Can you believe another year has come and gone? It seems like just the other day that we rang in 2017 and wondered what might be in store for us. The year turned out to be a great one for investors in nearly all markets. The S&P 500 total return, which includes dividends, came in at just over 21% for the year. The housing market remained hot, though listing an “average” annual return wouldn’t quite do it justice, as the markets are highly localized. Even bond markets saw a decent uptick, with the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund returning roughly 3% for the year. All of this occurred while interest rates remained low and inflation was held in check. Overall from a financial viewpoint, 2017 turned out to be a very impressive year. Will 2018 live up to the hype that many investors and analysts are forecasting? We aren’t so sure. Rather than try to predict at the macro level, I’ll instead focus on what I am doing for the blog, as well as my own personal financial goals that I’d like to accomplish this year.
I started Financial Fixation back in January 2017. My intention was to cover many topics, including retirement planning, financial independence, and general economic theory. I set the not-so-lofty goal for myself of writing 10 posts throughout the year as something to just keep me busy and to see if I enjoyed the work. It turns out that I have really enjoyed writing and I plan on doing more in 2018, hopefully posting every other week at a minimum. Traffic to the blog increased every month of the year through October, at which point I slacked some and stopped contributing and marketing the blog as much as in the past. This resulted in traffic decreases in both November and December. I’m happy to still have generated so much traffic in my first year of blogging. Before getting into the goals of 2018 lets take a quick glance at the highs and lows of 2017.
11,175 visitors came to Financial Fixation during 2017
October marked my highest visitor count for a single month – totaling 1,966 unique visits!
705 Twitter followers as of 1/1/2018 (Thank you all!)
Several companies/individuals contacted me regarding business collaborations
Two guest posts were submitted to Financial Fixation during 2017
Very little traffic due to social media
January marked my lowest visitor count for a single month – totaling only 45 unique visits!
Two posts account for 80% of all visitors to Financial Fixation
Site design could still use some work
Slacking in November and December on my part resulted in decreased traffic
The I’m Not So Sure
One of the best links to the blog from an external site is from lumberjocks.com – a high traffic woodworking website
For a blog in its first year I was quite satisfied with the results. I recently renewed the site and am looking forward to doing even more posting this year, all while keeping the content informative and intriguing. So, what does Financial Fixation hope to achieve this year?
Achieve site traffic of 20,000 visitors during 2018 - Since the beginning days of Financial Fixation didn’t generate too much traffic in months January – April, I think this one should definitely be attainable, especially if I stay up on the posting and develop more of a social following. Breaking this number down to a monthly amount means that I must average 1,667 visitors a month, an amount that the blog achieved in six out of the twelve months in 2017.
Publish 26 high quality posts – This means that a post once every two weeks should be expected. Although I am going to try to post weekly, I know that sometimes life happens and we can’t always make time for the writing. Either way, I plan on sticking with the writing throughout the year.
Attain 1,200 followers on Twitter – Just like my writing in November and December, I was basically off of social media as well. I plan on doing more posting and interacting with visitors to generate a closer following. Since I’m already over 700 followers on Twitter, this one shouldn’t be too difficult.
Complete the “Thoughts From” series – I’m very excited about this series and have five more people that I need to interview to complete the series. This series looks at saving and retirement from the perspective of people at different age groups. The goal is to find out how people go about saving and what their concerns are going forward. The initial post can be found here.
Have content featured on a major site – Financial Fixation has some great ideas going forward and through one of these posts I hope to get the name out there a little bit more. Through networking and publishing high-quality content this should be achievable.
So there you have it. Five goals for the blog for the new year. In addition to writing out my goals for the blog I also thought it would be worthwhile to list my personal financial goals for the year. I heard that writing down your goals improves your success rates, so with that in mind here are a few of my own for the year.
Increase my net worth by at least 20% - in 2017 I realized growth of 32%, no doubt heavily assisted by the rising equity markets. I understand that this goal for 2018 is heavily dependent on market returns. it’s still one that I choose to list as my net worth is tracked quarterly and I highly recommend that everyone do if they aren’t already.
Achieve a personal saving’s rate of 50% - Whoa whoa whoa, what?! A 50% savings rate?! I know it sounds ridiculously high, but the way I’ve automated my savings and am contributing heavily to pre-tax accounts it may be achievable. This will definitely be a stretch goal for me, but one that I am going to strive for rather than just set the bar low. Some people calculate their saving’s rates in different ways so I’ll take this opportunity to share how I calculate mine. It’s important to note that dividends, interest, and capital gains or losses are not included in the calculation.
Savings = 401(k) contributions (employee and employer) + Roth IRA contributions + HSA contributions + after-tax savings
Income = after-tax net income + 401(k) contributions (employee and employer) + HSA contributions
Savings/Income*100 = personal savings rate
Generate an additional source of income – Currently my only true income comes from my work within corporate finance. I do generate some income in the form of interest, dividends, and bank sign-up bonuses, but nothing too significant. I’d like to generate an additional source of income to help diversify my income streams. This will help me going forward if something should ever happen to my job. A few ideas that I’ve been thinking of include investing in a rental property, taking on additional work as a driver for something such as Uber or DoorDash, generating money online, or starting a business on the side (consulting, tutoring, a website?).
No matter what happens in 2018 I will continue to hold high expectations for both Financial Fixation and also myself. Here’s to wishing you a fantastic 2018.