Financial Goals for 2008: Reviewing Our Progress

A year ago I wrote up a list of financial goals for 2008. Today, I thought I’d take a look back at them and see how we did.

Retirement Savings

As expected, this one was a no-brainer. We maxed out our retirement savings across the board, though we were unable to make Roth IRA contributions as we were beyond the contribution limits. If you’re looking forward to the coming year, here’s a rundown of the IRA contributions limits for 2009.

Non-Retirement Savings

We continued saving aggressively outside of our retirement accounts. We also came up with a overall allocation plan that maximizes tax efficiency while achieving our desired overall balance of stocks and bonds. While the need for this was driven by our non-retirement savings, we implemented it across our full portfolio. Here are a few related posts describing the changes that we made:

Simplifying Our Finances

This one mostly successful, in that we dropped down to two main credit cards Amex Blue Cash and Chase Freedom while still keeping an old Citi MasterCard around for use at Sam’s Club. I ended up leaving our other Citi MasterCard since it reduces our apparent credit utilization, and thus has a positive impact on our credit scores.

As far as account consolidation goes, we still have a number online savings accounts that we don’t really use. These are partly a byproduct of my habit of opening accounts so I can write a review “from the inside.” Unfortunately, I’ve been lax when it comes to closing these accounts, so they’ve proliferated.

Finally, I’ve largely completed the task of automating our bill paying and investments. We’re automatically paying pretty much everything that we can, and I’ve set up e-mail and/or text reminders for the rare things that can’t be automated.

Protecting Our Future

This one is a big, fat FAIL. Once again, while we’ve gone to great lengths to protect our assets, we still haven’t closed the deal on a long term disability (LTD) policy for me. I have coverage through work, but we’re in the market for a private policy to provide supplemental coverage. It looks like this item will (once again) roll over to next year’s goals.

Creating a User Manual for Our Financial Life

Once again, FAIL. I’ve given quite a bit of thought to how this one will be implemented, and what to include, I haven’t taken the time to actually put it together. As I said before, “I’m envisioning a three-ring binder containing everything that she [my wife] needs — account numbers, insurance policy numbers, contact information, usernames, passwords, etc.” In truth, the usernames and passwords will likely reside in an encrypted computer file for added safety.

Kids and Money

This is one is a partial FAIL. In truth, I made a conscious decision to delay this one until the market settled down a bit. While we’ve stayed the course (and actually injected a bit more during dips) when it comes to our personal portfolio, I didn’t want to introduce the kids to investing during an uncharacteristically volatile market. That being said, I’m still not 100% sure how to implement this one once I decide it’s time, as we have four kids and I don’t really relish the idea of keeping track of four more investment accounts.


This one was mostly successful, in that I’ve aggregated most tax-related documents in a couple of places around the house (plus a few tax-related receipts in the car). Not quite as organized as I had hoped, but better than usual.

What About You?

How did you fare relative to your goals/resolutions for 2008?

12 Responses to “Financial Goals for 2008: Reviewing Our Progress”

  1. Anonymous

    Congratulations on your 2008 goals! Some comments…

    Kids and Money – Isn’t now a great time to introduce them to money matters? Let them see what reactions you are making in the family finances?

    Creating a user manual for your financial life – I intend to just use a password protected computer spreadsheet and put it on a flash drive in our “emergency bag”. That way in the event of a house fire, flood or other emergency (when you yourself might need to reference the information) you don’t have to remember to grab this big notebook?

    For my own personal goals, I am not sure I had a lot of qualified goals (or at least can’t find any with specific $ amounts associated with it) but in general…

    I now have an emergency fund of about 2 months expenses (and now that I am unemployed I might even need to tap it in 2009).

    Our debt was reduced by $13K.

    Minimum payments on our credit cards are < 1/2 what they were in Jan 2008. All credit card balances are on a 0% offer till the end of 2009 and while my job loss has reduced what we can put towards it, we still pay much more than the minimums.

    Good luck to everyone on formulating 2009 goals and don’t forget to check in on them every quarter!

  2. taxrascal: Yeah, I was really thinking of a user manual for my own, very personal, financial life. Keychain is a good analogy (esp for a Mac user!), or perhaps roadmap (to let my wife know where everything is located).

  3. Anonymous

    When I saw that you wanted to write a User Manual for your Financial Life, I thought your blog would count as a huge success there. I guess the description clarifies things a little — maybe your blog can be a ‘manual’, and that other project can be the ‘keychain’ (some computer programs use the ‘keychain’ metaphor for the list of usernames and passwords a single person uses — I know you’re going a little beyond that).

  4. Anonymous

    Maybe you set too many goals last year! Be very proud of your success – that way outweighs the failures.

    As for the long term care policy, I think you are too young to get the best deal for you – my research shows that purchasing it in your early 60s is the best for price vs. benefit. I will be anxious to read your take on this as you research it.

    Now, why not let those kids pick a product that is new and trendy and let them buy just a few shares of stock in that company. Don’t manage it for them, let them learn this like they have learned everything else – you walk before you run. Have a great 2009.

  5. Anonymous

    I understand wanting to protect your children and there money. However, During there life time they will encounter a dip in the market. Now would probably be the best time to get them in. Stocks on great companies are cheap some at 10 year lows. You could also teach them how and what to do IMO when the market does go bear.

    Use Google Finance portfolios as a “game” there no money is involved but they can learn from their mistakes. They can allot an initial deposit and choose a commission price to play with safely.

  6. Anonymous

    I definitely surpised myself this year with how much I was actually able to save while still managing to enjoy my life. I still travelled, went out, took time off, all while reaching all of my financial goals. To be honest I coudn’t have done it without entering the world of pf blogs. I started researching pf at the start of the year and ever since have been hooked.

  7. Anonymous

    I have managed to pretty much attain all my goals. Maxed Roth, Paid about half of my total debt, and healthy. As long as you have good health to continue working and doing the things you love each and every day, that is all it really matters on the end.

  8. Anonymous

    I was able to max my IRA, come close to 401k, and bought a house. Pretty big financial moves in 2008 for me. I’m hoping to do the same with the IRA and 401k, and find ways to increase my home value.

    Best of luck to all in 2009.

Leave a Reply