Ten is the Magic Number

Well, the wheel of time grinds onwards and last month, my blog turned an epic TEN YEARS OLD!

Happy 10th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

Long time or what! Except it hasn’t really felt that way.

My blog is positively ancient compared to some other FIRE blogs (not that there are that many these days), considering how many have fallen by the wayside and dropped into the abyss of the blog graveyard over the years. In the words of good old Elton, “I’m still standing!” 🙂

Last Woman Standing

Even after 10 years, I still enjoy writing (most of the time) – the blog is a means to help me focus, to document my journey, to help motivate me, a place to empty some of the thoughts rattling around my head or to articulate ideas. The blog was never about making me money, else I would have given up after year 1!

Some might describe my progress over the years as ‘plodding’ but the truth is, I’ve gone as fast I’ve wanted to; I see it as steadily and purposefully moving forwards, step by step.

The last couple of years did feel like a bit of a slog – there was barely any progress with my Future Fund due the stock markets creeping along sideways, it was all quite disheartening and demotivating but I doggedly kept at it.

At no point in the last ten years have I ever thought about quitting my goal and I don’t feel burned out from my FIRE journey, probably as I’ve just gone along at a pace I’ve been comfortable with.

That said, neither am I all bright-eyed and excited as I was at the beginning of my journey – what has crept in recently is a little trepidation as I am now on the last leg of my journey. I feel that a slight mindset change is required but I’m not quite there yet – my mind seems to be a little hesitant about taking that next step.

I need to start thinking seriously of ‘what happens next’, look into more detail on how I am going to fund my life post work, look into what my life will look like. The word ‘decumulation’ keeps popping up at the back of my mind and I’m currently just batting it away, like an annoying fly. Don’t worry, I will get my head round this.

Humdrum

Gosh, so I’ve been posting my numbers monthly (with some glimpses of my life) for a whole decade!

It’s all been pretty mundane stuff – I reckon I live a relatively ‘ordinary’ life, one which is filled with a lot of routine, same-old-same-old stuff, with good things far outweighing the bad.  My life is not action-packed, there’s very little drama and no cliff-hangers!

I am mostly an optimistic person, this governs how I live my life and also I think how I invest (whether that’s good or bad, haha!).

I think I’ve gotten the right balance with my life vs aiming for FIRE because as far as my nearest and dearest are concerned, I’m just living a normal/mundane/modest/boring (delete as applicable) life on a middle income, except that I have a fanciful idea of retiring early.

What have I been doing these past 10 years?

February 2024 Savings, plus other updates

As mentioned in my last post and as highly recommended by various commenters, I’ve been tracking all my spending.

January was what I expected, but partway through February, I realised that there was definitely going to be variance between what I think I spend and what I actually spend.

It appears that lifestyle creep has happened, despite my efforts!

While I’ve been pretty good at buttoning down my household bills and differentiating between ‘need’ and ‘want’ purchases,  I’ve not been so great with “social expenses”. Lunches, coffees, a swift pint after work (when I’m in the office) with friends and colleagues all add up – I didn’t even think I was that active socially but obviously enough so that these costs need looking at!

A big one will likely be gifts for friends and family – some expenses have been tracked (with receipts, credit card statements), but for some reason, I seem to have glossed over the various gifts of money (for birthdays, Christmas, Chinese New Year) to my family (and I have a big family). I’ve probably lost sight of them due to the transactions just being a bank transfer here and there, probably not helped by me actively using  different current accounts simultaneously. Anyway, I’ll see what the damage is by the end of the year and hope I’m not in for too much of a shock!

February’s payslip brought a nice surprise with a bonus payment for my part in completing that project I was on. I’d forgotten about it as I had other more important things on my mind and my eligibility for it had come while I was battling with long hours and intense work activity so it wasn’t on the forefront of my mind.

I split the bonus across my ISA, SIPP, mortgage overpayment and emergency funds.

A bit left over I used to buy some small items I’d wanted (not needed 🙂 ) for my garden and kitchen.

So how did that bumper pay make my numbers look for February?

Obviously, this is way, way above my usual (much more modest) amount, but I saved 51.4% of my net salary. It’s a one-off!  The above includes £63.61 from doing Prolific surveys and a £5 charity lotto win.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I finally sold my holding in Persimmon (PSN), one of the stocks I’d kept after running my Dogs of the FTSE experiment. I used the money to increase my holding in a (fairly) new holding in MP Evans Group plc (MPE), a ‘sustainable’ stock I’d dipped my toe in with a few quid last year, but which I will add to now as part of my income paying portfolio.

Other than that, no new investments, I just topped up existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

I need to do an update on my investing strategy but been too distracted.

Future Fund 

There was an uptick in the markets but admittedly, the rocket is only really there courtesy of my bumper capital injection this month. As at the end of Feb, my Future Fund stood at £253,452.87.

Dividends and Other Income

An average month for dividends:

Continue reading

December 2023 Savings, plus round up

Happy New Year!

I was in the gym on New Year’s Eve and out litter-picking on New Year’s Day morning – starting as I mean to go on!

Anyway, let’s just get the numbers out of the way for 2023!

I saved 12.1% of my net salary – not great, but a big credit card bill to cover gifts and social outings meant that I didn’t save as much as I would have liked.

The above includes £67.92 from doing Prolific surveys. I also received £103.83 from TopCashback* but ended up spending that on socialising.

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, a mediocre year for investing ended up somewhat better than expected!

The Santa Rally did its thing and resulted in me achieving my £250k milestone for the first time since August 2021! Woohoo! 🙂

As at 31st December 2023, my Future Fund stood at £250,605.80.  After the painful sideways crawl of my investments over the past year or so, I am very happy and somewhat relieved that I’ve hit the milestone again.

Here’s how it all looks at the end of another year:

However, I had believed (hoped) that after raiding my Future Fund for my house deposit in 2021 (the big dip in Oct 21), the pot would have recouped/grown quicker but sadly, it was not to be.

Using unitization, I’m up just 5.8% this year across all my investments. This figure includes my dividend income portfolio, where stock prices continue to remain fairly depressed.

Nothing as spectacular as the growth that some other investors have reported, but after the nightmare of 2022, it was most comforting that things finally appear to be heading in the right direction.

Still, I daren’t be too hopeful for 2024 – it just feels like everything (at home and abroad) is teetering precariously on a knife edge and things liable to tip one way or another, causing tremors and disruption (or boom, if we’re lucky) in the stock markets.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent final month for dividends:

Continue reading

Interim December 2023 update

The full December update will include my progress (or lack of!) over 2023, how I did versus my goals and if the Santa Rally continued until the end of the year. I’ll then be setting some new goals for 2024.

Thought I’d get this interim post off in the meantime to get some things off my chest (so to speak) before the festive shenanigans get underway and I don’t find the time to post.

Not Nice Stuff Alert!

This month tried its best to be a “Mensis Horribilis” but fortunately, didn’t quite succeed.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been run ragged with work this past month or so, but what’s probably made things worse is that I’ve been worried about my health at the same time.

It appears that I’ve lost nearly half a stone through stress and that’s not good as I didn’t have half a stone excess weight to lose!

Anyway, I feel somewhat less stressed now that I know what’s going on and what’s going to happen.

In the new year, I will be having surgery to have a lump removed from my breast.

As far as they are currently aware, it’s benign and not immediately life threatening but surgery is nonetheless required, in case this changes. My Mum had breast cancer so you could say I have been somewhat distracted to say the least.

[Ladies, I can’t stress how important it is to check yourselves regularly and visit your GP if you have any worries or concerns whatsoever].

At most, I’ll be out of action post-surgery (for physical exertions, including driving) for two weeks but hopefully it won’t take that long to recover properly. I can’t see me taking the full two weeks off work for sick/medical leave but I will see how I feel.

I can’t fault the NHS at all – it took just a matter of weeks from initially seeing my GP with my concerns, through to hospital scans, biopsy and surgery diagnosis, although it did feel like the longest weeks ever to me at the time.

Perhaps I should be kind of grateful that work was so busy that I was focusing more on that, than anything else.

Anyway, now that I know what’s going on, I can just get on with the festivities and whatnot!

Right, got that out of the way, let’s get on to less gloomy stuff! 🙂

Glad Tidings

People at work have acknowledged the long hours I’ve been putting in, and this was shown via another Employee of the Month award I received, so that was nice. Although really, there’s probably something not right about awarding people for working outside of their normal hours!

Ironically, I had too much to do and decided not to attend the Christmas drinks party after the awards ceremony, haha!

I was in the office the following day and witnessed lots of sore heads, which was good as it meant I was left in peace to get on with my work with very little disturbance and distraction!

Fractional Fun Update

After my call for stock suggestions for my ‘One Share Portfolio’, I narrowed it down to two in the end, Hershey and Berkshire Hathaway. Then, with the death of Warren Buffett’s right hand man, Charlie Munger, I was guided by my heart and went for the latter, buying a bit of BRKB.

With the share price at around $362, it will take many fractional purchases using spare quids in my account to build up to one share to complete my portfolio! Currently, I own just  0.07th of a share!

Social and Relaxation Stuff

Aside from the above works do which I bailed out on, I made sure to attend all other social events I was invited to, including a leaving do, several Christmas meals already (gotta put some weight back on!) and a couple of weekend lunches to catch up with friends.

I didn’t think about buying Christmas presents until last week but I took a couple of days off work to do the shopping (needed to use my hols or lose them), and fortunately was done pretty quickly. I did buy some gifts online but I’m finding these days that it’s not always cheaper online and with some things, for quality purposes, it’s better to see/feel the actual item before buying.

With the social outings and present buying, my credit card has taken a hammering but it’s just once a year and I can handle that.

Been enjoying catching up on some TV programmes (now that my head’s clearer, I can concentrate on plots and storylines again!) – some enjoyable escapism shows I’ve just finished watching include S1 of ‘The Lazarus Project’ (sci-fi) and S1 of ‘Slow Horses’ (spy/thriller), both with a great British cast. Looking forward to watching S2 of both.

I can’t wait to binge-watch some other shows from my growing To-Watch list and also binge-read during my time off, but mostly, I really can’t wait to just empty my brain of everything for a while and lounge in my pyjamas, drinking mulled wine! 🙂

And on that note,  I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year – eat, drink and be merry!