Honey Pot Drawdown Plan

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I have been spending my time researching and reading articles and guides on how to construct a drawdown plan. The winter weather has been too bad to do anything else, so I have focused on the question : How do I manage my honey pot and get it to serve me well over the next few years and consider myself FI?

I did the original ‘target FI income’ x 25 calculation to obtain my FI target figure years ago and my Honey Pot has reached that total, in fact it passed that figure last year but has, due to current market conditions, crash to just above this target. I expect it to drop below this level very soon.

I quit my job 2 years ago, I was not intentionally retiring permanently, just having a break from working for a while. I was intending spending this time traveling and experiencing things I had been unable to do due to work commitments. I needed a break from the work grind. The pandemic hit and smashed my plans and I have been living through the pandemic on cash reserves, rent and any side income. This has proved to work for now and to make sure I am ok, I have been living on about 70% of my target FI income to give me a buffer. During the pandemic this wasn’t too hard as the lockdowns prevented me from doing any leisure expenses other than a 2 week holiday in the UK last year. But now the world is opening up, I want to get out more.

I now need to do some serious number crunching to see how I can fare over the long term. I want to be able to draw enough from the Honey Pot to live without a job being necessary. I want to be able to go out and do things, travel and complete life experiences and not run out of money.

Now, unlike some other FI bloggers I follow, I do not have a dependent partner or children. This has its pros and cons. I have less to worry about from a financial dependency viewpoint but it does mean I don’t have the benefits of joint finances or shared expenses. I cannot therefore use economies of scale to help reduce expenses and living costs are therefore higher for me.

I watched a few YouTube videos recently on lifespan, I have used a few sites and my forecasts suggest I have a 25% chance of living to 95. I have been working on plans running to 95 and a little beyond just so I can make sure I have a margin of error. We don’t know how long we really have but I can only use forecasts and look around at close family relatives as a genetic guide to what is possible. Anything can happen, nothing is guaranteed.

I have to therefore allow for a minimum of 42 years in my plan. I don’t need to preserve my Honey Pot for others so I can focus on one life. I have been looking at pension income and when these will become available. I have 14 years until I reach the current state pension age(SPA), when I can claim my state pension (which is less than the full £9k as I do not have the full 35 years entitlement) and also gain access to a company DB pension which when added to the state pension will equate to 75% of my ‘FI target income’. I would therefore need my other investments to top up the difference at this point.

I have also read articles saying that once we reach the age of 75 our spending decreases so maybe my FI target income figure could be reduced, I will maintain it for now so I can assume ‘the worst case scenario’.

I am using a 3% SWR to determine how to drawdown my ISA and SIPP (when I can access it). I have some shares to sell too, the majority of which are from an ex-employer and accrued from sharesave schemes during my employment with them. These currently provide some dividend income which I add to my annual income stream. My intention is to sell these off in stages over the coming years to utilise CGT and add to my cash pot – any extra, I will invest to provide some additional growth.

I have also been reading about variable SWRs and maybe I should use this as a way of living now; draw a higher SWR now and then phase it downwards to 3% as I reach SPA and determine what the actual top up rate would need to be from my ISA and SIPP at that point.

There are quite a few ideas running around my mind at the moment. I need to find a good site to enable me to do some scenario simulations and see what the success outcomes are.

I am excluding my BTL from these plans at the moment. I am looking to sell the BTL soon so I can release money tied up in it, after expenses and taxes I should have some additional cash to replenish cash pots or investment accounts. This is a area I am separately running scenarios for.

I have plenty to keep me occupied and I have a few spreadsheets on the go at the moment. I am trying to model scenarios and determine the best plan and have a few variants to use should things go awry. This maybe more important than ever as I look at the stock market and the world news which is currently looking bleak.

If others have suggestions or useful info and tools that could help with this I would be happy to hear about them. Feel free to add them in the comments below.

In the meantime, I will ponder options, run scenarios and determine a number of routes I can take and determine if I am truly FI.

Am I a Time Millionaire?

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I read the article in the Guardian and it made me think – Am I a Time Millionaire?

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/oct/12/time-millionaires-meet-the-people-pursuing-the-pleasure-of-leisure

I think I am. I feel like the woman in the image who is walking along relaxing with an ice cream enjoying the stroll while others around me race around in a hurry. I have been saying recently how I feel I am not a time slave any more. I feel that time is not my master. It takes me as long as it takes to complete whatever tasks I set myself.

