I know it’s been a while since I reported out on the CMO clan progress. To be honest I’ve been terrible at some of my goals and really didn’t want to put it out there. But you know what? That’s real life. Some months and quarters are better than others. And this summer threw a wrench in some of my goals for myself.
I’ve overcome enough in my life (see more about how I persevered through my husbands medical crisis and how I went from community college earning $22k per year to a six figure earning MBA) to know that success is not really the key to succeeding. The real key is not giving up when you fail, when things get hard, when you screw up or when you take a break. Too often I see people afraid to start things because they’re afraid to fail, or letting a failure throw them off course entirely.
I’m determined to get right back on the goal-related horse. So lets talk about how the third quarter went.
Chief Mom Officer Goal Recap
For those that have followed along the past year, this will look familiar, but I’ll include it here for my newer readers (and in case you’ve forgotten the specifics):
So How’s It Going?
Oldest – On Track – First off, he started the arts high school in early September and is flourishing. It’s a very hard, long day for him – you have to be very dedicated to the arts to do this. He gets on a bus at 6:20 AM to drive about 40 minutes away to go to school, and usually doesn’t get home until 5:30 at night. Eleven hour days for a high school freshman can be touch. They spent from 7 AM – 1 PM every day on academics, and 1 PM to 4 PM on the arts. He majors in the visual arts, and he spends his time learning drawing, sculpting, painting, and ceramics.
To become a Star scout, he needs to earn six merit badges (including four Eagle required) and serve for four months in a position of responsibility in his troop. He’s currently the patrol leader of his patrol, which takes are of the “position of responsibility” requirement. As part of this, his patrol had a cooking contest where they had the different patrols compete for “best meal” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The other scout leaders told us it was a HUGE hit with the kids, and they had a great time. He also participated in multiple Eagle Scout projects, helped out at a flower sale at our senior center, and assisted with a river cleanup (he was even interviewed for the newspaper)! He received special recognition by his Scoutmaster for his work these past few months. He already has more than half the merit badges he needs, and the few additional he needs are in flight. I’m pretty confident he’ll become a Star scout by year end.
Middle – On Track – He finished all the goals for the year except for deciding on a middle school strategy. Now that he’s started his last year of elementary school, we need to decide on what middle school he’ll go to. He’s very interested in math and science, and we’re thinking to send him to a magnet school focused on aerospace and engineering. I’d like to visit some schools in this last quarter and decide on a direction by end of year.
Youngest – On Track – Can count to 10 pretty consistently now, and occasionally beyond. He also loves to sing the alphabet although he’s missing large chunks of letters in the middle. I think by the end of the quarter he’ll be doing both these with ease. He loooooves to count and will essentially count anything you give him, even when he doesn’t quite do it right.
Leadership Development Program – Complete – I wrapped this up back last month, which is part of the reason why my writing goals for September were toasted. I’m now done with the program and starting to participate in alumni activities. Over this program I’ve made connections with other amazing folks in IT throughout my company, gotten the opportunity to learn a lot more about our business, and
Current Project – On Track – We had a successful production release in August and things are gearing up for October. This October release is actually the reason I can’t go to FinCon for all four days, I need to be available during some of those days at work. We’ve had the usual IT challenges – defects, blocked testing, performance challenges, etc. However we’ve been able to work through all of these (part of the reason why the blogging goals were Meh)
Agile Transformation – On Track – I attended an agile conference back in August and came back really inspired to make radical change to the way I approach project delivery. One thing I created out of this was an amazing poster that recaps all the concepts I want to bring to the way I implement projects. At work, I’ve been able to make copies of this and distribute to multiple teams-folks have told me they find it very inspirational.
Blogging – Mixed– I had a rough summer when it comes to writing. I got off to a great start in June and July. August was OK but I got a bit sporadic, and September was terrible. Although I kept up with emails and social media, I didn’t put out much new content at all. But you know what? Instead of giving up, I just got back on track as soon as I could. And this site still saw increased traffic thanks to it now showing up on Page one of Google for multiple search terms. So although I didn’t hit my goal of posting four times per week, I did have some major successes – way above and beyond anything I thought possible.
I received a scholarship to FinCon. I passed the one year blogging milestone. I’m even a finalist for the Family Finance category of the PLUTUS awards! I got to hear the Stacking Benjamins podcast talking all about how the folks on there love my site (thanks again guys! – start at the 34 minute mark to see what I mean). To be frank this level of success was totally unexpected, although greatly appreciated. It’s really very touching to hear just how much people like the content I’m putting out here, and it’s what keeps me going.
Currently I have 2501 Twitter followers, 242 Pinterest, 433 Instagram , 86 Facebook, and 282 direct blog followers on WordPress/e-mail. That’s over three thousand people following me. I feel most comfortable with Twitter and Instagram, and I think I’m able to connect very authentically with others on those platforms. Facebook is an area where I want to focus and get more traffic-I find it very hard to get Facebook followers. The Facebook pages are so complicated to maintain, especially if you don’t want to create a fake profile/name just for the blog. If you have tips, leave them in the comments!
