Over the last few weeks, we all have spent many hours preparing tough/challenging goals for the year ahead of us. Why not? It is fun and exciting to think about the future and map out where you want to be a year from now. Before I fully shift modes and focus on knocking out my 2016 goals one by one, I figured I should take a cold hard look at my 2015 goals and see how well (or poorly) I performed during the year. Even though it was not articulated as well as it could have been in my article, the results of 2015 were a major influence in setting the table in 2016. So now, let’s have a look at my final 2015 goal review and see where/how I can improve in 2016.
Bert’s Goal Review
$15,000$20,000 in “New Capital” in 2015 – ACHIEVED/FAIL – If you recall, I caught a lot of breaks during the year and was able to knock out my initial goal of investing $15,000 in “New Capital” during the year. To define it quickly, New Capital represents money that I have transferred to my brokerage account from my savings account. This does not include 401k contributions or re-invested dividends. Most of the breaks were related to my two job switches that occurred during the year, which landed me a lot of extra capital. When I switched jobs initially, I saw a significant bump in my annual salary that allowed me increase the amount of money that is automatically deposited into my broker from my paycheck. Then, when I switched back to my old job, I received a little extra capital up front, half of which went to investments and the other half went into my wedding bank account. With those headwinds, I was able to achieve my initial goal in August. I became ambitious and set a new goal of $20,000 in 2015, forgetting that I had some major expense coming in the final third of the year (As discussed later). In the end, I fell short of the $20,000 mark and invested $17,536 in New Capital in 2015. Even though I was short of my adjusted mark, I couldn’t be happier that I was able to add over $15k in one year to my portfolio, which was a major driver of the increased dividend income figures I experienced in the final quarter.
- Projected Annual Dividend Income of $2,750 – FAIL– I was on pace for a photo-finish at the end of the year and heading into December I had slightly over $2,600 in projected annual dividend income. Then….WHAM….KMI happened and they announced their dividend cut, which rippled through/impacted nearly every dividend growth investor in this wonderful online community and reminded many of us that dividend investing does not come without some risks. I own over 100 shares of KMI and the dividend cut reduced my annual dividend income by $150! At that point, I accepted defeat and began seeking out Dividend Aristocrats with low debt levels in an effort to avoid investing in another company with high debt. After receiving my final dividend check in 2015 and adding the few fractional shares to my portfolio, I ended the year with $2,453 in forward projected income, way below my mark. One other thing, I forgot to mention that my year began with another massive dividend cut. I owned shares in ARCP, which provided me with $170 in annual dividend income only to see their dividend reduced to $0! So two massive, unexpected dividend cuts set me back $320 in annual income….man! Folks , let’s just say I learned a TON from those two experiences and while they may have been expensive lessons, I am a better investor because of it.
- Max-Out My Roth IRA Before 12/31/15 – ACHIEVED – I spent the first portion of 2015 playing catch-up, rushing to max out my Roth IRA before the April deadline because let’s face it, there are a ton of benefits to maxing out your Roth IRA while you are young. It was an annoyance to me and I was forced to place some lower yielding stocks in my Roth that I would typically place in my traditional account. A great example of this is Schlumberger, which historically yields around the 2% mark, and is a proud member of my Roth IRA since I had to play catch up. Because of this, I made it a goal to max out my contributions evenly throughout the year and reach my maximum contribution amount prior to the end of 2015. I made my final contribution last week, which was supposed to be invested in a certain stock until they decided to appreciate out of nowhere! Regardless, I officially achieved this goal a few days before the 31st with that final contribution and purchases in JNJ and IBM throughout the year! Success. Even though I would have liked to invest in this one stock and add to my current position, I have changed sights to either ADM or TGT, the two stocks on my last watch list. I’ll keep you all updated with which stock I end up selecting!
- Make $1,001 in the Dividend Diplomat Brand – FAIL – Man this was a fun goal to try to achieve/knock out during the year. I won’t dive into too much detail here as we will most likely discuss this in detail in a later post. But during the year, we earned $221 from Media.Net and $494 from Google Adsense. While we fell short of our goal, the earnings really began to gain steam at the end of the year as we blew past our one year bloggiversary. Couldn’t be happier with the progress Lanny and I are seeing here. Each day we learn something new about running/managing a website and it is fun/motivating as heck! But most of all, thank you all so much because we couldn’t have done this without you and the others in this community. Seriously, thanks a bunch!
