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Financial Goals for 2011 – What are Yours?

Since starting this blog, I’ve set financial goals every year to help keep me focused. One strategy that has been written a lot about a lot in the blog world is using the SMART goal strategy. SMART is an acronym for:

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Attainable/Actionable
R: Realistic/Relevant
T: Time Based

The SMART goal system is similar to my philosophy of making baby steps towards a larger goal where it creates a systematic method of achieving even the largest of goals.

As I’m still working towards my stretch goal of $1M in net worth by the end of 2014 (age 35), I’ll need annual financial goals to keep me on pace (baby steps).  For 2011, here are some of the financial goals that I have.

1.  Maximize Investment Contributions

This goal is something I have every year to push me to get those contributions deposited.  For this year, I’m looking to maximize both TFSA‘s ($10k), the RESP ($2.5k), and our RRSP‘s.

2. Grow our Net Worth

In order to reach the $1M milestone in 4 years time, I need to get aggressive in net worth growth.  This year, my goal is to reach the $600k mark which is an increase of approximately 20%.  Seeing that our net worth grew just over $100k in 2010, I’m going for it again!

3. Simplify our Portfolio 

 It takes time to watch stocks. As time always seems short, it’s only going to get shorter as we are expecting another addition to our frugal family in the coming months.  The solution?  I’m going to index a large portion of our portfolio.  My goal is to completely index my wife’s RRSP account with ETFs.  Likely similar to this low cost ETF portfolio I wrote about before.

4. Grow my TFSA

I admit that I can have issues spending cash, even when they are in an investment account.  First, there are very few stocks that get cheap enough for me to buy, and when they do, I tend to dabble instead of going all in.  My TFSA is sitting mostly in cash, so lets change that with a bit of a challenge.  Right now, the account is worth about $15,000 and I’m challenging myself to grow the account by at least 33% ($20,000 portfolio value) by the end of the year.  I’m going to call this my play account where I’m going to experiment with various investment strategies.

5. Give

Since we’ve started supporting local charities, we’ve automated the process on a monthly basis.  As our income has grown, I’d like to grow our charitable contributions to match.  For 2011, I plan to donate at least $3,500 to charities.  I’d like to hear some of your favorite charities for ideas!

What are Your Financial Goals for 2011?

With the SMART philosophy in mind, what are your financial goals for 2011?

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • MoneyEnergy January 21, 2011, 1:36 pm

    Congrats on the goals you’ve already achieved – wow! An increase of $100k is considerable. Posts like this one remind me that it is still January and still a good time to write all the year’s goals down. I’ll be looking to raise my online income by about 75%, pay off another student loan, and boost my monthly dividend cashflow to an even $200 (at least – right now there is a lot of variance between months).

  • Sustainable PF January 21, 2011, 1:46 pm

    Much like yourself FT we are looking to max our TFSA this year. We also need to pay back our HBP 1/15th (perhaps 1/3 of the remainder).

    What we really want to do is pay off two debts:
    1) my outstanding student loan (that thing never seems to die so I want to take it’s interest draining head right off this year)
    2) a personal loan from my Dad. It is a Prime + 0 loan on his LOC, and he keeps insisting we pay off higher interest loans first (student loan, then mortgage (which we’re no where close to paying off)) but we feel we’d like to not owe anyone but the bank money – especially Mrs. SPF as it is my father …
    3) we want to make some smart choices in our SM. We’re comfortable w/ our current holdings and we don’t have a lot of wiggle room atm having just gotten down to one household in late Sept – but we want to leverage.
    4) which leads to me learning a TON more about investing. It is still confusing to me so I need to further educate
    5) we too are looking to grow networth – I think our goal is about +$70,000 this year based on what I calculated a month ago.
    6) not focus too much on RRSPs. We both have public service pensions so we feel working on the TFSA and reducing our debt load are better options
    7) charity. We want to increase our contributions by 20% to $1200 this year. Thanks for the inspiration on this one.

  • Money Smarts Blog January 21, 2011, 2:02 pm

    Congrats on the 2nd baby. Trust me, it’s the second one that kills all of Daddy’s free time. :)

    Mike

  • tthompson January 21, 2011, 2:47 pm

    I have a pretty simple goal: At least 10% net worth growth, each and every year, to the age of retirement.

