2023 Goals Review And 16 Months Progress Report

It is the end of April 2024 as I write this – so a review of my 2023 goals is long overdue. Apologies, my friends!

My word in 2023 was Adventure. I wanted to discover new experiences and activities as I prepare for retirement.

Well … there were two new big experiences in 2023.

1. Working a second job or as the young ones call it, a side hustle

2. Having Mum who has dementia in respite care at 2 different aged care facilities

There were also 2 overseas holidays in there somewhere …

1. Working from home

Working a side hustle from home is wonderful. I finally get to experience what working from home feels like and … I love it!

As a healthcare worker through the pandemic, I still went into work every day so I never got to experience the highs and lows of working from home that the majority of workers experienced.

But it is time consuming. I work one full day plus before and after my main job which doesn’t leave me much time to do anything else. There are upcoming changes – I’ll keep you posted when they eventuate later in the year.

2. Mum in aged care

Having Mum in respite care twice in aged care facilities was an adventure I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The emotional toll was horrendous. Watching her not coping in the facilities was very difficult. It will not get any easier as her dementia progresses and Dad needs time off from being her primary carer.

All right, let’s recap on what my goals were in 2023. I had 4 financial and 4 non financial goals. How did I go?


Goal 1 - Invest $30k in my shares portfolio

This goal was not accomplished because of Goal 4!

A reminder – my shares portfolio is what I will use to fund the 5 years of living expenses when I retire at 55 as I can’t access my superannuation (retirement account) until aged 60. 

My financial adviser, Deline assured me that I was on track to retire at 55 (HOORAY!!!) and that I could STOP investing in my shares portfolio. At this stage, the balance was not where I wanted it to be but I had to trust the math.

On a side note, the balance as at the end of April 2024 has exceeded that figure in my head – the figure I thought I needed to see before I could stop investing. So I’m very glad I listened to Deline.

I must admit I couldn’t stop cold turkey. I reduced the amount for a couple of months before stopping completely. But when the market was down in October/November, I couldn’t resist and invested some side hustle income.

In the end, I invested about $14k which included cash dividends received.

Goal 2 - Replenish emergency fund

I feel secure having 6 months of living expenses in my Emergency Fund. It was fully fiunded but I raided it to replace major appliances that died in 2021/22.
This goal was finally accomplished in May 2023. It’s taken more than a year and accomplishing it felt really good because it was a goal carried forward from 2022.

Goal 3 - Save $5k in home maintenance fund

This goal was accomplished, thanks to my side hustle income.

So I decided to aim for $10k.

I always wanted to have $10k in my home maintenance fund but didn’t think I could achieve it in one year so aimed to save $5k instead.

Because of this fund, I was able to take advantage of state government rebates and installed an electric heat pump hot water tank.

My original gas hot water tank was 7 years old. I didn’t want it to die in the middle of winter, forcing me to decide quickly to install anything recommended by the plumber. Which was what happened previously.

This is part of my plan to switch to an all electric house ie bye bye gas forever. There is still the central gas heating and stove to go – I’m waiting for more government rebates.
By the end of 2023, the Home Maintenance Fund was 90% funded.
Since I’ve been regularly contributing to this fund, I haven’t needed to raid my Emergency Fund.

2024 update – the dishwasher’s electronic control panel decided to die out of warranty, of course. So the home maintenance fund came to the rescue again.
And in February 2024, the fund is fully funded, YAY!!!




Goal 4 - Engage a fee only financial adviser

Mission accomplished.
I didn’t have a good experience at the start of 2018 after I’d pay off my mortgage and was wondering what to do with the ‘excess’ money that would have gone to the mortgage.

I had about $10k surplus at the time. I knew I should invest it but didn’t know what to do. No one was interested in talking to me. The guy at the bank said it wasn’t worth my while to engage him.

But thankfully, since then I discovered the FIRE community, educated myself and improved my financial literacy significantly.

