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Goals and Focus for 2018

January 13, 2018


A shorter and simpler post today.  You’re probably still exhausted after last week’s monster dividend investing post!

Today, I’ll share my goals for 2018.  And other stuff that’s not a goal as such, but something I want to focus on, or get better at.

While 2017 was a great year, I think I want 2018 to be more productive!  Because while I enjoy the chilled-out vibe of early retirement, I still want to accomplish things and make the most of my fortunate position.

I’ve found that when I do very little, it tends to get me down and makes me lazy.  But when I make plans, stick to them and actually get things done, I’m much, much happier!

So let’s go through what I’m focusing on in 2018…

 

Blogging

To my surprise, this blog is gaining some traction.  I have roughly 100 email subscribers and page views of around 250-300 per day, and climbing!

While it is pretty small compared to many blogs out there, I’m thrilled!

To be honest, I fully expected to be talking to myself for the first 12 months or so!  Before I started, the info I found suggested that building an audience is often a very slow process.

Writing and growing this blog is something I want to become better at.  So I’ll be spending time each day working on my notes, doing some research on how to improve my writing skills and this blog as a whole.

Also, I want to focus on sharing more quality information with my readers.  Basically, the stuff that’s helped me, will in turn, hopefully help you achieve your financial independence goals!

Thank you all for reading and I hope to provide some new perspectives and insights during 2018!

 

Investing

While we’ve hit our financial independence goal, we still have a lot to do.

As we’re slowly selling-down our properties and moving those savings into shares to create cashflow, we are continually investing.

We’re still equity rich, cashflow poor.  But it’s steadily improving with each monthly purchase.

Our goal here, is to stick to our plan of monthly investing into dividend-focused LICs, regardless of what the market is doing.  We simply don’t know the future.  So investing every month, no matter what, seems the most sensible option for us.

And an important point to make:  we’re staying true to our strategy, no matter how many people become Bitcoin Billionaires!

Also, I need to keep better track of our dividend statements.  I got kind of sloppy last year and just waited until tax-time to find them all.  As we’re notified by email now, I’ll be saving them for future reference.

Since investing is such a passion (obsession) for me, I love reading about it too.  When the company reports/announcements come out, I get as excited as a teenager with 200 likes for their selfie on social media!

But I also tend to read too many investment articles, also known as financial porn.

Put another way, it’s like a sugar-fix for investing nerds.  And while it makes us feel good in the short term, it often provides little long-term value.

Instead, I plan to read more books which tend to be filled with timeless knowledge.   And much less articles, which tend to be filled with opinions, based on current news or future events.

The exception here is financial independence blogs, which we all know can be life-changing and immensely valuable 😉

To be honest, nothing changes a hell of a lot in the finance space.  Quite often, old-fashioned principles of strong money habits and simple investing is all you need to learn.

 

Physical Activity

Usually, we’re pretty good with this.

Each day, we’ll go for a morning and evening walk with our beloved dog.  Every couple of days we’ll also lift weights with our home-gym setup.

And now since we’ve moved to the new place, we also go for nice bike-rides through the parklands, or around the lake.

So we just need to keep up this focus, which shouldn’t be too hard, since we have the time and surroundings for it.

But I also want to help out Mrs StrongMoney in the garden more.  She’s been busy planting lots of veggies and herbs, maintaining our small fruit trees and tending to the flowers.

She does a great job.  But I don’t want to miss out on the fun.  And I already spend enough time indoors as it is.  So to get outside and help in the garden is a good way for me (or anyone) to get more physical activity.

 

Gratitude

The plan is to be more appreciative of the good things in life.  Actually, just life in general.  I don’t think this can ever be overdone.  And most of us (including me) tend to do a poor job of practising it.

This year, I’ll focus on how damn good things are, living in an awesome country, in the most prosperous time in human history.

If we put things in perspective, we haven’t got much to complain about!

It’s easy to forget and hard to follow.  But all we can do is try.

To me, there’s nothing more irritating than spoiled and wealthy westerners, whinging about some unimportant shit, while ignoring the standards of living for other people globally, or historically.

 

Reading

As I hinted at before, my goal is to read a lot more books this year!

