Hello folks! Thanks for visiting today. 2017 has come and gone. It’s time for me to update you on my 2017 annual goals with my final quarterly post. Did your 2017 new year resolutions last? For me, I’m happy to report that I did reach some of my 2017 goals and I’m very proud of that. It was quite a year for the Swan household. But as you’ll see below, I also fell woefully short of some goals.
So without further ado, let’s take a look!
- Increase our Investment portfolio to $1.2 million
Nothing like starting out with a bang! This goal was crushed. I can only take so much credit as obviously the goal is reliant on market performance. And The market certainly outperformed in 2017. The S&P was up over 21% when assuming dividends are reinvested. That’s almost 3x my long term expected return from the stock market of 8%.
Lucy and I started the year with just over $1 million in invested assets. With solid contributions throughout the year (as shown below…) along with the strong market performance, we ended the year ~$1,330,000!
We track and monitor our investments using Personal Capital. It is free and easy to get started. Click here to Join Personal Capital now!
- Contribute $115K $130K to our investments
Check! Although we didn’t necessarily knock this one out of the park like the prior goal. We ended up contributing a total of $130.7K to our various investment accounts.
While we just barely met this goal, I will say we are sitting on a pretty good chunk of cash on the sidelines right now. We’ve been on cruise control with our investments since basically half way through the year, stockpiling extra cash in our savings account temporarily.
Why? Simply because my siblings and I are in about to acquire another small business. This acquisition will require more money than what our current business can currently afford on its own, and therefore my siblings and I will basically need to invest as much additional money we can come up with. No doubt this acquisition will be stretching us a bit financially.
Want to hear more about the acquisition? Wait two or three weeks and I will have a two-part article ready to post and share with everyone!
With that being said, I will be using the nearly $50K I currently have sitting on the sideline in a savings account along with the vast majority of my current taxable brokerage account to invest into the small business in the coming weeks.
Knowing this was coming, I halted any additional investments in the last six months outside my normal 401k contributions in order to receive my corporate match for the quarter and max out my $18K contribution limit. Had I not done this, and instead invested normally, I’d been around $150K with about $25K in savings ready to max out Lucy and my Roth IRA contributions in January like normal.
Additional Notes from the Year:
- If you follow The Green Swan closely, you know I’ll be retiring early. So you may be wondering how I plan on accessing these retirement accounts when there are age limits on qualified withdrawals. Well wonder no more; I not only plan on accessing them penalty free, but also tax free. And those plans won’t change with the recent tax reform signed into law!
- In early 2017, Lucy and I reassessed our plan to fund college education for our kids. We went in depth on our thoughts while also asking for reader feedback on our 529 plans, and followed it up with a post on our 529 plan conclusions. At this point, no additional contributions are contemplated. Our kiddos are young (3 and 9 mo), but we consider our 529s fully funded and look forward to watching them grow as the kids grow.
JW’s Personal Goals
Health and Fitness
- Take the steps at least 3 days a week every day of the week!
I was motivated to accomplish this goal when Mr. Money Mustache challenged me to take the stairs every day (rather than the initial 3 times a week). It started off rough, climbing 14 flights daily, but it did get easier and I was enjoying the challenge.
I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this goal. I was proudly crushing until I switched jobs in August at which time taking the stairs was no longer feasible. I detailed the scenario last quarter so I won’t rehash it here.
While taking the stairs was never truly easy, now that I can’t take the stairs anymore I feel like I’ve been short-changed and am missing out. Hopefully folks that do have the option to take the stairs and get just that little bit of additional exercise take advantage!
- Bike or do insanity videos 3 days a week
Sadly, this goal has gone by the way-side basically since our second kiddo was born in April. I will get back into regular exercise eventually, it was just a too much to keep it going with everything else going on with now two kids. I completely underestimated my ability to find the time for this, but there is something to be said about the limits of willpower to jump on an exercise bike after a full day of work and being a dad.
Not accomplishing this goal does not change my everlasting focus on living a health lifestyle. About the time I dropped regular exercise, Lucy and I made the fantastic change to going vegan. Ultimately, to live a fully optimized health lifestyle a health diet and regular exercise is necessary and I will get back to this. But I’m pretty satisfied with how great switching to veganism has been for me and the whole family.
