2023 Goals – Boring and Adventurous?

Foil balloons numbers 2023 on a pink background.

I am now firmly in the ‘boring’ middle years on my way to FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early)

2023 marks my sixth year of pursuing FIRE – time indeed waits for no man (or woman)! On some levels, the last 5 years have sped by in a blink of an eye. But it also feels like it’s dragged on. There are times when I’ve so wanted to be at the destination already. Patience has never been my virtue, haha!

Decade Goals

My decade goals (2020 – 2029) have not changed but there are dates against 2 of them now 🎉

1. Retire on 31 Dec 2026

2. Visit Antarctica – January 2027

3. Run a marathon

I am on track to retire earlyish at 55. Staying the course is very much the vibe as far as finances are concerned. However, I’m not delaying happiness ie I don’t want to wait until I retire to be happy. I want to live a happy and full life now. So I’ll continue to work on the non financial aspects of my life while staying the course on the financial part.

Visiting Antarctica is a matter of saving up for it and being able to take annual leave. I’ve never been able to take leave in January in the last 30 years of my working life. Colleagues with children always take priority at this time. So January 2027, it is – it’ll be my big trip to start off my retirement.

Running a marathon is still a goal. I just haven’t worked very hard towards it in the last 2 years. But I will start running again this year.

Are you READY to TAKE ACTION today?

🔥 practical tips & strategies

🔥 step by step guide

🔥 cut the overwhelm, second guessing & paralysis by analysis

2023 Goals

I started having a one word theme in 2022 – I found it really helpful at times when I wasn’t very motivated through the year. So I’d like to do the same this year.

My word for 2023 is Adventure ie I want to try new activities or experiences. I rediscovered what I loved in 2022. So it’s time for new adventures in 2023.

What will I focus on in 2023?

Goal 1 - Invest a Minimum of $30k into my Shares Portfolio

Why ‘minimum’ and not a concrete number?

Reason 1

My shares portfolio consists of individual shares in addition to ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) and LICs (Listed Investment Companies).

I bought individual shares before I learned about ETFs and LICs. I haven’t added to them since I first bought them. But being a fan of Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRP) means that my holdings have slowly increased as dividends were automatically reinvested.

It’s come to a point where their combined value would sustain me for a year if I were to sell them. So I’ve stopped participating in their DRPs as I no longer want to increase my holdings. This means I’ll receive cash dividends.

I’ve recently changed how I receive these cash dividends.

They are now deposited into the same account used to purchase my main ETF (that tracks the top 300 companies in the ASX). When the balance in this account (at my broker, Pearler) reaches a predetermined amount, it automatically purchases shares in this main ETF.

I’m far too lazy to work out which portion of the purchase dollars comes from dividends and which is from my weekly contribution. Therefore, as long as I’ve invested more than $30k, I’ll be happy.

This will be the last year in which I expect to invest this much into my shares portfolio. I will have to start saving cash in my final 3 years before I retire.


Reason 2

I started a new side gig as an auditor in January but I’m still in the training phase. While I know how much I’ll be paid per business I audit, I have no idea how many businesses I’ll be assigned per week. Plus I’m a subcontractor so I’ll have to set aside a certain percentage to pay tax and expenses.
I’m looking forward to this new adventure and how to deal with the extra erratic income.
The plan is to invest extra income from this job in the shares portfolio plus help with Goal 3 and 4. Unfortunately, income from my stable 4 day a week main job is not enough to sustain my $30k goal.

Goal 2 - Replenish my Emergency Fund

I am trying VERY HARD not to see my Emergency Fund as a slush fund. I feel secure having 6 months of living expenses in the fund. But anytime I need extra cash, I raid it.

I tried not having as much in it but in the end, I felt insecure so I’m back to saving up 6 months of living expenses. It’s at 5 months at the end of 2022 so it’s nearly there!

Goal 3 - Save $5000 in my Home Maintenance Fund

There are always home maintenance issues when you own a home. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because I need the security of my own home. I sleep better at night knowing that no one can kick me out of my home, as long as I can pay the annual local council fees.
Potential issues that I know will come up soon – replacing rangehood and stove; replacing hot water system; replacing window blinds (most are broken in some way)
I haven’t had any spare cash to send towards this sinking fund for a year so I’d really like to get a start on it this year. The extra income from my side gig  will contribute towards this goal.
Ideally I’d like $10k in this fund but happy with $5k for now.  I shouldn’t need to draw on my emergency fund as much if this sinking fund is fully funded. Then maybe I can feel safer with less in my emergency fund. We’ll see!

