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.






Jumping off the cliff

After talking about it all year and other posts on how my job is a nightmare and stressing me out. I have finally pulled the plug – I HAVE QUIT !

“Life is not worth it if you are suffering in a job you hate.”

They are strong words and I have heard them said a few times this year but I have finally reach a point in the job where I feel I have completed my goal and achieved my aims within the scope of the job. I have successfully launched two new ecommerce websites for my employer. They have a great system now that they can use to create their other brand sites – so my personal goal is completed.

I have been working stupid hours and had no real time off and that has shown with minimal posts here on my blog. I have been working, working, working. Any down time I have tried to spend out and about so my blog has suffered.

It came as a shock to my line manager  (I think? – hard to tell as they are so slimy and untrustworthy). I have had enough of the sh*t and I have had enough of the toxic culture. I have fought through the indecision and achieved the deliverables even though the path has been arduous – a bit like aiming for FI!

I don’t have another job to go to, so it will be a chance to recover and recharge my batteries and decide what to do next. That is NOT the normal(expected) way to leave a job! But why take the easy route?

I could do with a change of scene. I wonder about going back to a coder or data analyst role where there seems to be plenty of opportunities to work part-time. I could work from home and cut out the commute. My current role doesn’t seem to offer that option – they are all advertised as full-time –  and the marketplace for what I do at the moment seems to be very competitive as I see media coverage of lay offs and redundancies – so the market is tough and with companies not wanting to invest at the moment due to the uncertainties of Brexit – I think I will be out of work for at least a year.

I have started taking my owed holiday and started cycling and spending more time focusing on ME!  After working hard, performing many roles to get the job done, I can now feel happy to move on and have a rest. I feel I have my closure.

My FI fund is growing steadily and I am not far away from my target. I can live off my passive income and if I can cut my expenses a little more (not incur any big bills) and shuffle my money around to get it working harder for me I can live without a job.

That was my main aim this year, persevere with the job, suffer it, hang out and squirrel the money away each month. I have been pushing a 60% saving rate each month for the past 12 months, adding money to my pension while I can claim tax relief on contributions. Once I leave I will look to move the employer pension to my SIPP and consolidate.

By Christmas I will be free from the man and can start the new year doing what I want to do for a while. I have plenty of house projects and I want to improve my health by cycling and walking more. I have even started to get my camera out, taking photos and inspiration for drawing and print making – am looking at side hustles!

To be creative you need the space to think, clear the mind and feel the juices start to flow. They haven’t for so long because they have been suppressed by the grind of work and the pressures of ‘the man’ and the prison of a micro-managing employer with spotlights constantly watching your every move.

I can feel the fresh air!


Reading Matter

I have been trying to de-stress and I have been doing that by reading. I have been reading the following two books and trying to follow some of their advice. FIRE still burns inside me. I am on the journey and researching and checking that I am on the right route.

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin

I have been reading the updated version. I have been using the calculations to determine where I am on the path. I have also tried to encourage by partner to read it. He’s a spender and although he is changing his ways he still has habits. Ones that only he can personally change so hopefully this book will open his eyes too.

Early Retirement Extreme – Jacob Fisker

A classic FIRE book. Who else can provide you with examples on achieving the goal.  I am not young and trying to reach FIRE by 30. I am in my 50s and just want to give up work and span the years between now and my state pension age when I can collect my state and company pensions. I have plenty to be grateful for and I wish I could be more DIY like Jacob. I have worked hard and now want to look at doing things that are non-money earning but bring me happiness.

Skills :

I would like to learn more skills to self-serve. I am chuffed as I managed to change an electrical socket and a broken light switch the other week. Electrics was something my old partner was good at. That is the only thing I miss about him, his skills at sorting out electrical issues – LOL !

Plumbing and general skills to help with saving costs on house maintenance would be great for me. I can paint, tile, lay carpets, make curtains, put shelves up but things like electrics and plumbing are a “black art”. Plus the government are making it harder for people to do DIY by creating rules over what must have certificates and proof of tradesman installation or servicing. etc… etc…

Trying to find a good tradesman to come and do these types of jobs is getting harder too as they know they can pick and chose their work. It is easier for me to find someone to build a new house extension that fix a broken tap!

