Monthly Update – Jan 2020

Wow! already one month into 2020!

Time flies when you are not working. I have been detoxing from my last job, met up with my old work colleague (who also left at the same time as me – says a lot about the place!). We both felt that the weight had been released from our shoulders and feel better for not being there.

I spent last month getting out and about, cycling and walking and basically trying to rid myself of the stresses and anxiety that the last job caused. I am reaping the benefit of more exercise already as my energy levels are returning and I feel healthier and sleeping well. I need to learn some emotional resilience as I shouldn’t have let the role get to me as much as it did. When I review it, it was a bad fit and not the right workplace for me but I achieved my goals. I was stubborn and should have relented but didn’t want to feel like a failure, I wanted to achieve my goals before I left. My inner voice is too harsh on me.

Anyhow, I have a fixed budget to stick to and I have over spent for January – DOH!, mainly because I had to pay my tax bill (expected) and unexpected spend on house repairs. As long as I can recoup this in future months I should be able to stay on budget for the year.

My monthly expenses have gone down too, less travel costs (no work commute) and surprisingly lower food bills. This is because I am being more savvy with my meal planning and not buying lunch items specifically for work. So if these continue in future months I should be able to get back on track. I have been making my own bread too! Yay! something on my wish list. It is working out well as it has saved me money already and I get the enjoyment of know exactly what is going into it.

I have also started other house DIY projects – I plan to re-paint the kitchen and sort a few other parts of the house out and do a BIG declutter. When I was working, I just let things lie, putting stuff off as I was too tired to get cracking on the tasks as they seemed daunting. When I was working, I just wanted to go out and do something different in my leisure time, ignoring the things that needed doing in the house. Now I have the time, I have no excuses and have the time to do these jobs, nothing to get in my way.

I actually ended the month feeling happy! Now, I haven’t said that for a while.

I have a few recruitment agents contacting me about jobs but at the moment none of the roles interest me. I am in no hurry to rejoin the treadmill and am taking the time to be more selective, it would be great to find a job that fits this time. I just wonder if I am seeking something that doesn’t exist….?

Employment

(A bit of a rant!)

I don’t view myself as retired, I am between jobs and taking the time out to work on my house and other personal projects that I just can’t do when I have a job. It gets in the way! It is much easier to get tradesmen round when you are fully flexible and can be there when it suits their schedule.

Now, I have some recruitment agents helping me find a new job, but they are not happy that I have asked for a 4 day p/w role. They ask me: why?

  • Are you caring for dependants?
  • Do you have children/ childcare responsibilities?
  • Do you have a health problem?

NO! I don’t – I just want to work less.

Now that seems to be viewed as odd. What do you mean you don’t want to work full time?

Mainly because I have spent enough years married to the job, all work and no play. I have been the one who has been made to ‘feel guilty’ (bullied) into working extra hours and cover for others due to their children (always the trump card!) – it is now MY TURN! I would like to work less, I am a committed worker but want to cut my hours and have a work/life balance. I have spent so much time working at the expense of my personal life, I now want some of that time back. I want my personal hours back. I want to be able to take holiday without threat of cancellation (or guilt trips from colleagues or bosses, who are unhappy that I will not be about just when I am needed). I want to stop being interrupted in my personal time by calls about critical issues that need me to drop everything and resolve.

But – No, they don’t seem to like that. OK, it makes it harder to find a role for me but I am tired of working 50+ hour weeks, always on call and working through the night to ‘save the day’ for my employer. (That’s the issue with IT, if the employer’s systems fail then its all hands to the pump to get it up and running – every minute of downtime is money lost).

I would like some time for ME now. With all this talk of gig economy and flex hours, I would like a role which will enable me to work a 4 day week. But NO, that seems to be impossible.

Maybe I need to change my job role so I can find a job that will offer part time hours. Maybe I will have no choice but to become a contractor (with all the new IR35 rules, it’s a real hassle that I don’t want) just so I can get some short term work ( x months on, x months off) or get a 4 day p/w role.

I am so glad I have some FI money as it looks like I will be using that to live as getting a part-time role is like finding a unicorn. I know people who are working part-time in their roles (diff roles to me) but they started full-time and have managed to reduce their hours as their employer doesn’t want to lose them. I have never had that option, its all or nothing!

I need to find an alternative, I am too dispensable!

 

 

 

 

Tandem? – Huh!

Anyone else out there with a Tandem cashback credit card?

I have just received an email to tell me that unless I sign up for their monthly membership at £5.99 per month, my card will be cancelled in March!

I don’t think so, well that didn’t last long 😦

 

Rebalance

Now I am not working – I can spend some time reviewing my finances and look to re-balance my ISA funds. Last year, I was working hard and just letting my money auto invest and not worry too much other than seeing their value grow.

I have funds with on-going charges which are too high for my liking. Now is the time to rebalance and sort this out. I am now issuing the instructions to sell them and then re-invest into a cheaper ETF variant which matches my criteria.

It is annoying as I cannot switch (incurs lower fees), I have to sell and buy which will incur a higher fee overall. These platforms have to take a cut scam you somewhere! They take enough in charges/fees as it is without these additional hoops that they put in place to take more money from you as you try to re-organise your holdings.

I have been buying the ETF variant for a while via regular ISA monthly purchases, which incurs a low fee. That has helped change the balance/ratio but I need to move the existing old fund holding across now to reap the benefit of lower charges overall. My aim now is to review all my finances including my pensions and work out the best place for them this year. Keeping costs and charges down in the process.

I am waiting for the final payment into my old workplace pension so I can then review what the transfer value is and what to do with it. I am thinking of moving it into a SIPP but its just a matter of which one. Do I move it to my existing one or wait for the new Vanguard one to appear later this year.

