Well, we made it. It is now the year 2021 and 2020 is forever behind us. I wish that meant there was a magic switch to improve the current situation, but that isn’t so. I did finish out my blogging year with a gratitude post looking back at 2020, and that exercise really helped my mindset. It was cathartic to go back and look at the good that happened in 2020 in the midst of all the bad.
Along with that gratitude post of the big overarching good in 2020, I actually managed to meet most of my goals that I set at the beginning of the year. Granted, COVID made some of them easier (growing our net worth – we kept our jobs – and continuing not to buy new clothing). I may not have expected 2020 to play out like it did, but many of my goals were well suited to the way things went, oddly enough.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
1. Achieve a 50% savings rate for the year.
My husband and I both downshifted to 80% hours at work back in July (after I had gone back up to full time from April – July), so our overall income decreased in the second half of 2020. That said, we continued to stay employed, and we no longer had a full preschool check to pay for, so we did pretty darn well financially.
That said, we didn’t quite hit a 50% savings rate in 2020. I still have to finish adding up our December savings rate, but it was a three paycheck month, so it will land above 50%. Overall though, we will end up in the low to mid 40% for the full year. Considering everything going on, that is pretty dang amazing. And incentive for me to continue to up our giving as we are more fortunate than so many, and it feels important to lean into that fact.
2. Max out my IRA again.
I maxed out my 2019 IRA in July after the deadline got extended from April. It was the second time I had maxed it out, and it felt no less awesome than the first time. I’m currently at 57% ($3,400) to maxing out the 2020 limit of $6,000, and I’m confident that I’ll max it out before the deadline in April, as long as nothing hits us out of left field.
It’s pretty incredible how much your investment accounts can grow with regular cash infusions (and a ridiculous stock market). Since we’re not looking to touch this money for a long time yet, most of it is in stocks, but I’m working up toward 10% or more in bonds (currently only like 5%).
3. Get more intentional with my giving this year.
Well this goal I nailed for sure. I’ve continued to grow our giving percentage (5-7% this year versus 4-5% in 2019), and it’s gotten much more intentional. I have recurring donations set up that are pulled from my account every month, which helps to autopilot my minimum giving every month and sends regular cash to causes close to my heart.
Because those regular donations, starting up the Eastside Restaurant Support group in March has been the overwhelming place to focus my giving in 2020. While I did send some of my money to restaurants through gift cards to families who couldn’t afford to eat out often, I also was able to raise $12,000 from others in my community doing the same. The group has taken so many hours of my “free” time in 2020, and it has been so entirely worth it.
4. Total food expenses under $1,000/month.
See above. With COVID hitting the restaurant industry so hard, this goal was erased after March. Honestly, at this point, I don’t want to see our total expenses under that $1,000 mark until the economy goes back to “normal,” whatever that looks like. This goal is one that will not be following me into 2021 (unless it is as a minimum benchmark and not a maximum).
5. Hit next $100,000 net worth.
Well, that happened at the end of June thanks to a wild stock market and real estate market ride. I had thought that we wouldn’t see that number until later in the year – if at all – so hitting it in June felt really surreal. We are now less than $25,000 to the next $100,000 mark. So, what do I know? I should probably go back to just tracking our savings rate and leave the market to do its own thing.
Again, this is what has driven my need to step up our giving and our spending on local businesses. We have done so well financially in 2020, and in a world of a very K-shaped recovery, I feel it is our duty to do better about passing our wealth on.
Tracking with Personal Capital
It’s been more than two years since I initially downloaded Personal Capital and started actually tracking our net worth. While savings rate is still more important to me because it’s what we can actually control, there is something to be said for having a sense of your overall net worth.
I was unconvinced for a long time that I even needed to track our net worth, but I’m so glad that I finally set up an account where I could track it all. I especially appreciate being able to look at the graphs for individual area, like investment accounts and cash savings.
We have a bunch of separate accounts, so it’s really nice to see them all in one place. I’m also working on growing our overall cash savings, and Personal Capital aggregates them all across four different banks, which makes things a lot simpler.
If you haven’t set up a way to track your net worth, I’d recommend Personal Capital for that purpose. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll also get a $20 Amazon gift card for doing so.
