Liar Liar

One of my goals for this year is to read three non-fiction books. I know that doesn’t sound like many but generally, I read books for enjoyment, not for education. Of course, the two are not really mutually exclusive but I’ve yet to find sci-fi investing books out there! 🙂

I usually read around 30-35 fiction books a year and I think 3 non-fiction is about all I want to attempt really.

Anyway, the second book I’ve read is ‘Liar’s Poker‘ by Michael Lewis.

Written and set in the 1980s, this semi-autobiographical book charts the rise and fall of investment bank Salomon Brothers (which ultimately became part of Citicorp in the late 1990s) and documents the greed, ambition and excesses of the people (including the author) who worked for the company and the bond trading industry.

Salomon Brothers made an absolute killing selling mortgage bonds to customers (including other banking institutions) who didn’t really understand what they were buying. In the days before the internet, the traders had all the info (and weren’t always truthful) and customers, fearful they would miss opportunities, would jump in with their money without doing their own research (yep, that old chestnut!).

The regulators were ineffective as they were always playing catch up on the new, inventive and complicated ways financial products were being structured to make profits. The bond traders and investment banks were unscrupulous and unrelenting in their greed, with no thought of consequences.

The amounts of money involved were jaw-dropping – it was scary to read about what the traders got away with, their audacity, the lies they told and how greed ultimately had businesses investing in things they didn’t have a clue in.

Big Swinging Dicks

All the traders aspired to be ‘Big Swinging Dicks’, the ones who made the most money and commanded the biggest bonuses. Yes, even the very few women who were able to fight their way past extreme gender inequality aimed to be a BSD!

Liar’s Poker

What was ‘Liar’s Poker’? It was a high stakes gambling game which the bond traders played, using bluffing and psychological tactics.

Anyway, I thought this was a good read (thanks for the recommendation, Jim), with a fair amount of humour and kept my interest throughout. I’d be tempted to read another of Lewis’ books. I know he wrote ‘The Big Short’ though having seen the movie adaptation, I may try one of his other ones.

What did I learn from this book?

Don’t invest in things you don’t understand and don’t be tempted by huge profits.

Have a great weekend all – it’s apparently going to be a sunny one! 🙂

September 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

No idea where this month went – I had one weekend away (cocktails are never a good idea!) and that’s pretty much it. No progress on the kitchen so it’s still only half done, but at least I can cook now so the poor diet from previous months has improved. Hopefully, all will be completed by the end of this month.

So, how much of my net salary did I save this month?

I saved 37.5%. An improvement on last month but not by much. I think this is going to be as good as it gets, especially with the more ‘expensive months’ coming up.

My average for the year has now dropped to 45.4%. I’m not going to reach my target  but I think I’ll be happy if I can keep it above 40%.

The above savings includes £200 matched betting profits, £7.50 from TopCashback*, £50 rent received and £93.57 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

Nothing new was purchased, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Markets were a little volatile, which caused my Future Fund to drop slightly in value, despite the extra capital added.  It now stands at £124,961. Just a small step backwards but I’m still slowly plodding on towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading

Comparisons

Before embracing it, I very nearly dismissed the whole FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) concept.

The idea had piqued my interest immediately but at first glance, it seemed as if I did not fit into ‘the same mould’ as everyone pursuing FI (or having reached FI).

I looked on in dismay as I compared myself with the entrepreneurs, consultants, engineers, bankers, IT specialists and other high earners who were able to tuck away not just the equivalent of my entire salary year on year, but in some cases, multiples of my salary, for their financial freedom and early retirement. My initial thought was, ‘Crap, I can’t do this, I don’t earn enough and I’m in the wrong sort of job!’

Then I compared ages and everyone seemed so young – people in their 20s and 30s aiming (and on track) to be FI and to ‘retire early’ by 40 or by their early 40s. I was already in my mid-40s by the time I came across MMM – crap, was it all too late for an ‘old girl’ like me? (although it’s a good job I don’t look or act old 🙂 )

Another thing was that it appeared that you needed to make huge sacrifices to become FI. I mean I am and was able to cut back on my spending but I couldn’t see myself taking the extreme route and being a frugal recluse, living a cheap but not very cheerful (in my opinion) life or living like a student again.

More importantly, I didn’t want to be seen as tight-fisted by friends and family. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t care what anyone thinks.  While I don’t mind being a bit different, I do care about what the people I care about think, especially if it may affect my relationships.

