Personal Finance Goals - 2021

I busted it pretty well in my 9-5 this past year. My goal was to ask my boss for a raise. It sounded like he generally valued me and was gonna push for it (he said he already gave me a solid one, but it didn’t meet my number).

I don’t actually know if it’ll work out until I see the number in a month... but the lesson is you never know until you ask. And there’s no downside if you think you have the goods.

I’ll be near maxed out for my level/position/city and the only huge jump I could make would be to work at FAANG like Google or something.

Gonna try to spend the year working remote, take the gas off the job and cruise, and then pívot to selling something online.

Investments-wise: I never invested until this year. Made about 30k in stocks and BTC/ETH. Could’ve made way more, given I was 100% cash in March. My intuition was usually right, just needed to execute.

Lesson is that exposure is important when you’re in your 20s, and a huge loss is exponentially less catastrophic than in your 40s+.
 

Meraki

Sparrow
@gework @Pelagius

I use Fidelity Active Trader Pro. The software is free with an account. It used to be around $7.99 commission to trade, but now it is free - possibly because I have a long standing account. Not sure if they are doing a new promotion or anything.

You will need to keep a minimum balance considerably higher than some platforms (25,000USD) and call them over the phone to apply for a Pattern Day Trader account. If you do not do this, and make several transactions in short succession, it can get flagged as a good faith violation, which will result in a 7 day freeze on your account. Trading needs to be done from a margin account, regardless of if you use margin. You can buy funds & stocks in their/your cash account too, you just won't be able to do intraday moves.

Yes they have access to a ton of things. I honestly just focus on volume tho. I am not a professional trader, and I have taken exceptionally high risks, due to the fact that without leveraging large share-size, it's unlikely to make truly life changing money. I have little interest in buying the SPY and just sitting for a year hoping for 10-15% - I am not materialistic. I do not own a car. I haven't owned a TV in a decade. I simply want security on a long-term time horizon and my job doesn't allow that. I make around $15k a year. Which is quite modest, but I also have near complete freedom of my schedule & very little expenses.

It is a bit frustrating, that despite a few years of trading, learning, feeling it out, I grew $5k to about 80k, lost it, grew it back to 20, 40 then 60 etc. Had I just bit the bullet and jumped back in in March, things would be far better now.

There are stocks & funds I follow and research, but when I make day trades, I look for things that have potential to really move in a short time frame. I find the charts and spend about 15min looking at them. It does feel like gambling. Crazy. And right now, I am focusing on making small profits participating in say 0.20 of the move, if the stock goes up .35 in an hour or so. I scan for volume, watch Level 2, and try to place an order when momentum picks up, ideally at a historic price level, like previous highs, gaps or pre-market highs. The trade must:
  • have higher than normal volume
  • obvious support or trend line
  • historical price action in the current price range
  • be grinding while the RSI looks good
  • history of making decent sized moves on the daily chart

When I first got into it, I would take 1000-5000 shares of a penny stock and just swing it for 5 cents or so. I had a few big winners and a few over-nighters that got bought out for like $10 a share more than my buy in, and that's what propelled my account. After that, I started buying a basic mutual fund with like AMD, TSLA, AAPL, GOOG for about 15% of my portfolio. The rest is in speculation & trading.

My trading approach now, and what I would recommend is to take a cheaper stock, $1-8 range and take 600 shares. Try to capture a twenty cent move. If it turns against you by a nickel get out. You only risk $30-40. Get in when the price is just grinding and volume starts picking up. Hold as the price direction starts moving. Allow it to run .15 or more, but if it turns back just take the profit. It will leave winners on the table, but when you scan for volume - it could be crap companies, or bad news, or good news - either way it is volatile. We are just looking to participate in part of the wave, hopefully in the correct direction. This is what I did, but with like 10,000 shares, where .10 is $1k. You have to stomach fast moves, and don't look at your balance while trading, as every penny is $100. You will hit losses. I've endured quick 2k, 5k, 8k losses in minutes, only to bounce back and make 10k the next day. Or lose 20k, but make 35k the next. It is not for everyone, and typing this out, I can't believe I spent 2 years doing that. Now, I am just looking for consistency & navigating 2020-2021. Wishing you all the best of luck.
 