- Make $1,000 in Other Income – FAIL – In total, I made $525 in Other Income in 2015, way below my targeted goal of $1,000. IT sucks. My income came predominately through the sale of some high dollar electronics at the begging of the year ($500) and a fun effort to flip video games in August, which netted be $25 in profit. My biggest takeaway from this goal is that in order to successfully flip items and pursue other income opportunities outside of my career and blogging, you need time. And as the end of the year approached, extra time for these fun ventures was the one thing I started to run out of. So this year, as discussed in my 2016 goals article, I am going to increase the amount of time I spend on the website Swagbucks (referral link here) which requires minimal effort and is an easy way to earn additional income. Earning Swagbucks and ultimately gift cards will be a nice complement to en-devours such as flipping that require time to be successful. With revenue coming from both sources, I should be able to knock out my goal of $1,000 in Other Income in 2016.
- Defeat the Dividend Diplomats Savings Challenge in 6 Months – FAIL – Here we go….another failure…. As you all know, Lanny and I strive to save 60% of our monthly income to we can invest as much money NOW as possible. What’s even more aggravating about failing this goal is that I was in great shape when I completed my Q2 goals review, having saved over 60% of my income 3 of the first 6 months of the year. Then, the wheels kind of fell off the wagon as they year went on. What contributed to this? Well, first off, the wedding expenses really began to pick up as we locked in different services for the special day. An expense I gladly incurred. Then, in September and October, we took two separate trips to St. Louis and Florida for a wedding, respectively. With these forces going against me, I haven’t been able to achieve the coveted 60% mark for the remainder of the year. So when I was setting my goals for 2016, I thought long and hard about including a similar goal in 2016. Should I take another stab at it or am I just setting myself up for failure with all other things that will be going on in my life during the year? After days of debate, I ultimately selected the latter. With a wedding and honeymoon coming, I don’t want to set a goal that I know I am not going to be able to achieve. I’m all for setting up goals that will push me to achieve greatness. However, the critical piece of the goal setting process is to create goals that are achievable and after I assessed my current situation, I just didn’t think this type of goal being achievable during the first part of 2016. That’s why I left it out of my goals for next year. Maybe I’ll revist this goal after my wedding a see if I should add it for the second half of the year.
- Watch One of My Sports Teams on the Road in 2015 – FAIL – Alright, I am going to say it….this goal becomes increasingly more difficult when your sports teams are terrible! I was getting excited about seeing the Indians on the road this year and they got off to a slow, miserable start to the season. At that point, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to incur the expenses that would have easily crossed $150 needed to see the team on the road. It wasn’t it worth it to me. Same story with the Browns as well. The only two teams worth seeing, the Cavs and Ohio State, did not have any games close enough to Cleveland at the end of the year that would have allowed me to drive and see them on the road. Plus, the tickets to see those two teams would not have been cheap. Truth be told, there was one day in September when the Indians made a late season push where my buddy and I almost bought tickets to an Indians game in Detroit for the weekend. However, our plans fell through and we never ended up going to see the team lose 5-0 that day and see their playoff dreams slip through the cracks. One other thing, similar to my other income goal, time got in the way of achieving this goal, especially when I was traveling nearly every week for my 3 month job during the summer. In the end, I really wanted to achieve this goal, but the benefit was not worth the cost. I would rather invest the few hundred dollars in one of my five “Always Buy” stocks than travel just to see a losing sports team on the road just for the sake of doing it. There is a famous saying in Cleveland sports that applies here…”There is always next year.” Maybe I will knock this goal out in 2016.
Reviewing my 2015 goals was bittersweet. I am happy with the progress made in my portfolio and knocking out my “New Capital” and Roth IRA goals were huge catalysts for it. What is disappointing to me was failing the other goals, which focused on diversifying income streams, improving my finances, and achieving a life goal of mine. I kept citing lack of time in this article and it bothers me that I couldn’t do a better job fitting these goals and activities to defeat this goal into my schedule. That shouldn’t be my default excuse and I’m going to do more this year to make sure that is less of an obstacle in 2016. Regardless, my failures in 2015 taught me some important lessons and I am a better investor because of it. Plus, the failures have re-junvinated my passion for websites like Swagbucks and I’m determined to use this as a source of supplementary income. I’m looking forward to moving on to 2016 and working to knock out all of my goals next year.
What are your thoughts on my goal review? Any suggestions for generating other income? If you were me, would you have incurred the cost to see one of your sports teams on the road? How do you manage lack of time/achieving goals that require additional time? Were you successful in achieving your 2015 goals?