Gin and Win

For a side hustle, you can’t do anything more exciting or different than create your own GIN and this is what Little Miss Fire has done!

My go-to drink (when I’m not on the beers) is gin and I’ve been drinking it since the days when all that was available was Gordon’s or Bombay Sapphire and the only tonic you could get was good old Schweppes.

Nowadays, you can’t go to a pub without there being a display of different gins to choose from for discerning drinkers and a whole raft of different flavoured Fever Tree tonics to try out.

Funny how there are drinks which you loved when you were younger (for me, cider and rum) which I can no longer drink or stomach (probably because I’ve been so ill from over-indulgence in the past!) but the same can’t be said for gin, which I still love!

Anyway, I was lucky enough to receive some samples of Springmount Gin from Little Miss FIRE. However, I was out last weekend (Manchester meetup and then out for 30th birthday) and as I don’t drink during the week it’s taken me until now to try them, so bottoms up…

Gin

So three flavours:

The first one I tried was Mint and Lime – the mint was more of a hint, which I didn’t really taste at first as the lime flavour was quite strong. However, in between sips, you definitely got the minty flavour, which made this drink quite refreshing, something for a nice summer’s day, rather than a dark evening in March!

The second flavour I tried was Strawberry and Raspberry. Of all fruit-flavoured food or drinks, I’d say strawberry is my favourite so I was a little disappointed that the strawberry flavour wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. Perhaps the raspberry just blended the flavour into a tangy ‘berry’ flavour, which was nice and fruity, but not standout different.

I saved the last one, Lavender and Lemongrass for last as I thought this would be my favourite and I was right! Upon pouring the gin, there was a lovely light lavender fragrance, which combined well with the stronger lemongrass. Taste-wise, the lemongrass came out well (it’s a taste I love) so unfortunately, this one I didn’t really take the time to savour as it was very more-ish and after finishing it quite quickly, I wished there was more!

So for me, order of preference was Lavender and Lemongrass, Mint and Lime and Strawberry and Raspberry. I’d be happy being served any of these and personally, would recommend them with plain, unflavoured tonic water to allow for the flavours to be enjoyed.

If you’d like to invest in Springmount Gin, LMF and Mr Fire are crowdfunding so you can share in their success (and get your own mitts on the good stuff!).

Win

Nothing last month but March sees my second premium bond win of the year (£25).

So this prize will be chucked into the ISA to be reinvested. Let’s hope I get some more prizes in the year.

As mentioned previously, Premium Bonds make crap ‘investments’ but it’s the only cash element of my portfolio and represents less than 10% of the total, with the rest pretty much all equity, hence the roller-coaster dips and rises of my Future Fund.

The gambling gremlin in me also loves the fact that I could win a big prize – in it to win it!:-)

And that’s it, just a brief update to get these bits out of my Drafts – have a nice weekend all and hope the weather isn’t too bad!

Meeting Up in Manchester

“Anonymous bloggers meeting up in a pub, how will we know each other?”

This was the question I posed to MsZiYou a couple of days before we were scheduled to meet up in Manchester.

We solved it by sending each other selfies.

However, as the hours ticked down yesterday afternoon, I wondered how others would know who we were.

Problem solved, no messing about…

Meaningless to the casual observer, meaningful to those in the know!

And yes, the sign mostly worked! 🙂

Considering that I only made a belated mention of the meetup at the end of my latest update a week ago, forgot to tweet about it and no Facebook advertising the event, I thought it was great that 7 of us turned up on a rainy Manchester evening!

A few others contacted me to say that they couldn’t attend but would love to know of future meetups – I really thought I was pretty much doing this FIRE thing on my own up here, so it was great to know there are others like me up norf!

So who was in attendance? Yours truly, MsZiYou, Emily from thesavingjourney, Alice (who travelled up from Cambridge), Mr & Mrs Fu of FI UK Money and Doug. Yes, more women than blokes which was a pleasant surprise!

It was all very casual, all very friendly, lovely meeting everyone.

Bloody Brilliant

With only a few of us, it was easy to get to chat to everyone – it was fascinating to hear firsthand how everyone got onto the path to FIRE – it’s one thing to read about it in blogs, quite another when you actually hear someone speak about how they came across Mr Money Mustache or Early Retire Extreme!

This is the thing about these meetups – you can talk about savings, investments, pensions etc and not be seen to be a) weird or b) bragging. Oh and matched betting was discussed too.

And of course, it’s all about networking, connecting, making new friends/acquaintances, talking with like-minded people; just normal folk – I just loved to hear how people are just getting on with their lives whilst having this grand plan in the background. How people tried to ‘nudge’ their friends and loved ones towards cutting their spending and costs!

Thanks to Ms ZiYou for suggesting this meetup in the first place, or it would never have happened!

A bit Weird at First

This was the 5th FIRE meetup I’ve attended over the years – previous ones were organised by Huw of FFB40 and took place in Stratford, York, Sheffield and North Wales.

Attending this meetup for me however was a little weird because as an anonymous blogger, I was rather anxious of someone I knew wandering in and saying ‘OMG, Weenie, I didn’t realise it was YOU!’. Quelle horreur! (Although I think I spotted my ex there last night but thankfully he wasn’t there for the meetup, which would have been rather awkward!)

  • I told colleagues I was meeting friends last night
  • I told friends I was meeting colleagues last night

Does it bother me to keep up this deception? Not really, I’m just not ready to ‘come out’ as it were in respect of pursuing FIRE – I see no benefit in it.

However, what I do want to say is that although it was weird at first meeting up in Manchester, I did enjoy it very much, so I would absolutely organise another one here in the future.

