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2019 retrospective and new year’s resolutions

These were my 2020 resolutions. I’ll get back to them a few months later, and see how much progress (if any) I’ve made. Would be interesting to hear about your new year’s resolutions. If you’re like me and you don’t keep up with them, I’m sure they all sound great.

Published:  Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Author:  Daniel

God laughs when men make plans, as an old saying goes.

I never liked making new year’s resolutions, mainly because most of the time they’re just items on a list that remind me of my failures. The bigger the list, the bigger the disappointment at the end of the next year. Every year I make this list, hoping at the end of it I’ll be a better version of myself. And every year I fail to complete it. Sometimes during summer, I forget about it or just throw it away, a constant reminder of my failure to finish things.

No matter how futile this looks, I keep doing it. It’s an important introspective exercise, and it helps me understand what I want and where I want to be in the future. And even though “new year’s resolutions” sounds important, January 1st is just a point in time, and priorities shift, and some of the items in that list won’t be important 3 months later, or 6 months later. (This is me now just preparing myself for failure again, as I doubt I’ll complete this list.)

How was my 2019?

I did have a list for 2019, but of course, I threw it away. However, I did do some things I’m proud of.

I kept writing on this blog for a year

Writing is incredibly hard for me, especially when I want to write about something I’m interested in. I always overthink it and realize there are other people who know a lot more than I do on the subject. Or I just fear nobody’s going to be interested in what I write. If I don’t do it, I won’t be disappointed as I won’t have to face my fear of not being accepted. I guess everybody goes through that to some extent, and this blog has been a way for me to put myself out of my comfort zone.

factornerd visitor stats

Around 15.000 people visited my blog this year. Not a big number in the blog stats world, but for me, 15.000 sounds huge. The topics I write about are not mainstream. My writing experience is almost zero. And I’ll never know in my entire life that many people.

This blog also helped me in my professional life.

I build websites for a living. Mostly enterprise solutions, with complex architectures behind the scenes. And mostly, my main focus has been on code and I never really cared about the business purpose of the solution I was building.

I’ve got the chance to try hosting providers, content delivery networks, optimize SEO, create Facebook ads campaigns, Google ads, Twitter ads. See what works and what doesn’t. And see things more from the perspective of a business owner, instead of that of a software developer.

I traveled for 6 months around the world

I always dreamed of traveling for a year or more to all sorts of places around the world. But this was just one dream in the back of my mind, something like being an astronaut or developing superpowers. Until I realized traveling is not that hard. I just needed to put my job on pause, take my backpack, and go.

I didn’t travel for years, but it’s been an amazing 6 months’ vacation. In a big way, I feel a totally different person than the one I was a year ago. I also realized I would never be a professional traveler, or digital nomad, or whatever. I do need a stable place, and I do need something to do and work on, besides traveling.

I built up the courage to ask my girlfriend to marry me

Even though I knew I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life, and I was fairly confident she also wanted to, it was still hard. The fear of rejection still kicked in, even though rationally I knew I had nothing to fear. Anyway, she said yes.

Plans for 2020

One of the reasons I wrote this post is that I want to check it later next year and see how much I’ve actually accomplished from this list. It will keep me accountable.

If I write a shortlist, I’ll be too easy on myself and I won’t be happy with it. If the list is too long, I’ll know from the start I won’t finish it next year. So, to make it look smaller, I’ll just split my list into 3 categories:

Savings and investments

I’m not really a big saver, except that I think twice before buying something online, and usually I end up not buying it. Between 20% and 40% of my monthly spending usually goes to nights out, books, alcohol, cigarettes, and traveling. These are all things I could cut out if I really wanted to save more, but it just feels that I would sell my today’s happiness for a promised one tomorrow.

Based on my spending habits, I should be able to save around 2500 EUR per month or 30.000 EUR from my paycheck. I should also get a bonus next year, but I also have a wedding that costs, so I’ll just assume they cancel each other out.

