All right, now that it’s officially March it’s time to check in on my progress against my annual goals. New to the site? You can find out more about my annual goal-setting process here in my annual report. Since it’s a new month, this is the point where many PF bloggers will either calculate or share their net worth. My net worth calculation is a quarterly process, not a monthly one, so I have no idea right now what change there’s been since the end of the year.
As an aside- I used to calculate net worth monthly, but have found going to quarterly to help me with both obsession (I used to constantly think about what kind of change I’m going to see) and with market changes. I’ve been an investor through both the Great Recession and the tech crash of 2001, so market dips don’t scare me. I’ve been there-done that-got the t-shirt. In fact, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of being able to see my net worth go down by 20-30% in a few months back in 2009. I prefer to ignore the noise and “stay the course” as Mr. Larimore of Bogleheads fame would say. If you find yourself getting too caught up in market movements, I’d highly recommend giving this a try.
So without further ado, lets check in on my successes (and failures) of the month.
2017 February Check In
Oldest – On Track – My oldest son continued to attend Scout meetings, going to a patrol “camp out” (sleepover) just last weekend. I saw there’s a Merit Badge college coming up shortly that I may sign him up for. They look to be offering some of the Eagle Scout required badges (which is what he needs to move up). He currently attends an arts middle school, and I’ve put him in the lottery for the half day high school. We should hear back on the lottery in April.
Middle – On Track – Middle son continues to practice for Shrek the musical four hours per week, bumping up now to six hours per week. He also continues to practice the drums, although he’s thinking of changing instruments next year.
Youngest – On Track – Can count to 10 but still not consistently – but it’s so adorable to hear him counting in his own way! Sentences and physical coordination continue to improve, with him saying his first three word scentence yesterday (Mommy bread mouth). He started trying to say the alphabet, but like counting, misses giant chunks of the letters. He’s been sick a lot this month, unfortunately-we all have-but that’s part of the life of a toddler.
Leadership Development Program – On Track – This will run through the end of the year. Still haven’t heard back on my intern request, but it should come next month. The next leadership development session is in two weeks, where we’ll be learning about negotiation and business. To be honest, I’m not learning anything new in the training sessions. In fact, when I got my MBA I took an entire course on negotiating already. I’m not really in this program for the training-in my company, being part of these programs is the way to get job opportunities, senior leadership exposure, and you’re fast tracked for promotion.
Current Project – On Track – The stress is starting to get somewhat better as time goes on and I get more comfortable with the team, continue to build relationships, and work to make changes in the broader environment. I’m managing about $10 million worth of IT development work right now, which is about twice the size of my prior programs. I had some good successes that make me feel better about the project and my role in it.
Agile Transformation – On Track – Continuing to work with my particular group and the broader team on how to switch from waterfall to an agile software development and project management methodology. What does that mean in English if you’re not in IT? Essentially our entire IT organization is trying to develop technology faster and in smaller increments than in the past, when we took a long time and delivered it in larger chunks. We continue to have challenges with change management (it wasn’t done very well in my opinion), resistance, people wanting to do their own thing, and technology/environments that aren’t conducive to Agile. But we’re continuing to make incremental progress.
Blogging – On Track – To date I’ve had over 2,230 visitors (over 6,400 views!), with 1,207 Twitter followers, 95 Pinterest, 59 Instagram , and 10 Facebook (an overall increase of 252 social media followers over last month). I also have 51 direct blog followers on WordPress/e-mail – thanks to each and every one of you who’ve connected with me on social media and have followed the blog! I can’t express just how great it’s been to connect with all of you.
I’ve had an amazing 679 comments on the site since I started – special shout outs to my top five commenters (and internet friends) Mustard Seed Money, Full Time Finance, My Family On a Budget, Smelling Freedom, and Need2Save. You’re all amazing!
I’ve also met my goal of posting four times per week, still getting in the habit and getting practice writing. I was featured in a Physician on FIRE Sunday Best round-up for my article on three ways I used insurance (and two I wish I had), which totally made my day! Thanks POF!
And I received this comment from a reader, Karen, which made my entire month. Karen, if you’re reading this, I want to let you know that your comment meant a lot to me. I’m very glad I can help other women like me feel like they’re not alone! This was on my article on the trials and tribulations of being a full-time breadwinning mom:
One New Recipe Per Month – Done for February! – I made these awesome cupcakes and a lemon cake (regular cake with lemon zest, filled with lemon curd) as new recipes. I also continued to make old recipes, like cinnamon rolls, homemade bread, scones, and other delicious things.