All the saving and investing I’ve done so far is DIY. So I wanted an expert to cast their eyes over my numbers and tell me categorically if I’m heading in the right direction. I figured there is still time to course correct if I’m not!

I found Deline from Instagram. I had been following her for a while and liked her posts so I felt comfortable reaching out. Knowing that she understood FIRE was also important to me. It saved lots of explaining, haha.

Over the course of a few months and 3 meetings over Zoom, she worked through all my numbers. Based on what I told her I’d like to spend in retirement, she confirmed that I was on the right track. Phew! And could in fact, increase my spending a little. Believe me, hearing that was so comforting!

And as a result of her advice, I started new goals which I’ll detail below.


Goal 5 - Declutter

This goal was a massive fail!

I even enrolled in Joshua Becker’s 12 week online course, Uncluttered but didn’t do the work. The timing was unfortunate because the side hustle was starting at the same time. I can access the course at any time but haven’t done so again.

I just work in my cluttered study with towering boxes of stuff around me …

Sigh! I’m thinking this is one of those goals that will be accomplished when I finally retire – surely there’ll be no excuses then!

Goal 6 - Go to bed at 11pm

I would describe this as a semi failed goal. 
But I’m not giving up.

I succeed for the most part but get derailed on nights when I don’t have to work the next day.
This will be an ongoing goal.


Goal 7 - Go outside for 30 minutes every day

This goal can also be described as a semi failed goal.
I definitely do not achieve it daily but will try to make up for it on weekends. What having this goal has achieved is to raise my awareness of how little time I spend outdoors. It is much easier to achieve when I’m on holidays and exploring new territory.

So once again, this will be an ongoing goal.


Goal 8 - Do something new or visit somewhere I've never been before every month

This was definitely much easier when I was on holidays and exploring new places. I found it much harder to do at home though it started off well at the beginning of the year.

I visited and joined new libraries. Ok, this may have contributed to the semi failed status of Goal 7. I was able to borrow more books on my Libby app 🙂 And ended up reading 93 books in 2023.

Discovering park runs also contributed to time spent outdoors. I was participating in a 5km park run every week. And even participated in one for 2 weeks in London. But once I came back from my holidays, it was winter and I never went again until March 2024.


I visited Sydney, London, Amsterdam and Hong Kong in 2023. There was some work involved in Sydney but overall, I was on holidays.

I certainly enjoyed new experiences in these cities I’ve visited before in the past.

 – pattiserie/cafe crawl and omakase in Sydney
– explored canals in London, West End shows and of course, afternoon teas in various establishments
– visited art galleries, museums in Amsterdam and The Hague; enjoyed learning about windmills in Kinderdijk
– ate my way around and hiked new-to-me trails in Hong Kong. It was also a new experience to win a flight ticket to Hong Kong during their promotion to attract tourists back to the city
And now we come to the additional financial goals I set after the consultations with my financial adviser.


New goal 1 - Future car fund

I currently drive a work car so will need to purchase a car when I retire. The plan is to buy the car I’m currently driving from my employer.
The set amount from my weekly pay that was going to purchase shares was diverted to this fund instead.

It was 74% funded at the end of 2023.
2024 update – I am ecstatic to report that it is now 100% funded by the end of April 2024! Vroom vroom!!


New goal 2 - 2 years of living expenses cash buffer

The short answer is I did not make a start on this fund in 2023. 

At first, my plan was to use the side hustle income to save towards the 3 cash goals – home maintenance fund, future car fund and 2 years of living expenses fund.

In the end, I found it easier to use my side hustle income (which is variable per month) for the home maintenance fund and a regular amount from my main job towards the car. It was driving me insane watching all the funds grow at a snail’s pace.

Now that both the smaller funds are fully funded, I will direct everything towards the 2 year living expenses fund. And when this is fully funded, I can retire!

The purpose of this fund is to ensure I have cash on hand in case the market falls which in turn means the value of my share portfolio falls, just when I need to access funds at the beginning of my retirement. I will draw on my cash reserves instead of selling shares in that event.

