I’ve seen lots of people post monthly updates as to where they are in relation to their goals- or their FIRE number etc. Though, I’ve been tempted to do the same, I’m not sure what readers might get from it- especially on a monthly basis. So, instead, I thought I’d do maybe 1 article a year- what I’d learnt, where I’d gotten too.
My early years:
Growing up, my parents always said saving money would be a good idea. So, I did, for years, saving away my summer jobs etc. Then I’d splash out on something as a teenager seemed unreachable- a digital camera, minidisk player, computer for myself. It really taught me how much “money” cost to me. My summer job paid £3 an hour, so if something cost £300, it was equal to 100 hours work. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay any tax on such low income & parents didn’t charge me anything to stay at home at that point.
In my early twenties
Bought a house as soon as I could possibly do so- as I knew/thought that house prices would just continue to increase. Renting for the previous 7~ years was just paying somebody else’s mortgage + increasing their house equity etc. So, soon as I could, off I went looking for a house. I ended up buying in 2007- possibly the very worse time ever, but it’s easy to say that was foresight. Though, as it was a “first time buyer house” it wasn’t very expensive (though, felt very expensive at the time!). It had recently been refurbished, so whilst higher price than others around, I was hoping that it didn’t need any additional work- so hopefully saving me time/money. Back then, I didn’t have any skills to do property maintenance, having been in rented properties for the past 6~ years. I managed to avoid credit card debt/loans that some of my friends got into- instead, just not buying things I couldn’t afford.
Well, 2008 happened, thankfully didn’t lose my job- though looking back, that was definitely luck over judgement, since I had switched jobs just before it all kicked off. The best thing that happened was interest rates flat-lining, so every time I renewed the mortgage on a 2 year deal, the interest rate dropped massively. I took the opportunity to keep the mortgage repayment amounts the same, with the term dropping substantially on every renewal.
Continued mortgage payments + overpayments, and making use of every bargain that was on offer- bank switching, energy switching, wherever there was £10 to be saved, I was on it. With life/work happening more and more in Cardiff- I wanted to move closer, but also knew that prices were so much higher and didn’t want to end up in a tiny flat (or paying management fees to anybody). I continued to save and plan for the future- hoping that something would work itself out. I also continued to avoid all debt- using credit cards only their protection & cashback only. If I didn’t have the money in the bank, then it wasn’t something that I would buy.
House searching began in earnest- setting a budget, then falling in love with a house that was just outside the budget. Ending up offering on a house just down the street that was in budget- then having it fall through (stupid house buying system in the Wales), meant that we ended up without a house for a short while. We stretched and went for the house out of budget- helped by paying off the mortgage + staying almost rent free with family for 3 months.
Restarted investments- have raided almost all the savings for the purchase of the (more expensive) house. Withdrew some equitity for a new car/kitchen that we ended up doing neither (Tesla was more expensive than I thought- and commute was so much shorter after moving). Kitchen, I ended up just going with new kitchen worktops/sink & gas hobs, rather than a completely new fitout. Ended up having quite a bit of spare cash that went into the markets- where it will stay for some years…
I’m not sure I had a target date/age when I started that I wanted to FIRE. I knew I didn’t want to wait until state pension age- my dad managed to swing early retirement, and I wanted to do the same. It’s impossible to tell where I stand at the moment with markets so choppy- but its looking something like age 50-55. Lots of that depends on how much we save/invest in the future (assuming we both still have jobs and all). I can see spending increasing- especially on holidays, we haven’t spent more than £1k on a holiday ever, and only go abroad once a year. It’s all a challenge of getting the right balance. There is no way that I could do without some nice holidays for 10 years just in order to retire 1 year earlier. I would glad work an extra year for 10 (or is that 11?) nice years of holidays. For me, FIRE isn’t retiring early at any cost- it needs to be measured approach, I don’t want to lose out on some of “life”.
What are your thoughts? How did your journey go? Any tips to share?