The post that lays out my 2019 financial goals without any of that patronising “new year, new you” crap.
You are inadequate, you are flabby, your career is in a rut and you are not making the most of the meagre talents you possess. At least, that is what magazines and the internet are telling us at this time of year.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions in the traditional sense. Aside from their terrible success rate, January is the worst month to be making difficult life changes. It’s cold, dark, there are no bank holidays on the horizon and everyone is filled with post-Christmas ennui.
Faced with these odds, of course so few people stick with something as joyless as a diet and exercise regime. If you want to be doing all that shit, try starting in mid-March. And I really will try to improve my health and fitness over the course of the year! For me, January and February is a time to double down on slovenliness, drinking too much and (after a short break to recover from Christmas excess) eating crap.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I’m going down the favoured route of many personal finance bloggers and laying out the goals that I’d like to achieve over the course of 2019. I’ve broken these down into 4 categories:
Savings and investments (including pension)
I’ve stuck with purely financial goals – although I do have the rather boring lifestyle goal of going to bed by 10.30pm during the week!
2018 was a hugely stressful year for me on the housing front. I was trying to purchase a flat (first time buyer here), and as at the time of publishing this post, the sale still hasn’t exchanged and there’s a risk it will fall through at the 11th hour. So 2019 is still likely to be a period of flux, at least at the beginning. I’ve got a full post on my experiences of purchasing a leasehold. For now my goals on the housing front are as follows:
Buy a property: whether it be the one that I’m near the finishing line with or whether I start again entirely with another property, I want to be out of my shared house and into a property of my own. If I can get this sorted I reckon I’ll be much less fretful. Maybe have to change my name to Sanguine Saving.
Save for a loft conversion or overpay the mortgage: if I do go ahead with the current property purchase, it’s a one bed flat and I’d like a two bed. I reckon I can get the money together to do a loft extension in 2-3 years. In which case it probably makes sense to keep the money as cash savings given the time horizon. If I decide not to do this for the time being, then I will max out my ISA (see below). Then with any savings over and above this I’ll overpay the mortgage. The decision to overpay the mortgage being another thing I could dedicate a whole blog post to at some point.
Savings and Investments
3. Increase my pension contributions to 15%: as soon as this bloody property purchase is done I’m going to boost my pension contributions from 5% to 15% (which will be 20% when my employer’s contribution is included). I will keep a SIPP in mind, but I recently discovered that my workplace pension fees are a little less than I though. Plus, my current pension pot is probably too small to justify switching away from salary sacrifice for the sake a slight reduction in fees. I’ll therefore probably just keep the contributions in the workplace pension for this year.
4. Maintain a 60% savings rate: given the uncertainty around my housing situation, I’m undecided about what to do with my savings this year. I’m keen to get started investing in index funds (by maxing out my ISA contributions), but if I decide to save for a loft extension it would probably make sense to keep this in cash. If my flat purchase falls through early in the year and I start looking for another property, it probably makes sense to keep adding to my deposit until I know what the hell is happening. God I hate this uncertainty! For now all I can say is that I’m aiming for a 60% savings rate. This is using The Firestarter’s formula and therefore would include the 20% pension contributions I mention above. In any event, my FI fund calculations assume I start properly investing for retirement at 35 (not including my pension). This on the basis that any money saved in the three years until then (whether in cash or stocks and shares) will be used to either extend an existing property or assist in moving to a larger one.
I’ve decided to list this separately to other side hustles as to me a “hustle” is something where your primary motive is money. One day I’d like to start earning something from this blog but that’s not my main goal (at least, not at the moment).
5. Keep up with posting once a week: I originally aimed to post twice a week but quickly decided I’d fail at that.
6. Get better at social media: a nice vague goal here. I have opened a Twitter account after many years of refusing to operate one in my own name. I also keep reading that Pinterest is really good for traffic generation, although I had a quick read into how it works and did not understand it at all. Also, my posts aren’t very photo-heavy so not sure it would be that effective.
7. Take an affiliate marketing course: after going on about how my main goal isn’t to make money this one might seem a bit incongruous. But there’s no harm in knowing your options. I also like the control you get with affiliate marketing. So you can make sure you only promote products and services you use and like.
8. Do some posts that are actually helpful to the reader rather than my rambling: As a newcomer to the FI scene and to blogging, my posts have been (and will probably continue to be) more a record of my experiences and thoughts. However, I would quite like to do a few posts where I can actually impart some knowledge. Given the frustrations I’ve experienced with my property purchase, that seems like a good place to start.
9. Learn how to do matched betting: pretty self-explanatory.
WILD CARD GOAL
Reject the majority of the above and move out of London because it is overcrowded and miserable. I’d have to completely re-evaluate all of my goals on the basis that I wouldn’t be earning a London salary (but also wouldn’t be paying a mortgage on a London property). The desire to do this grows daily. I think it all depends on what happens with the damn flat purchase.
So there you have it. My fluctuating and muddled 2019 financial goals. Hopefully my 2020 goals will be a bit clearer. I’ll probably do an updated post when I know what’s happening on the house front and I can pin down some more definitive numbers. Maybe even do some graphs. I like a good graph. At the moment things look more like a Rorschach test.
Update: six months later and it’s all change. Read my mid-year update.