    I’m on the lower end of the income spectrum here at million dollar journey but last year I managed to increase my net worth by 15%, to $176,000

  • Mark January 21, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Our goal this year is to be completely free of consumer debt by the end of the year. This will make some of you cringe, but that means paying off approximately $40,000 in credit card and line of credit debt. As a start to the process, we took all our credit cards out of our wallets last week and froze them in bags of water in the freezer. We also established a $1000 emergency fund in our savings account, as it seems like whenever we get a little ahead with paying off the credit cards, “something” comes up that feels like an emergency. I’m so sick of this mountain of debt looming over us, even though we have enough income to service it. It’s ridiculous and it’s keeping us from getting a proper retirement plan moving, not to mention always feeling guilty everytime we buy anything remotely non-essential.

  • Jaymus (RealizedReturns) January 21, 2011, 3:55 pm

    being aggressive and targeting 33% is wise and the perfect place to do it. Since contributions are limited, early growth will give you compounding benefits. Lots of upside to using TFSA for investing.. just don’t forget the downside.. losses are lost and you don’t get the contribution room back (last year I was down to close to $2k on $10k contributed in my TFSA.. but I’ve crawled back in to the black now).

  • alexander45 January 21, 2011, 5:56 pm

    Yeah, I’m not sure TFSA is the right place to “play”. As Jaymus points out — lost money can’t be replenished in a TFSA.

  • 20 and Engaged January 21, 2011, 8:13 pm

    My main financial goal in 2011 is to eliminate my credit card debt by the end of 2011. I know it’s not going to be easy but it’s definitely necessary.

  • robb_stark January 21, 2011, 9:06 pm

    Our goal in 2011 is simple: within reason, save as much money as possible. We are not cutting cable and internet, and we will still enjoy our red wine, and go out occasionally to nice restaurants. But we will try hard to save $4000 – $5000 per month. By the end of the year we should have about 290k in savings. Our mortgage term is up early in 2012, and will have a remaining balance of 90k… so, if our savings plan works out, we should be able to eliminate the mortgage and have 200k left to play with…

    We are 38 year old DINKS, with net worth closing in on 1.3 million… and have dreams of retiring by 45….

  • Jessica January 21, 2011, 10:23 pm

    A suggestion for giving: http://www.kiva.org . This is not a charity per se (you won’t get a tax receipt), it is a grassroots microfinancing organization. You can get started for as little as $25, you can choose the specific project where you want your money deployed. When the load is repaid you can withdraw your cash, or choose to lend it out again. There is a small risk the loan might not get repaid (about 1.1% default rate). This is a fun alternative to a one-time charitiable gift.

  • Jungle January 22, 2011, 12:17 am

    Wow you contribute a lot to charity. That’s very generous. Congrats on the second child coming, you guys have done very well.

    I think we have goals, but they were set last year and on track to be completed this year.

    We need to pay off our 0% credit card by April, then we have to save for closing costs again, as we want to buy another place and up size.

    I am torn between RRSP vs TFSA, I need to figure it out. We have room in both. I have no idea what our income will be at retirement, nobody does really. Not an easy decision.

  • Robert January 22, 2011, 12:38 am

    My goal in 2011 is to have better than 0% growth. That would be nice.

  • krantcents January 22, 2011, 2:20 am

    I have used SMART goals for a long time. My financial goal is to earn an additional $2-3,000 per month in outside income. My plan is to generate it through my personal financial blog.

  • Gael January 22, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Congrats on #2!

    Last fall I set up a three-year goal plan (several categories, not just finances) which is going well…though already there have been changes.

    I’m working on increasing my income outside of my real job through a small side business that I started last year. I make regular contributions to my RRSP but, as I only returned to Canada two years ago, they remain pretty tiny. Most of my ‘extra’ income is going into renovations for my house. Last year was roof and electrical, this year will be three new windows and siding for half the house, apart from smaller renos that I can do myself.

    I work full-time and am a part-time student but am not sure if I’m in the right course. I may change and have to go full-time for a year (or two). I’m not sure how that is going to look, where I’ll be (rent out my home for a year) or how I’ll pay for it…so I need to start research on that next week.

    As for charities, I donate about 3% of my income to PLAN (www.plancanada.org). I have been supporting communities through PLAN on and off since 1987. I visited ‘my’ PLAN family in Java (1990) and two in Vietnam (2003). PLAN does great stuff without trying to convert anyone to a particular religious or philosophical belief.

  • John January 22, 2011, 3:13 pm

    For me it will be to pay off the last bit of my consumer line of credit. This is an extension from 2010 where I started with nearly $10k of debt. I’m now down to about $1500 and hope to have that (plus paying holiday bills) tackled by the end of March.

    Second is once the debts are paid off to use the freed up cash flow to contribute more to my TFSA (goal of about $10k) as well as building up a cash reserve in my chequing accounts so that I have a buffer for large expenses instead of relying on credit lines to pay them as this is where I ran into my trouble above. I hope to have a month and a half to three months of income saved up by the end of the year.

