Top 5 Hits And Misses For 2011

As we come to the end of the year, now is the time for reflection.  I generally don’t have many regrets because what’s the point?  I’m an optimist who likes to keep moving forward.  In fact, I have no idea what my top misses and hits are for 2011 until I start writing this post.

The economic backdrop has been difficult for many, including myself.  With interest rates so low, it’s very hard to generate relatively safe returns that have any meaning.  Even if you have $100,000 in the bank, you’re only making roughly $2,000 a year in risk free passive income given where the 10-year US Treasury is.

Given all the economic and financial problems today, we must focus on improving our own financial health every single day.  If you find yourself not working towards a brighter economic future, you’re slowly becoming a prisoner to the European Union, the Federal Reserve, President Obama, Congress, Corporations, and anybody more powerful than you who can make or break your future.

Here are some of my misses and hits for 2011.  Hope you can share some of yours as well!

TOP 5 MISSES

* Career. Not seriously considering a new job opportunity at the beginning of the year that would have paid 60-80% more.  There’s a lot of sacrifice and risk involved in moving, but the monetary payout might have been worth it given how bad compensation will be in 2011.  If only doing was as easy as saying.

* Health. Not resting my body more.  I’ve had tennis elbow for the past 11 months and it won’t go away because I keep on playing.  I fear that if I keep going, I will permanently damage my right arm.  Because I try and compensate for my elbow, my shoulder is now strained.  I need to take a break.  Hurry up and rain everyday already!

* Online. Not being more aggressive.  I’ve probably left six figures on the table because I’m not focusing hard enough on instituting a business plan and proactively asking for more business.  Instead, I’ve been quite passive about monetization, focusing on my writing and making sure the Yakezie Network is moving in the right direction.  Part of the reason why I’ve been so passive is because I hate what money does to people.  At some point, I need to focus a little bit more on income.

* Friends. Not spending more time with old friends.  When I quit one tennis club to join another tennis club, I stopped playing tennis and hanging around with about 5 guys I normally hang around with.  I spent so much time at the new club that I didn’t develop the old friendships further and I miss those guys.  Time to start e-mailing them to play some doubles again.  I also haven’t made as much effort as I would like getting to know new people.  Too much blogging perhaps.  Maintaining friendships take effort!

* Family. Not being more patient with my mother.  Conversations with my mother are generally her speaking 80% of the time, so I have to be very patient and choose my words carefully due to my small window.  I went to visit my parents for a third time this summer and I inadvertently made my mom cry.  She was going through a lot of stress with the house and her mother’s illness, and I wasn’t sensitive enough to know or understand.  I didn’t realize how bad grandma’s illness was until my mother bought a last minute plane ticket for the next week.  Sorry mom.  Next time we see each other I’ll give you a big hug and take you out for your favorite vegetarian meal!

TOP 5 WINS

* Travel.  The Mediterranean cruise was fantastic, seeing new cities such as Santorini, Mykonos, Delos, Kortula, Venice, Delos, Olympia and more.  I also visited the fastest growing industrial city in China for a week.  Boy was that place humming, but oh so polluted!  I got incredible food poisoning for 2 days and it was 98 degrees every day.  Good life experience that makes me appreciate western comforts and toilets!

* Financial Safety. Developed enough income online to quit my day job and live a modest lifestyle.  If you would have told me I could quit my day job after a couple of years blogging, I’d say you were crazy.  It’s very gratifying to know hard work and consistency pays off.  That said, for some reason I’m not excited to reach this goal, probably because I enjoy my day job.  Working without having to work is that much more fun!  It’s just like going to business school part-time.  When you go to school for the sake of learning, and not getting good grades, it becomes that much more rewarding.

* Stock Market. Asset allocated the 401K and stock portfolios correctly.  Selling most of my equities at the end of April and going long a majority of my portfolio in November helped bring overall performance +14% at the time of this post vs. the S&P 500 0%.  The amount of money in the portfolio is significant enough where I will feel the pain of losing 10%.  I can’t pick stocks for crap, therefore I don’t try anymore.  I’m focused on capital preservation, asset allocation, and low-risk growth.

* New Friendships.  Made new friends off-line and on-line.  I consider everyone in the Yakezie Network and other bloggers outside of the network to be friends.  We welcomed the Yakezie Gamma Class in the summer, and we will welcome a new class in the early part of 2012.  The Yakezie Network has been an incredible resource of help, fun, and camaraderie.  Off-line, I made at least four new good relationships at the tennis club I joined back in January 2011 and a couple more non-tennis related friends.

* Family.  Spent good quality time with loved ones.  I set a goal to see my parents 3-4 times this year vs. just seeing them only once or twice a year on average.  I was able to see them three times this year and was about to do a 4th, but a last minute ticket was $1,400 from $600 usually so I decided Skype was perhaps a little more reasonable..  I really feel that time is accelerating and I want to spend as much time with family as possible.

NO BIG SURPRISES

2011 saw no big surprises on the upside or downside.  In fact, 2011 was pretty average.  Every year for the past five years I’ve been tempted with new job opportunities which I’ve always turned down.  Traveling to a new city or country for vacation has been an accomplishment every year for the past 10 years.  Meanwhile tennis and blogging is now an integral part of my life for 3 years now.

I’m coming to grips that I’m getting older and my hair is thinning.  There’s no gray yet, but I know they’re waiting to sprout when I least expect.  Crows haven’t walked around my eyes yet either, although I sense their presence.  As I come to the end of this article I realize that getting old and having a body that no longer stays healthy are some of my biggest worries!  It’s sad to physically fade away so quickly.  We must make do with what we have for as long as possible!

What are your hits and misses for 2011?

If you’re curious, you can read my Goals And Resolutions for 2011.  I specifically failed in my guitar and tennis endeavors, while I didn’t take more financial risk than I’m accustomed to.

Photo: Sailing Away From Santorini, 2011, Sam.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    I think I definitely speak for a lot of bloggers out there when I say THANKS for focusing on article-writing and the Yakezie network instead of getting money hungry. Anyone can tell there is great value on this site, and I’m glad you have been rewarded accordingly with a great passive income! Have a great 2012.

  2. says

    Sounds like you had quite a well rounded year, nice job! I need to be more patient with my parents too. I got in fights with my mother too many times this year. I still think I was right but I should be more patient too. I’m going to go through my hits and misses tonight. I’ve been meaning to do that and time keeps escaping me. Guess I know I need to work on my focusing! Have a great weekend Sam!

  3. says

    Nice list! I like this reflection better than simply looking forward to 2012 and forgetting 2011. Here’s my list:

    Hits:
    – Making my first dollars online. This was something that I didn’t even know how to do before 2011 and never dreamed possible. Now I’m seeing a steady stream of income from a few sources.
    – Paying off debt. I’ll be 100% debt free in just a few days time and before the end of 2011!
    – Making new friends. I’ve made a ton of new friends and connections this year (many online), and there are lots of people doing incredible things! I’m extremely glad to know these people and have them be a part of my life.

    Misses:
    – Setting goals. I didn’t set any real goals for the year, so it’s hard to say whether or not I feel completely successful.
    – Getting a good ROI on my time. I feel like I put in a TON of time working to build my business this year, but I don’t even think I’ve made minimum wage when breaking it down on a per-hour basis. Although that’s a negative for now, it’s definitely set a good foundation for 2012.

    Thanks for making me think and organize my thoughts, Sam!

    • says

      Hey Jeff! Great list which I’m sure you will achieve. Things just start happening online, the longer you are around, so stick with it!

      I gotta work on ROI as well. When is your 6 month Challenge over? Will be great to have you on board!

      • says

        Thanks for the encouragement!

        I’ll be ready to apply in January, and I’m excited for it! I just missed the 6-month cutoff the last time around, but it’s been great to be involved all the way through.

  4. says

    Didn’t we just start 2011? It flies by so quickly! As someone who is old(er), you can be as good as you were, however it just takes more effort. Age was something I linked with accomplishments or goals, it is quite a bit different than I realized. I am in the best health of my life! It may be genetic because my mother lived to almost 99 years old.

    I am very happy you established the Yakezie Network and I found it. I think you created something very special! Average is good in this bad economy!

    In 2011, I worked on my patience, although it is still a work in progress. I would journal the triggers that made me lose my patience.

  5. says

    I think you still had a pretty successful year this year. I can relate to your miss about upsetting your parents. I have gone through quite the journey with mine over the last number of years. Many moments have ended in tears and pain. However, I haven’t given up and I must say that our relationship has improved a lot and we are much closer now. Take comfort in knowing things can get better. Plus parents will always love their kids- even if they upset them.
    When it comes to my list of goals I would say I reached 50% which is still decent. I do have my work cut out next year though to do better.

    • says

      Reaching 50% of your goals sounds fantastic Miss T! Thanks for your thoughts on adults and their relationship with their parents.

      Thanks for your contributions to Yakezie, and may you have a wonderful NY!

  6. says

    I would also like to say Thanks! You worked really hard on Yakezie and push everyone along.
    It looks like you had a great year, but you shouldn’t make your mom cry. That’s not good man.
    I think as we get older the years smooth out. There are not many big changes and things tend to glide along.
    Take some time off to let your body heal. Maybe try a different sport for a short time? Don’t let any injury fester because it will get more and more difficult to heal as we get older.
    Have a great Holidays!!!

  7. says

    I want to say thank you too!!!! It would be so easy for you to be to busy or want to focus your efforts primarily in FS or Yakezie. You have done a fabulous job balancing. There’s consistently interesting content here, and Yakezie just keeps getting better. You definitely should take a bow for getting this all done in addition to all of your responsibilities in your “real” life.

  8. says

    Hey Sam,

    I am grateful to you for starting the Yakezie in the first place! Congrats on hitting enough online income to be financially independent; I am not there yet but aiming for it! Especially since the ship is sinking so now’s the chance to go for it.

    When did you go to China?

    I also talk 20% of the time or less when talking to my grandmother, but all she really wants is someone to listen and to care. Give your mom that big hug next time you see her! ;)

    • says

      Thanks Kevin, and much honor to have you as a great Member of the Yakezie!

      I went in the Summer. Blazing hot and ridiculous! Never again! It’s like going to the East Coast during August. Miserable!

  9. says

    China might get to you either through their bathrooms or food poisoning. I got incredibly sick in Beijing and carried it to Shanghai. Took me two days to recover, lost about 5lbs. It is amazing how our appreciation for western style toilets can be developed in a matter of seconds. :-)
    Great summary of 2011. Huge respect for acknowledging not spending enough time with your family, especially your mom. We all get too busy sometimes, too self-absorbed and ignore the obvious. Not everyone can look back, see it and openly admit it.
    Thank you for accepting me back as a challenger. You have a big heart, Sam.

    • says

      I always like losing the weight though after a good bought of food poisoning. In fact, I always think about that and it makes me happy!

      Hope you continue to push on through and stick with your site for the long term. Great to have you back!

  10. says

    Thanks so much Sam for the Yakezie Network. I’m glad to hear that your hard work is paying off! Sounds like 2011 was a great year for you overall. I’m sure 2012 will be great as well. As for your hair thinning and your body creaking (or at least your elbow), exercising and eating well are the key to staying fit as you age. Of course genetics helps, but staying healthy is the key to a longer and better quality life.

    And definitely give your mom a hug. At least you get to talk 20% of the time, I think I get in about 5% with mine. :)

  11. says

    Thanks for the Yakezie effort, truly appreciated by me and (I’m sure) the whole PF Blogosphere.

    And hopefully your ‘Financial Success’ win cancels out your ‘Career’ miss. Also, stay optimistic and bullish; remember we get to live in the Bay Area!

  12. says

    Hi Sam – great post! I agree with you… optimism is king, what is the sense of looking back?
    You were a big part of my financial success this year – you and a few other blogs gave me the get up and go to get into shape financially. Now I am debt free and have money in the bank, work for myself and have invested in a new career – combination writing and tour guiding here in Europe. It was my doing but your blogs were encouraging. THANKS!
    Hey – you were in my neck of the woods if you made it to Korčula. That is in the southern region of Croatia. I live on another island – hope you enjoyed yourself! And if you know any Americans who want to see the sights…. :) LOL Merry Christmas –

    PS I am a mom, and I can tell you right now – she will forgive you! Just be sincere and all will be forgiven. See you in 2012.

    • says

      Croatia is so beautiful, and things are relatively so cheap too!

      I’m honored to be a part of your financial success in 2011. That makes me very happy and a key reason why this site exists.

      Best for 2012!

  13. says

    Thanks for sharing your hits and misses, Sam. As a new blogger, it is nice to see what path could lie ahead. I am really enjoying the Yakezie challenge and am thankful for all of the support that comes with it. And, I agree with Anastasia, your Mom will forgive you, especially if she reads what you have written today. Mom’s have big hearts. Mine hurts when my kids make a mistake but swells with joy with a hug from my kids! Happy holidays.

  14. says

    Echoing other sentiments, very happy that you decided to focus more on the Yakezie network. *Creating* an online community is a fantastic achievement.
    I’m with you on spending more time with the parents. They’re getting on in years, and I’ve been thinking that each time might be the last.

  15. says

    I didn’t save as much money as I should have this year. However, I paid off 3 credit cards (large ones). Yay!!! I would like to be debt-free by the end of next year…which is going to be me focusing more on income and less on my writing as well.

  16. says

    Congrats on a successful 2011 (even with a few misses in there.) I admire your slow ramp up to monetizing your blog and business here, as long as you are supporting yourself on where you’re at now, there’s no need to rush. You don’t have Venture Capital pushing you along to some big exit. Take your time and the riches will come. I’m a huge fan of your blog and know that you will be handsomely rewarded as the years go on.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by. One of the benefits of blogging for fun is that there is no hurry to do anything you don’t want to do. Capital needs is not a concern either. The downside is missing opportunities to monetize since my back isn’t against the wall. We shall see!

    • says

      I wish I could feel that 2011 was an incredible year Buck, but I just don’t. I’m not complaining, nor am I really excited about what I’ve accomplished. Everything normalizes to the perpetual state of being. That said, I’d rather hit a fast ball that I know is coming than a curve ball.

      Good luck for 2012!

  17. Robert @ The College Investor says

    I had a pretty boring 2011 myself, although it was great to make a bunch of new friends in the Yakezie Network and really start to take my online business much more serious. I plan to be more agressive online in 2012, and also in my career.

  18. says

    Great roundup of 2011! I feel like most of your articles are very broad and non-personal (not in a bad way), so it was cool to learn a little more about you! I take it you haven’t quit your day job yet? I like my day job too. And I’m a big tennis player too! Yakezie is an excellent endeavor and I think blogging is wonderful, especially with the community that has been building up through your network and Wise Bread. I am interested to see how it all continues to grow…here’s to oh-twelve!

  19. says

    Sam,

    Thanks for all your hard (and largely unseen) work with the Yakezie…that is a HUGE HIT. For me, I would say my big miss was not taking care of the body. Going to change that in 2012!

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