Goal 4 - Engage a Fee Only Financial Adviser

While I’m fairly confident with my strategy, I’d like a professional fee only financial adviser to cast their eye over it. And either assure me it’s going swimmingly well or tell me what I’ve overlooked.
There are 4 years including this year before I plan to retire so I’ll be able to make minor adjustments, if needed. I’ll keep you posted!
I am relying on the side gig to fund this goal too – otherwise I’ll have to raid the emergency fund again.
I know what you’re thinking – there’s a lot riding on this side gig. And it seems I’ve already spent the future income. In some ways, I have – in my head. I’ll adjust as reality hits, when I actually receive the income.

Goal 5 - Declutter

Yes, this has been an unspoken goal for years. I took it off the to-do list because it’s always too overwhelming and I’d set myself up to fail. But this year, I want to try again.
The impetus is I want a home office where I don’t have to pack up every time visitors come to the house. And I can actually eat at my dining table!
Right now my official study is my junk room. So I’m hoping if I proclaim decluttering as a goal here, I’ll be accountable to you. It’s worked for my finances!
Mind you, January is nearly over and I haven’t started yet.
Illustration of a Woman thinking some ways to Declutter an Office Space

Goal 6 - Go to bed at 11pm

I’m being very specific here – because I desperately need to improve my sleep. The more I read and learn about sleep and dementia, the more desperate I am to sleep better. There is a family history of dementia so if I can help myself, I should.
I’m also a very undisciplined person. Thankfully, finances can be automated which has helped me enormously. But I can’t automate my sleep, sigh!
I’ll just have to be adventurous and try different bedtime routines until it sitcks. Wish me luck!

Goal 7 - Go outside for 30 Minutes Every Day

I’m also being specific here because I wasn’t so good at taking care of my physical health in 2022.

But I’m not limiting what I do while I’m outside – it can be gardening, running, walking or having my coffee outside. I just have to be outside and not lie on the couch whenever I can.

Hopefully increasing my physical activity will stabilise my cholesterol and weight

Goal 8 - Do Something New or Visit Somewhere I've Never Been Before Every Month

This is where I will embrace my word Adventure (though my side gig will be pretty adventurous for me to start with). Its purpose is to set me up for a fantastic retirement. I want a retirement where I wonder when I had the time to work before!
I already maintain and constantly add to 3 lists –
1. Places to travel to / travel experiences
2. New activities I’d like to try
3. Activities that will keep me physically fit
So I’m committing to trying something new every month and it doesn’t have to be something monumental.
I’ll keep you posted along the way!

Final Thoughts

Am I too ambitious, wanting to achieve 8 goals in 2023? Maybe.
It’s because my finances are on autopilot to a certain extent and I know I’m tracking well to retire early at 55. That’s the boring part of my goals – stay the course. But that takes a weight off my shoulders and it frees me to embrace Adventure in other areas of my life.
I will also practise embracing the process more and not be attached to the outcomes.
Stay tuned – I’ll provide a progress report in July 🙂
Or follow me on Facebook or Instagram where I post more often.

What are your 2023 goals?

A Year of Rediscovery – My End of Year Review of 2022

Disclosure: Please note that I may benefit from purchases made through my affiliate links below, at no cost to you. Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support

It’s time to review 2022 and bid farewell.

It has been my annual practice to review and reflect on the year that has gone, before making goals for the New Year. This is a relatively new practice for me – it’s only been since 2019 when I reviewed my year of 2018.

I stumbled upon the concept of FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) in May 2018 at the ripe old age of nearly 47. And decided to embark on the journey even though I was way older than the traditional FIREes who had retired well and truly by 47!

What I couldn’t have foreseen then was that not only would I sort out my finances and accelerate my path to retirement but that I would also free up time. And time is so precious!

It didn’t happen overnight of course but year by year, I carved out more time for myself. Because as my money was being taken care of, my mind and energy were free to focus on other aspects of my life. And now I have time to reflect.

I went into 2022 with one word – Consistency.

Because I wanted to be consistent in all areas of my life and stop the start and restart cycle. But I found that I was consistent in some areas and consistently inconsistent in others!