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Pelagius

Robin
My trading approach now, and what I would recommend is to take a cheaper stock, $1-8 range and take 600 shares. Try to capture a twenty cent move. If it turns against you by a nickel get out. You only risk $30-40. Get in when the price is just grinding and volume starts picking up. Hold as the price direction starts moving. Allow it to run .15 or more, but if it turns back just take the profit. It will leave winners on the table, but when you scan for volume - it could be crap companies, or bad news, or good news - either way it is volatile. We are just looking to participate in part of the wave, hopefully in the correct direction. This is what I did, but with like 10,000 shares, where .10 is $1k. You have to stomach fast moves, and don't look at your balance while trading, as every penny is $100. You will hit losses. I've endured quick 2k, 5k, 8k losses in minutes, only to bounce back and make 10k the next day. Or lose 20k, but make 35k the next. It is not for everyone, and typing this out, I can't believe I spent 2 years doing that. Now, I am just looking for consistency & navigating 2020-2021. Wishing you all the best of luck.
That's a great write-up!

Personally I've always been a massive advocate of your kind of style, especially in financial markets too.

I do get why people stress over efficient R:R (1:3), bankroll management etc but the thing is if i'm not starting with a solid bank roll to begin with - I cannot justify hours every day spent trading for the hopes of making a 2% increase over a month.
 

Leads

Robin
Already out-flexing yester-me by going 10x in every direction. Now is the time to escalate every single goal and accomplish them in a ridiculously short amount of time. No excuses left. No books or self-help youtubes left to watch. 2020 was good to me as I bought a 2018 Sprinter for 17k and built it out before selling for 48k back in March

By summer, I will be ready to head back to Albania to live in the same upscale place for $150/month whilst eating 2 dollar, truffle-laden calzones that beat 100 dollar calzones found in NYC.. From there I will take short trips Montenegro to look at property deals.
 

cosine

Sparrow
2020 was good to me, I now am building up to 4 income streams/asset classes:
1. Remote tech job, 9-5
2. My side hustle as real estate agent - only do a few transactions per year
3. I own one rental property. Now cash flowing at around $500/month
4. I have ~60k invested in stocks, BTC. Not a lot, but it's a start.

I have goals for each:
1. Do not get fired
2. Close at least 3 transactions. This isn't that much work, but until dotted lines are signed it is a total coin flip. And I don't want to sell my soul with a million advertisements, so it's all word of mouth. My client base is taking a while to build.
3 & 4. Stocks and BTC have been doing quite well, but if I am able to buy 2-3 more cash flowing rental properties, that ultimately feels like a better nest egg to me. As long as they are in areas that people want to keep moving to(nicer mountain towns), it seems like the most steady path to financial independence and early retirement.

The other nice thing about RE investing, since I have my license, is that I can collect a commission on my own transactions, and specifically roll it into the down payment. So if I get a 3% commission, I don't need a 20% down payment anymore, only 17%. And I won't pay taxes on that commission until I sell the property. Or, I could even try to buy a low money down place at 5% down, so in that case I'd pay PMI but only have to come up with 2% for the down payment. Given how stupidly low interest rates are, buying a duplex like this and renting out half seems like the path I will probably take.

On the investment side, I am fond of ARKK lately, as well as its smaller funds, like ARKF and ARKG. This might be best for younger folks, or a good small % allocation if you're 40+ and have a large portfolio. I think the way they seek innovation aggressively is likely to end up well. You didn't need a ton of money invested in FAANG companies; even if you also bought Webvan or other dot-com hogs, the $1000 in Amazon would carry the team even if the rest are losers. ARKK seems like a good company that is likely to contain the real winners. But also quite risky in the short/medium term.

One harder question is, do I really want to contribute aggressively towards 401k, IRA, and HSA accounts? Robert Kiyosaki types argue these are not nearly as good as they seem, and my employer match is really crappy. You can't actually USE the money without paying taxes, 401k matches require vesting periods...etc. I'm in my early thirties, so the idea of waiting until 59.5 to withdraw without large penalties is not appealing.
 

Pavel

Pigeon
My goal is to buy a property in 2021 and start investing. However, I am holding back as everyone says there will be a huge crash in the property market.
 

Coja Petrus Uscan

Hummingbird
Gold Member
The other nice thing about RE investing, since I have my license

What do you think is good about it over holding REITs? I haven't kept tabs on it, but there were REITs down about 50-66% with forward yields fo about 10-15% in the March flash-crash. To me it seems holding those is a superior exposure: no hassle, broader exposure. There are also some Asian REITs that I am more interested in. Seems to me that being a land baron = problems with tenants, having an infrastructure to deal with tenants, paying insurance, replacing breakages and repairs, need to re-do interiors, taxes, bills etc. Seems REITs deliver the same gain with all that outsourced. If you want to build a RE empire over your life it makes some sense, but I don't see the benefit for small-time entrants.

