July-Sept 2020 Net Worth Update

Many of my colleagues are enjoying working from home using those extra commuting hours to exercise, spend more time with their family or just enjoying the extra free time. Not me. The lines between home and work are blurred and my working day is expanding. Some of things I would like to do in my spare time, such as blogging, I just can’t seem to find the time or more usually I just do not want to spend any more time on the computer. So this is now a quarterly and not a monthly update!

I am still working from home 100% of the time and finding I am actually quite enjoying ‘some’ things about it, in particular fitting in domestic chores (sad I know) and getting up later. But I waiver between exhausted and tired. Working at home, focussing on a computer screen and meeting via Zoom is draining without the variety and activity a day in the office brings. I miss my colleagues. At the start of lockdown we all amazed ourselves how quickly we managed to shift gear to working online realising lots of benefits of remote working. Now 6 months on the gaps and difficulties are more visible, largely for me around the informal and social aspect of work which oils the wheels of how we get things done as well as being genuinely enjoyable, the quick catch ups where things can be moved on quickly or you pick up important details about a change or a project. But here we are and here we will stay as infection rates increase and there is talk of increased restrictions in the north.

I still have a poster I created above my computer ‘I am not my job’ inspired by Vicki Robin and Jo Dominguez in ‘Your Money or Your Life’ reminding me not to link what drives and interests me with how I earn my money. It sounds like I don’t like my job, I do, I just doing like all of it all of the time!

Finance wise its a bit of a mixed bag in terms of net worth increase but I am continuing with a really good savings rate. Even in September when we had a week away in London, Brighton and Kent and a long weekend in the Eden Valley I still managed 53%. In summary

Month / Savings Rate / Net worth Increase £ / Net worth Increase %

July / 62% / £703 / 0.6%

August / 59% / £3654 / 3%

September / 53% / £701 / 0.6%

With 10% YTD increase in net worth.

Also financially I know I have my biases – I tend to hold onto assets for emotional rather than financial reasons. My biases were confirmed by the ‘Beam app‘ which assesses your biases for borrowing and investing. It is super interesting and engaging app. I apparently have a very high ‘endowment effect’, which causes me to inflate the value of an object, simply because I own it, a typical ‘confirmation bias’, which is the tendency to favour information that confirms my existing belief and a ‘high probability neglect’, which describes my tendency to disregard probability when making decisions. I am hoping, time permitting to do a future post on the app.

Anyway the three actions I have taken to be more rationale in my financial behaviour

  • sell the Royal Mail Shares I have seen rise then plummet since 2013, and invest in tracker funds
  • transfer c£11k held in a cash ISA to a Stocks and Shares ISA, so I am fully invested
  • made the decision to sell our buy to let apartment. It will be difficult emotionally to let go. It has not been a terrible investment financially but financially and hassle wise it doesn’t quite stack up as nicely as invest and forget!

Actions from July

I finally finished Grant Sabatier’s ‘Financial Freedom’ where he describes his journey from 0 to over £1 million in 5-6 years, becoming financially independent by the time he was thirty. Key takeaways were about earning more money through side hustles – he really focussed on increasing his income by both using his 9-5 skills of digital marketing to pick up his own clients and more usual side hustles such as cat sitting ! He took any and every opportunity to make, and then invest more money. A very inspiring read. Am also nearly at the end of David Sawyer’s RESET, a great actionable book which has motivated me to do some digital and physical streamlining as well as making me feel comfortable with my current investment strategy of Vanguard Life Strategy funds. But he also describes a number of different portfolio options which, if I get bored of invest and forget, I might consider!

I also completed a free Open Learn OU course ‘Managing My Financial Journey‘, about the history of the banking and finance industry, causes of the Great Financial Crash and how it changed Financial Services, Financial Regulation and financial products. It has helped a bit in providing some foundation knowledge to (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics 20 CII credits. I finally signed up for the ‘Award in Financial Administration’ and started all enthusiastic, but have been a bit on the back foot since I returned from holiday earlier in September. It is very detailed and some of it is very boring! But I am committed to taking the exam hopefully in November then review how I feel taking the next module (FA2) Pensions administration 10 CII credits.

I did some great things this last month

  • A Manchester FIRE meet up – with SA giving us a fantastic intro and overview of Match Betting
  • The London FIRE meet up
  • Week in Brighton, Kent and London
  • Long weekend in the Eden Valley
  • Cocktails, eating out and cinema
  • Cycling the Cheshire Ring
  • My first hair cut since lockdown

Its all feeling a bit more normal.

I also celebrated two anniversaries. My first year blogging and a full year of being involved in MCR FIRE meet-ups which are going from strength to strength. Our next meet up is ‘Hack your 9-5‘ 23 October.

Action for next month

I need to pull my finger out and do my 20 CII credits Financial services, regulation and ethics module to make sure I can finish this calendar year with one module under my belt. I also want to carve out some time to take full advantage of the help Siu Ann gave us at the August FIRE meet-up demystifying Match Betting and give it a go.

I’ve also got to prep for our next MCR meet up ‘Hack your 9-5‘ on 23 October.

So how has your net worth faired these last few months? How are you managing lock down? Has your routine changed much? What are you financial biases and have you made any behavioural changes?

June 2020 Net Worth Update

June has been a much better month for me, I have felt less stressed and anxious, had a birthday and done some really nice virtual and face to face social activities.

I am making sure I keep track of my well being and do something every day which I know makes me feel better. I have also taken the advice of Vicki Robin and Jo Dominguez in ‘Your Money or Your Life’ and not linked ‘work’ and what drive and interests me with how I earn my money.

Again as last month due to a reduced monthly expenditure I am able to save an additional amount, less than last month but still £380. This boosts me to a 61% savings rate for June. The goal is for increasing my savings rate to be some kind of weird kick and something I am motivated to keep going as restrictions are released.

In terms of net worth June is another bumper month from my point of view with an increase of £3,532 from last month increasing the YTD increase to 5.9%.

How odd does it feel with such a strong bounce back by the stock market at the same time as any companies starting to announce redundancies?

Actions from June

Last month I have been continuing my financial education. I did put together a ‘Transformation Plan’ which outlines what I need to do over the next 2 years to change my career to Financial Services. A ‘Transformation Plan‘ is a really useful and visual tool to show what activities you need to achieve over time to realise your goal or vision.

It was also the June MCR FIRE meet-up online – FI Book Club on 19 June where I introduced ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Vicki Robin and Jo Dominguez and C gave us a summary of ‘The Millionaire Next Door’. As usual a really good evening chatting with like-minded people. The next meet up is in August with a focus on side hustles, in particular Match Betting which am very interested in.

Personal Expenditure last month

Total personal expenditure for June £380, again an increase on the previous month from 38% to 49% of what I actually allocate. Again largest categories Charity and ‘Entertainment’. Quite a bit on presents as had some birthdays but also unfortunately some lovely colleagues leaving my work for other jobs and leaving fixed term contracts. As restrictions are released I had my first trip back on public transport and a trip into town for a meal out. Felt strange and strangely familiar .

I did some great things this month

  • A virtual cocktail night with ex and current work colleagues
  • A face to face wine club meet up with friends
  • A picnic in the rain for my birthday!
  • The London FIRE meet up

Action for next month

I am half way through Grant Sabatier’s ‘Financial Freedom’. I am finding I am enjoying reading FI books rather than blogs at the minute. I find reading a book requires more concentration – so it makes me focus, and its not on screen so its suiting me more at the minute. I am also half way through a free Open Learn OU course ‘Managing My Financial Journey‘, which isn’t really about managing your financial journey it is about the history of the banking and finance industry, causes of the Great Financial Crash and how it changed Financial Services, Financial Regulation and financial products. Sounds boring but its not am enjoying it and I am hoping it will help with my studies toward a career change to Financial Services.

