Money and Lifestyle Goals for 2021
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Welcome to my money and lifestyle goals for 2021. At the end of last year I set out some financial goals for 2020. Goal setting is important for me to continue building momentum toward what I want out of life. I have done a lot of work to determine what brings me joy, and what I want my life to be like as I get older. Once the end of December, beginning of January hits, I always reflect on the year that has just passed. Reflecting on the year gives me closure, and an opportunity to define my direction for the new year. In case it might help someone, I wanted to share my money and lifestyle goals for 2021.
My 2020 Money Goals
My 2020 money goals were to crush our remaining $17,159 (plus accumulating interest) in student loan debt, and to max-out my Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) annual contribution limit ($6,000), but using my fun-money alone.
It’s important to have focus when prioritizing a goal, which is why I selected these two dream goals to focus on, and nothing more. I didn’t just wish for them, I had to identify what needed to be done in order to e achieve these lofty (to me) goals.
2020 Money Goals: How Did I Do?
Now, its time to recap my 2020 money goals! I crushed these two challenges set for myself! I achieved these goals early, and surpassed what I originally planned for! We made our final student loan payment in September.
We had been redirecting student loan payments into our emergency fund since the Federal government put a pause on interest rates for student loans (as a COVID response measure). Since interest wasn’t accumulating, we just had to pay the base loan amount. Interest rates were reduced and set to kick back in on October 1st. Since my birthday is September 30th, I thought it would be ideal to submit our final student loan payment and have them paid off for my birthday. We did it!
As for my TFSA contributions, I contributed $8,640 to my TFSA, using my fun money alone! I was able to over-contribute to my TFSA, since I have lots of left-over contribution room from previous years.
I’m actually really proud of myself, and know that I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t take the time to figure out the ‘how-to’ behind what I needed to do each month to achieve these goals. When there’s a will, there’s a way!
Before I completely wrap up my 2020 money goals recap, I have to share how much we gained in net-worth between January 2020 and January 2021. Why? Because our net-worth is a reflection of our cumulative efforts toward our personal finance goals for the year! It accounts for debts paid, money saved, and contributions to investments!
Note that our net-worth does not include our ‘fun-money’ savings we’ve budgeted for, since we choose to keep that separate from our household budget. We also rent (so no mortgage), and we include our car loan, but not value, in our net-worth so that it is a more conservative representation of what we have.
On January 1st 2020 our net-worth was -$1,191 ($34,170 assets / $35,361 liabilities). As of January 1st 2021, our net-worth has grown to $28,207 ($39,403 assets / $11,196 liabilities), a difference of $29,398! Woop woop! I want to beat that amount next year!
Transitioning Into the New Year
To be honest I was in a bit of a funk at the very end of 2020. I lacked closure on the craziest year I had ever experienced. Like many others, some of my family was experiencing health problems, and my friends who lived far away were lonely. It took everything we had to practice gratitude and have a positive outlook most days. Reviewing how I did with my 2020 money goals was just what I needed to regain focus. It made me feel accomplished, and motivated to set my intentions for what I want to achieve in terms of money and lifestyle goals for 2021.
Word of the Year: FOCUS
This year I leaned into the idea of a theme word. I don’t normally do this, but as I just mentioned, I had previously felt as though I was lacking direction with everything going on. I found, regarding my business and other self-improvement activities, I tended to go down a lot of rabbit-holes last year. I get excited about new ideas and rather than putting my energy into what I’ve already identified as important, I would have fun playing around with new ideas, which often ends up being a giant waste of time, to be frank.
To me, “FOCUS” represents a the pursuit of targeting my attention toward meaningful, specific goals, where I make a conscious effort to avoid going down endless rabbit-holes which distract my effort to achieve the goals outlined below. It means no new solo projects without consideration as to whether it will help me achieve my money and lifestyle goals.
One of my favourite books is “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown. If you can’t get your hands on the book right away, I highly recommend his podcast. Greg McKeown’s work is highly responsible for my thinking, and paradigm around intentional living, as well as prioritizing and setting boundaries. Greg McKeown always reminds us:
“Remember that if you don‘t prioritize your life someone else will.” – Greg McKeown
My Money Goals for 2021
Now, let’s talk money and lifestyle goals for 2021. It’s important to me to start each year with intention. It allows me to continue building momentum toward what I want out of the next year, and helps me feel empowered to achieve whatever I set my mind to, as long as I take the time to ensure my goal is realistic, and figure out what I need to do to get there. These are my money goals for 2021.
My money goals for 2021 are as follows:
- Direct 10% of net income into investment accounts;
- Max out annual TFSA contribution room ($6,000) using personal fun money;
- Save $13,000 toward our Down Payment savings;
- Be ruthless with the budget;
- Participate in free activities and focus on family time;
- Use what we have, and enjoy it! A.K.A. avoid buying ‘new stuff’.
How to Plan for Success: Achieving Your Money Goals
I couldn’t possibly just dream up the above financial goals without first asking myself whether they were even possible, otherwise I would just end up disappointed at the end of the year, right? I just want to remind you that you need to ensure your goals are realistic, and take you through a bit of my thought process as to how I came up with these money goals for 2021.
To start, I’m sorry to say, there is a bit of basic math required. Also, when you don’t have a lot of flexibility in your budget, it’s easiest to work backwards. In my case, I didn’t just decide $13,000 was a good number to save toward our down payment. I worked backwards to see what I could afford to contribute. That’s not to say that we couldn’t save $20,000 toward our down payment if we wanted to, but something’s gotta give. I would have to prioritize this goal over another goal in order to achieve that larger amount. I already have a number of other savings categories that I want to maintain, so I worked backwards to make good use of the flex money we spend in a month, and redirect some of those funds toward our down payment savings.
Finally, back to my money goals for 2020. Our big goal for this year is to direct 10% of our net income into investment accounts. This is something that I felt was important in regards to paying ourselves first. Sure we have automated savings set up, but we hadn’t standardized our contributions based on our income. I then decided to reconfigure our budget to reflect the left-over amount, after our 10% of net income had been deducted.
Once I revised our budget, to include a small monthly contingency, I was able to see how much extra money we had left over.
I took that amount of left over money for the year and divided it by 52 weeks, since our automated savings are withdrawn on a weekly basis. The result was $150 extra per week. I revised our existing $100 weekly contribution toward down payment savings to include the additional amount, resulting in a $250 weekly contribution. $250 per week, multiplied by 52 weeks = $13,000 annually. So to come up with our goal, we had to start with what we knew in order to figure out where there was opportunity.
You can use this same method when reviewing or adjusting your own budget, to help you figure out how you can achieve your own savings goals.
Lifestyle Goals for 2021
Even though we talk money a lot on the blog, intentional living and self-actualization are also core concepts for a beautiful life. As such, I couldn’t leave you with my money goals alone. While I often refer to understanding personal finance as a foundation to achieving your goals, there is so much more to life than money. As such, I wanted to share a few of my lifestyle goals for the year as well. I will provide a bit of insight into each goal as well, to let you know why it’s important to me.
Here are a few of my lifestyle goals for 2021:
Develop our personal Real Estate Strategy, including: timeline; anticipated required savings/spending; and result. This is to ensure we don’t end up buying more house than we need. Then, discuss with hubby and revise as necessary. This should be a living document that will inform our future investments in real estate.
Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including: completing two workout circuits (at home) each week with my hubby; integrating more colourful (and flavourful) foods each day; spend our spare time doing free activities that we love (hiking, biking, big walks); prioritize getting a good sleep and make room for downtime as required; identify specific ways which help”recharge” my energy; and listen to and honour my body (if I am hungry, tired, etc.)
Build better habits to help me feel more present, relaxed, positive, and confident in my personal morals, ethics, and boundaries, including: formalizing my gratitude practice with a journal, intentionally avoid complaining, practicing an abundance mindset; focusing on more experiences, less stuff; go with the flow of others and be spontaneous; practice sitting with my thoughts and journaling more; aim to be present, listen, and have meaningful conversations; only positive self-talk; and less comparison, more focus.
Focus on including more soul-nourishing activities into my day, including: meditation; stretching; moving my body; enjoying hot showers; doing my skincare routine; enjoy hot tea, fresh fruit, and colourful food; diffuse essential oils; get outside (fresh air, sunshine); enjoy solo walks while listening to audiobooks/podcasts; get cozy and read a good book; have cuddles with hubby; phone my bestie; and make new recipes.
What about Money and Lifestyle Goals that are SMART?
Most of us have heard of SMART goals before. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. There are a few variations of the acronym, but this is the one I learned of in school. It is often said that setting goals without ensuring they are SMART goals can be a waste of time as they are too flexible and the goal becomes open to interpretation. For example, setting the goal of “doing more yoga” is not a SMART goal, but “practicing yoga twice per week” is. If you do yoga three times in the whole year, than that counts as doing ‘more’ yoga, if you didn’t do yoga last year, right?
I recognize many of my lifestyle goals for 2021 are not SMART goals. This is totally fine with me. If there is something I want to achieve that I consider to be a priority, I will support it with a SMART goal. However, if you have too many SMART goals, how can you possibly prioritize and keep track of them all?
My methods include frequently referring to my goals in my downtime, and regularly setting intentions on Sundays, for the week ahead. With that, I am confident that I will be able to do my best at incorporating as many of my lifestyle goals that I can into my everyday life. Only a few of the above don’t form part of my regular practice already, so it should be fairly easy for me remember my intentions throughout the year.
Now, It's Your Turn! What are your money and lifestyle goals for 2021?
I’d love to hear what your money and lifestyle goals for 2021 are; please do let me know in the comments! If you need help figuring out how to move forward, don’t be afraid to ask. We are capable, we are worthy, and we can do this! Also, it’s never a bad thing to ask for help when you need it, especially when you are trying to learn. Please let me know: what are your money and lifestyle goals for 2021?