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!

June 2019 Savings + other updates

Just back from my hols, so here’s my belated update for June.

This month saw numerous social outings with friends, interspersed with meeting new people at my second investors’ meet up in Manchester (similar to the first one, except in the evening) and attending my first crowdfunding event.

Reaching my milestone age and attending these events nudged me to reconsider the allocations in my portfolio. After revisiting some old Monevator posts, including one on age and portfolios, I’ll be starting to implement some small initial changes – I’ll sort out a post on that soon.

So, how did I get on in June?

I saved 50% of my net salary! I should have/could have saved more as I received the second part of my small annual bonus this month. However, I’ve put some funds aside to cover for some holiday spends, some of which may carry over into July. Perhaps a missed opportunity to really bump up my savings rate but it’s been an expensive month!

The above savings includes top ups of £33.68 from TopCashback*, £60 matched betting profit (from last month), £50 from another premium bond win and £74.67 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I opened a small new investment in The Renewables Infrastructure Grp Ltd (TRIG) but mostly added to existing investments. I also made a small crowdfunding top up to my Freetrade investment.

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 risen to £169,631.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends: Continue reading

Crowdfunding Road Trip

Back in May 2018, I made an investment when Freetrade launched round 3 of their crowdfunding. I reviewed the app here.

I also managed to sneak in a small investment in Round 4 a couple of months ago, just before the whole Crowdcube website crashed due to too many people trying to invest at the same time, which led to fundraising being suspended. Apparently, it broke a record by raising £1 million in investments in 77 seconds!

Anyway, in anticipation of Round 5 of crowdfunding via Crowdcube at 12 noon on Monday 25th June (if you’re interested, you’ll need to be quick!), the Freetrade team decided to meet investors (existing and potential) outside of London. On Tuesday, they went to Birmingham; on Wednesday, they came to Manchester.

Showcase

From having never attended any meet ups in relation to investing, this is my 3rd such meet up (not had time to mention the 2nd one) in a relatively short space of time. This is however my first crowdfunding one.

I’d say this was definitely not your usual investors’ gathering. Predominantly young people/millennials in attendance, a good mix of women too. There were only a handful of Gen X-ers like me, one older bloke, the rest pretty much all fresh-faced and youthful!

The team did a great presentation showcasing how far Freetrade had come in a short time and revealed developments in progress, what was in the pipeline, their plans for the future (immediate and long term). They then answered loads of questions in the Q&A session. What was interesting was that many of the questions were tech, not finance related.

It was all very friendly and informal – the team mingled with everyone, were approachable and spoke openly about the company and their vision.  I got to chat to them all, Adam (CEO and founder), Viktor (CMO) and Alex (Marketing).

Viktor answering questions.

After revealing plans to expand in Europe (Ireland first, then Germany, France and the Netherlands), when someone mentioned Hargreaves Lansdown’s 1 million customers, Adam replied that Freetrade was going to end up bigger in time – after all, HL are only still in Bristol..! Haha, I love the ambition!

Other things we learned on the evening about Freetrade:

  • No, they are not going to offer CFDs (contracts for difference).
  • No, they are not going into social investing (like eToro).
  • No, they are not going to offer cryptocurrency (which apparently people only ask about when the price of Bitcoin goes up!)
  • No, they will not charge exit fees.
  • Yes, they intend to offer SIPPs and other types of ISA.
  • Yes, they want to expand outside of Europe.

As both an investor and customer of Freetrade, I was very happy with the answers.

And true to their name, there was a lot of free stuff at the event – free drinks, free pizza and also, free Freetrade branded socks!

So all in all, it was an excellent and informative evening.

But Wait – More Freebies?

Before readers rush to download the Freetrade app, they will shortly be introducing an incentive referral scheme.

What’s the incentive?

A random free share/stock for me (the referrer) and you (the referred), valued at between £1 and £80-£100! The stocks will be either UK or US.

But what’s the catch?

You have to open a Freetrade account and deposit £1.  And that’s it.

Anyway, more details when this rolls out in the next few weeks, but here’s a screenshot of what you might see on your phone once you’ve set up your account via the referral link:

So perhaps you’d like to wait for me to get the active link.

Or not – don’t let me stop you from downloading the app now to start investing for free! (note that for Android users, you need version 7 or above for the app to work).

Blog!

While I was at the event, a couple approached me and the chap tentatively asked if I ran a personal finance blog – hah, so much for being semi-anonymous! 🙂 Turns out he follows this blog and has recently pulled the FIRE plug himself – congrats again, David and happy 50th soon!

And I’ve acquired a new reader, a young guy who hadn’t previously heard of FIRE but who had been practising the ethos. This enabled him to save enough of a buffer/FU fund to be able to walk away from a job which he was not happy with, and go freelancing. As he is thinking of being able to stop working by 40, he’s a prime FIRE candidate if there ever was one, so all the best, Stuart! 🙂

Finally on the blog front, Viktor took a selfie with me to show his girlfriend as they are both readers (hi, Viktor’s gf 🙂 ).

I’m never sure how to act when meeting readers face to face but I do feel extremely humbled and a lot of appreciation that people take the time to read my mutterings!

And on that happy note, I’ll just mention here that I’ll be away now for a couple of weeks on my annual hols. No posts scheduled so I’ll do a belated catch up on my return.

Cheerio!

Serious Investing

I mentioned in a recent post that I attended an ‘investment meet up‘.

I had been contacted out of the blue by someone who had read my blog and who had wondered if I’d be interested in attending a meet up for investors in Manchester, which was run by SIGnet, the Serious Investors Group Network.

My immediate reaction to the ‘serious’ bit was that it wasn’t for me. Yes, I do invest on a regular basis but I don’t see myself or put myself in the ‘serious investor’ category – that to me would be someone who’s been investing a lot longer than I have, someone who lives and breathes investing, and who actually knows what they’re talking about! You know…people like the guys from Monevator or John from UK Value Investor.

However, I thought about it some more and I realised that in my own way, I am ‘serious’ about investing (Dogs of the FTSE and Monkey Stock portfolios aside!) as I am committed to investing long-term to grow my wealth and to ultimately fund my early retirement. My net worth is currently made up of around 60% in equities.

I was assured that it was just a group of like-minded private individuals who liked to meet up and chat about their investments, what they’d bought, sold and are interested in. SIGnet has a heavy presence in London and has apparently been around for 20-30 years.  I first heard of them when Mike @ 7 Circles blogged about them (though not in a very good light) but they were looking to secure a stronger base in Manchester.

So I agreed to attend. The fact that I had to book the day off work to attend gave me an idea of the types of people who would arrange a meet up on a Monday morning/ afternoon, when folk like me would normally be working in the office…

Meet Up

Anyway, the meet up took place in the boardroom of the Rain Bar pub in Manchester city centre. There weren’t that many in attendance, just the ten of us in total, and they all seemed to be regulars as they knew each other.

I fully expected to be the only woman there but was pleasantly surprised to find another.

As predicted, they were a mix of retirees, semi-retirees and freelancers/self-employed. And from the sounds of it, all experienced investors, including the chap who looked young enough to be a millennial.

I was hoping to just lurk in the background and listen, hoping that I wouldn’t be out of my depth, but within minutes of kick-off, as the newbie present, I was asked to introduce myself to all and talk about my investing background – yikes!

So, I just talked about my buy and hold strategy, investing in broadly diversified index tracker ETFs and investment trusts and building dividend income.

When prompted, I talked a little about my aim to FIRE, although none of them had heard of it before – my guess is that most of them had actually achieved FIRE already, but just weren’t aware there was a cool acronym for it!

We broke up for a pub lunch and when the event was all over, I stuck around for a drink with a few of them for a pleasant chat.

Did I Learn Anything?

It was fascinating to hear about other people’s investment strategies. Being in the bubble that is the FIRE community, it can be easy to forget that there are strategies other than just buying and holding index trackers, not that there is, of course, anything wrong with this strategy!

There was a lot of talk about AIM stocks, ‘ten-baggers’, which I assumed to be the likes of Fevertree (if you had bought at the start). As one said, he wasn’t interested in bits of dividends from FTSE stocks – that wouldn’t be enough for him to live on so he looked for stocks with potential for big capital growth. Good, if you can spot those kinds of stocks.

A couple had investments in properties (buy to let), there was mention of one dabbling briefly in bitcoin but in the main, everyone was investing in the stock markets.

Another mentioned that one of his strategies was to sell half of a stock, pocketing the profit and to hold onto the rest, a strategy which I adopted myself recently when I sold some of my AJBell shares to take advantage of the >170% gain since its IPO – I intend to hold onto the rest.

There were two presentations, with the millennial guy talking about how he personally went about choosing his investments, his analysis and research etc.

Another couple of the guys did an interesting presentation of a company (they were investors themselves, not owners of the company) but it prompted me to read more about it when I went home.

There was no hard-sell, nobody was asked to part with any money or to invest in anything – it was all quite casual though professional, all very informative.

Ultimate Lesson

The people in attendance made me feel very welcome and by the end of it all, I didn’t feel like an ‘impostor’.

However, I did realise that I wasn’t quite ready to be part of their club of ‘serious investors’. By that, I mean that I’m not where they are right now but I’m on my way there.

They are where I would like to be upon achieving FIRE, a position where I envisage I will have more time to dedicate to my investments, due to not having to work full-time.

That’s not to say that I wouldn’t attend future meet ups – I fully intend to (and to pay SIGnet’s annual £25 membership fee) because not only did I enjoy their company but I think there is still so much I can learn about investing, despite having invested for over 6 years. These people will have been invested during the big stock-market crashes, something I’ve never experienced before and many likely to be living off their investments already.

I’m not sure I would book the day off to attend another meet up (unless I had surplus holidays to use up) but I believe there’s the occasional evening meet up so will definitely be looking to attend a few of those.

Has anyone else ever been to one of these kinds of meet ups specifically for investing?