Nine Lives

Well, the wheel of time grinds onwards and last month, my blog turned nine years old!

Happy 9th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

Yes, I’m still (mostly) enjoying the act of blogging about my journey to FIRE. I know blogs are pretty old school these days, but then, I have to admit, so am I! 🙂

I’ve been posting my numbers monthly with some glimpses of my life for nine years come rain or shine – not exactly riveting stuff, but hey ho, I think I live a relatively ‘ordinary’ life – it’s quite mundane, same-old-same-old but I’m quite content with it not being action-packed, with no drama and no cliff-hangers!

Nine Year Slog

It does feel like a slog at times, as after all this time, it continues to be an effort to stay focused on this FIRE malarkey. After so long, you’d think that I do things automatically and that it’s all very easy but I sometimes feel that if I don’t work at keeping my focus, I’ll just fall off the rails and mess up my plans.

Recently, I’ve been feeling mentally fatigued and felt that I had to get away from looking at my spreadsheets and wishing that they didn’t govern my life so much.

I gave myself a little break but it wasn’t long before I was logging on again, and seeing my numbers (up or down), seeing where I’m at and where I’m going made me feel somewhat comforted, in some control of what I’m doing, in some control of my future. I think I just needed a break from work, which I got over Easter.

Inflation spiralling upwards has made me focus more on costs than I probably have had over recent years. It’s getting to be a harder juggling act.

Anyway, this blog has without a doubt kept me going and I thank all the readers who take the time to stop by with their words of support, who make me accountable for my actions with their comments, suggestions and emails.

What have I been doing these past 9 years?

I’ve just been living my life, which mostly boils down to work, gym, eat and sleep.

Sounds quite sad and boring when you put it like that but I do enjoy quite a bit of spare time in between which is taken up with reading (books and blogs), playing video games, watching tv, socialising with friends and family, and (since lockdown) gardening. I’ve tried to attend sports events when I can (eg Wimbledon, NFL). Travelling and holidays will now likely just be one big trip away each year to see my family in Hong Kong.

I have been fortunate that my adult life has been relatively free of ‘drama’ and continues to be mostly in my control, aside from the breakdown of a long-term relationship (15 years), being made redundant at the end of 2016 from the company where I’d enjoyed a 21-year career, my sister and nephew moving in to live with me for a year or so, my BTL getting caught up in the cladding shenanigans and then me buying a home during a peak property period.

I continue to try to live what I consider to be a ‘normal’ life, which means I don’t deprive myself of anything I love, enjoy and consider important in my life. I don’t practise extreme frugality and don’t believe I have sacrificed or denied myself anything in my pursuit of FIRE.

Still use my gym membership regularly – I only have one body so need to look after it. However, I don’t forego my boozy social outings with my friends. Moderation and balance is key.

That said, with higher cost of living and my fixed term mortgage rate ending later in the year, it’s possible that I may have to dial up the frugality stakes and make some cut backs. We’ll see.

Previously, it was a case that I could possibly reach FIRE a lot quicker if I cut back on some of these expenses, but now, it might be a case of cutting back to make sure I reach FIRE according to plan.

Over the years, I’ve aimed to save/invest as much of my net salary as possible – there was a time when I was able to save 40% of my net salary, even managing over 50% during the pandemic but with my house not being new and with increasing mortgage rates, I’m just really conscious of maintenance costs, so I’m sacrificing some of my savings rate by putting money aside for my ‘house fund’ and overpaying the mortgage. Am aware however of how lucky I am that I can save anything at all and not struggling with a cost of living crisis.

Any investment income I receive currently is reinvested and I also put away any adhoc income generated from cashback, the odd bit of gambling, affiliate links, premium bond/lotto wins, money from surveys and profits from matched betting. Most years, I’ve been investing large parts of any bonuses I receive from work but focus has had to switch somewhat this year.

Here’s the growth of my Future Fund over the years (2023 shows the amount as at end March 2023):

2022 shows what my FF would have looked like had I not taken some for my house deposit.

As a reminder, my Future Fund includes my ISAs, SIPPs, Premium Bonds and my company DC pension. It is not a net worth figure and does not include any property I own, my DB pension or the state pension.

Steady progress from investing on a monthly basis, the trend has been mostly heading in the right direction, except for the last couple of years where it’s as if I’ve been standing still, but my view is that it could have been worse!

