21 in 2021 Challenge: Save $21,000

2021 is finally here. We can only hope it is better than 2020, right?

We are growing the 20 in 2020 challenge for 2021…slightly… by 5%

The goal is simple, but not easy: save $21,000 this year.

  • If saving $21,000 of your salary isn’t practical - or if you make less than, say, $80,000 - consider the alternative [21 in 2021 Challenge: Save 21% in 2021]. Both get the same sticker, but the threads will have people at similar income/challenge levels.

Basic rules:

  • The goal is to save $21,000 in 2021. If you make $60,000 per year, that’s 33% of your overall income.
  • If your income is not in USD, you can choose to save 21K in your currency (i.e. $16,344.51 USD for Canadians or $15,967.14 USD for Aussies) OR save the equivalent to $21,000 USD (i.e. currently $26,980 CAD or $27,620 AUD). Just state the path and exchange rate you’re choosing (feel free to choose based on what makes sense for you.)
  • You can combine any type of savings: emergency fund, 401K, Super, IRA, taxable investments, buffer, house down payment fund, student loan payments - to reach your goal.
  • You can choose household or individual savings, whichever you prefer.

What Counts

  • Debt repayment counts towards your savings total!
  • Mortgage principal (but not interest or escrow) counts.
  • Only savings that occurs between 1/1/2021 and 12/31/2021 count
  • If you are already retired, you can count savings that you made after distributions (like pulling from a pension, etc).
  • You can use tax refund or any other windfall money towards your total savings.

What do you get:

  • Support on this thread as you go along - post monthly or quarterly check-ins as appropriate
  • A forum badge when you are halfway - at your $10,500 goal - for the year
  • A forum badge when you complete your $21,000 goal for the year
  • A sticker mailed to you for completing your $21,000 goal for the year
  • A shoutout on the podcast for reaching your goal!

Please Tag @moderators when you hit any goals so we can get you your badge!

Here’s all the 21 in 2021 Challenges:


We have so much going on in 2021 but I’m signing up for this anyway. Failing spectacularly would be good for me.

Goal is $21k AUD. What I want to get out of this challenge is managing cashflow and keeping standard expenses low.

Superannuation doesn’t count because it’s government mandated, unless we decided to add extra. Bonus does not count. Money from tax returns DO count, even if they were from the year before. That motivates me to actually get the thing done.
Money paid out of the money we’ve set aside for renovation expenses is considered separate from “spending” for this, for us. That will absolutely go down and I expect to have less cash by the end of the year, but I’d like an extra $21k to put down on the new mortgage than we were expecting to have.


I should still be able to do this? Going to base it on my income of $75k, since Greyman’s income will be somewhere between $? And $??.

I plan to max out my 401k so that will get me most of the way there. I also want to save at least $1k a month from my take home pay if I can swing it, though the ideal number to hit our ultimate goal is $1778/month.


I am in, I think I will go for $21k USD or $27620


  • Voluntary Super
  • Mortgage Paydown
  • Regular savings

In and counting 401k/HSA/IRA, house fund, and extra payments on student loans.

In for us, counting IRA, HSA, 403b, 457. We may have new adventures in Roth versions of these.

The IRA money will likely mostly come from pay from 2020, but I don’t count money as saved until it’s in a retirement or investment account. I’ve been doing taxes to see where things stand and then maxing IRA for quite a few years now, so I counted our 2019 IRAs as saved in 2020 (because they were), the 2018 in 2019, etc.

ETA also counting my pension contribution.


I’m in! Mortgage, RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts. I don’t like to include cash savings as that usually delegated for some big spends, of which I have one for sure in 2021.

1 Like

I am in.
I will save 21,000 EUR or $ 25,662

Out is bonus payment and tax return.
As I am debt free, transfers to a savings account will be the only measurement.


I’m In. Counting house principal, retirement contributions, any locking away of money into an account for long term/not this year like HSA or (controversial maybe) the babys college fund.

Challenges: we probably need to buy a second car this year. :grimacing: and probably an expensive one, for it to fulfill the needs we have for it.


All saving is eventually for spending; I personally don’t see how a child’s college fund wouldn’t count as saving! (And good on you for getting it started, so that no matter what their choices are later, they’ve got as many options as possible.)


From what I’ve seen, some people think since it’s for someone else, it’s not “your” savings. But I personally see it all as family money, and we would try to help her pay for college directly as she went if we didn’t have any put away ahead of time. So in that sense, it’s investing now for spending later. Much like retirement. :woman_shrugging:


I guess that makes sense if you make a sharp distinction between personal savings and savings intended for gifts, charity, or spending on others? I certainly don’t (but then, this ish is all very individual).


I’m saving for grad school and I’m still counting it as savings. Which is me, yes, but is still spending so I think people could argue it’s not fairly savings

I literally need it available, IN SAVINGS, visible in an account for longer than 60 days, to even get granted my student visa. So you know. That’s how I feel about it :joy:


I’m in! Going to shoot for £21000 (£28235)- might be a bit my of a stretch, as a windfall last year helped get me over the line, but I like a challenge.


In with a tentative goal of 42k (couple) into the house fund after maxing retirement accounts. Currently around 20k/140k min for a 20% DP.

I might actually pull back on 401k contributions to redirect them to the DP fund, but I would come up with a way to not count that.

ETA: I am very aware I am planning to actually save, in cash and not even partly repayment, more than made in a year in 2018 and it is surreal. Holy forking shirtballs!!


I’m in! We just went over our 2021 budget this afternoon :blush: With the budget we set we are estimating to have $23k in after-tax, cash savings. However, I’m sure many unexpected things will come up so I’m going to count principle payments on the mortgage and TSP contributions as well. My student loan payments only cover the interest (pslf) so I’m not going to count any of those.


Why not! Dream big. That’s only $807.69 per paycheck.
ONLY. Hahahaha.


I’m in.

Counting Mortgage Principal, TFSA /RESP/RRSP and RDSP contributions, aiming to hit $21,000 CAD by year end.

May include HELOC principal payments, haven’t decided yet if they should count or not.


So this should be easily doable for us, thinking about it.

Mortgage: Around $745 per month to principal, $8,940
IRAs: Lock up $12,000 between the two of us
401k: $500+ per month plus two 3-paycheck months of $750 ish, and this doesn’t count the employer match that restarts in January.

The IRA will come from our existing cash pool, so I’ll still track our active savings as time rolls on, but we are on track to “lock up in savings” over $27,000. :crossed_fingers:

Eta with the match, should be over $30k I think!


Count me in. Splitting the goal between 401k, building a real emergency fund, and aggressively paying down student loans (and crossing my fingers that this no-interest business is extended forever).