Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.
Harvard University once did a study on goal-setting, using members of its class of 1953. The result: Twenty years after graduation, the 3 percent of that class who wrote down their career goals had a higher net worth than the 97 percent who did not write down goals.
My most productive years have been those in which I write down very specific New Year goals, which I take much more seriously than mere “resolutions.” My wife and I sit down every December and draft a “Moss Family Goals List” for the coming year. It covers seven categories, each containing three to five goals.
Here are a few of my goals for 2012:
• Continue exercise with boot camp and CrossFit workouts four to five times per week.
• Finish a half triathlon. Right now I can see being able to do the run and bike, but can barely swim across a large puddle. This will be a tough one.
• Maintain ideal weight range. For me, that’s 190 to 195 pounds.
• Eat a higher-protein, lower-sodium diet
• Continue our Friday “date nights,” three times a month.
• Keep the children active in sports.
• Find a name for our baby, due at the end of January!
• Use local memberships with the kids at least once a month — Atlanta Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Georgia Aquarium.
• Continue to max out 401(k) and IRA accounts.
• Continue to provide 401(k) matching at our firm
• Open college savings account for the newest member of our family (due Jan. 28!).
• Begin DRIP account to buy shares in Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Southern Co., Johnson and Johnson and AT&T. (A Dividend Reinvestment Plan is a way to buy stocks directly from publicly traded companies, with any dividends going toward buying additional shares, rather than cash payments.)
These companies fit my 2012 stock theme – the SHUT index (for Staples, Healthcare, Utilities and Telecom). The SHUT index targets defensive dividend-paying sectors of the stock market that should do well (relative to other industries) in times of flat or very moderate economic U.S. growth.
• Redo monthly household budget and see how we can lower our expenses despite adding a new baby to the family (did I mention the due date’s at the end of January?).
I’ll keep you guessing on my Career, Social, Charity and Home goals, but these categories cannot be overlooked.
Last year I hit 14 of my 16 listed goals. That makes me want to stretch a little further in 2012.
I wish you a wonderfully prosperous 2012. And I’d love to hear some of your goals for the new year.
– By Wes Moss, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog