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My Personal and Financial Plans for 2014

This article was written by in Planning. 22 comments.


The last time I shared my personal goals and plans with Consumerism Commentary readers was at the very beginning of 2011. I went so far to declare that 2011 would be the year that everything changes, a subtle homage to a television program called Torchwood. Anyway, I was right; in 2011, my life changed, but not as dramatically as one might expect with the events that transpired throughout the year.

My goals for that year focused on my business income, net worth, and investments, as well as savings and charity. After all, this is a site where I discuss financial issues, so the goals I shared included that aspect of my life. I also wrote about my health and hobbies, two important parts of my life, as well. I didn’t share information about my personal relationships, as I thought that might have been a little too personal for this site — and that most Consumerism Commentary readers wouldn’t be interested in hearing about that anyway.

For reference, my net worth at the beginning of 2011 was $538,223 plus the undefined value of Consumerism Commentary at the time. By the end of the year I sold this website, and I’ve avoided being specific about my net worth because the company that purchased the website and business wasn’t interested in publicizing the amount of the sale.

It is now three years later. I’m financially independent, though I continue to work, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Except for investments, I’m leaving much of my nest egg alone. I plan to continue to live off income rather than my savings until I get tired of that approach to living. With that in mind, I can share some of my financial plans — and plans for the non-financial aspects of my life — for this coming year.

1. Grow my consultancy business.

I am offering my time as a private consultant to two types of clients. The first type includes other bloggers who are looking to take their websites to the next level. The ideal client of this type is passionate about a topic, is willing to put a lot of work into their projects, and has all the traits of strong leadership. In order to make myself available, I’m only taking a few clients this year, and I’m highly selective about who I choose to work with. And the choice isn’t about money; I’m not looking to maximize my income from other bloggers, I’m just looking to ensure the people I work with have as much as my availability as possible. You can read more about my blog business coaching and mentoring at lukelandes.com.

This coming year, I also plan to work with at least one corporate client on a formal basis, advising on optimizing their relationships with the broader blogging community through content partnerships and social media.

2. Explore forming a non-profit organization.

At a conference last summer, I accidentally announced that the “next act” of my life involved starting a non-profit organization. I felt obligated to explore that idea after thousands of people heard me make that declaration live, but I didn’t lie. I feel strongly about the importance of non-profit organizations, particularly in the financial industry.

Since the summer, I began exploring what it would take to set up a non-profit organization. Creating an organization from out of nothing is surprisingly easy. But to build the organization into something that does everything I want it to do at a high level of achievement, including fundraising without paying a shady company to handle that side of the business and representing the organization publicly, requires a dedication that can consume the rest of my life on a full-time basis.

What I need to determine this coming year is if the time I have to dedicate to this endeavor is better spent creating a new organization that tackles the issue of financial literacy in a manner not explored by other organization in a search for effectiveness. The other option is to join the board of directors of another organization, keeping me involved in decisions on a different level. I also don’t want to leave behind my passion for the arts, and it would be great to be involved with an arts organization at a deeper level.

3. Determine the best use of my donation to my undergraduate university.

I set aside some money this year that I will contribute to my alma mater. I’ve written about this issue, most recently asking whether colleges and universities are worthwhile charity recipients in the first place. I want to be very careful about how the money I donate is used, particularly because I feel the money should be used to create opportunities for students who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to have them.

A representative from the development department of the university has been in touch with me, and among the two of us and the head of the academic department I’m targeting, we’re going to come up with a plan that makes sense for everyone.

4. Take advantage of investment and business opportunities.

A friend of mine has approached me with an investment opportunity in a spin-off of his current business. The prospects are exciting. It’s not exactly a business I’m passionate about, but it could prove to be a good opportunity, with major shared profits down the road, if the business plan comes to fruition. If the business does not begin picking up speed quickly though, I could lose most of my investment. There’s a lot of risk, but an almost unlimited upside after a few years.

I thankfully have advisers I can turn to when I have opportunities like these. They can help me analyze the business plan and work out the details. Because this is a friend, I’m also concerned about the emotional repercussions of business disagreements. But he and I both have a similar experience when it comes to relationships. Our best working relationships have always been with people who have been friends first, business partners later. Still, I wouldn’t do anything without considering opinions of experts without an emotional attachment.

I’m also working closely with several other bloggers who have been through the same sales process I’ve been through, and we’re planning some new projects for this year. I’m excited about these plans and I’m looking forward to sharing the details with readers and other colleagues once there’s something concrete in place.

5. Continue my personal training and improve my nutrition.

I’ve now had a personal trainer for more than six months. But with a lot of travel and personnel changes at the gym, I often didn’t have the three sessions a week I was looking for. The last few months, my schedule has been more-or-less locked in with a new trainer, and it’s going well. I’m not sure I’ve seen the progress I’d like to see, although I am in much better shape than I was when I started.

One missing piece right now is my nutrition. I still don’t like cooking, much less cooking for just myself. More and more, I want to be as healthy as possible, so I have a strong personal incentive to work on this piece of my health puzzle.