********

I have a lot on the go this year. Probably not this year, but ASAP I would like to get a rural property, which I can grow into somewhere that has everything I need to survive comfortably with no need for interacting with the rest of the world.
 

cosine

Sparrow
To me it seems holding those is a superior exposure: no hassle, broader exposure.
The broader exposure is why I don't like it.
I understand a few specific real estate markets fairly well; I can purchase in small pockets that are more or less gold and highly resistant to economic collapse.
Also, if you get one AirBnB in the right spot at the right time and you are doing well. There are plenty of vacation rental managers who will deal with all the cleaning and etc for you.

Ultimately, yes, it is a "second job" and not truly passive. But, if you have a few properties that really cash flow well, you can quit your job and do what you want. Managing a few properties is not a difficult job. If you want less involvement, you can work harder to pay some debt down, and hire property management. Then you're really just picking up a check each month.
 

MtnMan

Woodpecker
I have a financial goal to purchase a 1 ton pickup, a 16 foot dump trailer and a 10,000 pound mini excavator to start doing excavation work on the side. I don't know if I can call it a primary financial goal, since its likely not going to make a ton more money than I do currently as a consulting engineer. However, I hate working at a desk job, and I have been doing this since 2006, and I am ready for a change.

My plan is to work part time at my engineering job and begin to pick up excavation work on the side. I have an extremely flexible job that would allow me to take a week or two off of unpaid time as needed.

I have been doing some bush-hogging work on the side, and have been around machinery, tractors and equipment my whole life. I do all of my own mechanical work, so I think I can make this work.

I have a friend who lives a mile away that does a variety of excavation, trucking, firewood production etc. and I plan to join him on a part time basis with my own LLC. He and I trust each other, and he is excited for the possibility of having someone else to work with who is reliable.

I am currently just banking as much money as possible so I do not have to make payments on any equipment while I try the industry out. This way I won't feel stressed if I spent a couple years just doing a few jobs per year.

Budget for the truck: $15000 (truck will be a 99-2003 f350 7.3 diesel, good trucks I've had one before)
Budget for trailer: $9000
Budget for used excavator $25,000


I currently have $21,000 saved, am working on finishing up a diesel converted Toyota Tacoma that I will sell for $10,000 and I will also sell my classic audi for $5000. I have a few other tractor implements that I no longer use that I can sell for a total of $1500, and an old bulldozer that I can sell for $2500.

My plan is to sell the above mentioned equipment/vehicles through 2021, thus giving me total liquid assets of $40,000. I will start to purchase equipment this year, probably truck and trailer first, and then get serious about finding the excavator in 2022.

I have a 15 month old little girl and will likely have another. I am also living in my house that I started building in 2017, and am still working on this project, so that requires a lot of work and money as well. We shall see how all this goes.
 

PUA_Rachacha

Woodpecker
I have a financial goal to purchase a 1 ton pickup, a 16 foot dump trailer and a 10,000 pound mini excavator to start doing excavation work on the side. I don't know if I can call it a primary financial goal, since its likely not going to make a ton more money than I do currently as a consulting engineer. However, I hate working at a desk job, and I have been doing this since 2006, and I am ready for a change.

My plan is to work part time at my engineering job and begin to pick up excavation work on the side. I have an extremely flexible job that would allow me to take a week or two off of unpaid time as needed.

I have been doing some bush-hogging work on the side, and have been around machinery, tractors and equipment my whole life. I do all of my own mechanical work, so I think I can make this work.

I have a friend who lives a mile away that does a variety of excavation, trucking, firewood production etc. and I plan to join him on a part time basis with my own LLC. He and I trust each other, and he is excited for the possibility of having someone else to work with who is reliable.

I am currently just banking as much money as possible so I do not have to make payments on any equipment while I try the industry out. This way I won't feel stressed if I spent a couple years just doing a few jobs per year.

