Welcome to The FI Journey Website. This is a place to allow me to express and collect my thoughts, ponderings and feeling about my journey through Financial Independence and life in general.
Hey everyone, I hope everyone is continuing to keep safe and is doing as best as they can, what with it being National Lockdown 3 and all. Here is my January 2021 update! I will start with a quick review of 2020.
2020 – Quick Year Review
COVID – Global Pandemic
I think the year 2020 will certainly be memorable for quite some time for all of us no doubt. It has been a very unique experience and awful time for so many of us all around the world. It’s almost been like something akin to a world war where we are pretty much all affected and life is hindered in numerous ways.
Despite the awful nature of what has and is still happening, from a personal perspective I have so much to be grateful for during this difficult year. The most important thing by far is that none of my immediate family or friends have lost their lives to COVID and I myself have managed to avoid it which no doubt is half through effort and half or more through pure luck. I have even managed to get vaccinated against this along with my partner recently which is a huge relief.
From a financial perspective, I am still gobsmacked by the size of my portfolio given what’s happening in the world. I was very pleased that after losing well over £30,000 at one point during the initial drop that I held and didn’t panic. It was a great test of my ability to cope with big losses for the first time and I can now say I certainly passed this test. I actually enjoyed investing even more during this time of loss as I felt that in doing so, it would help me turn this around in the future as I was buying more cheap stocks/bonds so to speak.
When it comes to my savings rate, I invested £1500 as planned every month which equates to 55%. My bills pretty much were as expected overall with some categories and items being increased whilst others decreased to balance it out overall. I have spent much less on fuel and energy for example but more on gifts and eating out/trips away. Overall the year was a huge success financially.
From the start of the calendar year to the end, my money increased as follows:
End of December 2019 = £182,819.97
End of December 2020 = £210,144.59
Increase = £27,324.62
Personal & Work
It’s been a bad year from limitation perspectives and watching the chaos that’s happening to the world but there’s also been many good things too for me in spite of all this. I pretty much moved in with my partner at the start of the original lockdown in March. This has really been good for us both. Since being able to form a bubble, we have now shared stopping at each other’s with her coming to mine for the weekends. This has worked out really well and has made the experience far different than if we were to of been separated for those first few months before bubbles were introduced.
Despite going through a pandemic, I still managed to go to London in February before it fully kicked off and have been to Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham for weekends away during the summer when things were much better. I also went out numerous times in the summer to the local pub and restaurants for food, I felt safe due to the low levels of COVID in circulation at the time and with being very careful hygiene wise. That could of no doubt backfired though but it didn’t thankfully.
Having moved in with my partner, I’ve had loads of new experiences and that’s probably the main reason my year has been very good on balance. I have learned to cook curries, bake cakes and create an island with cute animals on Animal Crossing… what’s not to like! Friday’s and Saturdays have been full on treat days with takeaways and/or beers. I have completed some pretty hard Lego sets during this time as well…I also now have baths every few days when I used to only have showers. Life’s been good compared to so many out there. I even managed to have a really nice Christmas and birthday at the end of the year, the day itself felt almost normal really. I had more food and drink than I think I have ever had to be fair…
My work is another area where I feel I have been fortunate. I work for the NHS which of course has been a difficult place to be throughout 2020. It has however meant I can still work and not be furloughed. I have been able to help keep systems working and build improvements to Infrastructure that has helped in our COVID response. This is about as rewarding as it gets. I deeply appreciate that I can work from home a few days a week and don’t need to wear full PPE as staff do on the front line, on the wards themselves. They are the true hero’s and I feel proud to help in supporting them in anyway I can with my role.
I could now focus on the annoyances of 2020 and start listing those things that were not so great. I just feel that everyone can already relate fully to most of those things and that it has been far better to focus on the good that’s come out of the year.
Finance January 2021 Update
So now back to current affairs. Here is my January finances in review:
Financial Update – Jan 2021
The below figures are taken from 29th January.
- Monthly investment (Dec 20 to Jan 21) – £1500 each month
- Savings rate (Dec 20 – Jan 21)– 55% each month
- Investment portfolio – £200,435.58 (Woohoo…:D)
- Cash is king fund – £10,000
- Emergency fund – £958.07
- Big expenses / holiday fund – £2154.58
Total Liquid Funds = £213,273.36
I haven’t really spent much money in January to be fair. It didn’t seem like such a long month when compared to previous years as it went so fast for me. The stand out figure in the above is that my purely Investment side of my portfolio has now also surpassed the £200,000 figure. Yay! Still can’t believe that…surely this will go down?
Personal January 2020 Update
We have now been in Lockdown 3 for almost a month with probably 1 to 2 months to go I would say. It’s not a sequel anyone really wanted but I think most would agree it was needed for sure. We have, it would seem, managed to just scrape under overwhelming the NHS which is very fortunate indeed.
Life for me has pretty much not changed much since the November lockdown. I still go to work as normal and I still get to come home to my partner at night. I never really went retail shopping but of course I miss being able to meet a friend outside for a walk. I am completely behind the lockdown so I just grit and bear it all really. This time shall pass so to speak. I really believe the summer could be just like last summer if not a little bit better, roll on that! The vaccine rollout so far in the UK is finally something to be really proud of I think. Let’s hope we can hit the ambitious targets of the four main groups by mid February.
Current & Post Project 2235 Plans
Post Project 2235
I have been looking again at Post Project 2235 plans that I discussed in the previous post. Even though this is of course completely changeable, it’s just so fun to look at figures and plan out possibilities as I’m sure many of you can relate to :D. I have added an extra few details to the below that including showing the income I would get and how much fun money I would have at these differing amounts of investments by the age of 50.
Just to recap. If I achieve £250,000 at the end of Project 2235. I can then look at changing my monthly investment from £1500 to a lesser amount so that I have more big expenses and fun money to spend each year. For the past few years I have been devouring my matched betting profit for big expenses money which will mostly run out by the end of this year. This therefore not only needs replacing but I want to have much more money available for holidays and doing my house up, I want to live a little more essentially…
Looking at the above figures, I feel after much much thought that halving my investments to £750 to give me £9,000 a year is the sweet spot. My house indoors renovation will certainly be happy with that amount. This would also fund more holidays, more big purchases as required throughout the year and replenish my £1000 emergency fund when my other ways of replenishing it don’t meet the full amount. This would still give me £2284 as a monthly income at 50 which is more than I have now after investing and would give me even more money for big expenses (£13,000) at 50 than I get on along the way. This for me seems like the best middle ground of living for now and living for tomorrow. I can of course and most likely will flex what I spend and sometimes invest more and sometimes less throughout these years – Life happens.
Current Project 2235 Tweaking
The other thinking I have been doing around plans has been to tweak my current Project 2235 plans when it comes to my big expenses money increasing to £9,000 if switch to £750 as discussed above in Dec 2022 including until then my plans to use around £2,000 I have left from MB for this and next years big spending. I now intend to take £4,000 from my Cash is King Fund (£10,000) combining it with £1,000 of the MB money to give me £5,000 for the 2022 year so that when I become 35 I get more money to spend on that year. I feel like I will want to do so much in 2022 that it’s better to feel like I am more free to spend a year earlier than original planned. This will not impact my £250,000 goal as I will continue to invest £1500 monthly until Dec 2022. That will stay the same.
I feel this is a good choice as it means from late Dec this year, I will have plenty of cash to spend on things that bring me joy more now than before such as by going on more holidays etc. This means that this year which half of which will no doubt be a write off anyway will be the last where I can’t do as much as perhaps I want too. I have got the taste of doing more in the last couple years so this feels right for me – a good balance.
