1st Anniversary

Well it’s a year and a day (+1 by the time this hits the web) since I started on my FI journey. Time for a bit of a retrospective. I won’t go too much into the figures as that can happen in the yearly update due in a few days time but at a high level:

  • Lost 7.1 kilos. Am 16% of the way to my goal. I have done this without really trying much by way of exercise
  • The back held up for most of the year (gave it a real twinge in the garden this evening though) and my ankle is feeling back to 100%. Pity about the knees! I notice though that if I do my core activation clenches, the knees don’t hurt as much. I simply have to get this back sorted out pronto! Quality of life with a dodgy spine is just non-existent.
  • Added $116k to my net worth. This includes about $50k in home equity and $34k in superannuation. The other $32k was from savings and investments. This was tracking a lot higher prior to the bear market that opened up over the last 2.5 – 3 months.
  • Got a date determined for my independence. It is an aggressive date and it would want the market and particularly my shares to improve at some stage relatively soon but provided we aren’t going into some sort of great depression, I am still confident. Indeed, since my market stake is small at the moment, the main engine of growth is my pay cheque and so the longer the prices can stay low, the more I can acquire. Still…. It would be nice to see a few more green pips

Goals:

Goals-wise, well I smashed the financial ones. I set a bunch of goals at the start of the exercise and had them all pretty much nailed 4 or 5 months ago. Then having read a bit from Aussie Firebug about how to approach early retirement in a system where you can’t access your super until age 60, I set some new goals. Thanks to market tankage, they weren’t reached but provided we aren’t going into a multi-year bear market or depression, I am not too worried. So long as the doors stay open with my businesses, I feel as confident as I can…. for now.

As an aside, the new goals have had me thinking about my monthly reports and what goes into them. I will have a new format for next year.

I didn’t put any timings on my weight and fitness goals so it is no surprise that those results haven’t been as impressive. Occasionally, I would try and set an end of month weight but would notice that I went completely the opposite way the moment I set my goal there. I just don’t know how to set physical goals, it seems.

Headspace 1: Spending

Psychologically it has been a wild ride. I started with a good mix of optimism and determination,mixed with a bit of anger about having ‘let myself go so’ for so long. After a few months this anger dissipated and gave way to a happiness that I appeared to be on track to making it out of the rat race by 50.

As the year wore on my expense tracking showed that I was understating my spending but also understating some of my earnings. Either way, it wasn’t going to be as easy as I had been thinking. As it turned out, a lot of my big ticket one-off expenses happen in the first half of the year so this was making things look worse than they seemed. Yes… My expenses are still over what I’d hoped but 1) by only 6 or 7 thousand per year and 2) well at least that all gives me something to attack next year.

I suppose it is therefore safe to say that I feel OK with my spending. I know it needs to improve, though my partner probably doesn’t agree. But it hasn’t been too much of a crimp on my lifestyle so far and there is so much fat to still be trimmed.

Headspace 2: Working

I had read a few posts about the importance of working hard and keeping active, especially once I had worked out my date and number. It is advice that I should have taken more seriously.

See, once you work out you exit point there is the very real temptation to check-out of work and mark time. Performance slides, the in tray becomes more daunting, the enjoyment of the work diminishes even further and the time starts to stretch. Not only that but at 8 hours per day plus commute and overtime, it is an awfully large chunk of your life devoted to being a nothing, still draining someone’s budget somewhere. It really is no good for your self esteem.

Now… I disagree with the concept of being defined by one’s work. I like to believe that we are so much more than our job titles. But there is a limit to this philosophy and to have 50-plus hours per week go gurgling down the drain for no benefit (it makes for a shitty holiday even as you are still chained to a desk) is a surefire way to bring on the blues.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had the stressful job too and I want that even less. But I have clearly gotten myself into a funk by not using my remaining days in the rat race better.

This next 12 months I need to put in at work. I have new tech to learn and to get proficient with. There is no guarantee that my position will be there in 5 years and as a guy who has been a long time in the public sector and is now in his 40’s, this makes me extremely vulnerable. A retrenchment at any stage in the next 59 months will put a real crimp on The Plan, unless I can become some sort of ninja at what I do in the meantime. Then a retrenchment package, followed by parachuting into a new role at grade might just cut a year off the plan (or make for a fat early retirement). Regardless, I figure that it is probably going to be the last time I will need to pick up this much new stuff before I retire. I’m sure that I have it in me. My efforts in the lat year or so with this have been a joke.