So my priority is to finish ‘Financial Freedom’ and the OU course and sign up for the Chartered Insurance Institute ‘Award in Financial Administration’, and get started proper with getting some financial qualifications under my belt.

May 2020 Net Worth Update

I spoke a little too soon about being on an even keel with working and living at home more. May has felt a real rollercoaster mentally. I have felt stressed and anxious, to the extent I have had to take a ½ day leave. Fortunately, my line manager and colleagues are caring and supportive people thatI can talk  to about how I feel and try to understand the help I need.

I think many of us know what we should be doing to improve our mental wellbeing, and on the face of it, they are very simple things. Simple, but not easy. Get enough sleep, meditate, reduce alcohol, exercise, do more of what bring you joy, take regular breaks… breathe deeply etc. Like financial wellbeing it is about building good habits and automating as much as you can.

So how can I use how what works for me in my financial wellbeing to help my mental wellbeing? Part of what works for me is tracking and following the process. Deciding ‘this is what I will do’, track I have done it, and measure the results. I saw a great simple little chart flash by me on Facebook ….

It doesn’t matter what the categories are, meditate or go for a walk, read one chapter of a book or listen to a podcast, it is just about each of us identifying the things we know are good for us or that we like doing. Then commit to doing at least one or two of these a day and make sure we do each one at least once a week.

I think the root cause of my stress is not having the face to face interaction really enjoy about work. Separating work from the place and people makes me question the value and meaning of the work – but I will have to try and understand and manage it as I think it will be a few months before we will be able to return to the office and even then it may not be full-time.

Many bloggers have been very busy during lockdown, but I am still behind with both reading and writing, but what has been clear is that many of us have seen an increase in monthly net worth figures.

Since last month I have decided to give my savings rate a boost by using my net rather than gross income – which has meant an increase from 40% to 50% – just like that! Also due to a reduced monthly expenditure I was able to save an additional £463 which boosts me to a 63% savings rate for May.

My net worth has seen an increase of lovely £5,076 or 4.3% from last month (huge yeah), and up 2.9% from the end of 2019. What a difference a month makes. But we are in it for the long haul and we just don’t know what is around the corner.  

Actions from April

  • This month I wanted to concentrate on my financial education – have progressed with completing ‘The Simple Path the Wealth’ and a good way through ‘Your Money or Your Life’. More still to read with the Choose FI book and David Sawyer’s RESET still on my to read list, and have ordered Dave Ramsey’s Total Money’s Make Over.
  • I completed FI101 ChooseFI’s online FI course. Can’t recommend this enough, a really clear, engaging course that takes you through their ‘blueprint for FI’, it uses text and video to explain concepts, has activities to work through and links to supporting resources. I would like to do a full review of the course as it is worth promoting.
  • As part of being my work team’s ‘wellbeing champion’, I saw a gap in the wellbeing resources provided by my workplace – nothing on financial wellbeing directly though they do do a pre-retirement course – so I have drafted a session I am planning on offering to my colleagues.

Personal Expenditure last month

Total personal expenditure for May £286, an increase from last month but still 38% of what I actually allocate. Largest categories Charity and ‘Entertainment’ which now consists of books, posh take outs and booze. I did spend some accrued underspend from previous months on a lovely iPhone 11.

Action for next month

Next month am continuing with my financial education, reading etc and also, I am putting a plan together to, at some point over the next 2-4 years, when I reach FI, change career to something in Financial Services. To this end I have set up a Facebook group for likeminded people to share their journeys on ‘Becoming a Financial Advisor’. Join us if you are interested. I am also exploring other avenues of financial coaching and researching FIRE.

It’s also the June MCR FIRE meet-up online – FI Book Club on 19 June via Zoom. If you’ve read books come and share or come along and pick up some tips for some good reads.  