The madness of life and today’s society?

What books are you reading?

Are there ones you could suggest I read?

Let me know in your comments….

New Tax Year – New Me?

Well, I have been very quiet and not really posting much, mainly because I have been keeping my head down and just working (in the hell hole) and saving hard.

I have started receiving my tax certificates and also my letter reminding me that I need to start filling in my tax return for last year. So I have started to collect the relevant paperwork and looking at the values its looking good.

Its been a hard year for me, work has been traumatic, resulting in lots of pressure, a change in boss and constant toxic management politics. Observing the senior management decision making (or not) is just driving me mad. My illness in Jan resulted in days off work (unpaid) and lots of flack from the managers  (‘How dare I be ill’)  !

My only positive is that when reviewing last year’s savings I have done well, saving over 60%+ of my income. I have fully funded by ISA last year and put quite a bit of money into pension schemes to collect tax relief and any allowances while I am still working.

I am now seriously thinking of leaving work, the pressure is building again as the project I work on reached its final stages! Yes, nearly there!!! I just want to see this go over the finish line – its been a marathon and being so near the end – I just want to walk (stagger) over that finish line rather than admit defeat with just yards to go. I can at least feel some kind of achievement and ‘success’ then I can leave it to someone else. The new boss is bringing change, which is fine – no problem with that, its just that its slow due to the office politics and lots of pressure and threats to cancel holidays and performance reviews are flying around. We have lost (dismissed) rather than gained people which is putting more pressure on those that remain – as everyone fears for their job. I have had no holiday this year (just the odd day plus the recent bank holidays) and have 2 weeks booked off in a few month’s time and I am being told that they can make me cancel it and work!  (So unfair) Morale is at an all time low.

I cannot tell if it is just threat or real. Can I just refuse and leave with immediate effect? Is this possible ? What are the rules under employment contracts? My contract is pretty bland, just says I have to give x months notice…Some of my friends say I should ask for a cut in hours but that will not fly. Time to pull the rip cord.

I am becoming ill again which is my body telling me its time to go. I keep feeling guilty for leaving others with the burdens but – hey – I have to think about myself now. Stop thinking about others, its me !  I need to look after me ! me ! me!


Jan 2019 – end of month update

Yay! At the end of a chilly January and although cold, icy and snowy outside, its been warm from an investments viewpoint.

My shares and funds have recovered from the new year values and they are both looking more shiny and the addition of dividends this month has helped to lift their totals nicely.

I have now maxed out on my ISA thresholds for this year so I will just let the last 2 monthly auto payments complete to reach the £20k max value. Using my taxable dividends to top-up my ISA.

I have received my reduced salary due to sickness, my employer only pays statutory sick pay, so I have lost 3 days of pay and received a flat rate £19 a day for the rest of my time off sick. That equates to £2.50 per hour = where does minimum wage fit in with this then GOV?

I suppose that is where having money in the bank helps! I have an emergency fund to draw on plus I am not spending more than I earn each month and don’t have to worry about an overdraft. It just means I will not have as much money to save this month.

Roll on when I can pull the plug. My net worth is looking good so I am nearly there. In US dollar terms I am already a millionaire. Now that’s a great feeling, still have some way to go until I can say that in British pound terms.

I just need to make it generate a better passive income return so I am not selling funds to obtain the income.

I have started reading ‘Enough’ by Jack Bogle, having heard of his death I though it was appropriate to read this book. He had such a positive outlook on life and its something I need to do myself, think positively and if I fall down, stand up, brush myself down and walk on… The path continues and the need to blaze that trail to freedom is still there.

Let’s hope this year can continue to see positive progress and that “B*xit” doesn’t shower havoc on the markets.

Jan 2019 – mid-month update

The 2019 year has started off on a low note for me. My cold/flu/virus thing has turned into a full-on chest infection and I am now signed off work while I recover. As it’s a virus, no antibiotics for me; just sleep, painkillers and hydration.