More progress report …

Annual expenses in 2023

I spent 13% more in 2023 compared to 2022. 
The extra expenses were due to general inflation but the main increase was in home maintenance – installing the electric heat pump and fixing the electrical switchboard. I also started having a fortnightly cleaning service from September 2023, fully funded by my side hustle income. My travel expenses were roughly the same as in 2022. Food costs were 1% higher.

My income increased by 25%, thanks to my side hustle.

My savings rate was 42% (based solely on after tax income) which was a small improvement (increased by 3%) compared to 2022.


Net worth

My net worth grew by 21% 🙏

I have not included my paid off home in this figure. I don’t plan to move and haven’t kept up with the value of similar properties in the area. There is a lot of construction work in my suburb, with old houses replaced by gigantic units.

My net worth therefore consists of the value of superannuation, shares portfolio and cash accounts.
There were also 2 exciting milestones reached in the past 16 months.


Milestone 1 - $1M invested

My investments totalled $1 million 😮 at the end of 2023!
This is purely a combination of my superannuation (retirement account) and the shares portfolio outside of superannuation.
It wasn’t something that I was looking out for so it came as a surptise when I calculated my net worth at the end of December 2023 and realised a significant milestone was reached.
The predominant feeling I felt was RELIEF. The “end” is truly in sight now.

Milestone 2 - Superannuation balance doubled

My superannuation balance has doubled since 2018, the year I started to pay attention to it. During this period of 6 years, there were only 2 years when I maxed out the contributions.
When I reached Coast FI in April 2021, it had increased by 1.5 times. Since reaching Coast FI, I reduced my salary sacrificing drastically and relied mainly on mandatory employer contributions.

I cannot access my superannuation until 2031, when I turn 60 and no longer working. That’s 7 years away. Dare I hope that the market will be kind and another doubling occurs? I’ll update you on the progress 🙂


Final Thoughts

Until I sat down to write this post, I had no idea of how much was achieved in 2023!

Financial goals are being ticked off and milestones reached that I wasn’t even paying attention to.

And having only one more financial goal to aim for before I can quit work is doable even though the amount I need is quite high. But I still have two and a half years to go.
I did not factor in the time required for my side hustle in 2023. I am faster at the work now but the workload has also increased in 2024. But I am most grateful for the income it’s bringing in and the financial goals I’ve been able to tick off, purely because of the extra income. So I’m not complaining.

Overall, while my non financial goals were only semi successful, I’m happy to continue trying – I was aiming to enjoy the process and not focus on outcomes so much.

There you are – that’s my 2023 done and dusted. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook if you would like more regular updates or progress reports.

What will the rest of 2024 bring, I wonder?


Is it too late to ask ... how was your 2023?

Late Starter to FI Series #37 – Enough Time To …

photo of water, sky and mountain

Welcome to the Late Starter to FI series!

I am a Late Starter – I did not discover FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) concept until I was 47. This was way later, I thought than others who seem to have it all together in their 20s and 30s.

Since I started to write about my own journey, I have discovered there are many more Late Starters like me, yay! It is such a relief knowing I am not alone. 

I want to share our stories, our unique perspectives and show that it is absolutely not too late for us.

So in this series, I particularly highlight those of us who start our FI journeys in our 40s, 50s and 60s. And explore questions such as ‘where do we start’, ‘can we still retire early(ish)’, ‘what are the specific challenges for us late starters’. We look at our past, not to castigate ourselves but so that you can learn from us.

Please join in the conversation in the comments below. I encourage you to share your story if you fit the profile of a late starter. You absolutely don’t have to be a blogger or podcaster to share your story. 

Please email me at info@latestarterfire.com or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

And if you’ve missed any of the previous stories, you can catch up here – Late Starter to FI Series


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

photo of water, sky and mountain
More time to enjoy nature

I’m excited that today’s Late Starter, Mrs ETT agreed to share her story. She’s a frequent commenter on this blog (thank you!) and used to blog at Enough Time To.