Our Favourite Personal Finance and FI Podcasts

I am an avid Personal Finance and FI podcast listener and consume most of my content this way. On a recent Meaningful Money Community Facebook post someone asked what our favourite podcasts were. Loads of suggestions so I’ve pulled them into one list. I’ve also added in some of my own and others suggested by Money to the Masses’s Andy Leeks on 16 Feb 2020.

I will be improving this list, visually and by adding in some more detail such as target audience and maybe some reviews. You can google lists of top 5 or 10 finance podcasts – but I am interested in what personal finance junkies and / or FIRE followers are interested in so, if you think I have missed any, let me know and I’ll add them.

Name Publisher / HostCountryFrequencyDescription
Afford AnythingPaula PantUSBi weekly
AJ Bell Money and MarketsAJ BellUKWeeklyHelps you understand the markets and manage your investment portfolio.
Ask Martin LewisBBC Radio 5 LiveUKWeeklyPersonal finance / consumer podcast
Bad with MoneyGaby DunnUSWeekly
Cash ChatsAndy WebbUKWeeklyMoney saving tips, features, interviews
ChooseFIChooseFIUS3 per weekThe US based FI podcast
Dave RamseyDave RamseyUS3 per day US personal finance podcast of the Dave Ramsey Show.
Everyday CourageJillian JohnsrudUSWeeklyPersonal growth podcast with financial content
Fidelity Rich PickingsFidelityUKMonthlyMonthly asset allocation podcast hosted by Richard Edgar, Editor in Chief.
Financial Wellbeing PodcastOvation FinanceUKMonthlyExpert insight, tips and advice on creating financial peace of mind.
FT Money ShowFinancial TimesUKWeeklyHow latest events impact your finances
FT News BriefingFinancial TimesUKDailyGlobal business stories
In Her Financial ShoesCatherine MorganUK1-2 per weekThis personal finance podcast is for women, including female entrepreneurs to learn personal finance & practical money management tips to be financially confident.
Informed Choice RadioMartin BamfordUK2 per weekPersonal finance podcast all about achieving your financial goals and living a better life.
Investment WeekInvestment WeekUKVariesInterviews biggest names in the funds industry and analysis of the stories affecting the marketplace
Investors ChronicleFTUK2 per weekInvestor news
Mad FientistMad FientistUSInteresting and informative discussions on money, investing, and all things related to early retirement and financial independence!
Maven MoneyAndy HartUKWeeklyPersonal finance – no market commentary focus on financial literacy
Meaningful MoneyPete MatthewsUK1-2 per weekEverything you need to know and everything you need to do to make sense of money
Money 101BBCUK18 episode seriesPrinciples of personal finance from paying off debt to saving and investing
Money BoxBBCUK2 per weekThe latest news from the world of personal finance plus advice for those trying to make the most of their money.
Money to the MassesDamian FahyUK2 per weekOne of the best personal finance and investing podcasts
Money Week PodcastMoney WeekUK2-3 per weekWhat’s going on in the markets and how does it affect your wealth
Optimal Finance DailyDan WeinbergUSDailyBudgeting, investing, and financial independence
Property PodcastRob and RobUK2 per weekNews and essential resources for property investors
She’s on the moneySOTMAustrailan2 per monthShe’s on the Money Founder, Molly Benjamin and leading financial planner Lisa Conway-Hughes aka Miss Lolly interview guests on a range of personal finance topics using jargon-free language helping listeners to understand the world of money and how they can take control of their financial futures!
Stackiing BenjaminsJoe and OGUS3 per weekMagazine style podcast. Since 2012, Stacking Benjamins has used the science of play to make finance more approachable, interesting, and fun. Our hope is that people will think more seriously about money and about financial well-being.
The Which? Money PodcastWhich?UKWeeklyPersonal finance news, updates and discussion
This is MoneyThis is MoneyUKWeeklyPersonal finance news, updates and discussion
UK Investor MagazineUK Investor MagazineUK1-2 per weekRegular update of issues important to UK investors and savers
Wake up to MoneyBBC Radio 5UKDailyNews and views on business and the world of personal finance. Plus the very latest from the financial markets around the globe