So, it would have been no surprise if I had gone about my merry way, thinking FIRE was a nice idea but not for me.

Except that I continued to read about it with an open mind. Why? Because despite my initial misgivings, the whole concept really fascinated me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

I ran some basic numbers (on the proverbial back of a fag packet) and it dawned on me that I didn’t need to earn megabucks (no, I don’t need £1 million!) or do exactly what someone else was doing or did – I could just take certain (good) ideas and apply them to my own situation.  Yep, personal finance being what it says on the tin!

FIRE  comparisons are like comparing these two

More Comparisons

However, despite embarking on my FIRE journey, I couldn’t help but continue to compare myself to others.

People whose net worths were waaay bigger than mine after a shorter space of time, people achieving astronomically high savings rates, effortless side hustles and blogs earning income to die for. Some had already reached FI, or they were only X years away and they were only in their 30s etc.

Such comparisons were at times a little disheartening until I eventually realised that it was just  pointless comparing myself to others.  The only comparison worth taking note of is that of comparing my own progress over time.

These days, I can now look at other people’s very high net worths and mega savings rates and admire them and applaud them, without feeling bad about my own attempts and performance.

To say that I never feel any envy would be to lie, but hey, I’m only human – I just don’t dwell on the envy or allow it to become negative, I just focus on what I’m doing myself. Everyone’s situation and circumstances are different, whether it’s their background, age, stage in their lives, different countries, different jobs etc.

Numbers

Not everyone likes to share their actual numbers but I made the decision to do so when I started this blog – I just know that some readers like to see real figures (to compare with their own, I suppose, haha!).

Until around nine years ago, my net worth was a negative number due to my numerous credit card debts. I eventually paid these debts off and by the time I started my FI journey in 2014, my net worth was £74,596.

As at the end of August, it stood at £205,509.

STOP! Try not to compare my net worth with your own – we are different! 🙂

I didn’t even notice that I’d passed the £200k milestone because by itself, it doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just a number since I’m not using it in any of my calculations. However, it’s good to compare how far I’ve come since those negative days!

[EDIT – I see from some of the comments that I need to make a clarification – my £200k race with John K is with my Future Fund, not my Net Worth. My Future Fund currently stands at £125,946]

Do you compare yourself or your savings/investments progress and how does it make you feel?

August 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

A month of distraction, therefore a month of higher-than-usual spending and I think some of this might overlap into next month as I used my credit card to pay for some stuff towards the end of the month.

I had family staying (again) so enjoyed some days out, quite a bit of eating out and also had some fun playing cricket in the garden with my nephew. Don’t ask me the rules though, I only know the bare minimum!

Had a weekend away at V Festival (the awesome Pink was headlining). As well as for the music and the atmosphere, I love going to festivals as they’re the only places where I think you can safely people watch (as in really people watch), ie staring at what they’re wearing (or not as the case may be!) and at their tattoos (of which a lot were on show) and nobody bats an eyelid! There’s only so much of that you can get away with on a night out in town without causing trouble!It’s a pity that the only thing available to drink was crap beer (“probably the best worst lager in the world”) but that didn’t stop me from drinking large quantities of it! My fellow festival goers were on wine, which I believe was not a great vintage vile and just got them drunk quicker – apparently, as time went by, it started to taste better!  The weather wasn’t great and although we had a few hours of sun, it was just rain later on but we were prepared!

So, how much of my net salary did I save this month?

Well, I saved 36.2%. Although still a fairly decent chunk of my salary, as expected, it’s lower than my usual figure.

My average for the year has now dropped to 46.3%. With only four months of the year left, I have a feeling I am going to struggle to hike it back up on track. My social diary is starting to fill up, I have a pretty big holiday in a couple of months time and although I will try to keep spending in between these events low, inevitably, my savings rate will continue to take a hit.

Of course, I could always sacrifice my social life just so that I could hit my goals but that’s not something I’m prepared to do right now or in the foreseeable future, if I’m honest. As and when I get close to my end goal however, I may change my tune.

The above savings includes £100 from matched betting profits and £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

Nothing new was purchased, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current portfolio can be found here.

Future Fund 

Despite the slight wobble in the markets, with extra capital added, my Future Fund continues to grow and now stands at £125,946. Slowly plodding on towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading