Looking Forward: Goals 2017

Last year I did a pretty shoddy job with my goals. However, I had a great year and part of the greatness was in the act of attempting to achieve those goals, even if I did not complete them. I believe that there is a goal "sweet spot." I would like to set goals that are a bit of a stretch, but are not so far away that I end up with a list of failed goals at the end of the year. I am not sure I have found that sweet spot yet, but I am going to keep trying!

I think that this year I need to revisit my intentions and focus more on fewer more important things rather than several smaller less important things. This being said, there are a few repeats from last year!

1. Run a 100 mile race --This is one that has eluded me, but this year, I am going to try, try again! I know I can do it, but have unfortunately run into a few issues the last couple of times. However, I am going to learn from my mistakes (no moving furniture a week before a race!) and get back out there again.

2. Run 2,400 miles / Climb 450,000 feet -- Last year I ran over 2,200 miles and climbed over 400,000 feet. I would like to increase both by about 10%.

3. Conquer the hills -- There are a set of hills I regularly climb and this year I want to either (a) run all the way up it if I have not before, or (b) run faster up it if I have run the entire thing already. Here they are: (1) Marincello: 1.4 miles / 9% average grade / 682 ft climb / best time 15:41 total or 10:53/mi (03/16) (2) Bobcat: 2 miles / 6% average grade / 696 ft climb / best time 21:33 total or 10:39/mi (03/16). In addition, there is a loop that I do which I would like to get under a 9:00/mi pace on. (3) Regular 12: 11.6 miles / 2,200 ft climb / best time 1:45:00 total or 9:03/mi (03/16)

4. Read 52 books (with at least 4  of them off my home shelf) --  I have consistently beat this goal each year (last year I read 72 books), however, I do not want to get into that rut of finishing something that is no longer fun just to say that I did it. So, as much as I love to read and will likely read more than one book a week, I do not want to force myself to do it. In addition, once again, I will try to cull my home shelves a bit by reading one book a quarter from them and probably giving them away afterward.

5. Bike or Run Commute once a week to work -- Right now it's raining, and so it may be a little while before this happens, but I want to either bike or run to/from BART at least once per week.

6. Try 12 new things -- this can be a new place, a new food, a new activity, or...whatever! This is actually quite a fun goal and one I like setting and accomplishing!

7. Spend less money than last year -- I know where I need to cut back (transportation is a big one), so this is totally possible, as long as I watch my spending. I plan to do this by continuing my quarterly spending check, as I have for the last couple of years.

8. Complete my yard project -- this has been on the radar for a while, but I have not really been in any hurry. The plan is to get rid of the lawn and put in rocks/shrubs. I have already begun by planting a few things, but the main part, the groundwork, has been put off.. I just need to order (or forage) the supplies and get to work!

9. Complete my wall art / photo project -- since I have moved in (almost two years ago!) I have been meaning to put some photos on the walls. I have even gone as far as painting some frames and ordering other ones. However, I need to pick and print out the photos, but I am dragging my feet on this. I have too many photos to choose from! I would like to get this done by the end of the year.

This is it! I have a couple of other small ones, like my yearly purge, but these are the main goals for the year. I think this year's goals are all doable, as long as I get my plan together. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

What goals do you have planned for this year? Are there any goals that you duplicate year after year?


Looking Back: 2016 Money Pie

Happy New Year!! It's that time of year again...money pie time!! As you know, each year I recap my spending throughout the year as a percentage. I think this is a great way to see where the money is all going so that I can make smarter decisions with my money in the future years. You can find previous year's posts here: 2014, 2015.

As always, I did not include any savings in this chart. This is not technically "spending" although I do track it and it is part of my yearly financial plan.  
Home: This category includes mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, as well as other misc items, such as appliances and other crap that comes with owing a home. However, the bulk (about 86%) of it is mortgage, taxes and insurance, with the others trailing way behind. Also, anything I buy on Amazon, I categorize as "home" as I am too lazy to figure out what it was I actually bought. It is probably a mix between shopping, home and entertainment in actuality.   
Transportation: This year I bought a car. As you can see from the pie, it affected the transportation category greatly! In addition, I still spent money commuting (BART) and definitely drove more, as a friend and I started a weekly run meet up after work and I took advantage of nice summer days to get the heck out of dodge as much as possible, including a road trip to Oregon and Kings Canyon.
Travel: Speaking of Oregon and Kings Canyon, once again, my indulgent category was travel. Funny enough though, I actually spent less this year than last, or my calculation methods could be inconsistent. Either way, I had a great time traveling abroad as well as to several U.S. destinations and many local weekend trips.

Groceries/Dining Out: Once again, these are almost the same! This year some friends and I went out to a nice meal once a month and we took turns paying. This equates to about once every four months me spending way too much on dinner. However, it is a lot of fun, but it's not helping my "dining out" budget.

Misc: This includes personal care, toiletries, gifts and donations, credit card fees and things like that. The bulk of it is gifts. The other things are minor.

Health: This includes pre-tax deductions and any copay or charge for contact lenses etc.

Entertainment: This includes movies, baseball games, and running related (or other hobbies) expenses. This year, most of it went to race fees. I probably should shift some of my "travel" over to this category, but once again, I am too lazy to really sort it out that thoroughly.

Shopping:  This category included clothing, toiletries and items from Target that were not home or running related. This year I bought a couple of pairs of work shoes and some things from REI which could be in the entertainment category...and that is pretty much it.

So, what did I learn from this? This year I definitely spent more that last year, although a lot of that extra cost was due to my purchase of a car. However, excluding the transportation category, the biggest increases over last year belonged to the Entertainment (53%), Health (33%) and Home (26%) categories. This makes sense, as I signed up for more big ticket races, my insurance premium went up, and I was in my house for a whole year vs. 7 months last year. On the flip side, I also saved more this year, so I am pretty happy with that, as my goal from the beginning of this year was to save more if I could.

What do I want to accomplish this year? This year I hope to do a bit of deeper analysis and develop a plan regarding getting the best bang for my buck. For example, does it make more financial sense to put my money into savings or use it to pay off my mortgage quicker. I have most of the information I need; now it is time to execute! In addition, once again I would like to save more this year than I saved last year. I would like to say I could minimize the Home category, but in reality, there is always a backyard project or a broken pipe or a random thing that goes bump in the night. So, that's it!

Do you keep track of your spending habits? What is the biggest piece of your money pie? What are your financial goals this year?