Bored Yet, after 5 Years?

Been seeing a few blog posts recently talking about how boring aiming for FIRE is, especially when things are on autopilot.

Spend less than you earn, invest the rest in index trackers, rinse and repeat until you reach your goal.  Blah blah blah, yawn.

Well, this month marks FIVE years since I started blogging about my journey to FIRE and I can’t say that I’m bored….yet.

Happy 5th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

Neither am I bored with tracking my own progress – I started this blog as a personal journal just so that I know how I’m doing versus my goals.

Perhaps one reason for not being bored is because not everything is on autopilot for me – my expenses can vary each month, depending on time of year, my holidays and my social life. I do consciously have to think about my spending, otherwise it could easily go out of control. By ‘out of control’, I don’t mean going into debt (I don’t want to go there again!) but by not saving/investing as much as I can and should. Writing about my investing ‘experiments’ (eg Dogs of the FTSE) also keeps me interested in my investments, when the majority of it is in ‘boring’ passive index trackers.

Another reason is that I still mostly enjoy updating my blog. I don’t think blogging has gotten any easier over the years but I’m still able to make time for it so it’s a hobby I enjoy doing.

What have I been doing all this time? Continue reading

Thought Experiment #2

This isn’t SavingNinja’s 2nd thought experiment but it is the 2nd one I’ve taken part in and neatly follows on from the first one I did.

Here’s the scenario:

You wake up one rainy morning and after checking on your accounts, you find out that you have been wiped out by a cyber-criminal! You’ve lost all of the money and assets that you’ve ever owned and can’t get them back. What will you do?

Not actual depiction of a cyber-criminal

The assumption here is that a hacker will overnight siphon off everything in my accounts, by which I mean all the cash sitting in my current accounts, savings accounts, cash ISA and premium bonds account. Also, the investments in my S&S ISA and my SIPPs will have mysteriously disappeared (unlikely for the SIPPs, seeing as they can’t be accessed til I’m 55 but humour me!). Shockingly, my DB pension is also gone and there’s a mini-meltdown in the US as it was part of a global pension pot and not only my pension was targeted!

Even the cash I have in my betting and exchange accounts has been hoovered up! Contacting said providers prove futile, the money has disappeared into the ether. I don’t have any cash around the house (around £20 change in moneyboxes and at the time of writing, £12.58 in my purse).

I will assume however that the hacker hasn’t managed to persuade HR to fire me overnight, so I’m still employed, that I will still have my rental property and I will still have a roof over my head.

So not quite starting from absolutely zero, but still a bloody nightmare scenario.

What to Do?

The first thing I would do would be (in no particular order) to panic, swear a lot, beat myself up about how I should have changed my online passwords more often and then drown my sorrows in vast quantities of alcohol.

I would probably spend hours trying to find out if anything could be done about recovering my DB pension since there will be over half a million other people in the same situation.

Once I’ve calmed down a little, I would tell my family (though not my parents or my grandmother – don’t want them worrying needlessly) and probably a couple of my close friends. My message however will be that despite what’s happened, I’m alright, because I know they will want to help me. I would probably get a short term cash loan from the family, to cover expenses until I get paid.

What Next?

It won’t just be the fact that I’ve lost all that I’ve saved up, but I’ve lost the ticket to achieving financial independence, retiring early and retiring comfortably.

With my FIRE plan down the pan (heh!), I would need to draw up my new plan, which would be probably be to ensure that I end up retiring comfortably at normal retirement age.

What would I do differently ?

I would set up an emergency fund first and foremost. I would then see about building up my pension/SIPP investments again, more so than in my ISAs. Seeing as I won’t need the money until later in life,  I may as well take advantage of tax relief.

I have a feeling that I would be a lot more frugal, verging on the extreme side as I try to claw my way back to a comfortable financial situation. In desperation, I might even cross the line and become stingy and penny-pinching, although I hope not!

One thing I would probably do would be to go back to my strict budgeting, which I haven’t done since I was eyeballs deep in credit card debt. It’s no fun logging every penny spent.

Perhaps I would consider looking for a better paid job but more likely, I would certainly spend my spare time just hustling and looking for more money. And yes, I’ll be scouting out for coupons!

More time spent matched betting (even consider multi-accounting which I don’t do now) and I would dial down on my social life but not completely as my friends are important to me.

I’ll still put money aside to travel to see my family once a year – that’s one thing I wouldn’t ever change.

And finally, I will just get my head down and be a worker bee to earn a steady salary.

Miserable yet…?

This all seems to point to me leading an extremely focused but not very happy life, being obsessed with trying to build up what I lost.

Yet if I think about it, there are a lot of people who are in this situation, where they do not have savings for their future and yet they are happily going about their lives.

I think due to the fact that I had saved up and then lost it all, it’s possible probable that I would become quite obsessed about it all, which doesn’t sound good at all.

Plus I would need to get my head around working until my mid-60s, something which I was quite happy to do before I discovered and planned for FIRE. I really shouldn’t have taken that FIRE Red Pill, which made me see the light!

I would hope that I would still be able to enjoy my life and my work but knowing me, I think it would take a while before I could get over something like this.

Gosh, that’s gone a bit dreary and bleak, hasn’t it?

Anyway, below is SavingNinja’s take on the thought experiment and as and when I see other bloggers taking part, I’ll add below:

What would you do if this happened to you?

