FIRE Escape in Sheffield + Win

So, Huw from Financially Free by 40 had organised another FIRE Escape gathering, this time in Sheffield.

I wasn’t able to attend the entire weekend so just dropped in on the Saturday.  This was the 4th such meeting I’ve attended.

The venue was Weaver’s Cottage, a superb detached, stone-built, Grade II listed property. It did look a bit stark on the outside but inside, it was beautifully refurbished with new, modern amenities.

It was good to catch up with Huw, Lou, M, Martina and Richard again, but also great to meet nine new faces – James, Ed, Eva, Valerie, Anne, Cora, Helen, John and Organised Redhead (OR did attend the last FIRE Escape, but wasn’t there the day I turned up!).

As with previous FIRE Escapes, it was a good mix of people, everyone at various stages of their lives and FI plans, from savvy millennials using enterprising ideas to make money, right through to folk who had already retired and were living off their investment income and those who are FI already who were happy to share ideas and advice.

We talked about all kinds of stuff including investing (shares and investment trusts), health and fitness, buy to lets and shared ideas on how to generate money such as buying stuff to sell on eBay, making things to sell, Kindle publishing, P2P, investing in whisky – maybe not a good one for you, FiL! 😉 and matched betting.

I have to say that after each gathering I’ve attended, I have ALWAYS come away with fresh ideas or end up learning about something which I want to research further – I learned some new stuff about matched betting (thanks M and James) and about investment trusts (thanks John).

I was there for 6 hours which just flew by and I wish I could have stayed longer. Had it not been for the fact that I really dislike driving down the Snake Pass in the dark, I would have stayed later. As it was, when it started to rain as I was driving back, I was glad that I left when I did.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I had the chance to chat to everyone properly but hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity next time.

Try It!

If you’ve never considered attending a FIRE Escape before, I would highly recommend these friendly and informal gatherings. I believe it’s Huw’s intention to continue to organise them and I for one am very grateful, as his efforts have enabled me to talk to people who understand what I’m trying to achieve and I love hearing about other people’s stories and plans for FI.

Whilst it’s great to put faces to bloggers, it’s also great to meet people who do not have blogs but who have similar goals, so cheers Huw for organising these FIRE Escapes!

PS – M, I forgot to grab one of your home brews before I left! Doh!

Premium Bond Win

I was out most of Friday so although I saw that I had received an email from NS&I about my premium bonds, I didn’t get the chance to log in to check my account and I only remembered after I’d gotten home from Sheffield:

I won £50 (2 x £25)! It’s my first win in 9 months. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this but some of my redundancy money has been used to purchase more premium bonds. These bonds are accounted for separately (in my spreadsheets) from the bonds in my Future Fund since they’re not part of my long-term plan.

Yes, premium bonds make terrible investments – however, if you don’t view them as ‘investments’, but as somewhere to park your cash because you’ve already exhausted the high interest current accounts etc, then I don’t see anything inherently bad about them. Plus, you can win something, like I have! 🙂

Anyway, until I’m gainfully employed again, as and when I need funds for my living expenses, I’ll be selling some of the bonds. Let’s hope I’ll have notched up a few more wins by then! Unlike Jim who treated himself with his winnings, I’ll be chucking mine into my ISA!

Premium Bond Win, plus my New Gadget

Just because there’s crap going on at work, I don’t want to just blog about doom and gloom so here’s something on a lighter note.

I recently read that it was going to get even harder to win in the Premium Bonds – the odds of winning any prize were being reduced from 26,000:1 to 30,000:1.

However, I received what is now a ‘regular’ email from NS & I – does 3 wins in 6 months count as ‘regular’?

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Ok, so it was just another £25 win, but it’s not bad for what I consider as my ‘cash under the mattress’.

As I’ve mentioned before, premium bonds are rubbish investments, so just as well I don’t consider them as investments!

As before, I think I’ll chuck the winnings at my recently depleted emergency fund.

Here’s hoping for some more (and bigger) wins!

Shiny New Gadget

I also got myself a new ‘gadget’ recently.

It was a gadget which I didn’t really need, or even something I particularly wanted.

Still, the main thing was that it was completely free!

Yes, I got myself a smart meter fitted and my new gadget is the little monitor that came along with it.

For those who don’t know, a smart meter is a meter which can digitally send meter readings to your energy supplier. I’ve only had this fitted for my electricity and it will apparently ensure more accurate energy bills and the monitor should help me understand my energy usage better.