I just got an annual physical last week and my blood test lab results back and I was impressed with how much the numbers improved from 9 months earlier. Keep in mind, 9 months ago I was eating a “healthy” diet with limited red meat, etc. while also exercising regularly still. Since then the exercise has basically gone to nil and the diet has switched to a whole-food plant based diet (vegan) including lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Based on these changes in lifestyle, it’s hard for me to not chalk my improved numbers to vegan diet. So what were the numbers exactly? My total cholesterol dropped by 20% and my glucose blood sugar dropped over 15%!
For a little more context here, I’ve been tracking my lab result data for the last 7 years. I’ve always considered myself a healthy, active individual. Nonetheless, my lab results have never been this good…ever! Vegan power!!
- Keep beer and alcohol consumption to evenings when I don’t work the next day
As I’ve mentioned in my prior quarterly update posts, I had good intentions with this goal but I quickly fell off the rails. While it isn’t great for the extra calories or expense, I do enjoy having a cold one on occasion, even during the workweek.
I don’t really think it is all that unhealthy either since I only have one per night and I’m not overworking my liver. Plus, after all the good going vegan has done, can’t I enjoy a splurge or two on beer throughout the week?!
- Push boundaries and get outside my comfort zone
Check! I’m very excited to have reach this goal. Although from my initial expectations at the beginning of the year, I didn’t end up where I thought I would. Throughout last year I began looking for a change and Lucy and I thought we’re for sure going to end up moving to London. That fell through because of a massive reorganization of my company’s international operations and management. While this may very well be an option yet in the future, the reorg will take some time and I’ll want the dust to settle a bit before I consider another big move like that.
Nonetheless, I did need change. Having patience through the process and considering the best long term options for me, I ended up finding a position still with the same Company. To read more about it, check out how I made a career change for the better and also why I’m stepping off the ladder.
Now having been in the new job about 5 months, I can look back with confidence and say it was a career change for the better. I’m very happy with the new gig. It has been everything that I was expecting and hoping for. Plus, it has been not only a great change for me personally, but also for the family.
I’ve pushed boundaries. I got outside my comfort zone. It was a very tough decision, a risky decision, but it’s worked out to be better for me personally, professionally, and for the family.
- Improve The Green Swan blog performance
Not much of an update in the fourth quarter on this front. Obviously I’ve still been actively posting on The Green Swan, but on the backend of the site I haven’t had much extra time to devote. Nonetheless, I did make good strides earlier in the year to improve the sites performance and speed including hiring an outside IT professional, switching to a better website host in SiteGround from Bluehost, got rid of some slower ads, and also bought a new theme (…the look and feel of the website) that is more optimized.
I’m happy with the progress here. I picked a lot of the low hanging fruit, but will continue to optimize the site in the future in order to improve the user experience.
Lucy’s Personal Goals
- Workout 3 times a week
Well this goal has kind of fell by the wayside. Good thing it’s January… start to jump back on the bandwagon! In my defense I’ve maintained a healthy diet (as JW mentioned above) and stay active (thanks to chasing 2 kids around) so maybe it’s not such a terrible thing. I’m certainly not gaining weight, but I could do more toning and such. I’ll admit, I’ve failed on this goal for Q4.
- Try 2 new recipes a month
This goal is a bit more exciting. We hosted Thanksgiving this year which prompted us to find some fun vegan recipes that the whole family would enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, we still cooked up a good sized turkey, but we made sure to have plenty of other dishes for the non-meat eaters (read: us) to enjoy.
JW got real into this too and helped out by searching online for some recipes. His favorite was the Hearty Vegetable Pot Pie. It was a crowd pleaser and was featured on everyone’s plate.
The dish I was most excited to try was the Maple-Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts, but unfortunately it was a huge downer. Don’t blame the recipe, blame the cook. Like always I ordered our groceries online at Walmart. My plan was to double this recipe so I ordered 2 bags of Brussels sprouts. I must have missed the fact that the items I bought were frozen Brussels sprouts and not fresh. Let’s just say the recipe was one for people to try, but not to enjoy.
Last, but not least was another recipe we tried that has quickly become one of our staples. It is the Vegan Chili and once again even non-vegans approved! It was delish.
It’s safe to say I knocked goal #2 out of the park… does it make up for my short fall with goal #1? No? Ok, you’re probably right… eating and finding new recipes doesn’t wash the lack of exercise. Cheers to 2018!!
So that’s a wrap on 2017! What a good year Lucy and I had on many fronts. And what was only brushed-on in the article that was actually our highlight of the year was the birth of our second son! We feel very blessed and fortunate in so many regards. Here is to an even better 2018! I wish you happiness and prosperity as you enter the new year!
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan