Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Frugal Family's Journey - 2016 Goals (Recap)

Recap of 2016 goals!!

With another year on the books, our family is blessed to say that we did see some progress. The largest gain came from our home. In 2016, our family saw our mortgage balance continue to decrease while our home value saw a nice recovery. And with the recovery of the housing market well underway, supported by nice growth in the stock market, our family's net worth continued to grow this past year.  We saw gains in our retirement accounts, kids college funds, and dividend stocks account. All in all, we saw a roughly $46K (or 7.3%) gain from the year prior.  

As for the goals we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year, it wasn't a total failure, but we certainly wished we could have done much better.  In all, we managed to accomplish only 7 of our 15 goals this past year.  We may have set the bar too high (and while likely dial it back this coming year), but we had just figured that even if we came close on some goals that it would be a success. And that is exactly what we did on several goals!  


1.  Earn $3,600 in dividend income.
  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - Although we did (barely) receive more dividends than our 2015 total, we fell short of our goal by $460.58 with a total of $3,139.42 in dividend income.  I must admit that our buying activity was not quite what we had hoped for. With a few unexpected expenses this past year, a toddler in pre-school a few days a week, and living off just one income, we simply didn't have as much left over as we would have liked to invest into our dividend stocks portfolio.  It should be noted that we still, however, consistently invest monies into our retirement and kids college funds.  Our retirement portfolio is something we are trying to build on side (on-our-own) to help supplement our retirement income. 
2.  Increase projected annual dividend income to $4,100. 
  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - With such little buying activity this past year.  In fact, I believe we may have sold more stocks than we purchased this past year! In the end, we finished with a projected annual dividend income of $3229.22 which is pretty close to the total dividends we received this past year. 
3.  Bring value of dividend stocks accounts to $90,000 total. 
  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - Although we saw tremendous growth  in our dividend stocks portfolio (approximately 26%), our buying activity (or lack thereof) resulted in yet another unfinished goal.  We ended the year with our account valued at: $82,291. Really hoping our buying activity can increase significantly this coming year!
4.  Write at least 100 posts (8.33 posts/month).
  • NOT ACCOMPLISHED - Due to a six week hiatus and a slow end to the year (with 6 posts in November and only 4 in December), we only managed to complete 86 posts this past year. With some consistently, this goal is reasonable and certainly achievable.     
5   Reach 350,000 total hits by end of the year.
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - We finished the year with 370,402 total all-time page views! Thank you everyone who have stopped by or follow us. We hope you continue to stop by from time to time to see the progress we've made on our journey to financial freedom! 
6.  Reach 900 Twitter followers by end of the year.
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - We finished the year with a total of 1,376 followers on Twitter! I'm pretty sure that it was with the help of tweets and our twitter followers that also helped us reach our page views goal. Thanks again everyone.
7.  Cash out $200 from Google AdSense.
  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - Although I did cash out once this year, I did not have enough money accumulated to cash out a second time.  I fell $36.04 short of reaching the $300 mark! Not sure if other bloggers are experiencing lower revenue stream from Google AdSense but we certainly have seen a decrease in activity and overall gains in the last few months.  Who knows, maybe its related to our 6-week hiatus.
8.  Join DIV-NET or Seeking Alpha.
  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - To be honest, I just couldn't find the time to take on another task. There were certainly ups and downs felt on our blogging journey this past year.  Although we ultimately decided to press forward, I will be the first to admit that the blog has taken a back seat to other things in our life. 
9.    Increase value of retirement accounts to $450,000.
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - Consistency is the key! Even though we were not able to buy many new stocks for our dividend stocks portfolio, we still diligently put away money each and every paycheck towards retirement.  With this effort, we managed to increase the value of our retirements to $453,633!
10.  Increase Net Worth to $675,000 (excluding home equity).
  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - We ended the year with just a little over $625K.  Not bad, but well short of our goal for the year.  Maybe we were simply being to optimistic. Either way, since we have so far to go still to reach this goal, we are thinking of simply repeating the same goal. 
11.  Reduce mortgage balance to $292,000.
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - Really proud to say that we managed to hit this goal as we finished the year with our mortgage balance down to $291,145.  Not bad considering our home value is just north of $800K!
12.  Try out 12 "new" restaurants/dessert place.
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - What can I say, we like to eat! This past year, in addition to destroying our goal to try out 12 new restaurants, I am proud to say that I become a Yelp Elite in the process! I like to think that it was my quality reviews and photos taken, but I'm pretty sure the quantity played a small part. In all, we ended up trying out 37 new restaurants and/or dessert places! I know what you are thinking, this probably didn't help the budget.  But the reality is, whenever possible (almost half the time) we generally try to use a paper coupon (from newspaper of Retailmenot website) or online coupon (like Groupon or Living Social).  Best of all, I am able to expose my kids to a huge variety of foods! As a result, my kids are far from being picky eaters. I say that is worth every penny!
13.  Go on 26 hikes (1 every other week).
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - We started the year with a goal to complete one hike every other week but finished the year with much, much more.  I have to admit we thoroughly enjoyed the progress we made on this goal as is evident in our final tally. I am proud to say that we completed 55 hike this past year (an average of more than 1 hike per week!).  Along the way, our family had many great adventures and stories that will last a lifetime. And best of all, the fun times were had with very little money out of our pocket! Not sure with we will even come close to 55 hikes next year but we definitely plan to continue hiking.  
14.  Visit 3 new parks.
  • (ACCOMPLISHED) - We managed to barely complete this goal with our 3 visit to a new park coming just a week ago.  I really like this goal because I want to raise my kids as adventure seekers.  So what better than trying out a few new parks each year! If you have little ones, I highly recommend it.  It amazing to see how much different playgrounds and park equipment are from city to city or even state to state (if you have the opportunity).
15.  Volunteer for a project/event (ex. beach clean up, clear hiking trail, race event, serve food, etc.)

  • (NOT ACCOMPLISHED) - No excuses here.  We really should have given more effort and made time for a volunteer project.  I'm thinking, as a penalty, I may double this goal for next year to make up for the lack of effort! :)
    If we were being graded on the amount of goals we had accomplished, we would have ended with an F. Thankfully, in life, it is not always about the grade we receive (or even what others think) but rather it is about we we ended up compared to where we started.  In my opinion, even though we only completed 46.6% of our goals this year, I still consider this past year a success! Here is why:

    1. Our total dividends, albeit not as much as we would have liked, still grew.
    2. Our dividend stocks account, although didn't reach our goal, still saw a roughly 26% gain year-over-year!
    3. Even though we did not post as much as we had hoped, our blog continues to reach more and more readers.
    4. I was able to get outside and enjoy various places around me. The sights, sounds and taste that I experienced on my restaurant trips and hikes were quite memorable.  
    5. I took my kids on am amazing road trip that include a total of 4 different states and 5 State Parks! We did, however, stay at 7 different hotels (which we learned that we will never do again). haha
    6. I learned that blogging is fun but it isn't the end of the world if I took a break from it. 
    7. And best of all, I can still say that our family remains on track to pay off our home and retire in less than 10 years!
    Hope you all had a great year as well!


    May 2017 bring you good health and great wealth!!


    1. Good recap of 2016,hopefully 2017 will be much better for the goals.

      1. Thank you. We hope so too. Maybe this year, we will dial down our optimism a tad so that we can experience more success. ;)

        Best wishes on your personal journey! AFFJ

    2. AWESOME job AFFJ. Very, very successful year. I barely missed my passive income goal for the year as well, so I understand having to write "not accomplished!" :). Still, it's the system that counts and I think both of us have a great system for 2017 and beyond. Keep it up,

      1. Yes, you do feel like you've failed a bit simply because you have to write "not accomplished" :)

        But so as long as you progress and, most importantly, stay on track with long term goals, not accomplishing the short term goals is really insignificant. ;)

        Cheers to progress and reaching FI as soon as possible! AFFJ

    3. At the end of the day, Accomplishing your "Fun Goals" is probably the most important.

      1. As long as fun goals do not impact the budget much, I agree 100%. Ether way, they are certainly the most fun!

        Best wishes. AFFJ

    4. I am going to do this but you might want to as well...reduce goals to 2-3. With kids, time is short and you want to maximize it with them especially while they are young. With that said I shot for too many goals and one of them wasn't spending more time with my kids. Luckily I did spend most of my time with them. Happy new year! Look forward to hearing more of your story as it helps me get through mine.

      1. Learning from this year, we plan to keep the same quantity of goals, but instead, we are planning to reduce the percentage of all but our fun goals. You are right, spending precious time with kids while they are young is important. It won't be long before they become teenagers and rather spend the time alone or with friends. I'm hoping that if we spend more time with them now that they will alienate themselves less when they get older and actually want to keep doing some of the same activities together. ;)

        Best wishes and success with your 2017 goals and beyond. AFFJ