[From Wikipedia] “The seven-year itch is a popular belief, sometimes quoted as having psychological backing, that happiness in a marriage or long-term romantic relationship declines after around seven years.”
I’m not married, nor currently in a long-term romantic relationship so the itch in my case must refer to my relationship with my blog, which last month unbelievably turned seven years old!
Happy 7th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂
So has my happiness (and enthusiasm) declined after 7 years of writing and sharing mutterings about my FIRE journey?
I would say no, not yet anyway!
Seven Year Slog
Let me just start by saying that whilst it hasn’t been particularly difficult, it hasn’t been a breeze aiming for FIRE all these years because it still takes me effort to stay focused, to stay on this path I have chosen.
There are occasions when I feel like I can’t be bothered any more, although perhaps lockdown/the pandemic has probably put these thoughts in my head – my life seemed so much easier when I was just merrily drifting aimlessly with no set goals. But that way points to regret and I would rather not have any regrets.
Whilst I’m no longer the younger me who used to just spend money like there was no tomorrow, if I don’t maintain focus, laziness and apathy will make a reappearance in my life and costs will spiral until I’m no longer saving and investing as much as I am able to towards my future.
Anyway, aiming for FIRE is a long-term slog and the only thing that really keeps me from straying off the path is this blog and the words of support from the readers who take the time to stop by and who inadvertently make me accountable for my actions with their comments and emails.
What have I been doing these past 7 years?
Well, there were 6 years of just living and enjoying my life and then there was 2020 which just passed by and I endured it along with everyone else. My life has been relatively free of ‘drama’, with a lot to enjoy and I can’t really ask for more than that.
I continue to try to live a ‘normal’ life. By normal, I mean one where I don’t deprive myself of anything I love, enjoy and consider important in my life. I haven’t practised extreme frugality and don’t believe I have sacrificed or denied myself anything in my pursuit of FIRE – I’ve just not spent a lot of money on stuff I deem unnecessary, but splashed out on things which I consider important to me.
So yes, I still go on foreign holidays (can’t wait until we are allowed to fly again), have a gym membership (which will be put to use again), enjoy my Amazon Prime membership (which I use for reading and watching) and look forward to having a good boozy social life again. I also spend a fair amount of my free time doing leisurely, unproductive but very enjoyable things, such as read fiction, binge-watch boxed sets, read blogs and play video games.
Over the years, I’ve aimed to save/invest as much of my net salary as possible – I generally have an average savings rate of around 40%, although I managed over 50% during the 2020.
All my investment income is reinvested and I also put away any adhoc income generated from cashback, the odd bit of gambling, affiliate links, premium bond/lotto wins and profits from matched betting. Any bonuses I’ve received from work have largely been invested too.
Here’s the growth of my Future Fund over the years (2021 shows the amount as at end March 2021):
Steady progress from investing on a monthly basis, with the trend continuing to head in the right direction.
Apart from the hiccup of being made redundant in 2016 from the company where I’d enjoyed a 21-year career, my life these past 7 years has been pretty stable, allowing me to concentrate on my savings and investments.
Time will tell whether my investments will be affected in the future by the after effects of the pandemic, including the ongoing saga of Brexit and other global events/disasters.
How Long until I FIRE?
I think I am 4 or 5 years away from achieving FIRE. Maybe a little before then, perhaps a little after.
How is it that I don’t actually know, even with all my planning and my spreadsheets?
My FIRE date was always just an estimate really, based on calculations on said spreadsheets. I realised a few years ago that it was quite impossible to have a goal set in stone because I have no real idea what’s going to happen in the future, so until I know for sure, I don’t have an actual date, nor indeed an actual number any more.
I did have a FIRE number in mind but this keeps changing, depending on how I tweak my spreadsheets and consider the kind of retirement I’m likely to have/would like to have. My thoughts on decumulation make it even harder to pin down an exact number. More global travel when I’m retired = FIRE number goes up etc.
Reaching FIRE is always going to be highly dependent on events outside of my control, including unstable stock markets caused by aforementioned global events, sequence of returns risk and keeping a full-time job.
Plans for a company restructure at the place where I work have been shelved due to the pandemic but will likely resurface at some point in the future. Changes to my living situation will also have a big impact on the timing etc.
Blog Stats and Numbers?
I won’t mention how many visitors I’ve had over the years, page views, how many posts I’ve written, number of followers, subscribers etc because I don’t keep track of these numbers.
Although my blog is monetised, it’s never been my intention to make any real money out of it so I’ve never felt the need to work at driving a load of traffic here. The bit of income that I do get from Google Ads barely covers the upkeep of my site and all affiliate income I receive is detailed in my monthly updates and gets chucked into my ISA.
My only goal blog-wise is to post on a semi-regular basis, so if I run out of things to write about, there’s always going to be my usual monthly savings update at the very least.
Thank You Again
Readers have come and gone over the years and I’m eternally grateful to the ones who have stayed and who continue to support my quest for FIRE.
So as always, a massive ‘Thank You’ to all fellow bloggers and non bloggers who take the time to read this little blog – I really do appreciate your comments and emails.
Thank you very much for helping me keep my focus, keeping me motivated, giving me ideas and helping me stick to my plan!
As ever, a big shout out to theFIREstarter for inspiring me to start this blog and who continues to provide friendship and guidance, and who is looooong overdue updating his own blog since he pulled the plug on the 9-5! 🙂
With the gradual lifting of lockdown, things are looking more positive and whilst I’m not sure that everything will be ‘fine’ by the end of the year, 2021 is going to be a much better one.
Onwards and upwards!