Budget for the truck: $15000 (truck will be a 99-2003 f350 7.3 diesel, good trucks I've had one before)
Budget for trailer: $9000
Budget for used excavator $25,000


I currently have $21,000 saved, am working on finishing up a diesel converted Toyota Tacoma that I will sell for $10,000 and I will also sell my classic audi for $5000. I have a few other tractor implements that I no longer use that I can sell for a total of $1500, and an old bulldozer that I can sell for $2500.

My plan is to sell the above mentioned equipment/vehicles through 2021, thus giving me total liquid assets of $40,000. I will start to purchase equipment this year, probably truck and trailer first, and then get serious about finding the excavator in 2022.

I have a 15 month old little girl and will likely have another. I am also living in my house that I started building in 2017, and am still working on this project, so that requires a lot of work and money as well. We shall see how all this goes.
How much do you estimate you'd make per year with this excavation moonlighting?
 

MtnMan

Woodpecker
How much do you estimate you'd make per year with this excavation moonlighting?
It depends on how much work I do. Going rate is about $125 to $150 per hour. My primary goal is to transition to a line of work that I actually enjoy vs. sitting behind a computer all the time. That being said, I really need to make the same amount per year that I currently do. Trying to estimate operating costs, I would likely come home with $35-50 per hour after all expenses are paid. I currently make about $45 per hour at my desk job.

If you were full time into this as a one man band with a couple machines you could gross $125-150k per year if you were billable about half the time.

I have talked quite a bit with my friend about the finances. He grossed $300k last year as a 26 year old one man band. However, on paper he only made $45k profit. Of course, at the end of the year he bought a new dump truck and a couple other things to get his income down to that level. I think a lot of the people that do this type of work write off almost all of their normal life expenses and buy equipment to keep their income at a low level, but they live decent lives. Even though I bring home (on paper) twice as much as my friend, he definitely has more money to play with than I do.
 
I haven't worked since May 2020. I've been a leech of the state since then, they've given me 1500 euros per month during the lockdowns.

- My first goal of this year is to do like last year : work only 3 months to save 12000 euros, and leech the state to complete my monthly allowance.

- My second goal of this year is to sell my crypto portfolio that I bought at 6000 euros a few years ago. Now it's reached 14000 euros but I hope it will reach 50000 euros as I had envisioned in my calculations.

- My final goal of this year is to make some extra cash because I want to buy more expensive clothes :
  • Tailored pants (linen, cotton, wool)
  • Tailored shirts (linen-cotton, cotton, linen)
  • Nice jackets
  • Cool shoes
 

PUA_Rachacha

Woodpecker
It depends on how much work I do. Going rate is about $125 to $150 per hour. My primary goal is to transition to a line of work that I actually enjoy vs. sitting behind a computer all the time. That being said, I really need to make the same amount per year that I currently do. Trying to estimate operating costs, I would likely come home with $35-50 per hour after all expenses are paid. I currently make about $45 per hour at my desk job.

If you were full time into this as a one man band with a couple machines you could gross $125-150k per year if you were billable about half the time.

I have talked quite a bit with my friend about the finances. He grossed $300k last year as a 26 year old one man band. However, on paper he only made $45k profit. Of course, at the end of the year he bought a new dump truck and a couple other things to get his income down to that level. I think a lot of the people that do this type of work write off almost all of their normal life expenses and buy equipment to keep their income at a low level, but they live decent lives. Even though I bring home (on paper) twice as much as my friend, he definitely has more money to play with than I do.

Sounds like you've got a good game plan. Presumably you're going to moonlight on weekends/vacation until you feel like you could leave your job? My advice to you is to hang on to your current job as you as you can stand it, even though I totally feel you that a desk job is soul sucking (I'm about to enter 20 years of desk working with zero breaks).

Nonetheless, your $45/hour is much higher than that if your employer is covering health/life/disability insurance and co-funding FICA, 401k, etc. $35/hour is chicken scratch unless you live in a very low-cost area. And you have operational risk if excavation work dries up or if you get injured.

Is it possible to rent the equipment whenever you have a job to avoid having to plunk down $50k for equipment? That's what I would do as long as you had a decent profit margin. Just thinking outside of the box since $50k would go a long ways to paying down mortgage debt or investing long-term.
 

kel

Ostrich
  • Tailored pants (linen, cotton, wool)
  • Tailored shirts (linen-cotton, cotton, linen)
  • Nice jackets
  • Cool shoes
Where do you find linen pants that look nice and can be tailored? I like the idea of linen - the feel and that it's a natural material - but linen pants (and shirts) always look billowy to me. The fabric seems best suited to that kind of thing, though I'd like to be wrong.