I will keep this more brief than originally planned as I have wrote a fair bit already in this post. These are the kind of things I intend to achieve this year. I know I certainly should have done more with the time I was afforded in 2020 which includes becoming healthier and fitter which I had planned. You can’t win them all though right!
- Lose 10 pounds of weight to get back to my best (Healthy eating with treats thrown in now and then)
- Less alcohol, just once per week instead of twice lately
- Become fitter
- 30 press ups, 30 kettle bell lifts, 30 minute walk, 30 fast runs in my hallway with 5 runs up and downstairs daily except Sunday)
- 8 Minute stretch, abs, arms (different one daily so doing each one twice a week. The 90s music is so corny, it’s amazing! Good routines though)
- Declutter my home and digital life (During Lockdown 3)
- Sail towards the Project 2235 Goal of £250,000 – £1500 Monthly Investment
- Make the most of the second half of the year (Go away on holiday for a few weekends in the UK)
- Keep working hard in my day job to support the NHS
- Start reading some books and watch some video learning (TTC Videos)
I’d love to know what you thought of this post and especially of my post Project 2235 plans! Let me know how you have all been getting on.
Well… the content of my last post was all about life returning to some form of a new normal. How quickly things change. Since writing that last post we have been put into a national lockdown and as I am writing this, the area I live in has been announced as being a Tier 3 area until at least the 16th December when the current lockdown ends. Let’s be honest, I knew this was probably going to happen but still, it’s certainly a big change. I must say up front though that I think it’s all been necessary. As I work for the NHS I have seen the impact directly with the increasing numbers and how it threatens all normal functions we take for granted from still being operational, it’s not just about COVID deaths in isolation. No one wants the NHS to have a closed sign up on the front door.
I really hope everyone is keeping safe and is doing as best as they can. Now follows a quick update on a couple of things FI Journey related.
£200,000 Portfolio Milestone Reached!!!!!
I think five exclamation marks should be enough… I have reached a milestone I never thought possible prior to getting into the FIRE lark 6 years ago. It really does feel amazing to have hit that amount and even more amazing at this particular moment given that 6 months ago with the COVID crash, I was close to £150k. I am not sure if I will be dipping back well below £200k with any soon to come decline but whilst it lasts, I can and will enjoy the feeling of being above £200k :D.
I think it feels so good because it helps me feel so much closer to my base £250,000 Project 2235 goal which is now 1 year in with 2 years to go this month. I really can taste that quarter of a million portfolio target and it tastes dam fine the closer I get…You might wonder if I celebrated hitting this target and well yes I did do. I certainly didn’t splurge and buy a new car, book a trip to New York (not that you can right now) or buy a Rolex watch. No, I simply had a lovely Indian meal at home and got completely drunk on Hop House 13 beer with my partner. We even threw in a tub of magnum white chocolate ice cream no less… go us!
Don’t get me wrong though, life goes on and you get a bit used to where you are quite quickly but despite that, it really has left a feeling of being all so close to base FI, closer than I have ever felt before. Let’s see how long that feeling lasts. Onward to £250,000 I now March!
Financial Update – Nov 2020
The below figures are taken from 27th November.
- Monthly investment (Sep – Nov) – £1500 each month
- Savings rate (April – Aug)– 55% each month
- Investment portfolio – £192,525.21
- Cash is king fund – £10,000
- Emergency fund – £1046.41
- Big expenses / holiday fund – £2971.93
Total Liquid Funds = £206,543.55
Post Project 2235 thoughts
Because of my £200,000 milestone achievement and my reaching the end of year 1 of 3 of Project 2235. I have been reflecting on what comes next after I achieve that base FI of £250,000. I have known for a long time now that there’s no chance I would retire and live on £833 a month (no mortgage) at 35 years old. This is a wonderful position to be in and would likely cover my most essential basic needs perhaps indefinitely however I just couldn’t do it for the following reasons;
- It’s far too risky for me to rely solely on the 4% rule working out for hopefully 50+ years with no wiggle room to lower expenses if needed
- Even if the 4% rule held solidly, this simply doesn’t give me enough money to get the most out of life for me personally. I want more money to spend on big purchases, holidays and other such expenses
- I need extra layers of protection when I will be in the drawdown phase to sleep at night soundly. I want a large buffer so I can take less money when things aren’t going so well. I want a back up plan where state and private pensions will still cover my basic needs in old age at the traditional retirement age. This would give me at minimum a base FI in itself although I will be aiming for higher than this.
- I just feel strange and a bit weird about stopping working at 35, now that it’s getting closer to being possible. I really don’t think I could do this.
So what exactly am I thinking? Well if you take a look at the below. This is what would happen depending on what I invest each month. I currently invest £1500 as of now.
|Post Operation 2235||£250,000 at Dec 2022 (35 going into 36)|
|Investment per month (5% growth)||£0.00||£250.00||£500.00|
|40 Years Old (4y)||£305,223.84||£318,532.78||£331,841.73|
|45 Years Old (9y)||£391,711.66||£425,864.17||£460,016.68|
|50 Years Old (14y)||£502,706.56||£563,608.84||£624,511.12|
|Investment per month (5% growth)||£750.00||£1000.00||£1250.00|
|40 Years Old (4y)||£345,150.67||£358,459.62||£371,768.56|
|45 Years Old (9y)||£494,169.19||£528,321.70||£562,474.22|
|50 Years Old (14y)||£685,413.41||£746,315.69||£807,217.97|
|Investment per month (5% growth)||£1500.00||£1750.00||£2000.00|
|40 Years Old (4y)||£385,077.51||£398,386.45||£411,695.40|
|45 Years Old (9y)||£596,626.73||£630,779.24||£664,931.75|
|50 Years Old (14y)||£868,120.25||£929,022.53||£989,924.81|
My provisional thinking right now as I really enjoy my job is that if I were to work until I was 50 and that from during 36 until 50 I would invest say £500 a month on average, I would achieve the following:
- Secure higher than Base FI in State and NHS Pension which is a safety net and pretty safe in itself, I would get this at traditional retirement age. This would be achieved as I would get enough years of national insurance contributions to qualify for the full state pension and my NHS pension would be decent by that time in itself.
- I would still be investing £500 a month on average which would hopefully allow me to achieve £600,000+ which would give me £24,000 a year (£2,000 a month ISA Tax Free income) at 50
- I would have an extra £12,000 a year from no longer investing £1500 a month to spend on doing my house up, going on holidays, enjoying life to the full on my own terms from 36 to 50
- I would however not just spend the £12k for the sake of it but it would be available and if I ended up spending only 5k or 8k then I would invest the difference no doubt
This is just some of what I have been thinking about and of course I am not holding strong to any of these plans but it’s certainly nice to think a few strategies through. I’d love to know what you all think and also how you have all been getting on lately. How are you coping?
Hey everyone, hope you are all doing well in this altered world we are currently living in… And please, continue to keep safe!
I thought it was about time I did a Project 2235 update as it’s a couple months over due for sure :D. I plan to fill you in on what I have been up to over the last few months and of course provide a financial update to see if I am still on track to complete the 3 year 2235 plan.
So just to remind everyone, back in November last year I put forward a plan called Operation 2235. In summary, the plan entailed the following:
- Reach a portfolio of £250,000 (Base FI) by December 2022 whilst I was still 35 years old (hence the name Operation 2235)
- Achieved by investing £1500 a month over 3 years (£54,000 total) – With an assumed fair sail wind of 5% (2% real interest minus inflation)
- Do the above without depriving myself whilst still being able to weather some expected unexpected outgoings
Financial Update – Sep 2020
The below figures are taken from 20th September.
