For a Dentist, Mine wasn’t too Bad…

I made an appointment the other day for a dental check-up and was shocked to find that my dentist had had the audacity to retire early!

There’s me planning my own early retirement and yet for some reason, I’m half expecting everyone else around me to continue doing their jobs forever!

This really shouldn’t have come as a surprise – over the years, my dentist has talked about his kids going to uni, then graduating and then all getting jobs in locations around the world.

I’ll Miss Him

If it’s at all possible to miss your dentist, then I will miss him. Always jolly, with a pleasant manner, the kind who liked to chat/crack jokes while your mouth was wide open! But not cheap – I’ve mentioned here and there where I’ve had to fork out for expensive treatment but that’s the price I’m paying now for avoiding appointments when I was too lazy younger. Still, my dental fees paid over the years probably helped with his kids’ education haha!

He was the only dentist I’d seen as an adult – I must have just graduated when I first saw him (as a young dentist) as I remember receiving free treatment! I have now met the new replacement dentist and it’s going to take a while for me to feel at ease in the dentist’s chair again.

I wonder if my old dentist spared a thought for his patients as he swanned off into retirement?

What if this last year was his ‘one more year’?

If I ever saw him in the pub, I would like to ask him!

So where am I going with this post?

Well, until my dentist had retired, I hadn’t previously considered the impact of someone’s surprise early retirement on the people around them.

So I wonder…

People at Work

When I hit FI, RE will follow pretty swiftly, I am quite sure of that.

So when I retire early, I don’t think my boss would be too surprised when I hand in my notice, as she will suddenly recall that I did mention to her about retiring early (when I first met her, before she became my boss, haha!). I do occasionally mention investing to her but of course, no details. I guess it’ll be a shock to everyone else.

My boss and immediate colleagues would miss the work that I do and I’d like to think that they would miss me too!  I’m not trying to make out that my work is so critical or so important but it’s a job which I perform reasonably well and I’m now viewed as someone who ‘knows things’ (I also drink….that was for GOT/Tyrion Lannister fans 🙂 )

Of course, I’m not irreplaceable, someone else will just come along and do my job. Maybe my ex-colleagues could reminisce – “That Weenie, she wasn’t too bad...”

My Close Friends (My Inner Circle)

These friends have some inkling that I plan to retire early. When I pull the plug, I think all will be surprised I did it after all, a few (though not all) will likely ask me how I did it and would be genuinely interested. I’d like to think that all would be happy for me. I suspect, however, the others will just think I’ve been lucky in some way. I hope I’m wrong here and that most/all of them will like to know, so they too can speed up their own retirements (all my friends are younger than me).

I will be making all efforts to maintain my close relationships with these friends and part of that will include trying to not rub it in too much in their faces that I no longer need to work!

My Family

My family will probably wonder how I could retire early having only ever earned a relatively low income but are unlikely to be too surprised – they know I’ve been ‘careful with my money’, that I’ve been investing though not that I’ve been aiming for FIRE. It’s likely that one or two of my siblings could be retiring about the same age (if not before) but their FIRE would definitely be Fat FIRE!

They will be glad that I will be able to spend more time with them, although probably not too much time – you know how it can get with families!

My Other Friends

For friends who are not in my inner circle, I’m not even sure I would tell them I’d retired. Maybe I’d say I was just taking some time out, looking for opportunities. For my old uni friends, I’d tell them I was a ‘lady of leisure’ (being one seemed to be something we talked about a lot as 19 year olds for some reason!) but that too would be taken to mean just taking some time out before getting back into work.

I guess I think not everyone needs to know of what I’ve achieved as not everyone will understand (or be positive about it) and I’m not sure that I can be bothered to explain, unless I really thought they might be interested themselves and might be open to the FIRE ethos.

The Community/Charities

I’ll include this because right now, I think when I retire early, I’d probably do some volunteering to hopefully do some good in the community so that will be a beneficial impact resulting from my early retirement.

Anyway, for a post which started with dentists, this has ended with me feeling quite positive about FIRE, especially during a time when I know that my Future Fund has no doubt been plummeting relentlessly with the markets!

No, I haven’t been checking, I don’t need to and don’t want to know the gory details!

So, how do you think those around you will react when you hit FIRE?

November 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Not sure where November went – it was a bit of a blur.

I went to the Lake District for the first time ever to participate in my (kind of) new hobby, walking.

