If someone had told me years ago how setting goals can lead to unprecedented progress that you would not have otherwise imagined, I probably would have gotten into the habit long before 2017. Actually, I take that back. What I meant to say was: had I actually listened to that little nugget of advice that I’m sure I’ve been told in one form of another since childhood, I’d be a lot farther in life than where I am. But, too late to go back now. I’m just glad that I finally executed this year. What a great year it has been for the Single Income Life family and I’m pleased to say that we checked the box on all the goals we set for ourselves this year. Without further ado, here’s where we landed this year:
Goal 1 – Increase savings rate to 50% of after-tax income
Okay, guys, I’m going to be completely honest with you here. This one was hard. But I’m so glad we set this goal because I don’t think we would have ever achieved this had we not memorialized it in our goals at the beginning of the year. Let’s be honest: the chances of us hitting this milestone accidently and without consciously trying were pretty slim. And while there’s nothing special about a 50% savings rate (other than the fact that it seems to be the bare minimum that any self-respecting personal finance blogger has to save in order to get street cred), it was still a really hard goal for our SIK (single income with kids) household to meet. I had to move some stuff around the last quarter of the year to make it work, but we did it and we’ll be carrying this goal forward next year in order to continue our momentum. I will admit that the only reason we were able to pull this off in 2017 was that we saved almost 65% of our January bonus, and then coasted the rest of the year with a ~40% savings rate on a month-to-month basis. Because of some home improvement needs we anticipate in early 2018, we won’t be able to use that same strategy next year. Which means that we’ll have to get closer to that 50% threshold on a month-to-month basis in 2018. It will certainly be a challenge, but we’re up for it!
Goal 2 – Increase monthly college savings by 25%
We upped our automatic monthly contribution by 25% in January and haven’t thought about it since. Thank goodness for automation! And with the market’s performance this year, we made great progress on the kids’ 529 balances. We’re still behind on our goal of having enough to cover 50% of the cost of a state college for each kid, so we’ll have to see what we need to do in 2018 in order to catch up. For a bit of historical perspective, we finally paid off the last of my husband’s student loans in 2016 and we were able to re-allocate some of the payments to the kids’ 529 plans in 2017. Since we won’t have the same windfall as we head into 2018, we probably won’t be able to keep up with the same 25% increase in the coming year. Still, I’d like to continue the momentum and up our contributions somewhat. Stay tuned on this one.
Goal 3 – Increase net worth by 20%
I don’t know what I was thinking when I set this goal at the beginning of the year, but thanks to Mr. Market, we were able to pull this off with a strong 23% increase in net worth. I wasn’t great at tracking our net worth prior to 2017 so I can’t say with absolute certainty, but I’m pretty sure this is the biggest increase we’ve ever experienced in a calendar year. This was in no small measure due to the unprecedented performance of the market during the year, and for that, I’m grateful. I have no misconceptions that the market will do the same thing in 2018 so I’ll have to scale back on this goal next year, but for now, I’m happy to celebrate this milestone and call it a win!
And with that, I will bid you and your family a very happy New Year! I hope that 2017 has treated you well and that 2018 is shaping up to be a great year. I’d love to hear you your year went in the comments below, and your hopes & expectations for the coming year. As always, thanks for reading!