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 Progress

Can’t believe its nearly the end of April already. I have received my tax return notice and will have to start collating all the info for submission. Now that savings interest is paid gross I have to see what tax I may need to pay and also what will be due on taxable dividends.

And what do you mean, we now have an general election on the 8th June. Ouch! Its bad enough with the local council ones. I am not a political animal and don’t really like the media coverage and hype that is being stirred up about Brexit. I have been trying to avoid this by evaluating things more closer to home.

I have been reviewing my work life at the moment as the job is getting toxic. I have been reading ournextlife.com and it makes interesting reading. I love the positivity and the analysis of the journey and the thoughts it provokes.  I particularly like the article on self worth & validation. I am someone who likes to feel that I am making a difference at work and that I am contributing to make positive steps for others. Getting a thanks for making a difference is more important to me than anything and gives me the self worth and fulfilment that has made going to work enjoyable and worthy.  That has been the draw rather than climbing the career ladder. I guess I have fallen into the “live to work” trap and in the past enjoyed my jobs and feeling rewarded by the positive comments from others for work delivered and achieved….making a difference….be that as a team or individual… I have received promotions along the way but have not wanted to strive for the higher levels of management and the heady heights of the career ladder.

In my current job that making a difference feeling is missing. Work is not providing any internal or external validation for me. It is not something that is present in the tasks I am performing at the moment. My contributions seem to be constantly questioned. I am being challenged at every turn and my every move interrogated to the point I now feel that I question my own ability to actually do the job. Micromanagement is kicking in big time due the the office politics, people trying to protect their own backs and putting me in the ‘scapegoat’ situation. Its a sorry state of affairs when a job turns sour. The politics of office life raises its sickly head and the dark clouds of a toxic environment start to billow around you. It has hit home harder his week as a work colleague has handed in their notice. They are not happy with their role and have found something new to move to, which will hopefully be better for them. I hope it works out well for them and also makes me realise I need to do something about my situation. I need to plan my escape.

Leaving work would resolve the toxic element but where would I find the self worth and the validation I seek? I have an innate passion for doing a good job and put my heart and soul into things. Where would I find that in a new job and eventually in FIRE?

I am not in FIRE territory yet, still on the journey with all its twists and turns. I suppose I could quit work and live off my savings for a while then look for something new.  A change of direction is needed. I did that the other year when the previous job I accepted turned out to be ‘not as advertised’. I jumped into a job too quickly after my redundancy and paid the price. What I do seem to feel is that the role I do just doesn’t fit me any more. Being a punchbag for others to verbally abuse and stress out is hard on my health. Headaches and pains abound and I wonder what it is really doing to my underlying health. As I walk into work I can feel the heavy chains wrap themselves around my body and a vice like grip squeeze the life out of my brain. I am the middle man with no ability to control or affect the situation. I don’t have that ‘teflon’ coating that seems to be required in this role, I am worn down and generally demoralised by the whole working world.

It’s making me turn the wrong way and make bad decisions. I am walking into stupid situations and making silly mistakes because my brain has disengaged. Stupid me!

I know I am ranting but need to let off the steam. An outlet for my anger is required and I need to calm down and get focused on moving on, moving forward. Frustration that I cannot expect being FIRE to completely resolve, how will it provide the validation I seek going forward. I need to find a hustle that gives me some focus and some self-worth. That need to achieve and get a feedback loop. That motivation and feeling of being valued has to come from somewhere, now in my working life and once I reach FIRE?

Where do I find it? When will I find it?

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.

The woes of health

Something that is at the back of my mind when thinking about FI is health.

It may sound dark, but it is something that worries me and news over the past week has brought it to the fore. One of my relatives died of a brain aneurysm the other week. They were not very old. They worked hard and had their own business and financially supported their family. I am sure they had a stressful life and ended up dying peacefully ( I may add) at home while sleeping.

They are not the first case in the family and it is another driver towards thinking about our time in the world. I don’t want to sound morbid, I have things I would like to achieve and do before my time expires. I don’t want to spend all my time working and chained to a desk and never having the ‘freedom’ to achieve some of my dreams/goals. Why can’t I have a few months off to do what I want? (Only achievable by leaving a job because no-one wants to give you a sabbatical, its work or leave).

I have health issues related to stress and don’t want to end up  adding to these family statistics. I then went on to hear about another family friend whose partner died at work, a heart attack (they were only in there 40s). Again, they were stressed out and working too hard and it all became too much.

I realise, I must not let my job get to me and stress me out, if it does, I either need to learn to calm down and relax or leave.

My ‘freedom session’ last year was great for my health. I cycled regularly and felt the best I had in years. I am now back to sitting behind a desk all day and already feeling the pounds piling on 😦

My current plan is to work this job for a year and then review my FI status and whether to drop out and escape the prison again. Its these kinds on events that make you think about where you want to be and what you want to do.