May – Monthly Update

Wow – the year seems to be flying by and I have a bank holiday weekend ahead of me.

I have just been doing my monthly summary and can see that this month has been a bit heavy on expenses, mainly paying for my summer holiday which is only a few weeks away now and some seasonal spending.

At last, my SIPP is showing a profit! the funds have been slowly rising over the past month and they have now started to offset the original investment buy/costs. I have also received the tax reclaim this month  – I didnt realise it would take so long to get the tax reclaim into the account. My pensions are quick at claiming and investing the tax reclaim – but not this SIPP company. It makes me wonder if there is a ‘slight delay’ to enable them to accrue some interest during transit?

Anyhow, with the sun out and the warm weather, it has lightened my mood which is gratefully received and required. I am counting down to my holiday and time away from my workplace. ‘The Man’ is tiresome and so full of office politics at the moment it might as well be them participating in the general election. Things are now accumulating on the project I am working on and the findings are not good. It may mean that the project is canned, if so, they have no need for me long-term so my time there could come to an end quicker than I thought. Which is fine, that’s the reason for the FI fund – to not be worried about the need to work. Its about having choices and the ability to live without being tied to ‘The Man’. Some independence and self-sufficiency.

My FI fund is looking good at the end of this month and is almost back to the level it was at when I took my ‘FI break’. Pension funds are looking good, making good gains and the SIPP is now looking healthier.

I have increased my ISA monthly savings amount to take advantage of the new allowances. Being able to put upto £20k into an ISA will really help me as I can move money that is idling in savings accounts into the ISA an earn some better income.

I also want to sell some of my non-tax sheltered shares and move the money into pension, SIPP and ISA accounts and the new allowances give me the freedom to do this.

Happy May bank holiday everyone, I am off to enjoy the sun.

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…….

Back Online

Its been a bit of a nightmare as my 5 year old laptop died. The final stroke happened last week and I have been offline for what seems like eternity.

I recovered anything I needed and then tried to rebuilt it – but the rebuild proved that the hard disc has died. Bye-bye old friend, so a new laptop required – an expense I really didn’t want but emergency fund comes into play to get a new one while the sales are still on. Managed to get a good deal and if I can maybe get something for my old one then I will not feel so hard done by.

Now I am back online I can update and review my FI position, check my monthly spending, pay some bills and post some updates here. Get online and open a SIPP.

 

January 2017

I begin the new year in a better position that in previous years. I have a job which is now celebrating its 1 year anniversary. I know that’s not a long time for some but for me its a milestone.

My last job only lasted 6 months. I pulled the plug because it wasn’t working and I rue the advice from my old boss who said I shouldn’t have taken the job as they are ‘as mad as a box of frogs’ and also – don’t jump into the first job offered just because its there.

Well, I felt it was the only job available – it was the only offer I had –  and I needed some income. Everyone else was finding work and I just wasn’t finding anything at all,… so had to just take it… and see how it panned out.

I realise now what a mistake it was but it made me learn a lesson; also made me think about what FI means to me. It means I can have choices and not be in the position of ‘having to’ rather than ‘wanting to’.

My new job is OK, its not a great place but its a job, it does not tick all the boxes but it ticks the ones that my ‘6 months one’ didn’t! I don’t see this as a long term position and I am not sure where this job will go but I will stick it out and take the cash. Its another company pension scheme accruing money for me for the long-term.

What does seem to be changing is that the role I perform is becoming more of a ‘gig’ job now. The alternative jobs out there are all being offered on short or 1 yr fixed term contracts. It appears that employers just want my role as a short term gig. You get hired to do a specific project because of your experience, then leave and let the ‘support’ bods manage the day 2 day tick  over.

At the place I left, they haven’t recruited a full-timer to replace me, they have advertised the role as a 6 month to 1 year max fixed term contract to cover the task in hand.

I can see that when I leave this job, my next role is likely to be under a fixed term contract. The ‘gig’ economy model strikes.

