Or, “30 before 35.”
That’s right, this post gets two titles. I was talking to a friend recently, just before their 30th birthday. They mentioned that they had one item left on their 30 before 30 list which they were planning to do later that week. I thought this was a really cool idea, but seeing as my own 30th was equally close I didn’t really have much time left to make my own list, let alone finish it!
Nonetheless, I liked the idea, so I’ve spent some time recently trying to come up with some goals to achieve over the next five years.
Personal Finance & Work
1. Have two years salary in my stocks and shares ISA
There was an article recently based on a study by Fidelity that said that people my age should aim to have saved one year’s salary by their 30th birthday, and two year’s salary by the time they turn 35. It caused a lot of uproar at the time, and perhaps for good reason. People my age are under a lot of pressure financially; saving a deposit for a house, planning to have children, low wage growth, potentially having to care for elderly relatives, etc. But that doesn’t mean that we can just forget about retirement, even if it is potentially 30-40 years away. The UK state pension is already barely enough to live on, and I imagine it will only get worse as time goes on. I personally don’t think the state pension will ever disappear, but it may become means tested, or the government may remove the triple lock, allowing inflation to erode the spending power of the pension. So, it’s obviously very important to plan for the worst! So with that said, I aim to have two years salary, or approx £60K, invested in my S&S ISA by the time I turn 35.
2. Have a 15% deposit saved in my Lifetime ISA
I’ve read that the best mortgages are typically for 85-90% of the value of the house. I don’t expect my potential first home to cost more than £200,000. 15% of that is £30,000, so my aim is to have that amount in my LISA. To achieve this, I’ll try to pay in £4K per year for five years, which will then be topped up by £1K each year by government. Unless they decide to scrap the LISA. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon. I paid in £4K last year and have another £4K sat in a savings account, which I intend to pay in before the end of this tax year.
3. Maintain an emergency fund of 3 months expenses
Having some amount of cash that you can easily access should things go wrong is incredibly important for a person’s peace of mind. Whether you lose your job or are hit with an unexpected costly life event, having the ability to whether the storm and not resort to expensive credit cards or payday loans is vital. For me personally, I think three months worth of expenses (approximately £5000) is enough. My goal is simply to maintain this in whatever happens to be the highest paying current account at the time.
4. Increase savings rate to above 25%
The above three goals are going to require me to save about £45,000 over the next five years. I currently put away £500 per month. If I keep that up for five years, that should add up to £30,000. This is obviously somewhat short of my target amount! Therefore I need to save more between now and then. I’m aiming to increase my savings rate to 30% whilst my girlfriend is still studying for her PhD, and then increase it again to 50% once she starts working.
5. Earn £1000 per month from a side job
This goes hand in hand with my fourth goal. My girlfriend and I are already fairly frugal, as you can see by checking out my monthly spending reports. There’s only so much more we can cut out before we start seriously impacting our enjoyment of life! So, just as in goal four, if I want to reach my savings targets that I’ve outlined above, I will probably need to earn more money. Whether that’s from matched betting or some other thing, I don’t know yet, but I’m going to research various ideas and see what happens.
6. Either progress in my current career, or change careers to something that I enjoy more
Or, as I read on another blog, “establish your dream job, and do everything it takes to land it.” I don’t mind my current job. But it’s not something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. I intend to spend the next year or two trying to figure out what I actually do want to spend it doing, and then start working towards that.
7. Make a personal website
I recently read about the importance of building a personal brand, which has inspired me to attempt making my own personal website. I think it will be useful, whether I decide to continue progressing in my current career or if I decide to switch paths. If nothing else, it can act as an online CV linking to any of my other online presences (LinkedIn, Researchgate, etc).
8. Write a book and put it on amazon
I like reading. And I have a lot of half-formed ideas in my head for a story, so I’d really like to give writing a try. I think it will be cool to experience the whole process of writing a book; not just the writing itself, but designing a cover, putting it on amazon, seeing it in print, etc. I wouldn’t expect to make any money from it, I just think it would be fun. Plus, it would be pretty cool to say that I’m an author.
9. Grow this blog to have 1000 unique visitors each month
I don’t know if this is a large number of readers for a blog like this. But, considering that, as of writing this, I have put almost zero effort into promoting the website and have had maybe two visitors as a result, it seems like a pretty large number to hit! I’ll start promoting it once I’m happy with how the site looks.
10. Start a business
Super vague goal. But one thing I don’t like about my job is reporting to a boss and having to do what they tell me to do. Clearly, in some respects, I have not matured at all since I became a teenager! In theory, running your own business would mean that you don’t have to answer to anyone higher up. In practice, I’m aware that running a business is extremely difficult, stressful and risky, and that most businesses fail in their first year. But then, if it ends up being enjoyable (and somewhat profitable), that all sounds worth it to me.
11. Volunteer with a charity or get involved with a community project
I spoke recently with another friend of mine from my PhD years, and he was telling me about some of the community projects he has been involved with over the last year. To say I was impressed was an understatement. I’m not rich, but I do recognise how fortunate I have been in my life so far. So I want to start doing something that “gives something back.” Not only that, but the things that my friend was doing sounded really fun; in one case helping to promote women in science and encourage more female students into his field.