After spending years working between 42 and 55 hour working weeks and working different time zones and working day and night shifts I feel that I have been released. It is this feeling which makes me not want to go back to the treadmill and a full time ‘9-to-5’ job. I put the ‘9-to-5’ in quotes as most of the roles I have been employed in during the past decade have not fit that time frame. I would have to go back to the start of my working career to find a job that fits a ‘9-to-5’ definition. I felt I was a failure if I didn’t work long hours and I was not ‘getting on’ if I did not have the presenteeism that was expected by my employers. Long hours was seen as a badge of honour and the only way to get promotions. Being available 24/7, took its toll even if it did give me the financial foundations that has enabled me to do what I am doing today. The pain for the pleasure!

I now decide when I want to get up, what to fill my day with and I have been focusing on my health with cycling and walking high on my to do list. Especially while the weather is good, I will continue to focus on this and am really feeling the difference and in combination with some yoga sessions I am feeling happier now and relaxed. I have autonomy and that is such a good feeling and I don’t want to lose this.

Friends are saying how I look happier and that I am smiling more. I was always feeling down, tired and under pressure, especially in my last job where I felt under constant pressure to be more productive. Restless or sleepless nights are now diminishing. My work colleagues felt the same and we just felt exhausted and unappreciated. Even if we had fulfilled out targets and deadlines, the senior managers would not give any praise they would just ask for more. Nothing was even good enough for them; more, more, more was expected. Even my line manager had enough of it and left.

Anyhow, I want to keep my time millionaire credentials and find a way of balancing some work and life so that I can live in a more relaxed and calm manner.

I am not trying to worry about the current social/news issues, I cannot control them. Yes, I managed to find fuel and I now have a full tank which will last me a while as my mileage has now dropped considerably. I have saved loads on my car insurance renewal due to the significant cut in annual mileage.

I will wait for my request for my COVID booster, which is likely to be around December. I will also keep looking to see if I can get a free flu jab. I qualify for the free one but I cannot find anywhere locally that will do them. I may try to look further afield. My GP has no flu vaccine and has posted on their website that it is delayed and they do not know when they will receive their supplies. I have used the NHS site to find a local pharmacy which provides the flu vaccine service but none provide the free NHS flu jab. They only offer paid non-NHS ones. I looked on the local FB groups and people are posting that even though they have paid for a flu jab they are being cancelled by the local pharmacies as they are running out of stock or have no flu vaccine. So even though this is the best time to have the flu jab, as the flu season begins, I cannot find anywhere in the local area that will give me the free NHS flu jab. I will just keep using social distance to avoid the flu and as I don’t work in an office I don’t have the worry of catching the flu there. I have so many things to be grateful for.

I will continue to monitor my finances, I am not a financial millionaire but I feel like a time millionaire. A great way to think about life.

Toxic Work Culture

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I was catching up on my reading this week. I do enjoy using my free library app to read books and magazines, it’s been so good during the lockdowns. I have forgotten about my last job and am starting to relax again now that lockdown is easing and I can go out and feel more free to do things.

So I found it quite amusing reading an article on Toxic, High Stress Work Cultures. I can see the funny side because I have escaped it. The article outlined the characteristics of a toxic work culture and after reading, it made me think about my last role which ticked the boxes!

The points highlighted were:

  1. Constant focus on things people are doing wrong and correcting problems with minimal positive feedback when things go right.

Yes, I experienced this every day. It was constant moaning and groaning from the managers and pretty much every day there was some kind of outburst in the office due to the ‘incompetence’ of an employee. If there was any good news it was not thanked or celebrated in any way. I can count on one hand the amount of times I heard the word ‘thank you’ for any help or work completed. Meetings would be be all about nit picking the presentation pack apart and looking for typos or incorrect use of the corporate style rather than the actual content/subject of the pack.

2. Lack of appreciation or recognition for the work that people do.

Yes, there was no ‘thank you’ or any general positive feedback. It was always negative and cutting. I remember when I was leaving and in one meeting one of the suppliers in attendance thanked me for my contributions and work on the project and wished me well for my future. They then turned to my senior management team who sat quietly and then through clenched teeth they agreed and also said ‘thank you’. It was painful to watch as I could see that there was no genuine meaning in it.

3. Bureaucracy that has too many layers to move forward.

I don’t think they had a layer problem but they did have a management problem. The managers just didn’t want change and would reject ideas that would involve expenditure or operational amendments. This became especially so if it involved operational changes that may require team changes, increase/decrease of staff.

4. Leaders who focus on control and micro-management.

Yes, this was evident with the seniors sticking to their offices and refusing to go to certain parts of the building as they didn’t want to talk to the ‘lower levels of staff’. Read into that whatever you wish but I thought it was really bad. There was this status and control aspect that seemed to permeate through the management team. It was quite common for the senior managers to walk past you in the corridor and not acknowledge your presence or existence. They were also constantly on your shoulder and overseeing every aspect of a task if it was of critical importance to them.

5.Little concern for the happiness or well-being of employees.

Yes, this was illustrated when any employee was ill or if work environments required health and safety checks. They would brush them off or panic if they thought they were legally liable. Only then would some kind of well being be thought about. When my work colleague had a brain aneurysm in the office, the managers panicked and said ‘could we be deemed liable and the cause of this’ . They didn’t seem to be concerned with the employee’s health at all. Luckily she survived due to the quick recognition of the ambulance crew who arrived to treat her. She was whisked off to a major hospital and spent 8 hours in the operating theatre. She survived and is doing well now but it took her a long time to recover and it was touch and go, she had a 50% survival rate. So glad she survived and she looked well the last time I saw her.

6.Staff are expected to sacrifice their personal lives for the job with long hours and little downtime.

Yes, this was expected every day. Dependent upon the work emergency, people were expected to work what ever hours were required to fix it. I can now see why some of the more long serving employees would see something start to kick off and they would run for the door and hide before they would be called upon to help. It was left to the new more recent employees to pick up and fix. It was like some kind of ‘pass-the-parcel’ and it didn’t help to create a happy or gelled team. If you did work into the night or weekends to get things fixed, there was no acknowledgement or thanks. Again, it was expected and there would be no financial reward or time off to compensate for the additional hours worked.

I am just so glad I escaped and in one piece too. My work colleague left at the same time as we had both had enough of the environment. I know that isn’t a reason to FI but it is a reason to have a FU fund so that you can have choices. You have the ability to escape these environments and recover. You have the ability to find somewhere else that is not toxic.

I hope to find a better, non toxic place to work so I can be happy. If not, then I am looking to make my current ‘break’ more permanent. I have my spreadsheets out and looking at what can be done in each future year to enable me to stay free from work.

Lockdown has made a lot of people think about their workplace and the pressures experienced. I have a few contacts that are now leaving their work either to have a break, retire or to find something else to ease the pressures that have taken their toll. I am seeing more jobs appear and as I read the job descriptions and the glassdoor reviews I can see that they are toxic and stressful. It doesn’t bode well for the future as I hear more people say they are looking to escape a workplace that they once loved but have either now seen the light or has turned onto a toxic place due to the pandemic.

Those who have a good workplace should be grateful as it appears that some places are changing and I have a couple of contacts who are telling me how their workplace has changed for the worse and they are looking for lifeboats and an escape.

I think there will be a few more people seeking out the FI path and looking for ways to escape the grind. It it a worthwhile pursuit as it gives you choices and options in your life. It is a hard path when you first start but as you get nearer the end you can see the benefits and the rewards for following it as you look back at the view…….

Personal Development II

I watched the TV programme by Ian Wright about home truths. It was great to see someone who has managed to get through the mess of a troubled childhood. It made me look back at my own childhood which wasn’t good.

BBC – Ian Wright: Home Truths

I had a troubled childhood, I was unwanted and had similar treatment with the constant nagging that I was unwanted and I was blamed for the adult problems, it was my fault they were together and that they had no money and lived in an overcrowded house. My mother had mental health issues which meant she would beat me up and use me as a punchbag for her frustrations. I think my dad was quite controlling which didn’t help either, I didn’t have much of a relationship with my father, I was just told to stay out of his way when he had a temper. He always seemed to be in a bad mood.

I was bullied at school because I was ‘different’ I have skin grafts due to burns I received when I was young and had few school friendships. Others would tell kids that my skin grafts were a disease and that they could catch it off me so stay away. I was isolated as a result of this and spent most of my time on my own, teachers did not help. Some were just as insensitive with there reaction and treatment of me. It wasn’t great but better than being at home. It was good to see that schools have changed and now understand how to identify children having troubles.

I was psychologically abused at home and Ian Wright realised it himself while speaking to a psychologist. He had never thought about it that way and it shocked him. I look back at my own childhood and wonder how I survived the constant oppression I received. People don’t see what goes on behind closed doors and silence is part of it, speak up or retaliate and you get more grief. I used to get angry and it didn’t help as it would just escalate the issues and it was interesting when Ian spoke of how he realised his anger was his way of releasing the pressure as he just didn’t know how else to communicate. He realised it was part of it, I never thought of it that way but it makes sense for me too. I had no outlet so it would be released as anger.

Similar to Ian, school was my escape, there were a few teachers who helped to give me confidence to excel at some subjects and give me confidence that I could better myself. I managed to get into a grammar school, I did well in exams, getting a degree and having the foundation for a good job. Leaving home was the pinnacle for me, it was leaving home and the oppressive environment that help me start to believe in myself. I was supported by a network of student friends at that time which really helped me. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders when I left my childhood home.

I don’t see my parents much now because the psychological effects still bite. I find it hard to see them, I am an adult but I cannot forgive. They still throw negative comments at me. I will never be good enough for them and I will never be anything in their eyes. They are stuck in a hole and cannot see what they are doing or a way out. It’s a terrible way to live but one I have come to accept. I am glad that programmes like this are made, showing others that this can and does happen to anyone. Don’t judge a book by its cover!

Is that my driver for FI ?

For me, this IS the core driver for FIRE – I had looked at FI in my early working years, the RE bit is not really a target. Financial Independence is the aim to be able to pick and choose when to work and to not be locked into dependence on a partner or employer. I wanted to be able to survive and support myself. I want to be self sufficient and saving became a core part of that. I really could have done with a mentor but I try hard to learn and self educate.

I am getting there, i don’t think I am fully FI, if I am at the moment it is in the form of thin FI as I am surviving but don’t have the correct setup to supply a good passive income for the long term but I am trying to get there. FI is a long journey and it takes time and I have to remember to be patient and let the compounding do its thing. I keep checking my progress and seeking out new routes to provide better growth but also balance that with diversity and distribution to make sure I don’t have all my eggs in one basket. It seems to be working at the moment.

I continue on my journey into the future and feel relieved that my childhood is a distance past.

Divorced from work

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I was amused but also total agree with the article I read recently in the Guardian about being married to work. Link below:

Guardian – Married to the Job

I worked for an employer where the work culture was ‘full on’ and I was on call 24/7. I would get calls during the night to resolve issues – or just to confirm that they were not important and could be left until people were in the office during office hours to fix. It was a work hard play hard culture – I had fun there and I did enjoy it. I felt like I belonged.

At the time I was of an age where I just thought I was getting on and needed to be like this to climb the ladder and succeed. It did eventually take its toll on me as my relationship was destroyed – partly by this but other factors were at play – as my partner didn’t like the amount of times I had to cancel personal activities due to work commitments and expectations. It was double-edged because that work paid for lots of things and kept the roof over our heads, it also meant he wasn’t under pressure to earn. ( He came to realised this afterwards)

When there I remember talking to a work colleague who worked in a different department and they spend a lot of their time travelling and her husband had started to say that it was too much and she had realised that she was as he said ‘married to the job’. It was taking its toll as those that did well were the ones who were single or had less dependencies in their personal life. She eventually left and realised after a bit of a decompression that she agreed with her husband because she was inside this ‘work bubble’ she couldn’t see it. Once she step outside she realised how it was affecting her life and even her health. She didn’t realise how poor her general health was until she stop, she told me how it leaving had really enabled her to change her life for the better.

After my relationship split I realised how married to the job I was. I ended up doing more hours as I had no home life and I realised how I had no non work friendships. It is still the same now, I don’t really have a social circle because I have invested all my time into my work to the determent of my personal life. I spend so much time travelling I just don’t get time to step out of it.

