2021 Goals & FIRE Wrap Up

Happy New Year everyone! Did you have a good holiday? We had an awesome white Christmas in Portland. That’s really rare. We went sledding nearby and had a ton of fun. Ok, let’s wrap up 2021 and move on to 2022.

2021 was a good year for us. Mrs. RB40 worked from home and she enjoyed it immensely. She didn’t have to commute and she could take breaks during the day to go for a walk or do chores and errands. RB40Jr went back to school full time in September. This was great. Life became a lot more relaxing after that. Life was good for me too. I blogged, charged scooters, cooked, went on road trips, and enjoyed 2021 immensely. We were lucky that Covid didn’t impact us negatively. We adapted to the pandemic lifestyle and carried on.

As for personal finance, 2021 was one of the best years for us. Our income was great and our spending remained pretty low. As a result, we saved 57% of our income. That’s a huge percentage. Our net worth also did pretty well and increased by 13%. I think that’s really good. The stock market went up much more than that (27%), but we have other investments that didn’t do as well. That’s okay. As long as our net worth increases about 10% every year, we’ll be wealthy by the time we’re 55.

Let’s look at how I did with my New Year goals. Then I’ll share the details on our income, spending, saving, and net worth.

2021 Goals

This is my 2021 goal sheet. 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. Let’s see how I did last year.

All right! 2021 turned out to be a great year. I made easy goals that were reachable because the previous year was such a mess. It looks like I did quite well.

Financial Goals

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding $150,000. I met this goal in July. However, some projects have finished and returned the principal since then. Next year, we’ll add more to our RE crowdfunding investment. Recently, the projects on CrowdStreet complete their funding very quickly. Investors are taking profit from the stock market and diversifying. It’s a great way to passively invest in real estate.
  • FI Ratio > 110%. This is my main goal for 2021. The FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. In November, our FI ratio dropped to 106% but it came back. Many of our investments paid out in December. This brought our FI ratio up to 138%, a new high!
  • 1-year cash for Mrs. RB40 mini ER. Mrs. RB40 plans to take a mini-retirement in 2022. We need to have a nice cash cushion before then. Usually, we spend less than $50,000 per year so that was my goal. However, the plan changed to just half year so I reduced the target to $30,000. 
  • Side hustle income > $3,000. Mission accomplished! This goal was just for fun. Side hustling is a good way for early retirees to keep busy and stay active. In 2021, I made $17,548 from charging scooters. That was great. The rest was from the child tax credit, tax refund, and gifts.

RB40

  • Refresh Retire by 40 – Done! I finally completed this goal. It has been on this list for over 2 years. This work required a big block of time and focus. I just couldn’t do it at home. I only finished because I was stuck in quarantine for 2 weeks and could focus on it.
  • 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel. Currently, we have 364 subscribers on our YouTube channel. I gave up on this goal. Unfortunately, I ran out of new recipes to make. Next year, I’ll post more clips.

Personal Goals

  • Visit Thailand. Done! I visited Thailand in January and spent 6 weeks there. I went to check on my mom and reconnect with families and friends. It was great. I would love to retire there 6 months/year.
  • Weight < 135 lbs. Done! In Thailand, the serving size was much smaller than what I’m used to. I lost weight there and was able to keep it off. Now, I weigh 131 pounds.
  • Estate planning. Done! We started the process with our lawyer last year. I thought it wouldn’t be done until March, but we completed it right before I went to Thailand.
  • V for vasectomy. Holy moly, this was painful! Don’t believe them when they say it won’t hurt. But I got it done.
  • Happiness level > 8. Overall, 2021 was a good year for me. The only low spot was in November. Our 20-year-old cat passed away. Other than that, life was really good. RB40Jr went back to school. None of us contracted Covid. We were healthy.

Net Worth (+13.2% YTD)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006. It is very motivating to see our progress. The power of compounding is unbelievable. Our net worth increases more than we earn almost every year. It’s pretty amazing. 2021 was a great year for the stock market and real estate. The S&P 500 index increased 27% and housing prices went up quite a bit too. Our net worth increased 13.2%, a lot less than the index. That’s because our net worth has less than 50% of US equities. We have bonds, housing, rentals, international equities, cash, and other alternatives. All these investments didn’t do as well as the US stock market. Oh well. I’m still very happy with 13.2% gains.

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.

2021 Passive Income ($42,231 YTD)

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

2021 turned out to be our best year yet. It was looking a bit iffy at the end of November because our FI ratio went down to 106%. However, we had a bunch of payouts in December.

  • Real estate crowdfunding – This income decreased a bit from 2020 even though we added more money. The reason is that the projects usually pay out more after they completed. In 2020, several projects completed and we received more passive income than normal. 2021 was good too, but not as many projects completed. Also, a couple of projects got delayed due to construction and other issues.
  • Rentals – It was not a good year as a landlord. We gave our tenant a 50% discount when he went to work from Europe. Also, we also had several big repairs. I’m just happy we had positive cash flow.
  • Dividend – I sold some stocks and purchased some others. Some of the new holdings had low or no dividends. Mrs. RB40 isn’t going to retire yet so we don’t need dividend income right now. I’ll focus on portfolio growth until she’s ready to stop working.
  • Interest – I forgot that we had some money in I-bonds and didn’t look at them for years. I added the interest earned since then in this row.

In 2021, our FI ratio hit a new high – 138.4%. Woohoo! 2022 should be even better.

*FI ratio = passive income/expense

2021 Cash Flow

Our cash flow was amazing in 2021. I didn’t realize we made this much money. I probably need to send in an extra estimated tax payment before tax day. We kept our spending down to just $43,261. That’s very reasonable for Portland. We also saved 57.5% of our income. Overall, 2021 was a great year for cash flow.

Here is the Sankey diagram. You can get a quick overview from the diagram and see the details below.

Gross Income: $189,121

Oh wow, we made a lot of money in 2021. Mrs. RB40 is doing very well at work. She is transitioning from middle management to upper management. Also, she still likes her job. At this point, it doesn’t make sense for her to retire early. Next year, she plans to take a 6-month sabbatical. Stay tuned to see if it will work out.

  • Mrs. RB40’s job: $119,205. Mrs. RB40 was the main breadwinner.
  • Blog income: $29,111. My blog income decreased from the previous year. It probably will keep decreasing in coming years. I’m not sure why we have fewer views now. I guess it’s because there are so many good blogs these days.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: $4,847. This one was good in 2022. You can read more at the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Rental income: $773. It was a tough year at the rentals. I’m just happy we didn’t lose money.
  • Dividend Income: $14,144. It was also a nice year for dividend income. See more details on my Dividend Passive Income page.
  • Interest Income: $660. Most of this was from our Treasury account (I-bonds).
  • Side hustle & Misc: $20,381. I made $17,548 from charging scooters. It was my best year of side hustling. I really liked it because I made money while getting some exercise. Unfortunately, this side hustle will disappear soon. Once they upgrade the scooters to the next version, they won’t need chargers anymore. I’ll need to find another side hustle. The rest was from the child tax credit and gifts.

2021 Spending: $43,261

My spending budget was $50,000 last year. We came in quite a bit below that. I think this was due to Covid. We spent a lot of time at home.

  • Housing: $18,922. This was pretty low for Portland, about $1,500/month. This category includes mortgage, home insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities, home improvement, repair, and furnishing.
  • Groceries: $5,942. Oh wow, we spent about $500/month on groceries. That’s not bad for a family of three.
  • Parents: $5,524. My brothers and I each sent some money to my parents every month. They don’t have much retirement savings. Fortunately, they live in Thailand so it is enough. I also own the condo they live in so their housing expense is minimal.
  • Travel: $2,861. We went camping at Yellowstone in the summer. I went to Thailand by myself in January. We also took a few short weekend trips.
  • Health: $2,567. This category was higher than usual. We had some dental work done. I got a vasectomy, but insurance covered everything. Oregon has a law that requires insurance to cover voluntary sterilization 100%.
  • Entertainment: $2,333. This is mostly from eating out and doing various activities around town.
  • Transportation: $1,937. Mostly gasoline and car maintenance.
  • Misc: $1,228
  • Cat: $598
  • Clothing: $576
  • Kid: $491.This was lower than usual. The only activity RB4Jr signed up for was soccer. We did a little kayaking and rock wall climbing, but they really didn’t cost all that much. Next year, we’ll do more. Now that RB40Jr got vaccinated, I don’t mind signing up for more activities.
  • Bills: $282

Taxes

  • Taxes and deductions: $37,104. 

2021 Savings ($108,756 YTD)

We saved 57% of our income in 2021. That’s quite high.

  • Joe’s 401k: $26,500. I can contribute more than the yearly limit ($19,500) because I’m self-employed.
  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $19,500. She contributed $750 every paycheck.
  • Roth IRAs: $12,000
  • 529 College Savings: $4,000.
  • Extra savings: $46,756

2021 wrap up

2021 was a great year for us. We enjoyed life and did very well financially. This year, I don’t think we’ll do as well financially because Mrs. RB40 plans to take 6 months off. We’re prepared so I’m sure we’ll slide by. But we won’t be able to save as much. Also, I doubt the US stock market can continue this amazing run. We’ll have a great time, though. We’re planning on going on many vacations this year. Check out my 2022 New Year goals if you haven’t seen them yet.

How did you do in 2021?  Happy New Year!

*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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28 thoughts on “2021 Goals & FIRE Wrap Up”

  1. Hey Joe,
    Congratulations on your 2021 write up, it’s nice to read about people’s successes. You’ve done a fantastic job with your goals, you must be happy to have hit A’s across the board with just one exception.
    By the way, I saw your reply to Ken’s comment about how you keep track of things, and that you explained that you used a spreadsheet rather than having everything automated. I’m exactly the same, I find that physically putting in the effort to type things in makes me pay more attention to it. I thought your point was very well made.
    Now it’s my turn to look back over 2021 – it’s been a good year, even with the difficulties of Covid. Then it will be on to 2022 – Happy New Year, I hope it will be good to you and your family.

    Reply
  2. we had a good year for money with about a 14% gain overall. that’s good when we hold a lot of cash. we spent more money this year but had a couple of large expenses like an expensive bed and a repair after a fender bender. somehow we ended the year with more cash than we started so i guess all is well. it felt good to loosen up the purse strings.

    Reply
  3. Congrats Joe and thank you for our posts! I have been following your blog for a year now – my wife and I are trying to achieve early financial independent by saving about 50% of our income each year. We have also allocated 20% of our net worth to foreign stock passive ETFs that unfortunately have had embarrassing performance compared to US stocks in the past a few years. Foreign stocks looked like bargain 5 years ago and now looks more bargain. Hopefully things will turn around eventually.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  4. I hear you on the Chinese Internet stocks. I bought a couple tech stocks and the dip and they continue to go down. But my international weighting is tiny.

    Will your wife really be finally retiring this year? I just read on lazy man’s blog that you said she won’t be again.

    I think you should try to encourage her to retire for at least six months this year and see whether she likes it. Because when she’s older, and finally retired, she might blame you for not encouraging her to retire soon.

    As you know, retirement life is pretty awesome. She might see it the same way! Something to think about.

    I’m gonna try and convince my wife to get a job again this year. But I think my success rate will be less than 20%. She has become so accustomed to being free since 2015, it’s hard to go back.

    All tips welcome!

    Sam

    Reply
    • She turned in the paperwork for a 6-month sabbatical. We’ll see how it goes.
      She seems revitalized since she started working from home. Also, she is transitioning to upper management in her organization. These changes make her reluctant to step away. It really doesn’t make sense to stop working when she enjoys it so much. She gets a lot of fulfillment out of her job, not just money. I don’t see how early retirement would be better for her.
      As for your wife, I suggest helping her look for interesting positions to try. Maybe something will spark her interest.

      Reply
      • A sabbatical is going to be great. And you’re right, no point in retiring if you enjoy your job!

        Sabbatical will be a good hedge for you, because she might just love it, or she might not. But she won’t really know until she tries.

        Reply
  5. Congratulations on a great year Joe!

    I see you are diversified with real estate investments which may be good with domestic stock values so high.

    In that vein I’m also diversified with International stock. It’s severely lagged domestic U.S. stock the last few years but that also means it’s less highly valued and could have more upside.

    I feel like international will have its day again sometime in the next few years but we’ll have to wait and see.

