With income summaries out the door, it is time to check up on my progress towards knocking out my 2017 goals. Each quarter, I like to review my progress to determine if I need to change any habits or re-allocate resources to another area before it is too late. Reviewing my March dividend income figures has me very excited to perform this review and see how I am progressing along. So let’s dive on in and perform my Q1 2017 goals review!
Q1 2017 Goals Review
Goal #1: Add at Least $45,000* to My Portfolio – Here is a summary of the total capital invested in my portfolio this quarter and the source of the funds:
- Purchases – $2,989.34
- 401k Contributions – $2,663.23
- HSA Contributions – $1,118.29
- Dividend Re-Investment – $1,071.88
- Total – $7,842.74
This quarter, I invested $7,842.74 in our combined family portfolio based on the methods described above. I am 17.4% towards my 2017 goal of $45,000, so I am currently behind where I should be. In the first three months, I had two stock purchases that accounted for nearly $3,000 in additions to my portfolio. I purchased $1,887.35 of PG and $1,302 of TROW; both purchases added to positions that were already established in an effort to continue building foundation positions in my portfolio. In hindsight, I should have added another $12 to one of these purchases so I could have crossed the $3,000 mark this quarter. Oh well. Let’s just say that I have some stuff brewing for Q2 2016 that I have not disclosed yet!
I love the 401k and HSA contributions because of how easy it is to automatically invest your capital in these funds and how quickly the impact of automated investing is felt. In total, my wife and I added $2,663.23 in investments to our 401k plans; my account added $1,687.50 while my wife added $975.73. One cool feature about her plan that I am extremely jealous of is that her company provides their employer match each paycheck versus a providing the employer match annually (like my company does). It would be nice to receive the match at the time of the contribution so I can receive a dividend on an increased position each quarter like my wife does. The difference isn’t large, but every dollar counts, right? Quick side note – I increased my wife’s contribution writing this article so that this number will be even higher next quarter!
Lastly, Lanny had started this in 2016 but I didn’t have the balance in my HSA to begin this process in 2017. Our employer offers the option to invest all excess HSA funds when the cash balance of our HSA account exceeds $1,000. Finally, I began the process of investing the excess capital in January and have been able to automatically invest $1,118.29 in a mutual fund VTSMX. Again, I am really loving the impact of automated investing here! I’m behind where I would like to be, but by increasing my wife’s contribution and trying to invest in a more aggressive manner, I hopefully can catch up in the second quarter.
Goal #2: Cross $6,250* in Forward Dividend Income – $4,641.01 – This is another instance where I am behind where I would like to be. We entered the year with a forward dividend income total of $4,516.90 and thus, I have only gained $124.11 in forward income. What gives? The year started off with a pretty negative turn. I was waiting to update the forward income totals for the HCP/QCP split until I knew more information. Then, HCP annouced an expected reduced dividend post-spin-off and as we have all documented, QCP has still not announced their first dividend figure. I finally adjusted my income figures to reflect a $0 dividend from QCP and realized a large decrease accordingly. I’m talking three digit decrease here and that is a large hole to dig out of. But you know what, we are rising up to the challenge here and will have our shovels in hand!
Second, the one downside of the automated, invest in mutual funds strategy is that the dividend yields are lower than most of the individual stocks in my portfolio. Not a terrible downside and I’ll gladly take the lower dividend income if that means my overall investing portfolio is on auto-pilot and I am receiving a nice tax-benefit along the way. But that is a negative headwind for achieving this goal. I’m looking to really kick this goal into overtime, but am NOT going to chase yield for the sake of accomplishing this goal!
Goal #3: Stick to My Student Loan Payoff Plan – Success! When my wife graduated, we developed an ambitious goal to pay $4,000 per quarter until her student loan debt was paid off in full. This would set us on a course to pay off our debt in six quarter, which would match the amount of semesters she was in graduate school. It is ambitious, but I really don’t want to have too much debt outstanding, especially as our house hunt heats up. On March 31, I processed the amount needed to successfully knock out $4,000 in debt. Finally, a goal we can say that we accomplished in the first quarter!
Goal #4: Read 1 Book per Month – I started off strong, but as busy season took off, my free time faded away. Even when I was free, I often would find myself too tired to read. In the end, I was close though and I was able to finish two books. Here is a quick summary (and an affiliate link) for each of the books.
Book #1 – When to Rob a Bank by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubnar – I was able to quickly flip through this book written by the authors of Freaknomics. The book is a compilation of various Freakonomics blog posts and the book covered a wide range of topics (politics, baby names, random thoughts, etc.). While I did not find every blog post interesting as a reader and there were some topics that didn’t get me too excited, I enjoyed reading the book and each of the blog posts. Each blog post was fairly short, so it was easy to quickly rip through the book. It was an easy, enjoyable read.
As a blogger, I found this book very interesting. Reading 131 different blog posts gave me insight on how to structure blog posts and what kind of topics can be discussed on a blog. Often times I left a reading session inspired with many different ideas for posts. One of the major takeaways was that the authors did not have to leave each blog post with a life changing decision or a conclusion about the best method for doing something. Often times, the blog posts were based off an activity that happened that day the peaked their interest or an abstract topic that they wanted to discuss. It made me realize that there are a ton of topics out there to discuss and that writing about finance isn’t only restricted to a certain type of article. The book actually inspired two posts of mine in January and February based on that mindset. Do you remember my posits “What Price Would you Pay for Revenge?” and “Why I’ll Never Fix That Dent In My Car?” Both articles were written shortly after I read a section of the book as I left that session inspired to write. As bloggers, I would recommend the book for that reason.
Book #2 – The Little Book That Builds Wealth by Pat Dorsey
This is a classic investing book that I would recommend to any beginner investor out there. This book provides great insight into the concept of economic moats and the differences between companies that have moats, don’t have moats, and companies that have perceived economic moats. It is not a secret on this website that I am a huge fan of consumer staple stocks because I love the strong consumer brands and the intangibles that a strong brand present. Well, this book taught me that an economic moat is not safe just because of a strong brand. Eye opening for me, that is for sure. The book also discusses other ways to identify economic moats. Again, definitely a must read for new investors!
Goal #5: Travel to 3 new places – Busy season took the wind out of the sails of this goal. My wife and I were not able to travel anywhere new in the first quarter. Luckily, we are eager to plan our vacations/trips for the rest of the year! Another fail.
While I am excited with the progress that was made in the first quarter, I am a little disappointed that I had to write “fail” so many times and report that I was behind schedule to achieve some of my goals. I guess that is one of the downsides of setting difficult goals; they should be a challenge to achieve, I should feel the pressure to keep pushing myself and to increase allocations to higher levels to reach my marks. I’ve got a lot of work to do in the next nine months, but I am ready to step up to the plate and do whatever I need to achieve these goals. I’m going to make sure I read an extra book this quarter to make up for the short-coming in the first quarter. I’m focused, driven, and ready to roll here! Now it is time to focus on knocking Q2 out of the park!
How did you perform this quarter? Are you on pace to achieve your goals? If not, are you making the right changes to do so? Do you think it was a good idea to increase my wife’s 401k contribution to help automate our investments even more? What other changes would you make if you were me?