As I write this, I’m on holiday. I’m lying on a sofa sitting out the rain and somewhat anxious about the state of my bank accounts. It’s been nearly 2 years since I started this blog and I thought I’d have paid off all of my debt and been well on my way to financial independence. So far, this isn’t the case. I’ve just spent nearly £1,100 on a ticket to go visit my girlfriend – pulling funds from my savings accounts to manage it on fairly short notice – and am therefore currently in the negative on 2 of my accounts.
If you wondered where I was for 2 months then you might have discovered that I met bae – who I’m really into. The defining thing about our relationship is that our top love languages are “touch” yet we live on different continents. This means that we struggle with the distance possibly more than other people and come up with wonderful little ways to cope. Ultimately though, we both figured that it would be too expensive to see each other at the frequency that we’d like for a very long period of time. So, a big change is afoot by the end of the year.
I’ve spent a lot of today trying to get my budget and spending tracking spreadsheet in a better shape for the second half of the year. It’s no secret that I’ve been dating someone who lives on a different continent the last few months and this new romance plus the challenge of maintaining communication when we’re not together has taken precedence over everything else in my life. I decided last month (and shared the news with some of my colleagues) that I’ll be moving away from London at the end of the year. This has prompted a desire to get my finances in top shape for the move – more on that in my next post – which means I can share my June spending with any voyeurs out there.
One of the reasons I was very pleased with how my January spending review turned out was because I experimented with living January the way I wanted 2018 to go. I didn’t do an uber frugal month. I socialised (frugally), did tons of sport and ate really well. I came in at £1696.24 – excluding support, debt and £135.23 of travel that was enabled by the side-hustle income that I made of £150. In a recent post, I reviewed a couple of other options that I could pursue other than early retirement because 6 weeks into the year and I’m not sure that I can keep my discretionary spending at the level that it needs to be to retire within the timeline that I desire. As a result, here’s the budget that I’m working with this year.
Discovering the FI/ER (Financial Independence / Early Retirement) movement has changed my life in more ways than most people probably realise. This year I’m aiming to eat 80% of my food at home, other homes or for free, I walk or cycle or take the bus into work as much as I can, I average a taxi or less a month, have savings & a pension and pay cash upfront for everything. Yesterday, I went to a paid comedy show for the first time in two years.
This is a far cry from the years I spent racking up debt because I didn’t think anything of spending £50 on an evening dining out several times a week, paid for the gym even when I never went, forked out £70+ a month on a Sky subscription and took Ubers to work almost everyday. One of my motivations for this change in lifestyle has been because I aspire to make work optional by 2028, when I will turn 45.
I survived! January felt really long. This was mostly because the pay cycle was about 6 weeks long. Why, oh why, do we get paid before Christmas? It’s the end now and I got to do the very exciting task of reviewing how this first month of the year went. I initially thought I’d be doing the Uber Frugal Month challenge but then when I started looking at 2017’s budget – more on that in my next post – I figured that I had set some unrealistic targets for last year and wanted to use January as a template for what I really want my 2018 spending to look like. Let’s see how that went
Anyone who spends more than an hour in my company gets a sense of how varied my interests and activities are. I often run out of time to do things that I’ve planned in advance, I’ve often double-booked myself and it’s often happened that I have to go to 3/4 different places in different parts of London in one day. I play badminton and football with regularity. I’ve also got various side-hustles. It often feels like I’m doing too much and spread rather thin. It also sometimes feels like I’m only delivering at a level that is a little shy of my full potential.
I’ve loved reading all the 2017 round ups that have been doing the rounds (yes pun!) this week. Last year I had a big hairy (financial) goal of saving more. I also had associated goals related with eating better, getting fitter and de-cluttering. Here’s a summary of my progress, or lack thereof last year:
My financial knowledge was eerily shoddy in the past
I just found some tracking that I attempted to do in 2015 when I first realised that I was on a sinking ship and the cupfuls of water I was bailing out would no longer suffice. Here’s how bleak my life used to be 2 and a half years ago
So a few days ago I decided to do my best to reverse the crush of my overspending. I set out to side-hustle, drink only water/black tea, eat home-made or free food 85% of the time, walk or cycle everywhere and try to rack up the no-spend days with an overall goal of raising my savings rate till it hurts. Here’s a review of how the first 7 days went.