2020 Goals

Many of my friends and colleagues have jumped onboard the whole ‘January thing, eg ‘Dry January’, ‘Vegan January’, though I don’t know if any are daring to do ‘Januhairy‘…. Anyway, some have fallen off the wagon already.

Me, I will continue to drink, eat meat/dairy and de-fuzz as usual – this month isn’t any different from any other month.

New year, same old me, really.

10 days into the new year (as I write this) and I’ve been to the gym 4 times already (an achievement for me!) so I’m hopefully starting as I mean to go on!


Before I go into my actual goals, I will mention that I intend to continue to throw my spare cash into investments regardless of what may or may not happen around the world which might cause share prices to go down (or up).

I’m not planning to hoard cash because I don’t know how to time the markets and wouldn’t want the anxiety or stress of trying to decide when it’s the best time to invest so I’m just going to continue investing as soon as the cash is available (stops me from spending it anyway!).

Anyway, back to the main topic…Goals!

As with previous years, I find that I am more focused if I only set myself a few goals, with little room for distraction.

Last year’s goals were challenging (I only met two out of six) so I may as well aim for them/similar again.

Sorry that’s not very exciting but I don’t feel the urge to go for outrageous goals just for something to write about. Gone are the days when one of my goals was to learn how to complete the Rubik’s Cube (I can still do it!)! I do want to learn how to do a 4×4 Rubik’s Cube so perhaps a future goal, when I run out of things to write about!

So without further ado, here they are:

2020 Financial Goals:

Average 50% Savings Rate*

This goal has remained elusive to me over the years but I feel that this year might be the year I will finally achieve it. With my sister contributiing to the bills, it’s down to me to not spend the surplus money.

Saving 50% will make it more certain that I will reach FIRE as planned. Even with the extra cash from sis, 50% is a real challenge for me because my salaried income is only modest (low in fact, compared to most aiming for FIRE) and I’m finding it hard not to let lifestyle inflation creep up on me – it was far easier when I was living on my own, although I am enjoying the outings with the family.

Here’s how my savings rate has looked in the last 4 years:

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

Decent numbers but not quite there, so hopefully, this will be the year!

£2,000 Total ISA Dividend Income 

Previous years’ dividend income has been the total income from all my investments and it’s been great tracking my yearly progress since I started investing for dividend income (which is only part of my investment strategy).

As mentioned in my end-of-year update, for recording purposes,  I need to split the income I receive in my SIPPs and my ISAs and will focus on the latter.

So the goal is to achieve at least £2k income from my investment trusts (ITs) and shares only in my ISA. Last year, total income from these investments came to just over £1,500.

I will continue to track my total income, have my eyes on £5k for this but the ISA income is more important to me.

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

The big jump from 2016 to 2017 was me investing a large part of my redundancy payout to build up my IT investments

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 the income. My intention is ultimately for this income to cover most (not all) of my monthly bills in retirement.

If I could cheaply switch these income paying ETFs to accumulating ones, I would do, but I’ll leave them as they are for now.

It’s looking likely that I will hit my £200k milestone this year. In 2017, I predicted that it would take me FIVE years to get to this goal so things are looking great if I get there 2 years earlier!

Earn £5,000 Matched Betting (MB) Profits

I was way off target last year but despite fewer offers being available due to accounts being restricted/gubbed, I will make an effort to push for this. If I can get anything close to this, I will be truly happy (and quite astonished!).

I barely made any profit on my football accumulators in 2019 so will keep these to a minimum – a shame because if not for the fact that I lose money on them, I find these fun to do (that’s the gambler in me talking!).

After reading Pursue FIRE Dan’s excellent guide, I’m going to give tennis trading a go – just started off tentatively with mixed results, so need to see how I get on with this as a long term strategy. Other than that, I will just continue with normal MB offers and each way betting and hope that the odds will be in my favour!

I’ve now been MB for nearly 4 years and have made total (tax free) profits of £16,300.

I still treat it as a hobby I enjoy doing 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 around 25-30 hours a month – up to an hour a day, perhaps 2 hours 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.

2020 Non-Financial Goals

Borrow and Read 20 Library Books

Same goal as last year. I’d love it if all the books I read this year were borrowed from the library, but I need to read some books I actually own (including loads downloaded onto my Kindle over the years). I was gifted a couple at Christmas, plus friends and family continue to hand books to me that they have read (out of their house, into mine!).

Borrowing from the library means that I’m inclined to spend less on books and also means that I am supporting my local library services. I’m going to again try to read a total of 30 books this year (I track my progress here via Goodreads), so at least 20 must be borrowed from the library.

Read 3 Non-Fiction Books

The same as last year’s goal and this is a goal I’ve always struggled with.

I know 3 doesn’t sound like much but as mentioned previously, my passion is reading fiction (sci-fi, fantasy or crime/thriller) so even these measly 3 books will be a big challenge and out of my comfort zone. As in the past, I intend to borrow them from the library, so I can work on two goals at the same time!