It shows you how much electricity you are using (either spend or wattage), compare different days, how much you have spent/used in the past etc.

With just my fridges, fridge freezer, clock radio plugged in and nothing else switched on, it appears that I spend £0.02 an hour.

smart1a

My ‘standing’ electricity spend per hour

Put the kettle on for a brew and this goes up to £0.45 an hour!

smart2a

Sticking the kettle on pushes up the spend by quite a bit!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that to save money I’m going to stop putting the kettle on, stop using the hair dryer or washing machine, but I will think twice about taking my time when ironing (including leaving the iron plugged in to go to make a cuppa….).  I also have a habit of pre-heating the fan oven and then forgetting about it, so the oven ends up being on a lot longer than it needs to be.

Switching the lights on in the kitchen also causes a spike, which means that I’ll need to make sure that I replace the old light bulbs with more efficient LED ones.

Does anyone else make use of these kinds of gadgets?

Another Premium Bond Win and O.O.O

prembonds

Another February, another premium bond win!

I only won £25 but by massive coincidence(?), I also won this time last year.

I’ve now won £100 in just 12 months, with only a very small premium bond holding of £2,250, beating the oft quoted 1.35% “return”.

Despite recent articles like these talking about premium bonds being ‘bad investments’, I continue to buy a few more bonds each month.  And I actually agree, they are rubbish investments but I see the bonds as the ‘cash under my mattress’ so to speak (except actual cash under my mattress isn’t ever going to win anything!), not as investments – my investments are in shares, index trackers, investment trusts and p2p lending.

Anyway, I think I’ll chuck my winnings at my recently depleted emergency fund.

Out Of Office

The big holiday that I’ve been putting money aside for has finally come round, so I won’t be about for a few weeks. Funnily enough, I don’t feel like I’m ready for a holiday as I don’t normally go away so early in the year (not jaded enough from work, haha!) but I’m really looking forward to catching up with the family and trying new things in a country I’ve never visited before.

I don’t have any blog posts scheduled so will do some catch-up ones when I get back.

Hope you all have a great February – see you in March! 🙂

Premium Bonds Win, plus Home Brew #6


Unbelievable yes, but I got another premium bond win, my second this year! Yay!

prembonds

Ok, so I only won £25 but prior to my win in February, I hadn’t won anything in years!

It could well be just a massive coincidence that I’ve started winning ever since I’ve been regularly buying more premium bonds – my holding is tiny though, only £2,135 and according to this premium bond calculator, if I have ‘average luck’, I would expect to win just £25 over a year. Let’s hope I’ll be VERY lucky at some point in the future! In the meantime, I will chuck my £25 into the investment pot.

As premium bonds carry no risk (apart from erosion due to inflation) I will continue with my small top ups. I don’t have a lot of cash in my total portfolio so this forms part of that allocation.

Home Brew #6

Time for another home brew update! The brew I made this time came from a Vienna Red Lager kit.

After brewing cider last time round, I was really looking forward to making my brew of choice!

I started this one at the beginning of October, the instructions were easy to follow, although there was no info on how much sugar was needed when bottling, so I just went for my usual 1.5 teaspoons/bottle, which turned out to be right!

I managed to get 43 bottles (just over 21 litres/37 pints) and it’s another free brew as the kit was a birthday present!

After around 1.5 months of conditioning, the beer is fairly clear – the red colour makes it look like an ale but its flavour is a little sharper, a tangy taste. I’ve managed to get this one to pour with a semi-decent head too, so I’m very happy! Alcohol strength is around 4.3% ABV (although the box said 5% ABV, I couldn’t get it to that level) but after swigging a couple of bottles, it feels a lot stronger, haha!

beer5

I like this beer although in general, I think I prefer ales to lager. As with previous batches, 10 bottles have gone to friends and colleagues for their appreciation! One colleague has already hinted that he’s going to buy me a kit for Christmas – see, there’s a reason why I share the fruits of my labours! 🙂

I have got a kit waiting that I was thinking of doing as a winter warmer. Space is the factor though (30+ bottles of lager and around a dozen of cider still, all sitting in my garage!) so I’ll probably put it on in the new year, unless that lot gets drunk quickly over the next couple of weeks!

[Unfortunately, this was one post where the comments didn’t copy over from Blogger – think I messed up here!]