12. Read more
I go through phases of reading several books at once, then I won’t read anything for a few weeks, then repeat. Which is annoying, because there are still so many books out there that I’m interested in. My goal is to read at least a book a month. I say this, rather than “read 60 books,” because it sounds much more achievable and less daunting. Even though they are both the same thing. The human mind is funny at times.
13. Learn a new skill
Kind of vague, but I wanted to leave this one open. Could be programming, a new language, an instrument, etc. I just want to challenge myself to start learning something new and to then stick with it.
14. Relearn how to drive
I passed my driving test over 10 years ago. I bought a car and drove all over the place during my gap year. Then I sold it, for not much less than I bought it for, when I started university. And I haven’t driven since! Whilst I don’t intend to buy a car anytime soon, I do want the option to rent a car and drive it if the need arises. I currently don’t have the confidence to do that just yet; far too worried that I’ll crash into something or someone!
15. Take some online courses
It’s never been easier to gain degree-level knowledge in a completely new area. Coursera and edx are both great resources for learning new things, for free, from the comfort of your own home. There are also plenty of other websites as well that offer paid courses (such as Udemy). I need to take advantage of these and push myself to learn something new. I mentioned in a previous spending report that I had bought a cheap basic accounting course, so that one is first on my list. I’m going to work my way through that one and then go from there.
16. Attend an FI meetup
I believe there is a strong FI community in the UK (as evidenced by the huge number of bloggers!), especially in London. I’d like to make it to one of the meetups and just see how it goes. On the one hand, it will be terrifying; I am awful at approaching new people to talk. But on the other hand, I have read some good things about them and, really, what’s the worst that could happen?
Fitness and Health
17. Run a 5K race
18. Run a 10K race
19. Run a half marathon
Obviously these all involve the same activity, just with increasing difficulty. I can currently just about manage a 5K run on a treadmill, so my plan is to start running outdoors. I should be able to tick off the 5K and 10K run by this time next year. That should then put me in a great place to start training for a half-marathon.
20. Ten consecutive pull ups
Pull ups have always eluded me. I can just about manage one.
21. Start doing yoga once a week, and keep it up
I’m a pretty tall guy who spends most of the day sat in an office. This leads to not very great posture, some weak muscles, other tight muscles, etc. Several members of my family have had back issues in the past, so I’m hoping that starting some sort of yoga and maintaining some amount of flexibility can help me avoid having similar problems. Plus, I’ve seen 50+ year old women doing what looks like pretty hardcore yoga and bodypump sessions at the gym, putting me to shame. I want to be equally fit and healthy when I’m older. I think the old saying “use it or lose it,” is very true when it comes to fitness!
22. Start (and continue) a new (active) hobby with my girlfriend
My girlfriend and I probably spend far too much time playing videogames! Which is very fun, but at the same time, not particularly productive. We would both like to dial it back somewhat and try out a new active hobby together. We already go to the gym twice a week, but we want something else that’s more specific and interesting. She’s particularly interested in trying a dance class. So, despite my complete lack of coordination, I imagine we will give that a try at some point.
23. Family holiday
The last time I went on a family holiday was during my PhD. Now that I’m back living in the UK, I think it’s high time that I make more time for my family and one way to do that would be to start going on more holidays with my parents and brothers once again.
24. Visit America
I’ve never visited America. My girlfriend is from America. And one of my best friends recently moved to America. Seems to me like I have several good reasons to make the trip!
25. Visit Spain
Another good friend of mine from my time working abroad is living in Spain with his wife. I’d love to visit and reconnect, and maybe start working together once again on another project.
26. Go to a festival
The idea of a festival always seemed alien to me. Sure, I like music, but spending three days in a muddy field with no proper showers or toilets!? No thanks. But some friends recently got married and had a camping wedding. Despite my trepidation, it was actually pretty fun! And now the idea of going to a festival has been planted in my mind.
27. See the Pyramids in Egypt
I’ve seen some amazing historical sites – the Great Wall of China, the Acropolis in Athens, Stonehenge, the Roman Colosseum. But top of my list are the Pyramids in Egypt. I used to be fascinated by the Ancient Egyptians when I was younger, reading any book I could find about them. I suppose I lost some of that enthusiasm as I grew older, but I still think it would be incredible to see them up close. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how safe Egypt is to visit anymore. Hopefully the country has better luck over the coming years!
28. See the Northern Lights
You can thank Phillip Pullman for this one. Wonder if I could see any armoured bears ?
29. Go Skiing
I’ve never been skiing, and several of my friends often rave about how much they love it. Whilst I’m dubious, I would still love to give it a try. What is life without experiencing new things and pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations every now and then?
30. Go Scuba Diving in South-East Asia
Two friends of mine spent 2-3 months touring south-east Asia, and said that one of their best experiences was scuba diving in Thailand. After they way they described it, I resolved to myself that I would give it a try one day. I didn’t get the opportunity whilst actually living in Asia, but there’s no reason why I can’t go back to give it a go!
Well, I think I have plenty to keep me busy over the next five years! I’ll revisit these goals every so often to check my progress and post how I’m doing on this blog.