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!

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!

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FIRE Escape in Wales

Gaer Hall

Where Huw and Richard plotted world domination…we reckon!

Just a brief update of the FIRE Escape event I attended on Saturday, organised by Huw.

Location Location

Gaer Hall was a fantastic location, set in some beautiful Welsh countryside and only a short journey for me (just over 1.5 hours). Of course, being in the middle of rolling fields, my sat nav didn’t have a clue where it was and there were no signs pointing to the property, so it was just as well that Huw put a ‘marker’ out for us (a traffic cone on a wheelie bin!)

Met up with some old friends (Huw, Lou, Richard, Emma, A+Z and M + baby) from previous gatherings and also met some new faces (Michael and Martina). Unfortunately, I managed to miss OR who left just before I arrived!

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Good News and Bad News at Work

As I trawled through the masses of unread emails in my inbox upon my return to work after my holiday, one jumped out at me immediately, filling me with a bit of dread – my one-to-one appointment with my boss for my annual appraisal!

Over the years, I’ve tended to have good reviews but they’re just not things that I enjoy going through – I don’t like talking about my achievements, I’d rather just get on with doing them.

Yes, after all these years, I know I need to ‘sell’ myself, but I’m still pretty rubbish at it. Unfortunately, just doing a great job (which is what I do) isn’t enough, you have to apparently tell everyone about what a great job you are doing too and that’s the bit I find difficulty with…

Good News…

Anyway, despite the turmoil caused by New Co buying out Old Co last year, my boss told me that I’d kept my focus and put in a solid performance, hitting all my personal targets and helped the team achieve its target.

Also notched up another 100% attendance record at work – the few days I was sick happened over a weekend so I ended up not taking any time off.

The second (and bigger) piece of good news was that Old Co have honoured the bonus I accrued last year, have passed the monies onto New Co and I will be getting it in my March pay! Woo hoo! 🙂  This is likely to be my last bonus for a while as it doesn’t look like New Co operate a similar bonus scheme (that I know of).

This is only my 4th bonus in the last 10 years. As with the previous two, I’m likely to save/invest a lot of it but might put some of it aside for some forthcoming large expenses. Also, I can throw a chunk at my emergency fund.

I had thought that my savings rate would take a big dive this month, due to me having to pay off my family for some Japan trip expenses (when I ran out of money- oops!) but it looks like there will be a nice little boost which will hopefully help keep my rate up for the rest of the year.

…and the Bad News

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