2024 Goals

A week into 2024 and already, the boom we saw at the end of last year is beginning to fray a little around the edges. This is more or less how 2023 started so are we going to get more of the same?

The doomsters are still shouting the loudest and while I intend to try to avoid falling into the pit (of doom) they are digging, I’ll just roll with the challenges as they come and will as usual try to make the most of what is thrown at me.

So here goes with my Goals!

Please contain your excitement, there will be nothing radical or wildly different here.

I still prefer to keep to simple annual goals, ones which have some meaning to me, even if they might be meaningless to others. They provide me with some focus while I get on with the humdrum day-to-day stuff.

2024 Financial Goals:

£4,300 Total ISA Dividend Income 

For much of 2023, seeing my dividends roll in was the only thing I looked forward to doing investment-wise.  Depressed share prices and the sideways crawling ‘growth’ of my portfolio made me feel like I was making no progress at all on my investing journey and although I kept at it, it was hard work.

Note that building up my dividend income is only part of my overall investment strategy – my intention is for dividends to cover a small chunk of my monthly utility bills, not my entire retirement income.

So the goal this year will be to receive at least £4.3k income from my investment trusts and shares in my ISA. This is around 5% more than what I received last year, so an attempt to keep up with current inflation.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve now been tracking my dividends monthly for 10 years! However, as the ISA income is more significant to me, I’ll be tracking that going forwards.

This is how the income in my ISAs has grown over the years and how I’ll be tracking its continued increase, in a more simplified graph:

Emergency Fund (3-months’ expenses)

Yes, this is my goal again! As regular reader @Kid Cocoa says, I could sell premium bonds if I ‘really’ needed to in an emergency, but I feel like I will feel better with the comfort of a dedicated emergency pot, after having lived most of my adult life without one (and not always successfully).

While I don’t feel the urgency to prioritise filling it over continuing to save and invest,  it’s a struggle to balance this, my investments and adding to my ‘life’ pots (ie holiday etc). It’s a real stretch target, but I’m not starting from scratch (have what I saved last year) so will see how I get on.

My bare bones monthly expenses (mortgage + bills) are now around £1.4k a month, up from last year due to the increase in mortgage payments.

And that’s it for my financial goals.

I will continue to log my monthly savings rate, but the amount I’m managing to save these days is pitiful nothing to shout about (compared to my earlier years). In my mind, as long as I’m saving at least 10% each month, it keeps me making small steps forwards.

Charity Goal

I was happy to hit my goal last year and aim to do so again this year.

If I can continue with my monthly charity direct debits, plus a few ad hoc donations, I should still be able to donate a minimum of £240 over the year (a 10% increase from last year).

The charities I donate to regularly are Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and Royal British Legion. I also make donations to a local, volunteer-run library and will also be donating to the hospice who looked after my friend, a big key to her recuperation.

I will continue to make the occasional one-off donations by sponsoring friends or colleagues and am still funding ‘charity loans’ via Kiva.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s tempting to throw every single penny I can towards my FIRE 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 others in a small way.

It’s a privilege to be aiming towards FIRE and I can’t let myself forget that.

2024 Non-Financial Goals

Read 24 books – minimum 12 ‘off the bookshelf’ 

Whilst I hit the library book goal I set myself last year, I realised recently that I have numerous unread books on my bookshelves at home. There’s a set of paperbacks I treated myself to during lockdown which are twinkling pristinely from the shelf, begging to be read!

In between reading my owned books, I will continue to read books from the library as borrowing books is one way I can support local libraries – use them or lose them as councils have been known to not bat an eyelid when it comes down to cutting costs and closing down libraries.  Also, borrowing books means I don’t have to spend money buying them, so I hope clearing my own bookshelves doesn’t have the unintended consequence of my being tempted to buy new ones to replace them!

I love reading books, find it relaxing, helps with my concentration and stops me from looking at my phone (or TV).

I’m going to try to read a total of 24 books this year as I felt that I struggled a little with 25 last year (I track my progress here via Goodreads).

Read 4 Non-Fiction or Classic books

(This goal is within the above goal).

