Financial Goals for 2017

financial goals

I have been pondering my financial goals over the past few months as we all routinely do at the beginning of each new year.

It’s an opportunity to start the year off with a fresh sense of optimism.

Having said that, now that we’re pulling up on the tail end of February, the direction of my financial situation has been increasingly on my mind.

Recently, LendEDU’s Financial Resolutions for 2017 study indicated that a surprisingly high 78.32 % of people are optimistic about their financial situation to start off the new year.

I found that number to be quite startling when you consider who the current President of the United States is as well as the rising interest rate environment.

However, the year that we live in is never only about just right now.

So, after taking some time to consider the encouraging statistics revealed from the study, I began to wonder how my financial plans for 2017 compare—especially after taking a year off.

Before I do compare, though, I wanted to provide you with one additional piece of insight before getting into the goals.

It’s more practical to focus on earning extra rather than be a tightwad.

It just makes a lot more sense because extreme frugality leads to a lower quality of life and a more complacent attitude.

Frankly, YOLO.

The focus should be on the lifestyle you want to achieve, not on how impressive of a cheapskate you can become.

Hence why it’s better to focus your efforts on making your money work for you and on building additional skills that increase cashflow.

Basically, enjoy life to the fullest and acquire assets along the way.

That said, here are my financial goals for twenty seventeen.

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1. Max out my Employer Stock Sharing Plan.

I am privileged to work for a company that offers an employee stock sharing plan.

Frankly, if you get the opportunity, investing in your employers stock sharing plan is something you don’t want to pass up.

Typically, the company will allow you to contribute a percentage of your salary directly towards purchasing their shares. Then, they will match your contribution up to a specified percent and contribute an extra amount on your behalf.

The bottom line is they give you free money, and then depending on that company’s dividend policy, you’ll get more passive income from dividends. It’s a consistently forced savings vehicle that you absolutely want to take advantage of.

2. Increase Dividend Income.

If my ultimate plan is to become a full time blogger, freelancer, and dividend investor, then I better be focussed on building my dividend business.

That said, my dividend portfolio has taken a step backwards in the past year.  Since that is the case, I don’t have a specific percentage of growth in mind. I just want to aggressively work towards bringing it back to it’s former level of cashflow.

Prior to stumbling on to blogging and trading, dividend investing was the key method I was using to chase financial independence.

However, it has now become one of the four methods being utilized towards achieving financial independence (Salary | Blogging | Freelance | Dividends).

Moreover, when it comes to growing my dividend cashflow, I thoroughly enjoy running the operation as if it’s an actual business.

It’s slightly time consuming, but it’s fun to chart your progress and watch the monthly income grow.

*100% of dividend income will be reinvested.

3. Save at least 10 Percent of all income earned.

Back when I started building my dividend portfolio, I was saving approximately 35 percent of my total income. Now, as a full grown adult in requirement of vices, and in need of all the same necessities as everybody else, I’d have quite a hard time saving that high of a percentage.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to put myself in that tight of a squeeze now anyway. Like, c’mon. I’m almost thirty one. You have to stop to enjoy life, or you’ll burn out.

With that in mind, I want to save ten percent of all income earned. Ten percent of my salary, ten percent of any freelance job, and 10 percent of any alternative income generated. Whatever is left can be spent however I want.

4. Earn at least $1000 from the Blog

Within my first year of blogging, I earned nearly $500 through a combination of freelancing, affiliate partnerships, Sponsorships, and Google Adsense.

Based off the success of year one, I am aiming for $1000.00 in income earned through this blog in 2017.

Also, any additional income will be allocated back into the blog or into the dividend portfolio.

5. Continue to pay off my student loan.

Now, I don’t have massive loads of debt because I’ve never gotten in to a car loan, mortgage, or anything in general that would’ve required significant financing. The only significant debt I’ve ever had is my student loan.

Admittedly, I do have a student loan balance lingering that I’m working to pay off. However, that’s only because I’ve always valued saving over paying off debt.

Frankly, there’s not even that large of a balance left. The issue is that I’m paying 5.2% interest.

In an effort to save money on interest and pay it off sooner, I plan on investigating my options to refinance it elsewhere.

Otherwise, when it comes to debt repayment, I’m going to attack it with ferocity to free up cash flow. After all, cash flow is king.

6. Budget Consistently

In order to make sure all of the above goals are achieved, I must remember to budget consistently.