I didn’t realise that our stories had a lot of similarities, one of which was that we’d both paid off our homes when we found FIRE.

Mrs ETT no longer blogs at her site so please comment below as a way of connecting with her.


A little about me

Thanks, Latestarterfire, and hello fellow FIRE followers!
Mr ETT and I are DINKS who moved to regional New South Wales in 2018. I work in data after a varied career in science, health support and a small stint in teaching. Mr ETT works in cybersecurity.
We are in our late 40s/early 50s. I used to blog at enoughtimeto, about using FIRE to buy time to do all the things I want to do. Like blogging again, for example …


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Childhood memories of money

I had an upbringing in the 70s where Dad worked and Mum stayed at home, until we reached high school (I think?). I guess we were middle class. Money didn’t feature strongly in my childhood.
My earliest money memory is going on an excursion to the Australian Museum in primary school. We were allowed to take money to spend at the shop. I can’t remember what I bought, but it was all for me.
When I got home, instead of being excited, Mum accused me of being selfish for not buying things for the family. I still remember that she said, “you used to be so generous”. I couldn’t have been older than 10.
Another memory is that we were all at the bank, and Dad had withdrawn a chunk of cash, which was placed in an envelope. I’d never seen so much money! I was excited and tried to ask them about it, but (rightly) I was shut down because it had to be a secret that he was carrying it on his person.
I got my first casual job at 14 years and 9 months old. We were paid in yellow envelopes that I walked straight to the bank with and deposited. Mum taught me to budget in a lined notebook, but even then, there was no discussion of household finances, other than we were expected to pay a token amount of board.
I think all these experiences added up to me being a saver. Spending it in the wrong way got me into trouble; money is secret and needs to be controlled.
Of course, since discovering the FIRE community, I’m learning that there are other ways to think about and use money.

Lightbulb moment

We had paid off our mortgage, and I was feeling lost. I don’t like debt, so we paid extra on every single payment from the beginning (interest rates ranged from 6% to 9%).
Once that was done, however, there was no new goal. I had no clue that there even could be one!
We succumbed to some lifestyle creep, but the feeling that we should be doing more became so uncomfortable that I started adding extra to our Superannuation (retirement account). It was the only thing I knew about at the time.
The story of how I discovered the life-changing world of FIRE has been told on Adventures with Poopsie’s blog. That must have been around 2015/16, so I was in my early 40s.
Latestarterfire – I love your Frugal Hound story – Mrs Frugalwoods inspired me to start living more frugally too. That blog post was published in 2018 – it’s so amazing what you’ve achieved since then!

Our financial situation then

At the time, we had little to no debt. Maybe a car loan? But by then we were borrowing a maximum 50% of the value of a car so it wouldn’t have been much. These days, we save for replacement cars, no more loans.
The only retirement savings we had were in Super, and we weren’t contributing extra. We had paid off the home loan using an offset account, which I kept open to act as an Emergency Fund. Of course, at the time I didn’t know that’s what it was called.
I had some NRMA shares that had been parcelled out to members when they initially floated, so no work/research done by me.

I also held a Perpetual Managed Fund, as it had been recommended in Money Magazine, but again, I didn’t understand it. At all. When I finally closed it, I realised it was a balanced approach that had probably lost me money over the years. Live and learn.

First steps on the path to FI

Reading, reading, reading and more reading! Also listening to some FIRE podcasts.
I think my first action step was to put a small amount of money into Acorns (at the time, Raiz now). That allowed me to dip my toe in the water with about $1000 and get a feel for how the markets moved up and down.
After that, we opened a Vanguard Managed Fund. That is still where the bulk of our savings outside of Super lie. I also started using YNAB and revising our expenses down.
More time to visit wineries

How far along the path to FI are we now?