In the end, I would describe my 2022 as a year of rediscovery.

It was also the year I caught Covid – you can catch up on that in my Mid Year 2022 Goals Review and Update

So without further ado, how did I go in terms of accomplishing my goals?

Goal 1 - Invest $30k in shares portfolio

This shares portfolio outside of my superannuation (retirement account) forms part of my ‘bridge-the-gap’ fund.

I need it to support me for the five years from age 55 to 60 ie the years when I can’t access my superannuation.

I was concerned that I may not be able to meet this goal because I started working 4 days a week from mid February (more on the non financial benefits later). Initially, I used long service leave to fund the day off but that eventually ran out in August.

Fortunately I picked up some short term evening shifts in September and October which supplemented my reduced income. I invested most of this extra income which helped me meet my goal in early December. Just in time, phew!

Are you READY to TAKE ACTION today?

🔥 practical tips & strategies

🔥 step by step guide

🔥 cut the overwhelm, second guessing & paralysis by analysis

Goal 2 - Make a will

I’m super proud to announce that not only did I make a will, but that I did the whole estate planning caboodle. That is, I now have instructions for what to do should I be so incapacitated, but not dead, that I can’t look after my own affairs. In some ways, this not being dead is scarier than being dead.

I wrote about my experience in this post – What happens when you die tomorrow? How to make a valid will

I can’t tell you how at peace I am now that it’s done. But I confess that it took me months before I read through the documents my lawyer sent me and thinking about who I’d like to be my executors and trustees etc.

It forced me to evaluate my relationships – who do I trust to look after my affairs when I’m dead or when I’m incapacitated? Who do I want to take care of? Which charities would I support?

Confronting one’s death is supremely uncomfortable!

I know it’s not a set once and forget forever deal and that I must review it annually or at least when my circumstances change. But the hard work is done & that peace of mind is real.

Goal 3 - Replenish my emergency fund

This was a fail.

I had raided my emergency fund in 2021 to pay for what I classified as home maintenance – the replacement of major appliances such as the oven, microwave, washing machine, painting of doors / window frames etc. In 2022, I raided it to pay for estate planning.

It’s hard not to see it as a slush fund but that discussion is for another post!

I was worried about the reduced income while working 4 days a week. In order to feel more secure, I decided to save an extra month of living expenses in my Bills account/sinking fund so I’d always be one month ahead. 

And so I ‘sacrificed’ replenishing my emergency fund for a few weeks. There was only so much money to go around! And I didn’t want to sacrifice investing in my shares portfolio.

My goal is to have 6 months’ of living expenses in my emergency fund. As at the end of December, I had 5 months of living expenses, so it’s not that far off.

Goal 4 - Make health and wellbeing a priority

This was neither a win nor a fail … I’ll explain.

Working 4 days a week drastically improved my mental wellbeing. Having a day off consistently in the middle of the week was truly the best thing I did in 2022. In the first few months, I spent the day off just lying on my couch, reading and napping. Yes, I struggled initially with being guilty because I wasn’t more productive. And then I didn’t care – I clearly needed the rest.

It gave me the mental space to work on projects I wanted to work on, such as this blog. I was able to join Masterminds and courses and worked on my mindset.

At the end of the year, I jumped on an opportunity and secured a side gig that was within my industry and would utilise skills I’d built up in the last 30 years. It’s the first job I’ve applied for in the last 30 years! So I was proud to be able to secure it. I know I wouldn’t have applied if I hadn’t been rested and open to opportunities.

My physical health, though is another story.

I’ve been suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain – pain n my jaw since July. It got so bad that I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to eat a Lindt ball. Now, that is DISTRESSING!

The biggest contribution towards this pain is the clenching and grinding of teeth in my sleep. Many years ago, my dentist made me a mouthguard but I haven’t worn it for the longest time. Hence, the pain now, sigh! But I found it again and had it adjusted. I started wearing it inconsistently but it’s more often than in the past. Hopefully, this will help to reduce the pain and my osteopath visits.

About a month before my holiday, my cholesterol was the highest it had ever been. My doctor gave me a few months to get it down or I’d have to start on medications. It’s happened before, a few years ago. So, AFTER my holiday, I worked hard to lower it. I succeeded but really need to maintain it now. I can’t continue to have this yo yo, up & down levels.

