn to play the piano, and reduce entertainment and hobby spending by 50%. I know quite a few people who’ve mention the need to drop a few pounds, maybe we can all compare notes and specific goals for the year.

At Don’t Mess With Taxes, Kay Bell has a short list, ‘Get Organized.’ I’m good with that. For me, the first step was to keep the clutter from growing. I’m in the midst of my own ongoing organization battle. Let’s see how we all get organized this year.

Flexo at Consumerism Commentary offers a nice mix of income goals, investing goals, and personal. There’s the desire to get in shape and to keep the place clean enough to have company on short notice. We’ll all be buff and neat by ’11.

Kelly at Almost Frugal posted her New Years Goals and Resolutions, and a recap of her ’09. In a minimalist approach, she has just three; sticking to a zero balanced budget (i.e. tracking every penny. An excellent way to understand where it all goes), to give something, every week, and to keep stress from affecting her personal life. Good luck, Kelly, sounds great to me.

New Year’s Financial Resolutions: Resolve to Take Baby Steps by Amanda at My Dollar Plan is a focused finance-centric list of how to get your finances in order over the next year. She addresses debt,  saving, income, and investing in one’s own future. Not sure if it’s polite to ask her if she’s in great shape or just decided to stick to finance for the goals.

Another excellent 8 Financial Resolution Ideas for 2010 in an article by Kathryn at Million Dollar Journey. She includes some of the usual suspects, tracking spending, max out your pretax accounts, etc, but also includes two easily overlooked goals; Write or re-write your will, and save up for something fun. Great advice. I’d add that while your reviewing your will, you should also check the beneficiaries listed on your retirement plans.

Too many great lists to call it quits, I’ll complete the round up next week.


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