The last year has made me realise how bad that has been for me. I left my job at the end of 2019 with the plan to spend some time cultivating a more balanced personal life only to find the pandemic has trashed that. Now that lockdown is being eased again maybe I will be able to start trying to grow a social network. We just don’t realise the bubble we get into when working. Our work is not ‘us’ and I have fallen foul of the ‘work is my status’ and had that tag of ‘workaholic’. I was so overweight on the work side of the work/life balance that I have some serious rebalancing work to do.

Hindsight is a good thing, I would tell my younger self to not neglect the life side of the equation but what is done is done. I now need to find a way of getting a better work/life balance. With the pandemic in play I am struggling to find a part-time role which suits me. I would like some locally based work so I can start to make some local friendships and start to cultivate a social network for real. I am not really feeling the ‘pull’ to go back to a full time job – all of which have job descriptions implying if not explicitly expecting long hours and high work demands. All this is making me want to just retire and step off the treadmill and work on getting my finances in order so I can be truly FI and just live off this until I reach state retirement age and draw my state pension and my deferred DB pension.

I read the summary of the ‘Die with Zero’ book and it has made me think. I could use these principles to be FI and just kick the work dependency and just pick up a job when I feel like it rather than feel I have to have a job to fit in with family expectations. I am starting to ‘slow down’ I have taken time to decompress fully but I am starting to get there, I think.

Accidental FI ?

freedom – pixabay.com

It isn’t quite how I expected this year to go but I am accidently FI as with no job I am using my FI pot to support my living costs this year. I wanted some time off and broke the chains and escaped the rat race for a chance to relax, reset and have some ‘me time’. My anxiety and panic attacks were getting too much and I needed to escape.

I was going to spend this year getting work done on my house, travel/holiday a bit and go to some festivals and basically have some time out to relax and rebuild my health as my last job burnt me out with its toxic culture and I had had enough and needed the break. I was worried I would get a more serious health issue if I didn’t have a break and relax.

I expected to be back in a job by now having recharged my batteries and feeling more composed and focused but that is not going to happen. I have heard back from my recent job application and its a “no” so I am ending the year how I started, without a job. I cannot see it getting any better next year as the sector I work in has been hit hard by COVID lockdowns and the prospect of new projects is looking very slim. Some more of my ex work colleagues will be losing their jobs in the new year once the companies they work for have been wound up and sold off by the administrators. It’s bleak.

I am one of those who fit into the potentially ‘forced into retirement‘ category. I am trying to avoid jobs that are directed at younger people and I feel that ageism is affecting my ability to get another job. I will continue to look for work but not sure I will find any and I don’t have a good network to help me. In some ways I am glad I am not working as my body is telling me that it is not ready to go back to working. Especially the stressful type of job I was doing before, so I need to rethink.

I can be grateful for my FI path as this has provided me with the parachute to enable me to survive during this crisis and in some ways I am lucky and grateful as I haven’t had to work in unsafe conditions and have manged to limit my exposure risks. I have volunteered and enjoyed some alternative work and had a chance to read and learn some new things. If anything this pandemic has proven how useful it is to have an emergency fund and build some financial security to endure these kinds of unexpected events.

I have completed a few courses on subjects I have always wanted to learn more on but hadn’t had the time to do before. From that perspective I have been living an accidental FI life this year, it was unplanned but had proved to be a saviour and provide some safety in these unsettled times.

So following a FI path has many benefits and this year has proved how it can help in difficult times and enable you to survive and hopefully in the long term I will prosper. Maybe I will look back and see how this was the start of a new direction and the necessary break I needed to relax, reset and then move forward. Not so much a mid life crisis as a reset and move into a different direction.

I am so glad I am walking the FI path to hopefully a more fulfilling and happy future.

2020… reflections so far….

Its been a strange year and everything I had planned has blown up. I was feeling happy when I quit my job at the end of last year. It was killing me, the constant nagging and nit-picking of the managers was getting to both me and my work colleague. I was having panic attacks and unable to sleep due to the stress of it all. We had both had enough of the sh*t, we both had sleep issues and had been working very hard late into evenings and overnights to get things completed yet nothing was every good enough for the management team. Even if we met deadlines, we needed to have achieved more than planned. We were incompetent. As soon as the project was delivered, we both quit. We had done our bit, we had finished the project – we had reached our personal target – over to the business to run it now!