Unbelievably further than I thought we could be. I find it gob smacking how simply having a plan and implementing it can grow your money so significantly.
Sometimes I think the numbers can’t be real, and I find myself back in the spreadsheets and double checking the budget. We are about 70% along, and we’ve never been hard-core FIRE. I used to feel sad seeing other people’s savings rates and comparing ours. Yet, even so, here we are!
How do I feel? This is hard. Suddenly, the end is in sight.
There is a real possibility we can retire in 5 years, but we are in the long, boring middle. We are Coast FI and Flamingo FI.
Latestarterfire – Coast FI is where you’ve saved enough that you’d reach FI at traditional retirement age without investing a cent more;
Flamingo FI is coined by Money Flamingo – where you’ve saved half your FIRE number and you’ll reach FIRE in the next 10 years without investing any more (assuming a 7% rate of returns) You can semi retire and just need to work enough to support your current lifestyle.
Mr ETT has been making serious noises about enjoying our time now instead of waiting. I also worry that I spend too much of my time envisioning the future, and not enough living in the present.
Hearing about the whole Die with Zero* conversation (I haven’t read it yet), we are fighting to establish a new normal. If we let go a bit, can we still reach FI at 55?
Do we still want to fully retire, or would/could we continue working, just less? Will our FIRE number increase if we start spending more?
Although this is confusing and a bit painful, to be honest there’s no wrong answer. Whatever we decide will bring its own benefits.
*Latestarterfire – I have read it and I like the philosophy. It’s about doing things with your money while you can. For example, there are things on your bucket list that are meant to be done at certain ages. It’s too late to backpack around Europe in your 70s.
It’s not about being irresponsible with money. And if you want to leave a legacy to your family or charity, then set aside that amount of money first and spend the rest. Instead of spending your money and leaving the leftovers to your family/charity when you die.

How did COVID affect our strategy?

COVID didn’t change our strategy. We were both lucky enough to work in industries that weren’t affected, although we had relatives who couldn’t work due to stay at home orders.
But the relief of being where we were with our FIRE savings can’t be overstated. Even if both of us lost our jobs, we could have continued with no change in lifestyle. If called upon, we could have helped our family members.
We are so grateful to the entire FIRE community for sharing their knowledge and experience.

Specific challenges or advantages of starting late

Time is the challenge. But as I said above, even when you think you don’t have enough time, you might be completely surprised at what you can achieve.

“Early” is relative. When we first started FIRE, our initial goal was to retire before pension age, at 67. Then it dropped to 60. Now our stretch goal is 55. If you’d told me that in 2016, I would have laughed and laughed.

Starting late means we have life skills, and a whole range of contacts. Hopefully we have more experience in research and the ability to take a balanced look at things.

Depending on our past, we might be earning more than we’ve ever done. And if nothing else, maybe we can look back at our pre-FIRE selves and enjoy the memories of what we did with the money back then 😀

What's next?

Figuring out whether we continue to push for the next five years, or whether we slow down and take a Flamingo FI approach. Or maybe some balance between the two. Continue to read and listen to others in the FIRE community, and to share the concept in person where there’s some interest. Maybe one day I’ll begin blogging again!

Back to Latestarterfire

Thank you, Mrs ETT for sharing your story!

It’s interesting to read about your childhood money memories and how that has shaped you as a saver. It reminds me that we can unwittingly pass on our money stories to the younger generation.

I totally agree with you that it’s “gob smacking how simply having a plan and implementing it can grow your money so significantly.” It’s hard to envision it when we first begin our FIRE journey. And that’s why it’s so important to just start anyway.

I think we are at the same stage of our FIRE journey. I know exactly what you mean by the long, boring middle 🙂 You can see that the end is in sight. But you’re not quite there yet.

I feel your questions keenly – “If we let go a bit, can we still reach FI at 55? Will our FIRE number increase if we start spending more?” because these are the same questions I ask myself.

It’s all a balancing act and I can’t wait to see what you decide in the end. Whatever you decide, you’ll have enough time to spend in nature and visit wineries 🙂


Are you in the long, boring middle years of pursuing FIRE? What are your thoughts about reaching your destination?

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