What is your One Money Goal?

one-money-goalMy father is originally from Taiwan and smoked cigarettes like his brothers, his father, and nearly every adult male he knew.

Back in those days, no one knew that smoking could cause lung cancer… so kept smoking.

Then he had kids. Those kids grew up and we grew up in an era where we knew smoking caused cancer. So when I was a kid, I asked my dad to stop smoking. I vividly remember my sister and I making signs and putting them around the house. I don't know if it helped but my dad stopped smoking when we were little and never restarted.

Anyone who has ever tried to reach a goal, whether it's to stop smoking or pay down debt, knows that it's hard. There are a bunch of different strategies you can use to improve your chances but the biggest one is accountability.

Accountability is fundamental.

How do you force accountability? Make it public. Tell your friends.

That's why I have a public page on my blog with my One Money Goal. wallethacks.com/omg

(in addition to the goal itself, I share my why)

That's the financial goal the rest of my money decisions revolve around. It's an audacious goal but it's the big OMG. It's meant to be big and presumably out of reach today, but not in five years. But it's where I aim to devote my work time.

Someone comes to me with a new financial opportunity… does it get me closer to my OMG? If the answer is no, I pass.

If my OMG were to pay down credit card debt, then all financial decisions are up against that mission. Do I buy that new gadget or do I put it towards my OMG? Active decisions are the cornerstone of mindful spending, put your goal out there for all to see. Friends invite you out? I will pass this time, I'm close to hitting my goal. It's as simple as that.

What's your OMG?

Share your One Money Goal in the comments. If you have an OMG page on your blog, put the full URL in the comments so others can see it.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Holly@ClubThrifty says

    Our biggest money goal is to become financially independent. I know that’s pretty cliche these days, but we do have a plan to get there! We’re 35/36 now and we are around 10 years from having our two rental properties and our primary home paid off. We also save a ton of money for retirement and have watched it grow over the years. I have to be partially financially independent at age 46 and possibly scale back my work by then.

  2. Kate @ Cashville Skyline says

    My one money goal is to reach financial freedom. And for me that means being able to work when I want, from where I want without being influenced by how much I’m being compensated. So, I working on generating multiple streams of revenue. I don’t have an exact number in mind. But I’ll know when I’m there.

    • Jim says

      I’m a firm believer in systems rather than goals. A lot of folks believe in setting a target – like FI = some amount in the bank. I believe in systems, which is like you saying your goal is to build multiple streams of income and not so much a target $ for them. Your system will guide you to the end result you want.

  3. John @ Frugal Rules says

    We’re similar in that we’re working towards FI as well. A key part to that, from a business perspective, is scaling our business so we’re doing largely the management aspect and giving us more freedom from the day-to-day work. Financially, that means us being entirely debt free (we only have our mortgage currently) within the next 8 years.

    • Jim says

      Yes, when you free yourself from the day to day it feels less like “work” even though you’re still responsible. It’s the grind that is less appealing, at least to me. πŸ™‚

    • Jim says

      That’s a big money goal, if you get to $50k/mo in passive income I suspect your net worth will be well north of $10mm.

  4. Chris Peach says

    We want to walk out into our front yard, stand in the (fake) grass, and rip up our mortgage into a thousand pieces. We have about 3-5 years left to pay it off, and the dream is starting to become a reality. I think about that moment will feel like almost every day. That’s the goal and the dream.

    • Jim says

      It feels good to not owe anything to anyone – I personally will keep the mortgage around just because the rates are so low but I see the appeal for sure.

  5. Hannah says

    I’ve always wanted to build wealth to a point where we can literally give away every penny that we earn in a year. We’re definitely working on growing both our giving and our investments, but I think giving everything away would be so cool!

    • Jim says

      I’ve had the same thought but my feeling was that it’s probably better to build wealth (with some smaller donations along the way), have it compound, and then give a larger sum at the end.

      I’ve also then had the thought, it’d actually be even more powerful to build up a trusted tribe and then inspire them to donate as a community so you leverage your tribe for good – like what Ramit Sethi and Pat Flynn did for Pencils of Promise.

  6. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies says

    I probably have too many OMGs. The overall goal is to be financially independent, but that seems so lofty that I try to break it down into chunks. Our primary focus right now is paying off our mortgage. We have a LONG way to go, but knowing that it is focus helps a lot.

    • Jim says

      There’s that saying, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.”

      In your case, when eating a herd of elephants, take one bite at a time.” πŸ™‚

  7. Aaron says

    Great advice here. I think accountability is really the key to any lasting change that I’ve had in my life, be it weight loss (was doing that alongside my wife) or the first time that I got out of debt (with another good friend).

    Our main goal right now is to pay off the wife’s school loan + start working on more ways to generate passive/active income. Think that is key to long-term financial independence these days, esp as healthcare keeps rising and unknowns about SS/retirement accts.