- Monthly investment (April – Aug) – £1500 each month
- Savings rate (April – Aug)– 55% each month
- Investment portfolio – £182.360.08
- Cash is king fund – £10,000
- Emergency fund – £1004.29
- Big expenses / holiday fund – £2795.15
Total Liquid Funds = £196.159.52
When it comes to my financial review of the last few months. I must say I have been very pleased with how things have gone with my spending and also with the market in general. I still have doubts about the market staying as high as it is but I can’t pretend I can predict it so I won’t even try to. I will simply continue to invest every month and won’t even contemplate market timing for a split second. As with my previous update, I have managed to continue to save money on fuel with mostly working from home and also on household bills as I am now mostly living at my partners. On the flip side, I have spent more than ever on going out and gifts which has balanced this out so I am still spending to my budget very closely. This has meant that I have continued to successfully hit my target of investing £1500 every month whilst most importantly – not depriving myself.
My big expenses fund has taken a slight hammering in the last few months due mostly to a few days trips, a £300 Liverpool weekend outing (expenses included) and recently from pre-ordering the PlayStation 5 which I had to get day one…All of this of course in my humble opinion is money well spent 🙂 and is guilt free. I am finding that the amount of discretionary spending I give myself per month coupled with my big expenses fund being available, is allowing me to continue to meet my targets whilst still enjoying the here and now (no deprivation). This is so important to me but until we return to a more normal situation without Covid-19, I won’t know if this is sustainable for the next couple of years and if I will need to invest slightly less if I find I need to spend more.
Some Normality Returns…
At the time of writing this, there are talks of more national lockdown restrictions coming into affect in the UK, there may be the banning of households visiting other households, curfews at 10pm in restaurants and pubs, the closing of hospitality venues and who knows what else. For this update though, I will be talking mostly about my life during the past few months and I can definitely summarise my activities during this time as returning to some normality, a new normal so to speak. I will now go into some of what I have been getting up to.
Restaurants and Pubs…
Oh boy, it really is the simple things in life. I have really missed being able to go out with my partner or friends to restaurants and pubs. After the restrictions started to loosen on July 4th. I found myself slowly getting back to normality on weekends by being able to go down my local for a few drinks on a Friday. I was also able to go back to Wetherspoons for some nice cheap grub with a few cheap pints thrown in for good measure.
It really is a guilty pleasure of mine to go out on a Friday and or some Saturdays for a few drinks and some food. I have quickly got used to the new normal of sanitising your hands on entry and leaving, track and trace form filling in, consciously trying not to get to close to people, dividers between tables and keeping left whilst walking around. To be fair, I felt fairly safe in most places I have been, and usually people have been abiding by the rules where I have visited. I do take this Covid-19 very seriously and I like to side with getting back to a new normal whilst always being mindful that we are going through a pandemic, this must never be forgotten.
I personally always find it worthwhile hearing opposite points of view and like to be challenged so I can more often than not come to a more nuanced accurate view of things. I have therefore spent the past few days researching the many criticisms of the FIRE movement that different people have put across in various articles across the Internet.
I wanted to pick some of the common themes that come up and then paraphrase parts of those views followed by sharing what I personally think of them. I have found a kernel of truth in these particular criticisms and I have chosen these precisely for that reason. I’d love to then hear what you also think in the comments as always.
1 -It requires deprivation
I would say by far the most common negative theme is that in setting out on a journey towards FIRE, you will be deprived in different ways. There is essentially going to be deprivation of happiness in the here and now.
Living life on fast forward, waiting for the FIRE date
You work a job you really dislike. The thing that keeps you going is this future in which things will be so much better. You will no longer need to work for the man. You will be free, free to live your life to the full. Checking your spreadsheet and using a FIRE calculator provides so much joy. You have a countdown clock and cannot wait for the time to come, 3 years, 7 years, 18 years.
The problem is though that Life is for living now, you need to stop sacrificing your life now and rushing towards a future utopia that will not be the perfect dream you imagine, life doesn’t work that way. Live your best life now! You could be dead tomorrow.
My own thoughts
I think the brunt of this argument is that you will not be living your life now to the full if you pursue FIRE as a goal. You will be in essence wanting to fast forward life to this point of trigger pulling and that will be at the expense of now as you will be more focussed on the future than the present.
I think there is some truth to this but that applies to almost any pursuit or goal and isn’t just about FIRE. It’s all about the balance of wanting to enjoy life now whilst still wanting to improve things and having things to look forward too. If we truly did live like it was or very likely could be our last day on planet Earth, we wouldn’t go to work and would probably spend the day quite down to be fair.
If we were always 100% content with what we had, there would be little progress in the world. It’s good to both want and work towards something new or different whilst still wanting and enjoying what you have already. It’s the great challenge of life. I have been very conscious of this over the last year or two and have really tried to pull back a lot of focus to how I can get more joy out of life right now.
I do therefore certainly agree that people can be obsessed with this imagined idyllic future after FIRE which could then distract from the here and now a little but having joy looking forward to FIRE and reminding yourself of why you are doing this can also bring joy to the here and now. It’s worth remembering after all that moving closer towards FIRE and even simply having it as an option can bring so many benefits to the here and now, especially the closer you get. Becoming debt free, having some emergency cash buffer, lower expenses, having a few months of money in reserve to a few years really does help the here and now after all.
Extreme Frugality and life restrictions
Enjoy drinking that coffee with friends? Enjoy the intense physical workout at your local gym? what about taking your other half for a few drinks and a meal at the local pub? All of this will likely need to stop to help achieve that 50 to 70% savings rate. You shouldn’t own any nice cars or expensive objects. You will need to live on beans and rice, buy only second hand clothes, better yet if you can make your own clothing then that would be good. If you enjoy regular holidays abroad then all of this will have to stop too.
You will need to penny pinch and downscale in almost every area to make this dream a reality. You will likely feel guilt at every opportunity or thought of spending money, this is no way to live!
My own thoughts
This is probably the most common attack on the FIRE movement I have seen. You will be depriving yourself right now by not enjoying life to the full. This is because you are withholding all the cash you invest from providing you a whole multitude of things right here and now. This might include such things as holidays abroad all the way to that new kitchen or Mazda MX5.
I completely get this argument and have even wrote a separate blog post on the subject itself. From my own experience, I think I was in the early days slightly depriving myself and have since loosened up a little and do not feel so guilty when spending money on things I completely value and get joy out of. The key point here for me though is the value of that new kitchen or holiday abroad is so personal and subjective.
There can be many cheaper ways to have fun and enjoy life but I wouldn’t want to say person x is absolutely wrong because he enjoys driving a nice car for example. It would be better to look at what you spend money on and find out if it really does make you happy.
I do not feel like I am depriving myself for example by not wearing jewellery or designer clothes or by not staying in 5 star hotels abroad but I would if I couldn’t buy a PlayStation 5 on launch or a new iPad when mine starts to die because I get so much value out of those things. I enjoy eating out at restaurants occasionally and having takeaways whereas other people might get no real joy from those things and prefer to stay in and cook a family meal and play 2nd hand board games. The key for me is are you feeling deprived, are you feeling like you want to go out more with friends but don’t because you’re worried about spending a few extra quid, if you don’t then I wouldn’t worry about this criticism but it’s certainly got validity.
There is of course the fact that there will no doubt be a balance of judging the future benefits of FIRE and then as a result choosing to have less holidays or days out etc or less experiences and purchases in general but I feel comfortable with this as I feel I already sit at a table with a huge banquet in front of me of things to do and enjoy as it stands and adding an extra variety of food to the table will not bother me all that much if I still can’t finish what’s on the table to start with. As with the previous criticism it is also worth remembering the benefits in the here and now that pursuing FIRE brings, it can make how you relate to work completely change in there here and now.
You can feel so much more secure by having even small amounts of FU money, and it can get rid of so many of those money related worries that the majority of people can and do indeed have. It is not simply about benefits being delayed and only seen in the future.
2 – Early retirement is not so good
Another common theme of criticism is whether or not early retirement itself is really a good thing in the first place. You will be bored, you will lose a sense of self and identity. You won’t be able to relate to your friends in the same way as you could before. The early retirement life choice is just not really a wise choice in general, not for society at large or for you yourself.
What will you do? It won’t be as you imagineContinue reading “Criticisms of the FIRE movement”
Hey everyone. I really hope that you are all keeping safe and as sane as possible during all of this shared experience that is affecting us all. It really is such a unique situation indeed.
We are all just about to start the 9th week of full lockdown and the final bank holiday until Christmas is upon us. I thought I would give a quick update by sharing some of my experiences of lockdown both positive and negative.
Home life & Personal
I moved in with my partner the night Boris announced the full lockdown that would commence the day after on March 23rd. I knew that we would probably be in lockdown for a few months at least and really didn’t want to be apart for so long as I took the rules seriously and wouldn’t of broke them. I rang her straight after his address and asked.. ‘I can’t not see you for weeks and weeks….could I maybe…perhaps… move in?’. This has been a big change for us both on top of the lockdown changes themselves but we have no regrets at all, it’s made all this much more bearable for sure for us both. We have got on really well and haven’t killed each other yet, so it’s all good😅.
I have been doing things that I should have done long ago without doubt. I have been kindly taught by my partner who is an awesome cook how to bake a cake… and to properly cook food from the initial peeling and chopping vegetables to making curry sauce from a powder and adding some extra spices etc. The closest I had ever got to real cooking was literally putting pizzas and food in the oven or microwave and not much else – I do an awesome beans on toast I can tell you…
Further below is the cake I made and my Chinese vegetable sweet potato curry (sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peas, red onions, quorn chicken pieces). The bit when you add the vegetables and food into the curry sauce and mix It all together is so satisfying, I can finally understand why cooking can be so fun and rewarding!
Have I got completely bored at home? Have I become a zen meditation master and finally done all those things on my To Do list with all of this free time and almost no excuses? Well I would say it has been a mix really. I wrote out a few pages a couple weeks into the lockdown of how I wanted to turn this into something positive. I wanted to come out of it having achieved and accomplished some things at least but knowing full well I couldn’t expect to just come out a different person. This is what I come up with at the time;
- Lose weight, get back to my ideal best weight (9 pound loss needed)
- Stay fit (do some form of home work outs and stretches most days & go for daily walks)
- Declutter my digital world (I have several external hard drives full of stuff and my phone/tablet and laptop to sort through)
- Read some books and watch some video learning (expand the mind a little)
So how did I do so far? Well I got off to a bumpy start on the Weight loss front. For the first 4 weeks of lockdown I had a different takeaway each Friday (Indian, Chinese, pizza and chip shop food). I also drank beer on Friday and Saturdays at home which didn’t help too much. I have however stopped the takeaways now and only drink on the Fridays. I can happily report I have now lost 6.5 pounds which I am very pleased with. I need to make sure I now don’t undo the hard work and carry on to lose a few more pounds. I feel so much better for having lost the weight.
Onto the fitness front. Well this has been less successful. I have gone for walks every couple or few days and have done occasional work out routines but not as much as I would have liked. I need to try a little harder at this for sure! I seem to do splurges when it comes to fitness and I always have. I can do it for a few days but then I just start to stop. I can eat healthy for months and months on the other hand.
When it comes to the declutter digital world challenge of mine. I have made big progress on this. I have managed to ensure I have backups of all my key documents pictures and videos etc and have also put some of this into the cloud as well. I have also removed loads of unused applications from my phone and iPad and sorted out the shortcuts only to those things I actually use and value. I still have more to do though as I need to go through more of my external drives to delete the content that I really don’t need any more. It’s similar to physical clutter in some ways, I find it hard to delete some stuff as I feel I might want to look back on them one day or get conflicted and go down memory lane when looking at older things.
I am really enjoying my work still and during lockdown being able to work from home a few days of the week and then going into work once or twice on a rota has really helped break it up a bit. I must admit, I wouldn’t like to work from home permanently. I miss the closer social interaction, the work banter and just the ease of walking over to someone and asking a question. I also find that I sit down far more when at home as I don’t need to get up to run upstairs to speak to someone or to go into the difference offices on my same floor, I really do miss this aspect of work as it keeps me active.
In terms of how busy my work is, well we initially were very busy in preparing our infrastructure for the changes in home working for our users and also many of the top priorities were switched over night. We had to rush in certain projects to help with our COVID19 response for example as those new functions actually directly helped with our ability to triage patients safely within the hospital. I feel very relieved now for our frontline staff more so that due to us being able to cope with the demand and footfall into A&E at the hospital that we have now returned to pretty much mostly BAU for my role.
It will be interesting to see how long we have to work from home for. I can do 99% of my work from home and it doesn’t need to be me specifically that does the other 1% where I do need to be in the office, it can be any of us really. I imagine that we will be carrying on working like this on a rota for many months to come, it might even last the rest of the year.
The FI Pursuit
FI Pursuit Hardened
One of the things I touched upon on my last post was how I was really pleased with how I handled the biggest financial loss of my portfolio so far. I had lost around £27,000 at one point and yet I remained fairly calm other than an initial stomach twist so to speak. This was the acid test, this showed I can handle losses. I didn’t sell, I had no intention of selling. In fact I wanted and looked forward to investing even more than normal every month as I really did feel like I was able to buy more chickens with their prices being lower now. I knew those extra eggs produced would be more valuable one day…
I feel I have graduated now from FI university and I am here to stay for the long haul. I think there could be another drop from all of this and I am still surprised how optimistic the markets seem to be. Either way though whether there is another even bigger drop or if it steadily rises back to pre crash levels. I feel confident in my ability to weather future FI storms as a result.
FI Pursuit Safety Net
The other thing I have really appreciated during all of this experience thus far is how lucky I am to be in the FI Pursuit game at all. The safety net of owning my own home mortgage free, having low expenses and having liquid cash and a mighty portfolio however diminished still puts me in a great position compared to so many. The gratitude muscles are ripped as a result. When disaster strikes, it really does put you in such a better position to weather the storms and get through financial obstacles. I don’t really fear losing my job as I know I would be fine and eventually would get another one. I can’t exactly feel sorry for myself because I will add a couple more years to when I become FI. I feel very privileged to be in this game at all.
Financial Update – May 2020
So…It would be rude of me not to provide a financial update for those longing for such content 😃…
- Monthly investment – £1500
- Savings rate – 55%
- Investment portfolio – £167,172
- Cash is king fund – £10,000
- Emergency fund – £1020.70
- Big expenses / holiday fund – £3831.11
I hope you have enjoyed my post. Please share your experiences of lockdown in the comments. I would love to hear them. Most importantly keep safe.
Chris @ TheFIJourney
I truly hope all of you are keeping as safe as you can and that you are weathering the storm of this pandemic and lockdown as well as you can. This first update post certainly will have different content to what I was expecting that’s for sure. There is a large contrast between December to February that I now know as the living life as normal months where as March has been a very different kind of month for sure. We will of course get through this, life will eventually return back to what we recognise as normal I am sure, it just might take a while.
