May Progress

After my last post, I have had another check on progress and updated my accounts. I am still saving 60% of my income but it isn’t making much of a dent on my net worth, this still remains flat.

When I first started off on this path, the growth was rapid and a lot of that was down to making changes to behaviour and spending that meant that I made quite big impacts on my net worth. These have now tailed off.

I hit a wall 2 years ago when I was made redundant for the second time. I took the first (and only job) offered so I could retain an income stream. Everyone else was getting a job and it would have looked bad if I hadn’t had something when we all ended our redundancy notice. It was a bad mistake, the place didn’t fit and I suffered it for 6 months to see if it would change but it didn’t so I just left. I had no job but felt better than sitting in a horrid work environment. I decided to have an ‘FI holiday’ and took 6 months off (3 months off as FI + 3 months actively job-seeking) before I was back in employment.

My net worth did drop a bit during my ‘FI holiday’ as I used my funds to live.  (Well, my dividends were used as income! I did not use any capital). When I eventually found a job and starting earning again, my fund had lost some value but now was the time to grow it again.

Over the past year I have seen that my net worth has fluctuated. After the drop, I expected it to pick up but the external factors of Brexit and economic instability mean that my fund has not grown at the same rate that it once did. My dividend yields have dropped this year. Dividends within my ISA and SIPP are automatically re-invested but I am not making the same gains as I once was.

I am investing into my ISA, SIPP & pensions to use tax free allowances on a monthly basis and then any surplus into cash savings. I am considering pumping all the surplus cash into my SIPP and pensions but it means I cannot access this until I am 55.

My SIPP is currently recording a loss. I had opened the account by transferring two very small company pension funds (less than £2.5k each) into this account to consolidate them, then did a bulk buy to get the money back into the market, just as their prices dropped. I can see that the account is still in the red but this loss is reducing each week so it should move into profit by the end of the year. I am now topping up this SIPP account. While I have an income I will push money into saving hard.

The path seems to be faltering but I will try to continue to aim for the line. It seems so close and yet so far away too.

I am looking at side hustles and other income stream opportunities so I can move away from working for ‘The Man’ and working for myself with the support of an FI fund.

I am looking at any options so if anyone has any suggestions let me know…

 

 

HoneyPot Progress

I have spent some time this weekend reviewing where I am. How is my HoneyPot doing? When will I reach FI? I could possibly say I am FIRE now. The fund is looking pretty good and I am now seeing a positive increase rather than a negative return when I compare LY / TY monthly figures.

I am pushing spare money into my newly opened SIPP and I am currently showing a loss but I think that is due to the fees and the drop in my selected fund prices over the past few weeks. I will “keep calm and carry on”. This is a long term savings path and I need to keep saving hard and making the most of the tax free accounts available to me. While I am still working I want to take advantage of any tax breaks and plough spare cash in to useful diverse savings areas so I can feel happy with my HoneyPot over the long term.

It needs to last me at least until I can draw my state and final salary pension when I am 67 – if they still exist then? Can never tell what will happen with pensions either company or state ones.

To get a full state pension, I still need to contribute a few more years of NI into the state pot.

I have been browsing the job sites for any interesting jobs but nothing about. I will continue to browse and start rattling a few of my network contacts. I am thinking of changing direction just need to find the right thing. I am reading up on how others have changed direction and what the pros/cons have been so I can try and work out the best path to take so I don’t make the same mistakes along the way.

I don’t want a job in London and so its a bit sparse in my immediate vicinity. I will continue to browse. I have heard that someone I used to work with has been head-hunted and has been offered a job where they can work from home most of the time. I read the US FIRE blogs and plenty of them have managed to find a similar home-based role. I could do with something like that, with the odd trip out to face-to-face meetings.

Something similar to an old job I had and enjoyed where I was in a sense ‘field’ working and able to work from different work locations as well as home. It allowed me to ‘mix it up’ and vary the people I met and worked with and feel like I was ‘making the difference’ that provides that ‘self-worth’ that I crave.

I will continue to read around the blogs and research options and see what fits. I need to end the weekend on a positive note! Onward and Upward on the FIRE trail.