I left the building on my last day in Dec 2019 with a sense of relief. The weight on my shoulders had lifted and I felt free. I started the year with optimism that a break and a fresh start at a new place would brighten my view of work.

How a virus can put paid to all that. The beginning of the year started well with the ability to detox, decompress and get a few jobs sorted on my house. I had tickets booked for gigs and festivals and was looking forward to the summer, with a holiday booked too. The ability to go and do some ‘life’ things rather than being locked to a work schedule. I met up with my ex-work colleague and we both looked much better from leaving, we could sleep, we both felt more relaxed and felt we have made the right decision.

Workman were booked in and things were happening on my house which were long over due. As the work neared completion talk of the virus began to appear and the views of it being a ‘flu’ were rife.

Then as I started to look for a new job, the March lockdown kicked in. The job market stopped overnight. As I wasn’t working I was not affected by the immediate stay at home request. I enjoyed being able to go out walking and cycling with no traffic! I couldn’t meet my partner as we don’t live together so the isolation was the hardest bit for me. Living on your own in these times are the hardest, I was a prisoner. We could only call and skype each other, we both felt the isolation. We started to see cancellations for gigs and festivals, depressing. Everything started to be, ‘next year then, roll on 2021’.

I gave up looking for work during April and found voluntary work sewing scrubs with a local group. This gave me a sense of purpose and enabled me to have a daily routine. I had tasks and deadlines. It was something completely different and refreshed my skills that had laid dormant for years. I enjoyed it and was a complete break from the office grind. I started seeing dividends being cut and my passive income streams started to dry up. Not an immediate problem but would cause an issue in the long-term if this continues into next year.

In May as things started to ease, I could go and visit my partner and form a support bubble so that has been encouraging. Our summer holiday was cancelled, we have moved it to next year. I applied for jobs and had a few interviews – but they came to nothing – I am not the 30-something male that they want. I started looking for side hustles, I found a virtual platform recommended by a freelancer and I joined. It wasn’t too bad, I had to completed some tests to gain access to restricted work areas but I found it different from what I had done before and things started to look up.

I continued to sew and have a purpose. I walked and cycled and felt like I was starting to relax a bit. The decompression phase was beginning to kick in after all the anxiety of lockdown. The workplace world still causes me to panic. I look and get put off by the job descriptions as they want either full time office attendance or the ‘world of experience & qualifications’; it is definitely a buyer’s market as people ask for huge amounts of experience for lower salaries. I think I am not ready to return to the workplace as I was so traumatised by my last employer. They killed my spirit and my mojo. I question my ability to do anything now, I lost my self-esteem by the end. I felt I couldn’t even write my name without getting it wrong!

I continue to seek out virtual platform jobs and as the sewing declined I sought out more tasks to earn money. I read the user forum and found that veteran users are moaning about the poor pay rates and the lack of work. You could earn a reasonable amount of income on the site but now it has fallen off a cliff. The number of users has grown considerably due to the pandemic and the user base has expanded globally by over 300k users in the past 3 months. It was mainly a US/European based but now it is global. It has affected pay and access to work. I read posts about people earning good amounts per month on the platform with ease last year, I am lucky if I can earn a tenth of that now! There are also comments about the quality of the work going down too as more people join who either try to scam the site to gain cash for doing nothing or just write gibberish. The restricted area was supposed to offer higher pay rates due to the time required to complete them and demanded that you pass tests before you can access the actual tasks – to control user standards – the rates had been dropping and users had been boycotting tasks where rates were really low – so the platform reacted by opening it up to the global user base. Their boycott backfired and the pay rates will remain low as other countries see these rates as good. Everything is paid in US dollars so the exchange rate determines the best earning potential so globalisation shows it hand again!

The money I make is just pin-money but it would be good if I could find a hustle that would give me an increased income so I can continue to live without the need for a job and flex my hours and days. I am now starting to see more jobs advertised as remote working or flex working – which is what I would prefer. Maybe something will appear for which I am qualified. What is clear is that companies have frozen their investment in new projects while they survive this pandemic. – Which is fair enough ! I would if I was a business owner – It has had a devastating affect on their incomes and ability to trade. I have ex work colleagues who are losing their jobs as the furlough scheme winds down and they find that their employer cannot keep them on. Many are because the business just doesn’t have any projects so has no income to pay them. They are prioritising those workers who are vital to the running of the company. They are looking at the bare minimum cover and making do with the staff they have. The only local jobs near me are warehouse work. They are turning over staff on a daily basis as people try it out find it too physical and quit as they cannot keep up with the pace required to meet pick targets. I am too old to try it, I know my limitations.

