How I’m Preparing for 2018 with Bolder Financial Goals

I’m not sure what I’ve been doing lately, but apparently, people are lovin’ it.

Thanks for all the well wishes, the emails, and messages in the past few weeks. Since attending a blogging conference in October, I’ve seen the number of subscribers on Distilled Dollar increase each day — with many individual days breaking the record for the # of subscribers on my site.

If you’re new to my site and my message, you can familiarize yourself quickly with my Start Here page. Thanks again for being a part of this community and for your support as I distill personal finance topics into useful tidbits for your use.

Let’s jump right into today’s topic!

How does one prepare and plan for an entire year?

Of course, when it comes to preparing, there is a subtle difference between planning and preparing. Hint: preparing is more useful than planning.

Biologically, I’m incapable of doing much without breakfast, let alone my morning coffee. So, how do I go about preparing for an entire year?

I dream big.

Real big.

“Make no little plans, for they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

                                – Chicago Architect Daniel Burnham

How I’m Preparing for 2018 with Bolder Financial Goals

Preparing is a tricky word because it involves planning, thinking, and strategy. When I first wrote my list of 17 strategies we used to save $50,000 in 2016, I started off the list with my #1 tip – to truly give a damn.

Imbedded in this philosophy is a simple concept — dream big.

For me, 2018 will be the biggest dream I’ve ever dared to take on. I hope you can agree the goals are ambitious, but I can promise you, I am mentally preparing for a big year.

I’m essentially, “burning the boats,” as the old saying goes.

Specifically, there are 3 bold financial goals that require much of my planning efforts:

  • Donate $100,000 to Charity

2017 is the first year we may save 100k, but for 2018 we want to flip the switch and focus on donating money instead of saving money.

In fact, we will be volunteering a few weekends in 2018 towards learning more about the various needs and wants of these helpful organizations. My fiancee has even made a pledge to volunteer her time two days a week next year towards supporting animal shelters.

  • Spend $100,000 on my audience

In 2018 I will be hosting my first big live event. It will be near the end of the year and I plan to have at least a couple hundred people attend. To pull off such a grand event, I will need to spend quite a bit of money — hiring staff, building the infrastructure, etc.

My goal is to change the financial lives of thousands of people – ideally, helping them escape the same terrible cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck that tortured me and my fiancee at the beginning of our relationship.

Once you break free from those chains, I don’t plan on leaving people hanging. The full goal is to help people achieve the same results we managed. From paycheck-to-paycheck to saving over half our income.

With such high savings, we felt in control of our financial destiny, we became happier, and we, counter intuitively, began living a richer lifestyle. This same result is what I want to achieve for thousands more people in 2018.

Outside of the big event mentioned above, I plan on smaller excursions with spending for the audience. For example, I will be giving away a $1,000 cash prize to whoever can come up with the best book design.

Yes, I’ll be writing a book in 2018 and to get the wheels started early, I’ve already spent weeks now hashing out an ebook.

One Bold Financial Goal I plan on not tackling:

  • Eliminate $100,000 of debt

The debt here is from our student loans. Technically, we are below $100,000 but I like the theme of round numbers here and simplified with ‘eliminate $100,000 of debt’. If we include credit card debt, then the number is probably above 100k.

Why do we keep our student loans? For new readers to Distilled Dollar, you’ll find my full reasoning explained in two articles:

  1. How to Pay Student Loans to Maximize Your Wealth
  2. A Nation Shackled by Student Loans

Instead of letting the loans sit and pay them off on their schedule, there will be a slight effort towards refinancing our loans. I refinanced my student loans back in 2016 to great effects, and I will be doing the same with my fiancee’s student loans in 2018. To date, her credit was poor due to some rather nasty events – including a large fraud scam — but I know her credit has improved tremendously since.

The How behind the Why — How We Will Achieve These Goals

My “3 Guiding Principles to Saving $100,000” post from last week provided the template I will be using to achieving these goals, aka the VIP Model – Values, Investments, and Processes.

To get a jump start on that big 6-figure donation, I will be releasing my first ebook and donating the proceeds towards local animal shelters in Chicago. To be fully transparent, I do not know if one organization will receive one check or if there will be multiple checks for a few, but I plan on giving away 100k in an effort to support those who care for animals. I believe the ebook will help me pursue a win-win between my audience and my personal goal of donating to what I view as a good cause.

I do not expect the ebook revenue to come close to $100,000 so I will need to donate revenue I generate on Distilled Dollar next year.

In an effort to identify what my audience wants to read more about in a more-detailed and polished ebook, let me know what topic you’d love to see from me:

For my charity ebook project, what topic would you want me to do a deep dive on?

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The idea of donating to charity is still very new to me, so please leave a comment below if you have any recommendations on how best to provide financial support to charities. For starters, I’m focusing on meeting the right people, understanding their missions, and making sure the money will be put to good use. I am making a personal pledge to learn more about this activity in 2018 and hope to donate more as the years go by.

As for spending $100,000 on my audience in 2018, I’ll be sure to include all the expenses as they come up, but the few details above should provide a bit of a framework.

Conclusion and Next Post

Thanks for reading this week’s post from Distilled Dollar. I’m aiming to expand to two posts a week soon so let me know below what topics you want me to cover next.

Also, a big thank you as last week’s poll had 50 responses! That’s a new record for my two-week poll system, and I highly appreciate all the feedback.

Which Post Would You Like to See Next on Distilled Dollar?

