I love goals, but I’ve never been the best at keeping them. So in an effort to stay on track and help anyone else who is trying to stay accountable to theirs, I thought I’d share a monthly update here. You can find the New Year’s goals post that details everything here.
It feels a little weird to track these publicly. But I know how much it motivates me to hear about other people’s goals and progress, so I’m hoping this does the same for you.
To mix it up a little, my husband Jordan volunteered to provide this month’s update. He’s at a crossroads in his career and spent a lot of time reflecting on his goals and priorities for the future. I know that a lot of readers also struggle with this career question (don’t we all?) so I thought it would be interesting to share his perspective. Plus, his career decisions affect our financial goals – specifically, the F-it fund.
A note from Jordan:
Month 2 of 12 complete for 2018. The road to 2018 goals is sprinkled with positive affirmations and blog posts. I’m guest writing this month’s E&J goals update to provide a new voice to this popular series without tanking it. Game on.
Goals are like starting a business. A company goes through 5 stages.
- Seed and development
- Growth and establishment
- Maturity and possible exit
For example, The Worth Project is at stage 2. I realized I’m at stage 1 with my goals. I have a basic idea of where I want to be next year, but I didn’t have a clear plan or definitive reason to get there.
It was in my head. I didn’t have an elevator pitch. I couldn’t articulate my life plan to my parents, for example, when I visited them in mid-February.
So I took time on the flight home to get out of stage 1 of my life business.
I like things on paper, not just to get things out of my head, but to keep me on track. My mood will change my perspective, which has led me astray in the past. I can be easily influenced by someone’s advice or an article I read. A podcast once turned me into an amateur jump roper.
By writing down this decision-making process, I create a reference document for when I’m tempted to jump into a different goal or a distraction.
For a big life goal, this document will help me make sure I’m doing the right thing. Does this new information overrule my previous decision? It sure doesn’t, so stay the path.
My goal decision document, this is my manifesto. Changing careers is a big deal. I need to be confident in my decision and have a reminder of what I’m working to achieve.
I kept it simple. First, I answered the questions “what is the problem?” and “what am I doing about it?”
Next was a list of career options available. The easy and safe route is to go into another corporate environment. While changing industries to one more aligned with my values and passions sounds great, it won’t achieve my desire to build something. That realization was already in my head but felt great to see it on paper.
I then listed the values and trade-offs of my preferred solution. Values were put into 2 buckets. The first I called my strategic values. These were big principles on why I wanted to take this leap. More time with my parents, ability to live closer to home, working from home to be with my soon-to-be baby, and the fact this is a great time in my life to take this risk.
Tactical values were the 2nd bucket. These were more of the short term, day-to-day annoyances that I want to be reminded of later when times get tough. Such as working in an office, the long commute, conflicts with managers, etc.
Trade-offs are essentially my fears and consequences of implementing this goal. I’m not going to let my fears stop me from being successful but I also need a mitigation plan. Being broke with a family is a real possibility. Luckily I have Erica to help me ensure we have the right amount in our F-Fund, Emergency Fund, and our investments set-up properly.
We also discussed fallbacks and trigger points. Such as metrics to hit to prove the business is moving to stage 3 – growth and establishment. If I’m not on track, time to look for a day job.
With my manifesto written and tucked into my desk drawer for a quick reminder, I feel more confident we’ve selected the right goals for 2018. I have more gusto to get these done in 2018 so we can start on the real adventures in 2019.
Update on our goals is below. Shoot us an email or comment if you have questions or feedback.
Big Financial Goals
Overall grade: B-
#1: F- Fund
Goal: to make our monthly transfer. This is an account separate from our “emergency savings.” We call this our freedom fund (or f-it fund). It’ll be there in case I ever want to make a career jump that would require some extra cushioning. Erica didn’t have one of these funds when she made a career move and she wishes she had. Read more about it here.
Nailed it. This is an automatic transfer straight from my paycheck at the start of the month. Therefore it doesn’t require a lot of effort besides not being fired. One thing that took a little bit of time was building a tracker. A pretty graph showing our actual savings versus the plan gives me a sense of accomplishment.
The spreadsheet not only tracks the amount but also calculates the return on our investment. #1 F- Fund is in a money market account and #2 Tiny Home is invested in Vanguard LifeStrategy funds. We are expecting a conservative return on these investments. I make sure the return is what we forecasted. If not, we will adjust the investments or try to make more money some other way to hit our target.
#2: Tiny Home
Goal: again, to make our monthly transfer. Hitting this monthly transfer is highly dependent on Erica making more and she didn’t make enough to get us to 100%. Last year we bought a piece of land and we’re really eager to put a tiny home on it. Not just any tiny home. This sleek beauty from the Netherlands.
February update: No big moves here. Erica did make more this month but we didn’t put any extra toward this goal. We did make a transfer to our Vanguard Lifestrategy fund (which is where we’re keeping the money for this goal), but it was only 65% of the goal amount. Womp, womp.
I put the picture below up on my office wall. It is the start of my vision board.
#3: College Fund (529)
Goal: Make our first annual contribution in January with the windfall we received. Pro Tip: College is expensive.
February update: At week 37 of pregnancy, Erica overcame her nervousness. She opened the 529 Plan on the 28th. She followed through on her well-researched plan and selected the Nevada State plan through Vanguard. She called Vanguard to make sure she was setting it all up correctly. The friendly lady on the phone walked us through the whole process. It was American customer service at its best.
