Faith in Eighth

Yet, another year rolls on by and my blog has just unbelievably turned eight years old!

Happy 8th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

So am I still as FIRE’d up about all this after 8 years of writing and sharing my mutterings and my journey?

Yes, I guess I am.

But I’m not half as excited as I was back then.

Eight Year Slog

It does feel like a slog at times, as it continues to be an effort to stay focused.

Sometimes, I feel like I can’t be arsed updating the blog, because I feel like there’s nothing really for me to write about, just the same old, same old.

I’m just getting on with my life and the dogged path of perseverance to get to my FIRE goal is not exciting at all!

Life before I discovered FIRE did seem so much more carefree, when I was just merrily drifting aimlessly with no set goals. Life, that is, AFTER I had paid off my credit card debts – it wasn’t so merry during my dark days of being neck-deep in debt.

But if I want to get to where I’m going, I need to keep at it, need to stay focused, and carry on saving and investing as much as I am able to towards my future.

This blog has undoubtedly kept me from straying 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 and emails.

What have I been doing these past 8 years? Continue reading

January 2022 Savings, plus other updates

I was in the supermarket doing my weekly shop when my phone rang and I saw it was my sister.

“I’ve got COVID,” she mumbled, “You’d better get tested asap!”

Great – I’d been round at hers for dinner the night before!

I finished my shopping as quickly as I could (fortunately, I had continued to wear my mask), giving wide berth to other shoppers where I could.

The good news was that I was negative, so I’ve managed to escape it for another day!

However, I feel like I’m living on borrowed time and that it will get its grubby little viral mitts on me at some point.

Not today!

PS – sis is ok, just has mild flu-like symptoms.

So where has this month of January gone – it’s just whizzed by!

The bursting inbox I faced upon my return to work starkly reminded me of why I continue to pursue FIRE – at some point, I’ll be able to choose not to have to deal with crappy unimportant emails!

Boris said it was safe to go back into the office so I did and it was nice to catch up with colleagues and be in the city centre. I took the opportunity to visit the library and it was so nice to browse the bookshelves.

I think post-COVID (such as it will ever be), the company will continue to implement a hybrid working policy, which is fine by me.

House-wise, all immediate repairs/replacements have finally been done inside the house. This was such a relief finance-wise but also, I’ve had my fill (not literally) of tradesmen and their builder’s bums, haha!

It’s been quiet on the social front – my friends have kept within their immediate circles so I haven’t seen them, apart from a quick lunchtime coffee catch up, but we have a couple of dates pencilled in for February.

I’ve been quite happy having quiet weekends in, starting the day competing against family in the daily Wordle (we’re very competitive!).

Been pottering around the garden doing a bit weeding, clearing away leaves, digging up the beds and planting a small tree. I’ve found that gardening is a time when I can listen to (and enjoy) podcasts.

When not outside, I’ve been wallowing in some ‘comfort tv’, namely ‘Downton Abbey‘ – I know, I never watched it when it was on over 10 years ago, just enjoying it now in my own time!

The gym is currently unbearably busy with new year enthusiasts – it probably isn’t really that full but I’ve been used to it being quieter, so am looking forward to things calming down when people start breaking their NY resolutions!

Anyway, let’s take a look at the first numbers for 2022:

I saved 18% of my net salary.  The above includes £69.62 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I offloaded my holding in Hipgnosis Songs (SONG) for a small loss (a couple of quid) – the recent Spotify/Neil Young incident has shown that the whims/control of song artists represent an added unforeseen risk/variable in this investment that I’m not comfortable with (Hipgnosis owns 50% of Young’s worldwide rights).

I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to take a stance in accordance to their values, I’d just rather not lose any money over it!

Funds from the sale were used to top up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Ouch – is this finally the end of the longest bull market? It’s all looking pretty disastrous on the stock markets front.

Energy prices, inflation, interest rates, tax hikes, Russia v Ukraine, any (or all) of these might be the reason for the tanking stocks.

Or none of the above, just people being people. The question is, how long will these depressed markets go on for?

