2017 Goal Check In – March Report Card

All right, now that it’s officially April 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, so this month I finally get to see what happened since January.

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. And yes, there’s both!

2017 March Check In

chief-mom-officer-2
My 2017 goal list

Family Goals

Oldest – On Track – My oldest son continued to attend Scout meetings, and started a Merit Badge workshop to earn two Eagle required badges.  To become a Star scout, he needs to earn four Eagle required badges and serve for four months in a position of responsibility in his troop. He already meets all the other requirements.

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 six hours per week. To be honest it’s getting a little too crazy for him. There are some weeks he has Scouts on Monday, and drama club Tuesday/Thursday/Friday.  Luckily the play is just a few short weeks away, so then he can take a break the rest of the year. Not sure we’ll do this again next year-this is the first year for the club, and we’ve found it to be pretty disorganized. He also continues to practice the drums.

Youngest – On Track – Can count to 10 pretty consistently now. Sentences and physical coordination continue to improve, and he can communicate very well. He started trying to say the alphabet, but like counting, misses giant chunks of the letters.  It’s his birthday this month and he’s turning 2!

Work Goals

Leadership Development Program – On Track – This will run through the end of the year. My intern request was approved, hooray! We had our leadership development session last month, and the negotiation/business acumen sessions were interesting. It wasn’t anything new, because I already took lengthy courses in these topics when I got my MBA, but it was great seeing and catching up with everyone. Now I need to work on a side project for the next two months. I picked management of agile development, because my company is working to transition to a primarily agile development methodology, but there are some big issues in the way.  I’m planning to find a specific issue to tackle, and call out who’s tackling the others (if anyone…)

Current Project – On Track –  I’m managing about $10 million worth of IT development work right now, which is about twice the size of my prior programs. I finally feel like I’ve hit my stride here – the team is working well together, I’ve built some good relationships, and gotten great feedback on my work. Right now I’m working on setting aside time every week to think through things I can do to improve the project, or avoid potential future issues. In my company, it seems like everyone wants to be a “hero” – saving something that’s gone off the rails. I prefer to keep the train from derailing in the first place. But to do that, I need some time to focus on what might be a future issue and work on it now, instead of ignoring it until later.

Agile Transformation – On Track – 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. I’m hoping that through my project I can make a difference in some of these areas, but I’m going to need to do some more research here. Does anyone have books, websites, or other materials to recommend on this topic?

Blogging – On Track – Holy wow, was this an amazing month. Last month I had my best month yet! I published my 100th post and have officially been blogging for six months now. To date, I’ve had 3,382 visitors (over 10,000 views now!), with 1,446 Twitter followers, 161 Pinterest, 68 Instagram , and 14 Facebook, and 75 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. In March the increase in my followers was 342 – astounding!

I’ve had an amazing 1,023 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, Erik @ The Mastermind WithinErik @ The Mastermind Within, 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 quite a bit this month-thanks to everyone who is sharing my content and enjoying my articles!

Creative Goals

One New Recipe Per Month – Done for March! I baked quite a bit, but the new recipe for the month was an apple bread. I modified my banana bread recipe and used shredded apples instead of bananas. I also made GIANT chocolate chip cookies, which were amazing but enormous. So a fun time with two new recipes for the month!

One new art project – Done for March!– I made a watercolor painting of Totoro, a character in a Hayao Miyazaki movie. My kids love Totoro – we have Totoro stuffed animals (including a catbus!), Totoro on the wall of my youngests room, and a Totoro poster in the playroom. I also found out that I have several fellow Hayao Miyazaki fans on Twitter – shoutout to Laurie from Three Year Experiment and Zero Day Finance! This was my first time using watercolors in years, so I think it came out OK.

Totoro painting

Read Four New Books Per Month – Done for March! I did much better this month than last month. Last month I only read two books. This month I read The Four Hour WorkweekThe Tipping PointFrugal Isn’t Cheap, and The More of Less.

Create a New Section of Garden/Re-Do One Room in the House – On Hold – Well, it was March 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 the summer, likely. I had considered re-doing the pantry this month but we just had too many sick people.

Money

Determine FI Goal & Plan to Get There – Nothing this month. 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 – DONE – on to stretch goal – 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. Right now I’m sitting at 65% of payoff amount saved, woot woot! It was bonus/RSU season, and everything went to this goal. I won’t get this again until next year, so from here on out it’s only monthly savings, extra money, and three paycheck months to reach the stretch goal.

If I reach it early, I’m not sure what I should do. Should I keep funding this aggressively and bump up my mortgage payoff timeline? Or should I dump the extra into college? Part of why I want this paid off by 40 is so I can use the cash flow for college. Hmm. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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). Once I calculate my quarterly net worth (coming soon), I’ll be able to see exactly where this stands.

Travel

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. Everything is planned and booked, getting excited to go soon!

Day Trip – Done for March! – We used our science museum passes for FREE admission to Mystic Aquarium this month. Although it was almost too cold to go-it was way below freezing that day and windy, to the point that it was painful to be outside. That was unfortunate.

Mystic

Camping – On Hold – It’s technically spring but still freezing here! On track for summer.

Health

Continued Health Improvement/No Surgeries – Still On Track Knock on wood!

One Long Family Hike Per Month – Fail – No hikes last month-again. Snow, sickness, and busy weekends killed it again. It seems like every weekend I wanted to go someone was sick, or it was snowy, or raining. Ugh! April should bring better weather, although right now it’s raining again!

