Around here, my annual New Year’s Resolutions posts have become as much of a new year’s tradition as late night fireworks and New Year’s Day hangovers.
So you can imagine my horror when I looked down at the calendar and noticed it was already February, with no resolutions in sight!
Cheesy traditions around here don’t die that easy!
So, we’re back! And today, I’m sharing some brutal honesty about the success (and failure) of last year’s resolutions. Plus, I’m mixing things up with a different approach to 2021’s goals.
An Update on 2020’s Resolutions
Last year I put on my game face and drafted up these 9 resolutions:
- Save approximately $55,000 (for a savings rate over 60%)
- Spend less than $3,000 per month ($36,000 total spending)
- No phone on the night stand
- Keep a consistent workout log
- Keep a daily time journal
- Read 24 books in 2020
- Eat more salads
- Find more like-minded people
- Get happily married
My usual success rate on New Year’s Resolutions hovers at a paltry 50%. But hey, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so let’s see how my goals played out.
1. Save $55,000 (60% savings rate) – success!
Helped along by a ridiculous salary and an autopilot savings approach to the only 3 expenses that matter, I saved a total of $58,249 in 2020. A 65% savings rate!
More on that here.
2. Spend less than $3,000 per month ($36,000 total spending) – success!
I came in way low on this goal.
On average, I spent just $2,570 per month last year, which was a success on the resolution but a huge fail in trying to buy happiness for $500 a month.
More on that in the 2020 Spending Report.
3. No phone on the night stand – huge fail.
Man, those things are addicting…
Huge fail might be a bit harsh. I went back and forth on this one, like a druggie hopping on and then falling off the wagon.
I’d spend a few months where I’d leave the phone in a far away corner or outside the bedroom. During those months, I’d read a book for my nighttime relaxation and find myself getting a restful, full night’s sleep.
Then, I’d relapse. Before I knew it, a month straight had gone by with my face illuminated by the blue hue of an addicting screen all night. I’d go to bed way too late and wake up way too tired.
I really need to fix this in 2021…
4. Keep a consistent workout log – sort of success.
I wasn’t perfect on this one, but I’m chalking it up as a success anyway.
I kept an Excel Spreadsheet on my computer that I used to track my workouts.
At times, I’d fall off the wagon on this one too, and a couple weeks would go by without any sort of workout. But that’s when the workout log would swoop in and keep me honest; it’s really tough to justify a blank page of nothingness when it’s staring you in the face!
Even if sporadic, the workout log did help get me excited about cardio fitness for the first time in my life. With its help, I went from an “I hate running” kind of guy to a “I wonder if I can crack a 7-minute mile!?” kind of guy.
The log turned the whole thing into a game, and I look forward to making this one a permanent habit.
5. Keep a daily time journal – huge fail.
I did this religiously for the first few months of the year, and there’s no doubt it’s incredibly effective.
By making a quick note for each 30 minute interval about how I was spending my day, I was able to keep a laser focus and topple item after item off my to-do list. My productivity was off the charts.
But eventually, it just started to feel like too much of a hassle. It was just another thing to do, on top of all the things I had to do. (Which is why I made this goal in the first place!)
So, I abandoned it.
But I definitely encourage anyone who’s struggling with procrastination or wondering where all their time goes to give it a shot. If anything, it definitely gave me a clearer appreciation for how I spend my most valuable resource.
6. Read 24 books – almost success.
See what I did there?
I won’t call this one an outright fail, since I did read 17 books in 2020. And that’s a whole lot better than reading no books.
For anyone who’s curious, here’s all the books I read (along with my wizard hat ratings out of 5)
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (4)
- A Duck Looking for Hunters: A Bird Dog FAC’s True Story by Dale Amend (4)
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (5 Wizard Hats!)
- Running Fast and Injury Free by Gordon Pirie (4)
- Red Notice by Bill Browder (5 Wizard Hats!)
- The End of Dieting by Joel Fuhrman (4)
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris (4)
- Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier (4 – my Financial Freedom review here)
- The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger (4)
- Deep Work by Cal Newport (5 Wizard Hats! My Deep Work review here. )
- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (2)
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (3)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (5)
- Memory Man by David Baldacci (3)
- Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (5 Wizard Hats!)
- The One Thing by Gary Keller (4)
- Anxious People by Frederick Backman (4)
7. Eat more salads – success.
Calling this one a success, since COVID changed the circumstances behind this one so much.
My original plan was to eat or bring a salad on 50% of the days I worked from the office. I was concerned about my bad habit of eating out for lunch, so defaulting to a salad was an easy fix.
But after March, I became a full time work-from-homer, which completely eliminated my temptation to eat out.
I still ate a few more salads at home, but mostly, I felt happy that I was eating healthier, home cooked lunches instead of over-salted, high calorie takeout. (I also went liquid with my salads, after I picked up a Vitamix blender and started a new habit of green juice smoothies most mornings.)
8. Find more like-minded people
Social distancing made this one a moot point.
9. Get happily married.
Thanks again, COVID.
We’ve rescheduled for 2021.
Final 2020 Tally – 5 for 7? Kind of?
So a 71% percent success rate… ignoring the one resolution that I failed (but called a success to save my own ego) plus the other two sorta-failed resolutions that I conveniently omitted.
Hooray for a cheating my way to a barely passing grade! 😎
My Five 2021 Resolutions
To be honest, I’m not sure.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty content with life.