So just to remind everyone, back in November I put forward a plan called Operation 2235. In summary, the plan entailed the following:
- Reach a portfolio of £250,000 (Base FI) by December 2022 whilst I was still 35 years old (hence the name Operation 2235)
- Achieved by investing £1500 a month over 3 years (£54,000 total) – With an assumed fair sail wind of 5% (2% real interest minus inflation)
- Do the above without depriving myself whilst still being able to weather some expected unexpected outgoings
December to February Update (living life as normal)
Ever since writing my original post about this plan, it has given me a real strong sense of purpose and direction even though I had a similar not so concrete plan in mind for a long time, writing it down online and sharing with you all somehow made it more meaningful I guess. It really does boil down to the same regular theme that has ran through many of my posts here which is:
Move towards FI without depriving the here and now in ways that matter and without having life on fast forward until you reach it, make sure to enjoy this part of The FI Journey just as much
Money & Investing
I invested £1500 every month as planned which always makes me feel good when I do it. Ever since getting my recent promotion, this figure has really been a sweet spot as I think any further promotions and/or money increases will go to other activities and purchases and not to my investing.
When it comes to monthly expenditures – December was a fairly expensive month with it being the Christmas period and a multiple birthday month. I spent a fair amount of money on going out and buying gifts with Christmas costing me around £600. I pulled some money out of my Big Expenses fund as I always do for December due to it usually being my most expensive month of the year. I ended up £6 from my budget for December which I added to my Expected Unexpected outgoings fund.
January turned out to be a much more expensive month than is usual for a typical January for me as I usually tighten the purse strings so to speak. I went to London for a long weekend trip and also went out to Birmingham a couple times for nights out. I also had food out a good few times more than normal. I ended up being £50 down from a budget perspective which meant I had to record a January deficit charge from my Big expenses fund (oh the humanity…)
The expenditure upward trend continued in February. I had to pay for a few annual renewals that I still haven’t included on my regular yearly bills monthly outgoing such as Amazon Prime, PlayStation Plus. I spent a lot of money on gifts for people in February as well which pushed my monthly deficit to £118 which I again took from my Big expenses fund. This was however something that I had intended this fund to be used for over the 3 years of this plan so this was not a worry.
I had a really good end to last year in December. The month seemed full of activities and there was a nice relatively quiet rundown at work towards Christmas without too much pressure. I always like December as work always tends to be quite project wise and I get into a reflective mode in general and what with multiple birthdays, German market trips, many festive drinks and the like – there’s a lot to enjoy and look forward to.
January turned out to be very similar to December in activity terms, I started the month off with a lovely multi day trip to London which despite coronavirus being known of, it didn’t feel like it was going to be anywhere near as big as it has since become to me at least so that was enjoyed to the full without any fear – a few pub crawls around London with my partner was fun indeed.. This was followed with a very productive couple of weeks at work where the previous quiet December was soon left behind with huge projects and very tight deadlines coming out of the no where. Despite being very busy at work, it felt very rewarding as what we was helping to deliver would really help patients at our hospital and the quality of care they would receive.
February was much quieter that the previous two months. Work was steady and going out was less frequent although we did go to a couple of live bands in town which was cool. A couple of take aways and beers at home on a Friday was the most exciting things I got up to really. I started to follow the events of the coronavirus much more closely mid month and I think I wasn’t going out so much as a result. I must admit I bought forward my bulk buying of beans, peas, cashew nuts etc that I do every couple months just in case before any restrictions were put in place. I am very glad I did this for the beans as I have a can a day…:D
March Update (During Coronavirus lockdown & Crash)
Money & Investing – The global financial crash – £27,000 Loss :O
Well, I knew that at some point I would experience a market decline that would wipe out tens of thousands of my portfolio. I prepared for that psychologically in part by not having all my eggs in one basket – By choosing to invest 40% in bonds along with some large cash buffers and owning my own home which would I hoped, make the loss not feel as big should it were to occur. By having enough cash to last over a year, I hoped I would not need to sell during a big decline if I were to lose my job at a similar time which would make me feel like I hadn’t truly lost the money invested in a sense. None of this however can be tested until such a decline would occur. How would I react?
At first I didn’t really react much to the declines I read about on the BBC news. I never checked my portfolio and I carried on as normal. I was more concerned about the virus and the impact it was having. It was only after several days of declines that my curiosity took the better of me and I logged in. I was £27,000 down. I experienced a small twinge in my stomach for sure but I was fine really. My thoughts about the situation from a market perspective was, this year might end up written off for sure but things would return to normal. The markets will rise again and all will be well. I was more concerned about the human impact this was having on families and how we were all being affected pretty much at the same time.
I must admit that I was impressed with how I handled the loss. It would be interesting to know how much of that was because it seemed to be affecting us all with this being linked to the pandemic and also that I wasn’t chasing a solid set date for FI as much anymore. Nevertheless, it was a good test of my nerve. I made no sells and invested as normal the £1500 for March at the end of February. I also took advantage of the decline and sold part of the fund that was not in my ISA wrapper and put this back into my ISA to fill up the £20,000 allowance slightly earlier than I originally planned to.
My expenses for March was fairly high. I ended up £35 down which I took from my big expenses fund as usual for any monthly deficits. Most of this expenditure come from having a few more take aways than normal and also buying a fair bit of food and gifts for some relatives to help out.
Since losing the £27,000 this has now gone to around £18,000 at the time of writing but even when this was at its worse I still felt grateful for being on the path to FI and had no regrets about my pursuit of it. This has led to the following benefits which help in this situation which gives me immense gratitude:
- I have a years supply of money to pay for all my bills if had no income
- I own my own home so at least I know my home is all paid for regardless
- My expenses are very low, I don’t need a huge amount of money each month to get by for essentials
Life – Unprecedented times
It’s been a very interesting March that’s for sure. This lockdown really has changed the shape of my activities as it has for most. I enjoy going out for a drink and dance on the weekend. This has been annoying to lose but the fact is it’s the simple joys and freedoms that I have missed. Just being able to pop in to see my dad, friends and other relatives to have a cuppa. Being able to go for a random drive, give my gran a hug etc.
I have been able to work from home for the past couple of weeks with having to go into the office 1 day per week on a rota which I am actually grateful for. It’s been interesting to experience working from home on the regular as it’s let me find out if I would like to in general when doing the same job I do now. I must say that there are benefits and negatives like with most things. I enjoy being able to stay up later at night as don’t need to get up so early, no commute etc and can wear jeans. I really do miss the human interaction though and speed of asking things in person. It really does make life easier and gets you up and about. It’s shown me that for me there is indeed a social element to working I miss when at home remote working. We have lots of banter in my office which I know not everyone gets to experience.
As always, thanks for reading my post. I’d like to know how you all have dealt with the situation we find us all in and especially how the large losses have affected you as for most of us, this will be the first huge decline we have experienced.
Chris – TheFIJourney
I thought it would be interesting to talk about my own changing attitude towards my FIRE pursuit and that it would also be great to learn about yours as well. After all, That’s one of the main reasons for me creating this blog: to share and to learn during the FI journey.
So first off – don’t worry. I haven’t changed my attitude to be anti FIRE… I don’t believe it can’t be done now, it’s crazy, that it’s best to spend it all now – you could be dead tomorrow etc… I have however as alluded to in other posts changed my focus slightly and the specifics of the goal/target has changed. So firstly, let’s start with what hasn’t changed.
- I am fully committed towards reaching Financial Independence. For me being Financial independent is simply the ability to no longer NEED to earn an income for all my basic needs in life. This includes having a home, paying all essential bills and also having a small amount of discretionary weekly money for small treats.
