Nett Worth £9,836.98

Finance | Lifestyle | Wellbeing

Goals for 2019

Setting goals and reviewing my progress year on year is something I have never really done before. I tend to have a rough idea of where I want to be in the year ahead, but never anything specific or actionable. This year that’s going to change! Earlier this year I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and a big section of the book is dedicated to having an idea where you want to be. Reviewing where you have come from and planning where you are going.

The goals need to be SMART, an acronym with a number of different options:

S – Specific (simple, sensible, significant).

– Measurable (meaningful, motivating).

– Achievable (agreed, attainable).

– Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).

T – Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Having SMART goals allows an honest reflection on what has been achieved in the time period specified. An old boss of mine had a habit of setting goals like ‘make clients happier‘. Whilst that is a good goal to have, tracking it is nigh on impossible. Traceability is the key part of any goal. Having the black and white divide between achievement and failure is key to keep you moving forward.

So what are your goals?

The all-important question and one I’m sure you’re all dying to hear! You, the community and readers, are going to be my accountability. Publishing what you plan to achieve on the internet and tracking it month by month is a great way to keep yourself honest. Reporting back month by month that I’m failing dramatically is not going to be good for the psyche. Also, whilst I’m not an overly competitive person I do like to win! The gamification of self-improvement, for anyone with an ounce of competitiveness’ can be a great driver.

Table showing goals for 2019

So there they are my goals for the year ahead. As you can see all of them are specific, measurable (a number value), attainable, relevant (where I want to be) and time-bound (12 months).

Finance Goals

Average a 40% savings rate

Currently, I’m consistently hitting a 30% savings rate and whilst this is well above the countrywide average it could still be higher. I debated shooting for the Mr Money Moustance magic number of 50%, but 40 seems much more realistic. I’m hoping to have at least 2 or 3 50% months but the vagueness of that left me with the very specific 40%. For clarification, I calculate my savings rate from anything that is not spent on material things. This includes:

  • Consumer debt pay down
  • Emergency fund increase
  • Investments

Basically, anything that is positively affecting my nett worth is worked into the savings rate calculation.

Invest a minimum of £10,000

I love running future scenarios based on various parameters (savings rate, value invested per month etc.) to see how it affects my financial independence number. For my own FI plans hitting a minimum of 10k for my second year has me right on track. This number is calculated using a combination of my predicted salary, a percentage savings rate and an expected return on investment, You can see a simple breakdown of one of these scenarios here

Investment predictions

As it turns out, 2018 was a poor year for my investment predictions. However, the £5,000 difference for the first year doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to the FI number. Another huge +1 for the power of compound interest having greater importance than the actual value invested.

Reduce my average ‘fun’ money to 15% of income

This is an important one for me and probably the one I am most worried about. I’m expecting a pay-rise of some kind this year, hopefully, a pretty substantial one. Controlling lifestyle inflation as well as general day to day expenses is something I still struggle with. I am not naturally frugal! I love coffee, I have terrible self-control (ooooo craft ale) and do enjoy spending money. This is mostly really small things, but it’s the small things that mount up without realizing.

Watch the pennies and the pounds save themselves

Reduce my consumer debt to 0

I’ve had consumer debt since I had my first full-time job. This has mainly been car finance and credit card debt (I skipped university) so compared to some people my debt levels are very low. There is still just over £6,500 hanging over my head however that I want rid of. Currently, I’m contributing just over £200 a month to paying this off at the minimum repayments. All extra income I receive whilst the debts are still outstanding will be plowed straight into early repayment.

This will have a three-fold benefit:

  • Giving an adrenaline-fuelled jolt to my nett worth due to the debt reduction
  • Freeing up £200 a month to increase my month investments
  • The psychological boost knowing that I am completely debt free (mortgage aside)

Income Goals

Generate £5,000 from side hustles

On top of my full-time job I currently run a small web development company out of Cornwall, England (https://sosquare.co.uk/). We have a small but loyal existing customer base and plan on building that up over the next 12 months. Finding the time to do this on top of my full-time job has always been tricky, but my goal is to slowly increase income from my own company as a backup plan to losing my full-time job.

