With 2016 coming to a close I wanted to start my formal review process. I always love reading about how everyone else looks back at their year and plans the next so I figured one has to start somewhere.I did not have this writing space last year, but I do have some checklists and to do lists from January and February of this year. I use Evernote for all of my checklists monthly, half the stuff tends to get done and half the stuff tends to get perpetually pushed off.
This allows me at least some sense of satisfaction by continually checking things off, but I don’t know that it is the system which encourages actual productivity the most. The To-do lists have little rhyme or reason and not much organization. I’m starting to get better but perhaps that will go on my goal list for next year! Without further ado…
Renovate and Fully Rent Out Property 1
This was completed in Q1 of 2016. Out of the three units in the property, two of them have now had moderate full renovations in the past year and a half. The third tenant hasn’t cycled out yet and is quite happy for now. This property is in a B designated neighborhood, so costly upgrades and finish work would do little to affect monthly rental pricing and would likely be mistreated. All of this work was done by myself and my partners, only sub-contracting out electrical and plumbing as I prefer a professional for those. Any standard contracting work we generally can accomplish in house to get some sweat equity. It has been some months since I have heard anything from these tenants, it was a fortunate year in that regard. This property had some appreciation this year to the tune of 7% on Zillow estimations. Considering that everything comparable on the market right now is up 20-30%, I will use Zillow in a light manner.
Purchase Property 2
This is somewhat out of my control. Starting in Q2 of 2016, the Hudson County market exploded and frankly priced us smaller fish out of the pond. People are purchasing crack houses for half a million that need full gut renovations in very sketchy neighborhoods. For my long term plan I generally go by the rule of “don’t buy something if you would not live there.” It is also difficult managing a partnership to some extent and this failure I attribute to that disjointedness.
Beginning of this year I moved into a new apartment with my girlfriend in order to cut down on costs and travel time between our apartments. It has worked out swimmingly so far with very little difficulties of living together. It helps that we both work a lot and have similar hobbies and friends of course. This move was a little different than most as it was during the holidays and the apartment was only a few blocks away. The holidays made it so that few people were inclined to help me or even in the country to do so! Instead, I decided to try to do a slow move in which I put my life on my back and piece by piece marched it half a mile north and up to the 5th floor walk up. This taught me one great way to purge, namely being, “I do not want to carry that for a half hour.” This move was accomplished and the only major loss was an amazing couch that was just not a one man job, he got left on the side of the road for the next guy to enjoy.
Back in the Gym
This was a goal mainly due to a current fear I had. I have been a regular gym goer for some years now but in September 2015 I had busted my wrist in a Muay Thai class and never got it checked by a doc. I could not bear any weight and I stupidly thought it would just heal so I kept it lightly ace wrapped for months. I was concerned at the time that I would be so damaged that I wouldn’t be able to get back. I was relatively fixed by late January and I have managed to stay consistent. I am very laid back about the gym so in the new year I would like to push myself to be a little more focused on numbers and improvement.
Write 2 Articles a Week
This is a fail because this was supposed to occur in January. I have been posting two to three times a week, but I only managed to get things started in December. Too early to tell if I can keep up the pace but so far I am enjoying myself and I have found time to fit this into my schedule somewhat painlessly. It took me months to get out of my head, analysis paralysis is a majority real thing. Also it does not help that I truly did start a writing project in January with a partner. I wrote a nice backlog of stuff for easy release, but relying on someone else allows it so that no one is stepping on the gas at all.
Get a Calendar/Google calendar
I did start using Google calendar and I even synched it up with my friends and family. I just do not ever use it. It is nice to have a planner but the life I am currently leading does not have that sort of planning required. I know exactly where I need to be and when and generally I always leave to be at an appointment hours early anyway. Calendars either may not fit my current lifestyle, or I may just not have found the right one for me. Maybe when this blog blows up I will need something to track all the public appearances I will be making, but for now it seems that it’s not needed!
With my move into the new apartment came my disgust at the amount of scrap belongings and furniture that needed to be tossed out. Things I had spent good money on that was either out of style or splintered from use after a very short time. Seeing this frivolous waste of money I became obsessed with the idea of BifL or “Buy it for Life.” Instead of getting fashionable items that change as frequently as the seasons, I wanted each item to be of high quality and durability, so that I could buy it once and never think about again. Industrial furniture is very much in line with this mentality. The rough and weathered look of most pieces is relatively timeless. My style does tend to lean towards the steel piping and rough cut oak look anyway, and if these items ever get damaged all it takes is a quick sanding or coat of varnish to brighten them back up. Industrial furniture also has the benefit of often having highly visible and functional assembly processes. Instead of worrying about Ikea slotting fiberboard together, there is giant visible bolts holding half my stuff together. Likely a bit ugly and utilitarian for most, but aesthetics just is not really in my top 5 concerns. Buy it for Life for sure from now on!
Every futuristic nerd needs a battlestation. I’m not talking about a Death Star or some crazy gun setup though those are great too. A battlestation is a nerds home, it’s where they hang their heart and happiness in a lot of ways. Having a souped up computer is only part of the factor in discussion, it’s more of having a place of pure ease and comfort that you are happy spending large swathes of time at. Each battlestation is individualized based on financial capacity and hobbies. For years I had dreamed of having a professional gamer setup of my own. The release of the Oculus and VR in general gave me an excuse to buy myself a present of the likes that I had dreamed about for years. Buying a full virtual reality setup was a bit aggressive at about $2,300, but I kept myself tame with the peripherals. This was rationalized mainly as a work purchase in that I game only very lightly these days and I want to be as comfortable as possible working from home. The key factors were a standing desk with studio chair and a cheap dual monitor setup. You can buy monitors for $70 these days. No reason not to have two.
No Lunch Spend
This was and will continue to be an important part of me bringing down my monthly spend. Just from a rough calculation it seems like 15-20% of my monthly spend is on eating out. This is to be expected eating and living in New York City. However I would like to make this more about discipline and directed spending. I will gladly spend $300 on a beautiful dining experience, there really is nothing like it. However I am piddling away cash on the same meh lunch every few days or the same old okay sushi takeout night. I thankfully have meals highly subsidized by my work and I just need to be mindful to utilize it more.
Set Up Online Presence.
I started and stopped and rallied and delayed on a million different ideas this year. I was relying on other people. I kept hoping that one of my friends or colleagues would take initiative for me and drag me along. That’s just not how it works. I learned it when I started in sales years ago, but it just needs to be refreshed daily. You eat what you kill. No one will do it for you. So instead I moved away and started at least trying on my own. I launched my first e commerce store earlier this year just to see what would happen. I ran some ads using the minor nice new skills I had gleaned in General Assembly and proceeded to sell zero. I don’t really care though because it was fully operational, it got traffic, and I launched it basically on my birthday while dying of food poisoning. So I call this a half win. I’m not where I want to be but I am light years ahead of even last year.
2016 on the whole was really great. I have very few bad things to say about it or how I feel about my own performance throughout it. It is always important to look back and measure how you feel about your actions. Many of these goals were not easily measurable or given a time frame. How was your 2016? Do you give yourself an A or an F?
2017 is going to be fantastic. I have started tracking my expenses and really enjoying it so I hope to have a very organized year! I never was into Excel but I am learning how spreadsheets on Google Drive can change your life. With more organization, more projects, and more knowledge, I hope I can top 2016 and I hope you can too!