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.




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.

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.

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.

Back to the world of work

After having a freedom break for the past 6 months, I have now been offered a opportunity to go back to the world of work.

I don’t start working until the new year so I have a few more weeks of freedom before I have to set my alarm clock and join the commuters on the ant trail to work.

I am hoping that this will be a better place to work that the last job. Hopefully I will be treated as a person not a number. The place and the people I have met seemed friendly and welcoming, only time will tell.

I have enjoyed my freedom from the workplace and have had the chance to recharge my batteries and complete some things that I have been wanting to do for ages. I have learnt a lot about myself and that I also need something to occupy my day. During the summer months, I had plenty to do and activities to keep me out of trouble. What I have found is that I am still operating on the ‘live to work’ mentality and since the weather has changed and the summer volunteering activity season has come to an end, I have been looking for something to do.

People-watching is ok for a while but it becomes a little sad, sitting in the coffee shop listening to the vibrant table of retirees [who all appear to be retired from a single workplace, all in their 60s] having their weekly catch up and gossip.

All my workplaces have been at the other end of long commutes and my ex-work colleagues are all dispersed around the country and still working so daytime meet up opportunities are nonexistent.

So the lure of work has called and I have hopefully found a nice workplace. I know that if it doesn’t suit me, I can leave. I am not tied to The Man, I have a free-pass, I can leave the prison camp if I want to.

That freedom was a key goal of FI. The ability to chose to work and pick something that interests me when I do. I have started some hobbies that I had never found the time for before. It is now part of my routine and I can do them and still work. I have put the ground work in now during my time off and I can continue to practice and perfect them until they can become a side-hustle in the future.

I must finish my Xmas shopping and get ready for the new year. I am still following my FI path, growing funds when working and consuming them when I’m not.

Roll on 2016! A new year and a new start.

Mid November and people watching

I cannot believe how fast this year is going. It is 6 months since I quit my job and do I feel bad about it?

No – not about leaving that office it was not a good place for me, it didn’t suit and I am so much happier.

Yes – I have recently been catching up with other blogs including “Living a FI” which comments about the nagging inner voice that has a go at you for not working. I am trying to beat it and ignore it. It will be a long-term fight after years of working and self-motivation, it is hard to switch off. I keep thinking I need to get a job – but do I really? The ‘do I have enough?’ question keeps nagging when you see your investments losing value this month.

I have been concentrating on getting out there and enjoying cycling and people watching. I have noticed the regular walkers and cyclists, most of them of retirement age. Others have been younger and have been with children, so either parents or child-carers.

I haven’t seen any people of my own age out, being ‘the guy/gal’ sitting looking relaxed and stress free.

I travelled to London this month to see the Celts exhibition at the British Museum. It was a treat for me and I didn’t realise how long it had been since I had visited the BM, I looked back, it was 2010 when I was last there…WOW…that long, just shows how work life had eaten up my free time and stopped me treating myself with outings.

It was a grand day out and I managed to get a reasonable deal on my train tickets, £25 return which given a rock-up on the day price can be over £100 one-way that was pretty good going. It did involve getting the slow train into London, it stopped at pretty much every station and had to wait at one while a faster train passed it. It was full and was a mix of commuters and students, there were a few people like me just travelling for leisure.

I arrived into the bustle of Euston station and I watched as the commuters steamed off the train at a high rate of knots to get to work. They must have understanding bosses to let get into work so late? (It was 11am).

I had researched a walking route to the BM as it isn’t really that far away and it actually was the same time-wise as getting a tube. The weather was great and it would save me the tube fare. I could enjoy the walk and just taking it easy. The route took me pass a Uni and through some garden squares which help to give that sense of green in the sea of concrete and tarmac. The roads were busy and humming with queuing traffic. Escaping this to walk through the gardens and watch the leaves falling from the trees was relaxing. I sat, ate my lunch and then continued on.

When I reached the BM, I came back to earth with a bump; crowds of children with their hi-viz vests on (gone are the days of uniforms and controlled kids!). The adults were struggling to maintain control of the kids, no discipline these days.