Since implementing some of the productivity hacks I have talked about in my #ProductivityLessons series, I’ve found I have a lot more mental bandwidth. Ideas are much more free-flowing than they once were. Coupling that with listening to people like Nick Loper over at Side Hustle Nation I fully expect to have another side hustle off the ground in the next 12 months. What that will be? At the moment I’m not sure, but I am focusing on something a lot more passive than web development and blogging.

Earn £500 from Millennial FIRE UK

This blog gets a special mention in the income section, as well as having its own dedicated section coming up next. I want to let the blog grow completely organically, with no quick wins or hacks. Compared to the incomes some people generate from their blogs, £500 is pennies. But generating even a small amount of actual income from my blog will help prove to myself that it’s ‘working’. The blog isn’t completely about the financial gain, I do have a passion for improving people’s lives and wellbeing. However, if an income of some kind can be generated then I am not one to turn down an opportunity.

Blog Goals

Post 2 articles a week

2 new posts a week is the schedule I have settled on after just over a month of blogging. This gives me enough time to stay ahead of the curve from a writing point of view, whilst also getting regular content out there. Keeping this up for 52 weeks is probably the goal that gives me the second amount of worry. I enjoy writing! But thinking of topics to write about has never really been my strong point.

Increase average monthly views to 200

In my first full month of running Google Analytics, I received 30 views! Barely a drop in the ocean. Growing this to around 200 over the course of the month is still not a huge amount but it is a realistic aim that I have for the next 12 months. If I have 200 people per month reading my articles, that gives me confidence that the nonsense I’m tapping into my keyboard is actually bringing value to people’s lives.

At the root of it, that is what this blog is all about. Using the things I learn along my journey of self-improvement to better other people’s lives. If not directly, at least giving them the inspiration to go off and want to learn.

Lifestyle Goals

Read 50 books

I believe life is one constant journey of self-improvement. Once you believe you could not get any better, you’ve failed. I see how that could be perceived as quite a bold statement, but that’s genuinely how I feel about my own life. What is the greatest way to improve yourself constantly? A good ol’ bit of non-fiction writing. I love to read. Finding a new topic, no matter how obscure I believe it to be, and opening my eyes to it is a fantastic feeling. I was recently introduced to Gabby Bernstein and whilst at first, I thought I was a whole bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo, after reading her book it opened my eyes to a whole different way of looking at the world. That right there is exactly the thing I love the most about reading. Constantly learning something new, whether you agree in the end or not, only serves to better you as a person.

I initially planned on this goal being 100 books, but after doing the actual calculations on the time I have available 50 seemed a much more realistic and attainable goal.

Visit one new country

I don’t think I could write a list of goals for the year ahead without having at least one travel-related goal. For this year, it’s a relatively simple one. No matter how cheap backpacking can be, there is still a cost of going traveling. Trying to pay down debt and save, combined with my partner being at university, means the ‘travel’ will probably be a simple city-break in a European city. Whilst not quite as exciting as 6 months traveling around South America, getting out of the UK at least for a brief period is something that I want to happen.

Complete my Stress & Rescue Scuba Qualification

Another big tick on the list for this year is to keep improving my scuba diving qualifications. Whilst scuba diving isn’t the ‘cheapest’ of hobbies it is the hobby I am the most passionate about. Referring back to my theory of constant improvement, this applies to physical skills as well as mental ones.

In Summary

That’s that, my list of goals for the coming year. I’ve actually found it quite refreshing both noting down the goals and spending the time writing this article to clarify my thoughts. I’ll be monitoring these goals as part of my monthly budget reviews. Wish me luck!

What are some of your goals for the year ahead? Let me know either in the comments below or by dropping me a message on twitter @millennialfire1.

The Path to FI – December 2018

Income and Expenses Dec 2018

December, what a fantastic month for everybody’s savings. A combination of Christmas and, for my American readers, Thanksgiving makes it an expensive month. Trying to write a monthly budget is nigh on impossible and sticking to it even more difficult. Knowing this, I let myself have a little bit more leeway than normal with a view to reign it in again in January. So without further ado, here’s my budget from December.

