When it rains, it pours

These current events just get stranger by the day! I try to avoid the news and just watch the nightly summary catch up at 6pm. I have never experienced anything like this and hope i never will again.

I went out for a bike ride yesterday in the sunshine, to keep my mental and physical health in shape. it was fine on the outbound journey as the paths & roads were quiet and deserted but by the time I came back the paths were full of people who just didn’t seem to get this social distancing thing. They blocked the paths, mingled and ok some were obviously part of the same household, but these directives are there to help protect us. I should have stuck to a road route back as at least the cars meant there was distance from the occupants. I expect based on the news last night to see a lock down occur today. I know it was mother’s day and one of the best sunny weekends we have had so far this year but normal rules don’t apply. I called my mum and had a good chat with her about all this social isolation. She was in good spirits given that she is in the vulnerable category. She is all stocked up but knows I can go source things if she needs it to prevent her going out.

I had contacted some old work colleagues just before this all hit hard and they were talking about their employer’s reviewing the impact. One was nervous as they had never seen their boss look to terrified. Another was ‘hey ho, I am being paid’ and with the instruction to work from home was going to their holiday home in Norfolk to isolate. They are already there, they ran before the new government directives were raised.

I have given up trying to job hunt in these times. I know that agents keep telling me that recruitment is still happening but interviews over the phone or skype are not the best. Well, they haven’t proved to be good for me in the past, I’m not the best at selling myself over those channels. With all this stuff going on my mind just isn’t there plus the jobs out there don’t fit and I am wary of the employer having a future. If I need to, I will go and stack shelves if I have to, currently I will let those more needy with no savings or financial safety net go first.

The sector my past jobs were in are currently being hit hard. I expect my last employer to be laying off non-essential staff (I would have been classed as non-essential so would have been given my P45 now) and past employers are freezing recruitment and reviewing their balance sheets to see if they will make it out the other side, so adding new staff to that is very unlikely. As an example EWM has announced that it has laid off 100 staff, mainly new or imminent starters as they apply the ‘last in, first out’ rule of labour selection.

The blows keep happening, I glance at my investment accounts they continue to slide downwards. I don’t need to touch them to survive at the moment, which is a good job as it has been decimated. I will not sell unless i have no choice.

There are articles by Monevator on ‘cash is king’ and make sure you are not depending on the live income to live on as they could dry up, read here. Make sure you have a cash pot from which you draw your spending and manage it wisely. All the things he listed in his article have hit : dividends stopped/cancelled, interest rates cut and …. rental….

I have received news today that my tenant has lost their job so will be unable to pay their rent going forward. I have a mortgage on the property, so will have to look at options and work with the tenant to find a workable solution.

So I have the triple whammy! All income feeds are drying up and my investment values have fallen over a cliff. I am therefore living off my cash pot with the knowledge that it is not going to be re-filled by this year’s inflows  – as they continue to shrivel. I will continue to draw down on my cash reserves and will do so for as long as this event continues. I just need to keep an eye on the banks holding my cash.

Let’s hope the end comes into sight soon as it is getting very nervy out there.

Stay safe everyone and hopefully see you on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

Virus Impact

Wow! What a virus can do to the global population is jaw-dropping. Humans are not the top of the chain, even if we like to think we are.

It’s been gloomy news over the past week or so and now that the UK is approaching a lockdown it is now really starting to make people think. I am glad that I am not working I have things to be grateful for as part of targeting FI.

To try and stay positive, I have looked at the pros and cons of my current situation, given the VIRUS restrictions.

pros:
1. Having a FI emergency fund.
2. Making the most of the last 2 weeks and been to gigs and events before they all close down. Great fun and what I needed at the mo!
3. Not having to worry if my employer is going to go bust and not pay me.
4. Already self-isolating and at home. So know how that feels and what to expect.
5. Not worrying about pre-booked holidays as I don’t have any.

cons:
1. Net worth crashing, I have lost the equivalent of 3 years salary so far and it is still dropping.
2. Halt on job recruitment – as companies now determine what to do to stay in business.
3. Old employer share options – crashing – was planning on dividends, but those are now likely to be wiped out. As long as the company doesn’t go bust! That would hit my FI plans.
4. Cash savings – interest rates being cut so now have accounts with no or very little growth.
5. Inflation taking big bites out of my cash savings.
6. ISA savings – was going to move above cash to ISA funds to gain more growth but that is now looking risky in the short term.

Although this all sounds selfish, I am not intending this to be taken in that way. I have a lot to be grateful for and the FI process has helped to get me into this position. If this situation had occurred a few years ago, I would be in a complete mental meltdown. I am sure there are other FIers out there who can also be grateful for their FI status and its offer of resilience in this current environment. My concern are to others who are in more precarious positions.

 

Monthly Update – Feb 2020

So another month completed, 2 months into my ‘freedom break’. I have overspent this month as I get work completed on my house. Things have cost more than expected which always seems to be the case with repairs.

I am hopeful I can recoup this in the coming months. I have started a free online course and just spending some time reading and browsing job sites for possibilities. Nothing brewing at the moment. I found my last job via a friend. So may just need to rattle people to see if they know of anything in the offing. It took 6 months to find a job last time, it is likely to be the same or more this time <sigh>.

My ISAs and pension funds are dropping due to this virus scare. The fear in the markets is making my funds drop like a stone, over 5% loss so far.

I am looking at my future spending plans and now have some up and coming costs on my car to fund ( I really need to swap my car but don’t have the money to do so at the moment) When it rains it pours! I have managed to save money for so long, now I am spending money and its not a good feeling when unplanned costs appear. Having no salary income makes me apprehensive. I have been bundling money into savings and have been lucky that I had no really big costs while I had a salary. Now I don’t have a job I now have some big costs to factor into my budget. Nothing like challenges to keep you on your toes.

Let’s see how March goes.

Personal Development

Having broken away from the workplace for a while. I have started to look at my personal development.

Many moons ago when I worked for a company who invested in their staff, I had the opportunity to go on a Dale Carnegie course on leadership. Now I learnt a lot and it really helped me realise how to propose new ideas for and to the business as well as how to lead teams and colleagues.

As part of this course I received a copy of the book  How to win friends and influence people

it was a great book and after each session we were advised to read particular chapters from the book. I really enjoyed the course. I had some ‘light bulb’ moments while attending. I am now re-reading this book as I feel I have become too insular and closed. My last job really affected me with its negative cloud, I had shutdown at the end. Ideas and change was not on their radar and any ideas I had were stamped down and closed off.  I now need to re-kindle that positive view on ideas and influence. I would like to find a workplace with a receptive team. I began to wonder if it was me and that I wasn’t talking the right language and felt like I was from a different planet. (Although I never had that problem at other workplaces)

So to rekindle better thoughts, I am dipping back into it to re-familiarise myself with chapters from this book. I need to reinvent myself.

I have also started doing some free courses to expand my mind and open up possibilities to add to my skill set. Even considering learning a foreign language as a bit of a change.

My gym-buddy seems adamant that I should stop looking for another job in my current field and look for something less stressful. I am not so sure that is possible, my CV is full of my IT experience. I do wonder about updating my coding skills and going back to being a coder as I could find a remote working job which would enable me to flex my time. I enjoyed coding and enjoyed the ‘creative’, problem solving aspect of the role. I was promoted up the career ladder until I ended up working in an IT management position, like Jason from OurTour the movement into management was a natural progression but not really the best fit personally. It has enabled me to get where I am now, so I am grateful for the opportunities that it presented but I need to be ‘more me’ not a persona.

Time for a change. Time to invest in myself.

 

Monthly Update – Feb 2020

Mid way through my second month of ‘freedom’. I am enjoying the break from work and have managed to get quite a few things ticked off my house maintenance list. The weather has been poor and has hindered my ability to get a few of my fitness goals this month. But I have managed to do a few mid-week events that I would never have been able to do when working.

I am glad I am not working as I have not been too well at times this month, I have been getting dizzy spells. When I was working, I would have had to ring in sick (unpaid) or work from home. If they keep happening consistently then I may need to queue up to see a GP and find out if there is an underlying reason.

I have heard that things have changed at my last workplace. My old boss has been removed and replaced with an externally sourced one. All change there but I am happy to have left, I didn’t fit and didn’t like working in that environment, it was their whole management style that didn’t suit me, I don’t perform well when I am constantly receiving negative comments (which they think is motivational – the ‘stick’ not the ‘carrot’ management approach). It was too stressful and punishing. However much you achieved it was never acknowledged and there was always more outstanding as more and more got piled onto you list of things to do.

Jobs don’t seem to be too forthcoming at the moment, (I do worry about that in the long-term, I am not fully retired, I am taking a break). Never mind actually getting an interview or offer. So the job market seems to be poor for my skill set at the moment. Or I just don’t seem to be seeing them…(ponder).

I received a job description the other day including the words, “demanding, challenging and fast-moving work environment”. Now, is this me? Or is this recruitment speak for a tough workplace?

Do I want to go back into one of those? No, but I don’t see any more pleasant environments on offer. Possibly because they get snapped up before I even get to hear about them. I haven’t rattled my network contacts yet to see if there is anything going mainly because I am enjoying the break. If something comes up I would be expected to start immediately and I am quite enjoying some ‘me time’.

I have checked my investments but they are roller-coasting around with all the fears on coronavirus. I just need to focus on what I need to complete before the end of the tax year so I can maximise my tax allowances and work on the assumption that I have no salary at all next tax year. So top up my pensions and claim my tax relief back now while I have taxable income available.