A few months into 2023 and things still look very shaky with the continuing war in Europe, rising costs of living, high inflation, national strikes and banks threatening to destabilise things again.

My Future Fund did reach that coveted quarter of a million milestone, but that’s starting to feel like a long and distant memory and it might be a while before I get there again. I daren’t even hope that I will get there this year!

Next year I’ll have 10 years’ worth of investing behind me and I could probably do some sort of fancy in-depth analysis, but I’m not sure how useful that would be to me as I’ve never compared my investments with any sort of benchmark or probably even kept the sort of records some other investors keep. It’s not something I’ve needed or wanted to know to be honest.

Anyway, time will tell whether I’ve gotten my savings and investment strategy right but I tend to think there’s no real right or wrong – my strategy would likely not be a great fit for other people, just as theirs won’t be right for me. I’ve just done what I’ve been comfortable with and what I believe might work for me.

How Long until I FIRE?

This is the big question.

Two years ago, I would have probably tentatively said that I was 4 years away.

However, back then (and also when setting my initial FIRE goal), I hadn’t counted on rising double-digit inflation over such a short-period of time.

My FIRE date was always just an estimate, based on predictions and modellings on spreadsheets.  It’s not really possible to have a goal set in stone because I have no real idea of what’s going to happen in the future that will affect global markets, so I don’t have an actual date, nor indeed an actual number any more.

It’s probably more a range of numbers I have now and this range has had to increase with inflation.

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

That said, you could probably say that I’m loosely aiming to live a Moderate Lifestyle according to the Retirement Living Standards.

Anyway, as cost of living has gone up, I don’t believe I’m really any closer than I was two years ago, so I think I am probably still around 4 years away from achieving FIRE. This will have me pulling the plug on full-time work in my late 50s, which is alright by me.

Yes, I know, goalposts are being moved, but reaching FIRE was always going to be highly dependent on events outside of my control.

It’s unlikely that there will be a change in my living situation in the near future, so that’s one less thing to worry about. My job is as stable as it can be, by all accounts the powers that be like what I’m doing, so in that respect, they will likely be requiring my services for the foreseeable, plus I still like the company and the people I work with. However, I’m all too aware that corporate decisions can make work life miserable and no job is 100% safe.

Thank You Again

Readers have come and gone over the years and I’m eternally grateful to the ones who have stuck around 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 and have loved (and continue to love) sharing my journey with you all.

Thank you very much for helping me keep my focus, keeping me motivated, giving me ideas and helping me stick to my plan!

Being part of the FIRE community has meant that I have made some great friends, through online and face-to-face FIRE pub meet ups and through online investing meet ups. Thanks to Matt, Gez and Danny for your guidance on investing and thanks also to the chaps at Monevator who helped (and continue to help) me become the cautiously optimistic investor I now am (for better or worse, haha!)

As ever, a shout out to theFIREstarter for inspiring me to start this blog in the first place and who continues to provide friendship and advice and is living the dream of life outside the 9-5! 😉 (hope this shoutout prompts you to do a long awaited update, @TFS, haha!)

And that’s it.

Onwards and upwards, everybody!

 

53 thoughts on “Nine Lives

  1. Congratulations Weenie!
    You are one of those that inspired me to start, and your content keeps me coming back.
    Look forward to one day meeting and catching up in person at one of these FIRE meets.

  2. As ever a cracking read Weenie, ‘happy birthday’ and congratulations on both the blog and your long term commitment to your personal quest,

  3. Congratulations on nine years and thank you Weenie for continuing to share a window on your life and progress. I am sure many like me are out here reading but never commenting. Keep going, you will get there! All the best.

  4. Congratulations! Here’s to another 9 years. I very much enjoy your updates and will be following your journey to FIRE right until the end!

  5. Well done on reaching this milestone! I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey to FIRE, I have been saving towards this goal but now I think at my age(and the economy), it’s more likely to be “retire slightly earlier with a decent amount” which is still alright!

    • Cheers indeedably. Hah, I have been called tenacious before when I play sport so I guess this characteristic of mine flows into the pursuit of my goals!

  6. Long time reader here. Congratulations on the 9 year anniversary. I love your outlook on life. I’m sure you’ll get there sooner than you think.

    I’m on the road to FIRE but with a large DB pension my future fund is only there to tied me over until the State Pension kicks in at (hopefully 67). Even saving for this I sometimes find a struggle so I am really impressed with your tenacity and determination. Well done.

