2020 Goals & Financial Wrap Up!

2020 Wrap Up! 350So long 2020! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Whew, what a crazy year. I don’t even want to talk about all the crap we went through. Let’s just leave everything in the past and get on with 2021. I’m very hopeful this year. It’ll be tough until the pandemic improves, but the 2nd half of the year should be much better. Well, I have one last post about 2020. I’ll go over my New Year goals and see how we did. I screwed up a lot more than usual, but I’m very grateful for accomplishing some of my goals. Lots of families are having a tough time right now. We’re really lucky to come through this pandemic relatively unscathed.

2020 Goals

Here is my goal spreadsheet. It works really well. Try it out if you can’t keep up with your New Year goals. The key is to go over the spreadsheet at least once a month to track your progress. That way, you can see which goals need extra attention.

2020 Goals Wrap Up

All right! I had 11 goals and did well on 5 of them. It was a tough year and I’m okay with the result. The rest will have to wait until 2021. You can check out my 2021 New Year Goals here.

Financial Goals

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding $150,000 – Grade D. I didn’t make a lot of progress with this goal in 2020. We started with $88,000 and I added $37,000 to our RE crowdfunding investment with CrowdStreet. However, several older projects completed and paid out so we’re only up to $96,900. I’ll invest more in RE crowdfunding in 2021.
  • FI Ratio > 110% – Grade A+This was my main goal for 2020. The FI ratio is passive income divide by expense. Once we reach 100% consistently, then we’ll be set to retire in style. For 2020, our FI ratio was 120%! Our passive income decreased, but we spent less money as well. That’s amazing for a pandemic year.
  • Saving rate > 50% – Grade A+. This one is really tough because I use gross income. If you make a lot of money, your tax rate is higher. If you don’t, then your expenses overwhelm the income. Only a few households can save 50% consistently. 2020 worked out really well and we saved 58%! Our spending was way lower than usual.
  • Side hustle income > $5,000 – Grade D. This goal was just for fun. Side hustling is a good way for early retirees to keep busy and stay active. In 2020, I made $3,248 with side hustling. I could have hustled harder and made more, but I wanted to minimize any COVID exposure. Most of this income is from charging LIME scooters. I also made some income from signup bonuses with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and other financial products.

Personal Branding

  • Content creation > 156 blog posts and videos – Grade A. Woohoo! We overshot this goal by 14%. I wrote/updated 125 blog posts and published 53 videos on our YouTube channel. Whew! That was a lot of work. I’ll take a step back next year and relax a bit. 🙂
  • Refresh RB40 – Fail. This one was a big fat FAIL. I promise I will get it done in 2021… I just couldn’t focus while everyone was at home.
  • 1,000 subscribers on Eat by 40! – Fail. Currently, we have 178 subscribers on our YouTube channel. This is a slow process that will take way more than one year. We’ll keep working on it.

Personal Goals

  • Visit Thailand – Fail. Last year, I wanted to visit my parents but didn’t get a chance due to the pandemic. Thailand did quite well with COVID in 2020 and they had very few cases. However, there is an outbreak right now. Some provinces are already in lockdown and more probably will follow soon. I still plan to go in 2021. My mom has dementia and it is worsening. I need to go check on her.
  • Travel hack 200,000 points – C. I signed up for a new Chase Sapphire Preferred card and got 80,000 bonus points! It’s a great card. Check it out if you don’t have one already. Unfortunately, the bonus decreased to 60,000 points recently. Keep an eye on it in case they increase the bonus again.
  • Update our Will – A. We bit the bullet and talked to an estate lawyer. This should be done by early 2021.
  • Happiness level > 8 – A. My happiness level was up and down in 2020. Normally, I’m a happy person. However, there were several factors that decreased my happiness in 2020. In March, the pandemic got going and our school shut down. RB40Jr and Mrs. RB40 have been home ever since. It was very difficult at first, but we adjusted. The other low point was in September. My mom wandered off and had a bad fall. This was due to dementia. She can’t stop with her hands anymore so the fall was pretty bad. Anyway, this is the primary reason why I’m going to Thailand. She had more falls since then and it’s stressful. I think we need to get a wheelchair for her, but then she won’t get any exercise. I don’t really know what to do at this point.

Joe Happiness 2021

Net Worth (+16% YTD)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we made. 2020 was insane. The stock market crashed in March, but it came back stronger than ever. By the end of the year, our net worth increased 16%. I can’t believe it! It’s been a very tough year for many people. We feel very fortunate to come out this well.