Achieving your savings goals comes down to your ability to make it a habit.

If you are able to set aside a small amount of time to manage your money as it comes in, you will be in far better control of your future.

When you get paid by your employer, pay your bills and yourself first. It’s really that simple. After you’ve got those two necessities out of the way, you can spend the rest on whatever you want.

If you practice this method of saving, you will be making financial progress each and every payday. Furthermore, you are building habits. Eventually, these habits will become such a part of your routine that missing a payment to yourself becomes bothersome.


Conclusion

To recap, my long term goal is to become financially independent through a combination of blogging, freelancing, and dividend investing.

Every goal included above has been selected with that long term target in mind.

Be that as it may, it never feels as though I am doing enough. There’s always that feeling that I could be doing more. However, I’ve grown to believe that’s the incorrect way to think.

The right way to make progress towards your goals is to focus on improvement.

Even if you can only afford to save $25 per payday, it’s worth it because it’s a step in the right direction. Each small advancement helps to put you in a better financial situation.

In closing, the 6 goals above are intended to increase cashflow and put me in a better position to eventually reach FI.

Question: What are your financial goals for 2017? Are you focusing on paying off debt or more on saving? Are you optimistic about your financial situation in 2017?

20 Comment

  1. Liz says: Reply

    I think staying on a consistent budget is the hardest thing to do when it comes to trying to save money.

    My husband and I have budget categories through our Mint account, but we rarely follow them. If we feel like going out to eat, we just reduce our grocery spending – when in reality, we should be cooking more.

    If we could stay on our budget – we would have a lot more money to put towards debt.
    Good luck with your goals!

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hi Liz,
      Thank you for commenting!
      I think you are right about the difficulty level when it comes to a consistent budget. It’s definitely one of the hardest things to maintain because it’s so time consuming to stay on top of.

      I’ve tried 3rd party financial tools like Mint too. I found that Mint was not accurate enough so it actually ended up requiring more time than if I managed it on my own with a spreadsheet. Also, I do the same with going out to eat–I reduce the grocery spending.

      However, as difficult as it is, I’m really focussed on making on effort to stay on top of the budget. Good luck with your goals too! 🙂

  2. Anthony says: Reply

    Good read! I like the plan of progress and the reinvestment of everything towards FI. Like you’re saying, if income grows and reinvestment continues, this is a pretty sweet plan.

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hey Anthony,
      Thanks for commenting! Glad you enjoyed the read. As for the direction of progress, you pointed out the most important point–everything is working towards FI. It makes it a lot easier to work on the little things when you have a long term goal that motivates you. Also, this is a cool plan because of the potential. If I keep working on the blog, income should grow over time. It’s great because there is no pressure either. I can secure my financial future with the career and investing, but no matter when I reach FI, the blog and the income potential will be there waiting for me. Let’s have some drinks soon!

  3. Best of luck on your goals Graham! I agree that the way to make your goals come true is to make saving a habit. Once something is a habit, it is so much easier for us to do it, we face a lot lesser resistance. By achieving budgeting consistently, you will definitely see progress on the other goals. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you on how you’re doing on them!

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hey Terence,
      Thanks for commenting!
      I agree with you about saving 100%. It’s a lot easier to save when you make it a habit. It’s got to be something that you always do. Otherwise, if I don’t habitually put aside savings immediately following each payday, the money gets spent. It’s amazing how forcing yourself to save makes you realize you didn’t need to spend that money in the first place. Thanks again 🙂

  4. Sounds like a good plan Graham. I was off the blog-o-sphere for a couple months, so I need to look back at your 2016 recap. A lot has clearly happened since we last spoke. It sounds like you are keeping your eye on the long term prize, while finding a way to make ends meet in between. Bravo! I hope you’ve been having a great week
    -Bryan

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hey Bryan,
      Thanks for commenting! It’s great to hear from you.
      There’s certainly been a lot of changes since we last spoke. However, like you mentioned, I’m still very focussed on the long term prize. Life is back to normal again, but I feel as though I have a more clear idea of what I am ultimately working towards now. Hope you’re having a great week too! 🙂

  5. Hi Graham,

    Very objective and fantastic goals. I really like your style of writing and enjoy reading your blog. Have you looked into SoFI? They offer pretty good rates when you consolidate student loans with them.

