Well, I suppose March 1st is as good a day as any to finally put my 2021 goals down on “paper.” I’ve never been one to get into New Years resolutions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t set goals. That simply means I set goals on my own time.

Today is apparently a day I like to begin goals, because it was four years ago today that my clothes buying ban officially started (though it had been a few weeks since I’d actually bought anything new). I’ve had these goals in my head more or less since the start of the year, but they’ve coalesced in time.

Perhaps it’s the fact that March is when spring starts to emerge and it feels more like the real start of the year to me. January first is still part of Christmas, and it isn’t until this time of year when we’ve landed in Lent that I’m actually ready to tackle my goals and look out at the new year. And that’s on non-pandemic years.

While I know there are all the reasons not to set any concrete goals this year since we still aren’t out of this season of life in dealing with Covid, I find having a basic framework for my year helps me be intentional about the important things. There’s no guilt or stress if I don’t achieve a goal, as they are more goalposts than absolutes.

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Money Goals

1. Achieve a 50% savings rate for the year.

This will be my fourth year tracking our monthly spending, and the fourth year with a goal to save half of our incomes.

To be honest, I don’t expect to hit that number yet again, especially considering we are both still working 80% (very happily). I *could* bump this goal down to 40%, as we have hit that every year, but I’m really okay now with coming close but up short. The first couple years were frustrating, but I’ve settled in with where we are at, knowing that we are being intentional with our money, but those choices mean we don’t quite get to that 50% target.

I’m keeping the target though, because if I bumped it down it would be too easy to spend a bit more fluff for no reason other than we could. We are content with where we are at now, so I’m going to keep that goalpost out there as a “someday” goal.

2. Max out my IRA again.

2020 will be my third year (in a row) maxing out my IRA accounts (mix of Roth and traditional), I don’t max them out by the end of the calendar year, so this is a rolling goal that happens later on. I have the funds in savings to max it out now, but I find I have more incentive to come up with the funds elsewhere if I try not to touch those accounts.

Like the goal of saving half, maxing out my IRA limit each year is an evergreen goal. Four years into this intentionality with our finances and I’m really seeing the result in our growing net worth. It can be a struggle sometimes, but it’s absolutely worth it.

And that’s it. All of my money goals for the year; it boils down to being intentional with our spending and continuing to add to our different savings buckets. That, and making sure that the giving piece keeps up. If you wait until you have the means to feel like you can give, I honestly feel you’ll never get there (or at least, not at the same level).

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.

Life Goals

1. Continue with my clothes buying ban for as long as it makes sense.

Instead of the goals of the last two years where I’ve committed to finishing out the year and then being purposeful with my life beyond the clothes buying ban, I’ve come to the realization that this challenge is not really a challenge anymore as much as it’s a lifestyle. And so that means letting it run as long as it will, and I’m no longer concerned about going back to my “old ways” or too much cheap fast fashion.

2. Hike 24 new trails, near or far.

I went back and forth with this one on whether the number should be twelve or twenty four. By the time of this writing, we’ve already explored seven new trails, so 24 it is.

Since we returned from Iceland in January 2020, we’ve haven’t done much travel thanks to Covid, so we are now finding adventure through new trails. Not quite the same, but still exploring a new place.

Bogachiel Rain Forest

3. Read 52 books.

This will be my third year recording my book list for the year. I’m not sure if I really need to include a number, or just be sure I track what I read. I really enjoy going back at the end of the year and reflecting on my reading material, so this is my quarterly reminder to make sure I have them written down.

4. Get chickens.

The base of the chicken coop is now set up, but the rest still needs to be built. It’s so tempting to get distracted and build another raised bed or two because those are cheaper and easier, but I do really want chickens. To make sure that happens sooner than later, it gets to be an official goal for 2021.

Blogging Goals

1. Continue writing here at Tread Lightly Retire Early 2-3 days a week.

That’s it. I have no big plans for this blog this year, other than continuing to write. It’s been my consistent companion for closing in on four years now, and it’s become a cherished part of my identity.

