Updated on 12.11.08

Goals and Plans for 2009

Trent Hamm

Roughly a year ago, I wrote an article entitled Goals and Plans for 2008 that specified the things I intended to do during this year: eliminate all of my family’s non-mortgage debt (didn’t quite make it), start an investing plan (yep), double the readership of The Simple Dollar (yep), pull the trigger on three writing projects (two out of three ain’t bad), and spend more time with my children (yep). All in all, a pretty good year.

Just like last year, I find myself looking forward to 2009, identifying the things I want to accomplish during that year. Here are the five big goals I’ve defined for the coming year.

My first goal is to eliminate my remaining student loan debt. That’s the only non-mortgage debt we still have, and it’s locked in at a percentage significantly higher than our mortgage. Thus, it’s our big financial target for the coming year.

For us to make this goal, I need to make an overpayment of roughly $1,200 each month on that debt. If I do that, the loan should be completely gone by the end of the year, leaving us with just our mortgage for debt.

My second goal is to write a manuscript for a second book. I want to write more of a “meaty” book for my next one, and I have a lot of ideas as to how to go about it. It’s going to be quite a bit of work – a different kind of work than writing 365 Ways to Live Cheap.

I intend to start this book in the spring. I find that I have more success starting big creative projects in the spring than in any other part of the year – summer is usually filled with a lot of breaks from writing to spend time with my family, fall is very routine-oriented, and winter is usually heavily in the doldrums.

My third goal is to get more involved with local politics. I am interested in running for a local political office in the near future, one that will likely eat up a sizeable slice of time on a regular basis.

I very much enjoy the process of local politics, as it often feels that the decisions you make and discussions you participate in directly affect the community around you. I look forward to the opportunity to get more involved with it.

My fourth goal is to lose a pound a week – a total of fifty two pounds. I’d like to get my weight back to what I weighed in college, which was the point in my life where I felt the healthiest.

The biggest change I’ll need to make to reach this goal is to incorporate more exercise into my life. In early January, I have a few appointments scheduled with my doctor, a dietitian, and a physical trainer to help come up with a reasonable and healthy plan for me to reach this goal.

My final goal for 2009 is to make a strong, concerted effort to let some of the most important people in my life know how important they are to me. I hope to do this in the form of letters and videos and to give these things the time and attention they truly deserve.

There are a lot of people in my life that I care for a lot and it’s often difficult to express to them how much they mean to me. By making this a priority, I hope I can find ways to let them know what they really mean to me.

What are your goals and plans for 2009? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Curt says:

    Sounds like a good plan. I think you should also consider, speaking about personal finance, as the need to money management is likekly to grow. Speaking also gives you a great place to market your books.

  2. Battra92 says:

    Good luck on the losing weight. I lost 60 lbs over the last 2 years and I am below my high school weight (which feels AWESOME!)

    My goals for 09 are to:

    1) Maintain that weight loss (harder than taking it off)

    2) Pay off my car loan (might be done this month anyway)

    3) Pay off a chunk of my student loan

    4) In the name of all that is good and decent and move out of my parents’ house!

  3. Good luck with your weight loss goal Trent. A pound a week is a very manageable and achievable goal. Spend some time with some weight loss blogs, we are always looking for a few good men in this space.

  4. leslie says:

    @Battra92: Goodluck paying those off and take advantage of living at home!

    That made me realize that I spend $8800 on rent/living expenses a year. I could easily have my car and credit card paid off with that!

  5. luvleftovers says:

    Trent, I think I’m going to join you on the pound-a-month weight loss! It’ll be easier knowing I’m not ‘alone’.

  6. Nate says:

    I’m with you trent on telling the ones I love that I indeed love them. I’m not the best with feelings, but maybe a photo album or letter will do the trick


  7. JT says:

    50+ lbs. in a year? 1 small goal at a time… start with 5 lbs. in 1 week and see how far you get.

  8. These are great goals Trent. I am amazed sometimes on how much we have in common. I too am interested in running for local political office someday. I wish that I was not like you in the need to lose weight, but I too should lose 50 lbs. to get back to my college weight. lol

  9. Amber says:

    One pound a week is an excellent goal! I am a few short months away from being a Dietitian and I’m so glad you are looking to get to healthier! If you need help forming a plan and don’t want to go to a dietitian I recommend going to mypyramid.com they have all kinds of tools to help track what you eat and your progress. Good luck! with your obvious discipline I think you’ll do great Trent!

