September 2019 Update

One more month of squirreling, and what has it brought? Not as much as last month even though my savings rate is the same.   My net work increased by…

  • 0.43%
  • £492

Nothing did very well this month, however one silver lining was I received my annual statement from my DB pension. I googled the transfer value and it is £273,106 (the calculator gives a range and I take the lower number), which is £35,023 increase from last year. Yippee!

Actions from last month

  • Reinvest the RMG dividend due in Sept
    • Update: done, the princely sum of £37
  • Increase investing and reduce saving. Invest the £225 of the £250 I usually save
    • Update: done, from this month I am starting investing a total of £670 into Vanguard Lifestrategy 80% Equity per month instead of £445
  • Monitor my spending to see if I can increase my savings and investment
    • Update: this was a bit of a surprise, I did monitor my spending quite diligently. I am a fan of cash but to help me monitor my spending I used my debit card 95% of the time. Bearing in mind, this expenditure is purely my personal money for eating out, drinks with friends, clothes, weekends way etc, and came to £831.11 – with £200 on eating out and drinks down the pub. I did though have some exceptional one off expenses
      • nearly £300 on a 5 day cycle holiday in Scotland
      • £75 on a handmade woollen cape for my nephews wedding

In the end there was very little money left over in September to invest, however it did motivate me see if I can manage my going drinking and eating, I do enjoy it but maybe a month every now and again, I challenge myself not to. Not October though, I have lots already in my diary!

Action for this month

Following on from the FIRE meet up in September I am planning on investigate the DC part of my pension and do some scenario-ising around using it as a bridge between when I want to FIRE and taking my DB pension – avoiding at least some of the penalties of taking by DC pension early. I may then have an action to increase my DC contribution in additional to or at the expenses of my S&S ISA.

Inspired by TEA’s post ‘That stuff is money…‘ I am committing to selling stuff on eBay during October. I don’t have anything major just some books and stuff so aiming for £60.

MCR FIRE meet up 27th September 2019

My 1st and and Manchester’s 2nd!

  • Venue 7/10 – J said it was too noisy
  • Atmosphere and conversation = 10/10
  • Fire fans = around 15
  • Pints of cider = 2
The Well Area in the Rain Bar

A great night last Friday at Rain Bar Manchester for my first meet up with other FIRE chasers. Some venue issues, it was noisy, they finished food early and they didn’t reserve the area as I agreed. However all this didn’t spoil the evening at all. I met lots of lovely new friends and learnt a lot and have some actions for the coming months.

My favourite conversations….

  • Talking match betting with W and K – both gave me some tips, confidence to give it a go and offers of help.
  • Using a SIPP as a bridge between your FIRE and DB Pension date with M – this has had me thinking how I could use my combination of a DC pension pot and a Stocks and Shares ISA rather than take my DB pension early. Taking the DB pension early is subject to penalties so I need to do some analysis on how I can use the DC pension pot and ISA investments as a bridge, at least for a year or two.
  • Had a good chat with B and her partner D, B is interested in doing a FIRE podcast, good luck B – looking forward to seeing how you progress this.
  • Met J, a long time FIREer – probably before FIRE was a thing – who talked about being FI since Margaret Thatcher came to power! How impressive. This was at a time when you had to fill out forms and send your investment instructions by post!
  • Chatting with S who is in the same sector as me.
  • Finding out about the North West Shares Group with DW and starting to think about some joint activity / attending their more formal investment club skills share meet ups.
Thank you

We also discussed ‘coming out’ to friends and family about our FIRE journey. It was interesting to note and reflect that many of us don’t share our FI aspirations and goals. B said she did share her savings with one friend and the conversation didn’t go well. W thinks when they talk about RE with colleagues they think she is banking on winning the lottery! I do have a couple of friends who are financially flexible / near independent through frugality and saving rather than investing. However I am still in the FIRE closet (albeit with the door open) so I could not be more surprised when after about an hour into the evening who should turn up but a good friend who lives 40 miles away and I haven’t seen for a while! I’ve been outed, my cover blown. I and Namaste Marn (a pseudonym!) had a good catch up, a laugh about the randomness of the evening and made a pact to try match betting in a couple of months.