A note on my social media strategy – I don’t collect followers just for the sake of having high numbers. My goal is to connect authentically with people. I do routinely follow new bloggers and accounts because I love seeing what people are putting out there. Am I not following you yet? Be sure to tag me on your favorite social platform so I can!
A sincere 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 and chat with all of you.
One note about the traffic – my blog is a total secret from everyone in my life except my husband, kids, and now my parents. So none of this traffic comes from my personal Facebook page, or my LinkedIn profile, or any of my personal social media. I have a feeling that’s probably going to change as I entered year two, I’m going to start talking about this site to more people. Now that I know I’m keeping up with it and hitting some major successes I’m feeling more open to sharing with others.
One New Recipe Per Month – Done – I’ve made so many new recipes I can’t even recount them all here. I experimented with making chocolate ganache-based frosting and it was a huge success. I tried making smores brownies which looked amazing but didn’t taste good at all (darn it). I experimented with fondant making a TNT Minecraft cake for my 10 year olds birthday, and I made english muffins from scratch. I’ve done a good job in keeping up the experimentation to stay out of a rut.
One new art project per month – Mixed– I did two new art projects over this time, but I should have done more according to my goals. I’ve been experimenting with a new painting method where I basically make a stencil of an animal and use watercolors to paint them in. I then let it dry and do a splatter all over the painting. I think these came out pretty nice.
Read Four New Books Per Month – Nope – I barely read any new books this quarter. I would take them out of the library and then not have time to actually read them. I also think reading four books every month is probably not realistic with everything I have going on with work, life, and this site. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll give up. I’ll keep four as my stretch goal for now and we’ll see how it goes.
Create a New Section of Garden/Re-Do One Room in the House – Garden is finished, re-doing a room is not. Instead of the fun of re-doing a room, we’ve had to invest our home improvement funds elsewhere. Our washing machine started to (1) clog constantly and (2) tear holes in our clothes. Losing your clothing to a crazy washing machine is not a frugal strategy. We had to get a new one, which should be delivered shortly. We used Consumer Reports to find a high-quality one at a good cost, taking their buying guide out of the library. We also decided to get rid of an old, broken hot tub we’ve had on our property. I would still like to re-do one room, maybe the pantry. I’ll look at this again in November.
Determine FI Goal & Plan to Get There – Some Progress – 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 Financial Independence. Once my mortgage is paid off all that money is going straight to college savings. I plan to have my oldest sons college fully funded by the time he goes off as a freshman. My middle son I would like to have completed by the time he hits high school in 2021. And for the little guy, he’s so small that if I can get a good foundation in place by the time he enters elementary school compound growth will take care of the rest.
Why don’t I have a specific dollar amount that I’m targeting? Because I feel that it’s so far out that I can’t calculate the specifics. Health insurance/health care is a huge unknown at this point. Inflation is also a big unknown. I prefer to make a more concrete plan with an FI “number” once I get beyond my short term goals for the mortgage and college.
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 still at slightly over 65% of payoff amount saved, slowing creeping toward the goal. BUT…
Save for College – 70% for oldest; 50% for middle, 20% for youngest – Mixed – I continued automatic college savings draft for all three boys this month, and continued setting aside some extra for the oldest since college is now officially under four years away. This was an aggressive goal and I’m not hitting it entirely. Currently my oldest is sitting at 61.4%, middle at 50.5%, and little guy at 12.1%. In order to hit this goal I would need to stop funding for my middle son and redirect it to my oldest and youngest. I also need to stop the funding toward the mortgage payoff stretch goal and redirect it here. I plan to do this to catch up, although I may still miss the goals by a few percentage points.
I’ll take a detailed look into the financial picture over here at CMO Inc. in a future week. Want to know anything specific? Let me know in the comments!
Spring Road Trip – Complete in April! – Check out more about our trip here.
Day Trip – Done! Here are all the trips we took since my last update.
July – Camping trip, see below.
August – Went to the Connecticut Science Centers Minecraft day. The older boys each won a prize, and the little guy had fun with all the exhibits.
September – We took a trip up to Maine for my younger brothers wedding. On the way up we drove the car up to the top of Mt. Washington (a terrifying drive!), and on the way back we stopped in Portland ME for a few hours to check it out.
Camping – Done – See this post for more.
Continued Health Improvement/No Surgeries – Still On Track – Knock on wood!
One Long Family Hike Per Month – Fail! -Nope. My son hasn’t started working on that hiking merit badge so we haven’t been going on hikes. No excuses here, we’ve just been busy and hadn’t made it a priority. Now that it’s fall the hikes will be beautiful here in CT, but “winter is coming” and soon it will be too cold to get out there. I’m going to have my husband go out and get that hiking merit badge book, and put hikes on my calendar, so we don’t keep failing at this one.
Walk At Lunch Three Times Per Week – Mixed – Some weeks I did fantastic. Others I failed entirely because I had lunch meetings all week. I haven’t felt too serious about this goal which is probably why I’m not making it a priority. Instead I’ve been pouring all my time and energy into work, family, and this site. I probably need to change this goal to something different that fits better with my life.
How Are You Doing?
Interestingly, over 60% of you 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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