2021 Goals

A new year begins
A time for optimism
Look to the future

At some point in December, me and my siblings got so bored of quizzes that we started making up Haiku poems (something I last did when I was a schoolgirl) in our Whatsapp group just for something different to do, so I thought I’d start this post with one!

Anyway, it was back to work for me on 4th January and although my brain felt suitably rested, my ten-day break really didn’t seem long enough.

Right, onto the main topic…Goals!

I was scribbling some notes (yes, I still like to use pen and notepad to initially draft blog posts) when Boris announced the latest national lockdown measures.

I decided on one ‘lockdown goal’ (see below in non-financial goals) but apart from that one, I decided that I didn’t want to make a big deal of the situation.

As with previous years, I can focus better if I only set myself a few goals, with little room for distraction. This seems to work for me so I don’t see a point in changing this. Apologies if this doesn’t make very exciting reading but such is my life!

I managed to hit three of my six goals last year, so at least I know those goals were on the challenging side

So without further ado, here they are:

2021 Financial Goals:

Average 50% Savings Rate*

This goal remained elusive to me until last year, but 2020 was obviously an anomaly, one which will unlikely to be repeated any time soon.

A savings rate of 50% won’t necessarily guarantee that I will reach FIRE as planned but it probably gives me the best chance of doing so, and represents a real challenge for me because my salaried income is only modest (low in fact, compared to most aiming for FIRE) and I have to make an effort not to let laziness, procrastination or lifestyle inflation creep up on me.

Here’s how my savings rate has looked in the last 5 years:

2020 – 54.3%
2019 – 46.3%
2018 – 43.2%
2017 – 42.4%
2016 – 44.9%

At some point later this year, I’m sure elements of my previous life will resume, eg socialising, eating out and holiday travel, so my savings rate will be affected and it will be tough to save over 50% consistently.

Also, there’s something happening in a few months’ time, which will have an effect on my savings – more on this in a future post.

£2,500 Total ISA Dividend Income 

I didn’t hit last year’s £2k goal but am being a little more ambitious this year – I’ll be doing a review of my investments soon and hope to switch to more income-producing investments, hence my slightly higher goal. Note that getting dividend income is only part of my overall investment strategy.

So the goal is to achieve at least £2.5k income from my investment trusts (ITs) and shares only in my ISA. Last year, total income from these investments came to just over £1,800.

I will continue to track my total dividend income (so that I can maintain my main income graph) but the ISA income will have more significance for me.

This is how the income in my ISAs have grown over the years:

Steady upward trend these last few years, including 2020 where a lot of dividends were cut/cancelled

Why just ITs and shares, and not the ETFs in my ISA?

Even though some of the ETFs I hold also produce dividend income, when I FIRE, I’m planning to sell the ETFs for capital income and hold onto the ITs and shares to produce dividend income. My intention is ultimately for this income to cover some (not all) of my monthly bills in retirement.

The average monthly income I received last year would have covered my gas, internet, electricity and water bills so I’m slowly getting there!

Earn £2,000 Matched Betting (MB) Profits

I’ve now been MB for nearly 5 years and have made total (tax free) profits of over £18,000.

Last year, I was way way off with a totally unrealistic target – after doing this for so long, I’ve been restricted/gubbed from so many bookies that I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to make significant profits.

However, I still believe there’s still money to be made if I put the time in so I will continue with this for as long as it’s worth doing and I continue to enjoy doing it.

I barely made any profit on my football accumulators in 2020 – teams which were normally a shoe-in for a home-win didn’t perform so well playing to empty stadiums and I was too slow to cotton onto this factor early enough. I won’t do so many accas to keep potential losses to a minimum but will still take the occasional risk because I find them fun to do (that’s the gambler in me talking!).

I still treat MB as a hobby I like to do in my spare time and I hope the profits continue to roll in.

I often get asked how much time I spend on this hobby and the answer is that it varies. Like any other hobby, I fit it in between all the other things I do in my life.

On average, it’s probably now only around 20-25 hours a month – up to an hour a day, perhaps a bit more on a Saturday. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less, depending on what I’m up to. That’s far less than what I spend doing my other hobbies, eg reading blogs, watching tv and reading books and none of those pay me anything for doing them (sadly!).

2021 Non-Financial Goals

Walk 268 miles

I’m not a runner but thought I needed a bit of motivation to get out of the house to do more walking.

So I’ve signed up to do the Pennine Virtual Run/Walk. I think I have 5 months to complete this so this is the ‘lockdown goal’ I mentioned earlier. I currently don’t walk even a mile every a day so this will be a challenge for me.

It’s something different and I’ll get a t-shirt at the end to remind me of the strange things we did during these unusual times. A few people at work are doing the Lands End to John O’Groats one but that’s a stretch too far for me!

Borrow and Read 15 Library Books

Not as many as last year but only because I’m a bit fed up with reading ebooks. Although I’ve loved being able to borrow ebooks from the local library, I miss reading physical books and have no idea when libraries will be reopen for this service. Still, hopefully I will be able to make a dent on reading some of the books I actually own, which are sitting on my bookshelves (or even in boxes in the garage…).

I’m going to try to read a total of 25 books this year (I track my progress here via Goodreads), so at least 15 must be borrowed from the library.

Read 4 Non-Fiction Books

Adding an extra book to last year’s goal.

I know 4 doesn’t sound like much but as previously mentioned, my passion is reading fiction (sci-fi, fantasy or crime/thriller) so even these few books will be a challenge and out of my comfort zone. I received two non-fiction books as Christmas presents so that should be a start.

These non-fiction books won’t necessarily be finance or investment related or anything to do with self-help or stuff like that – just something which piques my interest and hopefully educational.

Charity Goal

In the past, I’ve pledged to donate at least 10% of my MB profits to charity.

However, as my MB profits have been decreasing, I’ve continued with my regular  charity donations so perhaps a pledge to donate at least 20% is probably more realistic, so if I hit my MB goal this year, that will be at least £400 (last year, total donations was £389, about 21%).

The main charities I donate to regularly are Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and British Red Cross and also direct to a local library; I donate to a few other charities though not on a regular basis and I also fund ‘charity loans’ via Kiva.

I will also continue donating to Toilet Twinning but won’t actually make twinning a  toilet goal in case I (again) don’t get round to sorting this out.

Aiming for FIRE, I guess I should be throwing every single penny I can towards my goal but I want to (and feel like I should) support charities because I can and because it makes me feel like I’m contributing and helping (in a small way).

Other Stuff

I don’t have any specific fitness goals except to go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, once they reopen. Until then, I will continue to use my weights at home and the online fitness sessions provided by the gym. I intend to slowly increase the weights I use in my gym training; nothing specific, I’ll just move up a few kg as and when I’m ready.

On Christmas Eve, I weighed myself (‘before’) and on New Years Day, I weighed myself again (‘after’) –  I just need to lose the 1.4 kg/3 lbs I’ve put on but hopefully, that shouldn’t be too hard as there are no more mince pies or Christmas cake left in the house! 🙂

I thought I was going to pile on more pounds, considering there were days when I didn’t leave the house and spent the whole time ‘grazing’ on comfort food!

2020 was another year where I didn’t buy a single bottle of water; easier than previous years as I hardly went anywhere but I’m assuming there will be more opportunities to be out and about (including travelling at some point) this year, so I will continue to carry my own drinking bottle – my own small effort to stop another plastic bottle ending up in the landfill/sea.

In September, I started to learn how to do the 4 x 4 Rubik’s Cube. I’m about half-way there still and have been struggling on the last few algorithms. I know I’m not trying hard enough (or practising enough) so I will now commit to completing it by the end of the year…!

Next Milestone

It’s possible that I might reach my next big milestone for my Future Fund this year, that of a quarter of a million pounds! Just writing that down seems utterly weird and incredible, that such a sum is within my reach.

Ten years ago, I was celebrating my first year of being credit card debt free and thought I was in a great place then! Little did I know… 🙂

Anyway, I’m optimistic that this year will be a better one, despite how it’s started with another full-on lockdown – there’s light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.

So, seven goals for me this year – did you set any goals (or resolutions) for 2021?

If so, good luck and may it be a happy, healthy and prosperous year for all! 🙂

* Note that my savings rate is what I save from my net salary, my net salary being what drops into my bank account each month from my employer.

16 thoughts on “2021 Goals

  1. Hi Weenie,
    No goals for me, per usual. If today’s Biden-fuelled rise persists you’ll be at the £250k mark before the month’s out. 🙂

    So the long-term plan is that by the time you draw down your DB pension, all of the ETFs (ISA and SIPP) are sold leaving just the shares and ITs to provide additional income? No index trackers to keep things on an even keel for the duration of your retirement?

    Pennine Way – best of luck! In 2015, I walked the actual Pennine Way and aspire to repeat it again one day, but it’s entirely possible this year will be as trek-free as last year. Genuinely surprised you don’t even walk one mile per day. Tut!

    • Hi NewInvestor

      Early days yet and anything can still happen to stop me from getting to that milestone but I think I should get there before this year is out!

      Yes, if necessary, all of the ETFs will end up being sold, leaving the shares/ITs to provide additional income. However, I’m hoping this won’t happen, that decent growth means that I will still have some ticking over for the duration of my retirement.

      Wow, amazing that you’ve walked the actual Pennine Way – let’s hope things improve enough later in the year so you can do another such trek.

      I know, it’s bad isn’t it? I do walk at least a mile a day during the week, it’s the weekends when I’m pretty inactive! That said, in the two days I’ve been doing this virtual Challenge, I’ve clocked up 5 miles, so already it’s changed my behaviour in a good way!

  2. Happy New Year Weenie!

    Quarter of a million quid sounds like such an immense sum, you must be so happy to be so close to it 🙂 I’ve recently been playing with my spreadsheets and I’ve decided to denominate my pounds, Swedish krona, and dollars into a single unit for my ‘totals’ figures, and I chose dollars, although it’s going to take me a long time to stop switching back to GBP in my head. It’s also a little sad that my thresholds have changed, maybe I’ll just have to celebrate both?

    I only read 13 books last year, less than last year 🙁 BUT I don’t think I’m reading any less. I think for me it’s mainly how many smaller books I read. A normal epic fantasy of about 1000 pages, I think I can realistically read about 1 per month, and there are so many on my to-read shelf!!

    I’m reading The Stormlight Archive now and it’s quickly shot up to one of my favourite novels, it’s one of those that you just can’t put down, I’d definitely recommend it, and the fourth in the series was recently released.

    • Happy New Year, SN!

      Yep, I really chuffed taht I’m so close to this milestone – it doesn’t seem real!

      When you switch to dollars, I do think you should celebrate when you reach both thresholds – I know I celebrated (inside) when my future fund hit $100k (about £74k)! At least you will get to being a (dollar) millionaire quicker! 🙂

      Another reason for reducing my reading goal this year is because I want to get back into the 1000 page fantasy epics you mention – I’m not sure I can read one of those in a month, maybe 2!

      Not gotten into more of Sanderson’s books – think I started the Mistborn series but it was a while ago, might have to re-read that first book if I can get hold of it. So many books in that universe to read!

  3. I think you’ve got a really nice mixture of goals in there Weenie. The Pennine Way one looks really good. I keep being tempted by the Lands End one, but so far I’ve resisted signing up!
    I love your not buying a bottle of water all year idea. I guess you just have to be organised and make sure you don’t find yourself out and about without having thought ahead. The airport would be tough when we’re flying again, but I did hear a rumour that there are water fountains hidden away in most airports.
    Your saving rate is very impressive, as are your MB profits.
    Stick in with the 4×4 and you’ll get there. Rather annoyingly I’ve left the 3×3 alone for too long and now need to relearn some of the algorithms. Rookie mistake!
    Good luck with all your goals; I’m sure you’ll smash them.

    • Thanks SS.

      I found some other (international) ones you could do if you don’t fancy the Lands End one: https://www.theconqueror.events/all-challenges/ – one is over 2000 miles!

      I started the no-buying bottled water a few years back when I noticed people queueing at a water fountain at an airport, so I think they have them at most international airports, though not maybe in all of them yet. It is a case of being organised – if I know I’m going to be out of the house for a while, I’ll carry a small one with me in my handbag.

      Some of the 4×4 algorithms are the same as the 3×3 but I’ve not tried it in a while so may well have forgetten how to complete it myself!

  4. Increasing the income from your ISA portfolio is the way to go. It makes future financial independence more credible when you have a growing percentage of your expenses covered. I have found that investment trust income can be mostly more resilient than individual company shares. You need to avoid reaching for too much income yield and getting much lower capital returns (I may have done this!)

    • Hi GM

      Part of the reason why I am going for the income paying ITs now is so I can see the income plan in action and in case I do end up reaching for too much yield. Doing it now means I have time to be able to adjust/switch before I actually come to rely on such income. I hope!

      But yes, I think there is more resilience – I think only one of my ITs stopped paying income last year, whereas quite a few of the individual shares cancelled their dividends.

  5. There’s a well-balanced variety in your goals this year, weenie. I especially like your lockdown goal. I wonder how many steps 268miles may be, it seems like like a lot!

    A quarter of a million also sounds like a ton of money to me. Having amassed 200k in ten years in think it’s a great achievement.

    I still need to write my goals, hopefully this weekend.

    All the best with your 2021 goals 😀

    • Cheers Tony.

      I think you could easily do the 268 miles, with you doing 10k steps a day – I think it’s only around 650-670k steps in total, which is a lot for me, but not for you! 🙂

      All the best with your 2021 goals too!

  6. Returning the compliment – thanks for commenting on my blog!

    These goals are a great inspiration for me, particularly your 50% savings rate and £2,500 income from dividends.

    I’m surprised you’ve thus-far managed to make £18,000 from matched betting. I did this solidly for a month, made roughly £1,000 profit and after that point the offers really dwindled down in value and I wasn’t sure if it was worth my time (from probably £30/hour at the start to seemingly under £5 and dropping by the time I finished), but your experience suggests there might be something I’ve missed.

    My main monetary goal this year is to obliterate my debt, which I’ve calculated should be zero around November time as I pay quite a chunk off each month, and from there I’ll be adding some additional investments to my ISA on top of my £100 Every Month project.

    I’d be very happy if I could replicate your success 🙂

    • Hi Jay

      Thanks for stopping by!

      The £18k from matched betting has taken nearly 5 years to accumulate. Even now with dwindling profits, I think it’s still worth me doing it, but I never really looked at it from a £/hr point of view, otherwise may as well apply that all my other hobbies, eg tv watching £0/hr, video gaming £0/hr, scrolling on the internet £0/hr! Anyway, I moved onto the riskier but still profitable no lay each way betting, which involves a degree of variance (losses) which some find hard to stomach.

      All the best with paying off your debt and good luck with the £100 every month project!

  7. Woweee! £250,000 is in sight!

    The income from investment trusts graph is looking fantastic and like you said, given that many businesses have cut their dividends!

    I think you’ll smash the 50% savings rate again this year! Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2021!

    • Hey Jase

      There’s likely to be another stock market crash this year (it can’t keep going up surely!?) so the road to £250k will still be a rocky one I think!

      But yes, I was surprised that dividends from the investment trusts weren’t as badly affected as with other investments.

      Cheers and all the best to you for this year!

  8. Some interesting goals there, and what looks like some incredible progress since you started your FIRE journey. Look forward to reading more of your blog.

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