What’s your motivation to reach FI?

It’s a question that has many answers. I read other FI blogs and see how others approach this question and how they use it as a motivator to reach their goal.

Some approach FI by accident due to redundancy/windfall and look at the job market making them realise how they : hated the job / stuck in a rut / obsolete skills / want to do something else  (delete as appropriate).

Some approach it by having the ‘AH HA’ moment where they step back and look at their life and wonder :  why am I doing this job / ‘there must be more to life than this’ / where’s my life gone / how did I end up here? (delete as appropriate).

Others set out with an intention right from the start of their working life to step on and step off as quickly as possible. Generating enough income to step off the treadmill and walk another path for the remainder of their life.

My original thoughts were just a teenage dream before I really started working where I had the view that I just wanted to get a ‘high-paying job’ earn enough money to save a ‘pot’, leave my job and use this ‘pot’ to fund my craft activities and still survive knowing that I didn’t have to rely on my crafts to supply an income.

Work life began and I became trapped into the ‘status anxiety’ aspect of my life being defined by my job. I lived to work rather than working to live. I enjoyed it, working for a FTSE100 company, the responsibility, the long hours, the challenges, the push to perform at all cost. Then redundancy strikes, it spins you out of the circle and you look back into that bubble and realise how stupid you were. You are dispensable, your job does not define your life – well if it did, it doesn’t now.

That wake-up call made me focus again on saving hard, being frugal and changing my direction and views on where my life path goes. I am nearly there, so near and yet so far, reaching that final line is the hardest step. The light can be seen and its brightness is growing stronger by the month but it keeps running away like a rainbow’s end.

I took a ‘break’ from working and reset my focus. I took a new job – not ideal but ok – it started off well. I’ve been doing this job for 18 months now and it has had its ups and downs. I am saving hard and feel I am getting there now. ISA, SIPP and pension are all going in the right direction. The FI path is looking stronger, while the job itself becomes more traumatic by the week. I stick it out with the view that I just need to keep going for a bit longer to finally step over the finishing line.

Why this navel gazing? Well, the role is expecting me to lie (‘white lie’) to people. My boss has told me off once for telling senior managers the truth when I should have used ‘white lies’. I have received the “do what I’m told and I will protect you” chat too. Then I was told to ‘fudge figures’ on a spreadsheet to hide my boss’ mistakes/errors. Now, about to be reprimanded again for telling seniors the truth, telling lies only comes back to hit you later as you trip over them. Maybe I have had a charmed life, I have never had to experience this type of office behaviour. I don’t like working in this kind of office environment, it goes against my moral compass.

The job I do bores me, it’s not really my core role/skill-set, its a “nearest equivalent”, it does not thrill or inspire me. I am a creative/problem-solver type and I am not exercising my brain – I am leaving it at the door each day – playing office politics. I am feeling my brain-cells slowly dying in the process. Career-wise, I have ended up in a niche technical role for which jobs are few and far between. Recruitment agents have said they will struggle to find any openings for that role. Which is why I am doing this “nearest equivalent” job. I need to widen my skill set and re-train to get the certificates that employers now require you to hold. Do I really want to spend £5k+ of my own money on training for just a few more years of work in this field?

That’s why I want to get off the career treadmill, my current expertise has limited opportunities and employers are not interested in having someone like me, they make do with cheaper more generic types.

I want to revisit other skills that have laid dormant for years and re-awaken them and start getting that spark of inspiration and thrill into my life. Start by doing things for fun, then see if they could be turned into a side-line income stream.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You only live once and need to feel you have lived it to your best.

 

 

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Pensions – Why are they so bad?

It’s that time of year when  I receive pension statements. I do wonder what the point of a pension is as every year their value may increase (a little) but their payout forecast just drops and drops each year.

This year my paid up personal pension is quoting a ‘massive’ £283 PER YEAR pension when I reach 60 – Wow that is really going to give me enough to live off! ** I did look at re-starting this pension but they want me to get a solicitor to sign off forms to prove my identity!? WTF ?! They know where I live, they have history on me and can check the DD details and ID check me electronically – I still pay contributions to them for something else – so why do I need to provide all this info, just so I can restart monthly payments as a fixed rate ( due to their rules(?) I can only pay in the amount that I was when I stopped it. Which is a pittance anyway).

