Holiday and Toilet Rolls

I had an excellent holiday – enjoyed lots of quality time catching up with family and friends.

Where are the customers’ yachts?

Managed to squeeze quite a lot in, including:

  • Weekend at an arts & music festival
  • National Geographic dinner event, with Professor Brian Cox as guest speaker – absolutely mind-blowing!
  • Michael McIntyre live in Hong Kong (funny, although jokes about housework fell a bit flat as pretty much all ex-pats have cleaners/maids…)
  • My Dad’s 80th birthday bash
  • My Gran’s 92nd birthday celebrations (maternal grandmother, in case anyone’s trying to do the maths…)
  • A couple of days in Macau – my gambling exploits ended with a HK$100 loss (about a tenner!)
  • A ‘hairy crab‘ evening with the siblings
  • Two ‘Superhero’ cinema trips (‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and ‘Justice League’)

St Paul’s Church Ruins in Macau, which you might just be able to see behind all the tourists…

Budget Blown

The last few times I’ve been on holiday, I’ve hardly bought anything but this time, not only did I do some Christmas shopping but I also actually purchased some new clothes – I know, whatever came over me!? 😉 So I spent quite a bit more than expected out there but it means much of my present-buying was done, so that was a result.

As mentioned above, it was my Dad’s birthday and there was a full-on formal banquet laid on, with the whole clan in attendance. It was fabulous to catch up with cousins, aunts and uncles I very rarely see and great to see all 4 generations get together. Although I knew I was going to be contributing towards the costs with my other siblings, I hadn’t put enough aside for it, so most of it came out of my ’emergency funds’, which I will have to ‘pay back’ over the next year.

This may put a little squeeze on my savings rate but I aim to tighten my spending further so am hoping there won’t be too much impact there.

Toilet Rolls

Some people (apparently) take toilet rolls with them when they go away on holiday – me, I brought some back! Groceries in HK are very expensive, much of the food is imported, so the own-brands of Tesco, M&S and Waitrose compete well over there versus imports from other countries.

However, I spotted that toilet paper in HK is cheaper than in the UK – half the price of an Andrex 9-pack for similar/better quality – so since I had space in my suitcase and I was under my luggage allowance, I brought back some rolls, haha!

And on that note, with the dark days hurtling towards the inevitable madness that is the Christmas holiday, I wish you all a very merry one and will see you all on the other side!

Looks like Zippy (from Rainbow) dressing up as Santa…

Comparisons

Before embracing it, I very nearly dismissed the whole FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) concept.

The idea had piqued my interest immediately but at first glance, it seemed as if I did not fit into ‘the same mould’ as everyone pursuing FI (or having reached FI).

I looked on in dismay as I compared myself with the entrepreneurs, consultants, engineers, bankers, IT specialists and other high earners who were able to tuck away not just the equivalent of my entire salary year on year, but in some cases, multiples of my salary, for their financial freedom and early retirement. My initial thought was, ‘Crap, I can’t do this, I don’t earn enough and I’m in the wrong sort of job!’

Then I compared ages and everyone seemed so young – people in their 20s and 30s aiming (and on track) to be FI and to ‘retire early’ by 40 or by their early 40s. I was already in my mid-40s by the time I came across MMM – crap, was it all too late for an ‘old girl’ like me? (although it’s a good job I don’t look or act old 🙂 )

Another thing was that it appeared that you needed to make huge sacrifices to become FI. I mean I am and was able to cut back on my spending but I couldn’t see myself taking the extreme route and being a frugal recluse, living a cheap but not very cheerful (in my opinion) life or living like a student again.

More importantly, I didn’t want to be seen as tight-fisted by friends and family. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t care what anyone thinks.  While I don’t mind being a bit different, I do care about what the people I care about think, especially if it may affect my relationships.

So, it would have been no surprise if I had gone about my merry way, thinking FIRE was a nice idea but not for me.

Except that I continued to read about it with an open mind. Why? Because despite my initial misgivings, the whole concept really fascinated me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

I ran some basic numbers (on the proverbial back of a fag packet) and it dawned on me that I didn’t need to earn megabucks (no, I don’t need £1 million!) or do exactly what someone else was doing or did – I could just take certain (good) ideas and apply them to my own situation.  Yep, personal finance being what it says on the tin!

FIRE  comparisons are like comparing these two

More Comparisons

However, despite embarking on my FIRE journey, I couldn’t help but continue to compare myself to others.