- I still aim for the next few years at least to have a savings rate of above 50% of my post tax salary (Currently sitting at 58%)
- I still aim to reach a £250,000 FI Fund within the next 3 years (Project 2235)
So what’s changed?
I think if I was to sum it up – the strictness of my original approach and ultimate goals has changed. I will now talk about the specific areas I think best highlight these changes and how the evolution of FIRE is occurring for me personally.
The ERE Approach & Depriving yourself
During my early FIRE years, I courted the Early Retirement Extreme movement as it were. I think this was of course mainly due to me trying to speed up the time it would take for me to FIRE. I wasn’t happy with having to wait what I originally had down as 23 years to FIRE. I cut back on so much when it come to my expenses and took seriously even the ideas of not owning a car, biking to work etc. As I discussed in my post on depriving yourself, I really took a good hard look at whether I was perhaps depriving myself with my strict pursuit of FI.
Firstly, I know the feeling of being deprived and judging whether something is or isn’t depriving yourself is a very personal thing. I would never say something is or isn’t as any universal law as each to their own but for me I certainly felt I was depriving myself of some joy and quality of life with how strict I was being. For example I couldn’t give up the benefits of owning a car. I love being able to just drive to and from friends, go to work that’s far away if the job is enjoyable. It would be a huge sacrifice to me if I didn’t have a car.
I now completely spend money guilt free, even large amounts of money on things that will bring me great value and joy. I recently bought a new 4K 65INCH LG OLED TV with a PS4 Pro. Doing that would have left me so conflicted in the past but I made the decision to buy those after a lengthy period of consideration, research and waiting for the right price. I spend more money now on going out to eat and drink at least once per week as I get a lot of joy out of those activities. I no longer think, I should of perhaps invested the difference etc. I make the decision based on the joy to stuff ratio so to speak. I happily spend money to go on multi day trips around the UK and trips to Amsterdam etc as this brings me great joy also. This for me is a big and healthy change as I already invest so much each month…
With this said, I am still very careful with my money. I still buy 20 lots of Branston baked beans (4xcans) when on offer. I still look for deals all over the place and withhold spending money on so many things that my peers spend on without even thinking. I still track money spent to the penny in my spreadsheets and I never waste my money so to speak.
Escape the Rat Race (FI or FIRE?)
I have written before about what I think makes a job good. I went from having a job I really disliked to a job that I now really enjoy. This really has helped change my attitude towards wanting to stop working entirely. I know that not everyone can find a job they enjoy but it is certainly possible to find one. I can no longer see myself retiring at 35 being able to afford the bare essentials in perpetuity. I think if I can keep my current job and things don’t drastically change which I know is of course possible, I wouldn’t want to stop before turning 40 at least. The benefits of FI on its own would be far enough for me as I already feel at this point that I choose to work and that will only get stronger the closer I get to and ultimately when I reach FI.
The main reason for not wanting to fully FIRE is that work really doesn’t feel like work to me in my current job and I’ve been here 3 years nearly now so I don’t think it’s the honeymoon period either. There’s always things that are annoying, but the good far outweighs the bad. I also think being so far along the FI journey no doubt has helped hugely with this work sentiment as knowing you don’t have to do a job into your 60s or that you could last decades without working right now really takes away a lot of the negatives.
Cast Iron 4% Rule (The FI Fundamentals)
In my years since learning about the the FI movement and the whole concept of being able to live off your money in almost perpetuity if you take 4% of your pot + inflation going forward for multiple decades. I have sold the idea to a few of my friends very passionately. At least 3 of them as a result now invest monthly as do I and are working towards this goal albeit at differing speeds and levels of commitment.
Setting aside whether 3.5% or 3% is actually the best bet for the future let’s just consider the belief that if you invest in a mix of bonds and stocks, reach a certain amount and then you can withdraw from that without ever having to work again. How much I believe that this is a sure fire thing (pun not intended) has gone from being around 99% perhaps to 90%. This is important because it has changed the degree to which I am willing to put so much on the line to pull the trigger. I like the analogy I heard the once about playing Russian roulette. I will gladly play Russian roulette knowing that there would be 1 bullet in the gun but 9 chances of FI going as planned as long as the bullet would be a strong rubber bullet that would no doubt hurt me but at least not kill me…
This cautious part of me that doesn’t want to put everything on the line for this goal is one of the reasons I own my own home and still have cash in the bank. A lot of people within the FI movement have suggested to me that I should sell my home, invest the money and rent instead to maximise my investing and reach FI quicker. That I should get rid of most of my Cash is King fund and invest this as well. If I truly believe in FI, then why wouldn’t I has been said? I think my answer is exactly that I do believe in FI through investing but not to such a degree I will risk my home and all my cash and put absolutely everything into it so to speak. I still don’t want all my eggs in one basket. I feel very similar to Mr Money Moustache when talks about having several layers of so called protection in case things didn’t go to plan and that he is a slight wuss by some accounts on that front. I use the 4% rule as a general gage of how long my money will last but that is protected with the additional expectation of Inheritances, private and public Pensions not being included in the totals and additionally no hard wish to never earn money again.
All of this aside, I still fundamentally believe we are investing in humanity and that this will work in the long run. I am investing huge amounts of money every month, I just don’t want to risk completely wiping myself out if I am wrong that’s all.
Static FI Target & Rushing towards FI
My initial FI target when I first got into the movement was £250,000 so that I could live off £10,000 a year. This is still a target of mine with my recent Project 2235 post. This however it not a static target at which point I will pull the trigger on FI. This is just my short term target to get me to that barebones FI achievement. This will feel great no doubt but will not be the end of the story. When I get to this, I will reassess to see if I will then pull back on my savings rate and spend some money on doing up my house inside or buying a new car, pay for a wedding, or go on a world cruise etc. Who knows… I am no longer religiously sticking to a pull FIRE trigger amount or date.
This leads me onto the most important part of my FI pursuit evolution. I am no longer in such a dam rush to reach full FI and/or FIRE. My most important goal is to enjoy the next 3 years and not solely to get to my 3 year goal of £250,000 as quickly as possible in a way that slightly deprives every day living (Similar to only living for the weekend so to speak). This is still a big goal of mine which I am working very hard to achieve and I will still be investing £1500 a month to help achieve this, Its just that I am no longer as desperate anymore to get to the finish line so fast…
I can’t help but think this change in priority or perhaps more urgency is because I am already living through so many of the benefits of FI right now that I am so far down the path, I think if I was to get to £250,000 tomorrow, it wouldn’t make me that much more happy than I am now, and that feels epic…
Thanks very much for reading my article. I’d love to know if your pursuit of FIRE has changed at all or even if it’s more or less identical at the end to how you envisioned it at the start.
Chris @ TheFIJourney
Hope everyone’s doing well. I have had a few busy months lately and have been focusing quite heavily on side hustles and then back to some career development by pursuing some new certifications in my field. I will do a general update discussing some of this as my next post during a Christmas review most likely :).
Operation 2235 – Intro
Back to Operation 2235… I had to give it a name like that to make it sound cool. It should be considered pretty cool on its own though I know but still there it is…
So there I was reviewing my finances a week or so ago and entering some costs as it were – I still track to the penny and record it against categories such as Going out, Gifts, Food etc. I updated my current portfolio total which I do once a month and it got me going yet again to an online compound interest calculator – oh boy have I visited that site a lot over the years. I put in 5 years in months and 5% as the interest (not 8% accounting for 5% real growth with inflation taken away) and I noticed that my current total was £161,000 and with my recently new monthly investment of £1500 (increase from £1160) I would be on track to hit £250,000 in 3 years time when counting the money I have in my Cash is King fund. This would coincide with me still being 35 years old at this point. 2022 – 35 years old (Operation 2235 :D)
Many years ago when I first started getting into FI, I dreamed of getting to £250,000 (saying Quarter of a million sounds so much better…) which I considered Base bare bones FI giving me the £833 monthly figure at 4% SWR, this would pay for all my current bills and basic outgoings as fortunately I am mortgage free. I dreamed of getting to this figure before I was 40 but originally it was going to take me until 50.. this has since fell due to a good dose of luck and increasing my monthly investments with a couple of promotions along the way.
In order to hit my target of the quarter of a million. I need a nice sail wind that I won’t be able to control such as the 2% real growth for 3 years with no bears showing their face. Who knows if this will happen what with what’s going on politically and with the long bull run we have had. Life itself will have to go as I plan also when it comes to my job, health and such and I only mention these things as I am very aware that I can only control so much and even if the wind turns against me, I will still consider this plan a success if I manage to pull off the below;
- Invest £54000 over the next 3 years (£1500 a month)
- Do the above without depriving myself whilst still being able to weather some expected unexpected outgoings
Is it Achievable?
Is this target I have set myself achievable? I would certainly say it is yes. The key thing for me that will determine this is that the £1500 monthly figure itself is realistic given the realities of life and my increasing expenditures lately.
With that in mind when I look at this target I have looked at 3 areas financially that I need to ensure are strong. There are of course many other factors such as ensuring I keep my job, working hard etc but financially my main instruments used in this success are as follows:
Expected Unexpected Outgoings Fund
I have always had a £1000 cash expected unexpected fund that I use to make sure my monthly investment amounts are safer from being meddled with due to any number of issues propping up. I currently fund this in terms of replacing it every year so that should I spend the lot, by the next April I will have a fresh £1000 ready. This is done from normal cash monthly interest, the 2 months of council tax I don’t pay and 2 yearly payments I receive for doing a task for family members. Every year for the last 5 years, something has come up using some or most of this money. Whether it’s a large vets bill or to replace a boiler, fridge etc or fix my car. This has always helped me out so this fund for me is a big first defence of not touching that £1500 monthly investment
Big expenses Fund
The next major pillar to the success of this plan is that when it comes to big expenses such as buying that new iPad, new 4K TV, PS5 or yearly trips to Amsterdam and Liverpool etc. I can pay for these things without it impacting the investing. This fund which has been sourced from side hustles (mostly MB) stands at around £7k and will be there to use for these next 3 years. This is a huge relief for me as it means I can still do the things I want to do without yet again impacting this plan.
Non depriving Discretionary spend
Now for me, this is probably one of the most critical parts of this plan. One of the most important parts of all this for me is that this is a financial plan and goal which of course impacts so many areas of my life. Despite this however, I don’t want to spend 3 years not doing the things I want to do such as having drinks on a Friday, going out for a meal once a week, buying that game or book when I want them or going out on day trips etc. I am still very very careful with my money and I always look for deals and buying food in bulk as an example but I will not compromise on quality of life when there are things that for me really bring great joy.
For these reasons, I have set a weekly discretionary spend that for me should be enough. It’s slightly higher than I am used to but not much more. This is in part because I have been spending more money on buying gifts for people and going out in the last few months and I don’t want that to stop.
I will provide updates on how I am getting along with this £250,000 challenge from now on every quarter at least. I would love to know your thoughts on this and if you could share any of your financial plans however large or small.
Chris @ TheFIJourney
Hope everyone’s doing well and enjoying the summer months. At the very least, most of us can agree it’s going to be a much better commute now that the kids are off school. It makes such a big difference to how long it takes me to get to and back from work… So anyway I just wanted to provide a quick update on how I’m getting on.
Career – New promotion!
I had some really good news at work in that I got the more specialized role with no management responsibilities which was exactly the only kind of promotion I wanted. I really have no attraction to managing people especially those at our place. That would drive me insane as they are mostly a very lazy bunch most of whom or counting down the clock to retirement (albeit not in the early retirement sense hehe) and having to be responsible for them would be very stressful. I would never say never of course but right now, management is certainly not for me.
As my post of what makes a good job detailed, I really enjoy my current job and getting this promotion addressed one of the few faults I had with it which was the pay and contract type when compared with those who do the exact same job. As much as I try not to compare with others, when workers around you albeit nice people on a personal level just screw around most the day with no real care are on much more money with better contract perks, it does get to you at times.
As for downsides, There will be more pressure in this role in ways, however I already felt like I was in a specialized role and went the extra mile so hopefully it will really just be formalizing that contract wise and a lot will stay the same. I was a bit concerned how the others would take my promotion and if jealousy would arise, but the office banter remains the same and that’s so relieving. It’s been funny having new banter related to my new role actually and there’s no malice for sure. As for office politics and being higher up the chain in ways, I fortunately will not need to attend management meetings as my new boss will be the one doing that. Let’s see how it goes, I will provide as it’s still early days for sure..
Finance – No lifestyle inflation…
It’s been very good on the financial side recently. My new job has given me a few extra hundred a month which has helped put me very close to nearly being able to max out the yearly max ISA contribution. Being able to invest so much would of made myself from 6 years ago laugh at the thought. It shows how much things can change with effort, discipline and a helpful load of luck along the way.
There has been no lifestyle inflation at all, I have put every penny of the pay increase towards investing and that feels good. I don’t feel deprived as I already spend money on things I want which includes the occasional Galaxy S10 and iPad Pro so there’s no being a tightwad. It was amusing though, as many people at work are literally dumbfounded as to why I haven’t bought a new car. It’s time to change your 7 year old car lad… you can afford it now. It’s time to upgrade to a Mercedes or a BMW. It has amused me very much. When I want my next car, I will buy it and it might be a step downward to be fair when I do as I already have a nice car in my eyes. I look forward to the future offers of help financially and concern over what I have got myself into if I have had to step down as it were car wise.
I also decided to pay of the last bit of my student loan which I know in ways should not be classed as debt due to mine being the type that has no real interest but it does mark the first time I am completely debt free of all kinds. That’s a very nice feeling indeed :D. I was unsure as to whether I should as I didn’t before due to thinking my money was being better invested but with ever increasing contributions coming from my new promotion, I just wanted to get the true take home amount with no money took off and I used some cash reserves from matched betting to pay it off which wasn’t really being invested anyway. I certainly don’t regret that and for those that cry ‘What about the opportunity costs…’ – the positive feelings from doing it are worth the loss..
As for my portfolio… I am well on the way to the magical £200k mark of liquid investments. I seem to be matching Weenie very closely which does amuse me :). I am not getting too pleased though as I still feel a decline is inevitable soon so I am more concentrating on the monthly investment as opposed to the total figure as I think that it’s currently higher than it probably should be or will be in a couple years time but who knows eh? Maybe this is the period of steady lower growth that lasts 20 years. I really don’t claim to know.
Side hustles – Matched betting
I have been trialing each way sniping the last couple of months and I am pleased to report that thus far that it is certainly working. I invested £1k into it and have doubled that so far. It has however been a right roller coaster of ups and downs which was to be expected. It is so much less hassle than normal matched betting though and I am fitting it into my daily routine without it being a hindrance. Let’s see how I look in the next couple of months. Below shows an example of the ride during a downtrend…
I am glad I stuck with it as it was certainly nerve racking at times especially when approaching a complete wipe out of my investment.