I had bought my ticket on-line (do not like the £1 admin fee = 5% of the ticket price! You don’t even get a ticket for that, just an email code number to present at the entrance). No queue to enter, once inside though, it was full of coach crowds of people. In the past when you went to an exhibition there was space and the ability to easily see the exhibits. This time I had to queue to see the items on display in the cabinets. The work was great, no problem there. Such craft and such skill. Even with all the technology and tools available today, we cannot create items with such perfect design and craftsmanship with so much intricate detail. These items were created to last, I wonder what items from today will still be here in thousands of years time? Not much, I’m sure.

On thing I have noticed is how the BM has changed. It is now just as commercial as any company. Originally you would get lots of information with the displays. Now, the info is limited and you therefore need to make notes and lookup details on the internet afterwards or buy the exhibition book at a mere £25. After I had finished viewing the exhibition, I was exited into the shop – of course – to enable me to buy my souvenirs. Plenty of things for the kids to spend their pocket money on.

I had time to walk around other areas of the BM, but first a drink and a sit down. I bought a drink in the cafe (my only treat, given the silly prices) and sat down and people watched. Plenty of foreign visitors and more school groups. Listening to conversations in full flow in French and German around me.

I then went to visit the rooms on my list: Europe (to see the saxon/celt/roman exhibits) again, I noticed that to get any good info, you need to get an audio guide (£££) and so I made notes so I could research them later. I then went to find the Greek and Assyrian rooms. I just love looking at the Assyrian reliefs. They are just so vibrant and again, skills that have been lost.

I tried to avoid the kids running riot around the rooms and find some peaceful areas to just sit and relax and take in the view. Soon it was time to leave, so retraced my walking route through the squares and back to the train station. The train I was planned to catch was one of the last ones before peak begins. Wow, when the train platform number was displayed there was a big rush to the train. I managed to get a seat and by the time the train left, the train was full, no spare seats and this was the 3:45pm train?

It was full of a mix of leisure passengers, like me, and commuters. Mid-week and commuters leaving the office before 5pm? How is that possible? I never left work until post-6pm, maybe London working is different?

Lots of people sitting reading work notes/tapping on their laptops. It was reasonably quiet until one person took a call. She was amusing everyone with her conversation. Talk of work/life balance and how she would not accept the job unless she can leave the office before 4pm so that she could have a personal life?

The facial expressions from some of the other passengers was a picture. I was talking to a guy the other week, who has no choice but to work in London, he gets up and catches a train at 5am and does not get home until after 8pm in the evening, he can’t leave work until after 6pm. He is shattered by the time he gets to the weekend and spends the weekend trying to recover ready for the next week. It made this person seem like a ‘Do you know who I am? type’ or just someone who has the ability to chose!

Wow, I have never had that much command on job offers. Its been a take it or leave it situation. I arrived back just before 5pm and walked home. A great day out and I am so glad that I am free of the workplace, after watching some of the commuters.

I sat waiting for the train in the morning, watching the commuter trains pass with lots of sad, unhappy and tired people travelling into work…another day…another dollar.

No wonder people are demotivated, we have become drones and work life drains us so much, it was a driver to go for a FI/RE option and I am glad to be currently taking some time out and enjoying the freedom from work while I can.

My FI/RE pot is currently below the value required to be FI, so it worries me that I don’t have enough but I just need to sit it out, the markets are tumbling again and I need to just hang tight and ignore it and learn to wait.

Now to find my next adventure outing and research and read.

October Summary

The end of October already, I can’t believe that this year is nearly over. Yet another month flies by and I can’t tell where it has gone. It started off quite busy with a wedding to attend and then at the end a load of expenses. I have kept my food expenses well below the budget this month, so that has helped to balance out the overspend on other areas. I have started seeing the Christmas goodies and adverts, only 8 more Mondays until Christmas. Oh, BAHH HUMBUG!! I have never been much of a fan of Christmas, my work life has involved working Christmas as a peak time so it was never a joyous time for me. I guess I will need to sort out Christmas presents over the next few weeks. What a scrooge I am….lol…

Now, historically this month is a bad month for me, it includes a whole host of expenses to keep my car on the road and prep the house for winter. I do walk and use my bike as much as possible now and the amount of mileage is going down. When I was working in my last-but-one job, I was having to commute over 100 miles per day and I was ramping up the mileage on my car and spending a lot if time getting the car serviced and buying fuel (on a company fuel card…) to keep the day job ticking over.

