So last year sucked. I’m sure everyone can agree with that. I figured I should make a list of goals to at least try to make this year better than 2020.
I started eating healthier in November 2019 and was doing pretty well with it until the pandemic hit. I’ve slowly started making better decisions but it’s going to take some time to get back to where I was.
I bought a FitBit when I started eating healthier in 2019 with the hope that it would cause me to walk more since I could keep track of my steps and it gave hourly reminders to get at least 250 steps. It worked for a few months before the pandemic shut everything down. I’m now at the point where I need to stop being lazy and start hitting 10,000+ steps a day. Working from home has made it so I really only have to walk 10′ from my bedroom to my office so I’ve been slacking on my steps. I’m going to start attempting to do more walks with my Maisie. The exercise couldn’t hurt her and I definitely could use it. She’s not a big fan of the cold though so we haven’t done much besides walking around the yard for 10-20 minutes at a time since it got cold. Until it gets warmer I’m going to set the goal of at least 40 minutes of walking in the yard with her daily and longer 1+ mile walks twice a week, weather permitting. She doesn’t want to walk in the rain or snow and quite frankly neither do I. I live on a road with no sidewalks so it makes walking while it’s raining or the day after it rains difficult because we end up walking in mud when we can’t walk on the actual road due to traffic. Once the weather warms up we’re going to work up to 1+ mile walks daily and then work up to twice daily or even maybe 3 times a day.
Pay Off All Debt
I want to get my debt completely paid off. I actually don’t have a lot it’s just been difficult to keep it paid off due to not having work because of the pandemic. I didn’t have any work for 7 months last year so my credit cards, unfortunately, took the brunt of the financial burden. The business finished a project 2 weeks ago that will let me put some money towards paying down my debt and we’re supposed to have another project potentially early next month that should hopefully let me pay the rest of it off completely. If not it will at least make a large dent in it. The client has 5-6 projects they want to complete between now and Q1 2022 so I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting it completely paid off this year. Though that’s what I thought last year then a pandemic hit causing us to lose 7 months of work so…hopefully that doesn’t happen again.
Just like with my debt going up due to the pandemic my savings account went down considerably to pay bills while I had no work. Truthfully I’ve needed to save a lot more than I have been for potential future loss of work. I can’t say 10 years ago when my brother and I started our first business that I thought I ever had to worry about a global pandemic and not having any work for more than half the year but now that it’s happened I need to work on how I split my money between my paying bills, buying things I need, buying things I want, and putting money in savings. I’ll admit the last few years I’ve probably bought a lot of things I didn’t necessarily need but I wanted.
From here on out savings take priority over wants. I’m going to sit down and make a budget with a certain percentage of my pay after bills and needs going into savings and a much much smaller portion going into a separate account for things I want. It will take longer to buy things I want but it will give me a chance to really decide if I actually want the item or not. Plus it would be nice to have a large chunk of money in savings in the event Maisie ever needs any kind of expensive veterinary care. I have insurance for her that will cover 90% of the cost up to $15,000 for treatments but the bill comes out of my pocket and the insurance company reimburses me so I kind of need to have $15,000 in savings at all times which I currently don’t. I do however have Care Credit that will help with smaller emergencies up to $3,600 and credit cards that can take up a large portion of anything over that but obviously, they all will need to be paid off likely before insurance reimburses me. Now that I’ve written that I might have to go wrap Maisie in bubble wrap to make sure I didn’t just jinx myself.
I have a checking and savings account with M&T Bank. There’s one in Chester, one in Easton, and one in Denton that are what most people would consider “close”. I used to work in Chester so it made sense to open my accounts at M&T Bank because I could leave work on Fridays with my paycheck and drive the 0.3 miles to the bank before they closed at 6pm.
When I left that job in September 2011 I kept the accounts because we opened our business checking and savings accounts there so we would only have to visit one bank to do all of our banking and it wouldn’t be a big inconvenience. Fast forward to 2015 when we closed the previous business and started our new business. We opted to go with Centreville National Bank, now Shore United Bank, because they have a branch 3.4 miles away from home that I pass to go grocery shopping or to visit my mom and one 0.6 miles away from the office we were renting at the time in Chester that we passed daily to get to the office. Plus there was one 4.2 miles away from the office on the way home off an exit on the side of the highway we would be driving on. So it gave us a lot more options for depositing checks or getting money out of the ATM for a business purchase.