Here is a chart of our net worth from Personal Capital. *Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

2020 PCAP net worth A

2020 Passive Income ($48,201 YTD)

Here is a quick summary of our passive income. You can see all the details on my Passive Income page.

Passive income 2020

Our passive income dropped a lot in 2020. However, our spending also decreased. It worked out okay. Let’s look at the highlights.

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding – RE crowdfunding was great in 2020. Several projects finished and paid out. The ROI is about 7%, not bad at all. You can read more detail here on our RE crowdfunding income page.
  • Rentals – In 2020, we had two rental units, and both our tenants have solid jobs. However, one of our tenants is working remotely from Europe. We’re giving him a 50% discount until he gets back. I’m not sure if it’ll be any better in 2021. Our tenant might not be back for a while. (We can use his living area as office space while he’s gone.)
  • Tax-advantaged accounts – I moved a large allocation of bonds to stocks when the stock market crashed. This decreased our dividend a lot. However, our portfolio increased in value so it worked out.

Our FI ratio was great in 2020 at 120%. That’s pretty amazing. This is why it’s good to have some margin.

*FI ratio = passive income/expense

2020 Cash Flow

Our cash flow worked out quite well in 2020. Mrs. RB40 has a stable job and got a little raise. She makes a very good income now. My blog income was lower than in previous years, but it was still pretty good. Our passive income and side hustle income did okay too. Overall, our income increased a bit from 2019. Also, our spending decreased by about 10% from the previous year. As a result, we were able to save a very large percentage of our income, our saving rate was 58%. That was unexpected. 2020 was a great stress test scenario for us. We would have been fine even if Mrs. RB40 didn’t work last year.

This is the Sankey diagram for 2020. You can get a quick overview here and see the details below.


Gross Income (target > $13,000/month)

In 2020, I increased our income target to $13,000/month. We met this goal and we were able to save more than 50% of our income. Our income streams stumbled a bit during the pandemic, but we still met that goal. Mrs. RB40’s income gave us a huge head start.

  • Mrs. RB40’s job: $111,798. Mrs. RB40 continues to be the pillar of our household income. We can survive without her income, but it would be a lot tighter.
  • Blog income: $33,055. It was a rough year for online income. I’m not sure what I can do to improve in 2021. I probably need to work more to improve traffic. In 2020, I only worked 10-15 hours/week because RB40Jr was schooling from home.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: $6,714. RE crowdfunding worked out very well in 2020.  You can read more at the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Rental income: $2,439. We had a rough year with our rentals. We reduced the rent by 50% for one tenant while he works from Europe. It’s not profitable at this rate. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon. Read more at the Rental Property Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $14,266. Our dividend income took a small hit in 2020. Some companies froze their dividends and I also traded in some bonds for stocks. I think it’ll be much better once things are back to normal. See more details on my Dividend Passive Income page.
  • Interest Income: $113.
  • Side hustle & Misc: $7,175. This category includes scooter charging, products review, gift, tax refund, signup bonuses, and found money.

Monthly Spending (target < $4,166/month)

In 2020, I planned to spend about $50,000, so our monthly spending budget was $4,166/month. However, we spent way less than that. One category that cost much less than normal was travel. We only took a short road trip and didn’t go anywhere else. The other big change from the previous year was the parent category. I sent about 50% less to my parent because my brothers are helping out now.  That’s about it. All in all, it was a good year for us on the spending side.

  • Housing: $16,927. This category includes mortgage, home insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities, home improvement, repair, and furnishing.
  • Parents: $4,810. My brothers and I sent about $500/month to my parents. They don’t have much retirement savings. Fortunately, they live in Thailand so $1,500 is enough. I also own the condo they live in so their housing expense is minimal.
  • Groceries: $5,537. This was quite good. We cooked a ton in 2020 and made some videos. Here are a few of my favorite dishes. Check them out and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Garlic pepper shrimps – This Thai dish is very easy to make and doesn’t require many ingredients. Yum.

Hoi Tod – This is Thai style pancake with mussels. It was one of our best recipes last year. We love it.

Khoa Tom Pla – This is an easy rice soup with fish. It’s very comforting on a cold day.

  • Travel: $3,810. We only took one short road trip in 2020. However, I also purchased the tickets for my 2021 trip to Thailand. That was about $1,700. Also, Mrs. RB40 had a business trip in early 2020. It cost about $1,000.
  • Entertainment: $2,032. We ordered takeout about once per week in 2020 to support some local businesses. That was about the only entertainment we had.
  • Health: $890.
  • Bills: $282.
  • Transportation: $1,519. This was for gasoline, insurance, public transportation, and maintenance.
  • Kid: $592. We didn’t spend much on RB40Jr last year. Everything was closed.
  • Pet: $165. Our 20-year-old cat is doing quite well, very low maintenance.
  • Clothing: $1,000. I think this is reasonable for 2 adults. I got quite a few shirts and pants this year to replace my worn-out clothes.
  • Misc: $2,469. Jeez, what the heck is in this category? Ahh, we spent $1,800 on estate planning. It’s a one-time fee so I’m somewhat okay with this.


I don’t count these as personal spending.

  • Taxes and deductions: $33,179.

2020 Savings ($102,351 YTD)

Wow, that’s a lot of savings! We are very fortunate to be able to save in 2020. It was a crazy year, but our expenses are much lower than usual. Our income is held up relatively well so we can save and invest.

  • Joe’s 401k: $25,500. I can contribute to my i401k as an employee and the employer. So my total contribution is usually higher than the max.
  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $19,490
  • Roth IRAs: $12,000
  • 529 College Savings: $4,000
  • Extra savings: $41,361

YTD 2020 saving rate = 58%

2020 Wrap Up

2020 was a terrible year for the world, but it turned out relatively well financially for us. Our income was stable and our spending decreased. As a result, we were able to save more than ever. Our investment also did well and propelled our net worth to a new high. That’s pretty crazy.

On the personal side, things didn’t go as well. I am tired of the pandemic and isolation. We need RB40Jr to go back to school and learn to socialize again. It isn’t good for kids to spend this much time at home. Also, my parents are getting older and less healthy. That’s pretty stressful for me. Anyway, I hope you did okay in 2020. Let’s hope the vaccine will be widely available soon so life can resume.

How about you? Are you happy 2020 is over?

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you purchase or signup for a service through the links on this page.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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30 thoughts on “2020 Goals & Financial Wrap Up!”

  1. Hey Joe, congratulations on your many 2020 goal successes. I did notice one goal of concern there: 1000 EB40 subscribers. You don’t have full control over how many subscribers you get so I don’t think that goal is fair for you. I would recommend revising that one into goals that you can control that will result in growth of your channel as a result. Some example: Post a new video every two weeks. Cross post vides to social media weekly.

    I talk about some of these key points in my most recent blog post. I created a tracking sheet similar to yours and thanked you for the inspiration in my post.

  2. Happy New Year, Joe! Glad to see you had another successful year.

    2020 was a good year for also. We ended up ~13% year over year in December. However, we decide to give away a chunk of the gains by funding our first donor-advised fund. This allowed us to donate appreciated equities and also realize a nice tax deduction for the year (which is welcomed since we also sold off an appreciated rental property too).

    Wishing you a healthy and prosperous year ahead. 🙂

    P.S. Good job with the cooking channel too! I love that your son is into cooking with you.

  3. Awesome job at 16% growth and happiness level. We did the same NW growth. I’m going to move defensive in assets in Q1 as I don’t see the new administration capable of controlling debt or inflation. Unfortunately, I foresee a bubble that won’t be pretty when it breaks. But hey, at least around 50% of the US will be happy for a while, right?

  4. My task for today is to look back over my targets and score how I did. I think it will be similar to yours – some good and some other stuff that was a victim of a really weird year. Then my next job will be to make a plan for 2021 – I’m with you, the goal setting spreadsheet really does work.

  5. Ha, what you’re calling “failures” are just minor things and your killing it compared to most folks who are in debt, tied to a job they hate, and in poor health. Keep rockin it Joe, you have one of the oldest FIRE blogs out there and we your fans are looking forward to you continuing your story.

    ’21’s gonna be great, let’s do it!

    • Thank you! I’m very happy with my life. That’s why I’m not too worried about these goals. They’re there to help me move forward. But if I don’t meet those goals, that’s okay too.
      Good luck in 2021!

  6. Congratulations on hitting the most important financial goals. I think real estate crowdfunding was an aggressive one to begin with. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by the 2020 stock market.

    While I’m bullish on 2021, I don’t care about huge returns. I’m looking forward to being able to spend some of my 2020 gains on travel, amusement parks, movies, dinners, etc. Money isn’t everything.

  7. Looks like you did very well in such a tough year. Who would have thought that the markets would have recovered so quickly after the March tough? I’m with you in that I have high hopes for 2021. I think the first part of the year will be tough but once the vaccines are further distributed things will get better.

    Happy New Year Joe!

  8. Thanks for sharing your update! A few follow-up questions:

    1) Your wife’s 2020 business trip was mentioned to cost $1,000…but wouldn’t the company pick up those costs vs. you two?

    2) With all of your passive income streams working for you now, it doesn’t seem like rental income is “worth it” beyond the duplex tenant. Do you agree with that? Or are you looking to always keep rental income to diversify for the long haul?


    • 1) Yes, we got reimbursed by her employer. I counted it as income. The problem was it shows up on different months and it’s hard to track.
      2) Rental income isn’t worth it for me because it can be a lot of work. I plan to sell our rental condo in early 2022. Rental income works a lot better if you have a team to do most of the work, IMO.

  9. 16% net worth growth at your level is great! I’m really looking forward to seeing the Mrs retire in 2021! Now is definitely the time.

    I got lucky with my stock portfolio in 2020 due to big tech outperforming. But I doubt I’ll get lucky twice in 2021, which is why I’m converting gains to cash flowing real estate.

    2021 should be a profitable year. Let’s see!


  10. You have a cat that’s 20 years old?! Holy cow! 🙂

    I love reading your updates because it’s always impressive how well-rounded your income streams are. You’re very good about spreading the risk.

    2020 was one heckuva a weird year and I’m with you – looking forward to the second half of 2021 when things become a little more normal.

    Happy New Year, Joe!

    • Our cat is the biggest obstacle for our round the world trip. She’ll have to go stay with my MIL for a year or something like that.
      Happy New Year! I hope things are going well in Panama.

  11. Happy new year, and congratulations for the financial gains.

    You keep mentioning the traffic on your website as a concern. Maybe you should consider limiting the mails to your subscribers to only include a link to your new posts rather than the entire posts. This would automatically increase the traffic.

    Best of luck in 2021!

  12. Hi Joe, Happy New Year! I’m so glad 2020 is over, and won’t miss it at all. Yeah, the market was doing very well last year overall. Once the election was finished, I started seeing the hope. 2021 will be a much better year for sure, in many aspects. Sorry to hear about your mom’s situation.

  13. I was wondering why the tax-advantaged passive income was down. It makes sense now that you mentioned moving money from bonds to stocks. Now that things have recovered are you thinking about increasing the bonds again?

    We saw a big increase in net worth as well. Financially, 2020 was a good year if you could still continue to work and owned stock. For us, it was just everyone else that was difficult.

    • No, I’m going to keep our bond allocation to around 10%. That’s a good allocation for us when things are going smoothly.
      I might increase the allocation if I think the stock market is too overheated. However, I don’t really want to mess with it anymore.

  14. Overall, you did a great job financially. Congratulations.

    I likely didn’t do as well as you in increase in net worth percentage wise or in saving money percentage wise. Nevertheless, I know I did well even though I haven’t made any calculations.

    In fact, I wish I would have spent a lot more money. I had two trips booked to London, England on Air Canada International Business Class (really First Class) which I had to cancel because of Covid. I had to also cancel two trips to Toronto.

    Regarding your question, “Are you happy 2020 is over?” Actually, I can’t say I am happy just because it’s over. Fact is, it looks like for at least 6 to 9 months we will still be constrained by Covid. Don’t be surprised if it’s not for the whole year. Indeed, in a year we may be much happier that 2021 is over than happy today that 2020 is over. For the record, I am an optimist (but I am also a realist).

    • Thank you! I hope you get to spend more in 2021. It’s good to save money, but 2020 just dragged on too long.
      I think you should be able to get the vaccine sooner than most people, right? Enjoy 2021!

  15. A good result to a very difficult year Joe! Congrats!

    I just totaled up our own financial numbers, and it’s amazing how well we did considering the pandemic. It seems almost too good to be true!

    That said, I’ll be happy when the vaccine is widely distributed, and the kids can go back to school again.

    Here’s to hoping 2021 is a better year! 🙂

    • Thank you! I think we did very well for a pandemic year. Lots of other people had a very difficult year and many people also had a much better year than we did. I shoot for the meaty part of the curve. 🙂
      Happy New Year! I hope we’ll get the vaccine soon too.


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