Goals and Plans for 2008

As the end of the year approaches, we inevitably begin to look ahead to 2008 with a keen eye. Since I tend to be the goal-setting type, I’ve been thinking a lot about the goals I want to set for 2008, and I thought it might be informative (and perhaps inspirational) to share them.

My first goal is to eliminate all of my family’s non-mortgage debt. This includes $19,000 of my own student loan debt and $12,000 of my wife’s debt, a total of $31,000 in debt repayment (not including interest payments). Yes, this is my big goal for the year, and it’s going to be a challenge – we will have to buckle down quite hard to make this one happen.

Why make this such a big goal? By doing this, we not only avoid some serious interest paid out, but we eliminate about $500 a month in payments on these debts. $500 in a month is equivalent to what we pay to keep our oldest child in daycare, and thus that $500 a month would enable us to realistically consider a third child or move very strongly towards my leap to being a full time writer.

My second goal is to start up my oft-considered investment plan. I put it on pause for a while in order to get rid of my non-mortgage debts, but I’m hoping by the end of next year to at least be able to take the first steps in the plan. The goal of that investment plan is to save for a dream house in fifteen years or so – if I can dump in money at the rate I’m repaying debt, it may just happen ten or fifteen years down the road.

My third goal is to double the readership of The Simple Dollar. I currently have somewhere around 21,500 subscribers – by the end of 2008, I hope to be at 45,000. I also get about 600,000 visitors a month to the site itself – by the end of 2008, I plan to be at 1.2 million a month.

How will I do this? The biggest method is to keep writing good content for my readers, because that’s the sole reason The Simple Dollar is successful – the continual support of the readership. I have a bunch of great post ideas coming up.

My fourth goal is to pull the trigger on three major writing projects. The first one you know about – it’s the aforementioned cooking blog, which I’m still trying to define before I dig in and start. The second one will be announced in a month or two – it’s an interesting new way of looking at what’s already on The Simple Dollar that will really interest some of you and perhaps make many of you shrug your shoulders. The final one… well, that will just have to wait, won’t it?

My fifth and final goal is to spend more time with my children. The single best moment of my day is when my wife and my children stroll in the door if I’ve beaten them home. My son identifies my truck parked in the driveway, comes in the house, and yells “DAD!” in a loud voice of pure enthusiasm. To me, it’s exciting and enjoyable and a sign that I’m doing something very right, and I can’t wait to do even more with him. This year, I’m going to take off ten individual days and spend five each alone with each of my two kids, doing fun stuff with them.

2008 is coming, and it’s going to be great.

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  1. I love these goals!! They are precise, timely, and best of all ambitious. These are a great representation of good goal setting. You are to be commended for spending individual time with your kids. For me that was the best time I had with my father.

  2. Shan says:

    Trent,

    Fantastic goals. Thanks for sharing. I wish you much success in 2008!

    Shan

  3. Heather says:

    Great goals! You go boy! We’ll be cheering you on. Just one thought though, sorry, what special time are you carving out for just you and your wife. I’m sure you couldn’t do any of this without her. All the best to you and your fam in 2008!

  4. Heather says:

    Great goals! You go boy! We’ll be cheering you on. Hopefully, you just failed to mention the special days you saving for just your wife. I’m sure you couldn’t do any of this without her. All the best to you and your fam in 2008!

  5. I envy that looking for a new/better job is nowhere on the list. But possible leaving your current one to write full time is.

  6. Good luck on the educational debt, Trent. I’m a few months away from eliminating mine, and I couldn’t be happier about it =)

  7. Mark says:

    Good luck with the goals, they are ambitious and will leave you in a wonderful financial position.

    Paying off $31,000 in debt in one year is well beyond the reach of most people, but your special talent for writing (i.e. this blog income) has given you this opportunity, so by all means take advantage of it.

  8. Chris Credit says:

    I’ll help you by subscribing, Trent! I’ve read a couple of your posts before, and you’re a great writer, so I’m sure you can make it.

