Eleven months later.

November 16, 2011 · 19 comments

Every January I open an excel spreadsheet and make estimations as to how I think the year will play out financially for the Ninja household. Although the year isn’t quite over, it’s time to check in and see how we’re doing. Here is a screenshot of our goals for 2011

In the past, I’ve set the bar low and made my/our goals too easy. One year I reached them by July. It’s embarrassing to set low standards, so I made sure to really step up our game in 2011. You’ll notice in the chart above, we had a goal to increase our net worth by $3,000 a month, for a total gain of $36,000.

I knew we could reach said goal if we buckled down and made wise decisions throughout the year. We went through some significant life changes: like a 1,200 mile move and Girl Ninja looking for work, but overall we have had a really incredible year and pretty much punched our goals in the face. Here’s where we stand…

I guess you can look at our results two ways…

  1. We kicked serious booty and were able to blow our “savings” goal out of the water and increase our liquidity by $40,000 in a single year. We also surpassed our $96,000 net worth goal by an additional $15,000.
  2. We are epic failures because we were wrong on two of the five categories. Which means we are 60% awesome, and 40% fail. Sad.

Although I didn’t set my standards high for the markets this year, they still managed to do worse than I predicted. I only needed a $700 gain in my Roth IRA (after my $5,000 2011 contribution) to meet my goal. Sadly, I haven’t gotten it yet. It’s the same sad story with my TSP :(. I’m holding out hope though, we still have six weeks before the end of the year and I’m praying for a last-minute rally. I need a 3% rally to hit ALL of our goals. Think it will happen?

I was hesitant to write this post because I don’t want to come across as arrogant or bragging. I hope you know I’m an open book. I blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Ninja household. We were fortunate to have a pretty stellar year, and we try our best to be responsible with what we’ve been given. Sometimes that means having fun and going on a random vacation to San Francisco, other times it means buckling down and contributing to our retirement, and sometimes it means giving a bunch of money away. Twenty-eleven was great to us, and we plan to do everything we can to make sure 2012 is equally awesome.

How has 2011 treated you (the good and the bad)? What were some of your financial (or personal) goals this year? Which ones have you met? Which ones did you fail?

1 Kristin

Wow! You have really done an awesome job with your goals so far this year. Seeing your yearly budget last winter (when I discovered the PF world) inspired me make my own yearly spending plan for this year, which has really given me a lot of perspective. When I update my records each month, I compare how I have been doing with regard to yearly saving and spending with my plan.

YTD budget highlights:
– On track for yearly savings
– Maxed out a brand-new Roth IRA for last year at tax time, plan to do so for this year as well
– Did my taxes myself for the first time ever, without tax software (they were simple)
– Received a fellowship for graduate school, moved 2,000 miles away, and adjusted to living on half my previous salary (that was the most annoying budget mess)
– Have been rigorously tracking expenses
– Did not pay full price for a single ski ticket last season (17 days total)
– Major purchases: A vacation, ski passes, two sets of tires within 4 months, ski apparel.

Lowlights –
– Failed to learn more about my 401k or Roth IRA options and diversify from the default options
– Incurred extra $900 in moving expenses due to overly optimistic plans
– Decided NOT to buy a camera, laptop, and new ski equipment until some YTD date
– Underbudgeted for routine medical expenses and gift spending

This is my first full year really tracking expenses and things, and I feel really good about where my money has gone. Each spending decision has become a conscious choice. I still have a little time left to wise up more on investments (on the slate for after exams), so hopefully that won’t be a total loss!

2 Kristin

Two more big milestones that I forgot – opened my first savings account since before college, and got renter’s insurance. Both important!

3 AMD @ amomsdime

And here I thought your post today was going to be about considering a baby in 2012…I have to say I’ve hit 6 months on my prego timeline today and I’m feeling like your picture is bang on. Kinda over it-want this baby outside of me!

Congrats on meeting your goals-looks like you’re going to have to set even more aggressive goals for 2012! I don’t think it’s bragging for a PF blogger to set goals and then be excited when they meet or exceed them…it’s all part of the fun of following the journey.

