Another year flew by, and I am glad it is almost behind us. 2021 has been another challenging year for most of us and the whole world. In 2021, the pandemic kept dominating our lives. We have all had to adapt to a “new normal” lifestyle. For me, the result has been a year spent mostly working from home.
I have had weeks without any face-to-face social interaction besides with my husband. Once we got vaccinated in April, we started having some small outdoor gatherings with friends. Even though my social life is still more digital than it used to be before the pandemic, I really do my best to find joy in my everyday life.
As the new year approaches, I like to look back at all things that happened in the last year. I get to see what I did, and what I did not do. I like to take count of the goals I accomplished. And If I failed to follow through on all my goals, I know I have another chance to make them happen in the new year.
I believe that sharing my goals on the blog is a great way to hold myself accountable. It helps me stay the course when life unavoidably gets in the way.
So, I am happy to present my 2021 year in review.
2021 was a decent year. It had its ups and downs, just like for any person, but overall, it was surely an improvement over what 2020 offered.
My younger sister Irina passed away in May 2020. Although I knew it was coming, it was still a shock. The worst of it was that I could not even fly to Lithuania for her funeral due to the pandemic and all international borders being closed.
Thus, I had to make all funeral arrangements online and say goodbye to my baby sister over FaceTime. A year and a half later, it still doesn’t feel real to me because I hoped that she would beat her cancer. But I try to find comfort knowing that she is in a better place now and no longer in pain.
My daughter Ksenia got married in Tuscany in August 2021, and her wedding in Italy was the highlight of 2021 and likely many years to come. Getting there was certainly not easy. Wedding planning is already a stressful endeavor, as I am sure many of you who have planned a wedding know very well, but then combining that with planning it in a foreign country in the middle of a global pandemic added an extra sprinkling of stress. Let’s just say I am extra grateful we got there.
Even though my daughter hired an Italian wedding planner to help with the logistics of the planning, the uncertainty of all our guests being able to travel to Italy to a non-refundable wedding kept us biting our nails. Luckily, things started to improve in the spring and the Italian government opened the borders to foreign tourists, and everyone was able to travel to Italy.
Roman and I were so happy to see our little girl getting married in a beautiful ceremony in the Tuscan countryside. The whole event was a wonderful release for us and all our guests after a difficult year. After the wedding, Roman and I spent some time traveling. We visited Florence, Venice, and Bellagio on Lake Como. I am happy to say that those three weeks of wedding and travels were the best three weeks we ever spent in Italy.
Personal life goals for 2022
- Learn how to live in the present and stop worrying about the future.
- Being thankful for today, for my life, for my friends and family.
- Keep up with my everyday physical exercise.
- Plan a vacation in August and early October.
1. Emergency fund and other savings
We were able to increase our savings in 2021. It was easy to cut unnecessary expenses and find more ways to save money with both of us working from home.
Working from home helped us save a lot of money on gas, parking, lunches, business clothes, dining out, etc. I am happy to know that we managed to meet our goal and increased our emergency fund up to $35,000. From now on, we want to use this money only for emergencies.
In 2019, we opened a separate savings account and called it “travel”. Roman and I like to travel and often pay for our travels with emergency fund money. I wanted to stop that practice and find other ways to pay for our travels. Since 2019 we were careful with our spending and big purchase items, which is why we were able to save $10,000 in our “travel” fund.
2. Retirement accounts
I have a habit of checking on our retirement savings three or four times a year. Our main goal is to stash as much money as we can before we retire. Between the two of us, we have several retirement accounts – 401(k), Roth 401(k), IRA, and Roth IRA.
We roughly contribute around 25 percent of our income to 401(k) and Roth 401(k) including my employer contribution. I know it is not enough but that is all we can afford. I try to increase my contributions at least by 1 percent each year, unfortunately it does not happen every year.
The first half of 2021 turned out to be great for us. The stock market was going up and we had a significant increase in our retirement portfolio. But November brought a lot of negative news, and the stock market has been volatile since then.
The market dropped because of the spread of the new Omicron variant and the Fed’s fast tapering plan. I checked our retirement and investment accounts and noticed a small decrease in value. Even though December might be a volatile month for the stock market depending on what happens with Omicron, I hope we will close out 2021 on a good note.
3. Home mortgage
I want us to be debt-free as we are getting closer to retirement. Thus, our number one goal is to reduce our home mortgage. We bought our house in 2002 and did various big and small renovation projects that increased the value of our house. Right now, we are trying to stay away from any additional upgrades or renovations and just focus on paying off the mortgage. In 2021, we brought our mortgage balance down from $230,000 to $223,000.
Financial goals for 2022
- Since we spent all our travel money in Italy, I want to build back our travel fund to a minimum of $10,000.
- We had to install a new boiler in our house because the old one failed and cannot be repaired anymore. We paid for a new installation partly from our emergency savings and partly applied for Mass Save Heat Loan with a zero percent interest rate. Our emergency savings account dropped to $20,000. The 2022 goal is to rebuild it back to a minimum of $30,000.
- Another big goal for the next year is to reduce our home mortgage by $20,000.
- Keep up with current contributions to retirement accounts and see if I can bump up my contributions to 13 percent.
2021 was a year when I challenged myself and pushed harder to improve my blogging skills.
I did not know about all the additional work required when I launched the Save, Invest & Retire Blog in 2019. The blogosphere changed so dramatically over the years. According to the stats, there are 500 million blogs in the world today. That is a lot of competition to deal with for a new blogger.
In 2020, I became more knowledgeable about the blogging world and set up new goals for blog content, email marketing, traffic building, and a social media strategy to grow Save, Invest & Retire. Not everything worked out the way I wanted it but setting up the goals and working towards them helped me to stay motivated.
Blogging goals for 2022
- Be more strategic with how I help people prepare for retirement and hit their financial goals. I want to make learning about retirement planning as easy as possible, so anyone can do it.
- Work on my Pinterest strategy to create more visually attractive pins and increase the number of followers.
Final thoughts on my 2021 year goals review
I hope you enjoyed this post. I mostly wrote it to myself even though reviewing my 2021 goals was a painful exercise. I did achieve a good portion of my goals but not all of them. I think it is important to remind myself that missing a few goals is perfectly human and there is always the opportunity to try harder in the following year. I will continue to try my best and improve on my successes from 2021 to 2022.
Looking ahead to the new year
The world is still in the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, but there are many signs of an economic recovery. I am not sure what to expect of the upcoming year though I remain hopeful that things will start turning up eventually. Our financial goals for the new year should be simple – keep working and saving money for retirement. And for the rest of the world, my hopes are much like everyone else’s – that we get out of this global pandemic soon and get back to our normal life.
How was your 2021? And what are your goals for 2022?