    • Jim says

      Accountability is a huge piece because it also plays a role in feedback loops. If you put it out there, people will ask you about it and so you’ll be more aware of the goal and more likely to keep after it.

  8. Jacob says

    My OMG is to quit my job and work for myself in the next 24 months. I want to create my own schedule and build a business that allows me to work within my passion, specifically helping people kick financial butt!

  9. Joan says

    Hasn’t changed in almost eight years – to be debt-free except my mortgage. Thank goodness there’s no date on it, thanks to a divorce, a rocky financial period leading to the divorce, a “rebuilding year” and all that good stuff! But I like the idea of weighing all others things against this, which I generally do without being as conscious of it as I am now. Thanks for adding some clarity to the process!

    • Jim says

      Do you have intermediate milestones? Some people find those helpful and motivating while others don’t like the pressure of a figurative Sword of Damocles hanging over them.

  10. Lena says

    My goal keeps changing. I don’t like getting bored so when I achieve one goal I set a new one. When it comes to income goals, I usually aim for ten times what I currently make. I set out last year to make $1k in passive monthly income from my blog. One year later and I had an $8k October (about 75%) of it passive! I think my new stretch goal five years from now is $50k per month passive with a pie in the sky goal of $1M per year just to be able to say I did it. Holy moly I can’t believe I just said that! It’s really crazy to think about but I thrive on possibilities! I’m very fortunate to be in a position where we don’t depend on any of my income for our living expenses. I think if we did I’d be more conservative. Is that odd? I guess at this point I have nothing to lose! The only reason I don’t go full force right now is the desire to remain a SAHM and spend time with my kiddos.

    • Jim says

      Well if you hit your goal, you can’t keep it anymore… you already hit it. πŸ™‚

      $1,000,000 per year! Do it! It’s out there! I’m going to ask you about it! πŸ™‚

  11. Gale says

    My OMG is to be debt free, saving the home equity line for last. And the second part of my OMG is to have enough saved for retirement to be able to take a trip whenever we’d like and not worry about the money running out before we expire. I’ll be 57 later this month and I’m not as far along with these goals as I should be. I’ve only been working on them for about the last 13 months and I have learned a lot and made progress.

    • Jim says

      The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today… at least you planted it right?

  12. John Wedding says

    My one money goal is to build enough income streams outside of my day job so that I have the (reasonable) option to quit. (It’s not a reasonable option now because other people besides myself would be out on the street if I failed.) This would mean at least $150k additional income per year.

  13. Vic @ Dad Is Cheap says

    My OMG is to have my own business one day in which I can have the flexibility to set my own hours and spend quality time with my family. It doesn’t have to be fancy – I don’t aspire to be super rich (although that wouldn’t hurt πŸ™‚ ). A regular 9-5 gets in the way of things like soccer practices and spending quality time with my daughter during the week. I don’t want to work for the weekends!

    • Jim says

      Freedom and flexibility seems to be the goal of many folks these days, now that there are enough examples around that people feel it’s doable. Back in the factory days, it wasn’t really possible. Now, with so much information work, it’s a reality for many and a possibility for all. Great goal.

  14. Fred says

    To have enough assets (based on lots of specific assumptions) to live to the age of 130, assuming gradual depletion of assets at retirement, with nothing left at 130 years old. I monitor my investments and income towards this goal on a weekly basis.

      • Paul says

        Probably to have enough money to cover for unexpected inflation in his/her real lifetime. When was the last time you heard someone reach 130 years? It is just a strategy so that there is always enough money to survive a long lifespan. Which is becoming more common due to medical advances on the treatments of preventable diseases.

  15. Mr. Groovy says

    Hey Jim –
    You’re OMG if fantastic! We’ve actually reached our OMG, which is to have enough money saved and working for us so that we can quit our bread and butter jobs. We’re trying not to fall prey to the OMY (One More Year) syndrome discussed at Mr. Money Mustache. But, next year I turn 55 and can start collecting my (small) pension. Psychologically we’ll feel more secure knowing we have a check coming in. Combined with other investments and a paid off house, we’ll be ready for adventure.

  16. Mr. & Mrs. Dibidend says

    Our goal is to become financially independent – to have multiple streams of income. My husband has been serving in the military for 10+ years and is looking to retire sometime soon. Luckily, we started saving in our early 20s and gradually started learning about investing and passive income.

