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!
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.
Starting A Site
It’s been around six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive income stream online. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic. The average age of the top 1% posts is 2.3 years old. In other words, after putting in the hours to write some very meaty content over two years ago, 10 posts consistently generate a monthly recurring income stream that’s completely passive.
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with Bluehost. It’s cheap and easy to start!
Photo: Sailing Away From Santorini. Sam.