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.

 

 

 

SIPP Transfer

I have taken the plunge and opened a SIPP after procrastinating for a while.

I have now filled in the online forms to get two old company  DC pensions transferred into it so these can form the basis of my new plan. One has already transferred and is about to be invested so only out of the market for a very short time, a matter of a few days in fact, pretty impressive.

A monthly regular payment has also been setup so that I can pump money into these as other tax efficient paths are now full. The SIPP can be accessed from age 55 so this means that I can access the old DC funds at an earlier age than originally permitted.

I have picked some funds and will use these as a basic selection for my DCs with another set of funds used for my regular monthly contributions. My intention is to add occasional additional payments (I don’t get bonuses like I use to – in fact what is a bonus?) and either buy shares or funds to balance the portfolio.

I have also been focused by listening to Tim Ferriss podcasts as he interviewed Mr MM and it was great to be reminded of what I am aiming to achieve, choices!

I now need to re-organise my spreadsheets and get focused on FI savings as my HP fund is unbalanced and hit hard by the market fluctuations. I am running at a -4% drop as I hold too many old employer shares which have dropped since Jan due to market sector downgrades. I should have sold some last year and moved this cash into other shares. My bad!

 

 

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.

December 2016

I am very late posting but I have had a nice relaxing Christmas away from work. A whole week + a few days off work has been fabulous!

For some this is the normal, for me it is a luxury as my past employment meant that Christmas was peak trade so expected and have worked Boxing days and Christmas Eves quiet regularly.

Now I work in a sector that isn’t affected by that peak and it is so great to be able to have a whole week and a bit of time off and say – “have a great holiday, see you in the new year.”

I have neglected by FI updates too as the time has been spend doing other things and avoiding looking at the poor state of my FI funds. The Brixit rumbling continue and my funds just rise and fall with each and every day of debate and counter-debate.

I update my FI figures the other day and I ended the year up by 3%. not bad considering that ‘free time’ I had last year and that dent that made on my funds which i have slowly replaced this year. In comparison to the previous year I am up as I only made a 2% uplift for 2015. At least it is an overall rise, it could have been a negative figure compared to my previous year.

My dividends are down as my shareholdings reduce their pay outs and start to wonder what Brexit really means to them.

Only time will tell.

 

 

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.