Walk At Lunch Three Times Per Week – Improving over January  I managed to walk a few times this month, a huge improvement over my big fat zero times in January. Continued lunchtime meetings, and the weather, keep conspiring to keep me indoors. Goal for next month is to continue to improve over this month-progress over perfection! At least it’s spring now. I’d say I did the same in March as I did in February.

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 are your 2017 goals? 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!

Be sure to follow my blog (on the sidebar) for more great posts via e-mail, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and say hello! You can also check out what I’m buying or baking on Instagram,  what I’m pinning on Pinterest, or the latest books I’m reading (or want to read) over on Goodreads.

25 thoughts on “2017 Goal Check In – March Report Card

  1. You are crushing your goals for the year!!! I have to admit that getting sick has thrown me off from the gym. I am planning to go for the first time and two weeks. I am going late just in case I start hacking up a storm because I still have some drainage in the back of my throat. Other than being sick though I’ve been hitting all of my goals for the year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our company is transitioning to agile as well, and also failing miserably. Agile is great for agility but if your organization has project management issues to begin with it will just highlight them to the organization. I prefer pmbok and project management .Com for agile info (certified PMP here). It sounds like your doing a great job of hitting your goals. We’re doing well so far but some big tests are upcoming.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you subscribe to the pmi organization, about 99 a year, you get access to free webinars on project management.com. The last time I checked there were something like a one hundred free agile webinars.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like that you detail both financial and personal/family goals as well. I don’t think your fails are huge and the weather has been crazy this year! We didn’t actually write down any specific goals for 2017 but we continue to loosely follow our financial and personal pursuits and saving plan for 2017. So far – I think we are doing better than expected on a few of the saving goals for the year.

    With respect to college saving – with 3 boys and one being only 2 years old, stay the course on paying off the mortgage to free up cash-flow. Unless one ends up going private, where they do additional financial scrutiny beyond the FAFSA, most public schools assume you have a certain % going toward housing without asking for mortgage loan balance. It sounds like you have saved already for each of them, so by continuing to do so and freeing up cash around the time the oldest goes, this increases your chances of avoiding student loans. This was important to us. In the end the oldest didn’t stick with college, so we over-saved for him for the moment (but maybe he’ll decide to go back later on in life).

    Mr. Need2Save may have some Agile Management related recommendations. I’ll ask him to visit and reply if he does. Cheers to another great quarter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for asking him to check on the agile info for me! Freeing up cash flow was my exact plan with the timing of the mortgage payoff. If I hit my goal it will be gone the year before my oldest heads off to college. The amount I pay toward the mortgage alone is almost enough to cash flow my oldest at our in state flagship school, which is what I’m aiming for as my cost goal.

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  4. Woah- You have a lot going on CMO! My son turns 2 this month too. Amazing how quick they grow up. I don’t have a pack like you (3 is definitely a pack) but one keeps me busy. Good work and it is nice to see so many goals reached!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m curious – what is a half day high school? (Sorry if you’ve written about it before, happy for a link to the answer!)

    As to Mortgage vs. College, does it have to be either/or? Why not split it in half? Any extra beyond your stretch goal could go towards both goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have an option at our schools to spend half the day at the local high school for the usual classes (math, English, etc.) and the other half at a magnet school taking specialized classes in a different town (arts in this case). For the mortgage vs college, I’ve thought about splitting the extra. But I also want the mortgage gone ASAP to free up cash flow. Plus my oldest is off to college in only four years, so I’m getting close. So I have a hard time deciding if I should get rid of the mortgage faster and then redirect everything at college, or save a bit in both.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! That’s legitimate progress on a lot of goals at once! That’s impressive. I find I need to focus more fully on only a few things at a time until they become habits and then move on to the next few things. I’m always impressed to see people plowing forward with a ton of goals at once.

    Nice work!

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  7. Awesome work on all your goals, congrats on the progress! I’m doing well on mine. Finally able to get outside here in Michigan and walk during lunch time, so good for my health and sanity. 🙂

    As far as the mortgage vs. college goes, what do your Excel calculations tell you make the most financial sense? If that answer doesn’t move you enough either way then I say go with what will make you feel better and that sounds like paying off the mortgage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This week it finally warmed up in CT-about time! For the mortgage vs college, I think the mortgage is the one that would win in Excel just because of the timeframe. At 4 years to go until college I don’t have time or the risk tolerance to see a lot of investment growth in his college account. Most of the growth from here is going to need to come from contributions, because I can’t take a large amount of risk.

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  8. WOW! If I can do half of what you’re able to accomplish in one quarter, I’d be ecstatic with myself. Congrats on another great quarter! Also, a random thought: thanks for taking on an intern! I was an intern for a Fortune 500 company during college and to this day, I’m so grateful for the trajectory that that one experience set me on in my life. Truly a game changer. I hope that you find the experience to be as fulfilling as I’m sure your future intern will find it to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m looking forward to it! I think the hardest part will be figuring out the right thing for them to do. I want to make sure they get something substantial out of the experience, but don’t want to give them something too overwhelming or difficult

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    1. Thanks-it’s taken a long time to get here, so it’s nice to finally start seeing real progress! Paying off a mortgage sometimes feels like trying to fill up a large bucket using one drip of water at a time. You know it will fill up eventually, but it feels like it takes forever.

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