It also means that I will be recruited based on my past experience and ‘skills’ which will be applied to that job then be asked to move on. The only variety in this for me is doing the same activity for different companies. That’s not a great variety gig for me, I like to do different things and being ‘SME’ed into doing the same role on the same subject but for a different company really doesn’t feel like a challenge or varied enough for me.

Instead of the ‘do X today, do Y next week, do Z next month’ it becomes ‘do X today for A, do X next month for B, do X next year for C’….. no, that does not float my boat.

A change of direction is needed and that’s where FI needs to kick in. So this year, I need to get some real focus on my FI funds. There is a requirement to diversify my funds as they are too limited and I am not making the progress that other FI seekers are with regard to fund growth.

I need to read investing books and blogs and really get my act together. I have been considering transferring two old company DC pensions into a SIPP and topping up with regular payments from my monthly pay; I have pushed all I can into ISAs and buying shares outside any tax shelters is only increasing the amount of taxed dividends I receive.

My FI fund is down compared to last month but up compared to this month last year. Although I started working again last Jan so getting a salary was a great improvement, I need to set myself some goals and I think the first is consolidating my old pension DC schemes into a SIPP and pushing any spare cash in there.

I am not into betting sites so apart from my rental property which is becoming less attractive due to the landlord rule changes my only other diversification options are P2P lending schemes.

And finding better homes for my cash savings as they earn hardly any interest now.

November 2016 Update

I have just completed my review of November and found that my net worth this year has dropped due to the turbulent market. I have been investing the same monthly amount into ETFs but the general trend isn’t as good as last year when I managed to end the year up on the previous one – and that was with me not working for the last 7 months of the year.

I am ploughing money onto my ISAs and pensions. I am considering consolidating my personal pensions into one scheme which could offer me drawdown options in the future. The pension schemes I currently have are old style ones which don’t offer such options just the ability to transfer.

I think I am on track to finish the year about the same as I started it – which hopefully in the long-term will increase as I buy units at low prices and wait for the market to pick up.I invest monthly on a set day and just ride the roller coaster prices as they happen each month.

It’s now that time of year which I don’t really enjoy, Christmas. I find it a depressing time of year with the dark days and cold. I don’t find the month a joyous one, just a month in which to hibernate and stay warm. Consumer overload.

I laugh when I hear the talk on utility companies and the government ‘regulator’. They changed the rules and issue this on Brexit day so that it was hidden by the big news story – buried again by ‘clever’ press offices.

I didn’t like the move to reduce the options available (4 per company)  as I use to be able to get a non-standing order one that meant I had a good deal. When the rules changes to remove this type of offer, my bills went up £100 pa.  I shop around at the moment and cannot get my bills any lower than they are. The fixed deals mean that the utility companies can forecast their costs and their income can be calculated. The market for cost savings disappeared and the companies won out by being able to calculate their income v wholesale pricing and see how much margin they could make.

Now the rule which meant that companies had to offer the same options to new AND existing customers has been removed – It’s going to be harder to find a good deal without moving company every year to play them off against each other. This isn’t a good market from a customer view-point, its just another number crunching game where the customer loses out long term. It feels like a cartel to me.

My only way of reducing my bills is to switch the heating off. I have chased all the options to reduce usage – other than solar or ground-source heating which is too expensive and not possible on my house /location.

October 2016

I have been busy out and about and therefore not spending the time writing posts. This time last year I wasn’t working, I was on a break and although I was looking for work I was also taking the time out to relax and get my mind back into some kind of balanced sense. I was posting regularly and doing some reading to relax the mind.

I have just returned from a short break in Birmingham, going to a concert and just chilling out – almost literally with the chilly winds blowing around the city centre streets. Its nice to get the train and have a drink or two in some real ale pubs and watch the world of consumerism whirl by. The christmas retail spin is beginning. Not sure I like the new New Street rail station. The big open plaza is good but the dark rat run platforms and limited exit points only make me feel hemmed in and if there was ever an emergency down there – I just don’t know how people would get out? I was in a big queue trying to get off a platform because only one escalator was working and the signage is rubbish – one guy said he was on his third attempt to get off the platform.