People whose net worths were waaay bigger than mine after a shorter space of time, people achieving astronomically high savings rates, effortless side hustles and blogs earning income to die for. Some had already reached FI, or they were only X years away and they were only in their 30s etc.

Such comparisons were at times a little disheartening until I eventually realised that it was just  pointless comparing myself to others.  The only comparison worth taking note of is that of comparing my own progress over time.

These days, I can now look at other people’s very high net worths and mega savings rates and admire them and applaud them, without feeling bad about my own attempts and performance.

To say that I never feel any envy would be to lie, but hey, I’m only human – I just don’t dwell on the envy or allow it to become negative, I just focus on what I’m doing myself. Everyone’s situation and circumstances are different, whether it’s their background, age, stage in their lives, different countries, different jobs etc.

Numbers

Not everyone likes to share their actual numbers but I made the decision to do so when I started this blog – I just know that some readers like to see real figures (to compare with their own, I suppose, haha!).

Until around nine years ago, my net worth was a negative number due to my numerous credit card debts. I eventually paid these debts off and by the time I started my FI journey in 2014, my net worth was £74,596.

As at the end of August, it stood at £205,509.

STOP! Try not to compare my net worth with your own – we are different! 🙂

I didn’t even notice that I’d passed the £200k milestone because by itself, it doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just a number since I’m not using it in any of my calculations. However, it’s good to compare how far I’ve come since those negative days!

[EDIT – I see from some of the comments that I need to make a clarification – my £200k race with John K is with my Future Fund, not my Net Worth. My Future Fund currently stands at £125,946]

Do you compare yourself or your savings/investments progress and how does it make you feel?

August 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

A month of distraction, therefore a month of higher-than-usual spending and I think some of this might overlap into next month as I used my credit card to pay for some stuff towards the end of the month.

I had family staying (again) so enjoyed some days out, quite a bit of eating out and also had some fun playing cricket in the garden with my nephew. Don’t ask me the rules though, I only know the bare minimum!

Had a weekend away at V Festival (the awesome Pink was headlining). As well as for the music and the atmosphere, I love going to festivals as they’re the only places where I think you can safely people watch (as in really people watch), ie staring at what they’re wearing (or not as the case may be!) and at their tattoos (of which a lot were on show) and nobody bats an eyelid! There’s only so much of that you can get away with on a night out in town without causing trouble!It’s a pity that the only thing available to drink was crap beer (“probably the best worst lager in the world”) but that didn’t stop me from drinking large quantities of it! My fellow festival goers were on wine, which I believe was not a great vintage vile and just got them drunk quicker – apparently, as time went by, it started to taste better!  The weather wasn’t great and although we had a few hours of sun, it was just rain later on but we were prepared!

So, how much of my net salary did I save this month?

Well, I saved 36.2%. Although still a fairly decent chunk of my salary, as expected, it’s lower than my usual figure.

My average for the year has now dropped to 46.3%. With only four months of the year left, I have a feeling I am going to struggle to hike it back up on track. My social diary is starting to fill up, I have a pretty big holiday in a couple of months time and although I will try to keep spending in between these events low, inevitably, my savings rate will continue to take a hit.

Of course, I could always sacrifice my social life just so that I could hit my goals but that’s not something I’m prepared to do right now or in the foreseeable future, if I’m honest. As and when I get close to my end goal however, I may change my tune.

The above savings includes £100 from matched betting profits and £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

Nothing new was purchased, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current portfolio can be found here.

Future Fund 

Despite the slight wobble in the markets, with extra capital added, my Future Fund continues to grow and now stands at £125,946. Slowly plodding on towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading

February 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

Here’s my belated February update – the numbers are probably not so consistent with other months as I had to use figures I jotted down from 20th Feb:

Feb16saved

Anyway, I managed another savings rate of 51.6%! Woohoo! :-)

This really is a great start for me, though unfortunately it’ll be a real struggle to maintain this level of savings in March (see below), or even for the rest of the year as things have popped up unexpectedly in my calendar which I hadn’t accounted for when I set my goal.

Still, I’ve already, in only the second month, equalled my 2015 efforts, where I only managed to hit >50% savings rate twice all year, so I am very happy with this.

Only other income added to savings was £50 from rent received.

Future Fund 

Bear Market, what Bear Market? I was rather surprised to see my Future Fund bounce back already – this now stands at £61,019.63. After pondering upon things, I decided to take on board Ermine’s comment from my post earlier in the month and have included my work DC pension within my Future Fund (note that I still made a gain from last month even if I don’t include the work pension).

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading