2014 Goals Review – Results and Lessons


When I started this Blog back in March this year, I set myself four Financial Goals to work towards. They were the following:
  • Earn £300 through dividend payments in 2014
  • Have a Portfolio value of £12,000 at the end of 2014
  • Save more than 50% of my income in 2014
  • Keep monthly expenses below £950 per month for the rest of the year. (£11,400 per year)

Setting the goals is the easiest part of goal setting. The difficult part is achieving it. The commonly overlooked part is reviewing how you got on. Perhaps I’m alone on this, but I love the reviewing process. I look forward to it every year. 

Did I accomplish what I set out to do? What did I learn? What would I do differently if I attempted it again? 

We’re now at the end of 2014 and I want to ask myself those questions on all four of my goals and share my thoughts with you. So here we go:

Goal 1 – Earn £300 through dividend payments in 2014


Result 
ACHIEVED – I hit this goal in September. As I still had a quarter of the year to go, I decided to make a Version 2 to keep me motivated right to the end of the year. Version 2 was £550. I hit the V2 Goal in December. 
What Did I Learn?
I now own shares in over 20 different companies. At the start of 2014, I owned 6. I knew that good dividend paying companies would pay a yield between 3-5% but I didn’t know how many companies I would own at the end of 2014, and what dividend income I could expect to receive as a result. It was a bit of a punt in the end, and £300 turned out to be far too low to challenge me. I finished the year with nearly double that amount. I now have a much better understanding of how much money I can invest over a 12 month period. 

I recorded all of the dividends each company paid out this year, so I also have a greater awareness of how much yield I can expect to receive for the money I invest. 

I’ve also learned that Dividend goals can be difficult to predict, and you don’t have complete control of them. The experience I’ve gained this year should help me predict a much more accurate forecast in the future. 

What would I do differently?
I needed to get through the first year to see what was possible. Now that I have that year of experience, I feel I’m in a better position to make a more accurate call. As I mentioned above, my target wasn’t hard enough this year, so moving forward I can make a more challenging goal. I’ll also stretch it a little further so I don’t hit it so early in 2015. 

I will set a Dividend Income goal for 2015, but I want to prioritise increasing my income and portfolio size. The dividends will then take care of themselves. 


Portfolio value of £12,000 at the end of 2014
Result
ACHIEVED – I really smashed this one! I hit this goal in July. I decided to make a Version 2 target of £17,500. I hit that goal in October, so I created a Version 3 target of £20,000 and I hit this final goal in December. 
What Did I Learn?
The learning from this goal was similar to the Dividend Goal above. I didn’t know how much money I’d be able to save each money to invest in shares. As a result, the portfolio total was another estimate. When I set the goals in March I was unaware that I would sell my car, increase my saving rate to 69%, sell my Index Tracker funds and invest most of the money. 

The Portfolio value is also determined by the value of the shares at the end of the year. I was unaware (as everyone is) of what to expect from this. As it happens, the FTSE index decreased from January to December in 2014. In general, most companies have marginally lost value. The dividends do make up for this deficit but I’ve only just made more than than I’ve put in this year.

I really like going after totals like this. It’s a set figure that I can chip away at. I enjoy these targets more than % numbers. I think I’ll incorporate them more in 2015. 

What would I do differently?
My experience during this year has helped me appreciate how much money I can invest each month. I’m once again in a better position to make a more precise guess. 

I would also overestimate the amount I would expect to invest to challenge me right to the end of the year.


Save more than 50% of my income in 2014

Result
ACHIEVED I managed to comfortably meet this goal. So much so, that my lowest month was 56.8% and my highest was 83.9%. My average for 2014 was just under 70% in the end. 

What Did I Learn?
March was the first month I’ve ever managed to record all of my expenses and income. This was an area that was completely new to me. In 2013, I calculated the total amount I saved and invested against my salary – The total came to 38%. I was really pleased with this result until I saw what Jason at Dividend Mantra could save. I thought 50% would be a solid marker to aim for. It turned out to be way too low for me. 
I’ve been surprised with how frugal I’ve become and how low my expenses are. 

What would I do differently?
I thought this Goal would be the hardest to achieve when I set out in March. It turned out to be one of the more comfortable ones. 
I received a lot of feedback from people questioning why I record it in the way that I do. I don’t think I would change my method because it works for me. I want to know every single penny I earn against every penny I save and invest. This includes Dividends, Birthdays and Christmas.
I’m not planning on setting a saving rate goal for 2015 although I will continue to record it. If I were to set it in the future, I would once again increase the amount I think is achievable as it didn’t turn out as a challenge in the end.


Keep monthly expenses below £950 per month (£11,400 per year) for the rest of the year

Result
ACHIEVED – It’s a clean sweep. Once I had a bit of experience of what I spent each month, it became apparent that £950 was achievable for me. My biggest spending month was December which was £1,052.01, my lowest spending month was June with £585.54. I averaged £837.05 for 2014, which averages out at £10,044 over 12 months. 

What Did I Learn?
The lessons from this goal echoed the ones from Saving rate above 50%. I thought keeping below £1,000 per month would be tough but it turned out to be fairly straightforward for me. I’m in a much better position to predict my expenses in the future now. 

As I mentioned in the Portfolio Target, I like going after set numbers like this. The target made me review every penny I spent, and it helped me reduce my expenses to a very low level. I’ve been surprised with how little I can live on and enjoy life at the same time. 

What would I do differently?
Similar to the saving percentage goal, I’m not planning on setting an expenses figure goal to keep below, but I will continue to record it and share the information. I want to invest more money into Personal Development and Charitable donations, both of which have suffered by me trying to limit my spending this year. 

There’s a consistent trend on all four goals now, but I once again underestimated what I thought was possible on this target. 


Summary
2014 has been a great year for me. I set up this Blog. I’ve gained lots of experience and knowledge in investing. I’ve learned how to live on £10,000 in a year. I’ve connected with some fantastic people in the Early Retirement / Financial Independence / Personal Finance community. I’ve exceeded all of my financial goals for the year. I’ve become a happier and more well balance human being and I can’t wait for what the future holds. 

It hasn’t all gone to plan though. I decided against Property Investing for now. I didn’t hit my physical/fitness goals because I had two lengthy periods out of the gym with injuries from an abdominal strain (8 weeks), which turned out to be Gall Stones, and an operation to remove my Gall Bladder (7 weeks). I didn’t achieve my relationship goal of two separate holidays with Miss FFBF and I ended up not having any time away from home on holiday at all in 2014. I didn’t hit my Over-achievement target at work, so I missed out on a lump sum of cash. You win some, you lose some. 

I’ve learned a lot on the way and I’m more determined than ever to crank things up a notch for 2015. You could say that I had an awesome year as I hit of all my financial goals. I think there’s an equally strong argument to suggest that I didn’t set the bar high enough for 2014. At the time of writing them, I thought I was setting the bar high, but I comfortably met them all. Were they too easy or am I not giving myself enough credit for stepping up to a challenge? I’d suggest there’s a bit of both in there. 

My biggest learning point in 2014 has been the POWER of setting a goal and tracking it

I can’t say enough about the importance for regularly checking in on your goals and your progress towards them. It makes something of you. I’ve made some BIG goals for 2015 and I’m going to be tracking all of them on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis towards the end of the year. Lets see what I’m really made of!

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that’s contacted me and left comments on the Blog. I massively appreciate the support I’ve received, and I want you all to know that it’s definitely helped me achieve the Goals above. 


How was 2014 for you? Did you meet your goals? What have you learned?

0 Comments

  • Mr Zombie

    Reply Reply 4th January 2015

    Nice one Huw. You smashed your way through 2014. I think you set some pretty tough goals and then made them tougher.

    It's all pretty new to me and I didn't set any goals last year.

    I think you are bang in – setting goals AND being accountable for them is a superb way to make progress.

    All the best

  • Looks like a great first year for you Huw. It reminds me very much of myself back in 2007/2008 when I started on my DIY journey. Roll on 7 years and I'm 77% of the way there and am on target for FI in less than 10 years.

    You're well on your way to early Financial Independence because those habits you've now formed in 2014 have been ingrained. Congratulations.

    Cheers
    RIT

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 5th January 2015

    Wow, when you list all those goals like that and show how you totally smashed them, it just highlights what a brilliant year you had, Huw! A big well done to you!

    Like you say, the dividends and the Freedom Fund values are hard to predict as they are to a certain extent beyond your control, so I see why you are over-estimating to stretch yourself, given that you hit your goals far too easily last year!

    Sorry to hear that you missed out on that target at work. I'm due my one-to-one with my boss later this month, where I may find out if I get a performance-related pay rise (in April) and if I get a bonus (in March). I have accounted for neither in my goals as they are not guaranteed.

    Yes, I agree that the setting of goals and regularly checking them is very powerful – I would not be able to save without them.

    I wish I had realised this around 5 years ago but well, at least I started when I did!

    I look forward to continuing to follow your success!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 5th January 2015

    Hi Mr Z,

    Thank you for that! I did well this year, but I could have set the bar higher. I've certainly set it higher for 2015, now I just have to see if I'm up to it!

    I'm excited and nervous about it. That's probably a good thing. Thanks for stopping by"

    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 5th January 2015

    Hi RIT,

    I've been really pleased with 2014. It was a landmark year for me. I have as much enthusiasm or perhaps more than I did last year too. I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm up to the challenge I've set myself for 2015.

    Outstanding effort there! 3 years to go. I wish you all the very best with that!

    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 5th January 2015

    Hi Weenie,

    Yes, I'm so pleased with how it's turned out. I'm not sure how much I turned it on by setting a goal, or due to how low the markers were. Now I've set the bar really high, I'll see if my performance is impacted by a lofty goal.

    I was a bit gutted about the bonus at work. In my line of work you know months in advance if you're going to do it or not, so I got other that one in the end. Things are looking much better for 2015, and I think I have a chance to get 100% of it in. Like you I won't depend on it though! I wish you all the best with your bonus and wage increase. My fingers and toes are crossed for you.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I wish I knew what I do now 5-10 years ago. How great would that be! Although I can't say for sure how important Goal Setting is, this years performance should give me an indicator. I have no doubt that it has a significant impact though. If I manage to hit my financial Goals this year, there will be no doubting it that's for sure!

    Thanks again for your support!
    Huw

  • Tawcan

    Reply Reply 5th January 2015

    Wow that's very impressive that you were able to achieve all your 2014 goals. Saving 50% of your income is pretty big and will do wonder for your investment portfolio. The two definitely go hand in hand. Setting goals and tracking them is definitely very powerful. Here's to a great 2015!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 5th January 2015

    Thanks Tawcan!

    As I mentioned above. I think it's a mixture of a good performance and a lack of ambition in my goals. I've turned it up a notch for 2015, and I'm looking forward to seeing how I fair now the stakes are higher. Thanks for the support!

    Huw

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