Each January people around the world resolve to accomplish things they wish to change about their lives. These so-called resolutions usually last about a month. Less than half of the people that set resolutions at the beginning of each year are able to keep them longer than six months.
In the past few years, I would think of things I would like to do, but stopped setting formal resolutions. I was just never very good at keeping them. If you cannot keep a resolution, why set one? This year, however, my investing mentor asked what our goals were for the new year. This gave me something to think about.
My 2019 Financial Goals
I believe much of the reason that my resolutions never lasted was because they were usually unrealistic. It is great to say that you will lose weight or save money, but without more specifics what does that even mean? Not to mention, how would you accomplish that goal or hold yourself accountable?
Here are the goals I sent back to my mentor, which I believe are specific enough that they can be easily tracked and accomplished.
- Pay off HELOC, current balance of $20,000.
- Increase Emergency Fund to at least $10,000, current balance $5,727.
- Work to stay within food budget by abstaining from alcohol, meal planning, and eating at home.
- Research at least 12 businesses for future investment opportunities by studying 10Ks and learning more about each business.
- Read at least 6 books related to investing starting with the following titles:
- Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Mosaic: Perspectives on Investing by Mohnish Pabrai
- Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond by Greenwald, et al.
- Warren Buffett Speaks by Janet Lowe
Paying off the HELOC
As I mentioned in my Big Audacious Debt Payoff Plan post last year, this is my primary goal for this year. This is the most difficult of any because it will require drive and dedication to make it happen. We managed to pay the required $2,000 payment for the second month in a row, which is a great start.
The next few months may be the most difficult. We paid off one credit card that we were paying $250 on and stopped depositing money in Baby SoS’s 529 plan. This was set at $250 per month for this year. Although, we have this extra money, we still have one more credit card with three $300 payments remaining. Once we finish paying off this last credit card, it will make things easier, but definitely not easy.
I have the goal set for 2019, but secretly I would like to have it paid off by the end of September. Why? Because this will make the next goal even easier.
We previously had over $10,000 saved, but as I mentioned in my January net worth post this was really a delayed credit card payoff plan. In January, I used savings to pay off every credit card except the one we used as a 0% interest loan last year to insulate and seal the house. This is the one I previously mentioned that has three more payments of $300 each.
If we pay off the HELOC by the end of September, we could then save $2,000 per month and that would add $6,000 to our Emergency Fund. Alternatively, if we are able to use some of our Emergency Fund to pay off the loan by the end of July, we may do that and then build it up to $10,000 by the end of the year.
In order to pay off the HELOC, we had to find other places to cut back. The only real place where we spend more money than we should is our food budget. The crazy thing is that we very rarely eat dinner out. Likewise, we do not purchase coffee at coffee shops.
Where could we cut back? We found two places. We decided to stop purchasing alcohol for the year. It may not seem like much, but we could easily spend a couple hundred dollars on alcohol in a month. That adds up month after month. The second place is that Dr. SoS stopped drinking coffee for the most part and I cut back to only half a pot per day. We already saved money by brewing coffee at home, but this cuts our usage in half.
I admit that not purchasing alcohol is a challenge. If I had a mentally draining day, I really enjoyed sipping on a drink in the evening. Amazingly, I found a healthier substitute that seems to be working for me. Last year, I read the book Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. In the book the author suggests drinking chamomile tea in the evening to relax. I purchased a one-pound bag of Organic Chamomile Flowers and this replaced my desire for an evening beer, cocktail, or glass of wine. Who knew? Now you do.
Research Investment Opportunities
This is directly related to how we plan to hit our financial independence goals. We like to take a more active part in our investing. I also plan to continue this practice after we are financially independent since I enjoy investing and trading stocks.
I set the goal of researching at least one company each month of the year. This means going reviewing at least the past ten years of annual 10K reports, studying the historical financials, and if it looks like a company I can understand and would like to own, then calculating a buy price for that individual stock. If the stock is not under my buy price, I will add it to my list and move to the next. I set this goal to a single company per month because of my next goal
Read at Least Six Investment Books
I will not limit myself to reading only six investment books during the year should I find more that interest me. I have a separate personal goal of reading 42 books in the year, which is the goal I set and achieved last year. Why did I select 42? Because 42 is the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. Why did I select the four investment books I listed?
Antifragile is the third book in Taleb’s Incerto series. Taleb is a researcher in philosophical, mathematical, and (mostly) practical problems with probability. This book is from my mentor’s must-read book list for investors.
Mosaic: Perspectives on Investing is the most expensive book I ever purchased if you priced it out by the written page. The book only has 133 pages and I purchased it when I found a used copy on Amazon for $59.87. The book was a small printing and sells for anywhere from $150 to $300. Dr. SoS purchased Mohnish Pabrai’s other book, The Dhando Investor, for me a couple birthdays ago. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I wanted to read more from Pabrai, so I purchased this compilation of essays he wrote for various financial web sites between 2001 and 2003. FYI, you can find these for free on the internet.
Value Investing was a holiday gift from Dr. SoS the same year. She purchased a stack of value investing books for me and I am slowly working my way through them. I look forward to reading this book since it delves more into the minds of Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett Speaks was a book I found while perusing the non-fiction section at the library. It is an entertaining collection of quotes, writings, and favorite sayings from the world’s most successful investor. I read anything I can about Warren Buffett so that I can learn from the master.
Let’s Do This!
I believe everyone can achieve their financial goals. Set realistic goals that are within or slightly beyond what you believe you can accomplish. Write down your goals. Write down how you plan to achieve your goals. Tell someone else about them. Find an accountability partner that will remind you to stay on top of your goals. Review your goals at least monthly to see where you stand and what you could do differently to help you achieve them. With these tips you should be able to achieve whatever you desire.
What are your financial goals? If you do not have any, what goals do you believe you should set? If you do have them, how are you doing on them? Did you forget you set them or are you still moving right along like I am. Please let me know in the comments or send a message to me directly.