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Happy almost Thanksgiving, Penny Hoarders! As we prepare to give thanks, l want to know: What's your biggest money win so far in 2021?

I've been a bit down lately because I wanted to become a homeowner in 2021. But sky-high prices here in St. Petersburg, FL have me sitting on the fence, especially with so many properties going well above asking price. But instead of dwelling on that, I'll focus on the money win I'm most proud of: For the first time in my life, I have a six-month emergency fund!

For many years, I've hovered around a three-month emergency fund, which is typically the bare minimum. When I became single a little over three years ago, my emergency fund dropped to well below that level after I moved and readjusted my budget for living on a single income. It took a long time to rebuild it even to three months' worth. When so many people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, it was a wakeup call for me. I focused on paying off my debt during 2020.

Now that I'm debt-free, I have extra money to save. I also freelance a lot, which has helped me save money fast. I'm splitting my the money I save between my emergency fund, a down payment fund and a vacation fund. I was saving 50% for emergencies, 40% for a down payment and 10% for a vacation. Now that my emergency fund is in shape, I'll probably start saving 60% for the down payment and 30% for emergencies, while continuing to put 10% of the money I save toward a vacation.

Let me know your biggest money win in 2021! How did you accomplish it?

Robin Hartill aka Dear Penny is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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I've done a lot of 'moves' this year, but the biggest money "win" if it can count as one is getting caught up in the hype of Gamestop earlier this year and earning a +900% return.

The reason why "win" is in quotes because it's purely based on luck and not something that's sustainable -- in other words, a pure gamble. But from an objective, results-basis, I'd say that's my biggest 'win' of the year.

More practically speaking, the biggest regular win in the year is shifting a lot of my YOLO options / higher-risk holdings into something slightly more sane, like S&P 500 (VFIAX in Vanguard) or slightly less insane, like leveraged Nasdaq 100 (TQQQ). Although the returns on these won't be as high, I feel like this is a moral win because these are just indices that'll perform in the long run.


These last two years have been a wake-up call for many people, I'm sure, including my husband and myself. When the pandemic hit, we realized that our pantry was nearly bare. In order to add extra food, we needed to either put less in savings or in our retirement fund. There was almost no give to our finances. We knew we lived in an expensive state, but we didn't realize how expensive until we started searching the internet. That's when we decided to move. Now, at home in another state, we are thousands of dollars ahead. It was a tough move, because we left family, but financially, we are on a better track towards retirement. Plus, we actually have extra food in the pantry!

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