Savings Ninja thought experiment #10

Unprecedented events create new experiences. What fun, misadventure, or positive discoveries have you encountered while locked down?“-Savings Ninja thought experiment –The Covid-19 Edition

Like Firelite this is my first Savings Ninja thought experiment and despite working from home and social isolating for 6 weeks am only just getting round to reflections on lockdown.

Reducing my (planning) horizon

I am a planner, usually I’d be on the internet now booking flights for 2021, trying to secure early bird tickets for this or that festival. Now I plan a day ahead or to the next weekend at the most. Living more in the moment and not having continual FOMO has been quite nice. As well as reduced planning horizon my physical horizon has become much more local. Walking, running and cycling in my near or not to far neighbourhood. This has involved walking down cul-de-sacs just round the corner from where I live to cycling on side roads not before travelled.

Lots of random interesting facts now forgotten

Zoom quizzes are now the social gathering of choice and I have been entertained with friends and work colleagues alike – have learnt lots including – how many eyes do bees have, which city in the UK has the most Greggs and how high is Scafell Pike – most have facts are now though unfortunately forgotten ! (5, Newcastle, and 978m).

Taking time to read and reflect

I consume my personal finance and FIRE content through podcasts and reading blogs. I rarely read books these days and definitely not finance or FIRE books. I love podcasts in particularly, that mini discussion or lecture nicely packaged in a 30-40 minute bite sized listen is just enough before I move onto the next thing. So I decided to get back to basics and read some of the historic and recent seminal FIRE texts including ‘Simple Path to Wealth’ and ‘Your money or your life’.  Reading a book slows you down, give you time to reflect and digest, go on a longer journey than a podcast episode can take you.  These books are great in their own right and I have enjoyed rediscovering reading.

Knowing the path is different from walking the path

Talking of ‘Simple Path to Wealth’ in more normal times I would have read the text ‘The market always goes up and it is always a wild and rocky ride along the way’ and gone ‘yeah yeah I know this’. Now when I read that sentence I go, ‘yes, yes I KNOW this’.  Much less dismissive and information that is felt as well as understood. It’s been a pleasant discovery that I am accepting this with equanimity.

I have really relished been booted out of my comfort zone – working from home, VCing family and friends rather than visiting, doing more cooking, running, spending time with my partner, even a bit of sketching with Grayson Perry.

However there is a negative note.

Have the ability to accept the unacceptable

You may not accept the government statistics but even theirs are saying we have, per million population the fourth worst death rate in the world currently, topping Italy and Spain, and for some reason right behind Belgium. And even with this tragedy Boris Johnson’s approval rating has increased (courtesy of the Daily Mail, mid April). How can this be so?

April 2020 Net Worth Update

I feel like I am getting into the swing of life in lockdown. I must admit I did struggle before Easter, but since our time off over the long week I seem have learnt to better work and live at home and personally am feeling more on an even keel.

It is really humbling to hear about and see how people are responding to the crisis, particularly our NHS and other key workers. I feel sheltered from it with most of my family and friends working at home or being furloughed. I want to understand what is going on in the UK and abroad so I am watching the news, I am very much a news junky but am rationing myself … just a little.

I am still behind blogging both writing and reading – have loads of ideas for posts but for some reason the garden and kitchen deep cleans are taking my attention! This and my financial education in more general is something I want to prioritise for the next few months. Let’s see how I get on!

Getting to figures, where are we for April then? I have continued with a savings rate of 40% and topped up my investements with £572 from cash – the change in my net worth has been an increase of £1550 or 1.3% from last month (small yeah), however I am down 1.4% from the end of 2019 (small boo).

