2011 Goal Review and 2012 Goals

Mon 02 January 2012

In January I published five goals:

  1. Learn and practice SEO techniques.
  2. Explore website revenue and analysis.
  3. Reinvigorate K-SLUG student participation.
  4. Impress folks by being great at my new job.
  5. Write down tasks to improve productivity and quality of life.

Arguably I accomplished 4 of them. Obviously this isn't 5 for 5, and the main reason is that I spent more time really analyzing my personal finances. I've been keeping personal books since 2007, but this year I had some unexpected family obligations as motivation to really bring it up a notch. I dug into the local library collection on personal finance in August, and I've basically reached the point where books just repeat themselves. The mundane stuff has been automated for quite a while, so I can just focus on planning, analyzing and tweaking. I've used 2011's last paycheck to work up tax returns and found a bug in my annual budget spreadsheet's tax calculations.

To put the knowledge to the test, I started asking and answering questions on reddit and StackExchange's money subsites, where I found a couple of neat options university employees that I should write a full post on. The bad news is there's so many small tricks to consider, it can soak up as much time as you let it. But I did actually make some changes, so it's not a total analysis paralysis. I opened and funded a savings account, and tuned my health insurance policies during open enrollment. I came up with a conservative estimate for FSA allocation to save on taxes. I moved away from the semi-luxury apartments for a cheaper yet comparable place, with garage parking to boot. I researched how to sell used video games and moved half of my video game collection.

Goals for 2012

  1. Be awesome at my new role.
  2. Finish catching up on my backlog of games and podcasts.
  3. Book diet; no more than 12 books this year.
  4. Establish a retirement savings goal and act on it.
  5. Twelve informative blog posts; no mindless link propagation or blogging about blogging!

Some of this is lessons from last year; I started coming back from the library with more books than I really have time to read, so #3 is an attempt to rate limit myself, because I found out that Microsoft Research has like two thousand video lectures online, so I'll never actually catch up to that, but I can catch up on the podcasts from the past few months. And finish selling off video games to roll them back into the budget.

Goal #4 is really about finding a balance between saving and spending. I think I have the unusual problem of saving too much. While it's been crucial for helping out sick parents, my basic retirement strategy is "don't buy anything and save everything you can," because I haven't really figured out how much I can spend and still retire comfortably.

And #5 is about commiting to putting the polishing touches on a few posts that have been brewing. And cutting back on blogging about goals--this shall be the last until 2013!

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