Growth and Goals

My 2017 Annual Goals – personal and financial goals

I’m a bit late to the party here but it’s time to lay out my 2017 personal and financial goals.

I didn’t have any goals last year. However, I’ve been listening to a book recently that spoke to the value of writing down goals when it came to actually achieving them.

I think it’d be fun to set not only financial goals but also some personal goals.

I also thought it’d be enjoyable to tier my goals into three levels. I’m going with bronze, silver and gold to reward myself at the end of the year!

I’ll make bronze a reasonable level that I think I can reach with my regular approach. Then stretch it out with the silver and gold tiers. It’ll be like the Olympics when I review this in 2018. I’ll award myself a variety of medals based on how well I did in 2017!

I’m aiming to at least have as many bronzes as there are goals. I am hoping for some silvers and golds in 2017 as well!

Portfolio Goals

Goal One

  • Bronze – Invest at least $30000 in new capital in 2017
  • Silver – Invest at least $35000 in new capital in 2017
  • Gold – Invest at least $40000 in new capital in 2017

This goal is simple and one of the important ones when it comes to long term returns. Time in the market is what drives returns. Putting more money into my accounts was a big part of the success I had with portfolio growth in 2017.

I think 30k is a slight stretch but I was pretty close to that number on an annualized basis based on the 10 months I tracked in 2016. I think I can hit it with January and February in the mix as those months are higher than usual. I’ll also see an increase in pay this year and that should help with additional savings.

Maxing out my 401k, ROTH IRA and HSA almost gets me there. That’s the plan for this year at a minimum. I think hitting anything above bronze will be tough. Maybe my side-hustle will really take off and I’ll be rolling in extra cash by the end of the year!

Note that is money exclusive of employer contributions and reinvested dividends. This is just pure contributions from my own earnings going into my accounts. Also note that I have no portfolio size goals as I can’t control how the market will perform in the next year. I could invest $40000 in 2017 and still be below my latest portfolio update total if the market tanks.

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Collect $8000 in dividends
  • Silver – Collect $8500 in dividends
  • Gold – Collect $9000 in dividends

This goal is a tough one to gauge since I don’t invest specifically with dividends in mind. My portfolio has something like a 2.2% yield at the moment. That means dividends aren’t a huge goal right now since I’m searching for total return during my growth phase.

I collected just over $7000 in dividends in 2016. I am hopeful that number grows as my portfolio grows.

There are also some high yield holdings in my asset allocation like REITs that are under allocated and will drive my yield higher. This is a tough market for yield as the rise in prices has driven yield lower on a lot of securities including some of the mutual funds I own. A hot market is actually bad for dividends as you’re getting less shares for your money.

I calculate my forward income right now at around $7300. That will grow higher due to contributions before the first main dividend payout in March and then also grow via contributions throughout the year.

Adding $30000 to my portfolio through the year at my current yield will bring that number to just around $8000. You have to remember that’s forward income which will be spaced out throughout the year. That may make the $8000 in yearly dividends a bit of a stretch.

However, I think it’s something I can hit due to the amount of cash I have on the sidelines that will eventually be put to use on dividend paying securities. There’s also dividend raises from companies I own. Those should help with this goal. As will the fact that some of my future contributions will potentially go towards higher yielding stocks and funds like REITs and international/emerging areas. Those are under-represented in my portfolio right now.

Goal Three

  • Bronze – Perform in-depth analysis on and purchase one individual stock 
  • Silver – Perform in-depth analysis on and purchase two individual stocks
  • Gold – Perform in-depth analysis on and purchase three individual stocks

I’ve gotten away from analyzing stocks due to my perception that the market is “overvalued” but I have to get back into it.

I certainly won’t buy something just to meet my goal but there’s always something out there that is worth considering for the long term. I can also envision a market dip like we saw last year that could potentially create some good values.

It’s much easier to set it and forget it with mutual funds and ETFs. However, there’s also a reward premium to taking a risk on an individual stock that one considers undervalued.

I’ve also been sitting on nearly 10% cash for a while now and want to try and find a use for that cash. I can’t keep it on the sidelines forever. I’m still wary about this market but there’s also a negative to just keeping cash on the sidelines. Yes, it’s dry powder that I can use to scoop up any potential values. However, if I’m not actively looking for them then it’s just cash sitting on the sidelines doing nothing while I wait for that big dip that may never come. 