I've been looking for a way to get all my clothes custom made for a while, to support a small business, but it's tough to find.
 
Where do you find linen pants that look nice and can be tailored? I like the idea of linen - the feel and that it's a natural material - but linen pants (and shirts) always look billowy to me. The fabric seems best suited to that kind of thing, though I'd like to be wrong.

I've been looking for a way to get all my clothes custom made for a while, to support a small business, but it's tough to find.

Well either you buy them off the rack and go to a tailor to taper them. Or you by made-to-measure pants from shops like SuitSupply, Spier and Mckay, or the online MTM brands like Propercloth. I prefer made-to-measure because once you find a fit that you like you can reorder the same pants in different fabrics quite easily.
 

MtnMan

Woodpecker
Sounds like you've got a good game plan. Presumably you're going to moonlight on weekends/vacation until you feel like you could leave your job? My advice to you is to hang on to your current job as you as you can stand it, even though I totally feel you that a desk job is soul sucking (I'm about to enter 20 years of desk working with zero breaks).

Nonetheless, your $45/hour is much higher than that if your employer is covering health/life/disability insurance and co-funding FICA, 401k, etc. $35/hour is chicken scratch unless you live in a very low-cost area. And you have operational risk if excavation work dries up or if you get injured.

Is it possible to rent the equipment whenever you have a job to avoid having to plunk down $50k for equipment? That's what I would do as long as you had a decent profit margin. Just thinking outside of the box since $50k would go a long ways to paying down mortgage debt or investing long-term.
You make all good points, I just calculated out what I make per hour, I make about $48 per hour, but no health insurance. Only benefit is a 3% 401k match.

I am thinking that I might like to work full time at my job in the winter and part time in the summer while I do some excavating to supplement the time off from the regular job. No plan to quit entirely in the immediate future. Like I said, my employer is extremely flexible. Tiny company where myself and one other guy run a satellite office.

Renting equipment is very possible. There are a few issues:
-not being familiar with a particular machine, you need some time to get used to operating it effectively
-rental costs quite a bit per day, a couple days rental can pay the equipment payment on owning something
-rental location is nearly an hour away, so add two hours of time for transport to any job, two hours that are not billable.

I would likely rent some specialized equipment, but I think it makes sense to start out with a main piece of equipment and supplement with rental as needed until it seems necessary to purchase something else.

Buying equipment is very expensive, but it does hold its value much better than things like cars and trucks. So, I should be able to get most of my initial investment back out if I find this wasn't a good idea.

I know this isn't the best thing to do with a chunk of $50k, but a big part of it is the passion I have to be outside and work with machinery. Its been a lifelong love, and I do quite a bit of it around my own property now. Really, its a shame that I followed the pressure to go to college for engineering, something I have never really enjoyed, but has afforded me a decent life thus far. Decent enough that I can consider this hairbrained idea.
 

cosine

Sparrow
A couple of tools I have found useful:

1. https://www.getspot.com/
Accident insurance for $25-35/month. If you get cancer, it won't help at all, but if you are a young person working a contracting job that pays well but doesn't afford you health insurance, this might be a good option. Especially if you pair it with Kaiser Bronze or some other garbage insurance plan; the enormous things get covered through the bronze plan, and breaking a bone gets covered through Spot.

2. www.blockfi.com
Even if you want to own zero bitcoin, since they are lending in the crypto world, they can award higher interest. So, you can get 8.6% interest for cash deposits, pays out monthly. They offer 6% interest on bitcoin too(!!). If you wanted to hold your liquid cash before purchasing excavating equipment or something, and don't want to risk fluctuations in the stock market for example, this could be a good option.



Also, @MtnMan, best of luck to you, I had a friend in CO purchase a lot to build a house. He found a surprisingly cheap plot ($100k) in a super expensive area, the catch was that he had something like $100k in excavation costs to lay the septic field, main plot, driveway, etc. The lot was so steep he had more than one excavator quit on him, and ultimately the company laying the foundation said they were all using tools that were far too small for the job. Had to move heaps and heaps of rock, use rock breakers repeatedly, etc. I visited one day and found out that one of the excavators was one of my former finance instructors at the university. I guess he was sick of office jobs too!
Seems like a fun activity, moving dirt and etc, far more engaging, and as long as construction is going on near you, it will be needed.
 
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