    Reply
    • We have a big percentage in international equities as well. The problem is emerging market is underperforming. China is running into many problems and investors are losing confidence in their system. We’ll see how it goes in 2022. The US stock market has been doing so well. It probably will pull back a bit. I expect less gain from US stocks this year.

      Reply
  6. What a year! And what a detailed review.

    Go Mrs. RB40 for killing it in her career! I could definitely see that being hard to step away from… especially if she enjoys it!

    And $17k on charging scooters is seriously impressive.

    Here’s to a similarly strong 2022!

    Reply
    • Thank you!
      She is doing very well with her career. It would be a shame to step away. Her organization is also helping preserve wildlife. She’s doing valuable work.
      Good luck to you as well.

      Reply
  7. I guess you are now 60 years old now because I thought you were wealthy 5 years ago ;-).

    The December bump in FI Ratio really came through for you. I’ve been thinking about tracking this, but I’m too Lazy to keep track of all our spending. I could do an estimated necessary expenses that would cover all the basics. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it could still be valuable.

    Reply
    • Mrs. RB40 and I talked about this and we think we’re comfortable, not wealthy. If we can keep gaining 10% every year, we’ll be wealthy when she retires. Probably when our son goes to college.
      December was a great month for passive income. Several surprise payouts gave us a big boost.

      Reply
  8. Congrats on a great year Joe!!!

    Just curious, do you include also real estate in your net worth? If so I am surprised it is “only” up +13,2 % YTD. I’m sure real estate appreciated more last year. What was the biggest obstacle to the growth of your portfolio? Do you publish the composition of your portfolio anywhere on your blog?

    Have a great 2022!

    Reply
    • Yes, I include real estate in our net worth. The problem is housing didn’t go up much in our area. At least, I don’t think so.
      I didn’t increase the price of the primary home and rental condo in my spreadsheet.
      Our portfolio is a bit too diverse. I probably should move more money to US equities. There is a composition post, but it’s a bit outdated. I’ll update it soon.
      https://retireby40.org/rb40-net-worth-breakdown/
      Happy New Year!

      Reply
  9. Congrats on a great year Joe! And Happy New Year!

    I spent my New Years sick in bed, but I think I’ve finally turned the corner and getting better again. Here’s to a great 2022!

    Reply
  10. Mr RB40, how the heck do you keep a pulse on everything around you so so so so beautifully.

    I am struggling in life to do this cause wealth creation is my focus and wealth management is going poorly and suffering.

    Can you share ideas on how to bring things together in terms of number of bank accounts, number of brokerages, how to collect all the data, what tools to use for collecting the data, how to keep it updated, and how to then generate the ‘analytics’ that you are doing.

    When someone asks me how much am in I cash vs commodities vs real estate vs stocks vs bonds, I have NO CLUE even with a 10%-20% inaccuracy factor! It is amazing how much a career, business and investing/trading leads to poor wealth management esp. in a DIY approach (which is sorta what you are doing).

    And, I did open an account at Crowdstreet from your latest update, and now I got to get thru the gate to get officially qualified. My broker already denied me, and I do not have a CPA/Lawyer who is write on my behalf. So, I will have to use their own verification process. You know what I am talking about Mr RB40.

    Thanks for your open-book-approach and using that to teach us at the macro and micro levels.

    Ken

    Reply
    • I have a spreadsheet that I update monthly. It takes time, but it helps me see our investment. You know what I mean?
      If it’s all automatic, I tend to not pay attention.
      In terms of consolidation we have…
      2 banks
      3 brokerages, mostly Vanguard and Fidelity. Just a little at Robinhood.
      2 RE Crowdfunding accounts which I will consolidate into 1 soon.

      I use Personal Capital to get a quick overview. Then use my spreadsheet to see the details.
      Good luck with CrowdStreet. It was pretty easy for us to qualify because most of our investment is at Vanguard. I just need to print a few statements.

      Reply
  11. Congratulations on a great year!

    You and your family are a great example in responsible and wise money management.

    I often tell people that for years I saved over 50 percent of my after-tax income. There is always someone who says I am a liar because this is impossible. Then I mention that you and your family save a higher portion than that – and it’s pretax income which is even more impressive.

    Reply

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