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

As per previous years, I pledge to donate at least 10% of my MB profits to charity, so if I hit my MB goal this year, that will be at least £500. The main charities I donate to regularly are Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and British Red Cross and direct to a local library; I donate to other charities though not on a regular basis and I also fund ‘charity loans’ via Kiva.

The last couple of years, I set a charity goal with Toilet Twinning to twin toilets.

I will continue to support this charity and will twin one toilet @ £60, and again, I will see if a lucky reader would like to win a twinned toilet, donated by me! However, I want to donate a bit more to local charities this year.

Other Stuff

I don’t have any specific fitness goals except to go to the gym 3 times a week. As this is dependent on my social life (and work), I don’t want to set it as an actual goal, so it’s more of a pledge.

I don’t need to lose any weight – although I ate a lot over the festive period I seem to have not put on the usual ‘winter layer’ so I’m just aiming to maintain my current weight and fitness.

Last year, I didn’t buy a single bottle of water, carrying my own drinking bottle instead, even when travelling abroad. I hope to do the same again this year – my small effort to stop another plastic bottle ending up in the sea.

At some point, I need to revisit and review my FIRE plan – I received a quote from my DB pension provider (not a transfer value) which has thrown up some options I hadn’t previously considered, so will mull on that one before I decide what to do, plot some other scenarios.

I’m hoping this year will be a good year, not necessarily an exciting one and that’s fine by me.

No such adventures for this Weenie

Did you set any goals for 2020?

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

And lastly, this might be the year my bet will finally come in…

Dare to believe…YNWA!

* 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.

23 thoughts on “2020 Goals

  1. Thanks for another great update Weenie! I’m impressed that you are going to hit the 200k target this year, hopefully I won’t be too far behind. I might have to revise down my matched betting target this year..last year it was 10k but the offers in the first week or two of this year have been awful. Let’s hope it gets better.

    Finally, well done on using less bottled water and your ongoing commitment to charitable donation goals. I think we could all probably do more of this.

    Good luck in achieving your goals and all the best for the coming year.

  2. RE reading 3 non-fiction books. As a WW2 nerd, I highly recommend Stan Karski’s memoirs: Story of a Secret State. It’s non-fiction but reads like an action packed, James Bond styled thriller, so would be quite an easy read for a topic that can be quite heavy going. It’s incredible to read what this guy went through.
    That’d get one of the three ticked off your list pretty easily.

    Good luck with the rest of your goals. Your dividend income one looks more than achievable going by your progress over the last few years 🙂

    • Hi AMM
      Your mention of WW2 books gave me an idea – I went to the library today and had a look at the history section. Picked up one to start reading, though it’s not about WW2, it’s about convicts being shipped to Australia way back when, which I recall finding interesting when we did it at school. Anyway, have added your recommended read to my To Read list as it looks interesting

  3. Great to see you still setting goals to help you towards FIRE.

    I am not sure why you are just concentrating on the income in your ISA, as once you have finished working, you can take the tax free allowance from your SIPP each year tax free. I just about manage to cover this with my SIPP income, which means I am not having to sell shares from my SIPP to live off.

    Like you, my wife and I never buy a plastic water bottle as it’s shocking to see the amount being dumped, and lots of this ends up in the oceans. Why can’t the government heavily tax all new plastics to really encourage recycling / re-use, it seems to have worked with single use shopping bags.

    Also, much respect for donating to charity, when you could be using the money to reach FIRE even quicker, we are taking the route of donating all our estate to charities rather than giving as we go, and hopefully that will give our chosen charities a decent chunk of cash when we have both died (many years in the future please).

    I have to say that I think your achievement is pretty inspiring as you say you are on a modest salary, but yet you have achieved a huge amount of savings, while still maintaining a reasonable lifestyle. This puts to rest the idea that in order to do this you either have to be on mega bucks or live like a pauper. It really comes down to looking at what ‘stuff’ you waste your money on, and then when you realise you don’t need the latest shiny thing diverting the money to savings, and then investing it in something that earns a reasonable return. When you think with Freetrade you can buy shares, investment trusts and etf’s without dealing costs there is no excuse for anyone not using these to boost their savings. For me it’s a no brainer when something like Glaxo pays just shy of 4.5% compared to just over 1% in most cash ISA’s.

    I hope you reach your goals in 2020, and your progress to FIRE continues.


    • Hi FIUK

      At the moment, my SIPP is pretty much double the size of my ISA. My thoughts are to concentrate on the ISA (build it up) because if I still have my BTL when I retire, the rental income will use up a big chunk of my tax free allowance. I’m going to try to not pay any tax at all before I draw on my DB pension, so planning to take my SIPP up to the tax free allowance and then make up the rest of my income from my ISA.

      Good to read that you and your wife are also shunning plastic water bottles – bring back public drinking water fountains (I vaguely remember them as a kid!)

      I’ve always wanted to help charities and as I am making extra cash, I may as well help that way. Hopefully, when I no longer need to work, I’ll be inclined to help with my time.

      My lifestyle came about from a change in mindset – all it took was being focused and mindful of spending. I look back to how I was and it was just laziness and bad habits. Learning about investing and acknowledging that it would take time to build wealth was another change in mindset.

      I take inspiration from many in the FIRE community and that includes you, FIUK! 🙂

      Funnily enough, I’ve been looking at Glaxo again recently – I haven’t topped up in a while but with Freetrade, it’s easy enough just to buy a few at a time!

      Thanks for your continued support!

  4. Weenie, I think you are hard on yourself in terms of saving rate. Although 50% would be great, what you have achieved so far is so much more than the general population. Does your sister know about your goals? I assume not, otherwise it would be easier to say no to spending money. Maybe a goal could be to share your goals with her?
    Best wishes for 2020

    • Hi Sam

      Thanks – I guess I am being harder on myself because that’s the goal I’ve set my eyes on. I know it’s better than what the general population are saving but they’re not aiming for FIRE and I don’t want to be like them!

      Sis knows I’m aiming for RE – to be fair, it’s probably not a lot spent on social outings, it’s just more than I would normally spend when I’m on my own. She obviously doesn’t want her son to miss out too much but fortunately, he doesn’t suffer from FOMO (not yet anyway).

      All the best to you for 2020 too!

  5. Good luck with your goals Weenie! I hope this year can be as prosperous as the last 🙂

    I’ve never seen so many doomsayers about a crash. I kind of want one of them to happen just so I can see how I reac.

    I’m pretty stubborn, so I’d like to think I’d just ‘stay calm and carry on.’

    I lowered my reading goal this year to 20 after I only read 18 of my 50(?) goal last year. I keep reading books that are too big! I’m currently on book 4 out of 8 of the Witcher novels.

    • Cheers SN!

      The doomsayers have been at it for years and the crash hasn’t happened yet. Of course, it’s bound to happen at some point so they will be ‘justified’ in saying ‘told you so!’ while missing out on one of the best bull runs in years!

      Yeah, I try to keep to just a few tomes as they take too long to read, but not as long as shorter non-fiction, haha!

      How are you finding the Witcher novels? I read the first one many years ago, so may give the rest a go too. My friends are all raving about the tv show. You watched it?

      • I have watched it! I enjoyed it but it’s nowhere near as good as the books or games.

        The first couple of Witcher books were harder to read as they were translated badly (but still worth it). As soon as you get on to the main novels they are REALLY good! They’re shaping up to be some of my favourite fantasy books; I’d definitely recommend them!

  6. Good luck with your goals weenie, it seemed you manage to write them down nicely in the end 🙂

    I think you were right, I set tot many goals for this 2020, I am already struggling to keep up with them. Next time I’ll set few goals like you and see how it goes.

    • Hey Tony

      Hah, yes I got there in the end with my goals!

      There’s nothing wrong with setting a lot of goals, I just found I was stretched and distracted.

      You never know, you might be ok with yours by the end of the year!

  7. Hi Weenie,

    Another good set of goals to aim for – why change them around if they still hold true?
    Fingers crossed you make it to the £200k mark – that will be a huge advance in a short space of time – amazing how fast it starts to grow at times like this.
    Interesting to see your ISA dividends growing – funnily enough I track the income separately from all my portfolios, and then have an accumulation – its a great feeling to see it grow!
    FiL (not updating as much as he should)

    • Hi FiL

      Long time no see and hope all is well with you.

      It seemed a lot easier to just lump in all the dividends together but tracking them separately will provide a better picture of what’s what!

      Looking forward to your long awaited update – your ‘Go T’Pub’ portfolio must be looking extremely healthy after a bumper 2019!

      • Hi Weenie,
        Yes been a bit absent of late, I probably ought to do something….!
        Yes – I track the source portfolio of each dividend so they roll up and I can then do analysis on each of them and all sorts of magic with them!
        I may get around to it one day 😉
        Cheers, and good luck with the next months push!

  8. Happy new year Weenie! Good luck with your goals. I think I set goals for this year but 13 days in I seem to have already forgotten them!

  9. Good goals and good luck smashing them in 2020! I’m sure you’ll do great and if I can help with the tennis stuff never hesitate the pop me a note.

  10. Hi weenie, that’s a really good range of goals to hit. With your matched betting and increased dividends I have no doubt you’ll hit 50% soon! You’re probably just about to see how big a snowball is building up now. Good luck for for 2020!

    • Thanks Xailter. Think I’m only just starting to see the snowball effect so fingers crossed! Good luck to you too for your 2020 goals.

  11. Good goals! I like the fact that you are planning to contribute more to charity as this is my goal too. One way that can aid your money saving goal is by using your referral codes and sharing them to friends and family. One site I suggest is Referral Codes. Check it out I hope it serves you well.

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