One new art project – Done for February!– I scored some amazing Shutterfly deals this month, and made a photo book, calendar, magnets, and a mousepad for only $40. Check out more on my deal scoring strategy here.
Read Four New Books Per Month – Halfway done – With everyone being sick on weekends for half the month, taking some of the day trips we did, and the short month, I wasn’t able to get as much reading done as usual. I did do reviews of Millionaire Women Next Door and Secrets to Living Well on One Income. On to next month!
Create a New Section of Garden/Re-Do One Room in the House – On Hold – Well, it’s February here in Connecticut and the ground is frozen, so I still can’t do much with the garden until April or so. And the room in the house I’m saving for this month. So no progress on these in January, but I’m still feeling good about these being 2017 goals.
I did clean out the garden early in the month of all the debris that had gathered. This weekend I’m considering getting started on re-doing my pantry. Nothing fancy, just need to remove some wallpaper and paint, but it’s been on my “want to do” list for 11 years now. It’s a much smaller project than the playroom so I might tackle it first.
Determine FI Goal & Plan to Get There – A tiny smidge of progress. I’ve been giving this quite a bit of thought, although no concrete plan yet. According to my current plan (assuming no emergencies hit that require adjustment) I will be mortgage free just before I turn 40. While the mortgage payoff and college (details below) are my short-term and mid-term goals, my longer-term goal is FI. Maybe next month I’ll be able to get more concrete? Again…
Save 60% Toward Mortgage Payoff – On Track – My stretch goal here is 70%, and I’m still directing about 13% of my after-tax income to this goal. I want to have this mortgage gone before I’m 40, well before my oldest heads off to college in order to free up cash flow for school and give me more financial freedom and options. Want to learn more about why it’s important to me to pay off a 2.75% mortgage early? Check out my story here.
This month also had two batches of RSU’s vest. I’m waiting for a third one this weekend and then I’ll sell immediately, and my bonus is next week. No idea yet what the bonus will bring, although I’ve heard it’s not as good as prior years. Last year the bonus was approximately 16% of my income. The bonus, combined with the vested RSU’s, will be allocated toward my goals once finalized. I also unexpectedly got a tax refund after owing $17 last year (ugh, I hate getting tax refunds) – that’s going into the pool of capital for mortgage payoff, college, vacation, and known future expenditures.
Save for College – 70% for oldest; 50% for middle, 20% for youngest – On Track – Continued automatic college savings draft for all three boys this month, and continued setting aside some extra for the oldest since he’s off to high school in August (feeling old now). I’ll be able to assess this goal better at the end of this month when I go through my quarterly net worth assessment.
Spring Road Trip – On Track – We’re planning on a road trip up north to visit the northern states (RI, MA, VT, NH, ME, upstate NY) in April. The tax refund/RSU sale/bonus will go toward this, and I’ll start booking places likely next weekend.
Day Trip – Done for February! – My husband and sons went to the science center again on our annual pass during a day off in February. We also took a fun & frugal $11 day trip around CT, and spent Presidents Day in New Haven (with discount admission to a museum thanks to my friend the library pass).
Camping – On Hold – It’s STILL winter! Still planning for summer camping.
Continued Health Improvement/No Surgeries – Still On Track – Knock on wood!
One Long Family Hike Per Month – Fail – No hikes last month. Snow, sickness, busy weekends, and a short month combined to equal a big fail here. The boys did have lots of outdoor play time in the yard in the snow-we got around 16 inches at one point! But 16 inches of snow makes hiking tricky-I’m really not equipped to take a one year old out in such deep snow. On to next month and better weather!
Walk At Lunch Three Times Per Week – Improving – I managed to walk a few times this month, a huge improvement over my big fat zero times last month. Continued lunchtime meetings, and the weather, keep conspiring to keep me indoors. Goal for next month is to improve over this month-progress over perfection! Thanks to everyone who commented last month with ideas on how I could improve this.
How Are You Doing?
Interestingly, over 40% of you may have already given up on your resolutions or goals for the new year. If that’s you, don’t worry about it – recommit. People who make resolutions or goals are 10 times more likely to achieve them than people who don’t. If you want this to be you, you can’t give up just because you may have had a day, week, or even several weeks (or months!) where you went off track. Instead of giving up, use this time to reflect. Are you on progress to achieve what you set out to? Did you have some major fails? The past is in the past-the only thing you can change is your future. So go ahead and make it a great one!
What did you set your 2017 goals to be? Have you done a check-in to make sure you’re on the right track, and to either recommit or re-plan if you’re not? Let me know in the comments!