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

Project 2235 September 2020 Update – A New Normal

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.

Operation 2235

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.

Continue reading “Project 2235 September 2020 Update – A New Normal”

Criticisms of the FIRE movement

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

Penny pinching is a must…

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 imagine

Hope you enjoy playing Bingo…
Continue reading “Criticisms of the FIRE movement”