Ten is the Magic Number

Well, the wheel of time grinds onwards and last month, my blog turned an epic TEN YEARS OLD!

Happy 10th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

Long time or what! Except it hasn’t really felt that way.

My blog is positively ancient compared to some other FIRE blogs (not that there are that many these days), considering how many have fallen by the wayside and dropped into the abyss of the blog graveyard over the years. In the words of good old Elton, “I’m still standing!” 🙂

Last Woman Standing

Even after 10 years, I still enjoy writing (most of the time) – the blog is a means to help me focus, to document my journey, to help motivate me, a place to empty some of the thoughts rattling around my head or to articulate ideas. The blog was never about making me money, else I would have given up after year 1!

Some might describe my progress over the years as ‘plodding’ but the truth is, I’ve gone as fast I’ve wanted to; I see it as steadily and purposefully moving forwards, step by step.

The last couple of years did feel like a bit of a slog – there was barely any progress with my Future Fund due the stock markets creeping along sideways, it was all quite disheartening and demotivating but I doggedly kept at it.

At no point in the last ten years have I ever thought about quitting my goal and I don’t feel burned out from my FIRE journey, probably as I’ve just gone along at a pace I’ve been comfortable with.

That said, neither am I all bright-eyed and excited as I was at the beginning of my journey – what has crept in recently is a little trepidation as I am now on the last leg of my journey. I feel that a slight mindset change is required but I’m not quite there yet – my mind seems to be a little hesitant about taking that next step.

I need to start thinking seriously of ‘what happens next’, look into more detail on how I am going to fund my life post work, look into what my life will look like. The word ‘decumulation’ keeps popping up at the back of my mind and I’m currently just batting it away, like an annoying fly. Don’t worry, I will get my head round this.

Humdrum

Gosh, so I’ve been posting my numbers monthly (with some glimpses of my life) for a whole decade!

It’s all been pretty mundane stuff – I reckon I live a relatively ‘ordinary’ life, one which is filled with a lot of routine, same-old-same-old stuff, with good things far outweighing the bad.  My life is not action-packed, there’s very little drama and no cliff-hangers!

I am mostly an optimistic person, this governs how I live my life and also I think how I invest (whether that’s good or bad, haha!).

I think I’ve gotten the right balance with my life vs aiming for FIRE because as far as my nearest and dearest are concerned, I’m just living a normal/mundane/modest/boring (delete as applicable) life on a middle income, except that I have a fanciful idea of retiring early.

What have I been doing these past 10 years?

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

I tend to enjoy a good work/life balance, with quite a lot of spare time to read (books and blogs), play video games, watch tv, socialise with friends and family, and try my hand at gardening. I attend sports events when I can (eg Wimbledon, NFL and recently Premier Darts!). Travelling and holidays is usually just 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’ which continues to be mostly in my control, and aside from a recent health scare, there’s nothing of any note, 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’ve been quite content with my life these past ten years, there’s nothing really that I want to currently improve – my savings rate, perhaps?

My health is good, physical and mental and I try to make an effort with both.

The increase in costs of living does concern me a little – fortunately not in terms of heating vs eating, but in terms of the lifestyle I will lead. The income I had in mind upon giving up full time work will need to be revised and currently, I’m tracking all my expenses to see how much my mental-spending is deviating from actual-spending!

Over the last decade 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 increasing mortgage rates (current rate 5.3% variable) and potential house repairs on the horizon, I’m sacrificing some of my savings rate by putting money aside for my ‘house fund’ and also overpaying the mortgage. Recent savings from cuts to NI have gone direct to mortgage overpayment – every little will help.

I am aware of how lucky I am that I am not struggling with a cost of living crisis – to that extent, I think I’m in a bit of a bubble with my friends and family who are all in a similar situation of being to able to live without financial stresses.

Anyway, here’s the growth of my Future Fund over the years. 2024 shows the amount as at end March 2024:

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.

There’s been steady progress from investing on a monthly basis, the trend has been mostly heading in the right direction. The blip in 2022 is after I raided my Future Fund for my house deposit.

No need to ask me how much my Future Fund would have looked had I lumped all my investments into just one global tracker like VWRL, as I know the answer already without even checking – it would have been a lot BIGGER! 🙂

But hey ho, I can’t live life with such regrets, I can’t change the actions I’ve made; I own the decisions I’ve made, good or bad, and prefer to look forwards rather than backwards. 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 still the big question.

