Going Mainstream and ‘Liquid Food’

These past couple of months, FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) has been in the news, included in the main newspaper websites (here and here) and other media outlets.

Although for a long while, there has been more publicity in the US due to the exploits/fame of Mr Money Mustache, FIRE in the UK has been quieter but steadily growing, the community expanding and awareness increasing.

Even the BBC picked it up with this  article, which unlike some of the other articles, does not include the usual hysterical negative comments.

Mainstream

In one way, I’m finding it quite exciting that FIRE is in the public eye. It’s good to hear about UK ‘ambassadors’ of FI, people happy and willing to go public and get the message out there to the masses.

Personally, I think more people should aim for FIRE, even if their ultimate aim isn’t to retire early – ok, that means aiming for FI! It won’t do them any harm and if they don’t ultimately achieve it (whatever ‘it’ is), their personal finances would be in a far more reasonable state than had they not made the attempt to follow some of the ideas or the ethos.

However, in another way, I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with all this publicity that FIRE is getting. Not because I liked being in a secret little club (like Fight Club, you don’t talk about it, etc). I’ve been on this journey a while now but I’m no ‘ambassador’, nor do I have any interest in being one or being in the public eye.

With FIRE becoming more mainstream, there’s an increased chance of someone stumbling across my blog and saying “OMG – I know Weenie!”.

I’ve been blogging semi-anonymously all this time and no one I know is aware of my blog.

@Firethe9to5 once commented that she was surprised my friends and family didn’t know about the blog. Well, they’re obviously not interested in FIRE or never thought to search for it. Except now it’s going mainstream…

If my family discovered my blog, I think I’ll be fine with it. Probably.

If it was friend or colleague, I think I will be mortified!

Why?

Because it feels ok for me to be talking publicly about my finances to a bunch of people I don’t know on the internet but not to discuss them in minute detail with my friends.

I’m sure it’s not just me. If there is the rare conversation about money, there are definitely no numbers involved anyway.

It’s possible that my friends might view my blog positively but I quite like not having to talk about it with anyone who knows me personally. It seems too…private, and yet here I am sharing all with anyone who happens to read my blog!

I take care not to mention the name of the company I work for – don’t want to be sacked for integrity/reputation issues after all.

So, it seems there’s no stopping FIRE and that the media will continue to talk about it, so to delay the inevitable, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve slightly adjusted my avatar  – can’t remember what I did but the image has been ‘stylised’ or made cartoony. I was going to replace it completely but then realised that I would lose a bit of my ‘online’ identity’, for what it’s worth. I think it still looks like me, just a bit less so…

Ah well, if I get found out, I’ll get found out! I’d just rather it was later than sooner, ie when I’m near achieving my goal as I’m sure I couldn’t care less by then!

Liquid Food

Some of you may have seen the Huel experiment which theFIREStarter has been conducting.

I won’t go into detail since it’s all explained in his post but essentially, Huel has been marketed as a nutritionally complete food, convenient, affordable with minimum impact on animals and the environment. It’s 100% vegan.

I prefer to drink it out of a glass, though it means more washing up!

I commented that this wasn’t for me but to cut a long story short, I somehow ended up ordering a couple of bags to try out myself!

I’ve been trying to shift a few pounds of excess weight (from last winter!) and thought perhaps that Huel could help.

Results

Well, I’ve been on it for over month now and I’ve probably only lost a couple of pounds, so not very positive on that front.

However, my clothes seem to fit me better so it seems like I’m a little less bloated, not that I thought I was bloated before.

I have only replaced one meal a day, 5 times a week. Normally, the meal I’m replacing is my breakfast – it’s all very well work providing free breakfast as a perk but that huge bowl of Crunchy Nut cornflakes I used to scoff most days was not good for me and rather high in calories! A Huel shake in the morning is better for me and still keeps me full until lunchtime. It’s also a great post-workout drink.

My standard Huel shake is made with milk (soya or semi-skimmed), topped up with decaff instant coffee and a teaspoon of chia seeds. The coffee seems to make the shake less sweet – the flavour I’m on is vanilla (new).

One thing I have noticed is that the Huel shakes are very high in fibre – even though I’m generally vegetarian during the week, (just for convenience rather than for anything else),  I could always do with more fibre in my diet so this is a good thing.

I don’t feel any different or any worse, energy levels are the same but I can see that if I do want to seriously diet, I have the option to up my Huel meals.

As TFS mentions though, there is a placebo effect – since I’ve started on Huel, I’ve consciously cut down on snacks and upped my exercise.

I got some great info from the Huel website and forum which is likely to be a life changer for me – I’ve been going about my life thinking that an average woman needs 2000 calories to maintain healthy weight. However, I’m smaller than the average woman so need less calories (only around 1500), so with that in mind, I’ve started to adjust my normal food consumption.

I don’t think I could ever replace all my food and go 100% Huel but I think replacing occasional meals the way I have can be sustained fairly long-term.

My food shopping bill has gone down a little, though not by too much.

If anyone is interested in trying Huel and wants a £10 voucher (I get one too!) to use if they place an order >£40, please contact me direct and I’ll send you the link.

Is Huel the food of the future? Not so sure, but in a small way, it’s environmentally friendly so perhaps it has its place.

Have a great weekend all.

October 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Happy Halloween!

My efforts this year.

In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve (although I don’t have time for trick or treaters), I’ve enjoyed carving pumpkins, having pumpkin in my casserole and munching on pumpkin seeds but was it a horror show for me, investment-wise?

During the recent stock market upheavals, I made a point of not checking my investment numbers (apart from my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio).  I didn’t see the point of scaring/torturing myself.

So I was able to ignore all the hysterical news and remain blissfully ignorant…until now!

Firstly, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 41.2%, which sees my average savings rate going down a little to 44.4%.

It’s all downhill from now until the new year as the spendy months are here, plus I need to pay off my holiday flight.

The above savings includes top ups from £430 matched betting profits (from last month), £78.20 from TopCashback*, £20 lotto winnings and £80.40 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Well, I can confirm that the value of my Future Fund was affected negatively by the volatile markets.

It might be easier to show to what extent with a graph:

2018 Future Fund progress

No need to panic – it’s just sort of back to where it was in June, so no disaster.

I was preparing myself for the worst and as with the recent budget, in the end, not a lot happened.

It would be good to get back over the £150k mark by the end of the year, so let’s hope things pick up over the next month or so. My balance now stands at £145,068 and I will continue to invest as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

The markets tanked yet my dividends continued to roll in regardless: Continue reading

Dogs of The FTSE Q3 (2018)

It’s been around 9 months since I set up my 2018 experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio, so time for another update.

With the markets recently in ‘chaos’ and ‘turmoil’, what happened to my poor little flea-bitten canines?

As at close of trading on 19th October 2018, the portfolio was showing a 4.92% gain from its starting value.

Including dividends received, it’s a 11.53% gain.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 0.34% so the Dogs weathered the recent rocky patch and came out of the other side more or less intact! Ok, so half of the stocks are in the negative but these are cancelled out by the other ones which are positive, so I’m not too concerned.

Nothing to do really except to keep track of dividends as they roll in and see how things look in another 3 months’ time and then, it’ll be time to get rid of dogs that didn’t make the grade and bring in some new ones!

Until the next Dogs of the FTSE update!

I Just Got Paid

When I first heard the song, ‘Just Got Paid’, I felt a sudden wave of emotion – so much so that I had to stop what I was doing.

When the song ended, I played it again.

The gleeful chorus/riff brings about feelings of sheer absolute joy and describe exactly how I used to feel when I got paid, during the time when I was buried in credit card debt, back in the mid-2000s.

Some of the lyrics describe my irresponsibility with money back then and yup, if I could dance like that, I would have been dancing like those girls in the video!

I no longer experience this joyful feeling when my wage hits my bank account these days. It’s not that I’m not happy when I get paid because of course I am.

But perhaps it’s because back in those debt ridden days, being paid meant huge relief and happiness that I had money in the bank to spend, to pay off my debts, to plug my overdraft (if only temporarily) and that for a short while, I was financially ok…until I became skint and the cycle would being again as I waited for the next pay day.

Nowadays, I get paid, I check my bank a few days later to see automatic amounts going out for my investments, my bills being paid automatically, all tickety-boo, all quite clinical really. No sheer joy here but also, no fear or grief or stress that it’s all going to run out soon.

And this got me thinking – the next time I’m likely to get these happy feelings of getting paid will be when I stop working and am living off my investments/dividends/pensions etc. Yes, because I will have gotten ‘paid’ for doing nothing!

Just a short post, it’s been a long week and the post I was going to put up didn’t get finished so let me just end on that thought, dance to this top tune and hope you all have a great weekend!