Financially, I have watched my net worth crash with the markets and also start to rise slowly. I have watched my dividends dry up and passive income fall. It really began to hit hard in June when the withdrawal of dividends really started to impact my bottom line figures. I have been bombarded with emails and letters notifying me of dropping interest rates on savings and none keep pace with inflation! I am seeing my cash eroded as I survive on it.

I am moving money to chase the best interest rates but it feels like fool’s gold as the interest rates will drop in a few months as the government try to push people to spend their money. I will put some into my ISA to use my allowance and accept the perils of the market roller coaster. Its OK for the politicians in their ivory towers with guaranteed pensions and work-for-home flexibility. They can quit and not have to claim or live off benefits. They end up with non-exec roles and quango placements.

I can feel grateful that I can pay my bills and I am surviving. I panic over not having a job as it gives me a sense of purpose – if i could fight that demon by finding purpose in other areas then I may conquer and contain it. Work is my only social connection too as I have no social circle or friends and have limited ability to gain any due to social distancing and restrictions on gathering. I have been such a work nomad I have never made any proper social circles or friendships that last.

I do need to find some work long term as I am not FI. I have enough to live a frugal life and cover my costs but nothing for luxuries or big plans. I need to fight my inner demons and break this self-esteem issue that clouds my mind with negative thoughts. Then I will feel more confident in my job applications and maybe even get some work. It’s not the status I seek but a sense of belonging and contribution.

I need to spend more time working on my personal development and kick this demon into touch!

Net Worth Analysis

I thought I would have a look at how my net worth is being affected by the current situation and how some of the component parts of my investments are holding up (or not) during this virus situation.

My Net Worth:

Networth-graph

My net worth has blip’ed during March and has now started to recover which is pretty good. During March it had dropped by 18% but it is now tracking at around 9% down from the start of the year. If I have a look at some of the constituent parts that make up my net worth I can see how each was affected since the beginning of the year. I separately monitor my ISA, pension and shares. I ignore my property assets when looking at Net Worth.

My ISA:

Looking at my ISA holdings, this has been pretty resilient so far and my pension has tracked the same trend, mainly because these both use index trackers as their constituent building blocks. The ratio to UK and global index funds differs between my pension and ISA but I haven’t seen this as an issue so far as they both trend the same.

isa-graph

As you can see the impact in March was quite considerable and it is currently indicating a ‘V’ shape bounce although with the second wave expected and other countries still battling with the first wave I am expecting a drop to occur and some interesting graphical representations to appear over the coming months. As my pension is tracking a similar pattern I will not add a pension graph as this also shows a ‘V’ shape trend.

My Shares:

Now my shares are an interesting part of my overall Net Worth, I hold a number of individual shares which are taxable. These are a mix of old employer shares from share save and option schemes and selected dividend yield companies. When I first started saving and looking at FI, I looked at buying dividend shares to gain an income, as I received dividends I reinvested them in more shares and built a reasonable holding over the years. Over time I have moved from buying dividend shares to buying index funds within ISAs.

Shares-graph

Now these took quite a knock in March as the impact of the lockdown hit and businesses had to close. I haven’t bought any shares for ages as I push any surplus money into ISA or pension instead. In this graph an ‘L’ shaped trend is apparent. They are now starting to pickup as the lockdown eases and business can start trading again. Some of my shares are with companies which have continued to trade unhindered by the lockdown and these have also continued to pay dividends as they are key or infrastructure related businesses that continued to operate and even gained additional sales due to the lockdown. So the ‘L’ shape is not as pronounced as it could have been.

I am tracking the dividends that these companies will pay out over the next year and reviewing whether they are worth keeping over the long term (chasing dividends) or would I be better selling at a profit and putting the money into ISA accounts instead (chasing growth) and utilise my annual CGT and restructure my Net Worth components.

If companies continue to hold onto dividends then a growth chasing strategy would be more beneficial. I expect this area of my net worth to continue to roller coaster over the coming months as the fallout from this pandemic continues to affect business operations and sales.

 

 

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!

 

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!