April Fool

The 1st April all ready. April Fool’s day in the UK and I wonder what will appear in the media today….

I have just spend a few hours doing my monthly review to see where I am financially. Its been a quiet month really, I have been topping up my ISA and SIPP with any spare money to reach any tax year limits where possible and I have been re-balancing my funds. So sold funds and bought others to try and diversify and re-balance my accounts as I hold too many UK funds and need to move some into Global funds. In the normal way for me, the funds I have moved into have dropped in value but I hope they will pick up and move back into the black in the future.

I don’t really like buying funds at this time of year as I feel that the funds get overheated as everyone is trying to use up their allowances so there is a spike.  I will continue to review the re-balance activity over the following few months to smooth out the buying peaks.

Based on this month last year my net worth is up. Based on last month, I am down. The volatility in the markets continues and my investments seem to roller coaster rather than ‘bob’ along lightly. The sooner Brexit gets more settled the better.

I managed to fit in a long weekend holiday. A motorbike trip with my partner to Whitby to catch the sunshine. A nice ride round the York moors, a visit to Goathland and fish and chips in Whitby itself. The dry weather and blue skies were great. Although others had the same idea, so Whitby was heaving with people, cars queuing to get into the harbour area. Some very relaxing cafe stops in small villages on the York moors and pub meals in the evenings helped to re-charge the batteries. Being able to sit outside with a pint and take in the warm sunshine and views was great for my sanity. I need a few more weekends like this!

I needed the break from work as my head is about to explode. Why? Because my head feels like a football, being kicked between multiple managers (including my boss) as the office politics kicks in big time. I have receive multiple ‘verbal battering’ in meetings from various managers over the past month because I am being used as a deflection tactic by others and the scapegoat for other people’s inadequacies and failings. I have been well and truly hung out to dry by my boss too, so much for their comments about ‘having my back and supporting me’. They well and truly stabbed me in the back then tried to dress the wound with empty words afterwards. From what I can glean from others in the company, this scenario happened 2 years ago and resulted in my predecessor leaving! (as they were receiving the same treatment and decided that enough was enough).

The sooner I can quit this current career the better. It is no good for my health and I am fed up of being treated like dirt that can be shouted at and generally poorly treated. My head hurts.

I have been expected to put in extra hours this month and I have just continued to be barracked during this time too. I know I don’t work the kind of hours that some others do, I am not working a 12 hour day (work + commute) but to be fair I have done that and I feel I’ve had enough of it. “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt“, I just want a better work-life balance now. I have worked the long hours through my 20s and 30s and put in the effort and received no reward for it – other than to actually lose my job to redundancy. I want to slow down and get off the high-speed train and take a slower journey now that enables me to stop and do other things along the way.

I am being made to feel that I am inadequate and incapable of doing my job. The pressure and expectation is being increased and I am expected to perform. Well, I think I have had enough. My confidence has been squashed to nothing, I am now internally questioning my ability to do the job at all. My burnout limits just don’t seem to be at the levels they once were.

That is why I am on this journey to FI so I can have choices. To gain it I need to stick at this current job a bit longer and continue to save hard. I am so near and yet so far away…….

The Good / Bad News

The Good News:

I have been slugging away on getting garden chores completed as I get ready for the removal of the council garden collection service at the end of the month. I know – not really an FI thing as such – but it is a frugal living thing! Why pay £40 pa when you don’t need to? It’s free therapy too.

I am nearly there now and ticking off the items on the to-do list quite swiftly. Its been good for my sanity too as the workplace is a real bind at the moment. Basically office politics is flying around big time with anger, frustration and back-stabbing going on. This just spurs me on to achieve FI and be able to walk away from all this stupid nonsense once and for all. I was on the receiving end of anger and frustrations last week just because I was given the short straw of delivering bad news, I was presented to the firing squad and bombarded with barbed words and fury. I am alive and still with a job at the moment.

Ah,well back to the garden and watching the lovely robins that are currently residing in the trees. I have planted up the free seeds I have received from the Woodland trust and have planted up all the herbs and chillies to supply flavourings for my food creations this year. I have stored a load of chillies from last year’s plant so if this year’s crop is as big as last year I will be onto a winner.