I am going to Amsterdam again soon for another trip, pardon the pun. I certainly look forward to that as I will be treating it as a celebration for getting my promotion in a way and also as it’s time to let my hair down as it were.
I have been doing lots of delcuttering lately around my house. I have meant to do it for many years now and never really get passed one big spurt of doing one room and then I just stop and it gradually gets more cluttered over time. This time however I have made great progress and it feels so good having less stuff.. I am trying to get to the point where rooms are lived in and not showroom like which I hate but still very much less cluttered and where everything provides value or a purpose. I certainly do not want to get to less than a 100 items… I just want to get the most out of what I have and enjoy the benefits of having less clutter. Less clutter in the house, hopefully less clutter in the mind.
I think I will leave it there. Hope everyone is doing well. Let me know what you have planned for the summer. How are you all getting on?
Chris @ TheFIJourney
Matched Betting – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
I am writing this from the understanding that most readers will already be familiar with what matched betting is. What follows is a frank, honest and sometimes embarrassing account of my experiences with matched betting over the last 3 years. I am going to focus more on the bad and ugly parts as these are what I want to share more so. This in no way is referring to any intrinsic good and bad experiences that everyone will find if they pursue it but is simply my own story as it were… here goes.
Roll back the clock around 3 years ago and I was reading some posts from TheFireStarter (as you do…) and I couldn’t help but notice Matched betting as an income source in his monthly reports. This really confused me at the time as I thought ‘The poor guy is gambling? How long will this last!’. It wasn’t for a couple of months and after some email exchanges that I finally realized that it might not be gambling per say. I started reading into it and researching what it was and how it supposedly worked. It really did seem too good to be true at the time and I was hell bent on trying to find the negatives. I was searching for terms like ‘matched betting scam’, ‘matched betting doesn’t work’, ‘matched betting is illegal’ etc… Even though I couldn’t find negatives I still thought to myself, why don’t more people know about this? There’s gotta be some downsides surely? It dawned on me that I had to at least try it to see if it worked for myself. I eventually did the Coral free bet offer, fully understood how it worked in the process and never looked back.
This has been an incredible side hustle for me. I have earnt more than I thought would be originally possible. It has enabled me to fully pursue my FI targets while still having money for big expenses such as a new phone, tablet and holidays etc. If it wasn’t for the ridiculous profits that TheFireStarter reports, I would feel thrilled about what I have made (shakes fist at you…..). Joking aside. This has been a great side hustle financially speaking.
As for other good things. There is no need to leave the comfort of your own home, you can do this whilst still in your pants as it were sipping a Pina colada (not that I do). There is guaranteed risk free money to be made as long as you do things properly. This last point is where I myself have feel down previously but I will get to that later.
I think when I look at my experience with matched betting, the main bad thing that sticks out is how much time it has taken from me when I am doing it. I won’t go into specifics of what particular matched betting I was doing but it certainly would take up a big part of my week especially the weekends. I would be almost engrossed in thinking what matches are coming up, working out my profit pipeline, filling in my tracking spreadsheets etc. I remember once being out having a meal and I was on my phone placing bets and checking scores etc, I got a stern telling off at the time but this is what I was doing for a long period of time. I found it exciting to be fair so it wasn’t like it wasn’t enjoyable but it was distracting me from everyday normal stuff a bit too much. I had a break from matched betting for a good many months last year and I couldn’t believe how much free time I had as a result. It was really noticeable.
The other bad thing for me personally was, should I be doing this? Even if not illegal – the terms and conditions were starting to change to clearly state, you cannot use methods to lock in guaranteed profits etc. You are clearly breaching terms and the threat of withholding winnings is increasing. I guess the is this morally dubious thoughts were appearing. The exchange usually wins and those are likely real people placing bets and losing money after all.
This is the part where embarrassment comes in. I have no doubt that this is down to my personal character traits and failings but this could be helpful for others to bear in mind as it could happen to a small number of us. In typical easy matched betting, there is no real risk or perhaps it’s better to say very minimal risk. There are the risk of errors made by yourself whether it’s reading their terms of offers, placing bets on the wrong team or twice or laying the wrong amount etc. This of course can and does happen the opposite way. I have layed the wrong team and then happened to win that game as well. I have forgot to finish sequential laying an Acca and the Acca has won. My errors going for and against me have probably evened out by now however my own psychological failings could have destroyed me… I don’t say destroyed lightly.
My problem boiled down to the old classic of not accepting your losses. I had a profit pipeline. I expected a certain amount of profit from the different bets I was doing. I feel like I already had counted this money as my own even though I might not have earnt it yet. Most of what I discuss now is going back 2 years ago.
I place the bet on a horse. I am just about to click the lay button on an exchange and the odds disappear…I can no longer make £18 as expected. I place the bet anyway hoping someone will snap it up. Nothing… and the odds that are offered increase. My profit goes down even further. Screw it… I just place the same amount of money on the horse. It’s 17/1 anyway so prob won’t win. I overlay in terms of odds and liability. Guess what happens? The horse wins and instead of £18 up, I am down £18. This annoys the hell out of me. So.. I do a real bet that Italian series b team 1 v team 2 will not win 3-2. It currently 1-0. I risk £300 to make back that money. The game finishes 3-2.
The feeling of needing a result desperately to go a particular way is heart wrenching. This is gambling, this is a problem. This is what can lead to compulsive gambling. The above example is one of many that I had done during this Period. Once I remember risking £700 to win back a £100 loss. I didn’t want the under dog team to win. It was 1-0 to the favourite at 65mins or so when I placed the bet. It then went 1-1. I went for a long walk in the cold with drizzly rain and every 5 minutes checked the score in my phone. Luckily it stayed 1-1 but this feeling was horrible. When I win back the loss,I would do no further actual gambling for many weeks or months until an error annoyed me that little bit too much that I chased. Chasing £5 turned into a £730 loss once and then onto my lowest moment of all. I risked £3000 to win back that £730 and I won. Pure luck of the draw. I dread to think what could have happened.. if I was chasing £5, then £730. What would I do to chase £3735. Due to being on the pursuit of FI, I had the money to risk after all…
You’ll be glad to know, I have never chased losses since the £3k bet. I feel incredibly lucky as I dread to think what could have happened if I did lose it. All my previous effort of matched betting would have been eliminated on top of losing the money, I would of felt like I had lost all the time and effort as well. How have I changed since? I don’t count any money as a given in any profit lines and it never feels like it’s my money already. I accept losses, mistakes and not earning what I thought I might. I feel like thankfully, that brief terror 2 years ago has been surpassed now. I am quite confident I have changed as around 3 months ago, I layed the wrong team with similar sounding names, lost £300 and just marked it down as an error. The thought of chasing never even occurred to me.
I am looking into no lay each way betting. The money I have put aside is not even included in my funds so it’s a punt really. I will look at it like an investment where it will have volatility but hopefully there is an upward trend like there is for others. I feel very comfortable with this as have already done something similar with 2up. The losing streaks never bothered me as long as I understood the variance would switch around and that it would likely work in the end. It is an exciting time, it’s a bit of an experiment. I have stopped normal matched betting because of the amount of time for me that it was taking. The idea of simply placing bets, no tracking other than totting up balances monthly really appeals to me. I will report back on how I get on :D..
For all intents and purposes, I have no regrets at all of getting into this and I have TheFireStarter to thank for helping me discover this. I feel I have gotten over the Ugly experiences as I no longer have any inclination to chase at all. I hope you don’t judge me to harshly on my failings as discussed, I just hoped sharing this might be of help to someone who was a bit like the old me.
Let me know how you have got on with your experience of matched betting in the comments!