New Year’s Annual Review

I’ve been inspired by Caleb at Pocket Changed and Chris Gillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity to do an annual review. I thought I’d take you through my annual reveiw and hopefully inspire you to do one too; and if you are really feeling inspired feel free to share yours with the group.

The exercise starts with two questions.

  • What went well this year?
  • What did not go well this year?

What went well this year?

I started my site, Money Talks. I’m happy with the progress my blog has made. I’ve met a ton of amazing people and went to the Financial Bloggers Conference, which was a total blast. I exceeded my very modest income goal this year and we avoided any major financial set backs. This allowed us to pay down debt and save more than I had been planning on. My youngest started Kindergarten which has really opened up my day. That’s been nice. My kids are doing well in school and are generally happy and healthy. We also went up to Wyoming twice this year and had successful flights with the kids. Being able to travel with them on a plane will really open up our vacation opportunities. (We had a very bad flying experience when my son was small and it scarred us for life. He is not a good traveller, to put it mildly.)

What did not go well this year?

I set up a little business at the end of 2010 (unrelated to personal finance) and it isn’t doing as well as it could be. I think the potential is there I just didn’t spend the time on it that it needs. I also suffered from some “idea ADD” this year and couldn’t stay focused on any one project long enough to make any headway. I have 4 or 5 half started projects that need my attention. Lastly, I need to set aside “work time” and “play time”. It is a problem with working from home, there is not a designated work time. So I spend all day sorta working, sorta not working. It’s not productive.

Next we review last year’s goals.

I set up three goals last year and met all three. I read 25 books, paid off all non-mortgage debt, and painted the living room. I know those aren’t big crazy goals, but that’s what I chose. Well, paying off the non-mortgage debt was a big deal. You can read more about my New Year’s Resolutions here.

Now we move on to goals for next year.

Chris Gillebeau chooses a lot of different goals in lots of different areas. I don’t usually do that but I’m up for it. If you read the link above you know that I only choose 3 goals, one financial, one personal developmet, and something I’ve been putting off for too long. But hey, we aren’t really doing New Year’s Resolutions here. We setting up a road map for next year. The categories I’m choosing for this review are work, family, finances, travel, education, and personal development. You can choose your own categories.

Once we set the goals we must state some actions we can do that will accomplish the goal. I’ll put that in red next to the goal.


  • Set up a designated work area (I have an office but I rarely use it. I will start using it)
  • Work only in work area (This will just take effort and training. Don’t reach for the laptop during commercials!)
  • Set up an idea board showing open projects along with the next step that needs to be taken on each project (Get some poster board and post its and get my thoughts organized. I can hang it on the wall of my office, where I will now be doing all my work)
  • Start the  “Money Talks Club”.  A local get together where we can talk money. (Reserve library room and advertise)


  • Only play in play area. Avoiding work when I’m supposed to be playing will allow more quality time (Again, just habit. Willpower to stay off the laptop.)


  • Earn at least $25,000 from all sources (Put more effort into my side business, and work on those projects I mentioned above. My project board should help keep me on task.)
  • Save an average of $2,300 per month, which would be $27,600 for the year. That’s a lot, but if I make $25,000 it’s possible. (Earn more money and this should happen)
  • Put $6,000 of saved money into a car fund for the eventual replacement car (Stick with the plan)
  • Pay the balance of saved money ($21,600) to the mortgage on the rental property bringing it to $49,900. (Ha! Just under $50,000) (Dependant on earning more money)
  • Reallocate the money in my IRA (I’ll feel more confident about this if I read some books on investing.)


  • Get a cabin in Flaggstaff for a long weekend (Research cabin prices)
  • Visit Crater Lake (Find out if this is a day trip or if we will have to spend the night. Research prices.)
  • Disneyland! (Booked and ready to roll!)
  • Wyoming at least once (Talk to Dad in the spring)
  • New England to visit my family (Research prices and find some money.)


  • Read at least 3 books on marketing and sales (Get recommendations for books, put them on hold at the library)
  • Learn some basic web design (Find a good book)
  • Read at least 2 books on investing. (Get recommendations)

Personal Development

  • Work on trust (I don’t have actionable items for personal development. I just try to not bail on situations when I’m pushed to far in this area. I will try to take opportunities that stretch myself both trust and patience.)
  • Work on patience (I worked on bravery and patience in 2011. I’m hitting patience again because, well… it takes time!)

Ok, well… that was fun! I’m a little freaked out by my savings goals. I will say that this exercise was worth doing. It took me about 4 hours to complete but it may take you longer since I think about this kind of stuff quite a bit. No matter what it’s great to have some direction to go in for the new year. Let’s make this the best year yet!

About Ashley

6 Responses to “New Year’s Annual Review”

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  1. Congratulations on such a successful year, Ashley! Your goals for 2012 may seem lofty, but I have no doubt in my mind that you can achieve them.

    I have a similar goal with respect to creating a separate work space and having a designated time for doing things. Right now I do my writing with a laptop while I’m watching TV. Not productive at all…I think it would be much better if I’d just lock myself in a room for an hour each day. 🙂

    • Exactly. I’ve already told my family that when I’m working I’ll be in the office. It’s confusing right now for them because sometimes when I’m on the laptop I don’t want to be bothered and other times I don’t care. Sometimes I’m like “Why didn’t you just ask me?” and then other times I’m like “WHAT!! I’m doing something!!” How are they supposed to know?

      So now, in the office means working and on the laptop means goofing around. If I can’t follow through that’s my own fault.

      Plus I think my articles will be much better if I’m focused on writing and not what’s going on with the family.

  2. I like your ideas, and I’m glad you included things from all parts of your life.

    I’m curious how the idea board works out. I’d like to try something similar myself. I’m always struggling to get my thought and priorities in order, and my “solution” seems to be making notes in all sorts of different places. As you can guess, that doesn’t work well.

    Happy New Year!

  3. 101 Centavos says:

    I like white-board thinking. It’s a great visual for progress.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Ashley I love this idea and I really like that it includes all facets of your life. It’s a great way to see where you are doing well and where you could use some help. Those are definitely lofty goals, but I know you can do it!

  5. Ashley,

    Congratulations on a successful year and your plans for 2012! I especially like the idea of starting a Money Talks Club in your community. I look forward to your next annual review.

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