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.
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.
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:
In October, I evaluated how being more intentional could help me become luxuriously thrifty. I don’t know whether minimalism, intentionality and thrift are always intertwined. It’s certainly been the case that since I started reading personal finance blogs, I’ve also started reading and/or following bloggers that include articles on minimalism and intentional living. At the heart of it, the FIRE movement mandates intentionality since it promotes spending in line with your values and that requires some deliberate decisions.
I like a good time. I like lush surroundings. Jet-setting. I like the flexibility of being able to change my train or plane tickets. Personal space. Comfort. Cool sheets. Temperature-controlled environments. I like fresh food. In-season produce. Fair-trade and organic food. I like durable clothes. Expensive shoes. The latest gadgets. Wonderful experiences. Unforgettable memories. Instagram-worthy photos. I love all of this but the thing is, I can’t afford it all. Continue reading
I came out of my hotel room and walked with swag to the hotel reception to checkout. I was proud of the fact that I’d come in massively within budget and had more than enough cash to settle the additional charges for my hotel room. The receptionist hands over my bill and all I can see is a bill for £1067(!) when I’d been expecting to pay for the one £23 breakfast buffet meal that I’d charged to my room. My eyes popped but I tried really quickly to cover the alarm bells. We usually get hotel bookings made centrally so that no one has to settle such huge bills on their personal cards but it appeared that someone had forgotten to do so. Continue reading
*Which is not her real name
In the personal finance blogosphere, there is a general derision for any desire to keep up with the Joneses. We are encouraged to chart a different path, embrace different choices and follow the road less travelled. I’ve also recently read an article, possibly from the Our Next Life blog, about how this conversely sets a different kind of target. FIRE enthusiasts are keeping up with a different kind of Joneses (perhaps we should call them the Smiths who seem an altogether more frugal sort). This morning I saw a Facebook post. My friend Yoko is coming back to London after months of travelling. And it got me thinking. Whilst I might eschew living like most people, I definitely want to live like Yoko.
I have directorship in a company that my friend set up so that we could take advantage of tax laws and pay less tax. Due to my financial ignorance (and desire to remain stupid) all these years, I had never really done more than ask a few contractor friends here and there about what it was like to work as a contractor. When my friend took the plunge last year, all I bothered to ascertain was that he pays a flat rate 20% corporation tax on the money he earns as opposed to the different tiers, maxing out at 40% for his income bracket. Continue reading
It’s only been a little over 2 months since I had my lightbulb moment and began my journey to financial independence. I’m a little bit obsessive so once I discovered it was possible to retire early, that became my goal. I’ve read hundreds of blog articles, explored many options and thought a lot about how awesome it would be to be free from the tyranny of the 9-5 job. In the last couple of weeks though, I’ve realised that I’m not necessarily trying to quit work. I’m just trying to “decouple pay from work” – a phrase that I picked up from an awesome article written by Jim Wang for the Our Next Life blog. Continue reading