Steady As She Goes: Goals for 2016

As I wrote my four-part review of 2015, one theme stood out to me: both 2014 and 2015 were BIG YEARS for me, where I kept a very tight budget first in the name of paying off debt, then in the name of hitting big-time savings goals. In 2016, I want to stay the course with the habits of frugality, savings, and conscious spending I’ve been developing, but I also want to be a little more relaxed. I’m in a good, though certainly not great, financial position, and while maintaining focus I also want to let my hair down a little more by increasing my slush/entertainment/gifts/clothing budget. Just a little more, though, not a ton. With that in mind, here are my 2016 goals.

Goal 1: Increase my net worth by $22,000, in service of a longer-term goal: celebrating my 40th birthday with a gift to myself of a $100,000 net worth. I’ll be 37 at the end of January, so I have just over three years to accumulate $65000 more in assets. I think it’s doable. This would mean an average net worth increase of $1833/month; I hit this number only 5 times in the first 11 months of 2015, so I hasten to add that this goal depends in part on what the markets do and on whether or not I have any major emergencies. I am planning on much less travel this year, so that ought to help, too.

Goal 2: Increase my income, by either getting a raise or a new job. I can’t set an amount here since it would depend on what I was doing, but I would like to increase my base income by at least 15%, beginning in July.

Goal 3: Either buy a house, buy a car, or get my cash-on-hand from $11,000 (end of December anticipated figure) to $20,000. These are mutually exclusive goals since cash spent on a house down payment or on a car is not going to be on hand any longer 🙂 (Actually I think I am very unlikely to buy a car in 2016. 2017 is probably more like it. But you never know when circumstances will align.)

Goal 4: Contribute $12,000 to my retirement accounts. I actually have no idea how I’m going to make this, but I’m putting it out there anyway. I should be able to contribute $9000 according to my current plan (keep my $500 monthly contribution through June while I sock away down payment cash, then raise it to $1000 again) but where the other $3000 is going to come from, I’m not sure. I have so many plans for that forthcoming raise (and I don’t even know how much it will be!) that I’m reluctant to say it’ll come from there. Possibly I can line up an additional adjunct class on top of my job for the fall; that would be good for several reasons and also probably pay just about what I’d need to top off retirement.

Goal 5: Keep up the zero food waste project. That was really helpful to me this year, even though my posting about it kind of petered out. I took my food waste from moderate to almost nothing, and I’m very, very pleased with that for financial as well as other reasons.

This is probably the last set of yearly goals that won’t include a debt payoff number for a long time (assuming I do take on a mortgage this year) so I’ll enjoy that. To 2016!

16 thoughts on “Steady As She Goes: Goals for 2016

  1. Cindy says:

    I think your goals for 2016 are awesome! I think it’s great that you’re building in some flexibility, so you can adjust to what comes this year, without feeling that you’ve abandoned your goals. Here’s hoping 2016 is a great year!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Here’s hoping! And yeah, 2016 is going to bring change for me, and I don’t know what kind yet, so I can’t be too rigorous about my planning. I have, more, a few different branches things could go down. Cheers!

  2. I’m so excited by this! Like, vicariously (obviously), but actually for real! These are fantastic goals. I love that you’re especially thinking very long-term, like the $100,000 by age 40. I think it’s good too that you’re keeping the details of several of these goals somewhat flexible. I caaaaan’t waaaaaaaiiiiiiiit until my goals look less like “pay off debt” and more like this.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Paying off debt is actually really fun though. Logically it is way better to never have had debt, and it’s frustrating to pay interest and not to be putting money in savings, and it can be scary if your job doesn’t feel secure. But there is nothing like the feeling of knocking out debt like a m-f-ing rockstar. I kind of want a mortgage in part so I can feel like that again. Oh my God, I’m a crazy person, ignore me.

      Also, I’m excited by my longer-term goal too. $100000 by 40 is both far enough away that it’s a nice longer-term goal, and close enough that I can monitor my progress without worrying too much about the various contingency plans that come into play when we’re talking about retirement at age 60 or whatever.

  3. Wow nice! Your savings rates are amazing!! I hope to be socking away a ton this year as well!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I am so excited for your new job, and by extension your new savings rate 🙂

  4. Congrats on two successful years of debt repayment and saving! I think your 2016 goals are great – and I’m not just saying that because I have a January birthday, too. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      January birthday fistbump! I look forward to great 2016s for us both.

  5. Jason says:

    These are great goals. I am sure you will succed.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks, Jason! Here’s to a great 2016!

  6. Great goals. I like the “$100,000” net worth birthday gift to yourself. Most people want to splurge and spoil themselves on milestone birthdays, or any occasion for that matter. What a different view to increase your net worth instead of decreasing it by constantly blowing money on stuff you won’t remember.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      You’re right, I guess I could set up going on a cruise as my birthday gift 🙂 But what I really want is financial security! Thanks, and here’s to great 2016s for both of us.

  7. Great goals! I had hoped to max out the Roth and open/max out a SEP IRA, which would be around $12k, but we have to start putting aside my husband’s disability income in case we have to repay it (we’re in the middle of an appeal). So it’s going to be all I can do to keep us saving anything at all.

    So the new goal is to at least max out the Roth. Because we’re that far behind. But we do what we can, right?

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I really hope you win the appeal, first of all! Second of all, yeah, we do what we can. For the past two years straight I’ve had ambitious retirement goals that I haven’t met, but at least I have something in there now, and something is definitely better than my previous practice of putting nothing in 🙂

  8. Congrats on your 2015 successes and good luck with 2016. I think the concept of trying to do no food waste is a great one. And, like you I’m doing a career change in 2016. Actually quitting my finance job to do content marketing. It’s scary to be self-employed, but the ability to control your own income can be pretty powerful in building net worth. So who knows, we’ll see how it goes! And you’re a great writer – if you ever decide you would be interested in ghost written for business blogs, let me know and we might be able to send some writing work your way.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hey Rob — thanks for the comment, and congratulations on your impending career change. I love it when people take a risk to go after the work they want. Also, thanks for the offer; as it happens I am planning to actively look for more freelance writing work in 2016. I’ll shoot you an email.

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