4 Years!

 

This month marks FOUR years since I started blogging about my journey to Financial Independence/Retiring Early!

Happy 4th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

With so many new blogs springing up all the time and other blogs falling by the wayside, no longer being updated, I guess this must rank me amongst the ‘veterans’!?

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 – Future Fund: £30,075
    March 2018 – Future Fund: £130,574
  • March 2014 – Net Worth: £74,595
    March 2018 – Net Worth: £219,974

The increases have been largely due to me saving hard so that new capital can be invested every month, although I have also been lucky with investment gains from the (mostly) favourable stock markets these past four years. I also reinvest any dividends and interest I receive.

I’ve aimed to save/invest as much of my net salary as possible (averaging around 40-45%), and also put away income generated from cashback, a bit of rental income, the odd bit of gambling, affiliate links and profits from matched betting. Any bonuses I’ve received from work have largely been invested too, plus as I found a job fairly quickly, I was able to save/invest the bulk of the redundancy pay I received in 2016.

I don’t practise extreme frugality – I just don’t spend a lot of money on stuff I deem unnecessary, but splash out on things I enjoy and which are important in my life, eg holidays, eating/drinking out with friends, my gym membership.

Blog Stats and Numbers?

This is where I could probably post some numbers to show how many visitors I’ve had over the years, page views, followers, subscribers etc.

Apart from the first few giddy months of me starting this blog, I have to say that I’m not really interested in such stats. Although my blog is monetised, it’s never been my intention to make any real money out of it so I’ve never felt the need to work at driving a load of traffic here. The bit of income that I do get from Google Ads barely covers the upkeep of my site but that’s enough for me. The bit of affiliate income I receive is detailed in my monthly updates and is lumped in with the rest of my investments.

Someone even contacted me recently to buy my blog (why??) but I wasn’t interested, not even to see what they were going to offer.

My only goal blog-wise has been to document my own progress on a semi-regular basis.

Top Finance Blogs

Some of you may have spotted that I re-added the Modest Money ‘Top Finance Blogs’ badge to my blog some months ago, after ‘losing’ it when I transferred from Blogger to WordPress.

When it was originally on my blog back in 2014, I had a rank of around #260 out of around 500 FI/PF blogs. My ranking has plummeted but the number of blogs is now around 1000, so I guess I’m still around the halfway mark.

I can’t say I’m actively trying to improve my rank, as I don’t have the time or inclination to sweat over analytics, SEO scores, Alexa Rankings or massing gazillions of Twitter followers.

But fair play and massive respect to those who do put in the hard effort and reap the rewards of a decent blog income – I personally just can’t be bothered with it.

As I draft this post, my rank is #596 so it’s probably gone down further by the time I publish this! How low can I go, haha?

For comparison, Monevator is the top UK blog, ranked at #40 (at the time of writing).

Thank You

A massive ‘Thank You’ to all fellow and non bloggers who take the time to read this little blog – I really appreciate your comments and emails.

Thank you very much for helping me keep my focus, keeping me motivated, giving me ideas and helping me stick to my plan!

I will also take this opportunity to give a shout out to the two blogs, Retirement Investing Today and diy investor UK, who between them, have provided nearly 12,000 referrals to my blog!  Cheers, chaps! 🙂

Also, thanks to FIREin’ London and theFIREstarter who have posted the most comments over the years – keep ’em coming!

Next Chapter

This time last year, I was unemployed (or practising living the FIRE life!) and I wrote that I would be entering a new chapter of my life.

The new chapter so far has turned out to be not too different from the old – I’ve settled into my job and am just getting my head down, getting on with my work. Next month, I will have been at my ‘new job’ for a year – I know! That’s bloody gone quick, hasn’t it?

Being settled means I can pretty much set things to ‘automatic pilot’ and continue with my plan for FIRE, barring any unforeseeable obstacles which life may throw at me in the meantime!

Onwards and upwards!

Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine in the UK, while it lasts!

Spring is finally here, so no more scenes like this on the way to work!

Retirement Conversations

Just a random post to share a few recent conversations I’ve had about retirement:

Conversation #1

I had a routine medical appointment the other day and was attended by the same nurse I’ve been seeing for a while.

When I saw her, I made a comment about her not wearing her usual glasses.

She proceeded to tell me how she had finally gotten round to having a minor operation on her eyes, which meant that she no longer needed her glasses.