I’m not going to mandate “take a break” this year, as I’ve gotten better about taking the breaks as I need them. Once I broke the feeling of needing to post Monday-Wednesday-Friday without fail, I’ve done a good job with skipping posts when I need the space in my life. Maybe I’ll take a break around the holidays, or maybe I’ll just skip a few posts here and there. Whatever I feel I need.

2. Curate something magical at WomensPersonalFinance.org

Regina and I launched the founding membership cohort and WomensPersonalFinance.org last month and I am so grateful to be working on this project with her. We have very different strengths when it comes to blogging and online communities, and I think this is the makings of something great.

For those of you who have said yes to joining us on this project, I am so grateful for you and your support. This has a chance to be something really magical and I’m so excited to see where it leads us this year.

Overall, this is a short list this year, especially compared to the last few. Just the important stuff, which seems right as we head into year two with Covid. Did you set any goals this year? If not, “just survive” seems like plenty.

14 thoughts on “2021 Goals

  1. my goal for the year is the same as always: do enough to stay married! i can tell you we have maxed our roths every year since ’06 and what a difference it makes to do that consistently. before you know it 15 years have gone by and the gains from that accumulation eclipse our paychecks. it seems crazy after coming from humble beginnings and an old school “pension” retirement plan.

    quick chicken story. my friends had a back yard coop in new orleans. they also had 2-3 boxer dogs at any given time. one of the dogs discovered the tremendous fun of being a “chicken assassin. the chickens had to go elsewhere.

    1. Maxed out since ‘06! Those have got to be some nice accounts by now 🤑

  2. Great goals! Again. I’m always impressed with the goals you set each year though. I’ve always loved the idea of owning chickens (although I have no idea how much work they might be or anything like that) so I will especially enjoy following your chicken adventures. Also, I’m in love with the rainforest hiking trail picture in this post!

    1. I’ll be sharing some more rainforest pictures on Friday for sure. It was a magical hike.

  3. As soon as I saw your post I went and fed my Roth IRA account. I am contributing for 2021 and have just lost my job but will do my best to hit the contribution limit for the year. I figured it will do better there than sitting in my savings.
    I love your 24 new trails goal! I don’t have easy access to trails nearby, except my neighborhood ones, and there’s novelty there. But for me, the fact that I am targeting a walk every day is something! I love the look of your trails, just like an enchanted forest. Wonder how the humidity is there, though.
    I have started strong on my reading goals and have already finished 3 books this year.
    Good luck with the chickens, I am skipping this year, due to too much uncertainty about job and where I may end up.

    1. Woo well done!! And fingers crossed on finding a new job ASAP.

      Those trails are a good 3-4 hours from our house out on the peninsula. But yes – the rainforest is so magical.

  4. I see lots of fun weekly updates on the blog 🙂
    …. The chickens are coming ! lol
    I love the 24 trails goal and the best part is you can do it as a family. You live near some amazing national parks and state forests, look into wildflower bloom season to add a fun twist to it. I summited Mt Baker and our hike up was through the wildflower season, it was so beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing on the blog today.

  5. Great goals! Nothing crazy, everything should be attainable. It was hard for me to think of goals for this year because it’s so unpredictable these days, but you have the right approach. I’m already reading more books this year, especially ones on my shelves, so I’m happy. Good luck!

    1. Yeah, no stretch goals this year. Well, except for the save 50%, which won’t happen anyway barring something unforeseen 😉

  6. Um, I love that you have a goal to get chickens!! I have a friend back home who did that recently — last person I ever would have expected — and she LOVES it! The only challenge they ran into is that she lives in an area with uh, a lot of wildlife so they had to do a lot to keep them protected. Upside for her: she always wanted a dog and this was a great reason to get one haha.

    As far as goals go on my end…I’d say I didn’t really set anything super official. Money goals are pretty much the same as they were last year with new numbers and while I have a few things I want to do, I’m definitely in the camp of getting through this and if I can cross some stuff off the list, awesome. It’s a weird shift, especially since I love goal setting and lists and all that. But it feels like the right thing to do right now.

    1. Yep, we live next to the woods so the coop is going to have to be secure 🙂

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