Income & Expenses

Income and Expenses Dec 2018

Considering the typical expense of Christmas, I think I did pretty well. Granted, I was well over my £250 of discretionary spending but all in I think I did ok. One of the biggest reason for this? My SO and I decided to not buy each other anything.

Yep, that’s correct. Not a single present for my girlfriend.

Some people might think that’s weird, as far as society is concerned it is. But when you’re on the path to financial independence then it’s a no-brainer. A quick word on my partner actually! Whilst not being directly interested in FI, she is a natural saver and an incredible person to be on the journey with. Saving comes easy, with an end goal of traveling. Saving comes much less easy for me, with an end goal of wealth and FI (with a dose of travel for good measure). The end product, a perfect financial and goal-alined relationship.

Outstanding Debts

Income & expenses aside, I do also have around £6,800 of outstanding consumer debt (mortgage not included). This is broken down between a loan for my personal vehicle, a loan for some home improvement and a 0% credit card balance. I am working towards overpaying these and plan to have them paid off in full by the middle of 2019 at the absolute latest.

The credit card is the least of my worries as this is 0% and made up quite a lot of work expenses. The car and home improvement loans are the real killers from an interest percentage so that is the main focus for any extra income. There is around £550 of income and expense not shown on the top spreadsheet that has been pushed straight into debt repayment.

Portfolio Performance

To kick off this section, let’s have a quick look at my portfolio values as of last month

Total Value: 3,136.95
Stocks: 2,028.59
Bonds: 393.65
Precious Metals: 714.71

and this month;

Total Value: 3,740.18
Stocks: 2,421.47
Bonds: 396.94
Precious Metals: 821.77

Gold saves the day

An obvious rise in value, due to my continued investment. But taking out the cash I’ve put in (550 to stocks & 100 to precious metals) it’s actually been an ok month all things considered. The 7% or so decline in my equities has been offset by an almost 4% gain in the price of gold. The real increase of my physical gold is what saved the day through the downward slide that was December. I use BullionValult for purchasing physical gold and would highly recommend them simply for their ease of use.

The state of equities this past month has been pretty well reported, so I’m not going to delve into too much detail. I did debate moving my holdings completely into an equity/bond split and removing the gold completely. Now, I’m feeling pretty happy I chose to stick it out on the precious metal front.

Looking forwards

Looking forward to next months budget, the discretionary spending is going to be my main focus. I am confident this will naturally fall due to Christmas being over but need to keep an eye on it to make sure it does. I find the ‘new year new me’ nature of January also makes it a good time to re-evaluate some longer-term goals. But in the shorter term, in January I aim to

#1 Reduce discretionary spending by 40%

A pretty bold goal, but one I’m confident of hitting with a reasonably quiet January ahead on the social front.

#2 Increase blog views to at least 50

December is the first full month I’ve had Google Analytics running and have topped out at a lofty 30 page views. I’m sure that slow and steady wins the race on the blog front, so setting an achievable goal for the next 30 days seems sensible.

#3 Post 2 new blog articles a week

Content is king, so sticking to my Wednesday & Saturday posting schedule is vital to helping achieve point 3.

Thoughts & Feelings

Before actually doing the maths on my total portfolio I was a little unsure on December. The widely reported ‘crisis’ we are now in had me a little worried. There’s nothing quite like evaluating your whole portfolio to calm a mind. The flipside of this ‘crisis’… #StocksOnSale

via GIPHY

I’m equal parts cautious and excited about what 2019 is going to hold from an investment viewpoint. From a selfish perspective, I’m hoping for a nice big bear. Given I’ve only been investing for 12 months, a 2-3 year long bear market would be great for my long-term returns. If you want to learn more about what/why/how this is great, check out Big Earn’s article on sequence of returns risk.

To finish off this months review, some nice fancy graphs to look at!

Graph showing nett worth over time

As long as this guy keeps marching upwards, I’ll

Line graph

Some pretty good looking trends here also. The slight upwards swing in the ‘fun’ line is a blip for Christmas (I expect this every year). The other two are heading in the right direction. The crossover point between money saved and money on bills will be a champagne-popping (see above GIF) day.

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