The Bad News

The budget – I have avoided the news this week and have now just caught up by reading Monevator’s post on the budget. What I wasn’t aware of is the change in Dividend Allowance. I heard all the noise about self-employed NI but not this sneaking in. I am affected by this as I do generate £6k of dividend income outside a tax wrapper. Its basically, my old employer’s shares which I have kept. Up to now this hasn’t been much of a problem. I was accepting of the £5k limit for this tax year – but going down to £2k is not so good. I cannot sell down the shares fast enough without incurring CGT. I should have sold the shares and diversified earlier but  have been nostalgically holding on to them as they have been providing a good return, 4%+ over the past 3 years as well as good double-digit growth and funding my  6 month job-free gap.

I just need to offset this with changes in other areas and sell some and move this into my SIPP. I was reluctant to do this as I cannot then access their value again unto I reach 55. That’s the government for you, they mess up the savings rates then as people move into shares, they increase the taxes on that too.

It’s like diesel vehicles – OK, ignoring the air pollution bit for a minute – years ago, diesel fuel was considerably cheaper than petrol to buy and the MPG gap was considerable so for those travelling high mileage each year, a diesel car was a no-brainer choice. Diesel cars held their value due to this too. Petrol cars were for the city types/short distance commutes and diesels for those who travelled longer distances. Move on a few years and diesels were promoted heavily to everyone and the volumes on the roads grew until every city is full of them – and being used or short distance trips. As promotion of diesel continued, the price of diesel spiralled upwards until it is now priced higher than petrol and the MPG gap has narrowed substantially. Thanks to all that recent news coverage on air pollution, anyone with a diesel car is now suffering a loss in resale value and being seen as a bad citizen. They have been stung by the hype. If you now look at buying a hybrid or electric car -watch out as that is the next spin and hype zone ready for reaping in a few years time when it has reached a good ‘market value’.

Enough of my ranting and off to do some more chores while the rain has stopped.

Our Next Life

I was listening to Mad Fientist and the podcast with OurNextLife, it was great to hear their journey. Ok, its yet another US example, with the flexibility and opportunities that I am not sure really exist over here in the UK(?).

I read their post on their FI plan. It is interesting, when I was with my ex partner we had a plan that was shared, with shared dreams and adventures,  as we saved and paid off the mortgage and started to make some headway, his views changed. Our paths diverged, the plan became just my plan.

I now follow the plan on my own, I have a residential property that is mortgage free and a rental property that earns a little side income. I save regularly into an ISA and pensions, with the odd share purchase on the side. I used to save any bonus or windfalls that came my way rather than blow it on consumer trinkets until job insecurities resulted in job loses; I now have a job that pays nothing but a basic wage. My savings have helped me during those bad work situations and I am glad of that cushion, my emergency fund, I am lucky to be where I am.

It would be good to meet someone with the same goals, dreams and adventure ambitions but I think that is unlikely, so I crack on with my own journey following the plan. As I grow older my dreams of snowboarding the deeply snow covered hills fade away due to health issues, both my knees are pretty much shot now. Hopefully I can continue to cycle, hike and camp for a few more years.

I need to find my final goal, so looking at other options to fill my day once FI is achieved. I don’t want to end up working and retiring at NRA with bad health and look back at all the things I never achieved because I was too scared to jump or feared financial failure.

Living for work and only seeing work as my achievement and status in life is wrong. I think its the time of year, SAD strikes and I need to get some good doses of daylight and feel happier. Getting out in the garden and walking, cycling and feeling active is the goal.

I use to spend so much of my time as a child outside and I miss that freedom. The achievement of making and doing things ticks the boxes for me and I need to find outlets for this that could possibly provide a side hustle too. When I was a child, my view was to get a job earn lots of money so I could give it up and do my art and craft activities and not have to worry about the money. I could go horse riding, cycling, paint and draw and feel free.

Year-End Review

Its nearly the end of the tax year and I am reviewing what to do for the best with my finances, I should use up all the allowances available to me and move my FI fund around to get the best deals and make the money work for me. Compared to last year my FI fund is down due to drops in the share market. I have money sitting in savings accounts being eroded by inflation so moving them across into ISAs and pensions where – ok I cannot get at the money until I am 55  – it will have the potential to earn a better return that a savings account.