I’ve started making a point of picking up a book first thing in the morning, and late in the afternoon.  By building this habit, soon I won’t even have to think about it – it’ll just be part of my day!

So far, I’m half-way through 2 books – which isn’t bad for a couple of weeks into the year.

The wisest and most successful people in the world are dedicated readers.  They accumulate knowledge upon knowledge, growing on itself like compound interest. 

 

Summary

Now, you’d be right in suggesting that these goals aren’t all that specific or measurable.  I’ve kinda done that on purpose.  I’m more focused on building an enjoyable lifestyle at the moment, which is still priority focused.

And it cuts us some slack too, after years of hardcore saving and little free time.

So really, it’s about getting stuff done while maximising enjoyment.  And by not putting concrete numbers or measurements on these goals, it takes away the anxiety and often stressful nature of big targets.

Overall, this year is going to be about focusing on my priorities and being more disciplined.

Maybe discipline sounds like a strange focus for a retiree.  But I want my days to be more structured, more productive and avoid too many time-wasting activities.

Discipline is also a key part of building financial strength and a great life.

Often, our lives turn out much better by us doing the stuff we know we should do, as opposed to just the stuff we feel like doing.

After settling in to retired life in 2017, I’m ready to kick it up a notch (just a little) to get some shit done over the next 12 months!

Here’s to the year ahead, and I hope it’s a fruitful and enjoyable one for you!

What’s your goals for this year?  What are you focused on improving?  Share with me in the comments 🙂

24 Comments

24 Replies to “Goals and Focus for 2018”

    1. Thanks Phil. Haha will do, reading a couple good ones at the moment 🙂
      They’re all opinionated for sure. I just find I learn more from books than web articles, especially investment related. Much of the stuff online is really for entertainment value I suppose.

  1. That’s a great list of goals for 2018. I don’t think there’s any shame in having had a more relaxed year in 2017 as you adjusted to the beginning of your early retirement. Let’s not forget just how huge an achievement it is to have reached retirement at 28! I mean, holy crap, that is amazing! From many of the FIRE blogs that I read, it sounds pretty normal for people to just take it all in when they first quit working and have some headspace to think about all the plans for the next phase of their lives.

    For us, 2018 is going to be knuckling down with our ongoing saving and investing plans and seeing whether there are any other areas we can optimise our expenses, though last year was when we made most of the significant adjustments there. This will hopefully also be the year when we start to get a better feel for what our magic number might be as we haven’t defined that yet. Have spent the past year properly tracking our spending using MoneyBrilliant and building a profile of what annual spending looks like for us. We’re still early on in our 10 year plan towards early-ish retirement but, like you, we’re just going to continue to buy shares in our chosen investments (index funds) on a regular basis regardless of what the markets end up doing.

    I plan to start cycling in to work at least a couple of days per week. I don’t have any excuses not to as the office at my new job is less than 10km from home and it is really well set up for cyclists with the facilities in the basement of the building. Not to mention it is a perfect way to add to the weekly exercise activities AND cuts down costs of using the car.

    No significant travel plans this year but we’ll probably do a few weekends away here and there and plan towards doing an international trip next year. We’ve got Japan in our sights! There will be plenty more hiking this year as well, one of my favourite hobbies in the outdoors.

    Then there’s a few home maintenance and improvement activities on the list, continuing to practice and build upon language skills (mainly Mandarin but also Spanish) and doing plenty more reading and research on things that interest me.

    All the best with your planning and realisation of your goals for this year!

    1. Thanks for such a great comment SOL guy! Really appreciate your kind words 🙂

      Yeah good point – sometimes I feel I should take even more time to think before trying to make myself busy again.

      Sounds like a great plan altogether – you’re all over it! Let me know how you progress. Excellent work with the share accumulation, and the bike riding!!

      Looks like you’ve got a pretty damn good year in the works. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your 2018 mate!

  2. Sounds like a fabulous plan for 2018. I look forward to hearing more about how it goes.

    I too have a goal to read more books as I wasted a lot of time trawling the internet in 2017. So far I’m also halfway through 2 different books. Let me know if you find any must reads and I’ll add them to the list.

    1. Cheers Miss B. Yay for books!

      The internet is great, but can turn into a time-wasting black-hole if we’re not careful.

