$1 Million by 2017. What’s Your Financial Goal?

Before I started this blog, I did not really have a good financial goal. Actually, my financial goal was similar to 99.9% of other Americans…I wanted to be rich. But what is rich? In Are you wealthy? Here’s a test, I defined wealthy as: “…when income from my assets can cover all my family living expenses and a few luxuries“. That was a good start, but now I want to put together a specific and achievable goal and plan.

Goal: Build a $1 million investment portfolio by 2017 (excluding home equity)

10 years may not sound very sexy, but I don’t know any get rich quick scheme that works. So, I have to work within my capability and 10% should be achievable. I am currently at 23% of my goal. In fact, I consider myself lucky to have accumulated this much wealth without any financial goal or plan for the past 10 years.

So how did I get to $230,000?

Actually, it was at $250,000 a few days ago before the stock market went south. Anyway, I started working in 1996 with about $20,000 in debt (mostly student loans and some credit card debt). I was able to save a large portion of my income each year, thanks to my Asian culture where it is typical for the oldest son to live with his parents. This really helped me get an early start on my financial situation.

I also started to invest in the stock market soon after my first paycheck. This turned out to be another good thing for my finances. Sure, I made a few errors along the way, but it was a small price to pay for what learned. In 1998, with considerable help from my parents, I bought a house. Although I went from paying almost no living expenses to paying for everything but food, it was another good financial move in my favor.

Overall, I did well for someone with no financial goal. If I had been more serious about personal finance, I think I could have done much better.

So $1 million by 2017 is the goal, here is the plan…

My plan is simple, but will be challenging to execute. To get to $1 million, I will attempt to grow my investment by 10% a year and add about $20,000 more to the portfolio each year. Here is a rough map (updated 1/1/2008):

$1 million goal

Reaching this goal may not make me wealthy by my own definition, but I now have a road map that I can measure my progress on a regular basis. Setting a SMART goal is the key to success:

  • Specific – knowing exactly what I want – i.e., $1 million investment portfolio
  • Measurable – having the ability to track progress – i.e., I can come back to the spreadsheet above and see how well I am doing
  • Actionable – knowing the steps needed to achieve the goal – i.e., by saving $20,000 per year and investing that money
  • Realistic – being in the realm of possibility – i.e., investing for a 10% annualized return is possible
  • Timely – knowing when the goal will be achieved – i.e., 2017

What is your goal?

About the Author

By , on Jul 30, 2007
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

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Leave Your Comment (42 Comments)

  1. IPPO says:

    Hi Pinyo. It is 2013 now, is it possible to hear an update? Thank you! 🙂

    • Pinyo says:

      IPPO – I am slightly ahead of the plan.

      • IPPO says:

        Great! Definitely enjoy reading your site, thanks for creating it. We’re new and would like to know if there are specific things (actions) that you’ve taken since 2010 that have improved your ability to reach early retirement?


      • Pinyo says:

        @IPPO – I had a few good income years between 2010 and 2013, and I put the bulk of the income into retirement savings and real estate.

      • IPPO says:

        Thank you Pinyo. Do you mind sharing what type of retirement investments? We are avid Vanguard users (VTSAX, VGHAX, VWINX), how about you? We are reading your investments articles and would appreciate it if you share any more information. Thanks.

        By the way, have you read Jim Collins, Jacob’s Early Retirement Extreme and Mr. Money Mustache’s blogs? These are great resources.

      • Pinyo says:

        @IPPO – Most of my investments are in Vanguard funds and ETFs as well. It has a Target Retirement Fund as the core and I added specific funds (e.g., European, Asian, Bond, Foreign, Small Cap, etc.) to get the diversification I want.

        I am familiar with the names you mentioned, but I haven’t been reading as much as I should.

  2. Jill says:

    Hey Pinyo – I just ran across this and was wondering if you would share an update on how you’re doing!

