Timing of FIRE

Among the FIRE community, there are many who wish to FIRE before they are or when they reach 40. Ms ZiYou is one of them and well on her way to achieving her goal.

And why not? Slog it out in the corporate world, maximising your earning power, living frugally and within your means, saving and investing as much as you can, building a pot of wealth so that you can call it quits on your work at/by 40, choose to do some other kind of work or really FIRE, as in retire early.

What’s not to like?

This got me thinking – imagine if I had learned of FIRE in my twenties just as I’d gotten  my first permanent job?

Imagine if I’d been able to save 40-50% of my salary (and save up all my bonuses) and invested it all. I was a different person when I was 24-25 years old, unlikely to have embraced the idea of FIRE but had I done so, my underlying character would have meant that I would have pursued it in the same determined fashion – what hasn’t changed since my younger days is that if I set my heart and head on something, I don’t give up too easily.

So, imagine I’d been on the FIRE path since my mid-20s. Coming up to the age of 38/39, I’d be planning to pull the FIRE plug; I’d be thinking about what I could do with all my spare time, what places I could travel to.

Except that my plans would have gone completely pear-shaped because I would have been pulling the plug just as the 2008 global financial crisis happened, a complete meltdown of the stock markets and the near-destruction of the global economy. Ouch.

That would have been really unfortunate timing, yet sequence of returns risk could still affect any of us currently on the FIRE path.

Older and Wiser

Caveman recently wrote that the best time to start on the FIRE path was in your 30s/40s and in much the same way, I’m glad that I didn’t discover FIRE in my 20s and stopped working at 40, global financial crisis notwithstanding.

That’s because in terms of job satisfaction, I’ve found that the work I’ve done and the jobs I’ve had between the age of 40-50 have been far more rewarding than any I’ve done or had earlier in my career.

No, it’s not the increase in salary – having spent most of my career with the same company for over 20 years, my wages were stagnating so did not really increase in any significant increments (or not at all for several years). I’ve never been one to chase the higher wages.

I think part of the satisfaction comes from experience – I’ve learned to work with all kinds of people at all different levels, managing their expectations, learned to work smarter, not be afraid when to speak up but also to know when to shut up/not say anything.

In my 20s-30s, i recall getting caught up in office politics, stressing about promotions (mine and other people’s), stressing about pay (what I earned and what other people earned), stressing about people’s time-keeping, the number of ‘sick-days’ people had,  the time they spent going out for cigarette breaks, people’s extended lunch-breaks, the overtime they did, the clock-watching, my long working hours, etc, etc. I was once labelled a ‘trouble-maker’ by one of the directors – well,  I obviously hadn’t learned at the time when to shut up!

That’s a lot of stress, with very little to do with me personally!

As I got older, I became only concerned about my own performance at work and that’s it. What anyone else did (or didn’t do) was their problem. My work ends when I leave the office – I argued that it was unnecessary for me to have a work mobile (and won) and I don’t take my laptop home (unless there’s an urgent piece of work that can’t wait). This attitude meant that I enjoyed my work a lot more and was able to concentrate and focus more on the job at hand. I have a good work/life balance.

You could argue that I was bothered and stressed by all those things when I was younger because my personal finances weren’t in a great way. I was carrying high credit card debts and funnily enough, once I’d paid them all off, I was a much happier person.

Final Stage

And so, I now move to what I believe will be the final stage of my working career. I’m not looking to progress up the career ladder – I’m just looking to remain gainfully (and happily) employed until I hit my FIRE goal.

I like my job and I enjoy the work I’m doing – I’m given a lot of flexibility and autonomy, the work is challenging, my colleagues are nice and I like and respect my boss. But I can see how just a few factors changing could make things really difficult for me.

I’ve mentioned that change/company re-organisation is on the cards, perhaps later this year but more likely to be next year.

The question is: will I be able to ride out the changes until I reach my FI goal?

And of course, another global financial crisis could still happen just as I reach my goal and I don’t know if I’d be any more prepared.

Since I can’t control what will happen in the future with my job or with the stock market, I will concentrate on what I can control, that is my spending, my saving/investing and living my life.

Update on Freetrade’s Free Shares

And finally, further to my recent mention of free shares via Freetrade worth up to £200 (previously £80), I’m beta-testing their referral scheme so if you want to check out their cool app and bag a free share, DM me via Twitter (@QuietlySaving) or via the Contact Me form for a one-use only link – first come first served!

UK only and Android users will need version 7.0 or above.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

April 2019 Savings + other updates

Another month has whizzed by – late nights at work, gym sessions and nights out all  sort of melded together. Oh and GoT! 🙂

My spending usually starts hiking up over the spring/summer months so I really need to watch my eating out from now on, although looking at my diary, I’ve already got too many social events booked in and I have a full bank holiday weekend.

What else did I get up to in April? I was featured in a ‘Bloggers on Fire’ interview, went on a 7-mile walk, topped up my tan and also attended an ‘investment meet up’ – I’ll do a write up on this soon.