Full details to come in posts later this month (about what a 529 is, how we picked ours, and how we’re approaching funding it).
Honestly, after all of the research Erica did, it took 10 minutes to open. We couldn’t be happier with how easy it was. She used Personal Capital’s college planning tool determine our monthly payment going forward. This tool is helping us to make decisions on how much we want to contribute and whether we’re on track to meet that goal. Spoiler: we’re behind already so we need to kick our savings up-a-notch. For anyone using Personal Capital, here’s what it looked like when I put in our goal for college (and for anyone not using it, it’s a free tool that I’ve come to rely on a lot).
Make More Goal
Overall Grade: A
Goal: One new job each month. Erica was on cruise control in her business last year but she is really trying to kick things up a notch this year with more writing jobs and marketing specifically for financial services.
Feb Update from Erica: I booked another (small job), so winning! But I have a client who is behind with payment…so losing a little there. I’m going to have to put on my big girl pants and have “that” conversation about being paid. If anyone out there freelances, you feel my pain right now. I’m giving myself a break on this goal for March & April (because I’m attempting to take “maternity leave” as a self-employed person), but I feel pretty good about the progress for Jan and Feb with making more.
Spend Smarter Goal
Overall Grade: A for Jordan. B+ for Erica
Goal: Reflect on the purchases we’ve made over the month to make sure that we’re spending mindfully on the things that make us happiest. In other words, don’t buy sh*t you don’t need.
Feb Best Purchases:
Erica: FANCY dinners out. We’re in crunch mode right now to live it up before we’re sidelined with a little human. I’m not normally one for big, fancy dinners out but honestly, it was so great this month. I feel well fed and a little bit cooler.
Jordan: I want to say it was picking up the check at a nice dinner for my parents. At my age and with my means, I should be picking up the check or going dutch (I’m cheap) so that doesn’t count. It is still a great use of capital though.
My favorite purchase was a new iPhone. My previous iPhone was so old that people would comment when I whipped it out. While it hurt to shell out the cash, I love having a phone that lasts longer than 4 hours. One that has memory. Every other day I discover a new app or an old app that I can download again. The main driver for getting a new phone was to take pictures of the baby. My old phone didn’t have the memory. I saved money by not buying it in the UK so that was me demonstrating patience and discipline. Saved 30%.
Feb Worst Purchases:
Erica: Last month I talked about how my achilles heel was hating how no clothes look good on my pregnant self, but continuing to buy unflattering pieces in hopes that I’d find something that looked good. I resolved to stop that shopping and put money aside using Qapital whenever I wanted to spend on clothes. I continued doing this and I’m excited to spend that on cute things post-baby! But my worst buy for the month? All the food. Takeout, delivery, candy, snacks, fast food, the wasted groceries. I really leaned into pregnancy eating, but the food waste was horrible.
Jordan: Shopping in California! I needed new work shirts so I did a little shopping while back home. Unfortunately, I settled. We were in a rush to get to happy hour so I didn’t shop around. Once back at work I realized the fit wasn’t great. I also settled on blue. Blue is the office uniform while I like to be the unique flower on the floor.
Live Bigger Goal
Overall grade: A for Jordan (again). It should be a D (again) for Erica but at 37 weeks pregnant it’s an automatic A+
Goal: Make it to the two places on the top of our bucket list: Amsterdam and somewhere in Sweden
Feb Update: We didn’t book any travel because we’re going to wait until April to make plans but we did continue to put away money into our vacation savings account. If we continue like this, we’re in a good position to take both of those trips this year.
Erica’s goal: Do yoga 5 times a week (it makes me a better, more patient person)
Jordan’s goal: CrossFit 3 times a week
Erica: So yoga didn’t work out. Again. I started the month strong but fell off the bandwagon a couple of weeks ago. Guess what? I’m totally ok with that. I’ve been walking, moving, working out (lightly) and staying really active. At 37 weeks pregnant, that’s all I can really ask for. Some goals are meant to be broken. I’ll get back to the yoga routine again eventually. But right now it’s just not in the cards.
Jordan: Crushed my CrossFit goal. I’m having fun with it. The CrossFit games started so that is adding an extra layer of competition. I’m currently ranked 16,718 in the world. Wait, that doesn’t sound good.
One place I slipped on health was eating. February was freezing in the UK. Comfort food warms me up and the Brits make a mean pie and mash, spotted dick, fish and chips, and scotch eggs. So I haven’t eaten super healthy but my heart and soul feel warmer.
The Worth Project goals
Overall grade: C (tbh, I don’t really know how to grade this one, but this feels fair)
Overall goals for the 1st quarter: (1) double the number of people reached each month; (2) create an investing guide by the end of February; (3) host some sort of workshop or class; (4) take a writing class
(1) I think I underestimated how much work it would take to double the number of people that read The Worth Project each month. We had a 50% increase and I’m pretty much thrilled with that.
(2) & (3) Investing guide & workshop? Sigh. If you’re signed up for The Weekend Buzz, you saw my note on this already. I will come out with a new guide before this baby makes its debut, I’m just torn between creating an investment guide or a student loan guide.
(4) Um….not so much.
Note: we use Personal Capital to track all our accounts in one place. It’s a free tool that makes organizing things easier. The links in here are affiliate links, but I only recommend it because I use and love it (and because it’s free!). You can read more information on our affiliate disclaimer here.
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