Information Overload

I think I’ve been suffering from information overload or rather, infoxication.

From originally wanting to know everything about the pandemic and the economic and health repercussions of the virus, I’m at the point where it’s just getting overwhelming for my poor brain and sanity to cope with.

I feel that all I need to know right now are actual specifics about lockdown and how it will affect me personally (ie when and what is being relaxed, who I can meet up with and where) and from my employer, when/if I’ll be going back to the office.

That’s it.

I really don’t need or want to know any more. I used to watch the daily Coronavirus update but even that was getting a bit too much.

At some point in the future, I might be interested in reading more about what the various experts and governments around the world should have/shouldn’t have done but I’d rather read about it as a historical event which I lived through – that’s assuming I will live through this.

Maybe HBO will do a Chernobyl-like mini-series about it to dramatise all the lies and incompetence but also pay homage to the brave and the inspirational.

I’ve tried to cut back on my use of social media.

The weekly Zoom calls I have with my friends are great but also remind me how much I miss them.

I still check out Twitter for my business/investing news and although I haven’t unfollowed or blocked anyone, I’ve muted a LOT of people who were just spouting negativity. I know things will get worse,  I just don’t want to be bombarded with this fact every day in a hundred different ways.

Give me more stories about Captain Tom Moore.

I’m still reading other FIRE blogs as many are continuing with their goals and there’s still a sense of positivity, whether they’re volunteering or even when there’s been redundancy.

I’m sooooo glad that the German football league has started as my feed will now have a trickle of positive but irrelevant tweets.

I’m really craving reading something that I’m interested in but which has nothing to do with whether people are going to die or that the country will go down in flames during the worst recession in history.

I also recently developed the terrible habit of checking my phone excessively while I’m watching tv, in between reading chapters of my book and worse, it’s really distracting me while I’m working.

I came across the Forest app (free for Android) which supposedly helps you focus on tasks at hand.

Basically, you set a time for however long you want to concentrate (and not be distracted by your phone) and if you succeed, you grow a tree for your virtual forest.

If you fail (by giving up), you end up with a withered tree and you don’t want that messing up your nice little forest, do you?

My forest after a week

Yes, it’s a little gimmicky but I’ve found that it has helped me somewhat with my concentration.

Anyway, there’s a better review of the app at The Money Mountain, where I first read of the app.

How is everyone else doing and does anyone else use apps to help with their concentration/focus?

Hope you’re all enjoying the bank holiday.

Thought Experiment #10 – COVID-19 Edition

It’s been a while since I did one of SavingNinja’s famous thought experiments and here’s his latest one:

“Unprecedented events create new experiences. What fun, misadventure, or positive discoveries have you encountered while locked down?” 

Usually I don’t take part because I don’t have the time, but I can’t really use that excuse on this occasion!

So here goes with a few things which come to mind after 4 weeks of official lockdown:

1 – Discoveries

The week when the bottom literally fell out of the stock market’s backside, I discovered that the massive drop in my investments did not give me any sleepless nights.

Here is how I slept that week (from my Fitbit):

I’d always wondered how I would feel during a stock market crash and now I know, although admittedly, it would probably have been a very different story had I relied upon my investments for income.

2 – Fun 

Although there’s a lot more time for me to read, instead of doing so, I’ve decided to have some fun and have re-taken up another passion of mine, that of video gaming.

Still conscious of cost, I looked for a good free game to play and have settled on Guild Wars 2, a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) which is my favourite game genre.

I think I’m likely to be playing this game for a long while and find it really relaxing levelling up my character.

It’s also been fun having virtual meet ups with family located on the other side of the world and also virtual nights in with friends.

The other night, I also attended the first virtual Manchester FIRE Meet Up (via Zoom) – over 20 of us logged in for a good chat, debate and discussion. Post lock-down, I can see these virtual meet ups still taking place.

3 – Misadventures

Not driving my car for over 2 weeks meant that when I did try to drive it, the battery had gone flat. One of the neighbours has offered to jump start it so I’ll hopfeully get it sorted this weekend.

Also, my oven typically stopped working just as its 5-year parts guarantee expired, so not sure when I can get that sorted. My friend’s husband has offered to take a look  (while practising social distancing) but I don’t know yet how much the parts will cost. In the meantime, we still have use of the hob and also the microwave.

Pre-lockdown, my diet was fairly low on carbs but our groceries recently have noticeably include a lot of carb-laden comfort food, eg bread, cake and biscuits. The good news is that I haven’t piled on the pounds (much!) so I’ll allow myself to enjoy these sinful treats while we must hunker down in our abodes.