The reason why she was able to have the time to have the operation and recover from it? She’d dropped to part-time hours, or as she revealed in our ensuing conversation, she’d gone into semi-retirement (Is there a difference? I don’t know, I’m just repeating what she said).

I realised then that she didn’t look different just because she wasn’t wearing her glasses, it was because she looked a lot happier and relaxed!

She told me that after a 30-year career with the NHS, she still wasn’t mentally ready for full retirement but that at age 55, she was drawing on part of her pension and that this, coupled with her part-time wages was enough for her to live on and pay for her holidays and hobbies.

Conversation #2

One of my neighbours semi-retired a year ago when she was 53.

The last time we spoke, she was working part-time for a non-profit organisation.

I hadn’t seen her in a while so when I spotted her unpacking some shopping from her car the other day, I stopped for a chat and asked her how things were going.

“Oh I’ve jacked in my part-time hours,” she told me.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“I’m too busy to work! Too much to do, too many places to visit!” she replied.

Work/Semi-Retire/Early Retire

So that’s just two examples of people who are very happy with the decision they’d made as regards retirement/semi-retirement, and although not extremely early retirement, still early in that state pension won’t be available til they are 65.

However, I wonder how easy it was for them to make that decision? Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that it was something I could ask either of them!

Which brings me to all the kerfuffle going on about early retirees changing their minds (nicely put in this excellent post by Monevator).

Who really knows what they will do when the time comes (unless you absolutely hate your job, in which case it’s clear what you will do!) and you reach your financial goals?

Jim from SMHD tried the early retirement thing and decided to go back to work.

Early retirement is not for everyone,  even for those planning for it!

There’s every chance that instead of going for early retirement when I reach my FI number, that I may choose to work reduced hours. However, like my neighbour, I may find that even part-time hours will get in the way of me enjoying my new found freedom properly!

Or I may actually go for full retirement, which sounds very appealing when I’ve had a tough week at work and wish every weekend was a bank holiday weekend.

Or I might continue working (one more year?), which is how I feel when I’ve had a good day at work, had a great laugh and felt like I’ve achieved and contributed loads. (Yes really, I do have good days!).

I have no idea how I will feel when the time comes to pull that retirement trigger but the most important thing is that I will get to choose what I want to do.

There was a third conversation I had:

Conversation #3

Bumped into an ex-colleague at the gym. She’s still at the company which made me redundant and things seem to be going well for her.

While we were chatting, she revealed that her husband had retired some months earlier.

“When will you be retiring?” I asked her, knowing that she was in her mid-50s.

“I’m not,” she replied, “It would do my head in sitting at home with him all day! I go to work to get away from him, the weekends are enough!”

She was joking…I think!

And Another Thing

The nurse and my neighbour? Both single (one divorced) which cements in my mind that I’m fine going it alone, since it appears that most people aiming for FI are married or with significant others, helping them build their FI pot, sharing expenses.

Not that I’m intentionally staying single (or plan to stay single for long…ooooh!) but if things don’t work out on that front, I’ll be just fine! 😉

And on that note, have a great weekend all!

Where you’ll probably find me at some point on Saturday night…

March 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Sorry, you’re probably getting fed up seeing this image again but I’m not! 🙂 Another premium bond win of £25 means three wins in a row (a ‘Turkey‘, if I was ten pin bowling!), a record for me!  Can I make it a four-bagger!?

At work, it was decided that despite the company not hitting their global year-end target, we would still be paid a bonus. That bonus was a whopping 1% but hey, I’m not complaining as that’s still more than zero. Anyway, with nothing better to do with it, I’ve invested the full bonus amount.

So, how did that affect my savings this month?

I saved 56.6%! My average savings rate has now gone up to 53%.  I however still haven’t gotten round to booking my holiday, plus I have a super-busy social calendar in April so the high rate may provide me with a bit of a cushion when my rate drops over the next month or so!

The above savings was topped up with my £25 Premium Bonds win, £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all who signed up via my links!), £300 matched betting profits and £50 rent received.

As I don’t earn enough to max out my ISA (the max being £20k in a tax year), this past week has been spent shaking down piggy banks and scrabbling behind the sofa to find anything to top it up before the end of the tax year, due to the ‘use it or lose it’ factor.

I managed to find a bunch of old £1 coins so these have been banked – every pound counts and they went towards helping me pay £15k into my ISA. Last year, I managed this amount with the help of some of my redundancy pay (when the max for an ISA was £15k) so I’m really chuffed with this achievement.

