Well, the wheel of time grinds onwards and last month, my blog turned nine years old!
Happy 9th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂
I’ve been posting my numbers monthly with some glimpses of my life for nine years come rain or shine – not exactly riveting stuff, but hey ho, I think I live a relatively ‘ordinary’ life – it’s quite mundane, same-old-same-old but I’m quite content with it not being action-packed, with no drama and no cliff-hangers!
Nine Year Slog
It does feel like a slog at times, as after all this time, it continues to be an effort to stay focused on this FIRE malarkey. After so long, you’d think that I do things automatically and that it’s all very easy but I sometimes feel that if I don’t work at keeping my focus, I’ll just fall off the rails and mess up my plans.
Recently, I’ve been feeling mentally fatigued and felt that I had to get away from looking at my spreadsheets and wishing that they didn’t govern my life so much.
I gave myself a little break but it wasn’t long before I was logging on again, and seeing my numbers (up or down), seeing where I’m at and where I’m going made me feel somewhat comforted, in some control of what I’m doing, in some control of my future. I think I just needed a break from work, which I got over Easter.
Inflation spiralling upwards has made me focus more on costs than I probably have had over recent years. It’s getting to be a harder juggling act.
Anyway, this blog has without a doubt kept me going and I thank all the readers who take the time to stop by with their words of support, who make me accountable for my actions with their comments, suggestions and emails.
What have I been doing these past 9 years?
I’ve just been living my life, which mostly boils down to work, gym, eat and sleep.
Sounds quite sad and boring when you put it like that but I do enjoy quite a bit of spare time in between which is taken up with reading (books and blogs), playing video games, watching tv, socialising with friends and family, and (since lockdown) gardening. I’ve tried to attend sports events when I can (eg Wimbledon, NFL). Travelling and holidays will now likely just be one big trip away each year to see my family in Hong Kong.
I have been fortunate that my adult life has been relatively free of ‘drama’ and continues to be mostly in my control, aside from the breakdown of a long-term relationship (15 years), being made redundant at the end of 2016 from the company where I’d enjoyed a 21-year career, my sister and nephew moving in to live with me for a year or so, my BTL getting caught up in the cladding shenanigans and then me buying a home during a peak property period.
I continue to try to live what I consider to be a ‘normal’ life, which means I don’t deprive myself of anything I love, enjoy and consider important in my life. I don’t practise extreme frugality and don’t believe I have sacrificed or denied myself anything in my pursuit of FIRE.
Still use my gym membership regularly – I only have one body so need to look after it. However, I don’t forego my boozy social outings with my friends. Moderation and balance is key.
That said, with higher cost of living and my fixed term mortgage rate ending later in the year, it’s possible that I may have to dial up the frugality stakes and make some cut backs. We’ll see.
Previously, it was a case that I could possibly reach FIRE a lot quicker if I cut back on some of these expenses, but now, it might be a case of cutting back to make sure I reach FIRE according to plan.
Over the years, I’ve aimed to save/invest as much of my net salary as possible – there was a time when I was able to save 40% of my net salary, even managing over 50% during the pandemic but with my house not being new and with increasing mortgage rates, I’m just really conscious of maintenance costs, so I’m sacrificing some of my savings rate by putting money aside for my ‘house fund’ and overpaying the mortgage. Am aware however of how lucky I am that I can save anything at all and not struggling with a cost of living crisis.
Any investment income I receive currently is reinvested and I also put away any adhoc income generated from cashback, the odd bit of gambling, affiliate links, premium bond/lotto wins, money from surveys and profits from matched betting. Most years, I’ve been investing large parts of any bonuses I receive from work but focus has had to switch somewhat this year.
Here’s the growth of my Future Fund over the years (2023 shows the amount as at end March 2023):
As a reminder, my Future Fund includes my ISAs, SIPPs, Premium Bonds and my company DC pension. It is not a net worth figure and does not include any property I own, my DB pension or the state pension.
Steady progress from investing on a monthly basis, the trend has been mostly heading in the right direction, except for the last couple of years where it’s as if I’ve been standing still, but my view is that it could have been worse!
A few months into 2023 and things still look very shaky with the continuing war in Europe, rising costs of living, high inflation, national strikes and banks threatening to destabilise things again.
My Future Fund did reach that coveted quarter of a million milestone, but that’s starting to feel like a long and distant memory and it might be a while before I get there again. I daren’t even hope that I will get there this year!
Next year I’ll have 10 years’ worth of investing behind me and I could probably do some sort of fancy in-depth analysis, but I’m not sure how useful that would be to me as I’ve never compared my investments with any sort of benchmark or probably even kept the sort of records some other investors keep. It’s not something I’ve needed or wanted to know to be honest.
Anyway, time will tell whether I’ve gotten my savings and investment strategy right but I tend to think there’s no real right or wrong – my strategy would likely not be a great fit for other people, just as theirs won’t be right for me. I’ve just done what I’ve been comfortable with and what I believe might work for me.
How Long until I FIRE?
This is the big question.
Two years ago, I would have probably tentatively said that I was 4 years away.
However, back then (and also when setting my initial FIRE goal), I hadn’t counted on rising double-digit inflation over such a short-period of time.
My FIRE date was always just an estimate, based on predictions and modellings on spreadsheets. It’s not really possible to have a goal set in stone because I have no real idea of what’s going to happen in the future that will affect global markets, so I don’t have an actual date, nor indeed an actual number any more.
It’s probably more a range of numbers I have now and this range has had to increase with inflation.
My thoughts on decumulation make it even harder to pin down an exact number. More global travel when I’m retired = FIRE number goes up etc
That said, you could probably say that I’m loosely aiming to live a Moderate Lifestyle according to the Retirement Living Standards.
Anyway, as cost of living has gone up, I don’t believe I’m really any closer than I was two years ago, so I think I am probably still around 4 years away from achieving FIRE. This will have me pulling the plug on full-time work in my late 50s, which is alright by me.
Yes, I know, goalposts are being moved, but reaching FIRE was always going to be highly dependent on events outside of my control.
It’s unlikely that there will be a change in my living situation in the near future, so that’s one less thing to worry about. My job is as stable as it can be, by all accounts the powers that be like what I’m doing, so in that respect, they will likely be requiring my services for the foreseeable, plus I still like the company and the people I work with. However, I’m all too aware that corporate decisions can make work life miserable and no job is 100% safe.
Thank You Again
Readers have come and gone over the years and I’m eternally grateful to the ones who have stuck around and who continue to support my quest for FIRE.
So as always, a massive ‘Thank You’ to all fellow bloggers and non bloggers who take the time to read this little blog – I really do appreciate your comments and emails and have loved (and continue to love) sharing my journey with you all.
Thank you very much for helping me keep my focus, keeping me motivated, giving me ideas and helping me stick to my plan!
Being part of the FIRE community has meant that I have made some great friends, through online and face-to-face FIRE pub meet ups and through online investing meet ups. Thanks to Matt, Gez and Danny for your guidance on investing and thanks also to the chaps at Monevator who helped (and continue to help) me become the cautiously optimistic investor I now am (for better or worse, haha!)
As ever, a shout out to theFIREstarter for inspiring me to start this blog in the first place and who continues to provide friendship and advice and is living the dream of life outside the 9-5! 😉 (hope this shoutout prompts you to do a long awaited update, @TFS, haha!)
And that’s it.
Onwards and upwards, everybody!