    –Michael

    1. Graham says: Reply

      HI Michael,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment!
      Also, I really appreciate you saying that you like my writing style and you enjoy reading this blog. That’s a huge compliment, but it’s only the result of improving over the last year. My early writing style on this blog was atrocious haha. That said, It’s awesome to hear compliments like this because it must mean I’m getting better.

      In regards to SoFI, I have not heard of them. I did a quick google search and will research more. On the other hand, my student loan will be down to 4 digits within a month or two. Finally!! There’s really not that much left. I will probably look into the rates my employer can offer first, then look at alternatives. Thanks!

  6. Great goals dude. I love the attention towards dividends. An approach I am taking as well. Hope all is well.

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hey Mr Defined Sight,
      Thanks for commenting!
      Dividends are such an amazing way for patient, long term thinking people to build wealth. Good luck with your goals too! Hope you’re having a great week!

  7. I love the goals. Especially where you want to be in life as a blogger, freelancer and dividend investor. Keep up the awesome work and I’m sure you will be there in no time. Especially if you made $500 last year. I’m sure it will be like a hockey stick up 🙂

  8. Graham says: Reply

    Thanks for commenting!
    Thanks for the support. I’m hoping to reach these goals asap, but I’d be happy to reach them within 5 to 10 years. I’m not in a major rush because I’m enjoying the process. It’s great to have such specific long term goals to work towards, though. It makes the planning quite simple. That said, the most difficult part is explaining these goals to friends/co-workers–most people don’t understand blogging, and most aren’t patient enough for dividend investing. Thanks again for stopping by. Have a great weekend! 🙂

  9. Great goals. I slightly disagree on the frugality end of things though. For me, it’s a two sided equation-minimize cash burn as much as reasonable possible while maximizing income and earning potential, investments, etc. Learning how to buy things more efficiently is at the core of being frugal. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can life a great and prosperous lifestyle. In fact, it’s the reason that a lot of people, such as me are able to save a much larger percentage of their income will still contributing 15% to retirement.

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hey Suburban Toolbox,
      Thanks for commenting and thanks for sharing your thoughts on frugality.

      Perhaps I should have been a little more clear though. I don’t focus on frugality as much now because I’ve let it get the best of me in the past. Also, it’s not that I don’t focus on being frugal, I have just become less petty about it.

      For example, I will not nickel and dime every single aspect of my life now. When it comes to conveniences throughout my day, like coffee’s and buying food, I do not overly scrutinize my spending. However, I sacrifice with a lot of things most people would not. I have no car or insurance. I have no kids and no mortgage. I have no cable tv. I don’t buy expensive furniture for my place. In fact, my place is only about 600 sq ft and has had hardly any money spent on decoration or furniture.

      On the other hand, I’ve realized I have expensive tastes when it comes to things I value. For example, I could not ever succumb to buying a cheap phone instead of an iPhone. I’d pay full price out of pocket for a new iPhone rather than use a free Samsung. The same goes for laptops. I would be unhappy every single day. For things like technology, dinners out, wines I like, travel, and even clothing, I do not feel bad about spending more to be happy.

      I guess in the end it just comes down to values. Although, I do agree with you about buying things more efficiently. I would never just go buy a designer label item to say I owned it. That does not appeal to me. I would always try to find discounts and value if possible. I just won’t go too far out of my way for it to the point that it lowers the quality of my life.

      I am always looking to improve though. I am hoping to save a lot more than 10%…so maybe my strategy will change. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. I love these goals! They are good goals, because they are positive steps and will push you, but are also achievable. I look forward to seeing how you do throughout the year 🙂

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Hi Francesca,
      Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m glad that you mentioned the goals are achievable. That was the point when creating the goals for this year. I think it’s important to set achievable goals and it’s better to accomplish things in small steps rather than set unrealistic expectations. In my experience, the results achieved by the small steps will motivate you to keep going in the long run. Thanks again!

  11. Nice goals. Be careful of the employee stock (ah hem….Enron), but you should be ok with a reasonably small percentage. I’m optimistic about 2017, it’s about baby steps in the right direction.

    1. Graham says: Reply

      Thanks for commenting!
      I agree with you about being careful with the employer stock sharing plan. Fortunately though, the company I work for has been around for a while and is a terrific dividend stock. However, I’m definitely making an effort to diversify on the side.

      About the rest of 2017, I’m optimistic and in a similar spot too. This year has been about creating the foundation for the long term plan. Best of luck with the rest of your 2017!

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