Four non-fiction books was a stretch too far for me last year (I managed 3) but regular reader @Starla mentioned reading classics so I think I’d like to give that a go.

However, I’m not sure how a book is deemed to be a ‘classic’ – its age? Anyway, I did recently read what I consider to be a classic, namely Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation‘, which was first published in 1951. I was prompted to pick it up again after watching the tv adaptation – first read it as a teenager, it was my first foray into science fiction and I think I recall I was a little underwhelmed at the time. I appreciated it much more this second reading.

So, I might do 2 non-fiction and 2 classics – already have books in mind/to hand so will see how I can squeeze those in between reading my usual genres.

‘Creativity’ Goals

Last year, I attempted to do what I considered more ‘arty’ things. Part of this was to discover what I like to do hobby-wise, revisiting things I used to like doing when I was younger, trying things out before I retire.

I still didn’t get round to plucking at the strings of my ukulele but did attend a life drawing session and do some doodles at home.

Secret Santa gifted me a ‘how to draw’ book (‘How to Draw Pokemon’, in fact haha 😀 ) which I’ve been having fun with, and I also received some small canvases and paints from family. My aim is to produce something decent enough for me to hide hang up in the bathroom by the end of the year, haha!

I have continued with my French language learning with Duolingo – currently on a streak of 528 days and am continuing to enjoy spending a few minutes each day on this.

I didn’t quite manage to complete the jigsaw I started last year so one aim is to finally finish it!

Options, Options

Options trading has no place in a FIRE blog but after being a trader for a year, I will continue  with it.

In the same way that I don’t document my winnings/losses from gambling, I won’t be doing regular trading updates, perhaps six-monthly updates and if something significant happens.

I’d like to say that I would like to double my initial capital by the end of the year, but that’s wishful thinking, not any kind of goal!

Other Stuff

I’ll continue to try to get to the gym 3 times a week (inevitably, my gym membership has gone up), still mostly weight training but I need to mix in more stretching exercises.

I’m still doing the intermittent fasting (14:10) and still making my own kefir, so will carry on with that.

I no longer make new year’s resolutions but I’m thinking of one and that’s not to eat crisps every day! Chocolate I can take or leave but I’m a sucker for savoury snacks of the crispy variety – I don’t see the need to punish myself by denying them totally but not eating crisps every day will cut my consumption by half.

No dry January or Veganuary for me – I still enjoy eating meat (very little processed meat) and dairy and have no plans to give up either. While I don’t eat meat every day, neither do I quite manage my five a day every day, but I do have some fresh fruit or veg every day.

Alcohol consumption is still for weekends only (or holidays). Many of my peers have gone teetotal – I’m not there yet.

To keep my average grocery shopping bill down, I shall carry on with the alternate weekly big shops with smaller top-up shops. Will still be doing my batched cooking – my freezer is full of a decent variety of stews, soups and home-cooked ready meals.

2023 was another year where I didn’t buy a single bottle of water – it’s been at least 7 years now. I will continue to carry a refillable drinking bottle, which is my own small effort to stop another plastic bottle ending up in the landfill/sea.

In 2015, one of my goals had been to complete the Rubik’s Cube without looking at instructions. After achieving this I found that if I didn’t practice solving it on a semi-regular basis, my old brain forgot how to do it! Anyway, I relearned how to solve it in 2023, can still do it and will continue practising it, so I don’t forget again and hopefully, it helps keep the little grey cells active.

Next Milestone

Having achieved my milestone of a quarter of a million pounds in my Future Fund again in December, the next big milestone would be £300k but that just seems so remote and quite unachievable at the moment.

With fickle markets and (yawn) increased costs of living, all I can do is continue to save/invest as best I can.

Anyway, all the best to everyone who has set goals for 2024 – good luck with them and  here’s to a healthy and prosperous one for us all!

20 thoughts on “2024 Goals

  1. Do you have a FIRE number?

    Looking at your bare bones monthly expenses, 1.4k, that would be 1.4k x 12 x 25 = 420k isn’t it? Or do you have some other number in mind?

    • Hi Codefreeze

      I don’t have a set figure in mind (anymore) but I think it would vary from £290k up to £360k, depending on the sort of retirement I see me having, ie more foreign travel, expensive hobbies = bigger number. More simple life = lower number.

      Even at the higher end, it’s lower than the £420k you mention because I don’t need to save the full expenses x25 – I only really need my pot to mostly provide a bridge between my early retirement and when I get my DB pension and state pension. Dividend income from my ISAs will hopefully provide extra on top, not enough for luxury cruises but perhaps the odd nice trip away!

  2. You can get reasonable interest on the instant access emergency fund account nowadays… I think I get 3.25% on my starling account.

  3. Loving that new ISA Dividend Graph. I have records for mine going back to 2010 year and what’s interesting to see (but perhaps not surprising) is that the annual dividend for year nine is in the same ball-park as your figure. Hindsight tells me that i could have achieved far superior overall returns though had i simply bought a global tracker and the S&P 500 index, but to me it’s been far more interesting holding certain themed investment trusts and the odd individual share and attempting to compete against Mr Market. Certainly now in drawdown, whilst i’m not actually withdrawing anything from the valuable ISA tax wrapper at this stage, when we do have another bumpy year i am hoping that the conservative investment trusts with their ‘reserve funds’ squirrelled away, will be somewhat better positioned to maintain the (visually important) dividend payments. If you are going to be heavily reliant on that income stream in retirement then it may be wise to keep a close eye on the revenue reserves and dividend coverage ratios for each trust, to ensure they continue to meet your requirements.

    With the US election looming, there’s a fair chance that the market may react positively(???), so i wouldn’t rule out a good performance this year. I think the last election year saw a ~16% increase, so your £300k milestone could be closer than you think.

    As for foods, i still enjoy the occasional milk chocolate treat, but i get my daily hit now from raw cacao nibs and a chunk of dark chocolate blended into my healthy breakfast smoothie. That seems to deal with any chocolate craving, but the salty crisp appeal is more problematic. I have found that toasting up a pan of mixed seeds and nuts with some salt and spices of choice can go a long way to reducing the desire to reach for a packet of crisps though. Also, healthy homemade fermented foods, albeit with their sodium content, seem to further reduce my craving for the naughty crisps. Good to hear you’re still making the kefir. I’m absolutely convinced that it has improved my overall health.

    • Hi KC

      If I were to benchmark my investments against a simple global tracker, ie VWRL or S&P 500 Index, I would fall woefully short (hence I don’t do the benchmark, haha!).

      I’ve found as you have that it’s been far more interesting building up my investment trusts and the few individual shares over the years, it has kept me engaged and motivated.

      I do however need to review all investment trust holdings, to check revenue reserves as you say, long term viability etc. I’m at the point now where I think I might have too many individual holdings so will consider culling a few, though need to ensure I’m still diversified.

      Yes, it’ll be interesting to see how the US election will affect the markets. Trump to lead a boom??!

      On my non-crisp days, I’ve been snacking on nuts (plain unsalted). Doesn’t quite hit the spot but I think I’ll get used to it!

  4. These are all great! I can’t wait to hear more about the options trading. I think there is a place for speculative ventures in every FIRE blog–as long as it’s contained to that. I got swept up in some of the meme stocks/crypto/NFT, at first under the guise of arbitrage opportunities. Always good to relearn some expensive lessons on that front :).

    Love the reading and charitable goals–my book reading has taken a hit the last couple of years and I’m hoping to get that back on track in 2024.

    • Hi Impersonal Finances

      Thanks! I’m glad I didn’t succumb to MOFO and get caught up in meme stocks or crypto – I only considered options trading after speaking to a chap I know from the FIRE meet ups and he was doing it for income and I wanted to learn how he was doing it. There is still so much to learn but I think I’ve learned just enough to do what I’m doing mostly successfully, keeping things really simple and importantly, small value! If it all goes wrong, I’ll look on it as a hobby gone astray!

      Good luck with your reading in 2024!

