A Little More Giving + Home Brew #7

Whilst not specifically one of my 2016 goals, I mentioned that I intend to regularly donate a little more to charity.  I have opened a CAF Charity account so will be topping this up on a monthly basis.

Of course, I could have started donating regularly without opening such an account but the CAF account allows me to donate anonymously as I dislike being contacted by charities and don’t want to feel like I’m being ‘guilt tripped’ into handing over more money after I’ve made a donation.

I don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, so donating a bit of money is all I can really do right now. I already make adhoc donations throughout the year, eg sponsor friends on charity runs, Movember sponsorships, Christmas giving tree etc. These monthly donations will be on top of my usual donations.

Tawcan’s Christmas post made me think again about how lucky I am to be in a position where I can put relatively large amounts of money aside towards FI and early retirement when there are lots of people less fortunate than myself who are not living happy lives. Other bloggers such as TheFireStarter and Huw @FFB40 (also Organised Redhead) donate regularly too so it’s about time I put my hand in my pocket more often and do my little bit. Others donate their time, some others donate blood, which is something I don’t do (although I do donate unwanted clothing and books etc).

One Charity or Many?

There are many charities I feel strongly about – close members of my family have been affected by cancer and heart conditions so I like to support those charities. Children, the homeless, the hungry, the elderly – I want to help these too but would it be better to just concentrate on a single charity or help as many as possible?

Perhaps I could just choose one charity and help that one but I’m not sure I could just stick with just the one as I wouldn’t know which one to help and would feel bad about not being able to help others.

However, what I should do perhaps is to whittle down on the number of charities I want to help so I can donate a little more to my chosen ones – I can always select other charities next time but in the main, I want to try to help smaller and more local charities.

Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Whilst it makes me feel good (and a little less selfish) to donate, the amount I’m donating is really quite pitiful in the scheme of things – I am still in my wealth accumulation phase, only really at the start of my saving/investing journey so I’m very much thinking of me and my own priorities first.

My donation by  itself is unlikely to change anything but I’d like to think that it just goes towards some ‘greater good’ and hopefully not squandered like certain charities.

I’d like to think that when I do get to FI and no longer have to work full-time, I will be able to donate some of my time and energies towards charitable causes.

Anyway, until then, this is the small way in which I’ll try to help out.

Winter/Spring Brew

I wasn’t organised enough last October to put a ‘Christmas brew’ on so I didn’t do this festive kit until January – named after Santa’s favourite reindeer, ‘Dasher the Flasher‘! 🙂

The brew was just about ready for me to take a few bottles to the recent FIRE Escape gathering in Wales, but some bottles still aren’t quite ready so this brew has taken a while to condition.

FireEscapelabel1

Customised beer labels, no less!

The kit produced 44 bottles (just over 21 litres/37 pints). As the kit cost me £23, this works out as £0.52 per bottle or £0.62 a pint.

The beer is very clear and pours a good head (yay!). Not very bitter at all, with some sweet tones, a bit like liquorice (according to Lou).

dasher

Alcohol strength just over 4% so very drinkable over a weekend!

I think I prefer this brew to the last one I made and certainly, I would try to put this one on again in the winter (the kits are only available then).

I’ve now done 6 beer kits and one cider kit. I was planning to brew (and document) 4 more beer kits before I revert to my favourites and just brew those.

However, with finances a little tighter this month, I’m going to brew a kit that I’ve done previously (Woodford’s Wherry), only because I have one spare.

A bit more pressure this time round as it won’t just be colleagues and friends sampling this one, it’ll be the first time my family will be able to try the fruits of my labours….eek!

Next proper home brew update in that case will probably be late summer.

In the meantime…CHEERS! 🙂

2 Years!

This Sunday marks TWO years since I started blogging about my journey to FI/Retiring Early!

Happy 2nd birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

2nd birthday

The years have flown by but yet at the same time, it feels as if I’ve been blogging for aaaaaaages!

Back Then

Although my first post on this blog was in April 2014, I had made a note of my finances in March – my starting or pre-FI plan numbers!

Here’s the comparison between my starting numbers and my most recent update:

  • March 2014 – Net Worth: £74,595.92
    March 2016 – Net Worth: £123,213.39
  • March 2014 – Savings Rate: 26.5%
    March 2016 – Savings Rate: 60.6%
  • March 2014 – Future Fund: £30,075.11
    March 2016 – Future Fund: £64,650.75

Ok, so my savings rate last month was an unusually high one, boosted by a work bonus but even if I compare it to February 2016 which was 51.6%, it’s still a pretty good effort if I may say so myself!

I’m particularly pleased with the increase in my Future Fund because it had taken me FIVE years to save the £30,075.11 I started off with in March 2014 (what can I say….I had no plan!), yet in the two years that I have been blogging and following my FI/early retirement path, I have doubled my fund. Go me! 🙂

The increases in both Net Worth and Future Fund are largely due to new capital being chucked in every month without fail; I’ve aimed to save/invest as much of my net salary as possible, and also put away income I get from extra curricular activities, such as cashback, gambling winnings and various online activities.