I’m sure some of you might be wondering why I’m also paying into my Emergency Fund instead of concentrating on my ISA – well, I took a chunk out for ’emergencies’ last year so need to top it back up. Once I get it back up to >3 month’s worth of expenses again, I can chuck more into my ISA.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in HICL Infrastructure Company Ltd this month. Think that’s it for new investments for a while, I’ll just top up existing ones for the rest of the year.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Wobbly markets again apparently. As before, I didn’t follow the daily ups and downs, just got the month-end figure for my update. My Future Fund stands at £130,574 – it’s down 1% from last month, but whatever, I’ll just continue investing as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

My Mum Retired at 42

Actually, the above title isn’t quite true, since my Mum came out of retirement a year later (due to boredom as all her friends were still working) to work another 5 years before she and my Dad (who is 9 years older) finally called it a day. So, she retired for good at 47.

Retiring at such an early age was (and is still) a massive achievement by most people’s standards.

Forgetting Valuable Lessons

Despite my parents’ achievement, it never occurred to me that early retirement was something I could even remotely consider. That realisation only dawned on me when I came across the FIRE community in 2014. Before then, I didn’t think someone like me would be able to retire early unless I won the lottery.

I don’t know why but I forgot some valuable lessons.  How my parents were really good at saving money and how they made use of TESSAs (Tax-Exempt Special Savings Accounts) and PEPs (Personal Equity Plans), the 90s and 00s versions of today’s S&S ISAs.

My parents didn’t win the lottery or benefit from any inheritance –  they ran their own business and grafted to make it successful, made ends meet whilst bringing up the family. They did have some luck during the boom years in the late ’80s/early ’90s, investing in and making money from a couple of properties.

My Dad bought the car of his dreams – a late 1980s C-Class Mercedes, which he purchased second hand and owned for nearly 25 years. It was the last car he ever bought as he no longer drives. How did I forget that?

My folks actively encouraged us kids to save from an early age and I loved putting my pocket money in my piggy bank. It was when I started working and earning my own money that I stopped being a good saver, fell off the rails and became a bad spender!

I forgot that my parents did not get into debt (aside from their mortgage).  I have no idea now what possessed me to enjoy spending squander my cash in my 20s and 30s and be embroiled in credit card debt for years but I’m just glad I came to my senses in the end.

I look back on those days now as ‘dark days‘, yet at the time, I wasn’t actually unhappy as I thought struggling with debt and a massive overdraft was just ‘normal’! I assumed that everyone was the same, not that I actually knew, since credit card debts were not something you chat about with your friends or colleagues. My family? They didn’t have a clue.

Perhaps the spending on holidays and new cars was me trying to live up to family expectations but of course it’s not their fault, it was all down to me. I enjoyed the life I led, paid for by my credit cards but it was unsustainable.

As I had followed a different path in my job and career, I mistakenly believed that early retirement wasn’t available for someone like me, when actually it was, if only I’d thought about it and remembered what my parents did.

My Definition of Retirement

I’m not going to get into a discussion of what ‘retirement’ means since within the FIRE community, the word means very different things to different people. The above definition however is the closest to what I think it means to me.

I’ll consider myself retired when I do no work for pay whatsoever. That’s not to say I’ll just be sitting at home, watching day-time tv and letting my brain go to mush (although sitting at home and playing video games all day has a certain appeal to my ‘gamer’ nature). I have a long hobby to-do/to-learn list so I’ll be filling my time doing and learning stuff.

If I end up doing any kind of activity for which someone is paying me, then I’ll consider myself semi-retired. If this activity is a full-time activity, then I’d no longer be retired.

Anyway, my point is that my parents retired over 20 years ago and have done absolutely no work whatsoever since they laid down their tools of trade. All their living expenses have been and continue to be covered by passive income from investments and property.

In the early days, there were numerous trips/cruises around the world as they made up for holidays they never had while they were working. These days, they continue to enjoy a happy retired life, living very comfortably and enjoying a great social life within their local community, have hobbies and still go on short holidays and trips, with the occasional longer trip to the UK.

That’s the sort of retirement I would love to have when I stop working and one of the reasons why I continue to be motivated to save and invest hard. My finances are likely to be tighter than my parents’ (less trips around the world for me, haha!) but I can see me having a relatively comfortable retirement if I continue to focus on my saving and investing.

It is a shame that I didn’t recognise and take heed of their (what would now be considered) FIRE lessons earlier but I have no regrets.

I lived a good life in the past, am living a good life now and will continue to save hard to ensure I live a good life in the future!