1. Complete a three year clothes buying ban and set parameters in place for beyond.
Like I said above, COVID and quarantine life made this a slam dunk goal in 2020. I am now less than two months to a four year clothes buying ban. Perhaps my 2021 goal here should be to simply write more about this on the blog (specifically celebrating four years of it in March).
As I continue this clothes buying ban, it gets to be a more normal way of life, and the more I learn about the fast fashion industry, the less I want to leave it behind. A friend dropped off another bag of clothes for me this past week, and I have a few new favorite pieces thanks to her. Another person sending clothes to me instead of to the thrift store – unasked prior to letting me know she had them – thanks to my vocal sharing of this ban – makes it easy to keep it going.
2. Have a minimum of two internet free days a month.
After I tried this early on in the pandemic, I’ve found that having days 100% internet free stress me out right now. Instead, I’ve been occasionally archiving Women’s Personal Finance instead, which dramatically decreases my time online. That said, I did probably get halfway to this goal thanks to a strong start at the beginning of the year plus a week of camping in July.
3. Fit in three great workouts a week.
With my plantar fasciitis under control, I’m rocking this one. I’m running 2-4 days a week along with hikes and long walks, and it feels great. I do wish I had access to the gym these days though. While some people love their home workouts, I love the gym and really miss it.
4. Eat vegetarian or vegan 2/3 of my meals.
Since my vegan challenge this summer (and the surplus of garden produce that the warmer months enjoy), I’ve been slacking here. I definitely eat less meat now than in previous years, but this one has taken a backburner these days. Then again, most of my meat (and dairy) now comes from local, sustainable, humane sources, which matters even more to me, so I’d still call this a win.
5. Read 52 books.
I did it! I squeaked in finally finishing Sapiens midday on New Year’s Eve. I had a hard time getting into the headspace to read much of this year, but reading an early copy of my mom’s first fiction novel kicked off a reading spree in the last few months. Thanks to that, as well as counting the books we read to the kiddo at bedtime (the Redwall series currently) and Audiobook versions, I finished out the year at 55, the same as 2019, coincidentally. I’ll get the full list and my thoughts out in the next few weeks.
6. Continue quest of less plastic and closer to zero waste.
This has been less of a goal in 2020 thanks to my support of our local restaurants. I have noticed in the last few months that more and more of them are supplying compostable take out containers, which makes my heart happy. Otherwise, 2020 was mostly on autopilot when it came to less plastic and zero waste – our regular alternatives plus supplying a lot of our produce directly out of the garden.
1. Stay two posts ahead for Monday content.
Yeah, this goal isn’t following me into 2021. I’ve relaxed my need to stick to my thrice weekly blogging calendar, content with publishing once or twice most weeks. The best thing about blogging as a hobby is there’s no pressure to push it when a season gets filled with other things (or the inspiration isn’t there).
2. Plan to take another blogging break at the holidays next year.
Whoops. I totally spaced about doing this. Perhaps I’ll do it in the spring? Instead, I archived Women’s Personal Finance for the full week between Christmas and the New Year, which felt great. The upside of a reduced weekly schedule makes me feel less like I need to have an “official” blogging break.
3. Grow the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group to 20,000 members.
The group has now surpassed 22,000 members, and it is a wonderful part of the internet. I am so grateful for all the women there who make it so. It may be my original brainchild, but I don’t do it alone. The community is wonderful, and I couldn’t do it without my stellar admin team. (PS – we now have a Ko-Fi account set up if you want to say thank you to the group admins and buy them a “coffee”).
New things will be coming here in 2021, but I can’t share them yet. I’ll be sure to do so as soon as we’ve rolled them out!
4. Continue writing more about sustainability and zero waste.
These posts are now generally living over on Ecofrugals. While February 2020 wasn’t a great time to begin a new project, I’m glad that Kristine and I started this almost a year ago. She’s a wonderful partner, and I hope to have more time to dedicate to this site in 2021.
5. Be intentional about any changes to this blog.
Other than blogging less, I really didn’t change much (anything) on the blog this year, which was intentional. Success. We’ll see about 2021, but odds are things will look similar again.
Are you planning to set goals for 2021? I will, but they will be adjusted for current life during an ongoing global pandemic.