I stopped it because it was a pension I took out when I first started working and my employer at the time did not have a pension scheme. I then moved job and wanted to join my new employer’s really good company scheme (it was a final salary!) – at that time you couldn’t have two pensions on the go so I had to stop this one. My final-salary pension is now deferred as I have left that employer and I know what that will pay out from 65, they currently guarantee me an annual value. Can I be sure it will still be there when I reach 65 – possibly not if BHS, Hoover, etc… are anything to go by?

The next pension statement was for my personal pension (a stakeholder) which I still contribute to, a small but regular payment. If I retire at 55 (I set the age to this when I opened it to give me flexibility to drawn from that age onwards if I wanted to), I will receive a whole £850 PER YEAR. Not even enough to pay my annual council tax never mind monthly living costs.

The next pension statement received is from my current employer pension scheme. Now, this scheme is a money-purchase – I don’t know anyone who has an active final-salary one now. It’s value is open to fluctuation and heavy interpretation anyway. If I continue to work for my present employer until I reach 65 (which I very much doubt – given the fact that I am looking to leave), I can potentially claim a pension of £3,000 PER YEAR.

I don’t get to claim my state pension until 67 due to the government changes, which could change again between now and then. I also cannot get a figure out of DWP either as due to opt-out years, my state pension value will have a deduction due to SERPs opt-out years, which they will not calculate until I actually reach state pension age. So all I know is that it will be less than £8k per year as I will have opt-out deductions.

That’s why I am so glad I am investing separately to gain some control over my future with savings via ISAs and a SIPP, I can see the value when I want to and do something about it. Well, at least try to do something about it! 🙂

 

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…….

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.

 

 

 

Where does the time go?

Its been a long time since I last posted on the site.

I have been busy and not really on much of an FI focus either. August has been a busy month for me. My work load has fluctuated in the treadmill and things are not too bad really. It is definitely a less stressful job to my last one and not getting any s* from people trying to preserve their jobs and fight to stay alive is a real blessing that I am starting to enjoy.

I have also had the ‘hassle’ of jury service. ‘The Man’ does not pay me for this ‘civil duty’ so I needed to keep this to a minimum so I could earn a reasonable monthly income. A benefit of my FI ways means that my expenses are far lower than my income so I can manage to cope with a loss of income for a short while.

With the bank holiday dropping within the jury service period, I only had to do 9 days – Woop! My duty is now complete and I am now waiting to see how much money I will receive as ‘allowances’ for the days I ‘attended’. It was nice weather so having a proper lunch time was pretty impressive, having time to go to a coffee shop and sit and take my time over lunch was great and going home early when dismissed from court was very much a novelty.

I realise I must take my lunch time break properly and relax and also go home on time once I am back on the treadmill. Once the clock clicks on home time I need to get up and walk out. I shouldn’t feel any duty to ‘The Man’, my job is just serving a purpose – one of gaining FI freedom.

I used to enjoy and find my job/career fulfilling. It gave me a sense of purpose and I had some status. Now, I just bumble along, no respect, no status – just a job.

I am now concentrating on my diary and fill it with experiences and outings that will make me feel happy but without excessive costs.

A good one was the heritage weekend – a chance to go to some places and not have to pay the ridiculous prices and see areas normally closed to the public. Really enjoyed that weekend and added in a trip to see a sport which I enjoy watching. Getting more activities into my diary is making a big difference to my well being.

My checkup visit to the dentist proved that this goal is being achieved. I don’t have the tension pains and jaw problems that I used to have!! Yay!!!   The underlying stress that twisted my muscles and tensed my body has gone. I am being released from the years of stress-filled employment with companies that sucked you dry – then dumped you without any guilt.

Roll on the day when I can say I am free from the need to work and gain the ‘choice’ to work.