Let's take a look at the four goals I laid out for myself at the beginning of 2012, and how I fared:
Goal #1 - To receive $2,000 in dividends in 2012
I blew away this goal. This was my primary goal, and the most important of all four. I received a total of $2,602.58 in dividends throughout the year of 2012. Awesome! To some people this is just small potatoes, but for me being in only my second full year of dividend growth investing I'm pretty excited about that number. That's a full $216 per month that I didn't have to go to work for. It's not enough to pay all my bills, but it's a pretty good start.
Goal #2 - To save 65% of my net income earned in 2012, averaged monthly
Ehh, I didn't do so hot with this one. I ended up with a full year net income savings rate of 56.6%. While still an excellent number, it was well below my goal. Looking forward, a 60% savings rate is probably more realistic for me unless I'm able to substantially raise my income. My expenses are probably not going to get much lower, and in fact may rather go up over time as I've bottomed out a bit. So, unless my income rises from here my savings rate probably will not be able to go much above 60% long-term. I probably would have come pretty close to my goal, or perhaps even exceeded it, had I not taken a couple months off during the summer to take a break from my frugal ways. It's okay, as the break was refreshing and rather enlightening. Again, a great number to finish with, but one that leaves a little to be desired. We'll see if I can improve at all in 2013.
Goal #3 - Develop or purchase a frugal transportation alternative to the bus
This goal was only necessary because of issues with the bus that takes me to work being consistently late about once a month or so. This is, of course, really unacceptable. So, I took charge and purchased a 49cc scooter. Actually, I purchased two! I initially purchased a 2008 Yamaha Zuma scooter. I later sold it due to a close call with a truck. I regretted this knee-jerk reaction and decided to purchase a 1997 Yamaha Zuma a few months later. I'm happy to say I'm still a scooter owner! Goal achieved.
Goal #4 - Weigh less than 190 pounds by the end of the year
Epic failure. Which is surprising. I'm used to being able to manipulate my weight relatively easily, and for the longest time was a gym rat as I would spend countless hours working out and shaping my physique. My, how times change. As of early November I was exactly 190 pounds. I figured I'd just tweak a bit as I finished up the year and come in around 188 or so. Unfortunately, I did not calculate an extended break (over 3 weeks) from the gym and continuous lapses in reason when it came to food choices over the holidays. I didn't eat well over Thanksgiving, and fared even worse around Christmas as I spent considerable time in Michigan in late December. I ate well beyond my means and didn't pay any attention to my weight. I paid for this. I ended the year at 194 pounds. The figure I put forth was a bit arbitrary, but nonetheless was a goal I was fully able to achieve and failed due to lack of attention and focus. That's my fault. I'm going to be a bit more aggressive with my physical fitness in 2013 and going forward as I believe consistent exercise is paramount to an early retirement plan as it can significantly reduce health bills and give one something to focus on once work is no longer a primary concern.
I scored 2/4. That's 50%. In high school that's an F. The great thing with setting big goals and trying to achieve financial independence at such an early age, however, is that even when you fail at such lofty goals you're still doing much, much better than the overall population. I thought I would fare better in 2012, and to be honest should have gone 3/4 and missed goal #4 out of sheer thoughtlessness. Goal #2 might be a tad bit difficult for me given my income level and the fact that my expenses can't go much lower. All in all, I'm pretty happy with how the past year went. I saved up a lot of money, invested in a lot of attractive long-term dividend growth stocks and had a great time through it all. Best of all, I had a lot of you readers stop by and share stories and mutually inspire each other. That's probably the best part of the journey. A lot of you are doing way better than me, so keep it up!
[/b] [b]Looking Forward
I'll be setting some goals for 2013 very soon. There are some concerns over my position at work right now, as there has been some ongoing dialogue between management and myself over the future of my continued employment due to some lackluster results lately. Unfortunately, a lot of this is out of my control. But it is what it is. I'm likely going to set pretty conservative goals in 2013, as capital will be precious and invaluable during an uncertain time like I'm going through right now. At any rate, I'm looking forward to 2013 and beyond. I'm 30 years old, with a fully stocked dividend growth portfolio, in good health, with a loving family, good friends and the rest of my life ahead of me. Life is good!
How did you do with your goals?
Thanks for reading.[i][/i]