It has given me a break from the coalface and so glad I received a tax rebate last month as I will need to use that this month to cover the reduce salary as I don’t get sick pay. I have completely switched off work and decided to rest to give myself a better chance of recovery having battled on last month and ending up in this position.

It has given me a chance to review last year’s FI activities and see the results of my efforts. I am still in the accumulation phase so need to make sure I make the most of the earning years.

1.Move passive income streams to tax-free accounts. My goal last year was to move taxable income into tax-free accounts where possible. This has resulted in a 30% increase in my tax-free passive income for the year – YAY; the downside is that my taxable income has dropped due to reduced dividend yields, not something I can control.

My aim is to reduce my savings and dividend interest to remain below annual tax thresholds and keep my tax bill down. Overall my passive income stream from savings and investments is down on the year due to the reduction in dividend payments in 2018. I am trying to get to a point where my passive income covers my expenses so I can be FI and not draw upon capital growth to supplement annual expenses. I am about 30% short in achieving my passive expense figure.

2. Increase contributions in my SIPP/Pension. I achieved that too, which is one of the reasons I received a tax rebate. I am nowhere near the max threshold for contributions but saving efficiently and obtaining a tax rebate for my contributions is useful while I am still employed.

The aim is to get a reasonable pension pot which I can leave to grow and then use when I reach NRA or have the option to draw from between the age of 55 and NRA.

3.Top-up my ISA to the annual max allowance. I have a monthly automatic contribution then make lump sum top-ups periodically when taxable dividends or other income arrives which would be best invested into a tax-free account. I am on target to achieve this as I did last year too.

I did spend more money on recreational activities than in previous years. It’s OK saving hard but when that make you feel too frugal and unhappy then it’s time to release the purse strings a bit to keep the motivation going to achieve FI. It’s a journey after all, can’t be frugal to the point of losing the fun and enjoyment in life. It’s a balance between being too Scrooge versus being a big-spender.

I need to look at the possible uplift in expenses this year due to baseline bill increases; utilities, insurances, etc. I moved utilities supplier last year and need to see if this is actually making a difference and if this was a good move or not. I do think that fuel utilities are under some cartel control as the increases in the costs seem to be excessive and even with the introduction of a price cap will not stop them from pushing prices upwards.

I have also managed to get an upgrade to my broadband without an increase in cost. YAY! I am sure I would save more by actually moving supplier but don’t really want to.

Some non-financial targets this year:

  1. restart some of my hobbies – I stopped doing them when work took over my life, now need to go back to them as they help to relax me and good for my health and well-being.
  2. read more books – they give me the escapism that I need from the working world, I live to work and I need to get off that treadmill!
  3. recreation – get active and walk & cycle more and get outside! It will do my health so much good. I have a too sedentary job and need to change this somehow. I feel tired all the time which shouldn’t be the case. I really enjoyed my break in the Lakes last year. Will be so glad when the daylight returns in the evenings, longer days will give me the impetus to go out and do something. I miss spending my weekends outside walking and getting out and active and feel I didn’t do enough of this last year.
  4. rekindle friendships – I have spent so much time not getting out and meeting people. It hasn’t done me any good. I need to get a life and get out there. Living alone means I spend too many hours on my own. My workplace doesn’t give me the social interaction I need.
  5. reinvent myself – I am mulling over a career change as I cannot continue to do the job role I do now, it’s too stressful and isn’t giving me the fulfilment I would like. Finding a part-time role is of interest so mulling over the options that are possible. This would give me the time to do other things and not feel so worn out and tired all the time.
  6. reduce my blood pressure – my blood pressure is slightly high, probably due to the lack of exercise/stressful job. When I exercise I notice it goes down to within the normal range. I have my own monitor as the docs were suggesting putting me on meds last January.

When illness strikes it makes you focus on what is good and bad in your life and I really need to make a difference this year.

All work and no play really isn’t good for SparkleBee.