My FIRE date has always just been an estimate, never a goal set in stone as it’s just based on predictions and modellings on spreadsheets.  I have no real idea of what’s going to happen in the future that will affect my investments, so I don’t have an actual date, nor indeed an actual number any more.

It’s more a range of numbers I have now and this range has been creeping up with inflation!

Here are my initial thoughts on decumulation – I need to revisit this with an updated post at some point.

I would say that I am aiming for an income which is between that quoted by Which? and that cited by Retirement Living Standards, ie somewhere between £20k and £31k for a single person.

So, I might tentatively say I’m around 2-3 years away from FIRE. It might be a bit more, or it could be a bit less – don’t hold me to it, FIRE was always going to be partly  dependent in some way on events outside of my control.

This will have me pulling the plug on full-time work in my late 50s, which is alright by me.

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, I still like the company, I like my new boss and the people I work with.

However, stress and overwork sometimes creeps in, and combined with my occasional  peri-menopausal brain fog, it’s getting harder to cope with it.  There will come a time when I just won’t be able to mentally juggle and multi-task or work to fast deadlines like I’m doing presently – it’s already taking more effort than it used to!

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 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!).

I will continue to shout out to theFIREstarter for inspiring me to start this blog in the first place – still waiting for your update, @TFS! 😉

And that’s it.

Onwards and upwards, everybody!

 

32 thoughts on “Ten is the Magic Number

  1. Thanks for your post weenie. Congratulations on the 10 year anniversary. I have always enjoyed reading your blog and starting my own was in part because I wanted to feel part of the FI community and contribute a little myself, it’s having other blogs like yours that’s the main reason I did mine. I also started my FI journey 10 years ago so it’s very similar timelines as well although I didn’t start a blog for many years.

    I really admire your openness in this post and your other posts. You are honest with how you feel about things and that’s great to see. It’s not always just rainbows after all! You have done incredibly well to get to where you are now and your FI pot albeit taking a sideways stint recently is looking great still. Bravo .

    I think you have put yourself in a really good situation that most would kill for. Having a job you like for the most part is always so important as it makes the journey so much better. I hope the stressors from it you still occasional have remain low and don’t increase too much! Sometimes I think that, you have people who dream of winning a £250,000 scratch card or more and you got it through your own efforts and a dash of fair wind of luck/fortune. We have after all invested mostly through a long bull period which also helped no doubt!

    I hope to read the 20th Anniversary post of this blog some day, keep up the good work. Live for now and tomorrow!

    TFJ

  2. Congratulations on 10 years. I have not been following since the beginning, but have read with interest for quite a few years now.

    I wish you all the best for the next few years and for retirement when it comes along.

    I am moving on to retirement at the end of June and do worry about how it will be. It works on paper, so will be interesting to see how reality pans out.

    Anyway thank you for sticking with the blog and I look forward to reading each month.

  3. QuietlySaving and a few of the other blogs out there have been a major source of inspiration, information, and reassurance to me over the past decade. It’s been extremely helpful to share in other like-minded FIRE’ees plans and aspirations, and i know that i’d be in a far worse financial situation had i not stumbled across the sites all those years ago.

    As for decumulation, i think you are very wise to start sketching out a few optional financial plans (that will undoubtedly change along the way….thanks to Mr Chancellor etc) sooner rather than later, and making sure that you have enough of a buffer in place that allows you to sleep soundly. I’m now a year into decumulation (loving it so far) and i’m still formulating my gameplan, having actioned very little over the last 12 months, and having spent the last few decades planning things meticulously. Or so i thought! I find decumulation fiendishly complex, thankfully mainly due to having a few options available to me. Having flexibility is key for me though, and i’m in no rush to close any doors that i may want to try and revisit in the future.

    Only you will know when the time is right to pull the plug. But a word of warning, when you do you’ll need to come up with an appropriate rename for the blog!
    Thank you for the last decade. It’s been very enjoyable.

  4. Happy 10th, Weenie! I’ve only been around for a couple of them, but I appreciate your openness and honesty. It’s not always easy to find blogs dealing with real financial numbers that can help some of us judge whether our own plans and figures are realistic or not. And I always enjoy reading your life updates.