My consolidated SIPP account is already starting to grow. My first pension transfer is now invested and rising in price. The second pension transfer completed this week so I can now schedule that to be invested in some Vanguard funds to hopefully over the long-term give me a better return. I am looking to adjust my pension saving to be 20% of my salary. Again it is the mantra of setting up the DDs so that the money goes before you have a chance to spend it. I also save into my employer scheme and they pay 5% into it too so that is also helping to grow my pension funds. At the moment the biggest winner for me this year has been my pension funds which have increased as a % ratio of my FI fund.

My saver mentality is winning the day so just need to crack on with activities to block out the negative thoughts rumbling in my head. Onward and upward…..

A great weekend

I had had a poor week at work so needed a great weekend. Back to the normal work format – a boss that treats you like a 2yr old telling you what you should have done (even though I had followed all that they quoted originally) and it still didn’t pan out. Oh, and I need to create a project plan which is a work of fiction ready for a meeting when everyone else is expecting some real quantified values. Ha Ha Ha!!!  I guess my boss will standby me when it all hits the fan???? Or will I be hung out to dry? Only time will tell….

So an early start on Saturday to avoid the rain and get some work done on the garden. I had lots of shrubs and trees to cut back – not due to Doris fortunately – I need to get all the garden waste removed ASAP as my local council is removing the free garden waste collection service.

From the next tax year I need to pay £40 a year to have a garden collection service. I am not paying that. So need to clear everything by the end of March to make the most of the garden collection service. Then buy a discounted composter to manage my garden waste long term.

So trees and shrubs cut back, a full garden bin waiting to be collected this week.

A discounted composter ordered and free bulbs planted, freebies from my sister. The garden is looking much better and it has helped me de-stress.

Today, Sunday, I awoke to sunshine so out early for the first bike ride of the year. I have been suffering with a winter virus that has dragged on for months and I have only just been able to shake it off. A 16 mile test ride, I took it easy and realised how when I was on my ‘FI break’ in 2015 I enjoyed cycling twice a week and felt fit and health. It made me want to stop working and get back to my daytime cycling, an incentive to keep working on my FI release.

Now I am working again, I miss my cycling trips during the day and have put on weight due to the office job. I am stuck at a desk all day, I do try to take a walk around the office but that is not very far at all. I could go for a walk around the block at lunch time, it would only take me 5 mins, I have already tried it. It just isn’t enough.

I so need to become FI and escape the rat-race…..focus needed and nothing like this weekend to make me feel motivated to get on and get there.

 

 

 

July 2016

The month is nearly over and I have been buzzing about at work getting some long hours in (no additional pay 😦  ) and having some successes by doing so. I am too conscientious some times and work too hard for ‘The Man’ and the bosses don’t seem to appreciate the additional effort – but you feel that if you don’t – you will lose your job! Yes, another boss who runs the company on fear.

I have not looked at my investments for a little while as they were plummeting so badly I just didn’t want to get depressed as my FI target slipped away into the distant future. I had a peek recently and they are just beginning to recover a bit. I should have bought some shares while the prices were low but didn’t venture into the market – just continued with my monthly ISA & pension investments  – I will probably be kicking myself in a few months – but I am holding back some money to live off – Why you may ask?

I have had the added ‘delight’ of being summoned for Jury Service. My employer does not pay me while I am doing this so I hope I don’t have to do this for long as I will be out of pocket. OK, with my FI savings I can use them to supplement and pay my bills while I earn no salary – but its a bit of a cheek to have to do this ‘service’ and have to survive on a nominal payment from the Court, which will not even cover my monthly housing costs never mind any other living expenses.

The only positive, is that I cannot be dismissed from my job while I am on jury service as this is seen as unfair dismissal and ‘The Boss’ can be taken to tribunal.

I am trying to stay positive and ride out the life journey for the next few months and try to get my FI plans back on track.

I will review my monthly status soon and really see where I am on my journey and see how far into the distance my FI target has drifted.