Actions from March

  • The main activity was to have the April MCR FIRE – Friday 17th April, using Zoom – I think it went really well and I will try and do a separate update. It was different of course, we used Zoom, and there were I think about 30 people, most from the North but some from farther afield, including fellow FIRE chasers from the London FI group. We had a couple of presentations from D and M and lots of discussion, which continued well after the ‘formal’ part of the evening.
  • Am dong OK keeping sane, positive, and connected, Have built up many a new habit of Zoom family calls, quizzes with friends and work colleagues. Have also been enjoying online festivals through United We Stream and Open Mic Nights e.g. One Mic Stand – am going to do a post on what I’ve been up to in lockdown in response to Saving Ninja’s Thought Experiment challenge.
  • … and not drinking too much cheap cider. A big fail here I have to admit.

Personal Expenditure last month

Total expenditure for April £194 which is 29% down on my monthly average and 26% of what I actually allocate for my personal expenditure. It does still amaze me that I can spend £200 and not supposed to be leaving the house, however it is all reasonable. The main expenditure of presents including some nice folders for mother’s day (£77.95), charity contributions (£46.90) and ‘Entertainment’ which now consists of books and booze! I am accruing some of my allocated personal expenditure to buy a new phone, and if I have any money left I will invest it.

Action for next month

Next month I really want to concentrate on my own personal financial education, this involves reading more including finishing ‘The Simple Path the Wealth’ and other FI books – I currently have, ‘Your Money or Your Life’, the Choose FI book and David Sawyer’s RESET on my to read list. I also want to use the blog to reflect my reading, deepen my understanding and take action. I am also doing FI101 ChooseFI’s online FI course.

At work, I and a colleague are our team’s ‘well being champions’. We are using the six ways to well being to support and engage each other in well being activities. The six ways to well being include, connect, take notice, be active, keep learning, give and care. There is nothing about financial well being so am planning on putting something of my own together for colleagues.

March 2020 Net Worth Update and MCR FIRE meet up change of venue (now online)

Well that was painful, unexpected and, new word of the year ‘unprecedented‘! Such a lot has happened in the last 10 days / 2 weeks hasn’t it? I am getting used to the new normal; working at home, the joys of virtual pub quizzes, having Zoom family gatherings and missing my daily cycle.

Am a bit behind with blogging generally so am hoping social distancing will give me more time to devote to thinking and writing about FI and engaging more with the FI blogging community. I must admit I have been avoiding blogs and blogging over last two months or so – partly I was away for 2 weeks on holiday, work has been busy but I think I also have been avoiding it all on purpose, bingeing on BBC news, indulging in a bit of catastrophising and getting used to new habits.

I am not going to reflect on what Covid-19 has taught me about financial markets and life in general or how I am spending my time in lockdown for this post. Just the numbers, here goes, since last month Feb 2020 and despite a savings rate of 40%, my net worth has decreased,

  • – 3.00%
  • – £3,622

Actions from December

  • Research Investment Trusts, what are they, how do they compare to funds and identify if they could provide more stability in providing a reliable income from investments when I FIRE.
    • I did a bit of research but am waiting for the April MCR FIRE meet up online to hear how M using them to support his FI
  • Research contributing to a pension when taking a pension, confirm how it works, if there are any restrictions and how it could fit into my FIRE strategy.
    • Complete. Understand this is still possible the amount you can contribute is restricted to £3,600 (individual contributions £2,880, tax relief £720).
  • Research the fund tips and decide if I would like to invest!
    • Not done, need to revisit
  • Think about the next FIRE meet up in the new year and see if a more structured session would be of interest – in fact D, Weenie and I have already been having an email exchange about the next steps.
    • Complete! We had a great meet up in the Salutation 21st Feb, we had a relaxed round table chat about who were are, how we came to FI etc and a presentation by Weenie on her approach to FI, great to see new faces and met the FI blogger FU man chu. Matt posted a summary of the evening on The Lemon Fool
  • Set up a mailing list so that anyone who attends the meet ups, whether they are a friend of a friend, use Facebook, Twitter or read blogs are aware of future events.
  • Additional quotes and a more detailed budget for the cellar conversion.
    • Still thinking about this, did a more detailed budget, but Covid-19 has put a bit of a blocker on this, so am pausing