  10. Jade says:

    Here we go, to make a long story short:
    1. I’m joining the “lose a pound a week” club.
    2. Pass the last two parts of the Enrolled Agent exam.
    3. Get my adult education teaching credential.
    4. Take my real estate broker’s exam.
    5. Pay off my credit cards.
    6. Add to my emergency fund.
    7. Have another yard sale in September to help clear out more clutter.
    8. Read 30 self improvement books (checked out from the library of course).
    9. Take a relaxing vacation with my boyfriend for our 6th anniversary.
    10. Take my dad and boyfriend on another vacation to go visit some relatives.
    11. Read 10 banned books.
    12. Check out a new classical music CD from the library every week and listen to it.
    13. Finish all 20 Coffee Break French podcasts I’ve downloaded and all 40 Coffee Break Spanish podcasts.
    14. Get my passport.
    15. Set a date and a major for graduate school.
    16. Write a Christmas letter and send Christmas cards to my relatives.
    17. Send birthday cards to my relatives on time.

    I have a few other goals as well, and I also have these goals more clearly defined in a MS Word document on my computer…

  11. Marcia says:

    Good luck on the weight loss. I lost 57 lbs 6.5 years ago with weight watchers online. I’ve had a few ups and downs since then (having a baby will do that to you).

    It’s totally doable if you commit to it. Right now I’ve recommitted to lose those 10 lbs I gained this year (5 on vacation, 5 since). Better to do it now than wait until it’s 15 lbs.

  12. These two goals you mentioned are going to on my RADAR screen: “get more involved with local politics” and “lose a pound a week – a total of fifty two pounds.” Good luck with all goals and hope you achieve them.
    A Dawn Journal

  13. The Other Michael says:

    Congrats on your 2008 progress! And good luck on your new goals.

    One recommendation: I’ve found great info regarding weight loss and fitness at bodybuilding.com (in the forums). It sometimes gets a little juvenile there, but stick to the over 35 forum and you’ll find plenty of guys with the same goals as you, as well as plenty of encouragement along the way.

  14. Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy says:

    I’m still contemplating my goals and plans for 2009, but a couple big things that I know I will want to accomplish are:

    1. Try to get some regular customers for the part time computer consulting company that I started late this year.

    2. Start another blog (I’ve had so much fun with YFNCG and I think I have a good angle to try on another blog)

    3. Record and release a full length CD of my original songs.

    4. Complete a mini-triathalon.

    Wish me luck guys!

  15. Movingonup! says:

    My goals are:
    1) To be out of credit card debt by July. It’ll be the first time out of credit card debt in 10 years!)
    2) Start saving for a new car
    3) Start my long term savings account ($3000) in which I will eventually mutual funds.
    4) Pay off at least half my debt to my boyfriend
    5) Increase retirement savings from 17% to 20% of my income.
    Good luck everyone!

  16. AD says:

    1. Continue 5-day-a-week workouts, plus one yoga session, to maintain current weight.
    2. Start building our home (with 20+ percent down, of course!) by the end of the year.
    3. Finish up emergency fund by May.
    4. Start saving for trip abroad.
    5. Remember to let the little stuff go.
    6. Pick up where I left off in Italian.
    7. Start learning French.
    8. Cherish every moment I have with family and friends, and never take my wonderful husband for granted.

  17. Valerie says:

    Nice goals, Clint.

    I’ve been successful with weight loss a few times. I had initially stated my goal as losing “## pounds.” The last time I attempted to lose weight, I was able to maintain the goal. I restated my goal not in terms of weight loss but as weight maintenance. For example, “I seek to achieve and maintain a healthy weight of ### pounds.” That becomes a sustainable goal — not a brass ring and later permission to regain the weight.

    I think Oprah Winfrey has shown us that we can lose 20, 30 , 40 pounds, but maintaining the healthy weight is more than a single goal.

    We have all the confidence in you. Thanks for be a wonderful educator for all of us.

