I was thinking it would be good to share my financial independence goals for the calendar year. Some are early retirement related and some are travel hacking or budgeting related. There is even a couple around charity and community involvement. I get a lot of that from working at a non-profit, but I still want to make sure I give back. To me, financial independence is about more than collecting enough dollars in the bank.
Not every activity seems like a direct link to achieving financial independence, some take a bit of reflection. For example, joining the Board will take up some free time that might have had me out spending money and provide us with some opportunities to volunteer and help others (while not spending any money).
- Increase retirement savings in 403b– currently almost doubled since 2013. Also opened a new Traditional IRA for the wife
- Start contributing to 457b deferred compensation plan before the end of the year– have not yet signed up
- Max out Coverdell ESA accounts for both kids– 1 down, on pace to complete both by December
- Rack up at least 500,000 reward points from credit cards and airline miles– currently just over 400,000 earned from American Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Marriott, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Barclays Arrival card in 2014. Just got a 70,000 Chase Ink Plus business card I had not planned on, so I should easily surpass 500,000 in points
- Have a garage sale to eliminate clutter and increase clothing/item donations to charity– garage sale in early September was a success earning us almost $500. Have some clothing set aside, but have not donated yet. We need to go through our closets again.
- Add Solar power system to our house– installed in late July 2013 and it has produced 2.7 MWh in 2.5 months (more than I would have used in the same timeframe, eliminating my power bill)
- Increase charitable giving by 50% over 2013– I doubled my payroll deduction at work, but have not made the usual donations to friends fundraising causes this year. Looks like I am up about 10% so far
- Join a non-profit board of directors to help make my community better– DONE in September 2014!
Estimated Final Scorecard: 6/7 (457b may get started, but not much impact)
Preliminary 2015 Goals
I am trying to set more work-life balance goals in 2015, so I have included some projects around the house and travel goals as well. I did not put any increase to net worth goal because I want to focus on increasing my savings rate, not the market return of my portfolio.
- Increase retirement savings contributions by $8,000 over 2014 (not earnings, just deposits). Hopefully $40,000 to $50,000 (a 20% increase)
- Fully max out 403b (will just miss in 2014). Associated with goal #1
- Add at least $500 to Prosper lending account and no cash withdrawals from that account (all principal and interest reinvested). Estimated additions in 2014 are about $350
- Continue to max out Coverdell ESA accounts for my kids @ $2,000 each
- Do some tax planning to get federal and state refunds to under $1,000 to maximize take home pay during the year (which makes achieving the first 4 goals easier)
- Reduce reliance on service industry by attempting some repairs myself. Need to determine a measurable goal for this one.
- Build and install new custom closet cabinets myself for under $1,000
- Travel to Midwest to visit family for less than $1,000 out of pocket (including airfare and meals) using credit card sign up bonuses and airline miles
- Take my wife and kids to the beach at least twice (excluding Hawaii trip)
- Plan (almost) free Caribbean vacation using Marriott and United points and reward credit card to cover flights, hotel, and most meals and activities during the 7 day stay.
- Also need to make sure to earn enough points to do Caribbean vacation. 2015 points goal will be lower than 2014 at 250,000 (less time to do sign-ups and also some limited to every 24 months will already be used in 2014). Southwest Airlines and AMEX are two I have not focused on yet.
Estimated Scorecard: 7/10. I hope I can get at least 7 of the 10 accomplished!
I hope everyone else sets some annual goals and not just the New Year’s resolution type. Set some around financial independence, retirement (or early retirement), family, work, hobbies, etc. Just make them both measurable and realistic otherwise it is just a dream. If you can’t hold yourself accountable, what is the point of writing the goal down?