Savings Rate Goals
Goal One
  • Bronze – Gross income savings rate of 30%+ overall
  • Silver – Gross income savings rate of 33%+ overall
  • Gold – Gross income savings rate of 37.5%+ overall

This is a simple one and it comes down to how much of my gross income I’m saving.

There’s taxes and SS/Med to pay plus the cost of benefits. After that are my day to day expenses but the rest should go to savings.

Last year I hit a gross savings rate of 28.2% but that number didn’t include January or February. Those are typically good savings months for me. I think I can hit 30% in 2017 and will aim to reach my original goal of 33% or above on a consistent basis. This goal and all the ones below are based on just my own contributions and do not include my employer contribution.

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Savings rate of 40.0%
  • Silver – Savings rate of 45%
  • Gold – Savings rate of 50%

This is the savings rate I’m most concerned about as it accounts for all the money that’s actually coming in(net income after taxes). It compares what I save versus what I spend.

Last year, my savings rate was 38.5% but that didn’t include January or February like the savings rate above. I think I can hit 40% in 2017 and will aim to beat that.

My overall long term goal is to hit 50% on a consistent basis. I think that will be harder than the 33% above due to the way the two rates are calculated.

Goal Three

  • Bronze – Savings rate of 50%+ in 3 months
  • Silver – Savings rate of 50%+ in 4 months
  • Gold – Savings rate of 50% in 5 months

This one is simple. The goal is to hit 50%+ which is my overall goal in as many months as possible. There are two months where I get paid 3 times in the year. There’s also my bonus month which generally makes 3 months of 50%+ relatively easy.

Expense Goals
Goal One
  • Bronze – Reduce one bill in 2017
  • Silver – Reduce two bills in 2017
  • Gold – Reduce three bills in 2017

This is a simple goal. It is designed to force me to call places like my cable provider to reduce my monthly bill if I can. There are some services I have that I don’t really use. I’m sure I can find ways to reduce costs on my internet/tv and cell phone bills.

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Pay more than just my standard car payment in two months
  • Silver – Pay more than just my standard car payment in four months
  • Gold – Pay more than just my standard car payment in six months

My car is my one piece of debt. Although the interest rate is low, it’s more than 0 and I would like to pay it off as soon as possible. It’d be nice to free up the cash flow for more investing.

This goal like some of the others in this area will make hitting my savings rate goals more difficult. I’ve been more aggressive in paying down the debt already but plan to get even more aggressive in 2017. The idea is to hopefully have no more debt by 2018. I am aware that this might not be the optimal strategy since the interest rate is low and market returns might be higher. However, I do value the piece of mind I get from being debt free.

Goal Three

  • Bronze – Save $5000 towards my house down payment fund
  • Silver – Save $7500 towards my house down payment fund
  • Gold – Save $10000 towards my house down payment fund

My relationship with my girlfriend is going well and we’ve started talking about an engagement and buying our first house.

That’s exiting but the 20% down payment that a house in this area requires is a frightening thought. I’m a good deal away from being where I need to be on that end. This is also one of the reasons that I’d like to get more aggressive on my car debt. I’d like to have that off the books when I do purchase a house and take on a mortgage and all the associated costs that come with home ownership.

My girlfriend also recently had a car accident(scary but she’s OK) and now has car debt of her own.

My house fund which is separate from my portfolio is something I’d like to increase this year. This will be tracked much like the short term savings was tracked last year; as an expense and will be a negative to my savings rate as it’s money being saved for a future expense.

Personal Goals 
Goal One
  • Gold – Write every day

There are no tiers here as it’s a pretty clear goal. My recent posts about turning a hobby into income and my first side-hustle report laid out why this matters and what I’m trying to do this year.

In order to self-publish, I need to write every day. That’s my biggest personal goal for the year. The goal here is to write at least one hour every day(two pomodoros) as laid out in my side-hustle post.

I know that I’ll probably miss a day or two if I’m out all day but as long as I make it up by catching up on the missed time, I’ll count that towards this goal.

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Earn $100 after expenses from my side-hustle/writing
  • Silver – Earn $500 after expenses from my side-hustle/writing
  • Gold – Earn $1000 after expenses from my side-hustle/writing

I’m writing mainly to improve my skills but also want to earn a little bit of extra income. I have about a month worth of data now and I can tell that it’ll be slow sledding on the money side. Still, $100 after expenses(covers and stock photos) should be doable.

I’m actually pretty excited to see how it goes and have had fun writing for the past two months. I hope that I can stick with it this time.