6. Build my personal relationships.

I haven’t written much about my personal relationships on Consumerism Commentary. While I’ve always been forthcoming with my financial details, at least until this website became a major part of my financial situation, I’ve been reluctant to share much about my romantic relationships — well, relationship. Not long ago, I ended a long-term, long-distance relationship, that spanned nearly the entire history of Consumerism Commentary.

And except for four or so months during the darkest period of my life almost twelve years ago, I’ve never been single as an adult. I seem to have maintained only long-term relationships. And having been single for about six weeks, it’s not a situation that particularly suits me.

I have the flexibility to travel and see friends living across the country. One of my plans for the new year involve taking advantage of that flexibility. It’s hard to make a plan that involves building relationships because it depends on the involvement of other people, but I’ll at least be open to new experiences.

7. Continue working with photography.

Over the last few years, I’ve derived a lot of pleasure from taking photography classes and working with a photography teacher on a one-on-one basis. Portraiture seems to be my favorite type of photography. I enjoy working with the subjects, models or otherwise, and developing and printing in the darkroom is very satisfying. I plan to continue portraiture photography in the new year.

I’m not limiting myself to portraiture, though. I am planning to develop a series of photographs for a gallery, but I have a long way to go. I’m slowly building confidence in my photographic skills. I recognize that this will never be a profitable endeavor for me. Everyone with a smartphone is a photographer these days, and it makes it harder for professional photographers to justify their existence.

Like usual for me, this is a lot to contemplate for the year. I’m still young, at least in my opinion, and there’s a lot I want to do with my life. You’ll notice that nowhere above are there any “S.M.A.R.T. goals.” I am frequently examining my life, but I have no interest in turning my passions into a series of metrics. These are guidelines for traveling on the path of my life, designed to keep me moving in the right direction.

What are your plans for the coming year? Do you have any resolutions or goals?

Published or updated December 31, 2013. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Financial Samurai

Hola Luke,

Sorry to hear about your breakup. I was betting you were going to propose this year! Don’t worry. With your good looks and nice financial windfall from selling this site, I’m sure you’ll find someone else soon.

Out of curiosity, do you think financial windfalls change the way we look at existing relationships? For example, when JD sold GRS for big bucks, he got a divorce and traveled the world with someone else. Coincidence, or a sort of emancipation that money buys?

I just wonder how much having lots of money plays a part in our view of relationships. As you know from posts I’ve done on this site before, I’m fascinated about relationships.

Regards, Sam

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

Good questions, Sam.

I’m not going to take private discussions public — that wouldn’t be fair to anyone in the relationship. But the sale of the site did not change my life or my philosophy drastically. The financial change for me occurred over a period of time, and because I didn’t change my lifestyle or my mindset, it didn’t create any kind of relationship rift. Any issue we had was unrelated to money. I can’t speak to J.D.’s experience; I am not inside his head.

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avatar Financial Samurai

Fair enough. I wonder if I’m being overly observant and mixing correlation and causation.

I just finished writing a post for women on how to keep their men. It will talk about this dynamic of money and relationships a little.

I’m sure someone better will come along and you’ll be happier because of her. BTW, what is this four month dark period of your life you are referring to if you are comfortable sharing.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

I’ve referred to that dark period as my “rock bottom…” I lost a job, a girlfriend, my car, and my apartment, all in the span of about a month. Odd circumstances surround just about all of that. It occurred about a year and a half before I started writing Consumerism Commentary.

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avatar Investor Junkie - Larry Ludwig

Sounds like you should write a country song!

avatar Sally @ TinyApartmentDesign

I received a full ride for undergrad thanks to a scholarship set up by an alum, which was one of the best things that ever happened in my life. So I think funding a school you love is tremendous. I LOVE my school and continue to support them and will my entire life (I hope my kids, nephews and niece all go there!)

Second, fitness and nutrition are the best goals. There are a few TED talks that have helped me on the nutrition side, and just reading a ton on different diets helps. I’m not any particular label (paleo, vegan, etc), but I’ve cut a lot of processed foods and added high quality stuff like walnuts, fish, eggs, and lots of vegetables.

I’m excited for you as you move on from your relationship. I know it’s hard but I think you will be excited as you meet new people. Come visit your friends in Cali and I’ll introduce you to some new people!!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

Hi Sally,

I’d also like to cut out processed foods. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially as a man living alone. I need to research nutritional plans and recipes, but I haven’t been able to motivate myself yet. I’m wondering if working closely with a nutritionist may be a way to get things done; after all, I’m doing better with my fitness with a personal trainer.

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avatar Sally @ TinyApartmentDesign

I think a nutritionist would help, and personally, I have it on my agenda to go visit a naturopathic doctor this year. I have never taken supplements but recently started a few and I feel pretty awesome. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I have notived I don’t crash at 2:30 and need a Milky Way like I often used to. I just started taking a few like B12, and Omega-3s based on blogs and stuff, but think there is definite value to doing high quality supplements WITH a healthy diet. I hear you that eating for one is a pain, I was on my own for over half of 2013 due to work, and I would be pretty lazy about what I ate. How much do you like to cook? I’m not that great, but I do like to learn new things, so I’ve been doing some steaming and experimenting, but not that much. It’s a big time commitment to be in the kitchen!

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avatar Yo Yo Mama

Great article!!! Amazingly well thought out and thorough. I thought sally@tinyapartmentdesign had a great suggestion – come out to Cali, meet some people and as a side-effect, enjoy the warmth and sun! All the best with your endeavors and I know you will achieve your goals! Happy 2014 – it will be a great year for you! (Oh, try the Mediterranean Diet – all fresh foods, nothing processed, mostly fish, whole grains, chicken, and vegetables)

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avatar Andrea @ SavingsLifestyle

I truly enjoyed reading your goals for the year. We share a few (especially with the fitness and nutrition). I’ll be following along more on your photography site now too since I got my new fancy camera. Can’t wait to see you this year and make sure you’re staying on track :)

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avatar kathleen

LOVE this. Can’t wait to see where 2014 takes you, and if it takes you to Portland, you know you’re welcome here!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

Well, I booked a hotel room for the World Domination Summit in Portland, but I haven’t decided whether I’m actually attending this year.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

If you decide not to go to WDS you should have Chris do a guest post on here and do some form of giveaway for it. Or you could just give it to me :)

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦90 (Newbie)

Oh gosh, another “Torchwood” fan….!
My own personal and financial plans for the year were jump-started by the late unpleasantness at Microsoft. Rather than rush to replace my income at that level, I decided to slow down and take a few deep breaths for the first time in, oh, 10 years. Fortunately my frugality is so well-established that this didn’t hurt a bit — and oh, the delight of not being busy with work every single minute.
I’ve also resolved to take only jobs that pay decently. No more working for less than I’m worth. Of course, I may be singing a different song a year from now but so far, so good.
Finally, I’ve resolved to be open to whatever opportunities come my way even if they’re different than anything I’ve ever tried. Perhaps 2014 will be my own year during which everything changes.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

I like the sound of that, Donna!

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avatar Derek

Ever since I let my personal finance blog go stale, I must admit that I’ve cut back on the other blogs that I read but I’m glad that I saw this post in my Facebook feed today. I think your list is fantastic and there are two items that I personally connected with, #2 and #5.

For me, #5 is on the immediate radar as my wife is using her experience of losing weight and getting in great shape to help kick me into gear. My interest with #2 is down the road for me, but I have always told my wife and family that my dream is to run a non-profit that helps educate and provide resources to people struggling with debt. While I am not at a point where I am financially independent, I can say that when we finally eliminated all of our non-mortgage debt, it truly changed our lives and I want to pay that forward for other people.

Best of skill to you in the coming year and here is to reaching all of your goals!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

I’m glad you stopped by, Derek! Maybe we’ll run into each other in financial non-profit circles down the road. Glad to hear you have an accountability partner, too.

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avatar Kylie Ofiu

Sorry to hear about your break up too.
Love all your goals. I have been heavily involved with 2 not for profits here and it has been quite a journey. I love it and look forward to seeing what you do.
Health and fitness are great and high on my list too.
Congrats on all you have achieved.
And of course if your travels ever brought you to Australia, you’re more than welcome here :)

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avatar Fig @ Figuring Money Out

Sorry to hear about your breakup. That’s always hard.

Looks like you have some amazing plans for 2014! It’s going to be a stellar year for you no doubt. I hope you update us on how those things all unfold even though they aren’t all personal finance relater.

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avatar Ivan Widjaya

Those are really inspiring goals. As for me, I like to focus more on my relationships. After all, life will not be worthwhile if not for the relationships that you have.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

Nutrition is not one piece of the puzzle. It is many pieces. Over the two years i worked with a personal trainer i saw modest gains. I was a single guy that was unwilling to look at nutrition. After all it is all a matter of working out more than i ate. And a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. I did not start looking at nutrition until i had stopped working with a trainer and gained 40 lbs over 4 years. So far this year with nutrition (mostly Paleo) but not exercising i’m down 20lbs.

If you are not ready to cut out processed foods and do all your own cooking look into those that are more minimally processed. One example is a LARABAR vs a Powerbar. One of Michael Pollan’s food rules is to not buy things with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

For “homemade meals” look into your local Dinners Done Right. There are plenty of online pre-made meal delivery programs out there. Little to no prep-work just cook time. Since you are unsure about doing your own cooking a Nutritionist might not be as much help as you are looking for. You might want to look into a personal chef. You could get someone to be there to cook all your meals at mealtime or just someone that drops off pre-made meals every so often for you to just heat and eat.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

I’ve started looking into meal deliveries and personal chef services. There don’t seem to be many options in my area for the latter, and I never found anything that worked quite right for me in the former. But it’s worth more research — thanks for the reminder.

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