      Haha you have a list of stuff too ey?

      I do actually plan on sharing a reading list in the future with some summaries, after I get through a few of them that is.

  3. Hey StrongMoneyAustralia,

    Just discovered your blog, what a fantastic story – we don’t seem to have many great examples of early retirement in Australia, especially from someone still in their 20’s! Congrats on your achievement! Also just read the dividend post from last week, loved it – so aligned with how I think about the Australian market and those Fantastic Franking credits!

    I really like the balance in your goals for 2018, especially with the gratitude in there. We really are so luck to live in a country like this. I have a good feeling you’re going to use that freedom very wisely 🙂

    All the best for 2018, and hope the blog keeps growing, look forward to following along!

    Cheers,

    Frankie

    1. Appreciate your comment Frankie, thanks!

      It’s true, there’s not a heap of these stories around in Oz – partly my reason for sharing.

      Glad you liked that post and it resonates with you well 🙂

      Haha let’s hope this blog keeps me on track and not wasting time, since people are watching!

      Thanks for reading, and good luck to you for the year ahead.

  4. “it’s like a sugar-fix for investing nerds” ????

    I like your focus on discipline and structure. As I said, my two weeks over Christmas were pretty laid back. I was OK with it, but I did realise that it wouldn’t be sustainable for me in retirement.

    Goals work differently for different people. I think they can still work when vague as long as you track them – will you be reporting your progress here?

    Looking forward to more articles on how you achieved FI. We need all the help we can get.

    1. Structure and discipline strangely makes life more enjoyable for me 🙂

      Being aimless and lazy feels terrible after only a short time.

      Well sure, I can share what books I’ve read and maybe an investing update or two. But really, they aren’t too specific so it’s more a case of keeping the habits and staying focused on things that are important.

      Ok I hear you – will do some more of those saving/philosophical/our experience type posts. You already know the main answer though…saving 😉

      You guys are on the right track!

  5. I like what you’re aiming to do this year SMA, it sounds like you’re really going to creating happiness for yourself and your family from your goals.

    Sticking to your plan is key over the next few years, I’m glad we think alike and we both going for dividend shares. Hopefully we’re right and that’s the best way to go 🙂

    I love that you’re going to read more, let us know what you end up reading.

    Mr DDU

    1. Thanks Mr DDU. That’s the plan!

      Dividend investing is not for everyone. All that really matters is whether it’s the right strategy for us 🙂

      Will be good to see the increasing income over the next few years (for both of us). All the best mate.

  6. It was very refreshing to read your list! I thought it was nice to see goals without the (exact) $$$. You just showed me what I’m working towards and what hard work and consistency leads to. So, thank you for the motivation!

    Best of luck with your goals! It will be interesting to read your updates, if that’s something you’ll post about. Please share your book recommendations, I think a few of us have ‘read books’ in our lists this year.

    1. Thanks J!
      I think sometimes we focus too much on specifics and can miss the most important part, which is enjoying the process for each thing we’re focusing on or valuing most at the moment. If we focus on the right process and overall approach, usually the results will eventually follow.

      I will be sure to share the books I’ve read, seems many are interested. Don’t think anyone ever regretted reading more books!

  7. My goal for this year is to see if I can find a part time job so that I can quit my full time job ! long hours and commuting is really killing me…..

    spend more time with family and kids and read more Uncle Warren’s articles….actually been thinking of buying some Berkshire shares so that I can attend the annual Berkshire AGM…..as warren is 87 ? I think there isn’t much more AGM left……. Anyone have experience in this ?

    MR SMA, as you read more books and more knowledgeable on investing, do you think you will shift away from diversification (Lics) to more concentration (i.e. individual companies) in your investment strategy ?

    1. That’s a great idea Jack, especially if you can do just fine with the lower income. Gaining your life back is indescribable – an amazing feeling. The happiness gained is well worth any money that’s foregone.

      I believe the guys from BKI have been to the Berkshire meeting a few times. It sure would be a good day, although it’s extremely popular with huge crowds. There’s always the option of watching the webcast they show on yahoo nowadays. That’s probably just as good!