    In a couple of years I’ll have a lease agreement for my work premises ending which will give me the opportunity to semi-FIRE, if I choose to. Like you, I feel the pressure to start making plans for life after work, and the fear of leaving something that I’ve been doing nearly every week for the last 25 years or so is crippling. But then I remember how stressful running a business has been, and I guess it’s one of those times that focusing on the bad points is actually a good way to start setting goals. Here’s hoping, anyway!

  5. I haven’t been following for all of the 10 years, but have enjoyed following your story for the last 5 or so. I think it is so important to see a real example of how accumulation actually happens. It won’t happen over night, but when you look back over years, it is amazing what can be achieved. As it is a marathon, not a sprint, keeping a healthy work life (and spending) balance is so important.
    I started writing my blog when I hit my number, to share a real story from the other side. ‘Retiring’ (what ever that means to you) isn’t the end of the journey, just the start of the next phase.
    The transition from accumulating to decumulating is a difficult one to navigate. I took a phased approach, and was fortunate to have a flexible employer to allow me to experiment. You can read about it here if you are interested:
    https://findingenough.co.uk/2022/06/29/retirement-at-44-and-the-semi-retirement-experiment/
    Best wishes with your onward journey from a fellow female FIRE blogger

  6. Thank you, Weenie, for your blog. I discovered it almost exactly five years ago – and it proved to be the gateway drug to that led to Monevator 🙂 So thanks again!

    Not sure that you need a specific decumulation plan. Firstly, you’ve been living and breathing this subject for so long that you know how much you spend, and you already have a broad plan (from what I’ve read from your blog): draw down from the future fund (FF) until around 65 when you can start your DB pension (without any actuarial reduction) and use the remaining FF to top up DB income as needed (principally for planned and unplanned big ticket items).

    Secondly, you’re not really a spendy person from what I can tell. Moreover, I’m sure you’ve said on here that, mentally, your biggest issue will be selling investments to spend. That sounds like a brake on your expenditure. My bet is that by the time your 65, you might still have at least half of your FF remaining, even with modest growth over the next decade. If, at some point in the next few years, you sell your rental flat, then that will provide another lump of capital to add to your FF.

    Anyways, keep up the good work!

  7. Congrats on 10 years! Your blog is great, keep going! 🙂

    I can’t remember how I stumbled across it but I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that finding this and Monevator about 5 years ago has been life changing.

    Like you, I was struggling with spending, card debt, no real plan or financial awareness. Ive just past six figures for the first time in my own future fund. So thank you! Its the ‘everyday’ nature of your blog that is so great. No financial jargon (or indeed advice), just real world examples.

  8. Well done, Weenie. I think I’ve been following along for most of that time – and reached FI at some point over the years (still yet to RE, but that’s another story).

    On pulling the trigger, I’ve found some of James Shack’s analysis really helpful and he has some rare perspectives on how to cost retirement out, minimise tax etc
    https://www.youtube.com/@JamesShack
    It might be that you are closer than you think.

  9. Congratulations on your 10 years. Always enjoy reading your blog and wish you all the very best in health and happiness for your continuing journey.

  10. Well done on ten years! You’ve made great progress , especially during the “difficult middle” part of the journey. I’m a bit behind you on my timeline, and it’s inspiring to see how you’ve stuck at this.

  11. Congratulations on 10 years of open and honest blogging.

    I’m not sure how long I have been following (not since the start), but always look forward to your updates.
    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but 10 years deserves some recognition, especially for all you have contributed.

  12. Congratulations on 10 years Weenie. Here’s to another 10 more, with some posts about post-FIRE life coming when you do pull the trigger.

  13. Congrats on the anniversary.

    Such an insightful and inspiring blog i really enjoy reading how you’re getting on.

    Keep it up looking forward to future updates

  14. Congratulations Weenie! 🙂

    I’ve been following you for at least 7 years, perhaps more, and I have benefitted financially from your wisdom & experiences, as well as enjoyed reading your musings, a win-win for me.
    So, thank you and keep up the good work!

  15. Hi Weenie

    Congratulations! Well done on your staying power when so many of your initial contemporaries have stopped blogging.

    On a personal level, thank you for organising/helping to organise those first Manchester FIRE meet-ups. The people I met there (Hi Danny, also Cath, John and Gez) introduced me to many other investing groups such as SIGnet and Sharesoc. It has been the source of many new friendships and acquaintances. I have learned a lot as a result. As you become older, new friendships and experiences are harder to find. So I think your efforts have helped many people (well me at least) to live a more purposeful life.

