Hello $wanigans! Thanks for visiting today. We outlined our 2017 goals for the Swans at the end of December and today is our first update to hold ourselves accountable. So without further ado, here is our update on the swans’ 2017 goals through the first quarter of 2017.
- Increase our investment portfolio to $1.2 Million
Lucy and I are off to a good start so far thanks to the continued stock market rally. Will it give up eventually? You bet, but when? As a long term investor I ride the roller coaster of ups and downs with the knowledge that over the long run the returns will average out to a solid 7-8% growth.
We started the year with just over $1 million in invested assets. With solid contributions through the first 3 months (see below…) and good performance in the stock market, we are currently sitting at $1,145,000. Hopefully we can finish as strong as we started!
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- Contribute $115K $130K to our investments
To date, we have contributed $86.5K to our various investment accounts as outlined in the chart below:
It has been a solid start to the year on this front, but the first part of the year is always that way. We usually keep a little extra cash at year end to be ready to invest and max out our Roth IRA contributions right away to start the year. So there is $11K invested right off the bat…I know, kind of cheating year end for the benefit of next year, but that’s what we do every year so it evens out.
The first part of the year is also a little front loaded because a decent chunk of my pays comes in the form of my annual bonus. I usually receive my bonus the second week of March which leads to a greater than usual contribution to my 401k and a good chunk also gets funneled immediately to either my taxable brokerage account and / or the 529 plan.
I initially estimated $115K in contributions for the year because I thought my bonus was going to be a little lighter than normal. Turned out that wasn’t the case (hooray!), so I’m bumping this goal up to $130K today.
Our goal was to invest approximately $70K in Jr.’s 529 plan by age 3 which he turns in April 2017. Letting it grow and compound over the years should allow it grow enough to fully fund his college education costs. Coming into 2017 we had invested $50K of this already and so we made it a priority to wrap up in early 2017 with the remaining $20K. Check! That’s done. Just in time to start saving for the next one…!
We regularly contribute to our 401k somewhat evenly throughout the year. We’ve been able to max these out since 2012…except in 2015 when I made one of my investing mistakes and regrets. So far this year Lucy and I have socked away $22.4K in our 401ks.
Lastly, I participate in a high deductible health plan tied to an H.S.A. Lucy is usually on this plan with me but since we knew a baby was coming in 2017 we moved her to a lower deductible (although higher premium) plan that her company offered which made more financial sense. So I will be contributing my max to the H.S.A., a whopping $3,400 including $800 contributed by my employer for completing certain preventative health screens, training sessions, etc. So far, I’ve contributed $3.1K and the remaining was already invested in the first week of April!
For the record, I contribute to this plan for the great tax benefits it offers (pre-tax contributions, earnings on investments are tax free, funds are invested efficiently in a S&P 500 index fund, and withdrawals for health expenses are tax free). This is a great tax efficient investing vehicle to pay for health needs later in life. For any health costs I can swing today out of pocket (including labor and delivery for our newborn) I will in order to preserve this tax efficient investment vehicle.
JW’s Personal Goals
Health and Fitness
- Take the steps at least 3 days a every day of the week!
Initially my goal was to simply take the stairs at work (to floor 14!) 3 days a week. What a cop-out huh?! Well Mr. Money Mustache himself gave that goal a swift kick in the rear (literally in my buns and thighs) and challenged me to take the stairs EVERYDAY! I accepted the challenge and glad I did.
Let me tell you, taking the stairs SUCKS! I have plenty excuses to quit and start taking the elevator again…
- I’m panting at the top (actually I’m panting at around floor 5…) and my heart is beating on overdrive.
- My right knee feels a shooting pain occasionally (primarily just on the descent, but in general my joints seem to be not in the best shape). While worrisome at first, it hasn’t gotten any worse so I plan on just monitoring it for now.
- Nobody else takes the stairs!
But what would MMM do…of course he’d tough it out. So I do too. Every day I have gone to work, I climbed the stairs! Persistence pays off. While it has gotten easier over the last three months…I don’t expect climbing that many flights of stairs will ever be easy!
