I think most will agree that 2022 was not a particularly great year.
Who knows what 2023 will bring? The optimist in me hopes that it will be better but the realist in me reckons it will be much of the same, just a slightly different flavour.
Regardless, I’ll just roll with life and its challenges and will try to make the most of what is thrown at me.
So here goes with my Goals!
Please contain your excitement, as there’s a fair bit of of copying and pasting 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.
2023 Financial Goals:
£4,100 Total ISA Dividend Income
With falling share prices, the only part of my portfolio I enjoyed looking at was my increasing dividend income.
Note that building up my dividend income is only part of my overall investment strategy – my intention is for dividends to cover most of my monthly/utility bills, not my entire retirement income.
So the goal this year will be to receive at least £4.1k income from my investment trusts and shares in my ISA. This is 10% more than what I received last year, not quite keeping up with inflation but thereabouts.
I will continue to track my total dividend income (so that I can maintain my main income graph) but the ISA income has more significance for me.
This is how the income in my ISAs has grown over the years:
Emergency Fund (3-months’ expenses)
Although this was last year’s goal, for some reason, I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have and my emergency fund remains dangerously low. I really need to top it up but struggle to balance that versus adding to my investments and my savings pots (eg holiday etc). Adding more to this will mean less cash to invest but needs must.
My bare bones monthly expenses are around £1.2k a month (mortgage + bills), probably more now due to inflation, so getting it to 3-months will be just a start.
And that’s it for my financial goals.
What is missing is the usual Savings Rate goal. The 25% goal I set last year turned out to be a real stretch and I felt that with continuing rising costs (yawn – I’m bored with writing this already!), even if I were to set a lower goal of say 20% or even 15%, this would likely still be unrealistic.
So while I will continue to log my monthly savings rate, I won’t have a goal to aim for this year, because I will already be doing my utmost and my best under the circumstances.
I narrowly missed my charity goal last year and with the same yawnsome story of rising costs, I may struggle to donate as much as I would like 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 £220 over the year, so I will make that my goal.
The main charities I donate to regularly are Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, British Red Cross and a local, volunteer-run library. I’ll probably still make the occasional one-off donations by sponsoring friends or colleagues at some point, and I also continue to fund ‘charity loans’ via Kiva.
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 in a small way.
It’s a privilege to be aiming towards FIRE and I can’t let myself forget that.
2023 Non-Financial Goals
Read 25 books – minimum 15 Library Books
I narrowly failed on the library books goal last year – missed out by one as I lost track of the books I had borrowed.
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. Plus borrowing books means I don’t have to spend money buying them!
I love reading books, as it’s relaxing and helps with my concentration. Reading stops me from looking at my phone (or TV), although ebooks mean I’m still looking at a screen, which isn’t great. Another reason why I love borrowing a big hefty hardback from the library!
Read 4 Non-Fiction Books
(This goal is within the above goal).
For the first time, I managed to achieve this goal last year so would like to continue with this!
I know 4 doesn’t sound like much but my passion and enjoyment lies in reading fiction (sci-fi, fantasy or crime/thriller), so reading non-fiction pushes me out of my comfort zone.
I have a few in mind to read – once I’m done with a couple of fiction books, I can start on the first non-fiction one.
I’ve always seen myself doing a bit of volunteering / doing stuff for the community when I am no longer working. I already do some litter picking locally and intend to make a step towards volunteering some of my time this year. I have a couple of activities in mind, just need to do a bit more research to see how it will work and if need be, speak to my employer about possible flexible hours to accommodate.
Last year, I attempted to do what I considered more ‘arty’ things.
I didn’t get round to plucking at the strings of my ukulele but did pick up my drawing pencils to do a bit of doodling and even attempted a self portrait sketch, which was a semi-decent effort but looked nothing like me – definitely need some practice there!
I’ll try to continue with that and will also continue with my French language learning with Duolingo, which I only started around 6 months ago so wasn’t mentioned in my 2022 goals. Maintaining my daily streak in French lessons will be my goal here as I have no urge to speed through the lessons just to get to higher levels/units.
One new thing which I do want to do, to get my eyes away from screens is to complete a jigsaw.
A couple of my friends were really into jigsaws during lockdown but I didn’t see the appeal at the time. However, I plan to do at least one (1000 piece), with a view to framing the finished article – I still haven’t got round to putting up any pictures in my house! The last time I did a jigsaw, I was in my early teens – I hope I’ll still have the patience! Anyway, I have ordered my jigsaw and look forward to having a go at it!
Spending time on the jigsaw will mean I can listen to podcasts, music and let my mind wander, which can only be a good thing.
After attending a few ‘Beginners Options’ Meet Ups and a couple of chats with an experienced trader, and after much deliberation and research, in September 2022, I set up a demo account to trade options. Of course, being a demo account, it all went swimmingly well.
A couple of months later, I set up a live account with a small sum. I didn’t post about it on the blog because it’s definitely not one of my better ideas and frankly, options trading has no place on a FIRE blog.
In the same way that I don’t document my winnings/losses from gambling, I won’t be doing regular posts about my options trading. I might do an update in 6 months to confirm if/when I’ve crashed and burned and learned my lesson!
This could have actually been one of my financial goals but it’s not something I want to particularly blog about, especially when the goal will probably be to not lose any money!
Think that’s all I have to say about that, I won’t be detailing or discussing my strategy and yes, I am fully aware of all the risks and that 90-95% of people who trade options lose money. More fool me, I can already hear all your “I told you so’s”!
I’ll continue to go to the gym 3 times a week (inevitably, my gym membership has gone up), still mostly weight training but mixing in a bit of running, skipping and punchbag workouts.
It struck me recently that although I have always been aware that I am smaller than the average-sized woman in the UK (which is around 5ft 4″, weighing 11 stone/70.2kg), I’ve never really considered that I shouldn’t be eating (or drinking) as if I were the same size! I shouldn’t need to eat so many calories, certainly not 2000 a day, which I sometimes do!
So I intend to (healthily) eat less by just reducing the size of my food portions (mostly the carbs), reducing snacks (still making my way through Christmas goodies however) and see how that goes. Maintaining my weight is my goal, I don’t think I need to lose any.
I still enjoy eating meat and dairy and have no plans to give up either, although I don’t eat meat every day. I will however increase my veggies and fruit intake, as alternative to unhealthy snacks.
Alcohol consumption is still for weekends only (or holidays).
As mentioned previously, I started doing alternate weekly big shops with smaller top-up shops so I’ll continue to do this to keep my average shopping costs down. I’ll continue to do my batched cooking – one of my Christmas presents was a new cast iron pot so I can make lots of casseroles, stews and soup to put in the freezer.
2022 was another year where I didn’t buy a single bottle of water – it’s been at least 6 years now. I will continue to carry my own refillable drinking bottle, which is my own small effort to stop another plastic bottle ending up in the landfill/sea.
Finally, in 2015, one of my goals had been to complete the Rubik’s Cube without looking at instructions. I achieved this but sadly, I have found that if I don’t practice solving it on a semi-regular basis, my old brain forgets how to do it! So, I need to relearn it (fortunately, I’ve only forgotten some of the algorithms) and hope that I can continue practising it, so I don’t forget again! The 4 x 4 monstrosity can wait – I can’t even contemplate that one, will just concentrate on the 3 x 3!
It seems like a lifetime ago when I reached the milestone of a quarter of a million pounds in my Future Fund back in August 2021.
Whether this will be the year I hit this milestone again is debatable – I thought I would get it last year, so won’t be holding my breath.
All I can do is continue to save/invest as best I can.
Anyway, all the best to everyone who has set goals for 2023 – here’s to better one for us all! 🙂