    • Pinyo says:

      @Jill – This probably won’t happen as planned — I am about 2 years behind schedule. About 3.5 months ago, I got a job offer in Virginia and moved from NY. However, I am still paying all of NY house expenses for my parents who stayed behind. In the mean time, my wife and I bought a house in VA. So the money that normally go toward investments are now going toward house payments.

      Also, not to mention that we have not average 10% gain in the stock market for the past few years. If anything, we went backward.

  3. intrigued says:

    I am tired of thinking it is time to do “thinkers think and doers do. but if thinkers dont do and doers dont think then its just something else talkers talk about.” it has never been more clearer I am a smart man but growing up i never had someone to guide me i have had a rough life. I will be going back to school, but have been so afraid because i have a bad criminal background and when i am done with school who would trust me. I will be taking business managment. My entrepneur spirit has been tugging at my mind and heart for sometime now. I thank you so much for showing me your journey i will take everything you have said into account. Honest opinion: Do you think a Person with my background and my debt can get out and become successful and provide all i never had for my 2 wonderful boys and wife? regardless i am embarking on this journey regardless of my situations and outcomes just would like some assurence. thank you

  4. Pinyo says:

    @Double Journey – Thank you. Good luck to you as well.

    @David – Not at all. The 10% was based on historical performance of S&P500. It might be a little optimistic considering the weakness that started since year 2000. If I miss my target at the end of 2008, I will most likely revise my plan to reach the $1 million mark.

    Good idea about adjusting contribution up each year.

  5. David Carter says:

    I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but 10% is pretty optimistic. I think you should up your contributions each year as well. Maybe by say 3%, the going rate of inflation, otherwise I think it might be hard to hit 1Mill in 2017. I hope ur a good investor! gl

  6. Good Luck to you in your journey. I have similar goals. I am a few years younger and have a little bit more saved, but hope to get to a million in relatively short order. I plan to get there like you, saving diligently and investing wisely. For a little fun however, I took some money aside and am going to “try and get rich quick”. I’m talking about it on my blog. We will see how that goes.

  7. Pinyo says:

    @Tommy – welcome to Moolanomy. Great to hear. I am sure you can do it, as long as you have a SMART plan.

    @Ruth – You’re welcome. Yeah, leaving a job is always a sweet sorrow, but if you can do it, why not.

    Trust me, you are not a freak — I think PF bloggers cover the whole gamut — rich/poor, spendy/frugal, in debt/financially free, etc.

    I read Your Money or Your Life. I will have to take a look at others. My reading list is quite long.

  8. Ruth says:

    Thanks–and I’m flattered! I would be happy to be a guest writer sometime if I can find a way to be honest without revealing too much about myself. One problem with my plan is that if my employer found out that I’m itchin’ to leave it would cause a lot of bad feelings. You’d think people would be happy for you . . . and they would be, on the one hand. On the other hand, they’d be sad/hurt. It’s also harder to argue for raises if they know you’re trying to retire early . . . although again it’s your money so it shouldn’t matter. But it does.

    BTW, when I lived on the West Coast in my early 20s I lived on $425 a month, and I was quite happy. So now living on $16k feels luxurious! But it depends on what you’re used to, how you feel about yourself, and even who your friends are. I hope all these PF blogs help “freaks” like me know that we’re not alone, and we’re not crazy!

    Lastly, anyone looking for more inspiration: Thoreau, “The Good Life” by the Nearings, “Your Money or Your Life,” and “A Reasonable Life” all have been very helpful to me.

  9. Tommy says:

    Wonderful goal! Mine are a bit more modest. However, I may up the ante after your inspiration. Good luck.

  10. Pinyo says:

    @Raymond – yes, compounding is great.

    @Ruth – welcome to Moolanomy. I really enjoyed reading your comment, so if you ever feel the urge to write about your finances and frugality, I would welcome you as a guest writer.

    Living off $16,000 per year and saving $30,000 is an incredible feat, and your plan is so well thought out that I am sure it can be done. I would certainly love to hear about how you manage to do these things in more detail.

    By the way, I would prefer living frugally and retire at 42, than having to work the rest of my life for all the goodies.

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