I’m just going to (try to) keep calm and carry on investing, despite my Future Fund plunging to £225,515, down 3% YTD.

Well if anything, I guess it makes the graph look interesting!

Dividends and Other Income

Hurrah for dividends when stock prices are plummeting:

Continue reading

Thought Experiment #11 – Spend It All

I’m still procrastinating on my 2022 goals so may as well use the time in a somewhat constructive way and support SavingNinja with one of his famous thought experiments!

Here’s his latest one:

“You’ve decided that you no longer want to save any of your income toward FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) each month. Instead, you’re going to spend it. How would you use your new disposable income?” 

Here goes off the top of my head:

1 – My House

This could be one of my shortest posts ever as the answer would easily be that I would spend my all new disposable income on my house and my garden!

However, I wouldn’t just be ‘spending it all’, the money would instead be put aside to fund big projects such as:

  • (in the garden) blockpaving my driveway, resetting paving in back garden, new shed/storage, garden decking in the patio, raised beds;
  • and (in the house) new bathroom and new kitchen.

These are things I hope to sort out in any event at some point, but no longer aiming for FIRE means I might get these things done in the near(er) future, as opposed to the far future.

2 – Travel

At some point, the world will learn to live with COVID and travel will be more straight forward again.  Although I plan to put money aside for future travel in any case, I would be able to have more trips if I wasn’t investing all my spare money.

When I’m allowed to, I’d like to travel to see my family in Hong Kong so that’s funding for at least two trips every year, including a trip to Singapore to see other family there.

Maybe a couple of cheeky jaunts or weekends to somewhere in Europe with friends –  I do love a cheerful beach holiday!

3 – New PC

I’d probably finally buy a new PC – the one I have is my original gaming machine which I bought back in 2009!

I don’t have a lot of time for gaming these days, so it’s been ok for the few games that I do play on the odd occasion, but it’s slow, often struggles and I’ve not really been getting the benefits of my swanky curved monitor!

Will I have time for gaming?

Why yes, I’m sure I will as I won’t be busy monitoring my investments, updating FIRE spreadsheets, thinking about/doing side hustles or how I can eke out an extra quid here and there to add to my FIRE pot!

Another reason for more time for gaming? Not aiming for FIRE means I’d probably not be maintaining this blog or really be part of the FIRE community any more.

I mean, what would I write about?

4 – ‘Things’

Not aiming for FIRE, I could lapse into carefree ignorance and not worry about where my money was going.

Ignorance is bliss and I would be in the same boat as everyone else (outside of the FIRE community), except that I would be in a better position as I would still have the Future Fund I have already accumulated.

My money would just merrily disappear from my bank account each month without me even trying, being spent on ‘things’ and as long as I didn’t spend more than I earned, that would be fine, right?

5 – Erm and that’s it really!

I struggled to think of anything else I would want to do if I was no longer focused on FIRE and racked my brains to think of what it was that I didn’t do or spend money on now, that I had sacrificed or scrimped on. I couldn’t come up with anything else.

I was going to add ‘eat out more’ to the list but it’s not as if I’m turning down social events with my friends – I go to every one and don’t scrimp on food or drink (the hangovers testify to that!) – aiming for FIRE isn’t impeding my social life.

I don’t yearn for a new car (mine’s now 10 years old, bought from new) or more clothes/shoes (having just ditched 50% of my wardrobe, I don’t need to fill it up again!).

I think I’ve changed my life (and mindset) so much over the years that I don’t believe there is anything that I’m missing out on due to my pursuit of FIRE.

It’s not more disposable income I want, to enjoy and do more in my life, although of course, I wouldn’t say no to a pay rise or a work bonus.

It’s more time that I want, and FIRE is more likely to give me that.

Other bloggers with their personal takes on this Thought Experiment include:

SavingNinja

One Million Journey

Indeedably

Total Balance

Anyone else got any thoughts to share?

Big House Purchase Post – Part 2

[NOTE: this post is out now only because I’m still dithering over my 2022 goals!]

In part 1, I covered the financial aspects of buying my house. In this second part, I’ll try to cover all the other stuff, which isn’t really anything to do with FIRE but it all affects me and my FIRE journey, plus I need to get it off my chest!

Since money is such a big part of a house purchase, I apologise in advance for the few monetary mentions which will inevitably sneak in!

What?

When I first started house-hunting, I was looking for a 3-bed semi, with garden and a private driveway, and so it seemed was every other man and his dog at the time! Preferably in a cul-de-sac, which tend to be quieter and provide more privacy.

What I’ve ended up with is a two-up-two-down semi, with a garden, private driveway, in a cul-de-sac. 3 out of 4 aint too bad!

I am however not too far from a main road, so I can sometimes hear big lorries rumbling past, especially when they hit the potholes in the road, and am also near a railway, although the sounds of trains haven’t bothered me so far.

My house is not new and there are numerous things which need repairing and replacing. Unfortunately, several of these are not cosmetic (those were mostly sorted when I had the whole place redecorated and had new carpets fitted before moving in), and some of these things will cost thousands of pounds to sort out.

There have been essential costs/repairs I’ve had done since moving in which I hadn’t budgeted for (hello, emergency funds!) so it’s felt like I’ve been bleeding money recently, including today, when I had to pay to have 3 tiles replaced on my roof, casualties of the storm we had recently.

Where?

Another of my criteria when I was house-hunting was that I didn’t want to move too far away from where I was. I’m a creature of habit and I wanted as little change to my life in that respect as possible.

So it’s just as well that I’ve ended up in a house which is just 2 miles away from where I used to live!

Over the years, I’d driven past it on numerous occasions, never realising that I’d be living there one day.

I have to say that I’m pretty certain that had I not been working from home and been able to view the property at the drop of a hat, I would have missed the opportunity to buy it, so thanks COVID!

Just moving two miles away has had me crossing a border, into another council’s  borough, into another city even. Don’t get me started on the different coloured bins now for recycling – I have to keep referring to a post-it note before I throw anything away!

I am now closer to both my sis (only 5 mins drive away) and to my friends.  My gym is further away by a couple of miles but I can actually get there quicker as I can hop onto the motorway to reach it now. Manchester city centre is still less than 5 miles away, so still close by for social life and work (when I’m back in the office).

I also have a pub within walking distance from my house!  This wasn’t on my wishlist but something I always thought would be nice to have.  However, it’s been many years since I’ve been in that particular pub, so I don’t know what the clientele are like now, plus current climate has deterred me from just wandering in for a quick pint and a gander. More on that I’m sure at some point.

Sadly, I’m no longer within walking distance to a tram stop, so public transport will have to be the bus (unless I have time to drive to the tram stop I used to use); buses are not my favourite mode of transport, as I can’t read on them. This might be a time for me to finally embrace podcasts.

Neighbours, Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

“What are the neighbours like?” I had asked, during my second viewing of the property.

“Oh, they’re lovely!” gushed the estate agent.

“She would say that,” commented my sister afterwards. “Who knows, you could end up with nightmare neighbours!” Gee, thanks, sis!

Sadly, it was not just noisy, unfriendly neighbours I had to take into consideration for my house move; although my race and ethnicity has barely been an issue for me in my life and not even something I really think about, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder how the people would feel about a non-white person moving into their neighbourhood.

How does one know what one’s new neighbours are like?

By speaking to them of course!

Prior to exchange, I drove over one afternoon to see if the neighbour was in. She was indeed and not only was she friendly, she invited me into her home for a chat!

Box ticked – PHEW! What a huge relief for me, but probably for her too, that she wasn’t  going to have a new nightmare neighbour herself!

Two days after I moved in, I invited her round for a cuppa. She’s now no doubt told the neighbourhood about me (she has various friends and family members living on the estate) which is great as it has resulted in a couple of others stopping to say hello and asking me how I’m settling in. I do think it’s worth getting to know neighbours, plus now, I have someone I trust to accept my deliveries when I’m not home!

The neighbours on the other (non-adjoining) side? It’s a rental property and although I’ve been told it’s a couple of beauticians/nail technicians who live there, I haven’t seen or heard a peek from them yet. Their garden (front and back) is a right mess though.

And the old neighbours?

The day before I moved out, both sets of my old neighbours had me round at theirs for a cuppa to say goodbye and in a lovely gesture, both gave me leaving cards and gifts – we had gotten to know each other more during lockdown and I will miss them.

Moving and Settling In

The day of the move (an Auspicious Day no less, something important to my family which I was happy to go along with), all went smoothly and as the removal van didn’t have very far to go, the whole process from loading up everything to emptying it all into my house took just under two hours! I was fully packed and ready the night before so there was no waiting time at all for them and they were really quick about their business.

As I wasn’t in a chain, I only moved bulky items, furniture and essential stuff – enough to fill the removal van but not to the brim! Since then, I’ve been back at the old house to pick up bits and pieces, things I want to keep but I wasn’t sure if I would have the space.

I’ve effectively downsized from a 4-bed house to a 2-bed (dropping three Council Tax bands in the process!) so wasn’t sure until I moved in and unpacked whether I could take all of the nice-to-have stuff left behind, or if they were destined for charity or the recycling tip.

In the old house, I used to make use of two of the spare rooms (for laundry and extended wardrobe purposes, ahem!), a study (for WFH), a shed, a utility room and garage.

Now, my spare room is the spare bedroom-cum-study-cum-laundry room and my shed will also have to store the things that I have in the garage, which has yet to be emptied – me and sis are putting this off til the last minute, probably will start panicking as the sale of the old house progresses!

Most things at the new place were set up easily, apart from my broadband, which inexplicably took a month to connect (fortunately I had use of a wifi mini hub so work wasn’t disrupted) and over 10 hours on the phone to sort out with BT, although they have given me a £20 credit because of my complaints…

I’m still trying to get used to buying my groceries from a different supermarket and actually miss my old Tesco’s, where the layout made sense (to me) so I could be in and out really quickly.

Morrissons on the other hand seems to be laid out to trap unsuspecting shoppers down random aisles, inviting and tempting me to make purchases I shouldn’t make, but I have to say that I do like their fresh meat and fish counters.

Forever Home?

I’ve lived here for less than a month so have no idea if this will be the case. I have however already planted some shrubs (shrubs I’ve dug up from the old place which won’t be missed!) which won’t mature for many years so that might be me thinking long term!

It still doesn’t quite feel like home yet; I can’t yet get used to how different it sounds from the old house, the different creaks and rattles. That said, my only restless night was the night I moved in, as I was sleeping in a ‘strange house’ – I’ve slept very well since.

A few friends (and colleagues) have asked for photos but I’ve declined – it’s my private dwelling and if I invite them round, they’ll see what it looks like. Only my family have seen photos of it (they obviously recognise all the furniture from the old place!), plus I did a little video tour to show them the size of the place – it was a very short video, haha!

After years of being used to living in a big cold house, I’m finding this cosy one a little on the warm side as it heats up really quickly when the heating comes on (my thermostat is set at 19 degrees). I’m sure I’ll get used to this and at least this means lower bills, a good thing with energy costs going up. The first thing I did when I moved in was get a water meter fitted as I saw that the previous owner’s water bill was more than double what I paid at the old house (including when sis and nephew were living with me!)

And that’s it really on my ‘home sweet home’.

Aptly, this pic shows the 3 new tiles I got on my roof!

I do hope that as time goes by and I settle in some more, I will stop possessing this  ‘critical eye’ as I can’t help but see things which need doing up around the place.

How long until I will stop this ‘seeing’ and just start being content to just live with these imperfections, so I can maintain my focus on FIRE?

I guess it’s just as well that I’m not one of those types who strives to maintain a beautiful home with all the mod cons, fit to grace the front cover of ‘Ideal Home’ magazine, otherwise my FIRE plans would be well and truly stuffed!

I have a couple of friends who do have such wonderful and beautiful homes, but they’re also the ones who mysteriously claim that ‘their house is their pension’, whatever that means.

In any case, I’ve banned myself from going to B&Q for the rest of the month and I think I need to do the same for the Amazon website!