The year has passed which means it’s time for another year of investing! It reminds of this scene from Elf, and I’m one of the elves:
So, how did I do on my 2021 goals? I set six goals – let’s see how close I got.
1. Max tax shelters (100%)
This has been my top priority ever since “discovering” investing. Each of my available tax shelters has an annual max, so once the year goes by, I can never fill those buckets again.
Contribute $6,000 to my Roth IRA
Contribute $19,500 to my 401k
Contribute $7,200 to my HSA (family limit)
I saved up the $6,000 at the beginning of 2021 for the Roth IRA, and I took regular chunks out of my paycheck for the 401k and HSA. My personal philosophy is that I can’t add to my taxable accounts until I’m done with my tax shelters, so this goal got knocked out first.
2. Achieve $10/day in taxable dividend income (119%)
I started 2021 at about $8.55/day. To add $1.45/day at a starting yield of 1.72%, I needed somewhere around $30,770 in contributions. Actually less than that – I would also have reinvested dividends and dividend hikes helping me out. Checking my spreadsheet, I expect $10.28 per day in average dividend income going forward! I needed $1.45 and ended up adding $1.73 per day on average.
3. Continue allocating at least 50% of new contributions to VTI (100%)
I’ve written about my affinity for VTI. It is something I can add to any time without thinking about price, timing, or anything. Around 2019, I equalized my taxable account with $1 of VTI for every $1 of individual investments. Since then, I have purchased the same 50/50 ratio of VTI to individual stocks.
This wasn’t a very difficult goal – it just took will power. Since it was just a percentage, I didn’t have to meet any quantity or dollar amount. I just had to stay disciplined.
The final result was 54.6% of new purchases in 2021 went to VTI in my taxable account. Hooray! I actually began erring on the side of even more than 50% to VTI. I may increase this percentage in my 2022 goals.
4. Contribute $2,500/month on average in new money (180%)
This is way higher than my baseline goal of $1,000/month. As it turns out, I got a new job two months after setting this goal. The new job came with a signing bonus and pay increase which I put all into savings/investing.
Not counting reinvestments, I managed to put $4,497 per month toward my taxable portfolio. This is probably the most shocking number to come out of 2021 for me. I really doubt I will keep up anything like this in 2022, but I’m glad to have bumped my savings rate up and feel good about the future.
5. Strengthen my base holdings (96%)
My “base” holdings at the start of 2021 were BLK, RSG, MDT, TXN, PG, SBUX, AVY, TRV, HRL, NEE, AWR, and NDSN. My goal was to spread $14,000 over these in new contributions. A side-effect of this goal, depending on market conditions, was to end 2021 with 17 holdings above $3,000 in market value. Let’s see how I did.
I count only $13,455 in new contributions toward this list of stocks. To be honest, I never let this goal influence my buys in 2021 and I never knew how far or close I was until just now. Even though I missed this goal, I’m still happy I strengthened my base holdings by a solid amount. I also now have 18 individual holdings that are each at least $3,000 in market value.
6. Water my growers (124%)
I heard this phrase early on in my investing career and loved it. Unfortunately, I sat by and watched as my top positions grew and I tried to help my other positions keep up. I should have been adding to my growers as well, and worrying less about if my portfolio was evenly distributed. At least, that’s my personal strategy I have chosen.
I designated the top 5 holdings in my portfolio as those I wished to “water”: AAPL, MSFT, V, UNH, and LOW. I counted up $6,182 in contributions toward these holdings. Goal met!
Setting the goals was fun. I didn’t let the goals influence my purchases too much, but it is fun to see what I thought was important at the beginning of 2021, and how I did. I plan to do this again for 2022, and come up with some different goals.
I have to also acknowledge a few things that helped. The bull market made investing a lot easier (or harder if you count stocks being at higher prices). My new job’s signing bonus and income bump really helped me hit or exceed a lot of these goals. And lastly, no major surprises in life during 2021 threw me off too bad. As a homeowner, I know I’m always a day away from a $5k repair. Luckily I absorbed some hits via my emergency fund.