Now that job is all over….well….any job at the moment, the car is sitting happily in the garage taking a break, like me. Hopefully over the next year I can try and get the car back down to the mileage expected for its age. In the meantime, I have been quite happy with the amount of money I am saving on travel costs. The car happily motored up to the wedding at the beginning of the month, so it gets a good long run out periodically. I have also been able to drop the mileage for the insurance quote. Whatever happens though, the cost of insuring your car just seems to creep up each year. With the new increase in insurance tax too from 3 to 9% hasn’t helped. I am still paying £15 more than last year couldn’t get it any cheaper without hiking up the excess to something stupid.

I am now on my new utility fixed plan, again, the costs just go up. I searched for the best/cheapest deal and even then I still see that the unit costs have risen. I have managed to keep the standing charges the same as in reality that is the bit that hits me the most as it is a fixed cost and so the benefits kick in if you can get a good unit rate to go with it. It was great when I was on a no standing charge tariff but the government killed that off when it brought in the new rules over each supplier only being able to offer 4 deals and all with standing charges.

I will just keep adding layers and wear my thermals more this winter! This month I also had the boiler serviced ready for the cold weather. With all this fog, rain and the clock change it is feeling cold and gloomy. So I thought I better get everything in order. I have also noticed that most of my neighbours are doing the same thing. There seems to be a lot of house maintenance going on; new kitchens (can’t afford one of those on my non-working budget) and outside maintenance –  trees trimmed and gardens cleared for the winter. (Most of those jobs I have been doing myself when the weather has been good).

On the finances front, my cash has been reducing – as expected as I eat into it. I am restocking my cash fund with dividends and trying to live off those alone and leave the investment growth part untouched. My investments are now beginning to pick up and I have ended the month on a positive growth figure. Overall this year, my investments are up by 10%. That isn’t bad when I look back over the past 3 months were growth figures were near flat or negative.

I have started working on some side hustle projects with a view of seeing if I can earn some money that way. I have been researching other sellers and looking for good tips and I will hopefully be able to get something up and running soon. I am still in the planning/building stage but hopefully I can get something underway soon.

In some kind of ‘fate’ incident, one of my old workplaces has a job going – similar to one I did before I was made redundant. It would involve working in a different team and they have moved offices since I last worked there so on first impressions it would feel like a new place. The new jobs are to encourage movement and provide some career progression for those that are still there (something they lack – due to dead-man’s shoes syndrome). I have been told about the jobs and asked if I would apply. It would involve line managing a team where there is no training opportunities, no pay rises or other incentives to increase productivity and encourage them but heavy appraisal frameworks to weed out under performers. With so much lack of movement, the team members get stale and eventually, they either become zombies, picking up their monthly paycheck and ‘doing enough to get by and pass their appraisal’ or they move to find pastures new and find something that gives them growth and stimulus before they lose their minds to zombie-ism. (Is there such a word???)

It was this lack of fresh challenges and variety that made it easy for me to accept the redundancy and leave when I was there. Looking back, they did me a favour as I have had a great subsequent job which was completely different and was a real motivator, it had the variety and the chance to move around and learn new things; until the company went bang…. Then moving to a bad job which I eventually quit.

Needless to say, I have refused the offer to apply – it is just too similar to the old one, I would get bored really quickly so will hold out for something else, if it was a completely different job, I would be tempted. I did wonder if I would regret it but at the moment my body doesn’t seem to be complaining at me. My inner voice isn’t hitting me with noise! I am therefore not expecting to find anything until the new year at least. The recruitment for the new year will start to pick up soon and I hope that agents will read my comments about wanting a local job – not one in London!!!!

As my accountant warned me: I maybe enjoying this non-work status too much!

Being able to control my daily timetable and actually relax is good. I have noticed that I have started to sleep really well and haven’t had a headache or anxiety attack for ages! Just goes to show how the job was getting me down and I was just trying to battle on and stay with it hoping it would get better. Leaving has been a good choice even if it has messed up my chances of getting another one – quitting does not go down well, people see you as a problem case. Good job I am following a FI/RE path and able to survive….I am a FI/RE prepper! (just search the term prepper … there are some unbelievable people out there prepping in the UK. I was listening to a radio show that was talking about prepping and how it is growing in the UK).