In 2015 and years before, there were no goals. There were milestones that were mostly set for me, bet there were no self-directed targets.
In 2016, the goal was to forecast spending and attain enough cash to take three months off in between jobs.
The spending forecast was set at $21,000 after collecting a few month’s worth of spending data through budgeting, which also told me how much cash I would need.¹
My total spend at the end of the year came out to $21,101 –
Just as I wrote that, I realized that because I paid off my car loan using money from a non-monitored account, I stopped having to pay the monthly payment. If I had not paid off the loan and continued with the monthly payments, my total spend would have been $21,790.
I was able to collect enough cash to leave my job at the end of October, but I stayed an extra month to my benefit because I ended up getting enough cash to last much longer than three months. I only did take three months off though.
In 2017, it made sense to carry over the spending forecast goal, because I already know how to accomplish this pretty easily – the structure had been laid out and structure set. All I have to do is stick to the plan.
It’s now August and I have yet to come up with a goal for this year.
Since I was starting a new job, it made sense to dive into that as much as I could. But now that I have reached a certain level of result delivery, I feel that a personal goal is in order.
One high night earlier in the year, I described 2017 as “the year I started thinking.” I strongly believe that the way to start thinking very clearly about things is to reduce the amount of total things on your mind. The less clutter in your mind, the more focus you can have on a few things that you’d really like to pay attention to.
So, the new goal I’d like to put forward is to simplify my life enough so that I can think clearly, broken into three parts:
- reduce the number of things I own that don’t provide value,
- remove distractions,
- automate as many mundane tasks as possible.
This goal is totally opposite in nature to the spending forecast goal. There is no objective way of measuring or validating this. It’s totally subjective.
So how will I know if I made it?
I suppose I’ll know when I start to think more clearly.
A couple of thing I’ve started on and are on my mind to help achieve this:
- I’ve set up a system to automate my finances. My paycheck goes into a ‘staging’ account and then distributed to my checking and various savings accounts.
- I sold my car earlier in the year before I started my job.
- I have greatly reduced the number of items that I own, including clothes and stuff that I’ve kept with me forever. More recently, I lost a bet with my girlfriend and had to get rid of 30 items.
There is still work to be done on each of those.
The spending forecast was lowered to $17k, adjusted downwards because commuting to work in a car was quite expensive.
- The budgeting tool that I used for this (and still use) was YNAB. There are other tools out there that collect your spending data like Mint and Personal Capital, but the budgeting workflow sucks. YNAB is designed in such a way that it forces you to really understand were your money is going, and where it needs to go in the future. In parallel with YNAB, I kept a spreadsheet where I would input spending once a month.