  • Janana January 22, 2011, 5:50 pm

    I am also 35 but with 3 children. It’s a bigger delta effort between the first and second child but much smaller between the second and third so hang on to it. Our goal is 1.25 mil by January 1 2014. We are at 450k.
    I am a strong believer in taking a few well thought out large (relative to net worth) investments and then sit on your butt and let compound.

    This is the quickest way building net worth and it’s the way that served me well so far.

    I believe that the smaller sum you start with the grater the risk you should take ie dont put 10k in bonds rather find a good one stock that can double over the next 3-5 years.

    Don’t bother to experiment investment strategy I have tried them all. You will average out minus or break even over an enough lengh of time.

    The best way is to find a growth stock buy it right and never sell as long as original thesis remains in tact. Where would you find such stocks? Well that’s a something you have to dedicate your life to like I am doing. It can’t be part time or hobby. What other area can turn 10k to 40k-150k in ten years? The rewards are enormous and principle is simple but clearly not easy to DO. I am a surfer dedicating my life to find a few big waves.
    Last year downturn provided me with one of the finest waved I’ll ever see. But knowing financial markets I will get the opportunity for more as well ad you.

    Brings me to a question; are both of you working and what’s your after tax household income? I am not a personal adviser or something. Just want to compare to my situation.

  • Hangul January 22, 2011, 6:41 pm

    Kudos to FT !!!

    Thank God I have no credit card or student loan debit. My only debt is mortgage. I owe $258K on my mortgage. My net worth is $475K which includes $130K equity in my home. My wife is home maker and we have 6 year old kid with second on the way. Our household income is $90K. So there is no room for error. We live within our means.

    As far as financial goals for 2011 are concerned. It is no different than others

    1) Make aggressive lump sum mortgage payment. If I can put in $25000 that would be good.
    2) House Renovations – $5000
    3) RESP contribution – $5000
    4) Maximize RRSP – $10000
    5) Investment Property – Generate $7000 in rental income after expenses. This is going to be challenge. I will be monitoring the rental income till Summer 2011.If I don’t see any progress. I will sell it off.

    Bottom line: With my expected income of $90K + $10K (bonus + rental income). I will have to save $35k to reach my 2011 goals after taking out taxes and expenses (including mortgage).This is surely not going to be easy.

  • Hangul January 22, 2011, 11:30 pm

    @robb_stark

    Saving $4000-$5000 even with two incomes is not a joke. I admire your appetite for savings. Both of you must have very high paying jobs in excess of $200K per year.

    When I was single I used to save one pay check and used the second check to pay all my expenses in a month. I believe if each one of you save one pay check $2K then $4K- $5K is very much within your grasp.

    Good Luck

  • Nova Scotian January 23, 2011, 12:53 am

    I have been debt free for over 4 years. I do not make a lot of money and live frugally. I pay myself first 30% which started Jan 2010 with a savings account already funded. All the income I make from other sources I pay myself first 30% as well. With the money left over at the end of the month, I put into investing in Dividend stocks.

    I hope to continue this strategy for this year and see where I will be in a years time.

  • Snag January 23, 2011, 2:00 am

    Main goal is 1 year of expenses in savings by the end of 2011. Also shooting to chop off some of the mortgage and boosting retirement balance.
    Awesome goals Janana sounds like you are hard at work- what type of annual ROR% growth rate are you aiming for on your existing assets?

  • Janana January 23, 2011, 3:48 pm

    Snag
    It’s a business just like buying a house is. I am looking at 10% + normalized inflation (3%) and I add the proper leverage to achieve the needed return exactly as I would do if I bought a house or operated a private equity fund.

    It’s a challenging task but look around you and observe who are the people that managed to obtain enormous net worth; they would be business owners that had grown or shareholder of business owners that have grown and they never sold their stock.

  • brokeprofessionals January 23, 2011, 5:27 pm

    1) Pay Down the 160k in combined student loan debt we have.

    2) Live off of one of our two salaries, pay down debt/save with the other.

    3) Increase our emergency fund, begin saving for when our cars go in a few years so we can buy decent used cars to replace them.

    4) Try to diversify income streams.

    5) Try to think of ways to be entrepreneurial.

    6) Try to buy an inexpensive house and get out of the endless renting cycle we have been in. 10 apartments in like 10 years.

    7) Feel financially comfortable enough to start giving to charities/scholarships.

  • robb_stark January 23, 2011, 9:11 pm

    Well, nothing spectacular about our montly income… $7400. But we live on about $3000 per month… including our smallish mortgage (about $1000 a month). The mortgage will be gone in about a year, then we should be able save close to $6000 per month.