Personal Expenditure last month

Parking doing this, mind elsewhere – am assuming with social isolation that ‘Entertainment’ budget line will be severely reduced!

But since I last blogged I do want to check in with myself, maybe the last time for at few months, of some of the social activities I have enjoyed,

  • 2 weeks travelling in Southern India – Tamil Nadu and Kerala
  • MCR FIRE meet up 21st Feb
  • Art of the Brick – Arty Lego Exhibition at Northern Warehouse Manchester, with my nephews and their families and lunch at Carluccio’s (now unfortunately in Administration), my Xmas gift to them
  • Afternoon tea at Cloud 23 celebrating my friend’s 60th birthday
  • A canal boat trip with All Board from Sale Marina to Dunham Massey with friends – this was my Xmas present to them. We had lunch at the Axe and Cleaver and they even bought out Xmas crackers for us!
  • Met up with my 4 old school friends for drinks and dinner
  • Wine club with my friends (just before lock down – we were very very drunk)
Kodaicanal Tamil Nadu India

Action for next month

Keeping it simple this month

The main activity is our have our April MCR FIRE – Friday 17th April, is now going to be online using Zoom. Come and join us, you don’t even have to be in Manchester or the North West now.

Also am aiming to stay sane and positive, keep connected, and not drink too much cheap cider.

The power of the pot

I’ve been using ‘pots’ for years now to earmark funds for specific purposes. I started off simple, just the one or two pots. My oldest pot is ‘monthly spends’ a slush fund for discretionary expenses; booze, cinema, trips out… all that good stuff.

My pots are usually virtual rather than physical; current, savings accounts etc. But I have used physical pots (actually an empty tin of Uncle Jo’s mint balls) to squirrel money away.

Dave Ramsey talks like he invented potting (my snideness hides huge fandom, the subject of a future post), but calls it ‘The envelope system‘, having an envelope for each budget category, usually discretionary categories that it is easy to over spend on e.g. groceries, or going-out. Cash is put in each envelope so you ear mark your spending for that category – and his rules are, no money in the envelope no money to spend.

Putting a virtual or physical ring fence around funds for different spending categories is so simple but so powerful.

It allows you to see your progress toward specific goals.

It creates enforced scarcity so you don’t over spend.

It provides focus – a specificity which which drives good behaviour e.g. more intentional spending or increasing the drive to save.

It makes measurement simpler, and we all know what happens when you measure.

It provides transparency and clarity about what is happening to your money, where its going, showing either your priorities or your excesses.

Level 1 potting

It must be over 20 years since I started potting – this level one potting was mainly for my monthly spends as well as a pension and stocks and shares ISA pot.

I have always found separating off my monthly spending, all that lovely fun stuff that can just have your money disappearing into a round here and a lunch there, a corner stone of managing my money. This is the only account I have and do sometimes use an overdraft on. Even though I do have money elsewhere I would not use it for my monthly spends, opting instead to go into overdraft, suffer a fee and have to recoup the money from the next month.

Level 1 potting

Level 2 potting

When I really started getting intentional with my spending, and it may have coincided with my partner and I getting married and joining our finances, I can’t quite remember, but I took the potting up a level! Pots for household expenses, savings and home improvements were born. Like monthly spends household expenses is another cornerstone of managing expenditure. I kick myself that it took so long to get it set up. My finances were stabilising and my income increasing enabling me to save and think ahead on how to finance significant activity such as home improvements. This pot has allowed me to finance some very expensive but absolutely gorgeous sash windows!