    What is amazing is your personal honesty and integrity in putting your life (and portfolio) out there on a regular basis. I always look forward to your blog.

    I wouldn’t worry about not just investing in a world tracker. Yes, your returns would have been higher, but you will have learned so much, investing with so many styles that the Decumulation riddle will be easier.

    So Weenie thank you again.

    You are one of the good guys

    Matt

  16. Seen this week:

    “Philosophy and theology give you the perfect background for investing. To succeed at investing, you need a philosophy. Then you’ve got to pray like hell.”

    – Shelby Collum Davis

  17. Congrats Weenie! Been a reader since 2016 when I found the FIRE movement. I don’t a miss a post. Relatable and easy for me to understand when you talk numbers.

    I’ve almost reached my FIRE target. Not bad going in eight years. Near constant 50% savings rate and some fun frugality has helped. My door officially opens next year. That’s when I could FIRE if I wanted. So I wanna see more rocket, Weenie! 😀

    Thanks for the info, inspiration and encouragement.

  18. Thanks for the shoutout and generous words Weenie, we’re glad to have played any small role in your success. 🙂

    And congrats on the long life of your blog! Not many of us left now…

    Looking forward to your FIRE post, whether it’s in three years or ten!

  19. Hi Weenie,

    Lots to talk about in your post, but I’ll stick to a couple of things…

    Premier League Darts, oh I love Darts and I’m guessing you went to the Manchester event. I wish I’d bought tickets to the O2 finals night, now I’ve seen how good it is. Thursday night, is Darts on telly night! I’ve been to Alexandra Palace for the World Championships, such fun!

    Menopause, yes the brain fog is real, I’m tired, lack patience, struggle more at work and wish I could pull the trigger on work now, as I swear all the symptoms are exaserbated by work stress.

    And… THANK YOU for keeping me motivated, on track and accountable. You’re not doing this journey alone, you’ve taken many of us along with you 🙂

  20. Congratulations to you and the Blog!

    Its an inspiration and very encouraging. I greatly admire your determination and tenacity and enjoy your humble style of writing.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey and leading by example.

    They should teach this stuff at school…far more relevant than most topics they mandate for kids to learn.

    Anyway thanks again and congratulations!

    Best
    A

  21. Hi Weenie,

    Congratulations on reaching ten years and it’s good to see you’re within spitting distance (not the nicest phrase when written down!) of your FI goal.

    I hope you have a long and fruitful post-work adventure.

    John

  22. Well done on blogging for 10 years that is a great achievement

    I enjoy your musings on investing and on life and look forward to your pulling the trigger on the world of work

    So well done and thank you for your entertaining blog

  23. Congrats Weenie!! 10 years is an awesome stint – and you help so many people with this blog, it’s always fab to see.

    Very exciting news about getting that close to FIRE. It was an odd feeling for sure when it started to become ‘real’. I found the part-time transition really helped, both with feeling financially secure and starting doing more things outside work with the extra time. Far less of a shock than an ‘all-or-nothing’ jump, worth thinking about as you figure out your own path

  24. Hi Weenie, congratulations on 10 years . I’m not sure how long I’ve been reading your blog – 6-7 years I think. But I like your sensible approach – saving on a modest salary but still enjoying life and with a realistic plan as to what you can achieve. We are in very similar situations with regard to savings although I have slightly more as I guess I’m probably about 5 years older than you. I reduced my working week to 30 hours when I was 53 and have just reduced it again to 22.5 hrs at 57. I have carer responsibilities though so free time is not what I expected to get 🙁
    I have found that my enthusiasm and interest in my job has dropped away massively in the past few years. There are probably many reasons for that but I think as you get older your tolerance for the organisational bullshit reduces a lot (and I never had much tolerance for it in the first place!) and knowing in the back of your mind that you could just walk away and still be fine financially doesn’t help in the enthusiasm stakes………

  25. Congrats on 10 years Weenie. A solid innings indeed. It takes some persistence!

  26. Great work, as others have said, keeping consistent over 10 years (and I don’t just mean the blogging).

    I wrote a flash in the pan blog for a while when it was all the rage. Probably about the same time I discovered yours – 6 or 7 years ago. Needless to say I gave up quite quickly. I think it lasted 6 months before I ran out of interest.