Since I don’t want to keep these funds in a bank, I’ll be investing these funds as follows:

Crowdlending

My portfolio increased by about 9000 EUR in 2019, from 16.000 EUR to 25.000 EUR. Around 2500 EUR came from interest payments, while the rest of 6500 EUR came from new deposits.

I plan to deposit around 7000 EUR more into my portfolio. With expected earnings of around 3000 EUR, my portfolio should reach 35.000 EUR by the end of 2020.

Later edit: 2020 was not a good year for my p2p lending portfolio. It only increased by 2000 EUR at the end of 2020. A part of this small increase was also caused by losing around 3000 EUR invested in platforms that proved to be fraudulent.

Real estate crowdfunding

My current portfolio is worth around 5000 EUR and with around 3000 EUR more it would reach an amount that would allow me to buy around 10% of a small apartment in Cluj. It’s play-money, but real estate equity crowdfunding is an interesting investment asset class, and I’m happy to keep a small stake here.

Later edit: My portfolio sits at around 4000 EUR, as I've reinvested in other areas part of my funds due to lower than expected returns in this sector.

Equity crowdfunding

I have around 8000 EUR invested in startups, spread between Crowdcube and Seedrs. My stake is a bit high given the risks involved, so I’ll slow down my investing pace next year, and only add 2000 EUR more.

Later edit: the plan was to slow down investing here. Instead, my current stake in equity crowdfunding sits at around 20,000 EUR.

Corporate bonds

My WiseAlpha portfolio is worth around 3000 EUR now, and my 2019 returns are around 12%, a lot higher than the expected average returns. Past performance is not a good indicator for future returns, but even so, I’m willing to invest 2000 EUR more into this platform in the next year.

Later edit: target achieved, with a current portfolio of a bit over 5000 EUR.

Stock market

I’ve neglected my stocks portfolio this year, and also trimmed it a bit during my 6 months’ vacation. I’m planning to put half of my savings into stocks next year and keep building up my portfolio. Maybe 2020 will also be the year I start investing on the Romanian stock exchange.

Later edit: Stocks have been great for me this year, and I've surpassed the targets I've set at the beginning of the year.

Play money

1000 EUR doesn’t sound much, but I’ll keep these for any weird, interesting, high-risk investment I might find interesting.

Later edit: reinvested in some crypto assets mostly play money I thought I'd lost. So far, it's been fun.

Personal plans

These are usually the easiest plans to break, as I’m only accountable to myself for them. However, these are important to me, and I hope to stick to some of them:

Later edit: none of the personal plans were accomplished.

Professional plans

I like my new job. I work in a small company and everything I do has a visible and immediate impact. And it’s so disorganized and with so many problems that I don’t have time to get bored. Every day is a new adventure.

However, I need to keep track of my long-term goals, and also work on some skills that will help me in the future.

These are the things I put on my list for the next year:

These were my 2020 resolutions. I’ll get back to them a few months later, and see how much progress (if any) I’ve made. Would be interesting to hear about your new year’s resolutions. If you’re like me and you don’t keep up with them, I’m sure they all sound great.

A bit of personal financial history

I don’t intend to give any financial advice on this blog. To make my point clearer here is a bit of my history, including the many mistakes I’ve made along the way.

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Saving money and my journey to financial responsibility

I was a late bloomer in terms of saving money. I was almost 30 when I started to not spend all my paycheck before the end of the month. It didn’t matter that my income grew exponentially since I started working, I would always spend it all before the next paycheck. I used to make jokes with my employer that I don’t want a pay raise, but I’d like to get my paycheck more often, at least twice a month. It sounded funny to me back then.

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2020 retrospective and new year's resolutions

2021 has come and I try again to make plans. Last year I said that God laughs when men make plans, and I didn’t know how right I was. I wouldn’t call these new year’s resolutions, as this is how I called them last year, and half of them I just ignored. It will be a simple retrospective and plans for a new year.

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