Half a Century

You might think I’m talking about the cricket score but no.

By the time this post goes out, I will have turned half a century old.

Yes, I am bloody 50!

There, I said it out loud but I still can’t quite believe it myself.

How did over half of my life go by so quickly?

Should I be having a mid-life crisis as so eloquently described by indeedably?

My Mum will no doubt ask me if it’s finally time for me to grow up?

Even if she doesn’t actually ask me, I will see it in her eyes and I’m afraid she’ll continue to be disappointed, haha!

Dread

I have to admit that I had not been looking forward to turning 50 at all. I was the same when I turned 40; seem to recall being a little down (for me) when I was 39.  I ended up getting a tattoo to celebrate and it looks likely there will be a similar such celebration for this birthday…

I know it’s only a number but it still sounds so….old!

It’s just as well that I’m told I don’t look my age (or act it) and I certainly don’t feel it, although when hungover, I think I feel every single one of those years!

Weight-wise, I’m only a few pounds heavier than when I was in my 20s but size-wise, I’m actually trimmer than I was then (about half a dress size), probably due to a better diet and less alcohol.

According to the Boditrax machine I tried out six months ago, my metabolic age is 34 years old which is great and means this old girl is mostly looking after herself!

I could probably get away with lying about my age but nah, I’m crap at lying and couldn’t live with my own lies!

Celebrate

Anyway, my friends kept asking me last year what I wanted to do as they wanted to celebrate my five decades on this planet.

To be honest, I just felt like hiding at home to contemplate, not celebrate but I bowed to peer pressure in the end.

I’m not one for being the centre of attention and the idea of a party seemed horrific, so the alternative was to go away somewhere.

I ended up organising a trip. The whole act of booking flights for everyone, sorting out hotel and ‘loose’ itinerary actually made me look forward to celebrating my birthday.

And the trip was a big deal – not just the significance of a life milestone but because:

a) I was travelling abroad with my friends, whereas previously, we’d barely ventured out of Manchester together, never mind leave the country – two of them had expired passports so good job I checked; and

b) the group of 7 friends were made up of my two ‘circles’ of friends who hadn’t previously met (ex-work, who have known me for around 20 years and gym pals who have known me around 6-7 years).

Fortunately, my fears of clashes of personality were not founded (not that I knew of anyway!).

And so, to celebrate becoming ancient my birthday, I decided to go on a little weekend trip away to Bruges, in Belgium.

Girls on Tour In Bruges

Of all the different European cities to visit, I opted for Bruges because I like beer and my friends like chocolate, so it seemed like a no-brainer! No, actually, what attracted me was that it looked really picturesque and historical and seemed to have a lot to offer for tourists. One member of the group had visited previously and she recommended it.

The whole trip nearly started off with a disaster however, as I realised just as we got to Brussels customs that I’d left my bag on some chairs while we were waiting for some of the others to get off the plane. I ran all the way back for it and fortunately it was still there and hadn’t been detonated as a security risk – phew!

Bruges was lovely – we did a lot of walking along cobbled streets, visited museums (including an interesting Salvador Dali exhibition), went on a brewery tour, canal trip, guided walking tour, drank lots of Belgian beer and ate some great food. Somehow, I managed to miss out on moules frites – not sure how!

The trip was not cheap – the girls (sorry Ms Ziyou, we all refer to ourselves as such!) were looking to stay centrally so I got us into a 4-star hotel right next to the canal, with lovely view and great walking right outside the hotel. We were just ten mins walk into the main square where all the pubs and restaurants were.

It was a fabulous weekend – the city had a lovely ambience, I found it very friendly. The weather was perfect – sunglasses and sun-cream made an appearance! I was very happy and humbled to have such a great group of friends who wanted to celebrate with me – it was a perfect weekend.

Anyway, I would definitely go back as there were still lots we didn’t get the chance to explore.

The Actual Day

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!

Holiday and more Toilet Rolls

I had a great holiday – enjoyed catching up with all the family, but as always, it was over far too quickly.

 

Not quite as action-packed as my last holiday but I still managed to squeeze quite a bit in:

  • A day out at the trampoline park with my niece and nephew – I did realise that I shouldn’t really be flinging myself around on American Ninja-style apparatus at my age but I couldn’t help it!
  • A karaoke session with the siblings – we sang all our 80s and 90s favourites!
  • Five days in Koh Samui, Thailand where I snorkelled, kayaked, ate a lot of yummy food and stayed up til 3.30am watching England in a nail-biting penalty shootout!
  • A foot massage evening with the siblings
  • An outing to celebrate my sister’s birthday
  • Ten pin bowling session, scoring 73 in the first game and 150 in the second – clearly the first game was just a warm up, haha!
  • A game of badminton
  • Lots of dim sum and sushi!