Level 2 potting

Level 3 potting

I have now reached potting nirvana – a full set of pots where every pound is accounted for. This is a very recent state of financial affairs. I listen to Dave Ramsey on loop and he prescribes the every dollar budget where every single dollar is accounted for. With level 2 potting there was money hanging around, some of it I classed as an emergency fund, some of it I used for holidays or propping up other pots, basically it was a a bit sloppy and ill disciplined. So I set up two new pots, holidays and Xmas. I have set up an account with a local credit union for Xmas spends to support community based ethical saving and lending. I also decided to define more clearly my emergency fund and inspired by Maven Money podcast (espisode 142) have put £5,000 emergency fund into Premium Bonds.

Level 3 potting

Now ever pound is accounted for so I can now track my priorities and my excesses!

Are you a potter? Are you Level 1, 2 or 3?

MCR FIRE Meet up February 2020

First MCR FIRE Meet up of the new decade! 21st February 2020 from 6pm, informal presentations from 7.15pm. ‘The Salutation’ was a hit in November so we are heading back.

Something a little different this meet up – as well as the usual informal evening with the opportunity to meet like minded FIRE chasers, it will include an informal presentation and discussion on ‘The  FIRE journey and investing for FIRE’.

Getting there

Address: The Salutation, 12 Higher Chatham Street, Manchester, M15 6ED, just 10 mins walk from Oxford Road Station.

Car parks: There are a number of car parks near by as well as some street parking near Manchester Metropolitan University

Get the train: 10 mins south of Oxford Road station

Map of Salutation from Oxford Rd Station

All welcome at whatever stage in the journey!

2019 Year in Review / 2020 Goals

Have really enjoyed other blogger’s year in reviews and goal setting for 2020, am a bit late to this party and have changed my mind on goals for 2020, slimming them down and trying to be more focused. Here goes!

2019 was a good year financially, with significant, for me at least, improvements to my net worth however you cut the pie. Whether I measure just my cash and investments, whether I include the BTL or my own home in the calculations, all figures are on the up and are improvements on last year. See the updated net worth in £s in my Net Worth page.

My Financial Year in Numbers

The idea that what gets measured is improved has definitely come true for me this year – I have definitely got into better habits this year in terms of

  • increasing % of savings in investments
  • decreasing the % of my total net worth in cash, but still a way to go
  • monitoring my monthly spend so I can 1) be honest with myself, 2) look at how to reduce spending and 3) be realistic about what passive income I need for FI
  • setting up more squirrel pots so I manage Xmas and holiday expenditure better

I have continued to consume lots of personal finance and FIRE content largely by podcasts. I listen to Dave Ramsey every day! Check in with ChooseFI regularly and love my UK based podcasts of Meaningful Money, Money to the Masses and Maven Money.

Also this is the year when I have started reading blogs, blogging myself and making more connections with other people in the North West interested in FI. I have been involved in two MCR FIRE meets up and have got a lot of encouragement, motivation, tips and knowledge from like minded people. I have also started reading more of my fellow FIRE chaser’s blogs as well as being more active on Facebook include the ChooseFI Manchester UK Facebook.

2020 Goals

So what about my goals for 2020. I am a goal setter and sometime goal achiever! This year I am going to be focusing on goals in 3 areas

  • Financial
    • Increase savings rate to 40%
    • Increase in net worth to exceed or at least be in line with 2019 figures i.e. 28% increase in net worth
    • Increase savings / income by £2,000 with side hustles / squirreling / being more ruthless with budgeting
  • Personal
    • Focus on well-being and get a better better work / life balance, leave work on time, sleep better and don’t self medicate – which will leave me more time, energy and head space to do more of the things that make me happy
  • Preparation for FI
    • As well as all the the financial goals above, I also want to work on getting myself and my partner ‘on the same page’