Goal Three

  • Bronze – Visit at least 1 new place outside of my state 
  • Silver – Visit at least 2 new places outside of my state
  • Gold – Visit at least 3 new places outside of my state

I don’t spend a lot of time traveling. I want to change that despite the effect it may have on my savings rate. Experiences are a big part of life and I want to make sure I’m not avoiding them just to save more money that I may never get a chance to use.

I’d rather spend time exploring the world with my loved ones while I can and want to make that a bigger part of my life this year.

Goal Four

  • Bronze – Read at least 12 books this year including 1 finance and 1 self-help book
  • Silver – Read at least 24 books this year including 2 finance and 2 self-help books
  • Gold – Read at least 36 books this year including 3 finance and 3 self-help books

I’m already a big reader so this shouldn’t be a huge issue. However, adding a self-help and finance book to my repertoire seems like a solid idea.

I’ve recently realized that Amazon Prime gives me access to audible channels which has a rotating selection of audio books you can stream as a member and that should help with this goal. In fact, I’m currently listening to a book about self-discipline as I type this post! If you’re a Prime member then check it out as it’s pretty awesome plus you get access to prime reading which offers a similarly rotating selection of free ebooks to read.

Goal Five

  • Bronze – Take a long walk at least twice a week
  • Silver – Take a long walk at least three times a week
  • Gold – Take a long walk at least four times a week

Health is important and walking is one of the best, most low impact ways to keep your heart and body fit. This will be a hard one to track although I generally have my phone on me and can gauge the number of steps I walked in a given day or week to see whether I’m meeting these goals.


I wanted goals that are easy to track and clear. Now that I look at what I wrote, I think I’m on point with most of these. I’ve got a good mix of portfolio goals as well as goals that will help me improve as a person in 2017.

I don’t have any work goals here since that’s something that’s beyond my control.

I can say I’ll work harder or volunteer for more projects. However, I’m not sure “harder” work will yield any results in terms of pay. I also can’t be sure that any interesting projects arise during work.

I also want to make sure I’m making the most of my free time and want to maintain a solid work/life balance. That might be hard if I concentrate on work too much.

I feel like I’m paid well for what I do and have a clear career path laid out if I want to follow it. I’m pretty comfortable with my work conditions right now.

I also don’t have any goals that might limit my expenses this year. There are savings rate goals that will make me think twice about spending too much on any given thing but I also want to make sure I’m enjoying life in 2017 and not worrying about saving all the time.

I mentioned earlier that my girlfriend was involved in a car accident a few weeks ago and seeing that mangled car really made me think about life and how I want to live it. She’s doing pretty well and we’re lucky that she didn’t suffer anything traumatic but an event like that makes you realize that life can be short and things beyond your control can change your plans pretty quickly. I want to make sure 2017 is an enjoyable year and I have goals in place that won’t limit me if I want to do something like go out to a nice restaurant or take my girlfriend on a trip(in fact one of my goals embraces that!).

I still have the same long term goals that I had when I started this blog; that hasn’t changed. These short-term yearly goals are designed to help me reach that end result of financial independence and early retirement. However, I also want to make sure that I’m not too strict on myself and live the life I want to live with the people that I care about.

I’m hoping that when I read this post a year from now and do the analysis, I’m hitting all golds but even if it’s just all bronzes(or some bronzes), I’ll still be interested in seeing the results and learning how I can improve in 2018 and the years after that.

I’m trying to make the goals fun and maybe I’ll even make some medals and stand on a podium in celebration of my results!

How about you – how are your 2017 goals coming along if you’ve already set them and if not, it’s not too late to get on board!


  • Dividend Life

    Congrats on making a wide-reaching set of goals! I like the medals too; always nice to have a surprise win. Nothing wrong with enjoying life, you only have one after all. I think your Savings Rate targets are great and way above average.
    Looking forward to the awards ceremony next year! Good luck!
    Best wishes,

  • Casey

    Thanks for sharing your goals! I really like the idea of having gold silver and bronze for each of your goals. You may want to check out getting free digital audio books through your library. If you the get the Overdrive app you can search for your library and enter the number on your card to get access to tons of digital audio and ebooks. It’s helpped me learn a lot during my commute.

    • timeinthemarket

      Casey I absolutely LOVE overdrive. In fact, I have a post in the pipeline about overdrive and how awesome it is and how everyone should be using it. It’s a great resource for anyone who reads often and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money.

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