The previous weekend was also a short break, this time to Anglesey. Somewhere I have only visited once to see LanfairPG. That must have been more than 10 years ago when I was on holiday with an old friend and their children. To go and actually circuit the island and see the sites was great. All on the back of a motorbike, my first tour out on a motorbike, one of hopefully many in the future.

Ok, these trips sound like I am spending my money and not focusing on FI but I am doing these trips on a budget and its been great. All the places visited on Anglesey were free entry and some took some finding as they are off the beaten-track and not well sign posted. A good research session before hand and a well marked map made the trip enjoyable.

I also visited Caernarfon Castle to see the ‘weeping window’ – entry was free too! So a great visit and seeing the spectacular installation and walk the walls was a real treat. The weather was on form too – so a wonderful bike trip through the Lanberis pass, with a good view of blue skies,mirror like lakes and Snowdon.

Beats being in an office with no windows!

On the finance front for October, I am recovering from my jury service – I have claimed back all the expenses and allowances permitted and was down by about £400 for the month. So last month’s FI savings took a bit of a dent. This month I have done well on the savings front but my overall net worth is taking a pounding. The turbulent market has knocked the stuffing out of my investments and I am now running at 2% down on last year but up on last month. Even though I am investing monthly in index trackers and ETFs I am down on the value last year. So as I plough money in, it seems to just trickle away. I am hoping the indexes will rise at some point and my individual shares holdings roll around but are still under their levels from last year. Ok, I am buying more units for my money but they rollercoster around each week.

I just need to remember that the investments are long-term and just keep saving, my pension pots seem to be growing quite nicely so I just need to keep my head down, keep saving while I am working and wait for the markets to pick up after the political rumblings have died down – Brexit and US elections. Brexit will have an effect on my employer and could result in big changes if the UK does not have an EU trade deal.

With two redundancies under my belt, I really cannot rule out another just because that now seems to be the way of my working life. I have reached that stage when redundancy is likely and job security is low. I want a buffer to make sure I can feel financially secure if I lose my job again.

 

 

 

 

June 2016 – Update

I started this month on Holiday!!!  I needed to get away and have a break from the working world. This time last year I wasn’t working and taking having a freedom break.

I had two weeks away in Scotland this year, where the weather was warmer and drier than England. I had a great time, yes, I may have spent some money but as I mentioned in my last post, you need to have some fun on the journey to FI freedom.

I had some great walks and a stopover in a bothy and some fab cycling, including sitting by a loch watching ospreys hunting/fishing. Such a great relaxing holiday a real shame to come back home and back to work.

I have checked my finances and since the Brexit shock, my investments have taken a real pounding. The shares I am interested in buying have gone through the roof as everyone piles in there as they have global exposure. Any UK based companies I hold have pretty much sank without trace. I have been ignoring the news as the media whip up a frenzy to help them sell ‘stories’.

For me, it is hard to tell at the moment what the impact will be. I work for a subsidiary of a global company (it was a UK company and was bought up by a global company 2 years ago). The global company have only just started sending people over to really start looking into the books and operation and the Brexit vote could make them take a different view. They wanted a stepping stone into the European market(we think – the parent is based in the Far East)  and this vote could see them sell or break up the company. The goods that are designed in the UK are manufactured in the far east & India. These goods are then sold across the world. The more I find out about the UK company, the more troubled I become over its possible future viability. It has no clear direction and it lacks investment and the parent company don’t seem to want to invest any money and are blocking or capping the spending.

In the meantime, I will concentrate on saving hard and keeping an eye on good investment opportunities that will enable me to grow my money..not that many options exist now with this uncertain market. I managed to keep my FI savings rate high (over 60%) for the month and have tried hard to not be frivolous when on holiday.

It was my birthday this month too, so I have some cash to spend on a few treats for myself. I do need to have some fun and enjoyment and with the sales on I should be able to find some good value consumer purchases that will last me a while. A £50 win on the premium bonds has also helped to lift my spirits – a boost to my holiday fund.

I wonder what my finances will look like at the end of next month?