    As I think you’re alluding to, it does seem like we’re going through a period where FIRE has lost momentum as a movement. A mixture of changing stock market conditions/interest rates/inflation, and the fact that it has become so mainstream it’s lost any semblance of cohesion, I guess. In that light, I’m even more grateful for you and other long standing bloggers like the folks at Monevator for keeping the flame alive. I likewise live in hope that TFS will come out of blogging retirement to give an update!

    Anyway, all the best and thanks for sharing your journey so far 🙂

  27. Congrats on reaching your first decade. Apparently the subsequent ones fly by seemingly ever quicker!

  28. Congrats, Weenie!
    You are an inspiration for me and I think many of us.
    You won’t realise but we met some time ago at a meet-up. I hadn’t been aware of your blog until then but your down to earth, optimistic, friendly personality came through vividly and I have been a fan of your blog ever since.
    I look forward to your next 10 years!
    Best wishes
    FvL

  29. Thanks for your blog Weenie. Have been reading for a number of years now, no comments but always appreciated the effort you’ve put in. We’re similar age and circumstances so it feels nice to share the journey in a way. Hope you continue your chronicle for another 10 years.

  30. Wow, am overwhelmed by all the lovely comments!

    Just one big reply to everyone here, hope I don’t miss anyone out!

    @TFJ – Thanks, and I enjoy reading about your journey too – all the best with that!

    @Lee Briggs – Thank you and thanks for your continued support!

    @Richard F – Thanks and good luck with your own retirement at the end of next month!

    @Kid Cocoa – thanks for your continued support and advice over the years. I will start sketching out plans and hopefully don’t get myself in a tizz over countless ‘what ifs’!

    @indeedably – Thanks! Hope all’s well with you and yours.

    @Sarah – thanks for reading. I know what you mean, there’s the fear of leaving but also I know my capacity for coping with stress continues to diminish.

    @FE Wombat – thanks for reading and thanks for linking your blog, I will take a look at how you’ve done a phased approach, something I would like to consider but not sure my employer will be able to accomodate.

    @Curlew – Thanks! I don’t want to make a concrete decumulation plan but need to sketch it out a bit more, it’s too fuzzy and vague right now! I already know selling investments will stress me out, part of my plan will be changing my mindset to try to prepare myself for it!

    @JDW – thanks and well done to you with your future fund!

    @G – Thanks and congrats on reaching FI! I will check out that James Shack link, thank you.

    @Andrew – Thanks and all the best to you.

    @David Scothern – thanks and I continue to enjoy following your journey.

    @Bob – Thanks and thanks for reading.

    @SavingNinja – Thank you for your continued support and hope all’s going well for you and Mrs SN!

    @Martin – Thanks and thanks for reading!

    @Ken – Thanks and I’m glad I’ve been able to help in a small way.

    @Mattman – Thanks and I too am so glad for those Manchester FIRE meet ups, meeting you and the others. Thank you for your help and guidance on investment trusts – you’re one of the good guys too!

    @dearieme – best get to praying lol!

    @ChromeBaby – Thanks and great to hear you are near your FIRE target – well done! I will try to get more rocket lol!

    @The Investor – thanks and thank you for the last 10 years!

    @Starla – thanks for your continued support. And yes, if you get the opportunity, get to the darts, it was so much fun! I’m fortunate that I’m my menopausal symptoms are on the mild side but even so, some days, I reckon it’s worse than normal.

    @James B – thanks, your comments are much appreciated.

    @John K – Thanks and yes, while not nice written down, it’s good to be in spitting distance!

    @Vespaboy – thanks for reading and your continued support!

    @Michelle – thanks and while I’ll like to go for the part-time transition, I have a feeling that it might be a cliff-edge kind of jump but we’ll see!

    @Sarah – thanks for reading. I still have enthusiasm and interest in my job, but the bits which I am not enthusiastic or interested in are slowly wearing away my patience! Certainly my tolerance is getting stretched!

    @Mr YFG/TDM – thanks very much! Hope all’s going well for you.

    @Northern Greg – thanks and I think you’re right, FIRE has lost some of its momentum, perhaps because there aren’t so many new FIRE devotees (that I know of anyway) as I think it might be more of a challenge these days for new FIRE wannabes, with the current economic environment.

    @Al Cam – Thanks for your continued support and insights!

    @Fire v London – nooo, really? I didn’t know we’d met! And thanks but I miss your updates on your ‘Go t’ Pub’ fund – how is that going?

    @jans3 – thank you for reading and appreciate you commenting!

    Am closing comments here – thank you all so much, really appreciate your support!

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