Hey everyone, Happy New Year week! Whew, 2020 is almost over. What a crazy year. I’m so glad 2021 is almost here. It can’t get any worse than 2020, right? Hopefully, we’ll all be vaccinated by June so we can have a great summer. Anyway, let’s put 2020 behind us and make some goals for 2021. No point dwelling on the past. My 2021 goals will be pretty modest. I need some easy wins to help get back to normal.
In previous years, I had moderate expectations and set goals accordingly. This worked well because I was able to accomplish most of the things on my list. (2020 was the exception. I failed about half of my goals. That’s alright. It was a bad year for everybody.) I find that setting high expectations doesn’t work for me. I can’t achieve them and then I become discouraged. My style is to go slow and steady. Shooting for the moon is probably better for younger folks, though.
Here is my approach to New Year Goals.
- Set achievable goals – Don’t shoot for the moon unless you have a sterling record of high achievement. Most of us will become discouraged and give up.
- Make specific and measurable goals – New Year goals need to be very specific. Don’t make vague goals like saving more or losing weight. You can’t keep track of it and you’ll forget about them by April. A better goal would be maxing out your 401(k). That’s measurable. You also need to figure out a way to get there. Will you increase your 401(k) contribution right away? You need a plan or else it’ll be much harder to achieve these goals.
- Write them down and track your progress– Write down your goals and put them where you will see them. The refrigerator door is a good spot for many people. Personally, I put my goals here on Retire by 40 and update the status monthly. This worked very well over the last 10 years. I have a public audience and all of you give me the motivation to improve. I made tremendous progress with our finances and personal life since I started blogging. It’s been terrific. I recommend starting a blog if you don’t already have one. It really helped me and it might help you, too.
- Academic scale – These days, I grade my New Year goals on an academic scale. It works out really well. 90% is still an A-. It’s motivating and I feel good about the result. That’s better than getting 90% and still fails.
Ok, on to the goal sheet.
Check out my goal sheet below. It’s simple and helpful. I can see my progress at a glance and it’s easy to update every month.
Real Estate Crowdfunding $150,000
I plan to increase our real estate crowdfunding investment at CrowdStreet to $150,000. I’ve been working on this one since 2019. All of our money is invested in something else already so it’s not that easy to increase here. Also, I wanted to start slowly because real estate crowdfunding is a relatively new way to invest. Fortunately, most of our investments worked out quite well. Now, I feel more confident to put more money in RE crowdfunding.
Currently, we have $98,900 invested. I already committed $18,000 so the total will increase to $116,900 very soon. After that, I just need to find one good project to invest in. I think we should be able to accomplish this goal in 2021. You can see how our investment is doing here – real estate crowdfunding monthly update.
FI Ratio > 110%
In 2020, our FI ratio was 111%! That’s very good for a pandemic year. Our passive income dropped, but our spending decreased significantly as well. Somehow, it worked out. Let’s hope we can keep the streak going in 2021. You can see how I’m doing with passive income here. The table below isn’t finalized because we have a few more days left in 2020. It should be pretty close, though.
*FI Ratio = passive income / expense
Save 1 year of cash for Mrs. RB40’s mini-retirement
Alright, we plan to take a year off to travel after RB40Jr finishes 5th grade. That will be in June 2022. To prepare, we want to save up at least one year of expense. Normally, we keep just 3-6 months in our saving accounts and money market as an emergency fund. So we need to beef it up to $50,000 by June 2022. I’ll use this money to open new bank accounts and take advantage of the signup bonus. Hopefully, I’ll be able to generate about $1,000/year.
Side hustle income > $5,000
2020 was a tough year for side hustle*. I made about $3,000 by charging LIME scooters, cashed out credit card points, signup bonuses, and other small hustles. In 2021, I plan to continue and keep my eyes open for other opportunities. This goal might be too ambitious for 2021.
*There were lots of opportunities to make money from side hustles, but I wanted to minimize my exposure to COVID so I avoided deliveries and many other gigs.
Refresh Retire by 40
This is terrible. I procrastinated on this goal for 3 years already. Our WordPress theme is no longer updated so I really to move to a new theme. I wanted to get it done in 2020, but everyone was home and I couldn’t focus at all. I have a plan for 2021, though. I’ll be in quarantine for 14 days when I go to Thailand and I’ll use this time to get it done. If it isn’t complete by March, I’ll hire someone to do it.
*My guide – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should.
1,000 subscribers on YouTube
Last year, we started a YouTube channel – SAHD Cooking. We made cooking videos and restaurant/food cart visits. It was fun, but we didn’t make much progress. Currently, we have 164 subscribers. At this rate, it’ll take 10 years to complete this goal. We’ll keep making cooking videos because RB40Jr can refer to them when he’s older. But we need something extra. Here is the plan. I’ll help RB40Jr start a gaming channel in the summer. He talks constantly when he plays games. I suspect he’ll be a much better YouTuber than I am.
Check out our cooking channel and subscribe to learn how to cook easy Thai recipes – SAHD Cooking.
I wanted to visit my parent last year, but we had to cancel the trip. My mom has dementia and it’s getting pretty bad. I can’t put off this trip much longer so I’ll go by myself in January. The tickets are already booked, but I still need approval from the Thai embassy and a fit to fly certificate. Check back over the next few weeks to see how the trip goes. I’ll be in quarantine for 14 days then visit my parent for 4 weeks.
Drop my weight down to 135 lbs
So did you gain any weight in 2020? I went from 130 to 142 lbs. I didn’t exercise much in 2020. In 2019, I worked out at home and tried intermittent fasting. It worked really well and I got down to 130 pounds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep it up with everyone at home. Mrs. RB40 worked from home and RB40Jr did virtual schooling. I couldn’t be noisy. Also, Mrs. RB40 baked a ton of stuff while working from home. It’s been nice, but I snacked too much and gained weight.
For 2021, I’ll try to get down to 135 pounds and keep it there. The plan is to lose weight in Thailand. When I get back, I’ll ask Mrs. RB40 to bake less. She also needs to lose some weight. Hopefully, things will go back to normal soon so Mrs. RB40 and son can be more active.
Finish estate planning
We talked to an estate lawyer recently. This led to the realization that Oregon is the worst state to retire in. Anyway, the wheels are in motion. Hopefully, we can get this done before I leave for Thailand.
V for vasectomy
Happiness level > 8
I started this goal in 2019 and it was a good goal. It confirmed that I’m a naturally happy person. My happiness baseline is pretty high, around 8. 2020 was a tough year, but I was still pretty happy. We had a chance to spend a lot of time together as a family. It could be a lot worse. Unfortunately, I got stressed out about my mom over the last few months of 2020. Well, what can you do? Hopefully, I can stay happy in 2021.
On to 2021
Alright! Those are my goals for 2021. I’ll update them monthly in my cash flow posts. I think this is the key. If you don’t track your progress, you’ll forget about your New Year goals by April.
What about you? Do you have any New Year resolutions for 2021? Happy New Year and good luck!
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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