  18. Mol says:

    Trent I urge you to read the South Beach Diet book if you haven’t allready before you go out and make an appointment for a dietitian. It gives a good nuts and bolts understanding of how food affects your body. I’m going to try not to preach it, because I know everybody is always recommending some diet, but I would recommend this one to anyone. I lost 30 pounds painlessly on it. I call the book my bible and Curves my church.
    Congratulations on this years goals, and good luck on the next!

  19. KC says:

    It looks like you have a great set of goals. however losing that much weight is going to be hard unless you are 80 pounds overweight, IMO. You might strive for a goal like 2.5 hours of cardio a week and 2.5 hours of weights/resistance workout a week. Then you could see where those workouts lead you.

    I was about 20 lbs overweight and I tried all year to meet both the above goals. I’ve lost about 5 lbs and, more importantly to me, am not gaining weight back. It’s very hard to get back to a certain, younger weight. But I think if you look at the process more than the end number you’ll feel better, look better and if you fail to lose that exact number you’ll still have positive energy about your weight and appearance.

  20. Tom says:

    My goals for 2009 are:
    1.)Pay off my line of credit.
    2.)Continue to add to my savings. Long term goal is to save one-year’s living expenses and take a year off.
    3.)Increase my hourly rate as a contract accountant.
    4.)Increase my monthly retirement plan contribution.
    5.) Lose 10 lbs – hire a trainer and continue yoga.

  21. Strangely enough, I just posted about my goals for 2009 yesterday.


    Mostly to do with gardening and more self-sufficiency.

  22. Tosin Matti says:

    My goals for 2009 are:
    1. Pay down my credit card and loan debt.
    2. Save more money for the future.
    3. Get my own place.
    4. Find a job in graphic design.
    5. Get my passport and driver’s license.

  23. brooke says:

    My goals for 2008 were to work towards being more physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually fit. I have cut alot of “fat” out of both my diet and my budget this year, so next year I will work on the emotionally and spiritually part. I do have smaller goals that I lay out, but having this overarching framework in mind keeps me on track.

    And for the record, I lost a pound a week the month of November, and it felt great! I was definitely overweight for my height and age, not so much that it had affected my health yet, but I joined weightwatchers.com and love the program. Really, losing a pound a week just took the ‘points’ program to make me realize what all I was eating on a daily basis. I will soon start exercising, and hope to increase my weight loss to 2 pounds a week until I reach my goal weight- or my “pre-desk job” weight!

  24. DB Cooper says:

    I encourage my athletes to create goals, but I always try to steer them toward S.M.A.R.T. goals:


    Some of the goals listed in these replies are worthy, but don’t meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria, and are thus less likely to succeed.

    Check out the S.M.A.R.T. website for more info. http://www.topachievement.com/smart.html

  25. Asiyah says:

    I so enjoy reading your site. You always remind me of things that I haven’t quite gotten to. That in mind, I’ll be sitting down this weekend to tweak our financial goals. Good luck Trent! You can do it.

  26. LTruslow says:


    Good luck on the goal of attaining public office. I served one year as a town commissioner, three years as mayor, and four years as a county commissioner; all before age 35. It was a rewarding time in my life. And you are right, local government is where the real issues that face everyday citizens can be dealt with absent partisan politics.

  27. Lurker Carl says:

    Losing weight is so simple, eat less food. Easier to preach than to practice, just like debt reduction.

    Best of luck attaining your goals.

  28. "Pat" says:

    A pound a week sounds like a good aim. One strategy I have found to work very well, is to do just 10 minutes a day of whatever excercises you do. It’s easy to knock of 10 minutes, doing each exercise for only a minute or two each, and switching to different ones for the 10 minutes. This way, you start feeling encouraged quickly. You also feel good. All this leads to your increased incentive to keep it up. Don’t be surprised if you achieve it early. It also helps to eat heavier meals early, light meals toward evening. That right there will accelerate your achievement and help with maintaining what you accomplish.

    On the matter of paying off debt, my family made substantial progress this year, and we plan to continue paying down the balances. I am interested in supplementing our household income by running a home based business. I could really use a few pointers on any that you or your readers have experienced to be legit., fairly moderate to get into in terms of cost, and that really do pay. Any experiences to share on this?


  29. SS says:

    Hi Trent,
    I am making my list now. I have had it in my mind.
    Thank you. It is that time. I am use to making my
    goals in december for the new year.

  30. Derek Kay says:

    @Comment #6 – 5 pounds a week is not healthy. Careful with your goals guys. Shoot for one a week.

  31. Bill says:

    Good article,

    1) Pound a week sounds like a great idea
    2) continue 10% into 401(k)’s (evil rich people can’t use Roth’s)
    3) $7800 into 2 kids 529’s
    4) $13000 to pre-retirement taxable accounts
    5) Save for 20’th anniversary in 2 years, need $7000
    6) Give to Charity (Having a lot trouble with this one, just not a giver..)
    7) Drink less
    8) Win the battle with moss in the yard (Oregon)
    9) Kill that f*nking mole in the front yard!!!!

    I really admire your drive to serve locally, I was moved last election, when 3 office’s no one ran. That can’t be a good solution.

  32. Broke M.B.A. says:

    Hi Trent,

    I just wanted to say hello! I enjoy reading your blog on a daily basis and must say that you have inspired me to begin blogging myself. I will soon be purchasing your “Build A Better Blog” e-book and look forward to reading your tips and advice.

    I relate to your content and find that a couple of my 2009 goals are in-line with some of yours. Can’t wait to get rid of those student loans.

  33. Studenomics says:

    My list for 2009:

    1. Physical- continue putting on muscle
    2. education- continue working hard in my undergrad studies with the end goal of getting into a MBA program.
    3. hobby- Work on my blog and try to spread its popularity

  34. Matt says:

    Trent, at a $1200/month savings and $700/month food bill, that’s >$30K/year gross income already. You must be making some pretty good money!! :)

    My goals are to:
    1.) Save tons of money, to pay for lawn, sprinklers, landscaping, paint, etc for our new house :)
    2.) Save for our wedding and honeymoon this coming October.
    3.) Lose weight. Preferrably 40 lbs, but I’d be happy with 20lbs.

    Trent, are you going to keep a weekly journal of your weight loss? I’d love to try keeping stride with you, it’d be good motivation for me.

  35. Battra92 says:

    @leslie: Thanks for the encouragement! My parents do charge me rent but it is much much less than anything out there ($200 a month plus I buy/cook food sometimes) Part of what has kept me home is that there is no decent housing on the market right now, it seems. Just crappy apartments and houses or stuff outside my price range. Prices are coming down, though so it’s only a matter of time.

    Neighborhoods is the biggest area of my life where I am a snob. In some ways it’s the only area where I am a snob.

  36. Roomfarm says:

    Great list of goals. I am still working on mine for next year. I think the point about telling people who are important to you that they are is a critical one, and I intend to adopt it as a goal. Thank you for that inspiration. Fostering connections with people in our lives, and acknowledging their gifts, especially in hard times, is so important.

  37. DivaJean says:

    My goals for 2009?

    1) Maintain employment/income.

    2) Keep out of debt. (I have only my mortgage- its paid 2 months ahead & I always pay $100 more towards the principal every month).

    3) Provide for family.

    4) Raise my kids in a respectful, meaningful way.

    All the goals about weight loss might be so much pipe dream if things continue to tank. I’m thinkin’ potatoes, carbs, fats etc might not seem so bad if they keep me & mine going.

    I will similarly not make sweeping goals for exercise- since keeping goal #1- employment- might mean way more hours at work.

  38. Lisa says:

    Finish my dissertation. I’ve been floating around in ABD world and realized that I am wasting a lot of money paying tuition every semester.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  39. Jessica says:

    Well, my husband and I just bought our first home last week, so I move on in my money goals!

    1. Increase emergency fund from 6k to 17k.
    2. Save 10k for next car.
    3. Pay off husbands 4k loan.
    4. Yoga 2x week (currently at 1x/w)
    5. Rountine dance practice.
    6. Maintain healthy fitness level.

  40. Kevin says:

    My goals are:

    1) Cut our spending by 10-15%
    2) Keep saving at least 20% of our income
    3) Consider moving into a new, but modest home
    4) Keep enjoy my wife and son and not get too stressed about work
    5) Determine our “crossover point” and start a savings plan to get there in a reasonable amount of time
    6) Try to find my “higher purpose” in life

  41. Goalhunter says:

    My goal is:

    1) Qualify for the Boston Marathon
    2) Earn more from my businesses than from my job
    3) Get a six-pack by July 1
    4) Teach my 4 year old how to read any Robert Munsch book by July 1.
    5) Teach my 2 year old how to add and the alphabet.

  42. Ellie says:

    1)continue losing weight (52 lbs gone, thank you sparkpeople.com!)
    2)save 2000 bucks for my first car
    3)pay off what little debt I have (besides student loans)
    4)create 1K emergency fund
    5)NOT use financing to buy anything besides a car
    6)Be totally amazing at my first post-graduate job, with the goal of moving safely up the ladder instead of being at the bottom where people are more likely to get chopped!

  43. Laura in Atlanta says:

    Goals for 2009:
    1. Create a CD ladder with an $11,000 CD that matures in February.
    2. Save $3000 to Emergency Fund, currently at $1000. (Preferably $5000, but I’d be happy with $3000)
    3. Add additional CDs, laddering them. Goal: 6 (new)$1000 CDs, maturing every other month.
    4. Continue 10% contribution to 403B, 6% contribution to TIAACREFF, $200/month contribution to ROTH IRA.
    5. Simplify, simplify, simplify . . . I’m finding I’m happier with ‘less’ clutter in my life. Continue with donations to Goodwill/Salvation Army and unloading things on Ebay.
    6. Read 100 books. For the past 8 years, it’s been my goal. I’m a big reader anyways, and routinely read 85 to 90 books a year. Never made it to 100, but I want to! I’m SO close!
    7. Do not buy a ‘new’ book until all the ‘unreads’ on my To Be Read shelf are read. It’s about 20 books, I really want to finish them prior to adding new stuff to my library!

  44. Marcia says:

    Oh, and if you’re more of an “on-line” person than a “in-person” person. I also know of an on-line dietitian (a group of them).


    It’s a company started by a very good friend, that has expanded to include other dietitians. You get a personal review of your diet and your goals. They were very helpful at adjusting my diet post-baby.

  45. Sara says:

    For losing weight, I highly reccomend two free online resources: http://www.sparkpeople.com, and Podrunner Interval Podcasts. Sparkpeople is like a college course on how to transition to a healthier lifestyle including nutrition, motivation, and fitness. You really really really should check it out. The Intervals podcast is a special mix designed to help you being running. The first series is called First Day to 5K. I’m on week six out of ten now, and I can’t believe that I am actually enjoying running! It’s not a workout, its a personal challenge. Its a skill. It’s more motivating to try to go a longer distance, or a faster speed, than to slog through another 30 minutes of motion for the sake of exercise.

  46. Elisabeth says:

    I’d imagine you already thought about this, but I agree with comment #1. I bet you’ve got enough readers that if you did a small tour, people would definitely come out to see you and buy a copy of your book. I’m guessing you would rather spend time with your family than go out on the road, but maybe you could make a road trip out of it.

  47. 1. Complete the Couch-to-5K program (hopefully also shed some extra pounds in the process).
    2. Pay off our last debt. We are “overpaying” on our loan right now, and rent (no mortgage) so we will be out of debt by May or so.
    3. Max out 2 Roth IRAs.
    4. Simplify/focus my business. I’ve been “dabbling” in a lot of different things in 2008 and want to focus on the illustration aspect of it.
    5. Develop wholesale relationships with at least 3 military spouse clubs for fundraising.
    6. Start a military blog and an in-home preschool/homeschool blog.

  48. Mike McMahon says:

    From someone who did that 100 Life Goals list thing in his early 20s which included: Run for public office I would offer the following: Precison is the key in goal setting. Your current stated outcome is: get more involved with local politics. Nothing wrong with that provided you decide how you plan to measure it. For me, I ran for public office in the 90s (hence being able to check of the goal) but was not satisified. After two more unsuccessful attempts at being elected, I was finally elected to a local school board in 2002. My advice for more involvement, check your local governmental agencies and find a commission that requires community members to serve. A great way to start.

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