    • Thanks Grumpy Tortoise. Planning for retirement, early or not, with or without a DB pension takes effort and even I struggle at times – the blog helps keep me focused. All the best with your FIRE journey.

  7. Well done on the milestone truly one of the blogs I look forward to reading, I think it’s the relatableness that I enjoy. I often see FIRE as an exercise in perseverance which comes out in your blogs at times. Keep at it!

    • Thanks Peter C and I’m glad to hear that you can relate to what I write. It is very much perserverance and persistance, which can seem boring and repetitive but it seems to be working! Thanks for reading!

  8. From about 350k in pension plus a little in ISA I found my returns got significant and I was retired about 5 years later.

    • Hi BeardyBillionaireBloke
      I saw a bit of this when my portfolio moved from £100k to £200k so I look forward to things ramping up! Cheers for the confirmation and hope you are continuing to enjoy your retirement.

  9. Well done. Great blog as always and like others have already mentioned thank you for your blogs and sharing your journey.

    I suspect you are nearer the end goal than you think as we all wait and hope for a recovery in the markets before feeling comfortable with that leap

    Best

  10. Weenie,

    Well done on nine years!
    Your Future Fund (FF) graphic begs a couple of questions:
    a) is it inflation adjusted or just nominals; and
    b) were there any drawdowns from the FF along the way from 2014 to today

    • Thanks Al Cam!
      In answer to your questions:
      a) My FF is not inflation adjusted
      b) There was just the one drawdown in Sept/Oct 2021 of around 7-8% of my FF for my house purchase. However, I think this might be ‘recouped’ when I am finally able to sell my BTL.

      • Thanks for the info.
        I guess b) plus recent market movements sort of explains nominal flatlining since 2021. Are you still contributing?
        Best of luck with the BTL and has the ‘cladding’ sale embargo been lifted yet?

        • Yes, still contributing, although levels of contributions have dropped since I bought my house. Sadly no, the cladding saga continues, work hasn’t even commenced yet and I can’t sell without the work being done and certified.

  11. Hi Weenie,

    I’m can’t quite remember how I came across your blog, but I have been following your fascinating monthly insights for just over a year now and your a real inspiration!
    It is quite easy for anyone to just post up a bunch of monthly figures, but your blogs have a real personal touch, which makes them such a good read. It is quite impressive how far you have got in just 9 years and you should be super proud of yourself.
    So keep up the great work and I really hope that in 4-5 years time you will be living the real FIRE dream 🙂

    • Hey Paul

      Thanks for reading and yes, when I look back from where I started, I am proud of my achievements!

      Let’s see what the next few years bring! All the best to you!

  12. Belated happy anniversary and a big thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    You always strike me as a really content person Weenie. I think that stands you in good stead, FWIW.

    Contentment beats excitement hands-down, at least in our corner of human endeavour. 🙂

    Cheers for the recent comment over on Monevator. Let’s hope our portfolios get going again sooner rather than later!

    • Cheers TI.

      Yes, I am mostly content, but wasn’t always this way – getting my finances under control helped, as did age I think!

      Contentment is definitely the way the go!

  13. Big congrats weenie, wow 9 years is really impressive. I’ve been reading your blog since I started my own 4 years ago, and it has been a great source of inspiration, I must say. Although I am not as active as I once was in the community, I still enjoy coming around your blog from time to time to read your latests updates 🙂

  14. Congrats on your anniversary. On and off reader for several years.
    Please can I ask.what platform(s) you use for your dividend investing?

  15. A belated congrats on nine years! That’s impressive and you can see from the response how much people appreciate it, including myself. It is tough writing into a void, the interaction is one of the best parts I think.

    Fwiw, I remember having a stage when our own FIRE date kept moving out. Eventually I wasn’t dealing too well with sticking at a tough job for an unknown period so we worked out a plan we could commit to. That worked for us but as you so I importantly say, everyone has to do what’s right for them

    Congrats again -and thanks for all you do for the FIRE community.

    • Cheers Michelle!

      Yes, I think that at some point, I need will pin down the date, but with so many variables still to consider, I’ll just get my head down and carry on for now

  16. Happy 9th! I’m here for every post but rarely comment. Just to say I love your blog; it’s an inspiration.

    Keep on keeping on! Time’s flying now and it won’t be long until that super-special post!

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