Setting Goals
Growth and Goals

The 2019 Annual Financial Goal Review – Setting Goals is Smart

Setting goals is smart but so is reviewing them!

What’s the point of setting goals if you don’t review them?

After all, how will I know if I failed or succeeded? I’ve been a big fan of setting goals since I started in 2017. They give me a good guidepost to aim towards. Best of all, they can be a good motivating force.

I’ve definitely saved more in the past because I looked at my goals mid-year and saw that I was trailing. It’s a real kick in the butt as long as you review them regularly and make changes. That’s the whole point of setting goals, to drive you forward towards a target.

Initially, I set a combination of personal and financial goals. However, last year, I did something crazy and split them. I’m so wild!

This year, I’m continuing that trend. I already set my personal goals for 2020.

And now it’s time to review the 2019 financials goals before I set those for 2020. After all, I can’t set good goals if I don’t know how I did the year before. I set these suckers at the start of 2018 and now it’s time to look at how I did.

If you’re not familiar with how I do goals here then get ready to have your mind blown! You see, I set goals on a medal system. I set the bronze goal at a reasonable level then the goals get harder for silver and gold. It’s like the damn financial Olympics up in here. If I set the goals correctly then I should average in that bronze to silver range since silver and gold are supposed to be hard.

At the end of the year(now), I can review the goals I set and see how many medals I get. It’s a fun little thing! After that, I can reward myself with a nice block of fancy cheese if I succeed or cry tears of pain if I fail. Ah yes, the magic of setting goals.

Let’s jump into it and see if I’m about to be decorated with medals of all colors. For ease of reading, I’ll relist all the goals and their medal targets.

Portfolio Goals

Goal One

  • Bronze – Invest more new capital than in 2018
  • Silver – Invest 15% more new capital than in 2018
  • Gold – Invest 30% more new capital than in 2018

2018 was an expensive year for me. I had my wedding, a honeymoon and still had a car payment.

I rightly assumed that losing those expenses would be good for my savings. However, I really over-estimated the expenses that would replace those.

One of the reasons I might have been a bit conservative here is that I assumed we’d buy a house last year. That comes with a whole bunch of costs and expenses that never materialized. As such, I had plenty of cash to invest into the market in 2019.

In the end, I ended up saving 50% more than I did in 2018! It’s amazing what a lack of a wedding and honeymoon will do to your expenses.

Result : GOLD

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Collect $12,750 in dividends
  • Silver – Collect $13,750 in dividends
  • Gold – Collect $14,750 in dividends

Dividends baby! These are the magical little payouts you get from owning stocks and bonds. I don’t target dividend paying securities preferring total return but a lot of my index funds and individual holdings still pay dividends. It’s a fun little thing to track and watch grow as the years pass.

I even have a dividend employee named Steve that makes it more fun.

This goal was a lofty one set on the back of expectations driven by the tax reform in 2018. I expected companies, now having a lower corporate tax rate, to start raising their dividends at a much faster clip.

That definitely happened to start the year as my first two quarters of dividends grew by 35%. However, as the year over year comparisons began to include the heightened starting dividend, the growth slowed down and my 3rd and 4th quarter growth rates dropped to 10-15%.

Dividend Growth

Still, as you can see with the graph above, 2019 was a very successful year on the dividend front. Growth rates were solid and the additional money flowing into the market led to great results.

The bronze medal here was a 19.1% growth rate which was pretty high and the gold was a lofty 37.8% which in hindsight was a bit optimistic.

What was my result? My dividends grew by 20.99% to a grand total of $12,948.77 in 2019. That’s still pretty great but it does show that I over-estimated dividends to start the year. Despite saving way more than I thought I would, I just barely scraped by with a bronze medal here. Still, it’s a damn fine result and one I’m psyched to get.

Result : BRONZE

Savings Rate Goals

Goal One

  • Bronze – Gross income savings rate of 33%+
  • Silver – Gross income savings rate of 36%+
  • Gold – Gross income savings rate of 40.5%+

My 2018 gross income savings rate was 30.3%. It made sense to bump that up given the lack of a wedding and honeymoon in 2019.

