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?

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…….

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.




April 2016 – Update

The start of a new tax year and the changes are starting to show. My savings account interest is now being paid gross.  I have also noticed the changes to my investment accounts starting to take effect. I now have to pay a service fee for my accounts both my ISA and share accounts. I will not be able to tell until the end of this year how this change has affected their growth.

One thing that is getting annoying is the downward trend on my investment and share accounts. My net worth has crashed by 9% compared with this time last year and it is going downwards by the day regardless of my investment activity; it feels like I am just putting the money down a drain. I do keep investing but the downward trend is off putting and makes you waver in your view that investing is a good idea. Since January, I have seen my net worth drop every month even though I am saving and reducing my expenses. It becomes demoralising and I just need to keep going and ignore the nagging voice that wonders why I am doing this. I feel like I am treading water but still slowly sinking.

I just need to keep going, earning the salary and keep focused on the future. My pension pot is growing well due to the employer contributions and I have a salary now to save. I am glad I took my work break last year as I had a reasonable passive income to use.

The traumas in my working world continues 🙂 . I am not stressed like I was in my last job but I don’t like the office politics in the new one. Under instruction of my boss, I have to ‘play the game’ with the senior managers and selectively tell them things. While the boss does some ‘office politics’ to keep things ticking over in the background. There is a strange environment there and now that they have been bought by another company, the ‘parent’ is starting to arrive and probe their workings. I hope this doesn’t go the same way as a previous job but I cannot foretell how it will pan out for these guys. Changes are a-foot and they do need to change or they will not prosper over the long term. It feels like this new job has provided me with some kind of ‘poison chalice’ role. I could have refused the job but I would have continued to struggle finding any kind of local work and getting a salary is better than none as I need to improve my net worth as I am not free from the shackles yet. I just need to keep my head down, work and collect the salary.

Let’s see how next month affects my net worth figures.

The cold snap arrives

I awoke to snow this morning, the first fall of the season. I guess it will not be the last! That put the brakes on my plan of going out for a bike ride. At least I got a good walk in yesterday, out food shopping.

I have had an enjoyable week at work, Wow…I haven’t said that about working for years! It must be just newbie syndrome..it will wear off at some point. I even found out that ‘the camp’ supplies free tea and coffee!! I have never worked anywhere where they supply you with a free stream of tea or coffee. You just go to the canteen and find tea and coffee pretty much on tap.

At all the places I have worked before, you had to either supply your own drinks and use a ‘camp’ kitchen or pay through the nose to get a hot drink either from a vending machine or from the on-site cafe/canteen/restaurant – either internally run or franchised.

With the cold weather comes the hassle of commuting as I have to use country roads to get there. I don’t have a 4×4 and will have to take it very steady to get there in one piece should the weather get worse. I have looked at hiring a 4×4, a snip at £300 per week! Working from home is not an option – although they may be persuaded possibly(?). It maybe that this is just a passing problem and I have no issue long term. I have been hearing more about my new ‘camp’ and it desperately needs to make some operational changes, they are missing their income targets, so this may not be such a great place to be long term. As long as it isn’t another sell-off and asset strip.

As well as the weather, there’s the chilly scene with the stock markets. I am glad I am back in a ‘camp’ working for a while. I can begin to save again and ride out the storm that is going on and not have to worry about seeing my freedom drawings and my investment worth be eaten away by the falling market. This is the time to be saving not drawing from the FI fund. My investment funds is now well below the ‘enough’ threshold.

The good point for this month so far has been the dividends received, I have received dividends from a few companies but didn’t realised I would get a payment from National Grid, so that has helped to increase my overall income this month. I even redeemed my online survey cash and received a nice £50 payment into my bank account. It will be nice when I receive my first payslip and see the money deposited into my account. Back to receiving an income rather than having to eat my savings pot.

I have been enjoying listening to podcasts. I listened to a mad fientist podcast and it was discussing the goals of FI. The difference between targeting FI to leave a bad job versus reaching FI to enable you to leave work for something better. I fell into the former category with my freedom last year. I didn’t have anything in mind when I left, I just wanted to leave the job. I have realised through my freedom phase that I need to work on my hobbies and other non-work activities and get to the point where I want to do those rather than work. I didn’t have enough strength in my non-work activities to keep me there, it did give me a great break from the hamster wheel and it did help me recover from either “work burnout” or “work grief” – whatever it was.

The lure of the ‘camp’ grew too strong and I’m back to earn more money and saving harder so I can aim for a better FI freedom phase in the future. I do feel refreshed from my time out and I do feel more motivated and have some freedom ideas and plans that mean the extra cash will enable me to achieve them – maybe next time the freedom will be more permanent. I have more drive to achieve the FI targets I have in mind and enjoy the journey there!

First week in a new Camp

Well, I have survived my first week in a new camp. OK, I call it a prison camp as it is work for ‘The Man’ after all but the place is actually really nice compared to my previous camp.

Maybe its the ‘newbie’ feeling but the other inmates seem friendly and open, there appears to be no hidden agendas and no office politics surfacing that is immediately obvious. The camp is very old school, with a small but busy team of people and everyone knows each other and works like a big family. Now, there could be some shake ups in the offing at the senior level soon but hopefully this will not result in an oppressive regime coming in. Its been a busy week and I haven’t really had a chance to get to know my office inmates well yet, I am one of four newbies and so we can share the experiences of being new and finding our way around and understanding the procedures and practices.

It has been a bit of a shock to the system having to get up for work but the routine, once I get into it will be great and having the novelty of clocking off at 4pm on a Friday is a new one for me!

I will be glad when I receive my first pay as my investment funds are getting quite a pounding from the market turmoil. My net worth is down about £16k this month due to the drop in the markets. That’s after receiving some dividends and misc income (online survey & topcashback payouts).

I have also received my missing pension statement and details on how to restart the policy. It now appears that to restart it I need to verify my identify so need to find a bank/accountant/solicitor to vouch for me as part of the policy restart request. Great! I work all week now so the only way I could possibly do this is by trying to find a bank that is open on Saturday that I hold an account with who may oblige in providing this ID witness verification. I don’t have any accountant/solicitor friends. All this to prevent money laundering and fraud. I am only trying to restart an existing policy. I may just leave it and just invest more in other accounts such as NISAs and individual shares. They could probably earn me more income and growth than the pension fund has and will, plus I would have easier access to the funds if I needed them.

As part of my New Year resolutions, I have started to download a set of podcasts to listen to and its great, there have been some interesting casts and I am really enjoying the switch off from mainstream news and TV. It enables me to continue to listen to some of the programs I had found while I was free from the camp. I am trying to maintain some of the freedom activities and blend them into my working life so that I get a better work/life balance and stop being the workaholic that I had been in years gone by. Its part of my goals to relax more and stop being so compliant to ‘The Man’s demands on my time. It will be interesting to review this after a few months.

In the meantime I will continue to practice my new routines and see how my finances look at the end of the month especially after I have paid my tax bill, its a nice Christmas ‘gift’ from HMRC – the letter arriving during the Christmas week detailing the tax due for payment by the end of January.