    This savings strategy is our ticket to financial independance… we would rather do it this way than rely on the dangers of the market… but if our investments do happen to do well, things will work out much better, and quicker, for us of course.

  • canucktuary January 24, 2011, 12:19 pm

    2011 goals
    1. Increase Net Worth by 30%
    2. Aggressively monitor monthly budget to meet net worth goal
    3. Max out TFSA contribution in Q1
    4. 5% pretax RRSP retirement savings plan using automatic deductions
    5. Put 100% of spouse’s earnings into mortgage prepayments
    6. Maintain budget for 2011 vacation(s)
    7. $2,000 charity contribution goal
    8. Use up some gift cards that have been accumulating dust for awhile

  • Linda January 24, 2011, 7:50 pm

    My 2011 Financial Goals are:

    – increase income by 100% – I became self employed the beginning of 2010 and am trying to build clientele and income
    – reduce Manulife One balance by $10k
    – invest in RRSPs – didn’t do any for 2010 tax year do to low income – still trying to figure out amount I can afford but hoping around $5k
    – open 2 TFSAs – for both my husband and myself
    – sell remaining baby/unneeded items on Kijiji, eBay, etc. – income goal of $500

  • Natalie January 25, 2011, 9:44 pm

    We sponsor a child with World Vision, although there are other similar charities to choose from. I try to involve our 3 year old as much as possible when sending stuff, or when we recieve things from our sponsored child. There are many great teaching moments that arise from the experience, and I hope our children will better appreciate what they have as they are able to see on a regular basis other children who live under very different circumstances.
    Which I guess brings me to one goal for this year. We just had our 2nd child as well so when I go back to work I hope to sponsor a 2nd child.

  • Robin January 31, 2011, 8:34 pm

    I like to read goals by others. My goal is to have my HeLoc cut in 1/2 this year, and with twins entering college in the fall, it will take a lot of disipline to get there.

    As for charities, we support our local Church by tithing, and we give about that to Feed My Starving Children that packs food packs and send around the world. They do work with many other organizations as well. And not only do we donat money, we also have helped with food packing several times as well.

  • Mark Fuller February 2, 2011, 1:36 pm

    I think everyone should ask this question to themselves. What are your financial goals? With right objective, knowledge and support, you will surely be able to reach your goals.

    Rarely do we find an advice article that is loaded with information and knows how to explain complicated details in a very through manner. You did a great job here. Thank you for sharing this stuff to the world.

  • Kyranak February 3, 2011, 1:45 pm

    2011 Goals
    1. Pay off 8000$ in debts (small loan + credit cards)
    2. Have my 20 000$ extra cash for next house (2 condos right now, we will sell both in the next 18 months, for about 300k$, we have 230k in combined mortgage right now, we will buy a 250k house)
    3. Learn to invest! I’m 31, don’t really have any $ aside, finally have a good job (67k right now, will rise to 88k in 3 years (union job), plus have a good retirement plan with the company (crown company)

  • cannon_fodder February 10, 2011, 11:55 am

    There are many good posts of goals already. It’s heartening to see so many younger people getting excited about taking the path to financial independence.

    Last year we exceeded our goals so were certainly fortunate. We retired our mortgage after only 7 years and increased our NW by 44% instead of the 15% I projected.

    This year there will be some goals repeated from last year and some new goals.

    Been there, done that:
    1) Maximize contributions to RESPs, RRSPs, TFSAs
    2) Rollover no interest loan from MBNA
    3) Travel at least twice personally including one visit to a potential retirement country

    You CAN teach an old dog a new trick:
    1) Increase NW by 25%
    2) Grow non-registered portfolio to half of total NW
    3) Grow non-registered portfolio’s dividends by 10%
    4) Use leveraged ETF to gross gains equal to double combined income
    5) Adjust mix of portfolios based on advice from international tax accountant
    6) Create structure to reduce income tax, legally, based on advice from international tax accountant
    7) Maintain course on 2nd year of 4 year plan

    I didn’t realise we had so many goals until I wrote them down. Well, at least it isn’t as physically taxing as exercising to lose weight.

  • keenmachinist March 21, 2011, 9:26 pm

    the 2011 goals

    1) pretend i have a car loan, I place $300 each pay (every 2 weeks) into my TFSA
    in 2 years i’ll have enough for a good down payment on a 2 year model, after the purchase i will decrease the amount to $400/ month and add the $200 to the Mortgage

    2) I currently add $100/ pay to the principle of my mortgage

    3) company matches up to 5% to RRSP, I add 15%, thinking i should start a spousal and place 10% in that leaving mine with the 5 and 5%, she doesn’t work, yet….

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