      Good question on diversification. Actually I think the opposite – the more I learn, the more I realise how much easier it is just to outsource it to the LIC managers or even just using index funds. But I still really enjoy researching and learning so will probably continue to buy individual companies out of interest. We have around 70% of our portfolio in LICs at this stage. That will probably increase over time for the sake of simplicity. We may also add international index funds later too.

      1. I have 70% of my portfolio in Lics, even tho most of them holds the same companies, I still think its better to spread out to minimise key personel risk…at the end of the day, we need our money to last a life time and cannot afford anything to go wrong.

        I do have 25% invested in my high conviction companies and 5% in speculative companies. With the high conviction companies, I have my own set of rules that I use to pick them and have been rewarded (90% luck and 10% skill I think 🙂 ) over the past few years. I think the high conviction companies I hold are V strong financially, with little or almost no debt and strong management. You cant go broke if you have no debt and good management and good assets right ?

        the 5% speculative shares have delivered me some 10 baggers over the last year, some even 17 baggers….

        I still think you should have a small portion invested outside of Lics but agree that Lics should form the foundation of your portfolio….but you will never get 10 baggers with Lics…

        1. Thanks for sharing Jack. Wow those speccies have done quite well.

          Personally, I just can’t bring myself to buy any speculative type companies, simply can’t do it. I like to invest where there is somewhat of a certainty of the outcome. For example, the LICs or index funds as you know are very highly likely to prosper over the next 50 years along with the Australian or World economy.

          But a marijuana stock on the other hand, I’m not sure there is a ‘likely’ scenario for that company, the degree of certainty is extremely low. Far too many unknowns.

          I disagree with you on the 10 baggers. Ignoring dividends completely for a minute, even with compound growth of 4% per annum, holding an LIC for around 60 years will mean it will be worth 10 times the amount it is today 😉

          Of course including dividends will mean you will have received many, many multiples of that.

          1. Dave, more I learn about investing, more I realised how much I dont know about investing. so it make sense to delegate your investing to Lics, share market is not a casino like what most people think, its a place where the best ideas meets the capital and as long as human race move forward, share market will be fine.

            What I’m saying is, investing 5% of your capital in companies outside of Lic can work out really well. My ten baggers are Bellamy and A2 Milk, and the reasons why I bought them is because whenever I go to the shopping centre, they are always out of stock and I know it only cost less than $5 to produce a tin but you can sell for $30, and if they put the price up to $35, people will still buy them.

            when you see opportunities like this, doesn’t it make sense to put a bit of money into it ? I’m not talking tens of thousands, but maybe a few thousand dollars ?

          2. Very well said – it’s largely a bet on the future of civilisation. Either you believe in it and buy stocks, or you don’t and you buy baked beans and ammunition and wait for the demise of society!

            I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s as easy as that. I mean, the valuation of the stock comes into play and a host of other factors. Those stocks are booming on the China story (many stocks in this space look overvalued, one report away from halving in price). The market loves high-flying stocks, until they don’t. Most of the tins are being bought by people sending/taking it to China, not for their kids, which is another issue. For A2 Milk, they’re all good as long as people keep ‘believing’ that it’s better than regular milk. There’s some other things that could go wrong with the story too. I just think it’s harder than looking at the shelves and seeing what’s selling, though it does help. I see more risks than opportunities lol – maybe it’s just me.

            For me, I put lots of things in the too hard basket 🙂 Like you said, the more I learn, the more I realise I know nothing!

          3. Well said….. as long as you have a strategy that you believe in and can sleep well at night, you will be fine…. and I think Lic strategy is proven and sustainable and I can’t see how it will deviate from the path….. I mean, Aussies are hard working and smart people and our regulatory system/government even tho not very efficient, is still better than most other places in the world…and nothing is or can be perfect…

            as I said, these speculative ones are sometimes 1-2% of my portfolio, so even if it doesnt work out…so be it…..

            I consider myself to be ultraconservative compared to people who are “so negatively geared that they are positively screwed”

          4. Haha that’s me you’re talking about 😉 We still have negative cashflow from multiple properties.

            Despite currently having a lot of debt, I still consider myself conservative. I only place bets where the odds look attractive. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not as well as planned. But on average, you gotta go with what looks like it has the highest probability of happening.

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