I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions (although I do have one for 2009 – see below,) but I’m a firm believer in setting goals each year. Mine primarily revolve around a few personal finance goals, a couple of personal / personal development goals, and goals for Practical Hacks as it approaches its one year anniversary.
- Add another $10K+ to our emergency fund. We added $20,400 to our emergency fund in 2008, and I’d like to continue to build it. Each month I automatically transfer $600 from our checking account into our account at E-Trade; with a few extra contributions here and there, we should be able to reach the $10K mark. How did we put $20K in 2008? I put part of my bonus in the account, plus part of the proceeds from some stock options I exercised; these won’t be repeated this year
- Continue to contribute the absolute maximum possible to my 401k
- Put $300 per month extra against our home mortgage loan’s principal – this is the only real debt we have, and I want to pay that sucker off
- Decide when to get back into the market. I moved the entire balance of my current 401k into a treasury fund back in June, leaving new contributions going into several investment classes. Our balance was protected, and we’ve continued to buy low, in effect. But when to get back in? I think the market will bump up early in 2009 only to retreat when this first round of foreclosures peaks in Q2. Normally an optimist, I’m not feeling very positive about where the economy’s headed. Bottom line, I’ll probably wait until I begin to see positive signs from the housing and employment stats… it may be a while! The same thing applies to a large rollover IRA we have – I moved a bunch of money into cash before all the craziness began
- Continue to find ways to simplify and economize. We canceled our health club membership in 2008, changed our phone plan, and cut down on frivolous purchases; we need to continue to find more ways to economize, going forward
- OK, here’s my New Year’s Resolution – I want to lose 20 pounds by April 15th. I started on this project about 3 weeks before Christmas, with an altogether absurd goal of dropping 5 pounds by Christmas. I got 3 lbs. off, and the good news is that as of this morning I still was 3 pounds lower than when I started. I’m utilizing Tabata workouts to amp up my metabolism and burn the fat; hopefully a future post will be titled something along the lines of “How I lost 20 lbs. in 4 months by working out for 20 minutes per week!” Stay tuned…
- This may seem a bit contradictory to the last bullet point in the Personal Finance goals, but I’d like to entertain more in 2009. Regular readers know that my wife and I are originally from upstate NY and find ourselves living in south central Nebraska, which if it isn’t the middle of nowhere, it’s within 50 miles of it. We miss the things that come with being near larger cities and living in a more populous area, and frankly aren’t crazy about living here. (BUT: my company and job are great.) In some respects I think we’ve both pulled inward a bit as a result. We haven’t entertained as much as we used to, and I miss that. We do have some good friends here and I’d like to enjoy the company of those close friends – in our home – a bit more than we’ve done in the last few years. Doing so needn’t be overly expensive – we can opt for simple dinners like homemade pizza or some of our favorite Italian dishes – the main thing is to enjoy the company of good friends. We need to do this
- Golf. I’ll spare you the details, but I’d like to lower my handicap from my current 7 to 4 or 5
- Along with the weight loss, I want to get my cholesterol below 200 without drugs, and get my resting heart rate down to 65
- I need to unclutter my garage and study. My study looks very neat – my desk almost minimalist – but beneath the surface (i.e., in the drawers) there’s a bunch of crap hidden away – it has to go!
- I want to continue to cook more. I used to cook a lot when we were first married (this was during Grover Cleveland’s presidency, by the way) and have only recently begun cooking – and baking bread – again. That’s why you’ll occasionally see articles about favorite dishes or ingredients – or links to food sites – on Practical Hacks. I’m rediscovering how much I love cooking & want to continue on that journey (I never lost touch with how much I love food – hence the diet/exercise regimen!)
- I never directly talk about work here and have no intention of changing that. I’ll simply say that my goal for ’09 is to manage through this economic mess as well as possible, and to treat people as fairly as I can
- Practical Hacks is in many respects a perfect illustration of how not to do a blog. Because my work life keeps me pretty busy, I can’t spend a lot of time commenting on other blogs, networking with other bloggers, and investigating the latest developments in Search Engine Optimization. Whatever that is. In addition, the eclectic nature of the blog is frankly a weakness – Blogging 101 calls for you to identify a niche and then cater to that specific audience. This blog is eclectic – one day an article about travel, the next about a piece of software, a day later a piece about food, – all loosely fall under the umbrella of “lifehacks,” I suppose – but this is not a textbook way to attract readers and subscribers. All of this said, a few ’09 goals for the blog:
- I need to write several guest posts this year for other blogs – and will start by compiling a short list of blogs I want to target
- At some point I’ll revamp the site again. When I switched from WordPress.com to WP.org, I switched themes and am not totally happy with the site’s look and the restrictions this theme has. Let me know if you have any thoughts about this, please!
- After about 10 months, despite doing everything or nearly everything wrong, the site’s Alexa ranking puts it in the top 200,000 websites and its Technorati ranking puts it in the top .61% of all blogs. I’d like to get the site into the top 100,000 websites as measured by Alexa by the end of this year
- A sore point with me, as I feel I’ve really failed in this respect – Practical Hacks only has about 200 subscribers at this point – and regardless of what the Alexa or Technorati rankings are, if I can’t get to the point where this blog has at least 1,000 subscribers by year end, I’ll have REALLY failed. If you don’t subscribe, please consider doing so. Doing guest posts should help drive readership and hopefully grow the subscriber base – at least that’s my plan
- Finally, the elephant in the room – I need to focus the site more effectively. To do so I need to go back to my roots and employ a little Marketing 101, asking several basic questions… who’s my audience?, what do they need?, what other blogs operate in this space?, what are they doing?, what are their weaknesses?, how can I distinguish PH from those blogs?, and so forth.
That’s it – a few goals for the year – I’ll post in late December with a report on how I did.
Thanks for being here and reading this; if you have any goals you’d like to share, please join in by commenting.
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