Only Sixty Left

The other day, standing in a packed tram and having just finished reading my book, rather than dig out my phone to aimlessly scroll through Twitter, I started to idly think about my goal to FIRE.

My stretch goal (now my actual goal) is to FIRE at the end of 2024. This is in about 5 years’ time, which really isn’t that far away. I’m over half-way there.

And then it suddenly hit me.

Assuming that I will be continuously employed, this means that I only have 60 more pay days from my employer!

If not gainfully employed all that time, then less than 60!

Rather than think ‘Hurray, only 60 more pay days til I can stop working!’, I felt a flutter of doubt and fear about my numbers. Numbers which I have checked and rechecked numerous times over the years.

What if it’s not enough!?

I did the maths and the resulting number (ie 60 x my monthly salary) on its own added to my current pot is not enough for me to FIRE.

But I don’t save the full amount, do I? My savings rate is around 40-odd percent which means that based on my current savings rate, I’ll not be in sniffing distance of what I need.

Of course, there’s a chance that I might get a pay rise or two in that time and the occasional bonus, but such increases/bonuses will have a minimal effect.  I’m not looking to move to another job if I can help it, so no big hike in salary from switching companies.

I will therefore be relying heavily on growth and income from my investments to get me past the finish line. Oh and a lot of LUCK, in regards to sequence of returns risk.

What Will I Do?

Over the next 60 months, I will need to continue to remain focused, to be mindful of my spending whilst still continuing to lead and enjoy what I consider to be a normal life.

Over the next 60 months, I need to continue making extra cash via matched betting and ensuring that I continue to bank/invest any affiliate income I receive from the blog, plus any lotto or premium bond winnings.

While my sis and nephew are living with me, I need to make the most of the extra contribution to bills.

Proverbial Spanner

There will of course be obstacles for me to overcome, expenses which will try to wreck my plans.

Barely 3 weeks into the year and a spanner has already been tossed into the works.

Over the weekend, one of the crowns on my back teeth loosened and fell out, causing pain and discomfort. I went to the dentist and he told me what I was half expecting but not wanting to hear: my tooth is broken and needs to be extracted.

After extraction, the two teeth on either side of the resulting gap will be checked to see  if they are strong enough to support a bridge, cost will be around £600.

If not, then it’s highly likely that I will need to have an implant which will cost an eye-watering £2k! 🙁  It’s not on the NHS as it’s classed as cosmetic work and I’ve already used up my dental cover provision this claim period (which would only cover £100 in any case!)

Leaving a gap is not an alternative –  I won’t be able to chew properly on that side of my mouth, plus there could be a risk that my teeth could move or twist into the gap.

I can’t go through the rest of my life not being able to eat properly, so it’s a needs must.

Fortunately, I won’t have to pay the £2k in one go but my trusty emergency fund will take its biggest hammering so far and will need to be replenished. This in turn will affect my savings rate.

£2k pretty much wipes out one of my pay days, so it’s now just 59 more to go! YIKES!

How?

How has this suddenly turned into a situation where I feel like I am running out of time (to save for FIRE), instead of joyfully counting down the time until I no longer need to work?

This is the goal I have set for myself, what I have been aiming for all these years.

I think this big dental cost is giving me negative vibes – I’m normally a glass half-full kind of person.

Time to go over those numbers once more…

2020 Goals

Many of my friends and colleagues have jumped onboard the whole ‘January thing, eg ‘Dry January’, ‘Vegan January’, though I don’t know if any are daring to do ‘Januhairy‘…. Anyway, some have fallen off the wagon already.

Me, I will continue to drink, eat meat/dairy and de-fuzz as usual – this month isn’t any different from any other month.

New year, same old me, really.

10 days into the new year (as I write this) and I’ve been to the gym 4 times already (an achievement for me!) so I’m hopefully starting as I mean to go on!

 

Before I go into my actual goals, I will mention that I intend to continue to throw my spare cash into investments regardless of what may or may not happen around the world which might cause share prices to go down (or up).

I’m not planning to hoard cash because I don’t know how to time the markets and wouldn’t want the anxiety or stress of trying to decide when it’s the best time to invest so I’m just going to continue investing as soon as the cash is available (stops me from spending it anyway!).

Anyway, back to the main topic…Goals!

As with previous years, I find that I am more focused if I only set myself a few goals, with little room for distraction.

Last year’s goals were challenging (I only met two out of six) so I may as well aim for them/similar again.

Sorry that’s not very exciting but I don’t feel the urge to go for outrageous goals just for something to write about. Gone are the days when one of my goals was to learn how to complete the Rubik’s Cube (I can still do it!)! I do want to learn how to do a 4×4 Rubik’s Cube so perhaps a future goal, when I run out of things to write about!

So without further ado, here they are:

Continue reading

Are We Nearly There Yet?

This year has flown by.

However, I don’t know about you, but I actually can’t wait for it to be over.

No, I’m not doing a ‘Bah Humbug’ but it’s just all too ‘busy’ right now for my liking.

This is despite the fact that I’ve participated in enjoyable things such as:

  • taking my nephew to the panto (Craig Revel Horward was fabulous as the Wicked Queen in Snow White)
  • having more than a few free drinks at the works’ Christmas party
  • attending my first sci-fi con in years, catching the larger than life Brian Blessed and the small but wonderful Warwick Davis, among lots of people in cool gear!
  • a couple of social outings with friends

Dare you walk on the Dark Side?

  • I even had another Premium Bond win (£25).