    My daughter is a year old, and she screeches in laughter and begins doing a “happy dance” when I come home. There’s definitely nothing better than spending more time with your family.

  9. One of the most enjoyable things about the end of a year is the motivation one gets to revisit goals and set new ones. Trent, you’ve got some good ones there and good luck with reaching them!

    Peter

  10. Tyler Corlen says:

    I’m completely agree about when the kids come home. When my daughter comes home and already knows I’m at home, she comes running, yelling “Daddy!”. When she sees me, her eyes just light up. But, what makes it so great is that it’s reciprocal. When I see her, my eyes light up, too!!

  11. Marta says:

    How are you doing on those 101 goals in 1001 days? Thanks to you, I made my own list and I’m raring to get started and checking those things off!!
    Great goals for 2008 and good luck with them!

  12. Trent,

    You know how prospective college and graduate students often set up target and reach schools when they apply. Along the same vein you should set up target and reach goals for the new year. It’ll allow you to create realistic and lofty goals for yourself.

    -Raymond

  13. Dan says:

    Great idea to take a few days for you and each of your children! It’s a helpful reminder for me to do the same.

  14. MVP says:

    Only five days in an entire year to spend with each of your kids?! Maybe I misinterpreted, and that’s going to be in addition to the loads of time you already spend with them. You should make spending time with your family a habit that happens on a regular basis. Sorry if I misunderstood, but five days out of a year just sounds really measly to me.

  15. Great goals, Trent. I look forward to seeing your readership increase that much, and knwo you can do it.

  16. dave d says:

    It’s rare that I, or my friends, spent ANY days with their parents from the moment they got up until they went to sleep, which is what I believe Trent is going to do.

    Good goals, Trent. I am also curious as to how your 101 Goals in 1001 Days is progressing. I’ve written my own and am starting them on 1 January (when things wind down after the holiday season, I get back from London, etc)

  17. Joe says:

    Great goals Trent!

    Just imagine how nice life will be without that debt over your head!

    I think I’ll go update my 2008 goals now…

  18. ShootDawg says:

    @MVP:
    I don’t think he means spending only 5 days with his kids. I think he means in addition to the normal time he spends with his kids, he is taking off 5 days from work, just to spend the entire day/time with them.

  19. Geron says:

    MVP: I think Trent means he’s going to take 5 days off work to spend totally with his kids. This is in addition to the weekends, evenings, holidays and any other time spent with kids.

  20. Marjorie says:

    Dear Trent,

    I only discovered your blog about 3-4 weeks ago but read it religiously. I really enjoy your writing and have found lots of great insights and ideas just from perusing your archives. You’ve also inspired me to create my own goal list for my various activities, including two blogs that I currently write and manage. I’m especially impressed that you’ve been able to keep up with what I can only imagine is a grueling schedule of a full-time job, a family with children, and all the work you do to maintain this blog (including the research!). If you can do it, I can as well, and I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

    Salut,
    Marjorie

  21. michael says:

    personal goal…write a book…a short one.

  22. Brian says:

    Hi Trent, I’m sure you get this a lot, but with people like John Chow making $18K plus per month with their blog (with less readership and subscribers than you), I think its a very realistic goal to become a full time writer. I notice you don’t focus much on monetizing the blog, is there a specific reason for this?

  23. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Almost every effort a person can take to monetize their blog interferes with readers. I don’t monetize nearly as much as other blogs because my primary focus is to attract readers and community participants, not eyeballs for my ads.

  24. Adam says:

    I agree with Trent on this one. My blog is also “monetized,” but at a very low level.

    When I go to a blog and see a zillion ads, I don’t even read what’s there.

    Admittedly, I don’t make much at all from the blog, but any money I do make is just “gravy” for doing something I enjoy.

  25. Great goals there Trent! I too am planning to get rid of my non-mortgage debt although I probably won’t be able to get rid of all of it in 2008. I did pay off all my credit card debt this year so I am happy about that.

  26. Jen says:

    I just started reading The Simple Dollar last week, but I am excited to check out your upcoming cooking blog! Judging by the quality of what I’ve seen so far on the Simple Dollar, I’m sure it will be great. Bring it on!

  27. lynn says:

    I read a few times per week… and have sent some articles on to friends, so I hope to help you reach your goal of increasing your readership. BTW, I also agree that the changes in posting haven’t affected the value of your blog. Good luck, Trent, and thanks for the frequent doses of inspiration!

  28. Benelli says:

    I am a casual reader of the Simple Dollar and enjoy your views very much. I use some of your ideas to keep myself in check and open discussion with my husband and mentally argue some of my points with yours and other readers. He (my husband) is a spender and I am a saver, I handle the finances in the family and we are very comfortable with investments, 529’s and our debt (mortgage only which I have no desire to pay off before the next 25 years, I am a believer of low price debt when my portfolio is still performing well and I have enough in investment accounts to cover my mortgage if need be). I think your 2008 goals are commendable but something I share with you and ask your readers to think about is this; if your life or your spouses ended tomorrow would the memories of paying off your debt and not taking the opportunity to do something else with SOME of your money or life energy be enough to carry you for the rest of your life or theirs? We faced that question this year and I am happy to say that every family vacation that took us around the world or item we bought for us or our children that brought a smile along with the moments I shared with them was what I thought about when I went in for heart surgery (I am 32) never did it cross my mind that I didn’t care for what I did for a living or that I didn’t have debt. It was the comfort of knowing that we spent it, shared it and saved it while we have it.

  29. Jaime says:

    After months of reading your site i’ve finally subscribed…..good luck with your goals for ’08!

  30. Amy says:

    Hi. I enjoy reading your daily writings. I received them in email form and pass them on quite often.

    I wanted to share story about my Sunday. I have “adopted” a family of four for Christmas (single mom with 3 children). No they won’t be coming to live with me. A community program announced they had families in need for Christmas gifts (specifically children). If one decided to participate, they could write a check or give actual gifts. I decided on shopping for the family. I contacted the Mom of the family to get some idea of needs, sizes, interest, etc. With my list in hand, I spent Sunday shopping strategically for the best (quality gifts/low prices) deals I could find. At the end of the day I had bags and bags of clothing, bedding, toys, etc.

    However, the reason for me writing to share is a common observation of mine when shopping. I visited a local chain store Goody’s for some deals. As I entered the store I noticed store a large stack of flyers sitting right by the entrance door. I picked one up and noticed on the back page was a coupon for 25% one item good for Sunday. As I made my around the store I noticed that no one had the flyer. No one was taking advantage of the coupon (free money). As I approached the cashier line, I observed the customers ahead of me in line. There were 3 lines with 5 to 6 customers in each line. No one used a coupon. Why? Finally my turn came, I used the coupon. Maybe the first person of the day but I would not be the last. I asked my 13 year old daughter to walk to the entrance, pick up a stack of flyers, and offer them to those customers in line that were obviously clueless. She handed out about 30 flyers. As I observed the people when she offered the coupon many looked clueless as though the coupon was some unknown never seen before object written in a foreign language. Everyone was appreciative. Who knows how much money was saved but more importantly I hope that maybe one person will look the next time they enter a store for free money. I picked up 4 flyers and used each one separately to receive the 25% off each item not just one single item. It did take longer as I had to pay 4 times but it was worth it. By not picking up a flyer at the entrance would have been the same as walking past a $20 bill on the floor. Thanks.

  31. Colleen Costello says:

    Your goals for 2008 inspired me to make some! I most love your idea of spending 5 days with each of your kids.

    I so enjoy the site.

  32. Michelle says:

    You are one subscriber closer to reaching your goal. I love your site and appreciate your work!!

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