2021 Goals and Things to Do

So, I’m finally doing it. I’m writing this post about what I plan to do in 2021. While I’ve written these things down privately, it’s time to make them public. Perhaps these things that I am about to write down will help others. Perhaps someone will read this and provide some feedback. Here it goes:

1) Get my wife invested

Currently, my wife has a couple of hundred dollars invested in crypto. I previously convinced her to open up a Betterment account, but she pulled the money out when she saw her balance drop and moved it back into her savings account. She now has a “high” yield savings account, but given that the inflation rate ending 2020 was 1.4%, and the bank APY has dropped down to .10%, she is losing money every second she keeps money in her bank account.

Source: usinflationcalculator.com

So, the first step will be to convince her to open up a Roth IRA. There are several benefits to a Roth IRA:

  • She can still pull out her contributions if she feels “panicked” but her gains are solidified.
  • Having only partial liquidity will teach her to be patient and not panic sell.

Best of both worlds. I personally love Roth IRAs since they make for a better emergency fund than “high yield” savings accounts. Any personal finance guru or YouTuber promoting bank savings accounts at this point should be ashamed.

2) Maximize retirement accounts

Of course, my Roth IRA will be maxed out. Saving 6k per year is actually very difficult and takes a great deal of discipline. The more responsibilities/liabilities you have, the more difficult it becomes. But it’s also a great first step. If you can maximize contributions to an IRA, then you can tackle the next lion: a 401k.

The two biggest benefits of a 401k are:

  • The company match
  • Hedge against additional income

Any income you make on your side hustle is taxed as normal income (duh). You also get taxed on dividends and capital gains (if you sell, of course). First, make sure that you are taking maximum advantage of that company match. Most companies will say something lame like “we match the 50% of the first 5% of your contribution.” That’s just a fancy way of saying their company match is actually 2.5% max. This is an indication that the minimum you should be contributing is 5%, in this scenario.

Second, if you have any additional income, let’s say from freelancing, uber driving, or pizza delivery, you want to take that into consideration. Furthermore, figure out an estimate of how much you will make or have made from any investments — crypto, stocks, alternative investments, etc. Even if you’re not going to actually take this money out of your investments, it’s still a good idea to include the number in your math since at some point you’ll be taking the money out or selling stocks.

Here’s the math, using simple numbers:

  • Made $5,000 with hustle.
  • Made $2,000 with investments.

You need to now contribute $7,000 per year towards your 401K so that you can knock off that 7k of extra income from your tax bill. Assuming that your salary for your primary job which has the employer 401k plan is 50k, then we do the math — 7k/50k = 14%.

3) Write a Book

I’ve tried to write a book every year since I was 14 years old, which means I’ve been a struggling writer for 20 years. You’d think with lockdowns and the ability to work from home, I’d have knocked something out by 2020. Nope.

Each time I make some writing plan, it falls on its face. So the idea this time around is to just complete a story. With regards to goal setting, I’ve read that very small steps help fuel a catalyst to completion. So, the goal here is going to be to write 100 words per day. 40,000 words are the minimum for a novel. I already have 2 chapters completed and nearly 3,000 words. This means that in 370 days I should have a novel ready to show the world.

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

4) Upgrade License to Real ID

After Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, following the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, we were told that New York state IDs were valid equivalents to REAL IDs. Something changed and they are no longer valid equivalents. Any sort of government-document-related thing needs to be written down as a goal or else it rarely ever gets done on time. The deadline is October 1, 2021, according to the NYS DMV, and the DMV right now is even slower than normal.

5) Have a Child

My wife and I are childless even after 5 years of marriage. OMG, what a taboo. Our life is over. No really, I think bringing a child into the world if you have no means of supporting it is a really bad idea. But we’re getting closer to the point where we can cross over into a “financially comfortable” area. The total cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 18 is $233,610, which is probably going to grow exponentially. This amounts to 13k in annual costs, on average, but you probably want to shoot for 15k to 20k. My parents were financially stable possibly 1 year out of all the years they’ve been in this country, so I know what it feels like to be a kid of low-resource parents.

Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

I don’t want my kid to feel that way, at all. Plus, we have plans on homeschooling our kid(s) which is going to include additional monetary and time expenses. I also want to start a 529 and an IRA in my kid’s name so that they are not starting their adult journey with student debt and a lack of savings.