4 – Routine

Being stuck at home, I feel that it’s important for me to keep my weekdays separate from the weekends as I don’t want them merging into each other – otherwise, what else is there to look forward to!? This is something I intend to maintain when I retire.

As such, I have continued to keep to the following routine:

  • Wake up to my work alarm every day during the week (a little later than my previous work alarm as I don’t need to commute), shower and get dressed.
  • Go for a quick 10 minute walk (replicating the walk I used to take from the tram stop to the office).
  • Log onto work laptop at the usual time, stop for a dedicated lunch break and log off the laptop at the usual time.
  • Rinse and repeat Monday to Friday.
  • Alcoholic drinks only allowed at the weekend, as well as lie-ins!

And thus I reckon I have maintained my own sanity and a sense of normality.

5. Positivity

You will have gathered that I have remained pretty positive during lockdown but of course I’m not entirely happy.

I miss hugging my friends, I miss eating/drinking out, I miss the office and commute (yes really!!) and I am really missing sport on tv.

I’d say the routine I’ve kept to has helped loads with me staying positive, but also, I think this ties in with ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’: I still Have a job, I Have a garden and I Have Not got children. These 3 things I feel have contributed to my positivity, although as I’ve mentioned, my lifestyle has adapted well to lockdown.

I’ve switched off from a lot of social media and ‘news’ – all I do is keep basic tabs on what’s happening with the virus in this country and I don’t bother looking anything else.

I feel sorry for people who are suffering (mentally, financially or physically) but there’s only so much I can worry about so I reserve my concern predominantly for my family and friends. The government will do (or not do) whatever it will do (or not do) without me having to stress about it too.

Yesterday, one of my closest friends messaged me saying she has the virus symptoms – here’s hoping she doesn’t suffer too much and that she makes a fast recovery.

As I write this, I realise that if the government were to announce a further extension to this current lockdown, I think I will just shrug my shoulders and get on with it.

Other bloggers with their personal takes on this Thought Experiment include:

Mrs SavingNinja

PathtoLife2

Indeedably

Money for the Modern Girl 

Total Balance

Anyone else got any thoughts to share?

Our Hopes And Expectations

“Be careful what you wish for” goes the saying.

For the last few years, I’ve been wishing that the stock markets would crash so that I could take advantage and invest in lower priced stocks during my accumulation phase.

What’s happened isn’t quite what I had in mind.

In fact, I can’t really say what it was that I had in mind – just not this!

I wasn’t an investor during the financial crisis of 2008, I’m no grizzled investor who’s been round the block, so this is all new to me.

So the time is now. Or is it? As mentioned in my last post, I’ve made the decision to just stick with my plan, which is to not sell and to continue investing on a monthly basis, in accordance with my asset allocations.

Tempting though it is, I’m not going to dip into my emergency cash reserves to invest, especially as I have big dental costs this year, never mind the other (as yet) unknown expenses likely to occur.

Whatever I invest in now is effectively on sale, whether the price is rock bottom (it probably isn’t) or not.

Black Holes and Revelations

I was going to avoid looking at my portfolio until when I did my usual month end update but curiosity got the better of me. I ended up having a bit of a peek and now I wish I hadn’t!

It was a couple of days ago and I’ve lost at least a year of gains, around 22% or £34k. The markets have dropped more since, so I fully expect to be reporting a further decrease in my Future Fund at the end of the month – YIKES! 🙁

This could massively set me back in my FIRE plans, although there’s the hope that if the markets recover back to their dizzy heights in a rapid fashion, I might get back on track. Not really going to hold my breath though.

We could be in a depressed state of recession for a while. The global economy will probably get worse before it gets better and who knows how long it will take to recover, if at all.

There could well be an impact on my job – will the company need to lay off people?

I could end up getting ill, or rather, I probably will get ill (as part of the herd immunity strategy our government has adopted) – let’s hope I don’t suffer too much and can recover.

I need to brace myself in case there are shocks around the corner but until I know what is actually going to happen, I will carry on as normal.

Starlight

For something less gloomy, how’s about a bit of FIRE dating?

This beta dating website for single FIRE folks was brought to my attention via Money for the Modern Girl .

I have a feeling that there are going to be mostly young folks on here and not many in my age group, but if past relationships are anything to go by, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue! 😉

Beyond filling in bits of my profile, I’ve not really spent any time on this, so not had a good look around yet properly or connected with anyone.

However, with no sport, no or limited matched betting and no real social outings,  I have no excuse for lack of time, haha!

Hope everyone is keeping themselves and their loved ones safe, keeping calm and washing their hands.

Next post will be my month end figures – it’ll be a bloodbath!

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…