4 sheila

You Ninja, have inspired me this year too. I started by rolling over old 401k’s to a roth IRA and attempted to max it out. I also took my raise and put it toward my 401k at work. I got my savings acct up to 10k and had two vacations. Budgeting is still loose but with restrictions. My goal is to have $800 take home pay left over every month, it varies.

Thanks!

5 Kristen

It’s weird that it’s socially acceptable to brag about “buying” a new car/giant house/3D TV/etc, but if you talk about how you paid off your big purchases/are debt free/have a nice retirement fund, it’s considered bragging & arrogant and people get really offended.

Congrats to you guys, great year!

6 Foscavista

I read the other post about “bragging,” and is their a difference among being proud, being arrogant (I.e. bragging), and being sensitive to others? I don’t talk about money to people who know me. Since I am doing “well” ( My only debt is my mortgage, have a 30-month emergency fund of basic necessities, etc), I don’t want to come of as being insensitive to my friends who have larger financial issues. Would you say “My health is great!” to someone with the flu? Would you say “My marriage is great!” to someone who has filed for divorce? I keep quiet for the sake of another person’s feelings/situation. “You” is anyone reading this.

7 graduate.living

Favorite Financial Accomplishment for 2011
By 12/31/11 I will have paid over 50% on my highest interest student loan – over $6,000 (while still in graduate school living off a school stipend!)

8 Me

Frankly, this is a PF blog. I would be a disappointed reader if you didn’t share your successes with us! You’ve done great this year. You have every right to be happy and proud of your accomplishments! And it’s your blog, so be proud and shout it out!!! Congrat’s!

9 Mike Holman

I’m not a fan of setting goals tied to net worth and equity balances, because they are not completely within your control.

I wrote all about it here:

http://www.moneysmartsblog.com/shooting-down-goals/

10 Brian

The old lady and I are going to fall short on our savings goal since she was laid for for a couple months and her new job was a pay cut (which is fine since she actually loves her new job and hated her old job). We are still headed in the correct direction and will just have to adjust our goals to account for her loss of income. Note: we did not have lifestyle inflation with her higher paying job, we just had a very aggressive savings goal that really isn’t feasible with her pay cut.

11 skrizel

Good Job this year Ninja. i on the other hand didnt have a great year financially. i didnt plan for vacations and wedding related trips (not my wedding) so those expenses went on plastic. i also moved to a diferent town in with the GF, changed jobs, and basically the whole living structure. which was and is a difficult transition mentally ( i like my old town and job better) i pretty much failed at all aspects of my finances this year. especially budgeting. Total debt load is virtually the same over 12 months. but i have good memories of great times and places with good friends. i do have 2K in savings now which is a plus

12 Kyle

Good job this year! I never even thought about planning/estimating financial stuff for the year. Seems like a great idea!

And I’m sad that I clicked on your “ugly” link. There’s an image I’ll never be able to get out of my head.

13 Larry

Hey! I posed for that pic. (Though I had to borrow the gun.)

14 Midwest

Good job man. Kick it’s ass while your wife is still working.

15 Larry

“We went through some significant life changes: like a 1,200 mile move…”

In case you didn’t know, you can deduct your unreimbursed moving expenses on next year’s federal. Use Form 3903.

Moi? I think the major goal was finally putting together my estate plan.

16 Ninja

Yeah thanks, I got them filed away and uploaded in to Quicken. Ready to claim those expenses ASAP. I think you mentioned in a previous post Girl Ninja can spend up to $250 of our own money on classroom related purchases and we get a full credit back for those too? I’m gonna look that one up, because if that’s also the case she’s got some free money to spend.

17 Larry

To be eligible, she has to have had worked “at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education.” You claim the deduction on line 23 of the 1040 long form.

And save all receipts in the unlikely case of an audit.

Of course, you’re going to have to file a part-year CA return too. You may be able to deduct some of the moving expenses from CA, too, though they might be pro-rated. But you’ll need an accountant for that; I don’t pretend any great knowledge of CA tax other than to know it’s notoriously one of the most complicated state tax systems in the nation.

18 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

I wanted to own a house by the time I turned 25. I’m a couple months over and still haven’t found the right one.

19 krantcents

I love to exceed goals! I set goals, financial or personal and love to exceed my goals.

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