1) Save 35% of my net income
I will make roughly 55K in gross income this year. By the time my taxes, pension, union dues, medical, life insurance, and the 1001 other deductions are taken off, I will take home about $2,700 per month. After I take out my mortgage payment, car payment, utilities, grocery bill, tuition, and gas/car maintenance, I believe I should be able to save 35% of my net income (again, this in addition to my DPP).
I have been able to save just under the 35% mark so far this year, as long as you count investment into our business as “saving”. If I can keep up these habits over the next few years, it will put me in a good stead going forward.
2) Put my back-pay and tax return towards an early paydown of my mortgage and begin the Smith Manoeuvre
Our government-negotiated teaching contracts are always way behind (this gets under my skin quickly because they often don’t include any interest on the back pay when it is settled) and I have 17 months’ worth of built-in raises that should be back paid any month now. Due to our tuition pay back in Manitoba, I also should have a 3-4k tax return coming back to me in the Spring. I hope to use both of these lump sums to build equity in my house and then begin the Smith Manoeuvre. I’m fairly happy to be getting a large exposure to equities at this time, even if it isn’t the market lows of 2009.
As a young guy with fairly few assets, my financial picture can change fairly quickly. I did receive a substantial tax return, but right at the same time an opportunity to grow our company in a very advantageous way came up and we just couldn’t pass. The SM has been put on the back burner for the time being since a move within the next couple years is looking more and more likely. I still intend to use the SM for the vast majority of my adult life, I’m just pushing back my timeline a little.
3) Keep investing primarily through ETFs
I hope to keep passively investing through ETFs and enjoying the stress-free long-term returns they will generate. I’d rather concentrate on improving my income and enjoying my leisure time as opposed to pouring over bank statements trying to gain an edge over other, better-educated investors.
Not only have got some non-hedged exposure to the US market (through VTI) while our dollar is strong (within my RRSP account) and continued to invest in Canadian equities through XIU. Not only that, but I released a pretty decent guide on ETF Investing that was even picked up my Rob Carrick over at the Globe and Mail!
1) Earn $1000 a month online by January 2013
We have been seeing steady gains in our online income over the last few months here at My University Money. We hope to continue this upward momentum in 2012. We have some very preliminary plans to look at expanding our “online empire,” and more concretely, I’ve developed several staff writing and ghost writing positions around the web that are generating a nice monthly income right now. If we experience similar growth in 2012 to what we seen in 2011, I should have no problem meeting this goal. Several blogs around the PF community are championing the “30K challenge” where the goal obviously is to make $30,000 in 2012 from online activities. This remains an unreachable goal for us right now in my opinion, but a more reasonable target is to be in a position to make that commitment at this time next year.
At a time when many websites are seeing their income take a solid hit from changes in the advertising industry as well as several animal-named Google updates we are thriving. Due to our “strategic acquisition” (that just sounds so much cooler than buying a friend’s website) we have definitely achieved this goal. Ideally I think we might be able to hit the 1K mark just from My University Money by the end of the year, but a lot of things would have to break right for us.
2) Explore the most efficient use of online time
I won’t claim the SMART goal of starting another website because I have to do a cost-benefit breakdown of what would be a better use of my time. Right now I enjoy the low maintenance of writing for other people and having them do all the formatting and worrying about monetizing sites etc. The reading I’m doing tells me that is ultimately more profitable to build your own site. I have to spend a couple evenings making a personal long-term plan for my blogging activities outside of My University Money.
As previously mentioned, the most efficient use of time appears to be buying websites for a great value, and then continuing to provide top-tier content. I have continued to some freelance work on the side, but life has been pretty busy with the new site, a master’s degree, and that pesky day job thing. Going forward, I think we would definitely jump at the opportunity if another high-quality website came up for sale. There are a lot of synergies to take advantage of once you are familiar with how this whole blogging thing works, so it just makes a lot of sense.