Work is really busy and my head is just full of ‘stuff’. I’m also glad the election business is all over – it was all doing my head in and my only real consolation was checking my investments the day after and seeing a big jump in the value of my portfolio – the ‘Boris Bounce’ but perhaps it’s the Santa Rally come early! Let’s see if the boom lasts til the end of the year.

I’m behind on my gift shopping so it’s all a mad rush these next few days. I’m looking forward to a nice break. I’m not travelling abroad this Christmas but I will be away from home – a change of scenery will do me some good.

The bits of presents I have purchased have been done online (Amazon) as I haven’t yet braved the shops.

Vouchers

Remember in my July update where I mentioned that I took part in an investment webinar and was paid £100?

Well, I was invited by the same research company to take part in a online investment panel for two weeks, whereby I had to review numerous articles, websites, listen to podcasts and watch video adverts.

Time-wise, I probably spent 4 hours max in total doing the various bits, for which I was paid £175 in Amazon vouchers! Handy for any time of year really but particularly now!

Anyone interested in taking part in such investment surveys, drop me note. I’m not sure I can share their details on my blog, so would rather share privately and no, it’s not a referral or affiliate link.

Toilet Twinning

I’m still planning on twinning my second toilet for the year. However, am unlikely to complete the task before the end of this month as I don’t want the framed pic to get lost among the festive packages.

Like before, I’ll offer the twinning for free to a lucky reader – just drop me a comment below and I’ll include you in the draw to win the twinned toilet (ensure you include a valid email address so I can contact you should you win).

The winner will be picked randomly on 30th December.

And on that note, wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

See you for my December update and round-up of 2019 (of sorts…).

School Reunion!

Recently, I attended a high school reunion.

Background

I grew up in a small working-class town.

The parents of the kids I rubbed shoulders with served in local shops, did shifts in factories, ran their own small businesses (mostly manual labour) or were long-term unemployed. A couple worked as teachers.

I didn’t come across folk whose parents were doctors, lawyers or accountants until when I went to university.

There were two high schools in the town – the Catholic school (good reputation) and the state comprehensive (not so good reputation). I’m sure you can guess which one I went to! clue: it wasn’t the first one.

As you can imagine, there was intense rivalry between the two, although if there had been school league tables back then, no doubt they would have been near the top and we would have been near the bottom!

Although my early to mid teenaged years were rather awkward, I’d say I enjoyed a lot of my time at school because I loved to learn, I loved and was able to take part in a lot of sport and I had my friends. Of course, they weren’t all happy days but I couldn’t say that I ever hated school.

I knew that I wasn’t going to stay in the town forever – the city lights (and night life) of Manchester beckoned and the family relocated there while I was at uni. However, despite not having lived in ‘Smallville’ since I was 19, I’ve been visiting the town at least once a year ever since, to catch up with a friend I’ve continued to keep in touch with.

Class of ’85 Reunion

This wasn’t the first school reunion I’d ever attended.

The first one was 15 years ago, organised pre-Facebook days via Friends Reunited (remember them?) and my now-ex ended up in a punch-up…yes, really!

Anyway, no such shenanigans were expected this time round, not with us all older and wiser!

I was one of the early arrivals and for a moment, it was as if no one else was going to turn up and I had the fleeting thought that it was all going to be a disaster.

But then, people started drifting in. It was all a bit awkward at first – I mean how do you greet people, most of whom were still in school uniform when you last saw them? In the end, I think around 30 people turned up, some with their partners.

Some faces were familiar, while others had changed almost beyond recognition. I remembered many names, although the name badges did help to jog the memory for ones I didn’t remember.

Names which used to roll off my 15-year-old self’s tongue because I heard them being called out every day when the teacher was doing the class register now felt strange being uttered again after so long.

However very soon, things relaxed, probably helped by the incredibly cheap alcohol (I’ve been too used to paying premium and had to keep double-checking the prices), it was great to roll back the years, to find out what people had been up to, how their lives were the same or different from my own (mostly different).

Many still lived and worked locally and it was good to see that some friendships from school still endured enough that they (mostly women) still went on holidays together. A few attendees travelled up from London and also from as far as Scotland.

It was all quite weird but in a good way – I was greeted warmly by people who, as boys and girls, I had virtually nothing to do with at school because we weren’t in the same friend circles or took different classes.

It’s not a brag when I say that everyone remembered me.

It certainly wasn’t because I was one of the popular kids (I most definitely was not) – it was because I was the only non-white person in my school year.

It didn’t make a difference to me back then and it still doesn’t.

These were the peers I’d learned with, the ones I grew up with, people with (mostly) similar backgrounds. As I looked around, who was more successful? The ones who were grandparents? The ones with top-earning careers? The ones who looked healthy and had their own teeth/hair/slim waistlines (delete as applicable)?

In our own ways, we were all successful. We had made it to the reunion 34 years after leaving school, to (re)connect, to reminisce, to be sociable. And there was no fighting!

A Blast

All the favourite 80s tunes from our youth were played and I danced the night away, getting blisters on my feet in the process!

A few of us then took the party back to my friend’s house. No, we weren’t on the shots, we were being sensible grown-up and having nice cups of tea and coffee, but I still didn’t get back to my hotel til 3.30am!

The whole event turned out to be a real blast and I’m so glad I went. I rekindled some friendships which I thought I’d lost, did a bit of networking, found that some people who I didn’t have much time for back when we were kids have turned out to be the kind of people I’d like to get to know more.

I didn’t mention FIRE but with one or two I chatted to, I mentioned my desire to retire early and they understood completely and said that was something they would want to do.

If I continue to be in close touch with them, perhaps FIRE could end up being a topic of conversation!

Anyone else attended school reunions or is it something you would avoid at all costs?