I didn’t know that planes with open propellers were still used commercially!

Budget Blown

As with previous holidays, I hardly bought anything for myself (just snacks and green tea teabags!) but I spent a lot on eating and drinking out and of course, I had to treat the kids and ended up spending a lot more than planned.

So much so that I had to borrow from my sis so she will be wanting to collect on her debt either later this month but maybe I can stall her until next month…

Some people buy souvenirs on holiday….I buy toilet rolls!

As always, I leave home with a heavy suitcase (full of stuff for the family) and end up with a light/empty one and as with my last trip, I stocked up on toilet rolls for my return trip home.

Toilet Rolls

Why toilet rolls? Because they’re something I will use, I can store them away and I needed to fill up my empty suitcase!

I usually buy Tesco brand, £3.35 for 9 rolls, 2-ply, average 220 sheets per roll.

The HK ones I buy cost £2.88 for 10 rolls, 3-ply, average 340 sheets per roll.

And that’s with a crappy Sterling exchange rate. There will, however, be no need for me to buy any more on my next trip – the stash I have will last a long time!

On the subject of spending, I successfully used my Starling card in both Dubai (airport) and Thailand – am very happy with the app so no doubt, I’ll be using it again on my travels.

Thoughts and Ideas

As mentioned previously, I didn’t do any blogging while I was away but while I was lounging by the pool in Thailand, I jotted down a few ideas and thoughts about my investments.

I’ve now got more of an idea of how I will use my SIPPs and ISA for income when I pull the plug on full-time work. It’s still only a loose idea and I’ll see how things look at the end of year as I’m overdue an update on my investments plan.

I’ve realised that I’ve been coasting along when I could probably make a lot more effort with my expenses and my savings. I guess a bit more focus won’t do any harm and might be enough to make a difference. I have family staying with me later this month so perhaps the focus will have to come after they leave!

Some clowns, plus a couple of guys wearing white make-up…

A shame that ‘football didn’t come home’ in the end as this trip was very much entwined with the World Cup, with various plans being made around catching the timezone friendly (and some unfriendly) matches.

I almost miss the ‘Three Lions’ song which has been played endlessly everywhere!

I shall still enjoy watching the final as a neutral and also look forward to catching the Wimbledon finals – tennis has been forgotten with all the football excitement!

Have a great weekend all!

Quick Update and O.O.O

Just a brief update to get this out of the way as I’ll be busy with work and getting ready (shopping and packing) for my holiday later in the week:

  • This month, I celebrated my birthday – another year older, maybe a little wiser? I’ve been trying to shift a couple of pounds but my birthday celebrations lasted all week so instead of losing, I’ve probably piled more on! All this eating out (and drinking) has meant it’s not been a cheap month either.
  • My kitchen is still not complete – the fridge freezer was due to be delivered this weekend but was damaged in transit. I’ll have to sort things out after my hols and hope that it’s there before my family are over!
  • At work, the initial part of the ‘re-organisation’ I mentioned has happened – my colleague is now my new BOSS!  It’s not a real surprise, I was wondering when it would happen, just didn’t think it would happen so soon.  Our working relationship will inevitably change but hopefully not by too much, although I had gotten used to a remote boss (previously in our London office) and now I’ll have one sat right next to me!  I’m a little concerned that she doesn’t have a lot of management experience  so we’ll see how it goes. Still, we’ve worked well together so far, I already have a lot of respect for her professionalism, industry experience and knowledge, and this is despite me being twenty years her senior…I know!!! I might have to cut back on my avocado toast jokes from now on though!
  • The second part of the company re-organisation/restructuring is yet to be announced and it might not be pretty. As ever, I’ll worry about it when I know what it is and how it’ll affect me.

Out Of Office

So I’m off to the far east on my usual jollies, which means my June savings update will be a week or so late. I don’t have any scheduled posts and am unlikely to be reading any blogs while I’m away so I’ll be doing a big catch up on reading and commenting upon my return.

I do miss blogging (and reading blogs) when I’m away but at the same time, I enjoy the break. I do always take a notebook with me (so old school still!) to jot down ideas and notes for future blog posts. I’ll certainly be making a note of my experience using my new Starling* card when I stop in Dubai for my connecting flight.

It’ll also be good to take a break from matched betting although I’m a little gutted that I will be missing all those World Cup offers – I’ve tried to make the most of them this past week or so.

My family are football fans too so I’ll be enjoying watching some matches (when they’re timezone friendly) – Hong Kong’s still got a huge British ex-pat community so looking forward to cheering on England down the pub! Been loving the World Cup so far, with the big teams not starting as well as expected – exciting stuff!

Anyway, catch up in a few weeks’ time!

[*Referral link – there’s no money involved but I get some hearts lit up on my app!]