Maybe when there’s not so much rain, which probably narrows it down to like one day in the summer, haha!

Anyway, hope you all have a great weekend.

February 2019 Savings, other updates + Meet Up News

I have family staying with me at the moment so while I wait for them to come back from shopping (I only worked half-day today), I thought I’d get this out. The post was all prepared in advance, I just slotted in the numbers.

I will need to figure out my posting schedule and how I’m going to keep up with this secret blogging lark when my sis is living with me…

This month has just whizzed by – work’s been really busy and I’ve gotten into the bad habit of staying late when it’s not a gym night; need to stop doing that as it’s making me feel really drained.

I successfully claimed for a delayed flight and received £168 compensation, which will nicely pay for my next planned trip – I was delayed for 5 hours at Amsterdam on my way to HK just before Christmas. First time I’ve claimed and it was a relatively painless process.

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings this month?

I saved 37% – a couple of social outings, Chinese New Year and stocking up my beer fridge pushed the spending up somewhat this month.  I can’t seem to get into the ‘zone’ at the moment to do some more home brewing, hence the beer purchases.

The above savings includes top ups of £30.07 from TopCashback* and £131.69 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 

I think the markets have continued to recover as my Future Fund has grown by more than the capital I’ve invested, now sitting at £153,555.

Dividends and Other Income

Historically, February has the lowest dividends: Continue reading

Thought Experiment #2

This isn’t SavingNinja’s 2nd thought experiment but it is the 2nd one I’ve taken part in and neatly follows on from the first one I did.

Here’s the scenario:

You wake up one rainy morning and after checking on your accounts, you find out that you have been wiped out by a cyber-criminal! You’ve lost all of the money and assets that you’ve ever owned and can’t get them back. What will you do?

Not actual depiction of a cyber-criminal

The assumption here is that a hacker will overnight siphon off everything in my accounts, by which I mean all the cash sitting in my current accounts, savings accounts, cash ISA and premium bonds account. Also, the investments in my S&S ISA and my SIPPs will have mysteriously disappeared (unlikely for the SIPPs, seeing as they can’t be accessed til I’m 55 but humour me!). Shockingly, my DB pension is also gone and there’s a mini-meltdown in the US as it was part of a global pension pot and not only my pension was targeted!

Even the cash I have in my betting and exchange accounts has been hoovered up! Contacting said providers prove futile, the money has disappeared into the ether. I don’t have any cash around the house (around £20 change in moneyboxes and at the time of writing, £12.58 in my purse).

I will assume however that the hacker hasn’t managed to persuade HR to fire me overnight, so I’m still employed, that I will still have my rental property and I will still have a roof over my head.

So not quite starting from absolutely zero, but still a bloody nightmare scenario.

What to Do?

The first thing I would do would be (in no particular order) to panic, swear a lot, beat myself up about how I should have changed my online passwords more often and then drown my sorrows in vast quantities of alcohol.

I would probably spend hours trying to find out if anything could be done about recovering my DB pension since there will be over half a million other people in the same situation.

Once I’ve calmed down a little, I would tell my family (though not my parents or my grandmother – don’t want them worrying needlessly) and probably a couple of my close friends. My message however will be that despite what’s happened, I’m alright, because I know they will want to help me. I would probably get a short term cash loan from the family, to cover expenses until I get paid.

What Next?

It won’t just be the fact that I’ve lost all that I’ve saved up, but I’ve lost the ticket to achieving financial independence, retiring early and retiring comfortably.

With my FIRE plan down the pan (heh!), I would need to draw up my new plan, which would be probably be to ensure that I end up retiring comfortably at normal retirement age.

What would I do differently ?

I would set up an emergency fund first and foremost. I would then see about building up my pension/SIPP investments again, more so than in my ISAs. Seeing as I won’t need the money until later in life,  I may as well take advantage of tax relief.

I have a feeling that I would be a lot more frugal, verging on the extreme side as I try to claw my way back to a comfortable financial situation. In desperation, I might even cross the line and become stingy and penny-pinching, although I hope not!

One thing I would probably do would be to go back to my strict budgeting, which I haven’t done since I was eyeballs deep in credit card debt. It’s no fun logging every penny spent.

Perhaps I would consider looking for a better paid job but more likely, I would certainly spend my spare time just hustling and looking for more money. And yes, I’ll be scouting out for coupons!

More time spent matched betting (even consider multi-accounting which I don’t do now) and I would dial down on my social life but not completely as my friends are important to me.

I’ll still put money aside to travel to see my family once a year – that’s one thing I wouldn’t ever change.

And finally, I will just get my head down and be a worker bee to earn a steady salary.

Miserable yet…?

This all seems to point to me leading an extremely focused but not very happy life, being obsessed with trying to build up what I lost.

Yet if I think about it, there are a lot of people who are in this situation, where they do not have savings for their future and yet they are happily going about their lives.

I think due to the fact that I had saved up and then lost it all, it’s possible probable that I would become quite obsessed about it all, which doesn’t sound good at all.

Plus I would need to get my head around working until my mid-60s, something which I was quite happy to do before I discovered and planned for FIRE. I really shouldn’t have taken that FIRE Red Pill, which made me see the light!

I would hope that I would still be able to enjoy my life and my work but knowing me, I think it would take a while before I could get over something like this.

Gosh, that’s gone a bit dreary and bleak, hasn’t it?

Anyway, below is SavingNinja’s take on the thought experiment and as and when I see other bloggers taking part, I’ll add below:

What would you do if this happened to you?