Music:

Music-wise, I am a little sad. I had hoped to get further into production this year but I have been in a rut and have not enjoyed it and hence haven’t created a song. Not one. I decided that in the new year I am going to pick up a new synth and mess around with that for a bit. There are a few sounds that I would love to be able to use and build on. I may find that I need to buy some new hardware as well. Let’s see how that goes. Right now though it isn’t a high priority, not even after enjoying the Armin Van Buuren Masterclass.

Writing:

As to the writing, well it has me intrigued. Normally I like to post content, just not to a blog. I know that when given a prompt, I can write straight off the brain stem and with a few edits, come up with something quite lovely to read. But in the blogging space, those prompts don’t come as easily, especially when you have no readers. The monthly updates for October and November were late, very late in the case of the latter and at a few points there, I was considering scrapping everything and shutting it down. After all, I had reigned in my spending and my weight wasn’t really going anywhere. Not only that but I figured I had nothing to add that wasn’t covered a hundred different ways by others already. What was the point? Punters want more than just spending updates.

Then I remembered that the primary purpose of this blog wasn’t to create content for others. It was to track my journey for my own benefit. If a conversation sparks up around any of the content, then well that’s fine and dandy and we can cross that bridge when we get to it etc, etc. But what is important is that I get here once a month minimum and report what I have done, what I have achieved and what I have failed at. If I don’t account for myself here then that will be the first major corner cut. And from there, the rest of it will unravel in short order. I know me. I’ve fallen off the wagon too many times before.

So it looks like I’ll be chronicling the second year of my journey after all. I think it promises to be an exciting year. My work hasn’t been all that flash. The company I work for is facing a few existential issues of its own. I am unqualified to be jumping jobs and the prospect of doing so at my age is terrifying. I am not qualified to do anything else. I’m still fat. I’m still unfit. While I have improved those last 2 attributes these last 12 months, I have so much more to do in that space. The market is tipping over a cliff. It could just be a correction. But considering how and for how long they’ve staved this off, we could be in for an epic crash. The recovery could kick in immediately. It might stay hollowed out and desolate for years.

Yep. “Exciting”. Not always a good thing.

1,799 days to go.

Monthly Update – November 2018

Well the grind continues here with stocks underperforming and the diet slowly turning to pot.  Mmmmm… pot…  Yeah that would be nice.

The fact that this post, which was started a week late, is being submitted almost a month late speaks volumes too. It has been very difficult to stay motivated with the plan. It has been going for a year now and my spending fundamentals have changed – I feel much happier saving than spending – but the headwinds are getting stronger and 5 years is beginning to sound like a long time.

The end of 2018 will be remembered in financial circles for some time I think.  Tens of billions have been flushed from the system, which is good.  But a lot of folks will be getting burned right now.

Personally, I’ doing OK.  I’ve gone from a good 4% floating profit to a 5% floating loss.  5 of my 6 stocks are down and the one that’s up is all over the place.  

It’s been a good chance to see how everything holds up under market pressure whilst still having the safety net of a big income.  Alas, it is also the silly season and I’ve burned through the cash a bit.

Emotionally it has been a tough month too.  The long march to retirement has started to bite and I find myself losing interest in my daily updates.  That this is the second post that is a week late also speaks volumes. 

I threw in the towel a couple of times in November, only to pick it up a few days later.  That’s pretty encouraging, but it is partially behind the malaise I’ve been in these last few weeks.  Probably deserves a post of its own

Weight:

I put on half a kilo. Felt like so much more, though I am seeing that through the lens of having put on a more again this first week of December.  The lady had her birthday, so there was the big (expensive) steak night and somehow w wound up with 2 giant cakes in our fridge.  I don’t even like cake, but there I was…  Grrr.  At least they are gone now.

The extra good news is that while not really pushing on the weight, it held quite nicely in the 126 kgs area rather than ballooning right out.  I am back at the top of 127 as I write but think I can get it back under control soon enough.

Finances:

These monthly spends look a bot better now that I acknowledge the $200 per fortnight that I am salary sacrificing into my super. Considering that my base wage is a touch over $3000 per fortnight, my older readings were high by a good 6.6 % Having said that, I haven’t been counting my yearly PT pass which will skew the numbers adversely. I’ll fix it up in the end of year true up

I suppose that there wasn’t a lot that was out of the ordinary about November’s spending. There was teh trip to the dentist which is never cheap and I bought an expensive bottle of overproof rum for my yearly rumballs batch. I took an extra tranche of cash and it looks like I was over average on takeaways and home deliveries. No wonder the weight drifted up a bit.

All in all, a decent enough month. My spending was down on the average by $500 and what I spent on was well appreciated. I will cut this post short because it is so late and also because there is the one-year anniversary post that I want to publish