If you’re not familiar with savings rates, the gross income savings rate is the % of gross income I saved in 2019. As expected, this one is tied pretty closely to the overall savings and since I did pretty well on that front in my first portfolio goal, I figure I’ll do pretty well here.

Another boost to this is that I got a promotion towards the tail end of 2018 that improved my income. That means 2019 was the first year where I had that income for the full year.

Here are the results.

I ended up saving 42.8% of my gross income. That’s pretty damn good. 28.8% of my money went to expenses, 4.1% went to benefits(healthcare) and 24.3% went to taxes.

That’s a fantastic year. This is why I love setting goals. It’s the results like this that make it worthwhile because I know I wouldn’t have saved as much if I didn’t have that mindset going into the year.

Result : GOLD

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Savings rate of 43%
  • Silver – Savings rate of 48%
  • Gold – Savings rate of 53%

This savings rate is a comparison of savings over post-tax income. It’s a pure comparison of savings and expenses.

As you can imagine, both savings rates go hand in hand. Last year, I saved 39.8% of my post-tax income.

I like looking at this savings rate because it eliminates the taxes from the equation. Since my expenses are low, it’s possible that my tax liability will be much lower in retirement so the savings rate may be more relevant.

On top of that, this gives me a good sense of exactly where my money is going on the expense side as well as I can look at it from a purely savings versus expenses basis.

Here are the results and my expenses as well.

Savings Rate

My savings rate was 56.5% for the year. That’s freaking awesome and it’s the first year where my savings rate eclipsed 50% for the year. I had 50%+ months in the past but to see such results for the entire year is awesome!

I won’t delve too much on the expense side but you can see that I don’t spend too much money on stuff. Restaurants are my main expense and even those were kept in check this year with my biggest splurge being some nice dinners on our trip to Atlanta.

You may think, ew gross, spend more money you frugal pauper. However, I’m that type of person who enjoys a simple life so I don’t feel like I’m really limiting myself too much. I do all that I want to do and am happy. It just so happens that most of the things I want and like to do are pretty cheap. I’m lucky like that!

Result : GOLD

Goal Three

  • Bronze – Savings rate of 50%+ in 6 months
  • Silver – Savings rate of 50%+ in 8 months
  • Gold – Savings rate of 50%+ in 12 months

This is a simple one and a goal based on consistency.

Last year, I had six 50%+ months so that was the starting point this year. The results are below.

Setting Goals is important if you want to motivate yourself to save more

I hit 50% or more 8 times this year. That’s a pretty solid result. Another great part is that I was just shy of 50% twice with 47% and 46% months so there’s upside in this number.

As you can see above, 2019 was just a great year all around on this front. The purple bar is much higher than most other years across every month and the lows are much higher too. In fact my lowest month of 29% in October was a big boost over my lowest months in prior years.

It’s really great to see that my lowest month is so high. I’m really lucky to be in a spot and in a mindset to be able to save so much where my lowest months are beating my best savings rates from a few years ago.

Result : SILVER

Expense Goals

Goal One

  • Bronze – Reduce one bill in 2019
  • Silver – Reduce two bills in 2019
  • Gold – Reduce three bills in 2019

This one is simple.

IT IS A FAIL. I didn’t reduce any bills in 2019. In fact, I never even tried. Other stuff always got in the way and I never got around to calling Comcast or Verizon or whomever.

I really have to step it up on that front this year. However, I REALLY REALLY hate calling and haggling for stuff. It’s just not my thing. Must be my anxiety or something!

Result : FAIL

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Reduce utility costs
  • Silver – Reduce utility costs by 10%
  • Gold – Reduce utility costs by 20%

I’m a guy that like his house at a nice toasty level during the winter. On the flip side, I like it nice and cool during the summer.