I know, Tuppenny, beautiful countryside merely 1.5 hours away in the car, pretty much on my doorstep and yet I’d never been before! No excuse really, just never crossed my mind!

Would definitely go back, it was lovely, although I’m not sure I’d want to live there long-term, bit too remote for my liking and I’m not fond of driving down country roads. Perhaps there’s too much of a City gal in me.

Anyway, stayed in Bowness-on-Windermere and went on the Grasmere to Alcock Tarn walk (around 9 miles).

I did wonder what was lurking under that peaceful lake…

Typically, it was raining and cold but after the extreme weather I experienced in Snowdonia, this was a bit of a doddle and felt quite mild :-). Although there was a part of the walk where we had to cross a fast flowing stream, jumping over slippery rocks and I ended up with what felt like half the stream in my boot!

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 36.3%, which sees my average savings rate going down a little to 43.7%.

Not bad really, although I’ve not done much in terms of any Christmas shopping yet.

For the first time, I actually bought something on Black Friday but it was on behalf of family. I did make one significant purchase this month – a new mattress after checking out Kiernan’s mattress review website as I didn’t know what to get. Suffice to say, I’m very happy with my purchase, although there were some shenanigans regarding delivery.

The above savings includes top ups from £240 matched betting profits (from last month), £10 lotto winnings and £124.50 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, just added to existing ones.

AJBell Youinvest had their own Black Friday offer (fee-free trades) so I took the opportunity to finally offload my Vodafone shares. Yield is currently an insane 7.9% but I’m not confident this will continue in the long term. With the loss in capital and dividend income over the years I held the stock, I probably more than broke even (would have been a loss if I’d paid trading fees to sell).

Speaking of AJBell, I’ve applied for shares for when they float on the stock exchange later this month. The shares probably won’t be as lucrative as the Hargreaves Lansdown ones (which sadly, I didn’t buy) but as an existing customer of theirs, I thought they’ll be worth a punt.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The markets appear to have recovered a little so my Future Fund is heading in the right direction again, sitting at £146,601.

I’m resigned to the fact that I’m unlikely to end the year >£150k unless there’s going to be a really really generous Santa Rally!

Dividends and Other Income

So, wobbly markets or not, my dividends continued to roll in regardless: Continue reading

Going Mainstream and ‘Liquid Food’

These past couple of months, FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) has been in the news, included in the main newspaper websites (here and here) and other media outlets.

Although for a long while, there has been more publicity in the US due to the exploits/fame of Mr Money Mustache, FIRE in the UK has been quieter but steadily growing, the community expanding and awareness increasing.

Even the BBC picked it up with this  article, which unlike some of the other articles, does not include the usual hysterical negative comments.

Mainstream

In one way, I’m finding it quite exciting that FIRE is in the public eye. It’s good to hear about UK ‘ambassadors’ of FI, people happy and willing to go public and get the message out there to the masses.

Personally, I think more people should aim for FIRE, even if their ultimate aim isn’t to retire early – ok, that means aiming for FI! It won’t do them any harm and if they don’t ultimately achieve it (whatever ‘it’ is), their personal finances would be in a far more reasonable state than had they not made the attempt to follow some of the ideas or the ethos.

However, in another way, I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with all this publicity that FIRE is getting. Not because I liked being in a secret little club (like Fight Club, you don’t talk about it, etc). I’ve been on this journey a while now but I’m no ‘ambassador’, nor do I have any interest in being one or being in the public eye.

With FIRE becoming more mainstream, there’s an increased chance of someone stumbling across my blog and saying “OMG – I know Weenie!”.

I’ve been blogging semi-anonymously all this time and no one I know is aware of my blog.

@Firethe9to5 once commented that she was surprised my friends and family didn’t know about the blog. Well, they’re obviously not interested in FIRE or never thought to search for it. Except now it’s going mainstream…

If my family discovered my blog, I think I’ll be fine with it. Probably.

If it was friend or colleague, I think I will be mortified!

Why?

Because it feels ok for me to be talking publicly about my finances to a bunch of people I don’t know on the internet but not to discuss them in minute detail with my friends.

I’m sure it’s not just me. If there is the rare conversation about money, there are definitely no numbers involved anyway.

It’s possible that my friends might view my blog positively but I quite like not having to talk about it with anyone who knows me personally. It seems too…private, and yet here I am sharing all with anyone who happens to read my blog!

I take care not to mention the name of the company I work for – don’t want to be sacked for integrity/reputation issues after all.

So, it seems there’s no stopping FIRE and that the media will continue to talk about it, so to delay the inevitable, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve slightly adjusted my avatar  – can’t remember what I did but the image has been ‘stylised’ or made cartoony. I was going to replace it completely but then realised that I would lose a bit of my ‘online’ identity’, for what it’s worth. I think it still looks like me, just a bit less so…

Ah well, if I get found out, I’ll get found out! I’d just rather it was later than sooner, ie when I’m near achieving my goal as I’m sure I couldn’t care less by then!

Liquid Food

Some of you may have seen the Huel experiment which theFIREStarter has been conducting.

I won’t go into detail since it’s all explained in his post but essentially, Huel has been marketed as a nutritionally complete food, convenient, affordable with minimum impact on animals and the environment. It’s 100% vegan.

I prefer to drink it out of a glass, though it means more washing up!

I commented that this wasn’t for me but to cut a long story short, I somehow ended up ordering a couple of bags to try out myself!

I’ve been trying to shift a few pounds of excess weight (from last winter!) and thought perhaps that Huel could help.

Results

Well, I’ve been on it for over month now and I’ve probably only lost a couple of pounds, so not very positive on that front.

However, my clothes seem to fit me better so it seems like I’m a little less bloated, not that I thought I was bloated before.

I have only replaced one meal a day, 5 times a week. Normally, the meal I’m replacing is my breakfast – it’s all very well work providing free breakfast as a perk but that huge bowl of Crunchy Nut cornflakes I used to scoff most days was not good for me and rather high in calories! A Huel shake in the morning is better for me and still keeps me full until lunchtime. It’s also a great post-workout drink.

My standard Huel shake is made with milk (soya or semi-skimmed), topped up with decaff instant coffee and a teaspoon of chia seeds. The coffee seems to make the shake less sweet – the flavour I’m on is vanilla (new).

One thing I have noticed is that the Huel shakes are very high in fibre – even though I’m generally vegetarian during the week, (just for convenience rather than for anything else),  I could always do with more fibre in my diet so this is a good thing.

I don’t feel any different or any worse, energy levels are the same but I can see that if I do want to seriously diet, I have the option to up my Huel meals.

As TFS mentions though, there is a placebo effect – since I’ve started on Huel, I’ve consciously cut down on snacks and upped my exercise.

I got some great info from the Huel website and forum which is likely to be a life changer for me – I’ve been going about my life thinking that an average woman needs 2000 calories to maintain healthy weight. However, I’m smaller than the average woman so need less calories (only around 1500), so with that in mind, I’ve started to adjust my normal food consumption.

I don’t think I could ever replace all my food and go 100% Huel but I think replacing occasional meals the way I have can be sustained fairly long-term.

My food shopping bill has gone down a little, though not by too much.

If anyone is interested in trying Huel and wants a £10 voucher (I get one too!) to use if they place an order >£40, please contact me direct and I’ll send you the link.

Is Huel the food of the future? Not so sure, but in a small way, it’s environmentally friendly so perhaps it has its place.

Have a great weekend all.

October 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Happy Halloween!

My efforts this year.

In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve (although I don’t have time for trick or treaters), I’ve enjoyed carving pumpkins, having pumpkin in my casserole and munching on pumpkin seeds but was it a horror show for me, investment-wise?

During the recent stock market upheavals, I made a point of not checking my investment numbers (apart from my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio).  I didn’t see the point of scaring/torturing myself.

So I was able to ignore all the hysterical news and remain blissfully ignorant…until now!

Firstly, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 41.2%, which sees my average savings rate going down a little to 44.4%.

It’s all downhill from now until the new year as the spendy months are here, plus I need to pay off my holiday flight.

The above savings includes top ups from £430 matched betting profits (from last month), £78.20 from TopCashback*, £20 lotto winnings and £80.40 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Well, I can confirm that the value of my Future Fund was affected negatively by the volatile markets.

It might be easier to show to what extent with a graph:

2018 Future Fund progress

No need to panic – it’s just sort of back to where it was in June, so no disaster.

I was preparing myself for the worst and as with the recent budget, in the end, not a lot happened.

It would be good to get back over the £150k mark by the end of the year, so let’s hope things pick up over the next month or so. My balance now stands at £145,068 and I will continue to invest as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

The markets tanked yet my dividends continued to roll in regardless: Continue reading