Now that I work from home and no longer have that office in Chester it makes going to M&T Bank an inconvenience. It is now a 40 minute round trip to go to the M&T Bank, not including traffic delays. So this year I want to move my personal accounts to Shore United so I can make one stop for all of my banking. The only thing I’m going to miss about M&T Bank is its ability to print custom debit cards. For the last 5 years, my debit cards have always had a photo of Maisie on them. As far as I know, that’s not an option with Shore United at the moment.
Open A Roth IRA / Max Out Contributions
This is one of those things I should have done the minute I got my first job out of college. Had I set up an IRA right out of college and maxed out my contributions every year since, not counting this year, I could have around $74,000 saved up so far. Hindsight is 20/20 but this is the kind of stuff kids need to be learning in high school to prepare them for the world.
So I’m going to open an IRA this year when I have a decent chunk of the $6,000 limit saved up. Then I’m going to do all I can to hit the maximum contribution as quickly as possible. This is one of those needs vs wants moments I mention when it came to replenishing my savings. Realistically with one bigger project i.e. one that takes 4-8 weeks, I could max it out. I would probably have to delay paying off my debt completely to make it work but the majority of it would be paid off and I’d be saving for my future at the same time. The goal once I hit the $6,000 limit is to start putting money aside for next year’s IRA contribution. I’d love to be able to get to the point that by the end of every year I have the following year’s IRA maximum contribution ready to be deposited at the beginning of January.
If I max out my contributions to my IRA every year, and the maximum stays at $6,000, I’ll have $96,000 in it when I turn 50 and can start adding an additional $1,000 a year. When I turn 50, assuming the maximum is still $6,000 a year, I’ll be able to add the additional $1,000 a year. If I contribute the full $7,000 each year until I’m 70 that’s an additional $140,000 putting me at $236,000. That doesn’t take into account any money I’ve put aside into savings. I should at minimum have the same amount in savings by the time I turn 70. As far as I’m concerned I don’t ever intend to stop working so between savings, the Roth IRA, and income from working I should be financially ok in the future.
Learn A New Skill
This is really something everyone should be striving to do each year. I want to learn a new skill that can make me money. It doesn’t have to be something that can make me money right away but something that 5-10 years down the line if I want to do something else with my life I will have options for ways to support myself. I’m not sure what I’m going to focus on learning this year. This is one of those things where I have a lot of ideas but I can’t do them right now due to financial reasons or space limitations. For example, I’d love to get a metal lathe and learn to use it but I don’t have space for one where I live now and I don’t have $10,000+ to spend on one the size I want. Same thing with welding. I’d love to buy a welder and start learning but I don’t have space and I’m not going to attempt to learn to weld outside. Maybe in the future, I’ll be in a good enough place financially to rent a small warehouse space that I can use for a metal lathe, welder, hobbies, and a few other skill’s I’d like to learn.
This year however I’m thinking the best thing to do is learn something new that can be applied to the business to get either bigger projects or projects we can’t currently do. It will not only be a skill I can use in the future but something that will make the business more money which in turn will make me more money so I can save more, learn new skills, etc. I will have to do some research to figure out what would help the business and myself the most.
I want to seriously start looking for some land. Ideally something between 20-40 acres. I don’t need a house on it or for it to be cleared. I just want the land to build a house on in the future and not have to worry about neighbors. It’s unlikely I will actually be able to buy anything this year but I want to actively look to see what’s available.
I don’t know the last time I read a book. That being said I’m going to start reading again. I have a bunch of books that I purchased and have not read yet. So I’m going to try to read a book a week. Looking at the calendar I’m 3.5 weeks behind that goal. I think once I get into reading again I’ll probably be able to catch up.
I only have two goals for Maisie this year. I want her to get her Intermediate Trick Dog Title and Advanced Trick Dog Title from the American Kennel Club. She already has her Novice Trick Dog Title but I’ve been slacking on doing everything to get the other two. My goal for the last 2-3 years has been to get her the Advanced Trick Dog Title but my being lazy and things coming up has caused me not to spend the time on it. Not this year. She is going to have her titles by the end of 2021. We might not have the titles in hand by the end of the year but they will be completed and everything will be submitted. Hopefully, we can get everything done by June/July. That would be nice.
Implement New Hourly Rate
We haven’t increased our rate since we started the new business and we felt it was time to do so. We didn’t want to do anything crazy that would drive clients away like jacking it up 50% or something. We opted to raise our current hourly rate by $10/hr. None of our clients have had any issues with our previous rate and we don’t expect them to have a problem with an additional $10/hr. We routinely work longer than our scheduled 8 hour days. The extra $10/hr won’t make up for those extra hours but it will help some. We’ve currently implemented the new rate and will be applying it to any quotes we submit this year.
More / Bigger Projects
I want to do more projects or some bigger projects. I’d like to have a more steady stream of income and whether that’s doing more smaller 2-4 week projects or doing fewer projects that take 8-16 weeks I’m ok either way. It honestly gets boring finishing a project and knowing clients have other work they want to be done but they’re not ready to start it yet. We end up just sitting around bored for a few weeks while we wait for approval to start or for an RFQ to be sent over so we can quote it. It’s hard to look for more work with new clients when you know you have a project to quote that could come at any minute. The last thing I want to do is take on work for a new client that’s going to take 3-4 weeks and then have one of our current clients have work they want to start a week into the new client’s project. As a team of two, it’s impossible for us to take on two projects at the same time. I’m sure my brother would be willing to try it if we could dedicate 16 hours a day to work spending 8 hours on each project. The problem with that is who’s project do you work on when? What happens if they both are 9-5 businesses that want to be able to contact you about their project during the same hours. It would be a nightmare and we don’t need that kind of stress.
Replenish Business Savings
Just like with my personal savings the business savings took a huge hit due to the pandemic. We still had all of our business bills to pay through the 7 months with no work. I’d like to build it up a lot this year. If we could get three weeks of work every month we could put a full week’s worth of pay into the business savings account and have a nice chunk for any kind of emergency or for upgrading equipment or renting an office.
Dog Friendly Office
I would LOVE to be in a position by Q3 to rent an office that is dog friendly. I do better when I have an office setting than I do at home where there are a bunch of distractions. We’ve actually tried the whole office thing twice since we started the businesses. Once in 2012 when we rented a small building for a really great price but had to get out of that contract because we literally could not get any form of internet access at the address even though we were in the middle of town. I don’t know why we couldn’t get internet from at least one provider but I spent a week trying to find a way to get internet. It’s hard to run a web development company without the internet.
The second time was in 2014/2015 where we needed an office because a potential client at the time wanted to come to see our office. We ended up finding an inexpensive office located in the same building I used to work in Chester. After 5 months there I moved and we ended up firing the client for constantly wanting to make changes outside of the project’s scope, refusing to pay us for our work, and not doing their research prior to starting their project. Once the lease was up 7 months later we started working strictly from home.
I want a dedicated office where I don’t have to A) worry about distractions, B) not have non-work related stuff in the same room, and C) clients can come to visit if they want. I don’t want clients in my home. Really I don’t want anyone in my home that doesn’t live there unless specifically invited by someone that lives there. I also want to be able to take Maisie to work with me. I love being able to take a break and play with her or pet her when I’m stressed.
We’re currently using Early 2015 13″ MacBook Pro’s with a 2.7GHz Dual-Core i5 processor, 16GB of memory, and 128GB hard drives in the business. We had 27″ iMac’s from 2012-2016 but once we stopped having a dedicated office and started working from home we didn’t have the room for them to be used. Eventually, we sold them while they were still worth something. It would be nice to upgrade to a 16″ MacBook Pro with a 2.6GHz 6-Core i7 processor, 32GB of memory, an actual graphics card, and a 512GB solid-state drive.
Ideally, if we can get a dog-friendly office it would be nice to have 21.5″ iMac’s at the office as our primary computers. With the extra room, we could also upgrade from the inexpensive black & white laser printer for a color multifunction laser printer, set up a dedicated NAS, and have room for an area specifically for design/paperwork.