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Thanks again for reading and let me know what you thought of today’s post in the comments below. I aim to read every comment and respond – so let me know: A). would you give a large amount to charity if you could? B). Are you planning for 2018 with bold financial goals of your own?

-Matt

7 comments… add one
  • Debbi Dec 5, 2017, 10:18 am

    I vote for both number one and number three above – whichever you think you can do a better job writing about!
    I have been giving to charities for a long time and have a bit of advice to offer; feel free to ignore it. First, pick a small number of charities and give big. Anyone you give to will spend time and money on marketing to you for years in the future. Over time, this can end up eating away much of the value of small donations. Second, do a little homework. Charity Navigator is a great source of information for medium to large charities. For smaller ones, ask lots of nosy questions. If you are thinking about making a major donation, this is neither obnoxious or a waste of the charity’s time. I tend to give substantial sums to animal charities and the smaller ones can be well run and efficient or absolute nightmares of great intentions and no business sense. How nice the people involved are appears to be completely uncorrelated with how well they manage their non-profit! I try to go for well run by incredibly nice people whenever possible. Finally, I make Kiva part of my charitable giving even thought it is technically not a donation, but a loan. I always relend the money as it is put back in my account and do not expect a financial return on this “investment.” This allows me to help people in really high risk circumstances without worrying about repayment. A few of my loans have defaulted but a lot of lives have been made better.
    Finally, I absolutely love your decision to give big. Giving even when it hurts is the best decision I ever made. I honestly feel like I receive more from my giving than the recipients ever will.

    • Distilled Dollar Dec 11, 2017, 9:17 pm

      Thank you so much for this comment Debbi!

      2018 will be a big year for us in terms of research and physically putting ourselves into situations where we can learn more. I’m sure I’ll discuss what I learn along the way, so thank you for helping us in that process. Your comment offered a lot of great feedback and again, thanks for taking the time to read it.

      I love you defined how some places are well intentioned, but poorly run – and through no fault of their own. Part of our challenge will be finding not only the right organization that aligns with our mission, but also taking those next steps to see what works, what doesn’t work, etc.

      Lastly, I resonated with your phrase, “giving even with it hurts,” because that summarizes what we’re aiming to achieve in 2018. 🙂

  • robin Dec 5, 2017, 9:58 pm

    I have given for decades, though not to the extent you are planning (I’ve never had that kind of money and now I’m retired living more-or-less on a fixed income). I have learned a few things that I will pass on, for what they are worth…

    1) Like Debbie said, go few organizations and go big. Little donations may look good in someone’s spreadsheet, but all they mostly do is generate way too many hustles by the non-profits in question — and they can often spend far more trying to get you to re-donate than a small donation is worth.

    2) Go local and think small. For one thing these organizations are far more accessible. You can actually get to know who are the people who run the organization(s). Secondly, you can keep a better “eye” on what they are doing or not doing because they are local. And, lastly, if they are really small they usually don’t have the (expensive) staff to do a year-round hustle. They will usually ask you once a year for a donation. This puts more money towards whatever program(s) they are running. These often (though not always, so dig a bit) very small organizations are trying to do a heck of a lot on not a lot of money — I’m talking places like animal shelters, food banks, homeless shelters, library, local offices of bigger organizations who also need money and often rely on volunteers.

    3) I ask for donor cards when I contribute (I go right to their offices — they are local, after all). I then turn around and give each of my 7 grandchildren a very small check for Xmas, along with a donor card saying money was contributed in their name to organization “X”. They get it and it’s well worth it as a way of helping them understand the need to contribute.

    • Distilled Dollar Dec 11, 2017, 9:24 pm

      Thank you Robin – between you and Debbi, we already feel much better about knowing our money will be put to good use. Of course, this is one of our chief concerns as we explore our options, so I appreciate you taking the time to offer up feedback from your experience.

      I love the donor card idea – although for us, our only ‘kits,’ are the 2 cats we have now haha.

      Glad to see your recommendations line up with our thinking – especially having listed animal shelters. For us, that aligns with our values and our big mission – and we are reminded each day of the value those groups do having adopted 2 cats ourselves. I can’t say it enough, but thanks again for taking the time to leave your insightful, helpful comment!

  • OMGF Dec 10, 2017, 9:45 pm

    Color me impressed. $100K is a big number. I gave several thousand dollars to an organization several years ago and I did it in the form of regular monthly donations. I would absolutely love to be in the place to give that type of money. I would definitely focus on higher ed and give to an HBCU. $100K annually could make a huge difference at these schools and I want to be part of strengthening their financial foundation.

    • Distilled Dollar Dec 11, 2017, 9:43 pm

      Since writing this post I’ve had a few people mention higher education and the arts – two areas we never thought about before. We will be sure to keep everyone posted on where we end up donating – but we’re set on animal shelters for 2018. I have a feeling finding the right shelters will prove difficult enough…

  • robin Dec 12, 2017, 2:33 pm

    The donor card that I include with my holiday cards to my grandchildren (along with a small amount in a pre-filled Visa card for each of them) can be used when giving anyone a gift, not only children and/or grandchildren — parents, grandparents, other relatives on ones list, as well as friends, even colleagues when exchanging, as some companies do, a “secret santa”. The concept is universal and endless. Birthdays, anniversaries, any gift giving occasion. As I point out, I don’t not give the person a gift, though in some cases, like older relatives or friends who don’t want or need more stuff, just a donor card may be enough. I just don’t spend as much and include the card with whatever is the small gift. Unless the recipient is a complete narcissistic or a very small child they will not only understand, they will appreciate it.

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