My current SIPP is holding Vanguard funds, it will allow me to start drawdown/withdrawal now (not that I am old enough to action this) whereas if I put my money into a Vanguard SIPP I will have to wait for Vanguard to put the withdrawal options in place, which their current info says will be some time in 2021. I cannot withdraw money from a pension for another 4 years anyhow so that shouldn’t be a problem. Not that my pensions forecasts look good anyway, every year the account balance goes up but the annuity forecast goes down.

I also need to pile in any contributions that I wish to invest into a pension before this tax year finishes. I can invest up to £40k into a pension while I am classed as a tax payer to enable me to claim tax rebates based on my income this year. I currently plan to not work for a while which means I will start the new tax year with a pension contribution cap of £2880 pa. None of my income next year is classed as pension qualifying so need to keep to the threshold while I decide what to do next.

I could have another job by the end of the next tax year. I am not seeing myself as retired, just recharging for a period of time. I just assume the worst-case for planning purposes.

So back to the task in hand and await my instructions to complete and monitor how this affects the account overall.

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Decade

I have spent this Christmas & New Year offline. I viewed this as a way of detoxing from the nightmare job I left in December.

It’s been great! I have been walking pretty much every day and have slept so much I feel more refreshed that I have done in the last year! It has been the break I have needed and wouldn’t have got if I had remained in my job.

Having some freedom has really helped me. My fitbit has also indicated that this past few weeks of detox has already had a big benefit on my general health. The shoulder & neck aches have gone and my general resting heart rate has come right down to its norm.

It was funny – although somewhat scary too – that my resting heart rate would start the week at normal (or just above) and by the end of the week, Fridays my resting rate would have increased considerably. The general trend was, start the week low, it would climb all week until Friday/Saturday when it would start to reduce down to the weekly start point then rollercoaster again! Over the last few months of last year it was slowly trending upwards to a level which wouldn’t be very good in the long term.

It started to reduce during my first week of freedom and it has remained pretty flat line since then so the stress has gone!  YAY !!!

In terms of reviewing the last decade, it was a rollercoaster one for me with highs and lows and probably forming a ‘U’ shape overall, with the worse being experienced in the mid decade point.

What happened in the 2010s?

  • Was made redundant from a job I had held for 15 years. (Just after getting my long service award!)
  • Paid off my main mortgage.
  • Found another job, was made redundant from that one after 18 months. (company sale and asset stripping)
  • Bought a BTL property.
  • Found another job, they had no work for me so I left after 6 months of waiting and thumb twiddling.
  • Had a break – a mini-FI session of 7 months. Disillusioned by the work arena!
  • Found another job, learnt a lot in the first year, all stuff that was good for my CV. It started getting depressing in year 3 & 4. Too much micro and toxic management. No respect or team cohesion. I hung out to achieve my personal goals in that role then pulled the plug at the end of last year. So completed 4 years there!
  • Ended the decade unemployed.

The ability to give up my job with ‘FU money’ has been good. I don’t know what I will do next. I am starting the decade with no job and am wondering whether I want to go back to the role I was doing before or look for something else. The office cubicle and the micro-management is getting too much for me. Some autonomy is required and some sense of control. This seems to be a general problem in the workplace – whoever you talk to.

I have plenty of personal projects to complete at the moment, so I can start on those and keep up my daily exercise. I already feel so much better and can feel the weight on my shoulders gone. I am making lists of things I need to do and also sorting out some social activities, music festivals/gigs so that I have some ME time this year. I spend so much of last year working I didn’t take my holiday and even had the senior managers saying they would cancel holiday to get the work completed! All work and no play there, I am so glad I have left.

So the start of a new decade and new year, open to possibilities and looking forward to the year ahead with a positive outlook.

 

 

Vanguard SIPP

I have received an email from Vanguard to say that their SIPP is nearly ready.

I have been waiting for more info on their offering in the UK. It’s been a long time coming and am interested in moving my SIPP from another more expensive provider to Vanguard. I am currently holding Vanguard units in my SIPP so being able to do this directly and benefit from the Vanguard low fee service will be great.

Has anyone else registered interest in the Vanguard SIPP?

Is anyone else looking to move to them once they open the SIPP?

According to their email info, the account will open next year but the drawdown function for over 55’s will not be in place for another year. That’s not a problem for me, I have a few years until I reach 55 so have the time to invest and wait for the drawdown option to become available.

I will soon be leaving my job so will be looking to move my company pension from where it to a place where I can have more control and choices.

Countdown continues

I am utilising one of my holiday days to have some time out of the office. Not long to go now until I leave.

It’s great, I have been able to have a lie in and not having to be outside scraping the ice off my car and making my way to work. I know its a novelty at the moment and the honeymoon period will wear off but having some time out will be good for my mind and my body.

I had real pangs of regret the other day as I had my last meeting with a supplier that I have enjoyed working with. It’s a real shame, they have been the only good part of the working day. They have a great set of employees, a good work ethic and they have such passion and motivation. They work hard but love their work and are appreciated by their management team.

I need to focus on the future and where I want to go and I what to do next. I have signed up for a career change session to see if I should move away from what I am doing. I don’t feel happy with what I do any more so need to have a deeper think about what I should do next. I don’t get my state pension until I am 67 and I don’t have the 35 years NI contributions to qualify for a full pension so will need to do something to build up the qualifying years, I have over 10 years of working life ahead of me from a state pension viewpoint.

I want something that provides a challenge and fulfilment. While I write this I hear on the radio that yet more companies are cutting staff as the impact of competition and globalisation bites hard. The race to the bottom continues.

Right, off to get some chores done, update my finance spreadsheets and make the most of the lovely cold but sunny, blue sky day.