  17. ol1970 says

    When I was 35 my goal was a portfolio that produced $300k/yr in passive income. At 40 my goal was $250k/yr, on the cusp of my 45th birthday its $15k/month or $180k/yr. I actually got out the old analysis and projections done by my myself and different planners over the years and it was very interesting. I honestly believe that men and women go through a phase in our late 20’s through our late 30’s where we are at our pinnacle of productiveness and we have an nearly uncontrollable desire to consume and show the world we’ve arrived. Absolutely nothing wrong with this…it drives our entrepreneurial spirit to work harder to achieve, every year I rewarded myself with a luxury expenditure the following year was my best year ever. The rub is though eventually in my case you realize that I don’t need anywhere near any of these numbers to be happy. Everybody’s happiness level financially is different, but as a person who long ago crossed the threshold of FI, the most surprising thing to me was once you are retired how little a life well lived actually costs. Set your goals high when you are younger though because even if you only get 80% of the way there, you’ll still have way more than you need…just don’t spend your whole life chasing the mythical goal.

    • Jim says

      Hmmm this is food for thought, there might be a lot of motivations behind spending a lot early (confirmation, rewarding yourself, etc.) but I can see how that would recede as you age.

      So having your needs lower over the years… that ends up being a good thing. You aim for $300k/yr in passive income but you start when you’re 35… by the time you hit 45, you’re much closer to 180k than you’d have been if you originally aimed for it. πŸ™‚

  18. Paul says

    A money goal? Hell, I’m just trying to stay alive? Seriously.

    I used to work and got made redundant from my job (gee thanks Prime Minister – obviously I’m not from the States).

    I was subsequently diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And no, being made redundant did NOT cause that, having coronary bypass surgery caused that and that’s one of the medical professions dirty little secrets. It’s all, wow you’ll be able to run a marathon in 6 months ra ra ra… yeah, bollocks. Read just a few months ago that in excess of 78% of bypass survivors (yes, some patients actually die!!!) suffer severe fatigue for considerable periods after recovery phase of the operation. Oh, and I was the lucky one. I had 7 (yes SEVEN) bypass grafts. That was a record at the time and as far as I know still stands, in my country.

    But, back to the topic, truly, my goal is to try and get through a day without serious fatigue, exhaustion, pain, anger, oh yes, ANGER. Because it really does mess up your thought processes.

    I’m struggling to be able to pay our bills. My wife works, and every $ she earns abates our benefit by $0.8. So, we are on excrement street and slowly going under the (metaphorical) brown stuff. Get ahead? Fat chance of that. Work from home? Everything that I have seen has been a scam, or if it is legit I don’t have the qualifications, or if it doesn’t need those ever so special quals, I can’t do it because of not only chronic fatige, but I have a serious hearing loss (since birth) so I have difficulty understanding people talking and with it, of course, my speech is not clear. Comes with the disability. Nothing I can do to fix either of these problems. As we say here, FIID, FIID… I’ll leave it to you to work out what the letters mean.

    • Jim says

      I can’t relate but I can imagine the frustration that must accompany chronic fatigue syndrome, the energy you had before just not being there… but was the coronary bypass surgery optional? I’ve always believed the alternative would be worse.

      I obviously don’t know what the answer is, we live in different areas and it’s a life experience I’m not familiar with, the only thing I can say is that having a strong support system around is crucial.

      • Paul says

        Was the bypass optional? Of course it was… I didn’t HAVE to have it. Of course, with 7 serious blockages my outlook was extremely bleak. The alternative… well it comes to us all eventually doesn’t it?

        My advice to you, and anybody else reading this is… at the end of the day all the money doesn’t mean diddly squat if you haven’t got your health. Abandon the SAD (Standard American Diet – or Anglo Saxon Diet or…) and start to eat healthy. And I mean REAL healthy. Lots of green veges, or orange or yellow ones too. If you can, and I know some can’t, ditch eating meat. Especially red meat… which ironically includes pork. Can fried food. Can oils for frying… such as Canola/Soy (all GMO btw). Ironically Coconut oil, despite being a saturated fat is orders of magnitude healthier than liquid oils like Soy and Canola.

        Get out and exercise. At least 3 times a week. Become healthy and EnJoY your money.

        • Jim Wang says

          You make excellent points Paul – you are right, health is everything and when it ends, it ends. I’ve been trying to eat healthier, healthier portions, and maintaining an active lifestyle so I can do the things I want to do.

  19. Cary Revilla says

    My financial goals for 2016 is to build up my ER fund and increase my retirement savings. I just rolled out a new online biz and I tapped into my ER fund. Need to replenish and see my biz grow!

    Thanks!
    Cary

  20. diane @smartmoneysimplelife says

    I have an OMG for this year. Does that count? My OMG is to reach $10k per month income from my online endeavours.

    I’m a big fan of the book, The Power of Less, and I’m finding that just focusing on a single target is removing the ‘busy work’ from my life. If it doesn’t get me closer to my goal, it goes to the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, my garden’s now a mess… πŸ™‚

  21. Al says

    My OMG would have to be to continue to max out our retirement accounts. We don’t have any debts except for our mortgage (about three years remaining) so contributing the max each year has been possible. Even though I will most likely get a full pension, I am reducing my risk because it is not fully guaranteed yet.

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