Thought Experiment #1

I’ve been persuaded to take part in a ‘thought experiment’, where people give their own take on the same thought/idea or scenario.

Please check out Saving Ninja’s post which explains in more detail.

So here’s the first scenario:

What would you do if right at this very instance you got given £1 million? This could be from a lottery win, an IPO, a scratch card, you name it. No tax needs to be paid, it’s just been plopped directly into your run-of-the-mill bank account.  

Lucky me! 🙂

Ok, off the top of my head, I would….

…be Financially Independent and would be able to retire early immediately, but I wouldn’t, not right away anyway. It’s a lot of money, I’d like to think things through properly so yes, I’d still go into work! I know for a fact that I would not be mentally ready to give up working just yet.

…remain anonymous and tell only my immediate family how much I had won and tell my close friends I had won a ‘large amount’. Why not tell them the exact amount? I’m not sure – never really discussed money with my friends so not really sure how they would react to be honest.

…put aside £300k to be gifted to my immediate family – all members of my family are already a lot wealthier than I am but I would still want to share my winnings and good fortune.

…put aside £100k to be gifted to my close friends. No idea how I would do this but in whatever tax friendly way I can do it, be it paying for their holidays, etc.

…put aside £100k for specific charity needs. Rather than throwing it into a charity pot, I’d like to pay for stuff like school equipment, that kind of thing

…use the remaining half to buy a property which would ultimately be my primary residence, perhaps buy another small property to rent out and invest the rest in boring index trackers to enable me to have a ‘fat’ retirement!

…be lying if I said I wouldn’t change because that kind of money all of a sudden is life-changing, for me anyway. I would probably naturally become less frugal but I think I still wouldn’t be wasteful or flash with my money. I wouldn’t buy a new car, as there’s nothing wrong with my current one, although I could realistically consider a new electric car as my next motor.

…start looking at holidays to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the USA!

Reading back on the above, there are probably some tweaks and changes I would make or add but the point of the exercise is to not dwell on your answers and just write what comes to your mind immediately.

What would you do in this instance?

Edit – Here are the other bloggers who took part in this experiment and their thoughts:

Ms ZiYou
Saving Ninja
TheFIREStarter
in-deed-a-bly
Early Retirement – Early Freedom 
Steel Kitten
Inspiring Life Design
DrFIRE

If you fancy joining in and want to be added to the experiment, send a tweet to @SavingNinja or send him a message via his website.

PS – I live in hope that I bag £1m with my premium bonds!

Home Brew #9

I can’t believe I’ve left it so long to get back to home brewing my own beer – my last batch was over a year ago!

Home brewing was a hobby which I took up back in September 2014 because I wanted to do something different, which would not only give me joy but save me some money  – it’s a fact that when I have home brew in the house, I spend far less or nothing on alcohol for home consumption. It isn’t an easy hobby but I think because of this, it’s a very satisfying one.

I only brew all-in-one premium kits, and the kit I made this time was Festival Razorback IPA.  This was probably the first kit I’ve attempted where I was a little concerned that I’d done something wrong.

After three days, fermentation still hadn’t started and I thought that I’d messed up with the water temperature, ie too hot, destroying the yeast and I dreaded the possibility of having to pour the whole lot down the drain.

Turned out it was the other way round, my kitchen was so cold that the mix had dropped to too low a temperature for the yeast to do its stuff, so as well as using a brew belt to increase the temperature, I wrapped an old winter coat round the tub and piled towels on top and that did the trick!

The kit produced 40 bottles (20 litres/35 pints) and cost £26.50.  So not accounting for the time spent doing the actual brewing, the cost of these beers work out at £0.66 per 500ml bottle or £0.76 a pint! Definitely happy hour! 🙂

Bit darker than the picture on the box!

Alcohol strength at over 5.5% is probably on the high side compared to what I usually drink but it still goes down easily! A good hoppy flavour, and this despite me not following the instructions exactly and leaving the hops in for just 4 days instead of the recommended 10 days, as I didn’t want to overdo the bitterness. From start to finish, this brew took just over 2 months before it was ready to drink and is likely to get better with time (that’s if I don’t drink them all quickly, haha!).

Obviously it’s nowhere near the quality of say BrewDog but it’s a decent beer with the important quality being that it pours with a good frothy head, which doesn’t disappear after a few minutes and which sticks to the side of the glass as you down the drink, just like a real pint you’d get in a pub! 🙂

I’ve now done 8 different beer kits and one cider kit. I had originally been planning to brew (and document) 10 different kits and then just reverting to brewing my favourites.

However, there are so many different kits out there, I may just keep going and trying new ones that catch my eye and picking up old favourites when I see them on offer.

Brewing as a Business

I can see me continuing with my brewing hobby and probably doing more of it when I no longer need to work.

Friends and colleagues have suggested that I should perhaps look into brewing as a proper business in the future (eg a microbrewery), but I’d rather not convert a hobby into a job.

Whilst it would be nice to earn money from a hobby, I just think that having deadlines and customer expectations would suck all the joy out of it. I’m happy just doing it for fun and sharing some of the fruits of my labour. My friends and colleagues are happy with the free beers they get off me but I reckon they might be a tad fussier if they had to pay!

I’ll leave the experts to rake in the profits that way!

I’ve promised a friend that I’ll do a cherry beer next – not something I would normally drink but I’ll give it a go in the next month or so.

Anyway, cheers!