We also have an old pup and a bunny at home so it’s not like I can just turn off the warmth and cold when we’re out. I mean look at this fella.

He needs to be comfortable.

Still, this year I made an effort to turn down the temperature just a bit during winter.

The result?

I saved a whooping 1.38% on my heating and cooling bills!

I think we found the reason why my savings rate was so high this year. I’m flush with extra cash from my utilities.

Result : BRONZE

Income Goals

Goal One

  • Bronze – Increase income(2019 vs. 2018) by 7%
  • Silver – Increase income by 10%
  • Gold – Increase income by 13%

I received a raise in September of 2018 that boosted my forward income by about 10%. That mean that my comparable year over year income should increase at a decent clip.

After all, I had the new income for a small part of 2018 but the entirety of 2019.

In the end, my income was up just north of 10% this year. That includes any income I have from my side hustles(not a ton).

That’s not a bad result but will definitely not grow as much next year as I have no expectations of any big pay bumps anytime soon.

Result : SILVER

Goal Two

  • Bronze – Make a profit on the blog and donate it to a charity
  • Silver – Make $100 on the blog and donate it to a charity
  • Gold – Make $200 on the blog and donate it to a charity

This is a blog goal and it is a FAIL.

Honestly, I didn’t do much to monetize the blog in 2019. I didn’t have ads nor did I respond to any contacts about sponsored content since I didn’t believe in any of the products.

The mission statement of this blog is to donate at least 50% of the profits to charity(I’ll likely donate 100% unless I need the money for something) so it’d be nice to eventually make so money for that sake but I’m in no rush to do it.

The blog isn’t really a profit driver at this point. The only real drivers of revenue were some small affiliate payments but those were not enough to cover the blog’s various(if small) costs.

Despite that, I still donated $200 to Charity : Water to help those guys out! Yay, charity!

Going forward into 2020, I’ll try to monetize this blog a bit more as long as it doesn’t ruin the reader experience. I’m trying some limited ads out right now to see how they work and if they’re worthwhile. Maybe next year, Charity : Water will get some more money from me!

Result : FAIL

Setting Goals and Reviewing Goals : An Overview

Overall, 2019 was a pretty great year on both a personal and financial level.

The stock market did great and I saved a whole bunch of money that grew as the market soared. My dividends hit an impressive mark and I was able to grow my income and convert that into high savings rates across the board.

In the end, I gathered 3 gold medals, 2 silvers, 2 bronzes and 2 fails. If I were to give a 3/2/1/0 score for each goal, the average would be 1.66(repeating of course) so trending towards silver but not quite near it.

That’s pretty good and shows that I set goals in a reasonable way last year. I did have more gold medals than I expected but that’s mainly because we didn’t end up buying a home.

As such, I did better than expected on the savings rate front but lagged behind on a few others. Setting your goals will never be perfect but if I’m tracking results like this then I know I did a pretty good job. I think any year where I’m in that 1-2 average range is a fantastic year for me.

After all, I didn’t really go out of my way to do much out of the ordinary this year. It was a relatively easy and painless year and I just got lucky with a lack of major expenses.

That’s why 2019 was a record year in how much I actually saved but also my dividends as well. The latter will hopefully see a new record every year but I can’t say that for the former.

Next year, I would like to purchase a home which is a bit expensive and we are currently planning a trip to Spain which will cost a bit as well. I’ve also set some personal goals that include treating myself more and finding a new hobby so expenses may go up just a little bit on that front as well.

Still, there’s always going to be opportunity to improve and grow on both a financial and personal front and that’s why I love setting goals each year. Now that I have the analysis done for 2019, I can get started on setting my financial goals for 2020. The personal goals are done and I’ve started working on those but I want to have some motivation to drive me forward on the financial end as well.

I’ll make sure to review both as the year progresses and I’m eager to see how 2020 develops. Hopefully this gives you guys some ideas on financial goals to set for yourself as well but let me know if you have any others you like.

Setting Goals and reviewing them is important in finding success

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