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:
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…).
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.
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).
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…!
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! 🙂