I am working on living off my passive income total from last year so I use that for my budgeting and see how my passive income for this year goes. Some of my basic costs have gone up (above inflation) for next year, such as council tax and utilities but looking at ways to mitigate where possible.

Roll on the lighter days and some sunshine as I want to get out and improve my fitness and general well being. It is time for me to put myself first for once, not others.

 

 

 

 

 

Monthly Update – Jan 2020

Wow! already one month into 2020!

Time flies when you are not working. I have been detoxing from my last job, met up with my old work colleague (who also left at the same time as me – says a lot about the place!). We both felt that the weight had been released from our shoulders and feel better for not being there.

I spent last month getting out and about, cycling and walking and basically trying to rid myself of the stresses and anxiety that the last job caused. I am reaping the benefit of more exercise already as my energy levels are returning and I feel healthier and sleeping well. I need to learn some emotional resilience as I shouldn’t have let the role get to me as much as it did. When I review it, it was a bad fit and not the right workplace for me but I achieved my goals. I was stubborn and should have relented but didn’t want to feel like a failure, I wanted to achieve my goals before I left. My inner voice is too harsh on me.

Anyhow, I have a fixed budget to stick to and I have over spent for January – DOH!, mainly because I had to pay my tax bill (expected) and unexpected spend on house repairs. As long as I can recoup this in future months I should be able to stay on budget for the year.

My monthly expenses have gone down too, less travel costs (no work commute) and surprisingly lower food bills. This is because I am being more savvy with my meal planning and not buying lunch items specifically for work. So if these continue in future months I should be able to get back on track. I have been making my own bread too! Yay! something on my wish list. It is working out well as it has saved me money already and I get the enjoyment of know exactly what is going into it.

I have also started other house DIY projects – I plan to re-paint the kitchen and sort a few other parts of the house out and do a BIG declutter. When I was working, I just let things lie, putting stuff off as I was too tired to get cracking on the tasks as they seemed daunting. When I was working, I just wanted to go out and do something different in my leisure time, ignoring the things that needed doing in the house. Now I have the time, I have no excuses and have the time to do these jobs, nothing to get in my way.

I actually ended the month feeling happy! Now, I haven’t said that for a while.

I have a few recruitment agents contacting me about jobs but at the moment none of the roles interest me. I am in no hurry to rejoin the treadmill and am taking the time to be more selective, it would be great to find a job that fits this time. I just wonder if I am seeking something that doesn’t exist….?

Employment

(A bit of a rant!)

I don’t view myself as retired, I am between jobs and taking the time out to work on my house and other personal projects that I just can’t do when I have a job. It gets in the way! It is much easier to get tradesmen round when you are fully flexible and can be there when it suits their schedule.

Now, I have some recruitment agents helping me find a new job, but they are not happy that I have asked for a 4 day p/w role. They ask me: why?

  • Are you caring for dependants?
  • Do you have children/ childcare responsibilities?
  • Do you have a health problem?

NO! I don’t – I just want to work less.

Now that seems to be viewed as odd. What do you mean you don’t want to work full time?

Mainly because I have spent enough years married to the job, all work and no play. I have been the one who has been made to ‘feel guilty’ (bullied) into working extra hours and cover for others due to their children (always the trump card!) – it is now MY TURN! I would like to work less, I am a committed worker but want to cut my hours and have a work/life balance. I have spent so much time working at the expense of my personal life, I now want some of that time back. I want my personal hours back. I want to be able to take holiday without threat of cancellation (or guilt trips from colleagues or bosses, who are unhappy that I will not be about just when I am needed). I want to stop being interrupted in my personal time by calls about critical issues that need me to drop everything and resolve.

But – No, they don’t seem to like that. OK, it makes it harder to find a role for me but I am tired of working 50+ hour weeks, always on call and working through the night to ‘save the day’ for my employer. (That’s the issue with IT, if the employer’s systems fail then its all hands to the pump to get it up and running – every minute of downtime is money lost).

I would like some time for ME now. With all this talk of gig economy and flex hours, I would like a role which will enable me to work a 4 day week. But NO, that seems to be impossible.

Maybe I need to change my job role so I can find a job that will offer part time hours. Maybe I will have no choice but to become a contractor (with all the new IR35 rules, it’s a real hassle that I don’t want) just so I can get some short term work ( x months on, x months off) or get a 4 day p/w role.

I am so glad I have some FI money as it looks like I will be using that to live as getting a part-time role is like finding a unicorn. I know people who are working part-time in their roles (diff roles to me) but they started full-time and have managed to reduce their hours as their employer doesn’t want to lose them. I have never had that option, its all or nothing!

I need to find an alternative, I am too dispensable!