- Bike or do Insanity videos 3 days a week
Not too shabby here. A slow start in January, and brief lapses in mid-February and again in early March haven’t held us up from keeping our goal (thanks to visitors in February that pushed us off schedule a bit and some long work days in March). Lucy and I both worked out over 43% (3 out of 7) of the days in all three months. Now the test will come in the second quarter with birth of our newborn…!
- Keep beer and alcohol consumption to evenings when I don’t work the next day.
I have to say this is one goal I haven’t done so well with. It doesn’t help that shortly after making the goal I saw this post from fellow blogger Early Retirement Now. Turns out a drink a day isn’t necessarily bad for you…so I blame ERN! This is still a goal I’m trying to do better with though as I don’t need the extra calories or expense.
- Push boundaries and get outside my comfort zone.
I’m working on it! There was a little delay to the potential plan to move to London with the announcement of a reorg of international operations at my company. But Lucy and I both think this is something worth pursuing further so hopefully it will just be a matter of time before it works out. Either way, we’ll need to find a way to push boundaries.
- Improve The Green Swan blog performance.
I’ve certainly tried! There is still room to grow here and I’m not done yet. So far this year I changed up the look of the blog with a new premium ($$$) theme that should help with speed and performance.
I also switched up my host provider whose servers are used to store and run the blog. Previously I used Bluehost. They were great to get my blog up and running while in its infancy. But Bluehost is known to be one of the slower hosts out there since they have older servers stocked full of websites and they don’t use solid state drives on their servers. I’m not a “techy” by any means, but I was told this alone can account for a 30% drop in overall site speed.
I switched hosts which thankfully is easy and free. SiteGround came highly recommended and they offer a starting price for $3.95 / month for up to 3 years (compared to their traditional price of $9.95). Can’t beat locking that price in!
Hiring some outside help ($$$) I was able to identify a certain ad provider as being the cause of some of the slow site responsiveness along with a few other miscellaneous coding related items. I’ve resolved both of these issues and hope it results in better site speed / performance as well.
So far, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in the first quarter having successfully switched themes, hosts, and ads. I’m satisfied with the success to date. There may be a few other things on the to-do list on the site speed front and I will continue to actively work on this to improve the user experience.
Lucy’s Personal Goals
- Workout 3 times a week
Lucy here… not much to report out that JW didn’t mention above. We stayed on the same workout schedule so far so see our combined workout chart above. We typically do our workouts in the evening once the little guy goes down. I do have to pat myself on the back (and give a big thank you to JW for encouraging me) for working out during the whole pregnancy. Granted my last few bike sessions were nothing like I would have done prior to having a bun in the oven, it still gets my heart rate up. With the newborn now I anticipate we’ll be on slightly different schedules. If this maternity leave is anything like my last I’ll be out every day going for a walk with the babe. It’s the perfect time of year here in Charlotte to be on leave and get outside.
- Try 2 new recipes a month
I crushed this goal in January with some creamy chicken biscuits and our new scone recipe, but fell behind in February a bit when we hosted family a couple weekends. March was a bit of the same as I spent more time prepping the house for baby #2 to join us. Listen to me… excuses, excuses. Does cooking Blue Apron recipes count? We did recreate a Blue Apron recipe in March so maybe that one counts, I just don’t have a link or to prove it. Here is my new goal and promise to you, the readers… while on maternity leave I will spend more time searching for recipes, save them (thank you Pinterest!) and ultimately cook and share with you.
One other quick update…I mentioned above that we are ready to start contributing to the 529 plan of our coming newborn. Well, on 4/1/2017 we were blessed with our second boy. And no, this is not an April Fools joke which many of my family members were thinking when I let them know we were on the way to the hospital. Our little nugget was a healthy 6 lbs 13 oz at birth and Mom is doing well with her recovery. The in-laws (reinforcements) arrived on 4/8 so we are hoping to catch up on some rest!
That is it in a nutshell. To wrap, we’ve done good on the financial objectives and health & fitness goals. Still some TBD’s on the personal front with getting outside our comfort zone and work in progress on the blog goals and with trying new recipes. Not a bad first quarter. The second quarter will have new challenges with our newborn, but here is to continued momentum!
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan