All right, now that it’s mid-May 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 I don’t get to find out what it is until July.
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 April Check In
Oldest – On Track – My oldest son continued to attend Scout meetings, went on a campout to teach younger scouts how to cook, and continued his 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 will be starting high school in the fall. After talking with him more about the lottery, he decided he didn’t want to do the half day school option. Instead, he wanted to go to the arts high school full time. So we took him out of the lottery for the half day program, and he’ll be going full time to the arts school starting in August. This makes me feel old.
Middle – On Track – Shrek the Musical is done! He had two performances onstage in full costume/with a microphone/in front of a large audience, and one for his school. Even though it got crazy at the end – the last week before they show they had practice for 2-3 hours literally every day – he decided that he wants to do it again next year. He also continues to practice the drums, with his final concert coming up in a few weeks. He doesn’t want to do an instrument next year, though.
Youngest – On Track – Can count to 10 pretty consistently now, and occasionally beyond. He’s starting to love books, carrying around his favorites and begging everyone to “read!”. 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 was his birthday this past month, and I made him an awesome Elmo/Cookie Monster cake! It was inspired by one of the toys he has at Grandmas house.
Leadership Development Program – On Track – This will run through the end of the year. I interviewed the intern candidate and I have to say I have my doubts. When I called for the interview, she was all confused, thinking it had been cancelled. Her phone apparently was also dying and she asked to reschedule. Who asks to reschedule an interview? Since she’s a college student, and she’s going to be an intern at my company whether or not I take her, I decided to give her another shot. The next interview went pretty well, although I found out her long-term career goal is to become a teacher. That’s great, but we’re not teachers at my company…
I’ve been trying to work on my side project of 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 still trying to narrow the scope, but I think I have some better ideas on where to focus.
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’ve been told by some of my peers that it’s running “like a well oiled machine”, and I continue to aspire to issue avoidance rather than constantly fighting fires. I already had to rescue this program once, when I first took it over – I don’t want to do it again.
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 assuming some sort of radical reorganization is in the works, just given the talk around the company.
Blogging – On Track – OK, I said this last month, but holy wow, was this an amazing month. Last month I had my best month yet!
To date, I’ve over 6,000 visitors (over 15,000 views now!), with 1,653 Twitter followers, 179 Pinterest, 69 Instagram , 18 Facebook, and 98 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 April the increase in my followers was 252- astounding, especially considering that I was on vacation for over a week and was pretty disconnected!
One note about the traffic – my blog is a total secret from everyone in my life except my husband. So none of this traffic comes from my personal Facebook page, or my LinkedIn profile, or any of my personal social media.
New blog series! I started a new Wednesday series on my blog featuring interviews with breadwinning, six figure, and/or millionaire moms. A big part of why I started my blog was that it was hard to find other moms like me – so I want to be part of helping other moms find people like themselves. This month featured the kickoff with Mama Fish Saves, an interview with Hannah Rounds, and of course Hatton1 (frequent visitor to both the White Coat Investor and Physician on FIRE). I have more amazing interviews lined up, so if you know anyone who would be a good interview candidate (or if that might be you!) drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
- Big Features: My big feature this month was on the Rockstar Finance homepage for my article about Not A Box. Traffic sure spiked after that! I was also invited to be on the Stacking Benjamins podcast and did the recording in April, even though it just launched this past Friday. Be sure to stop by and check it out!
- Guest posts: I was interviewed over on Our Financial Path in this article -thanks for the opportunity!
- Features on Other Blogs: As I mentioned I would last month, I made sure to keep a record of all my features so I wouldn’t forget any. If I did forget any, be sure to let me know so I can add it in! My College Compact article seems to be frequently featured – I really liked that one and may expand on it in the future.
- 30 days to get rich from Poorer Than You
- Financial Literacy month with Mam Fish Saves
- Early Retirement Now savings rate calculations
- The Retirement Recipe – 10 personal finance blogs you should read now
- Beachin blogs from Money Is Not Taboo
- Tracking spending is the best thing you can do with your finances from Centsibly Rich
- High Income Parents Monthly round up – College Compact
One New Recipe Per Month – Done for April! – I baked quite a bit, with the new recipes this month being Au Gratin Potatoes and homemade cannolis. The potatoes were for Easter this year. My grandmother always made them from a box, but I made them from scratch instead, and everyone loved them. Except for me – I don’t like cheese (except for the Italian cheeses).
I’ve eaten a lot of cannolis, but never made them, so this was an interesting project. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be! I made them for my 13 year old sons “culture share day” at school, since he loves cannoli and is 1/4 Italian. The only other really “cultural” option I could think of was pierogi (he’s also about 1/4 Polish), but he doesn’t actually like those – although I love them!
One new art project – Done for April!– Two different art projects were completed – one was making a photo book of our road trip, and the other was a few drawings in a new scetchbook I’ve started keeping in my purse. It lets me draw things anywhere I happen to be, if I need something to do and don’t want to whip out the phone.
Read Four New Books Per Month – Done for April! I kept up with the reading, featuring Smart Couples Finish Rich, Designing Your Life, The Art of Non-Conformity, and Better Off – Flipping The Switch on Technology.
Create a New Section of Garden/Re-Do One Room in the House – Starting on the garden! April in Connecticut was still pretty cold and just started warming up. This month I cleaned out the garden from all the winter debris and planned out my new section. Now to buy plants! I’m waiting to see what I get for Mothers Day to see if I’ll need any more.
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 slightly over 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.
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). As of last month, I was sitting at 58% funding for oldest; 42% for middle; and 11% for youngest. This was an aggressive goal, but if I hit my mortgage stretch goal I’ll redirect more funds here.
Spring Road Trip – Complete! – Check out more about our trip here.
Day Trip – Done for April! – In addition to the road trip, which was the big one for this month, we went Easter egg hunting at a local park
Camping – On Hold – Still on track for summer.
Continued Health Improvement/No Surgeries – Still On Track – Knock on wood!
One Long Family Hike Per Month – Success! – Road trip, Easter, and bad weekends conspired to keep us indoors a lot, but we did manage to go on a (short) hike this month. The two year old even got into the fun, running his short little legs off, although he tired around halfway through. Then I got to carry him the rest of the way!
Walk At Lunch Three Times Per Week – A bit better – I managed to walk a few times at work this month, but I’m still looking to do better. I walked a lot on the road trip, of course, plus our one nice weekend. Improving even more for May!
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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