November Update – £200,000 Milestone Reached! + Post 2235 Musings

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?

TFJ -TheFIJourney

My 3 Year £250,000 Target – Operation 2235

Intro

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.

The Plan

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.

In Closing

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

Matched Betting – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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.

The beginning

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.

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Ugly

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.

What’s next?

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!

Chris@TheFIJourney