Financially, I’m lucky to still have an amazing job that pays well. Thanks to decisions I’ve made years ago about my house, car, and general lifestyle, my savings are mostly on auto pilot.
And at my current pace, those savings should propel me to my age 35 retirement goal with about $1 million. (Barring another stock market crash, obviously.)
Alone, that would probably be enough, but it also doesn’t count any of Lady Money Wizard’s savings or the savings this blog has built up over the past few years. All in all, I like where I’m at.
So while the past few years of resolutions have been obvious, this year’s resolutions are more like, “Hmm… maybe I’ll try this and see what happens?”
I think that might show the increasing freedom my savings are bringing me. Either that, or I’m just getting old and lazy!
In either case, I’m changing things up in 2021 by narrowing down my goals. I’ve traded a long list of small goals for a short list of bigger goals.
I hope that if I focus on the daily habits that keep me moving in the right direction, the big picture will take care of itself. After all, the easiest way to build a house is one brick at a time!
1. Spend $36,000
I tried and failed at this goal last year. (I only spent $30,000, and I still have no idea if that’s a good or bad thing.)
Either way, let’s give it another shot!
This is an amount that should still have me saving over 60% of my income, or about $55,000 next year, which puts me right on track for about a million at age 35.
2. Earn $36,000 through side hustles. (Not counting this blog’s income)
And yes, that number is the exact same as my spending goal. Because how awesome would it feel to live 100% off side hustle income?
This is an ambitious goal that could fall flat on its face. But isn’t that half the fun?
Here’s what I’m thinking…
While not totally needed, if I really wanted to build in another layer of security into my financial picture, then the main game I should be playing is building up other side hustles / passive income streams that could help in the transition away from office work.
Continuing to write for and grow this blog is the most obvious option. But to be honest, I don’t want to do the selling out needed to take this thing to the next level. Instead, I’d rather keep it as an enjoyable passion project that spits off fun-money here and there. (Although not nearly a full-time income, dang it!)
So, we’ll shoot for other income streams.
What would those look like? Good question.
- Investing in real estate is an obvious choice. But so far, my plans of investing with friends/family in Texas are on hold because of the availability (or lack-thereof) of my construction experts in Texas. So that’s probably out.
- In January, I stumbled onto a weird side hustle of buying and reselling a niche product for profit. I won’t share exactly what I’m flipping yet (gotta protect that competitive advantage!) but I made about $2,000 in my first month of trying. Hopefully it stays a really solid income source!
- Also, with slopelab.com on pause due to travel restrictions, I started another website. (Also keeping it under wraps to protect that competitive advantage!) It’s been growing slow and steady for about 9 months now, and I think it could realistically start bringing in $200-$500 of monthly income in 2021.
- I’d like to explore scaling Lady Money Wizard’s Etsy store. I wrote in our wedding side hustle update that she’s making about $300 per month selling a hand-made home good. If we could figure out a way to automate that process, it could turn into something more lucrative and less time consuming.
3. Run a 6 minute mile.
This is definitely gonna be a challenge, and it might be outside my capabilities entirely. But what the heck?
Last year I went from nearly dying after a quarter mile jog to running a 7 minute mile. (And still almost dying, but at least I knocked two minutes off my time!)
Unlike money, which gets easier and easier to make the more you have, running actually gets harder to improve the faster you are. Knocking two minutes off your mile time is relatively easy when you’re a newbie runner like me, while pros spend years trying to shave off mere seconds!
4. Sleep more. (8 hours a night)
Of all the books I read last year, Why We Sleep was probably the most eye opening. Afterwards, I resolved to get a full 8 hours a night. Even if it means locking my freakin’ cell phone in a box at night and throwing away the key.
5. Get Happily Married, round 2.
Honestly, this one’s gonna happen either way. We’ll go to the courthouse if we have to!
What are your 2021 resolutions?
And how are they looking a couple months in?
Accidentally Retired says
I can firmly say that not having my phone on my nightstand has been THE BEST. So keep at it.
Now my wife and I even unplug our house phone (yes we still have one). But I used to be terrible at this, I’d not be able to sleep and reach for the phone and then be up until 2am. Now I sleep sooo much better.
We keep our phones downstairs, so that makes it easy to not get into a bad habit.
Time logs are great, but I also did find the same thing. At a certain point you understand how you are spending your time and its not as useful. So perhaps doing it for a few weeks each quarter is all that one needs.
Love this list. Thanks for posting!
I loved Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. He has a couple podcasts out there that are worth listening to.
Big fan of Dr. Fuhrman as well. If you’re interested in learning more about the WFPB lifestyle, I’d recommend checking out Dr. Greger (nutritionfacts.org) as well.
I’m also interested in checking out Cal Newport’s work. I remember your great post on it and his TED talk is pretty good. I need to get his book!
Not normally one to comment but regarding #8. Find more like-minded people- I actually live right by Utepils (spied the logo in a previous post!). If you ever want to meet up I’m local, kinda new to MPLS (~relocated about 6 months pre-pandemic) + definitely like minded 🙂
David @ Filled With Money says
I’m going to be inspired by your willingness to spend more money. I’m gonna look into spending $500/month more in 2021 than I did in 2020. I have such a huge pent up demand that’s brewed up inside me, I wanna go out and go all out.
Regardless, it sounds like you’re going to get married this year no matter what happens. Early congratulations!