Although it looks like I’ve been doing a lot of late nights in the office, I’m not actually moaning or complaining, as things are actually pretty good at work. Business continues to grow so my volume of work has gone up. The work I do could be done at home but I don’t like working from home and I find that email or Skype tennis isn’t half as productive as face-to-face communication. I know there are ways I can work smarter but just need to smash through what I’ve got on at the moment.

Anyway, how did I get on in April with the numbers?

I saved 43.6%, only because much of my going out expenses went on my credit card so those will hit my numbers next month.

As predicted, I was not able to max out my 2018/19 ISA – I got up to £16,400 in the end and that included jiggling emergency cash and some matched betting funds into my cash ISA. I’m going to make a real attempt to max out the 2019/20 ISA, although it looks like I’ve made a poor start on this already with my spending! Must try harder.

The above savings includes top ups of £35 from TopCashback*, £200 matched betting profit (from last month) and £138.41 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, just added to existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The markets have been pretty buoyant lately as my Future Fund has shot up to £164,851.

Dividends and Other Income

A record-breaking month for dividends: Continue reading

December 2018 Savings, plus Round Up

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and enjoyed the celebrations last night to see in the new year, whether you were out in a noisy pub/bar or at home watching ‘Jools’ Annual Hootenanny’ – I was doing neither, as I was already tucked up in bed suffering from jet lag well before Big Ben’s chimes rang! I could have dragged myself out to meet up with friends but FOMO can’t compete with sleep these days!

Anyway, I had a great break in Hong Kong, spent a lot of quality time with family, ate too much, though surprisingly drank very little.

So, how did I do in the last month of the year?

I saved 38.4% – surprisingly higher than expected but I put some of my Christmas shopping on my credit card so that will appear on next month’s bill.

My average for the year ended up at 43.2%. Although I didn’t achieve my goal (again) to hit that elusive 50%, I’m quite satisfied with this average.

The above savings include top ups from £155 matched betting profits (from last month), £42.61 from TopCashback* and £66.32 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!). I also withdrew £1k from my Smarkets exchange account which was chucked into my SIPP.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I made an investment in JPMorgan Asian Investment Trust – don’t have a lot in this region so thought I’d diversify a bit.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I think this is the rockiest year of investing that I’ve encountered so far – no Santa Rally this time.

My Future Fund ends the year at £142,831, which was around what it was back in April 2018 – one step forwards, three steps back it seems! Hitting my £150k milestone back in September seems like a dream now but I look forward to hitting it again in 2019!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Very Muscular and other Things

Just thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few brief updates before I sign off for the year.

I’ve finally shifted my excess poundage and have reached my notional ‘desired’ weight. It’s taken a couple of months and whilst I can’t say that Huel was the sole reason for the success, incorporating the ‘liquid food’ into my diet has certainly helped.

Not just in terms of calories but focusing on portion control of my meals and upping my weight training. I’ve also incorporated strength exercises which have really helped with my on-off shoulder problems.

At the gym, I decided to try out the newly reinstalled Boditrax machine, a machine which measures your weight but also (via a small electric signal through your body) measures your body composition.

Physique

So according to my body measurements, I’ve got a very muscular physique! Haha, I nearly fell off the machine with laughter because the description just conjures up an image of a bodybuilder, which I most definitely am not!

The category has been calculated using data for my age and gender and based on my muscle score (which is apparently higher than normal) and fat percentage (lower than normal).

My metabolic age is 15 years younger than my actual age, which I’m really happy with – oh if only that were my actual age! 🙂

At least this gives me an indication that I’m doing alright in terms of my training and diet, although I still feel that there’s always room for improvement.

Toilet Twinned

Here’s the framed certificate confirming the twinning of my toilet, to a school block toilet in Afghanistan.

I want to continue to support the Toilet Twinning charity but have now run out of toilets in my house to twin!

I’ve not decided what I want to do yet with my charity giving next year but I think I’ll do something whereby some lucky reader(s) of my blog will get their toilet twinned (for free).

Award

The works Christmas party was the usual drunken affair for many though not for me, as I had been feeling a little under the weather leading up to the night.  Anyone else would have not bothered to attend but I’ve pretty much always turned up at such events and enjoyed them. Plus it’s the only time of year I get to put on a party frock and have a bit of a dance! I had a couple of free glasses of bubbly before moving onto soft drinks for the rest of the night.

So it was without the glow and courage of inebriation, that I stumbled on stage to collect one of the Employee of the Year awards at the annual ceremony!

Wow, I am so very chuffed to have won, it’s great to be recognised for my efforts. I’ve learned a hell of a lot this year, which has enabled me to put in a more than decent shift.  That said, I still feel like I’ve not quite hit my top gear yet with this company.

Out of Office

And to my final point, which is that I’m off to Hong Kong shortly to spend the festive period with my family. I’ve blown my budget buying gifts for them  – will check the damage upon my return but I reckon I’ll probably have to dip into my emergency fund (will be paying back in, of course).

I don’t have any scheduled posts for the blog and haven’t even thought about what goals I need to set for next year. I’ll get round to them (and reading people’s blogs) once I’m back online.

Zippy’s back!

So, I’ll sign off by wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas/holiday; eat, drink and be merry, and I look forward to joining you all for an eventful and prosperous 2019!