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
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!
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!
- Guest posts: I posted over at I, Vigilante about the real costs of raising kids-does it need to be a quarter million per child? And I shared my story over on Notorious D.E.B.T. on how I went from earning $22k per year and community college to a six figure earning MBA. Thanks to both for the opportunity!
- Features on Other Blogs: Rockstar finance posted this round up of great financial advice from the Rockstar Finance Forum, featuring two of my articles. Some Random Guy Online shared my article on saving money by not spending it. Make Smarter Decisions shared my story about my husband almost dying of septic shock-and how our emergency plan saved us. The Grounded Engineer shared my post breaking down my 401ks investments (scary stuff!), and The Wall Street Physician shared my article on optimizing expenses. Mama Fish Saves also featured my article on how your tax refund is not a bonus! I might have missed some features, and apologize if I did – these are the ones I remember. For April I’m going to start tracking features in a Word document so I don’t forget any in my round up post.
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.
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 Workweek, The Tipping Point, Frugal 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.
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.
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.
Camping – On Hold – It’s technically spring but still freezing here! On track for summer.
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!
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