Next steps / take-aways

  • Investigate the DC part of my pension and do some scenario-ising around using it as a bridge between when I want to FIRE and taking my DB pension – avoiding at least some of the penalties of taking by DC pension early.
  • Read up on and watch the match betting videos recommended by W and set a date with NM to start our match betting challenge!
  • Chat with other FIRE chasers and DW about a possible more formal joint meet up with the investor club.
  • Get our next meet up in the diary, November or January anyone?

And it didn’t end there…

As if talking match betting and SIPPs with complete strangers but now new friends and meeting up with NM wasn’t random enough – as me and NM were leaving RAIN Bar and discussing if they were coming back to mine for the evening, or taking the train home a young man came up to us wanting directions.

He was looking for his friend’s flat near a McDonald’s, but not the one he’d just passed. We pulled out our phones to help. While chatting we found out he was a drag artist called ‘Tallulah Tampax’ from Potters Bar, had just got off a train from Blackpool, where he’d left his phone down a drain and needed to get to his friends’ flat near the other McDonald’s – which was actually in Salford – and be on the door at Napoleon’s on Canal Street in full drag and high heels in an hour!

After messing about and trying to give him directions – I am a good map reader but it was quite late, I’d had a couple of ciders! I gave up and said – ‘look let me get you an Uber’. Whooooah you are saying why are you prepared to spend £3.97 on a complete stranger when you could invest that and get £10.77 in 20 years time at 5%! It might be worth saying he guessed my age 10 years younger than I am. NM and I waived him off with the advice to pay it forward, he got in the cab, didn’t look back or return our wave. Oh well.

  • What where your highlights of the evening?
  • When shall we meet again?
  • Where shall we meet?
  • Would you be interested in more formal learning session with North West Share Group?

August Update

Let’s talk numbers. This month I saved the usual 38% of my gross salary as usual with around 17% into cash and S&S ISA, and increased my net worth (exc DB pension) by

  • 0.85%
  • £1,259

My S&S ISA did OK with growth of 0.85% excluding my regular monthly investment. Am still hanging on to my Royal Mail shares hoping for them to crawl back up to the purchase price, so the £68 increase is good but I know I should sell and cut my losses. No growth in my DC pot despite investing £241, looking on the positive side – buying low(er).

Actions for next month

  • Reinvest the RMG dividend due in Sept
  • Monitor my spending to see if I can increase my savings and investment
  • Increase investing and reduce saving. Invest the £225 of the £250 I usually save

My first ever blog post….argh

Hello my name is the squirreler and I love personal finance. I love that it provides me with tools, techniques and a mindset to achieve my goals – but I love reading about it, listening to podcasts and messing about with spreadsheets just for the fun of it!

I think about it as like my love of maps, again I love that they help me understand where I am, visualise where I want to be and how to get there, but actually I just love maps, the beauty and utility of them.

So why am I starting a blog, what do I want to get out of it and why do I think you might be interested?!

I’ve been quietly getting on with my financial independence journey before I had even heard of FIRE, and now I am ready to start talking about it. No-one likes to talk about money do they? It is seen as boring, something personal (akin to talking about your sex life), self centred or braggy, a touchy subject… take your pick.

Well I am outing myself (slowly!).

I want to

  • Document my journey – have a record for myself at least
  • Understand myself more, my biases, world views and challenge myself – there is nothing like writing it down, trying to create coherence from fragments of ideas to really understand what you think and why
  • Explore ideas, reflect on my journey and the journey of others, learn and take action to improve
  • Get feedback and challenge from others
  • Engage and network with other bloggers

Why should you be interested?

I have no idea, I do hope people find it interesting and useful and I will always challenge myself to suggest actionable tips and take aways’ (if just for myself).

But please bear in mind, I have no financial qualifications or credentials and nothing I write constitutes advice – I am just an ordinary person trying to do something which I, at least, think is extraordinary – be financially independent and live my best life.