Thank You

A big thanks to all who take the time to read this humble little blog – it’s a great incentive to me to know that people have a passing interest in what I have to say about my little journey and I love to read your comments and private emails. Thank you very much for helping me be accountable, giving me encouragement and helping me stick to my plan and aim for my goals!

Growth Continue reading

Thinking and Growing Rich

The second ‘financial’ related book I’ve read this year has been described as “one of the most important financial books ever written“.  I can’t really comment on this, since I haven’t read many financial books but I can see why it would have made such a powerful impact when it was first published.
Think and Grow Rich‘ by Napoleon Hill was written especially for those who lost pretty much everything in the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
There is an updated version which covers the likes of more modern successful businessmen such as Bill Gates but the version I read was the 1937 version, so the successful people described in the books were the likes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.  Hill apparently researched more than forty millionaires to find out what made them successful.
The book is basically a self help/personal development book that – if you understand all the principles and its messages and follow them – can help you become successful and (if you want to be) rich.
As it was written in 1937, the book was obviously very dated, referring constantly to the Wall Street Crash and the US Depression in the 1930s, and of course, references to technology and information available was limited to what was around at the time, ie no computers or internet! Also, as expected, it was occasionally somewhat politically incorrect.

 

One particular observation made me laugh: “If a woman permits her husband to lose interest in her, and become more interested in other women, it is usually because of her ignorance, or indifference toward the subjects of sex, love, and romance“.  Hmmm…yes, well haha!

However, there was still quite a lot of relevant stuff – how you sell yourself back in the 1930s is not very different from how you sell yourself today!

Struggle
I’m not a great non-fiction reader (being a fiction-lover) so I found this book pretty hard-going.
Some chapters were very interesting but even these had a lot of ‘waffle’. A few chapters I ended up skipping, in particular where Hill vouches for clairvoyance and extra-sensory perception (ESP) or when the American history detail just got a bit too much for me!
 
Stuff that stuck in my Mind
I’m glad I read the book as there is stuff I can take away, I found some of it pretty motivational and there are tips and suggestions that I intend to  put into practice. Certainly there are some chapters that I will return to again.
For example, the book determines that there are various steps to success/riches – I won’t list them all but they include Desire, Organised Planning, Decision and Persistence. These I readily identified with as they are steps towards FI and retiring early!
I’ll finish off with some quotes/verses which stuck in my mind:

 

“Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds”
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.
(by Walter D Wintle)
“A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”
Procrastination is one of the most common causes of failure.”

Stop worrying and conquer the fears which can stop you from being successful in what you do.

Stop using alibis/excuses that are used by people who are not successful, eg

…if only I had money…
…if only I had a good education…
…if only I had time….
…if I now had a chance…
…if only I could save some money…
…if I only knew how…
(there are lots more in the book)

Hill states that you will only be successful if you follow all the principles laid out in his book.
I only intend to follow some of them, but if it means I achieve my goals, that’s all the success I need – I’m not aiming to be a millionaire/billionaire!
Incidentally, I’ve highlighted the procrastination tip as this was mentioned recently by Huw in his YouTube video, and it’s something that I suffer from (at times) quite badly, but more so at home, rather than at work.
After reading the book (and then being prompted by Huw), I set about doing a task that I’ve been putting off (and putting off) for the best part of a year – that of transferring my stakeholder pension into one of my SIPPs.
I’ll do a post on this at some point to let you know how I get on but the deed is done!
Weenie 1 Procrastination 0!

 

Of course, there’s other stuff that I’ve been putting off that needs doing, but one step at a time, eh!

Online Learning

A couple of months ago, I received an interesting email at work from the IT department, highlighting a free, government-backed online course offered by The Open University on ‘Cyber Security‘ (run via FutureLearn).  
The course was 8 weeks long and commitment was just 3 hours a week.  As I’d never done an online course before (apart from compulsory training at work), I thought I’d give this a go, so I started the course on 26th Jan 2015 and have now completed it.


Reading and learning like this was quite novel and something I found quite enjoyable. I was even able to do some of it at work during my lunch hour. Most of the course was in the form of reading articles, watching short video clips and discussion points – you have opportunities to ‘discuss’ the various topics and post comments as you go along on the website and read what other people on the course have posted. Occasionally, you’re asked to do some extra reading should you wish.

At the end of each week, there was a simple multiple choice assessment to test your knowledge of what you have learnt and a summary of the topic(s) covered that week. There is also an end-of-course assessment (I scored 32/36, ie 89%).

All in all, a pleasant learning experience in a topic which I have found very useful, interesting and relevant, in particular stuff about passwords and encryption, albeit at quite a high level. I did find some of the stuff a little too technical but not too bad overall. The good thing was that you could learn and read at your own pace – at one point, I was a week behind but I caught up over a weekend.

If you wanted a certificate of completion of the course, you do have to pay for it but it’s not necessary to buy one.

There are some other courses that I’m interested in checking out in the future – in fact, I’ve just signed up for another free course which starts on 11th May 2015 – this one is called ‘Managing My Investments‘ – anyone else fancy it? 🙂

Will be interesting to see what gets covered and I’m sure there will be new stuff that I will pick up about investing as I know there is so much more I can learn!

Check here to see what other online courses are up and coming, which you might be interested in.