2012 Wrap Up and Predictions for 2013

The year 2012 is quickly coming to a close and the world is still indeed in one piece. I’ve never done a year review and a prediction for the next year and at age 35 now, it’s as good a time as any to start.

Review of 2012

Jump in Cash from Employee Stock

2012 was the best year ever I’ve had financially. I sold some employee stock options and RSU which gave me a nice jump in cash on hand. I’m taking this money and putting it into dividend stocks and Prosper.com structured notes (a small portion) to start with and will steadily do this from now on. Unfortunately, the company I work for is now going private, so employee stock is now going to dry up as a cash infusion in my bank account. Still, I’m grateful for it.

Turned 35

I turned 35 on December 13th. It feels good to be middle aged. My wife, Heidi, looks at my hair and continues to mention to me the salt and pepper look I get more of as I get older. I don’t mind it though since I believe my health is more about how I live my life, eat, and exercise as opposed to my hair color.

At 35, my family’s net worth is over $200,000 dollars (house included). As I pay more close attention to my finances, I realize I have some work to do here. It should be close to a million dollars, but at the same time, I don’t want to be delusional about that. It’s going to take time and effort to get there.

I am more relaxed about life in general. I recognize all the different perspectives people have. I know people are going to share their opinions and fight for what they believe. I used to wonder why we could not just all get along and share a single view point. Now I embrace the ideas of everyone, even if it leads to arguing and bickering.

Starting Year 5 at the Same Company

I’m starting year 5 at the same company now. This is by far the longest I’ve stayed at any single one company. With the company going private and employee stock options no longer being offered, I count my blessings that I got what I did and realize that my only income now will be a small salary raise, start of year bonus, and my pay check. The need to get extra income coming in from other sources is glaringly obvious to me now…

Built a Mobile App

The future of technology is in portable devices of three kinds: mobile devices, head-worn devices that allow for hands free viewing, and virtual environments, like the XBox Kinect. As such, I made a mobile app for the Android phone, The Real Time Calculator.

It was a great learning experience to dive in and get started. The installs have slowed down considerably over the last couple weeks and I’m ok with that. I haven’t spent a lot of time marketing the app and pushing out updates. But I did get exposure to how online apps are made.

Investigate Real Estate

I’ve also gotten involved in the real estate market. I’ve not purchased any rental properties, but I know that now is a good time to get in if the right property presents itself. So far, I have not found that right property and I also realize that I need to consistently put time into this. This leads me in to my 2013 section with some of my goals.

Predictions/Goals For the Future, 2013

Personally

Personally, I don’t do a very good job in the area of following through and staying committed long-term to projects. I’m very good at short bursts of inspiration, but then I stop the project. I’ve seen this over and over again in my life. It’s simply something I need to be aware of and set a goal to overcome. As such, I have two personal projects I am going to work through to the end of the year consistently, so that by the end of 2013, I can say I accomplished the goal of long-term commitment. More on that later.

My family continues to grow and be a place of enjoyment and refuge for me. I see 2013 continuing to increase that. The last week and a half, I’ve taken a mini-sabbatical from work and just spent time with my family relaxing and enjoying myself.

Goals

Continue to enjoy and lead my family. I love my family and sometimes I’m not the best leader I could be. Still, I’m committed to growing with them and teaching/leading where it makes sense. This means sharing my opinions with my wife and kids even if it is uncomfortable to me.

Project 1: Double my website traffic through SEO and personal interaction with others. I don’t do a good job of interaction frequently with other people. I’m averaging 40 visits to my website a day right now (which isn’t very much, I know :)). To make this 80 a day, I will focus on writing twice a week without fail, twice a week spending an hour interacting with others online, and implementing SEO much more than I am right now. By end of year, I’ll have met my goal if I indeed am getting 80 visitors a day or more.

Project 2: Work on a programming project for the whole year, no matter what. I have a project that I’m very interested in doing. It’s not my calculator I believe. It’s a PC/Tablet program that I’ll share the details of later. The point is, it will require consistent effort daily to make progress on. By the end of 2013, I should have something to show for the effort put in. More on this one in early 2013.

Health. I weigh 215 pounds right now. This is about 5 pounds heavier than last year. My magic number is 202 pounds. I know that to get there, I have to look at food not as a comfort for stressful times, but as a means to fuel me for my creative endeavors and to be a better husband and father. I’ll lengthen my workouts each day to include more aerobic activity and strength training and track my weight monthly.

Predictions

Online interaction will increase: People will continue to argue and share their opinions, particularly on websites like Yahoo and CNN. I think this is healthy because it creates a widely used portal for people to share comments and ideas. As online use continues to grow, I see 2013 continuing the online forum as a place to debate, argue, and share advice and opinions. People will look to those who have experience, knowledge, and share intelligent and interesting view points.

The Stock Market will increase by 10%: Looking at 2011-2012, I’m a big believer that the past generally equals the future unless something major happens. Given that Barack Obama is going to be president for the next four years, I don’t see much changing in this trend. Stocks (and for me, dividend stocks), will be a good investment throughout the year). The DOW is at 13,104.14 right now. My prediction for this time next year is around 14,200.

The U.S. will continue to grow economically, but China and other foreign countries will outpace us: The U.S. seems to be more in a slower growth and maintenance mode compared to the rapid growth of foreign countries like China and Brazil. China is developing a high-speed rail system of over 1,400 miles. This is impressive. The U.S. seems to be drowned in politics and debate which makes us slower to do achievements like this. I see the U.S. continuing to move at a steady pace, but not keeping up with other fast-moving foreign countries.

Housing will continue to improve: Because interest rates are so low and housing requires such a large down payment now, this will keep prices reasonable through 2013 in my opinion. Real Estate will be a great investment opportunity this year. My home is worth $230,000 right now. I expect this to be about $245,000 by end of next year.

Mobile/Tablet use will increase: One only need look at the past to see that mobile and tablet technology (along with head-wear glasses and virtual environments) are where entertainment, gaming, and content consumption are going to happen. Personal computers will still be available, but these other avenues are going to increase. 2013 will be a great year to learn how to become a coder and learn how to make applications for mobile and tablet environments (as well as the personal computer).

Last Thoughts

Most of my predictions are taken from multiple sources who are smarter than I. I then do my best to use my own brain and form some conclusions based on all the things smart people are saying in the areas of finance, technology, and politics. I’m looking forward to 2013. I know my biggest challenge is going to be sticking with my projects and not giving up. When this time rolls around next year, I’ll know if I am more consistent in my efforts. What is the thing you most look forward to in 2013? What will be your biggest challenge in 2013?

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