  5. Nice goals weenie. I am pondering about my goals for this year. Last year around this time I was busy and couldn’t find the time to write down my goals. Although things went well I believe I could have done more and better if I had done so.

    The new dividend chart feels more appropriate. Nice dividend growth you’ve achieved there 🙂

    All the best with your 2024 goals.

  6. Great goals Weenie, and it looks like I’ll be upping my reading goals in line with yours. Sorry to be rather lazy and follow yours, but it motivates me better. I did smirk to myself when you said you’d be reading stuff off the bookshelf that’s remained untouched. While I’m waiting for my next book to arrive (ordered from a used site) I plucked something off the shelf, a few days ago, that is so leftfield of what I’d normally read (Autobiography, my OH owns, that I can’t admit to in public!) I’m 500 metres from the local library so I shall support it too.

    As ever many of your financials remain in line with mine, even the bare bones 1.4k (mortgage plus essential bills/outgoings). Like you, I also will use my “future fund/DC Pension” to bridge from FIRE to collecting my DB pension plus state pension (which had better exist other we’re all in the doo doo).

    Great work with the gym. It’s the key to everything, physical and mental health. I don’t know if you’re a runner, I never considered myself one, but shall continue the Coach to 5k with a view to doing a Park Run at some point in 2024.

    I like the idea of hanging up your own artwork in the bathroom this year, whatever the result 😉

    Crisps = the Devils work!

    • Hi Starla

      Thanks and good luck with your reading goals! Like you, there are a couple on my shelves which clearly have been passed to me by friends or family and which are not my normal reading material, so that will be interesting (includes one autobiography too).

      I love that we are similar with some of our financials and am of the opinion that for us, the state pension will still be about because it’s too late for them to make any sort of radical change which would affect us. Can’t really say the same for the young folk, by which I mean milennials and younger, as it’s unsustainable without big necessary changes.

      No, I’m not a runner although I did look at couch to 5k at some point but it’s not for me. Good luck to you though and with your Park runs.

      Not eating my crisps every day make me savour them even more when I do eat them, yum haha!

  7. Hi Weenie,
    A goal for 2024 could be to fight the job creep. Sounds like its getting incrementally more demanding. It can be very hard to counter, classic ‘boiling frog’ analogy i.e. if you jumped straight into that environment, you would jump straight back out, but if it heats up over time its easy to stay put and suck it up.
    You could go the other way and start moving towards retirement over a multi-year period, a long-term transition. Things like part-time working, other less demanding roles etc. to get you moving toward the end goal in a ‘non-cliff-edge’ kind of way.
    You’re set up would be ideal for this as I would imagine you have almost complete freedom in your decision making process?
    You could almost certainly fat fire on your current set up if you switched to bringing in a reduced income, say the income tax threshold or thereabouts?
    Worth thinking about maybe?

    • Hey Rhino

      Thanks for the reminder and yes, keeping a lid on the job creep will be on the forefront of my mind. The company has gone from strength to strength (no doom and gloom here!) and has its sights on even bigger and better.

      Right now, I’m of the view that I’d like to end my career with this company and I would probably prefer the cliff edge way, rather than the slow wind down to retirement! But yes, lots to think about so thanks for the suggestions for consideration, nothing will be dismissed outright.

  8. Happy New Year Weenie – all be it later than most!

    I’m not a big one for setting goals so much now but I do always find it’s a useful reflection point on how everything’s going, am I happy with my choices, is there anything I want to change. You will be unsurprised to hear that figuring out our next travel plans comes quite high on the list . One useful thing of Jan is our now habit of losing all the weight gained over the last year. A good health reset, all be it a very dry & physically demanding month!

    Hang in there through the dull part of waiting for the numbers to work for you. You’re a lot further along than most and as you say, you only need to plug the gap until you can take your DB pension.

    Cheers. Michelle

    • Hey Michelle

      How’s it going and very belated happy new year!

      Hope all’s gone well with your health reset in January and look forward to hearing of your travel plans.

      Yes, it’s a waiting game, but I am still patient and happy to plod on for a while longer.

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