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Looking Ahead Into The Unknown

Looking Ahead: 2021 Another Unusual Year To Worry About?

Last Updated on January 24, 2021 by Mr. FightToFIRE

Here we are again, my third look ahead. When I look back at 2020 it shows us humans are terrible at predicting the future. Raise your hands if you foresaw a global pandemic! In 2021we must continue to manage the coronavirus but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a vaccine. So how do I see 2021? Like last year I want to cover different topics: my income and expenses, my savings rate, personal goals, and finally new this year, blog targets.

Let me start with income and expenses. The two components needed to calculate my savings rate and that are the foundations to reach FIRE.

My income

My salary in 2020 didn’t really change as there was no raise which means I currently have 5200 EUR gross or 2,800 EUR net. While it would be nice, I don’t expect a raise this year either besides indexation. What will change is a tax deduction I will receive because my wife doesn’t have an income.

After marriage, and depending on the income of your partner, a so called marriage quotient is applied. this basically means that while my gross salary doesn’t increase my net does.

The marriage quotient is applied when one married or legally cohabiting partner has little or no professional income. In this case, for the tax calculation, the lowest income is supplemented to a maximum of 30% of the total professional income of the family.

In other words, a deduction. What this means for my specific situation is an increase of about 350-390 EUR per month. (Figures for 2020, indexation for 2021 not yet known).
Adding this increase to my salary results in 3,100 – 3,200 EUR net if I include my on-call bonus of ~250 EUR.

With no major changes, my main total yearly income should be 3,100 EUR x 12 = 37,200 EUR to 3,200 EUR x 12 = 38,400 EUR.

My expenses

Last year also proved to be a difficult year for my expenses. I got married (engagement and wedding ring!), my wife got pregnant. But above all, corona happened, forcing us to stay inside our little apartment and thus using more electricity, heating, and water.

To no surprise to anyone my expenses were higher than in 2019. While June and October proved that I could reach a 50% Savings Rate when living together -as estimated in my look ahead– even without extras such as profit participation or an inheritance.

Knowing that a baby is coming this year and that my wife won’t have a job till at least the end of the year, it’s safe to expect high expenses throughout the year.

Based on 2020, for 2021, a reasonable expense range could be 1500 EUR – 2000 EUR/month which equals 18,000 EUR – 24,000 EUR for the total of 2021.
It’s clear that I grossly underestimated how expensive life could be in 2020. So for my expense milestone in 2021, I will calculate higher expenses.

Savings Rate November 2020
My Income and Expenses for November 2020.

Monthly Savings Rate evolution

With both the income and expense side estimated, it’s easy to guesstimate my average Savings Rate (SR) for the coming year.

With a range for both my expected income and expenses I have the following table for my SR:

Savings Rate range Income
37,200 38,400
Expenses 18,000 51.61% 53.125%
24,000 35.48% 37.50%

The expected average SR for 2020 is thus between 53.125% and 35.48%. Good. I’d say this is a more realistic range than the last two years. To be honest, I still want to aim for 50% on average for 2021 knowing full well, there will be a few “surprise” expenses over the course of 2021 thanks to the baby (think stroller, crib, etc) even with hand-me-downs from parents.
My stretched ambition is to strive for at least two Savings Rates of at least 75%. With the baby and the move to a bigger place, I’ll be surprised if I can get more than two months. Probably the month of April where I get my profit participation and June where I will get my holiday pay. Anything else will be a nice extra.

Saving and investment goals

If it’s possible to adhere to my self-imposed SR, I should be able to save some cash per month.
In 2020 I put aside a record-breaking 25K EUR in my Savings Accounts to be covered in case something serious happens with my apartment. 2021 brings a new challenge: a baby. She will bring a whole list of new expenses and since I whole-heartedly want to save for our little girl ( 😉 ) the moment she is born it’s tricky to make a good estimate on how much I will be able to invest in the stock market.

Based on the earlier estimated Savings Rate range of 35.48% to 53.125%, I can expect to hoard 13,200 EUR to 20,400 EUR of cash. Thanks to compounding interest even a small amount -saved for our daughter- will grow to a huge mountain by the time she is ~21 years old. Knowing this, I aim to save 3,200 EUR to 5,000 EUR for my daughter and 10,000 EUR to 15,400 EUR for my own portfolio.

Blogging goals

New for this year are my blogging goals. I have received some questions in the past and to accommodate that, I will provide a small overview of my 2020 blogging stats to help determine my goals for 2021.

How many pages did I publish?

First of all, how many posts did I actually write that you could read and visit? I originally aimed for 2 posts every week but I usually ended up falling a bit short of that target and only posted 5 posts per month. In the end, I published 57 posts in 2020.

How many of you reached me in 2020?

A whopping 33,000(!) people considered one of my posts interesting enough to click and read it.
The blog also appeared ~0.72 million times in a Google search results.

Google Search console results for 2020
These are all the clicks I received from Google in 2020. You can also see how many times I appeared in the search results.

I also appeared in Google Discover for the first time:

My Google Discover appearance in 2020
A very interesting development in 2020: I appeared in Google Discovery for quite some time.

These are amazing results and a good motivator to keep going at it in 2021.

What are the top 3 pages these clicks went to?

Google Search Results

My top 3 clicked links are:

Note that the top 2 got their title changed and received an update at the end of 2020. Keeping your posts up-to-date really does a lot.

When it comes to Google Discover …

I’m not really sure what to think of that. The top three pages there were:

But what’s most peculiar, is where these clicks came from:

Google Discovery from which countries came the clicks
I have no idea why most of my clicks came from these countries.

For the love of God, I cannot find a good reason why my posts reached Google Discover in for example Ghana. If you can think of a reason, please leave a comment.

What did my visitors do on my blog?

Metric Amount
Pageviews 132,876
Average time on page 1 m 40 s
Bounce rate 61.59%
Percent of Returning Users 11.07%
Pages / session 1.92

Blogging goals for 2021

All of the above metrics are there for a reason, it will be those that I aim to improve in 2021. Besides those, I also have a few broader goals for my blog. Since it’s quite the list, let me put it all together in an easy to read table:

Description/metric 2020 result 2021 target
Create a Logo  
Write guest articles on other blogs 1 5
Have guest writers on my blogs 0 5
Pageviews 132,876 200,000
Average time on page 1 m 40 s 1 m 50 s
Bounce rate 61.59% 58%
Percent of Returning Users 11.07% 13%
Pages / session 1.92 1.95

In Summary

As you can read, I have to make quite a few assumptions. This is only natural since nobody can predict the future. 2020 made that abundantly clear once again.

However, this shouldn’t prevent me from trying to reach my targets. I don’t think I have made it myself easy nor impossible given what I expect to come out of 2021.

Based on what I’ve written down here, I will update my milestones next.

I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

Looking ahead
1. Looking ahead: 2019 personal finance
2. Looking ahead: 2020 personal finance
3. Looking Ahead: 2021 Another Unusual Year To Worry About?
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Roadtriptofire

Im curious about your blogging goals!

Ludovic

thanks for this blog FightToFire. Its very interesting! Good luck with 2021!

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