At the start of the year when the weather was warm, it was easy to fit in a morning walk before work. But after I returned from my holiday in sunny London in August, I found it difficult to get back into my routine in wet and cold Melbourne.

As a result, my sleep and physical exercise fell by the wayside.

The good news is that I have maintained my weight. I’m happy that I haven’t put on any extra weight in 2022. But like the cholesterol, it has fluctuated a lot during the year. Trying to lose weight in menopause is a real struggle!

My sleep is still not very good, despite reading Michael Mosley’s Fast Asleep – How to get a really good night’s rest. The information made a lot of sense but my biggest struggle is to get to bed on time every night and to reduce my blue light exposure. I like reading on my ipad in bed.

In summary, my mental wellbeing improved in 2022 while my physical health was a tad neglected. Hence the score of neither a win nor fail!


rocky steps in mist on the Storr trail in Skye
On the Storr trail at Isle of Skye

Goal 5 - Prepare for the non financial aspects of retirement

With 5 years to retirement, I decided it was time to work on the non financial aspects of retirement. I don’t want to wake up on a Monday morning after my last day of work the previous Friday, not knowing what to do. I know I’ll probably sleep in for the first six months, but then what?

I can confirm that I love reading. In fact, I read 74 books in 2022, most of which were fiction. I hadn’t set a goal – just read whenever I wanted. And it was often!

The majority of the books were borrowed from public libraries via the Libby app. It saved me from going nuts in a London attic while I had Covid. I did buy a few non fiction books as they were not available from my libraries.

The last time I travelled overseas was in 2019. So, after my trip to the UK in July, I can confirm that I love travelling – specifically exploring new places and eating the local cuisine (from the humble shortbread to fine dining). When the plane took off, I thought about how much I’d miss it – that feeling of freedom as I looked out at the clouds and anticipation of the fun ahead.

Thanks to Covid, I missed out on meeting up with Sam (Late Starter to FI Series #2) in UK. I managed to meet up with Weenie, a fellow late starter who shares her journey at Quietly Saving in Manchester. I’d never been to Manchester and hadn’t met Weenie before either. We exchanged photos and arranged to have dinner. But hilariously, we met at a random street corner waiting for the traffic light to change, earlier in the day. I was shocked when I heard someone behind me say “Excuse me, are you …?” It was such a comical moment! Literally, she was the only person I ‘knew’ in Manchester!

I had so much fun talking to Weenie over dinner. It was like we’d been friends forever. We had a lot in common and it was reassuring to know that someone else in a similar situation was progressing well to FIRE.

Before my holiday, I also met up in real life with Frogdancer Jones (Late Starter to FI Series #14) and Adulting World (Late Starter to FI Series #4). Once again, we all had a lot in common and it was such a joy to share our stories, progress and plans for the future.

So I can confirm that I love meeting up with like minded late starters pursuing FIRE. I can definitely do more of these meet ups when I retire.

I’ve loved re establishing my relationship with my little niece. The time spent creating new memories and building on old memories with her is so precious and worthwhile.

I used to love attending musicals & plays in my younger days, especially while on holidays. Yes, I can confirm that I still love them. In 2022, I ventured out to Hamilton in Melbourne; Life of Pi, Six and 101 Dalmatians in London. I also attended the Lume for the Van Gogh immersive sensory experience in Melbourne.

Of course, I can confirm that I still love eating – hello, cholesterol & weight struggles! I love researching where to eat, what to eat and then finally eating it – during my holidays as I’m bit more boring when I’m home.

I discovered I quite like hiking when I hiked a few trails in the Isle of Skye by myself. I can certainly see myself doing more hiking when I retire.

This was a bit more wishy washy as a goal – but I’m going to claim a win as I’ve rediscovered and confirmed activities that I love and who I like connecting with.


What's my progress to FIRE?

1. Superannuation

2 Graphs of superannuation growth 2022 and 2021

I have a 2 prong approach to achieving financial independence. As a late starter, my FIRE number is a bit more nuanced than the youngsters. Because I am closer to the age when I can access my superannuation compared to someone retiring at 30, superannuation forms a big part of my strategy.

I declared I reached Coast FI in April 2021 when my superannuation balance was at a point that it could reach my ‘number’ even if I didn’t invest another cent into it. The basis of that assumption was that it could reasonably double in 10 years at an average growth rate of 7.2%. I will be 60 at the end of that 10 year period which is when I can access my superannuation.

For context, my superannuation is invested in index funds – a mix of Australian and international shares. Besides my employer’s compulsory 10.5% contribution, I also salary sacrifice (ie contribute pre tax) $100 per week.

The balance was lower by $30k as at Dec 31, 2022.

Am I still at Coast FI? Yep. Because that growth rate of 7.2% is an average across the 10 years and there will invariably be good years and bad years. 2021 was just a stellar year!


2. Bridge the gap fund

I plan to retire early(ish) at 55 – that is 5 years before I can access my superannuation at 60. Therefore I need a bridge-the-gap fund 🙂

So my bridge-the-gap fund consists of cash and a shares portfolio.

Plan A was to sell down my shares portfolio to fund the five years before I can access superannuation. And having 2 to 3 years’ of living expenses in cash just in case the market isn’t very kind at the time I retire. In other words, to protect against sequence of returns risk.

However, as I started tracking my dividends, I discovered that maybe there was a chance that the dividends could support some of my living expenses and I wouldn’t have to sell the underlying shares.

So Plan B is investing in the shares portfolio until dividends can pay for half of my living expenses and having enough cash to pay for the other half. Surprisingly, the numbers I need for both Plan A and B are very similar. The picture will be clearer at the end of 2023.

As you can see from the chart above, I haven’t saved enough cash just yet. I’m still focusing on building my shares portfolio.

3. Dividend progress

So how is Plan B going, in terms of dividends?

As you can see from the chart above, my dividends have increased by 64% in 2022. This is despite the value of my shares portfolio being $5k less as at Dec 31, 2022 compared to 2021. And this is after investing $30k into it as per Goal 1.

The vast majority of my dividends is from the ETF that tracks the top 300 companies on the ASX. (Sorry, can’t tell you exactly because of ASIC’s restrictions)

Dividends in 2022 can pay for 35% of my projected retirement living expenses. So, fingers crossed, I’ll reach the 50% target soon. And then I’ll start saving cash in earnest. In the meantime, dividends will continue to be reinvested until I retire.

4. 2022 Expenses

An annual review is never complete without an expenses review, 🤣

The good news is that I spent 6.5% less in 2022 vs 2021.

And that is despite travelling overseas and indulging in expensive dining experiences.

So my top 5 spending categories in 2022 were:

1. Travel at 21.6%
My overseas holiday in July was funded by my Travel sinking fund – money I’d set aside consistently every week from my pay. This is my true guilt free spending account. Everything that I spent during my holiday was categorised under Travel, be it food or transport or anything else.

Also, in December, I paid for return airfares to London via Singapore for next July.

2. Financials at 16.6%
This is mainly professional fees and insurances associated with work plus estate planning lawyer fees.

3. & 4. Food and Health & Wellbeing equal tie at 13.5%
My biggest food month was in December because I had overseas visitors staying with me plus there was Christmas lunch 🦃 🦐 🦞 . I enjoy food and show love via cooking so food will always be a top spending category.

Due to TMJ pain, I’ve been visiting the osteopath more often. And also a massage therapist for sore shoulders during the first half of 2022.

5. Personal at 7%
Besides personal hygiene items and haircuts, I dump everything in this category that I don’t know what to classify under. So this year it included my Apple macbook! It was one of my favourite purchases this year so no regrets 🙂

I did spend more than what I’ve been budgeting for future retirement expenses (17% extra!) so it’ll be interesting to see if expenses for 2023 can be pared back a bit. This extra 17% accounted for the Apple macbook, return air fares to London for July 2023 and estate planning lawyer fees.

Final thoughts

All in all, 2022 has been a very full year for me.

Financially, it doesn’t look so good in that superannuation balances and my shares portfolio both fell in value. But my dividends improved and can cover 35% of my projected retirement living expenses. There is good news among all the bad news!

What I’m most happy about is the non financial aspects – finally having an estate plan in place, prioritising my mental health, working 4 days a week and rediscovering what I love doing and who I love spending time with.

Thank you, 2022 – it’s time to say farewell as I look forward to 2023 ❤️

How was your 2022?

Where can I send your
Monthly FIRE Goals Plan?

By signing up, you’ll also be added to my newsletter

You can unsubscribe any time, I promise.