6) Keep my Distance from Non-liquid Savings

One mistake I made was to invest in Fundrise. Not because it isn’t a good investment, but rather because it’s non-liquid. Fundrise and similar investments are only good for wealth preservation. For actual growth, you’re better off investing in the stock market through a Robo advisor, ETFs, or stocks (or all three). The other non-liquid form of investments is peer to peer lending such as Prosper. The returns are great, but you get your money back very slowly. Both are long-term vehicles and great for wealth preservation or slow-growth.

7) Throw a reception or anniversary party

My wife and I got married in India, which is great if you want a low-cost wedding! However, not so great if you’ve been born and raised in the U.S. and wanted your friends to attend your wedding. So after 5 years of marriage, we might go through some sort of low-key affair that includes only our closest friends and family members. While weddings in India are cheap, it’s very easy to end up inviting a lot of people. Our wedding had 150–200 people, which would be considered a rather large gathering in the U.S. I’m shooting for 50 people MAX, you think that’s possible?

8) Read more

I was able to get a ton of reading done when I was commuting an hour in each direction. Staying at home during Covid times has made me both physically and mentally lazy. I actually have a schedule set out for this based on the types of books I want to focus on:

  • First-quarter — Stoic philosophy and possibly other philosophy
  • Second-quarter — Economics-mostly Milton Friedman
  • Third-quarter — Cryptocurrency — how it works, why it’s the future, and more
  • Fourth-quarter — Sci-Fi Novels — avoid dystopian crap

9) OCI Card

The OCI Card is something I’ve been meaning to get for years but keep delaying. The card stands for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and grants you certain rights in India such as not having to constantly get a travel visa, being able to pay the same entry fee to local museums/parks as a local, and private sector employment.

The second point about having to pay different fees to get into parks and museums was eye awakening. It was 400 rupees for foreigners and 100 rupees for local people. My wife told me to keep my mouth shut as we approached the ticketing stand so they couldn’t hear my American accent.

10) Wife Citizenship

So now my wife qualifies for citizenship since she’s married to me and has been in this country for over 3 years. She’s paid her taxes and proved to Trump and his allies that she doesn’t intend to destroy America by bringing her culture onto this land. We’ll be applying for her citizenship this year, and then after that, we’ll have to get her an OCI card as well. Oh, how this world loves paperwork.

11) Wife License

She has her driver's license, but in her line of work (medical), there are tiers of licenses she needs to get. She is insanely capable, way smarter than all her co-workers, and her English is better than mine! So I don’t know what the issue is. Why is it taking so long? If someone told me that you need to get an XYZ license and you’d get a $5 per hour raise, I’d jump on that. Get a license, get a raise, then switch jobs — boom, double salary boost! Because that’s really all that matters — make more money, save more money, and then retire early so that you can enjoy your life.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

So far, I’ve purchased practice tests for her so that she can get through them and build confidence to take the exam. I also convinced her to start practicing her guitar again so that she can have a mental break from work+studying. Hopefully, 2021 will be the year she gets her license and then I’ll throw her a party and get her started on the road to her NEXT license and salary boost.

12) Lose Fat

My final goal of the year is to lose fat. I’m about 90kgs right now and need to get down to about 77kgs. I was 85kg when I got married. The leanest I’ve been is 66kgs, where I followed a 3 days low carb, 1-day high-carb diet with a 10-minute high-intensity workout 3x per week. Not sure if I have the guts to do that again, but I can start by reducing my bread consumption.

Staying at home helped me put on about 5lbs. I was working out steadily for 2 weeks, then my landlord asked us who was working out in the morning making so much noise. Groan. I do have a plan, but the main thing is to just be consistent. Right now I’m on this super Saiyan challenge from Darebee. You can read my log here.

Conclusion…

2020 was an ok year. My family is grateful we have our health and have jobs. The toughest part was when our mom’s aid couldn’t come to our home to take care of her due to the shutdowns. But we got through it somewhere. Celebrating birthdays was interesting. I restarted my obsession with Dragon Ball and started eating cinnamon toast crunch. We were all constantly glued to our screens, awaiting the latest Trumpian screw-up.

The biggest win was that my wife finally got her permanent Green Card. We’ve had multiple delays, including USCIS offices being shut down because of Covid. Once again, the world loves paperwork. Very depressing, but hopefully we can put all of that behind us in the coming year. It almost feels like the anxiety is over. Almost.

I’m a first generation Indian-American with brown skin, but that shouldn’t matter anyway. My politics are right smack in the middle.

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