3) Finish my eBook and hit the 5000 download mark
Inspired by the dividend investing eBook that The Financial Blogger released earlier this year, I am currently putting the finishing touches on an eBook of my own. Since it is my first crack at this genre of writing, and I just want to get some widespread feedback, I am going to offer the product for the low, low price of… FREE! TFB has hit the 15,000 downloads mark, and while I have nowhere near the online chops or properties that he has, I’m hoping that with the help of some of my blogging buddies I can get 5,000 sets of eyeballs on my initial creation.
Well, kind of. I did finish the eBook, and I am very proud of it to be honest. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the venture, and I think it is a really good resource for most investors. I did give it away for free, but sadly we are still under the 2000 downloads mark. Even with the PR boost I got from TFB and Rob Carrick, we still haven’t had quite the number of readers that I had originally hoped for.
4) Create a second, and maybe even third and fourth eBooks
Depending on my experience with my initial foray into the world of eBooking, I hope to subsequently write stuff that people want to read! If they want to pay me for it, that would eventually be pretty cool too.
I would classify the release of my first eBook a very mild success. That being said, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers out there put a ton of effort into their eBooks and not receive nearly the benefit they had hoped for. I’m putting this goal on hold right now, but I may make progress before 2013 if I think the conditions are right for victory (shout out to Quebec on that one).
Overall Goals For Life
1) KEEP LEARNING!
Ok, so this is the definition of a goal that is NOT a SMART goal. I believe it’s an important mindset to re-affirm every year nonetheless. We often use the term “lifelong learning,” and it has become fairly cliché. To actually keep an open and inquisitive mind requires some serious effort. Don’t succumb to the power of bad reality TV and turn your brain off!
I’m happy to say that learning continues to be fun for me. The best part is that now that we are a “somebody” in the blogging world people send us their books for free. How cool is that? Thanks to other bloggers out there who post great stuff for me to read, and challenge us to produce better content ourselves!
2) Lose 10 pounds
Is there a prize for the least original, most over-used year-end goal ever? I’m a big guy at about 6’2, 245 pounds. While I’m pretty active, I also love to eat (I like foods that are good for you, foods that aren’t, pretty much anything that is edible). There is no question my quality of life would be raised by dropping a little weight. For those of you wondering, this goal has made my list the last few years and it is definitely an ongoing battle for me.
One Step At A Time
I am down 7 pounds since this New Year’s resolution started, and I’m fairly certain I can keep the good momentum going now that summer holidays are here for this teacher. I’ve been eating better and I continue to play basketball, get a boxing workout in, or go for a 4 mile run at least 4 days a week. I feel healthier overall, so that is a nice thing!
3) Take 9 credit hours towards my Master’s Degree
I wouldn’t put this under my first goal because I often feel like I’m not actually learning all that much in these courses (or at least not learning efficiently). The bottom line is that this a hoop I have to jump through (it frustrates me how much time we spend jumping through hoops in society, but this is another rant for another time) in order to present myself with some cool career options. I’d rather get it done sooner-than-later and hopefully I meet some good people and have some positive experiences along the way.
I have so far completed 3 credit hours and have solid plans for 3 more. If I am going to fully achieve this goal I will need to up my game a little, but it is not out of the realm of possibility yet. If I achieve this goal it would bring me to 12 credit hours overall in my degree, which is 1/3 of the way home. I’d rather be 2/3 of the way done, but what can you do.
Overall I like the progress I am making towards my goals this year. Expanding our blogging business has soaked up some time and financial resources, but I truly believe it is going to prove to be a great investment for us. My personal goals are going well, and I hope to report in 6 months that I have reached the majority of the goals I set out for myself during the year.
How are your New Year’s Resolutions treating you? Have they fallen by the wayside, or are you still clinging to them? I have to admit that putting your failures out there for the blogging world to read is a great motivational tool and definitely keeps a guy honest with himself!