09 Mar 2015

A question about : The Big Adventure

For the last week or so, I’ve been hanging around the MFW board, looking at peoples diaries, and adding a couple of comments here and there.
One thing has struck me, that everyone is focussed on their goals, but is keen to be enjoying life while they are on their journey.
I’m at a different stage of my life, as I paid my mortgage off a few years ago. But the things that all the MFW-ers are doing are the same sort of things that I’m doing in my preparations for my early retirement.
I had wanted to start a diary at the start of this year, but felt a bit shy, as my mortgage had been paid off.
What I did do was join the 2014 Frugal Living Challenge, which has been very helpful, and I thank everyone on that thread, which I will continue participating in.
However, after reading the MFW diaries, I saw that there are people in the same life situation as me with diaries, so I realised that to a certain extent, MFW is a state of mind, as well as actually clearing a mortgage.
With that thought in mind, I decided that it’s the right time for me to start my diary. I want to keep all my thoughts in one place, as it’ll be easier for me to refer back to later. Also, it’ll be good for organising myself – I like a few lists, and at the moment my lists are ad hoc pieces of paper all over the house!
If all goes to plan, this time next year will see me in my final days at work. I feel excited about the future, and feel I’m at the brink of a new stage in my life – hence the title of my diary, The Big Adventure!

Best answers:

  • I’ve copied (and updated) my first posts from the Frugal Living Challenge, as an introduction to me, and to remind myself what I planned at the start of the year!
    I’m 54 and my husband is 62, and we are hoping to retire around about April 2015. It’ll obviously be an early retirement for me, and my husband will be 65 in October 2016, so he’d be retiring about 18 months early.
    At present, we both work, although less than full time. I work two days a week, and my husband works four days a week. We also both receive a pension each from our previous employers.
    Our mortgage is paid off and we have no other debts. At the present time, all our needs and wants (not excessive wants!) are covered by our joint income and we are able to save money each month too.
    However, for 18 months from April 2015, we’d just have our current pension income to live on, until my husband is 65, when his state pension kicks in and another couple of small occupational pensions. I’ll get my state pension when I’m 66, but that’s too far ahead to even think about!
    We do have savings, but that money is for the travel we hope to do after we stop working. I don’t want to use our savings for day to day living.
    I want to ensure that our pension income, especially during that first 18 months covers our needs and a few wants too. It’d also be nice to still be able to put a little into savings too – after the first 18 months I certainly want to be able to put some money into savings each month, for contingencies etc.
    What I want to do is to build a sustainable, enjoyable and comfortable retirement life, by reducing the cost of some needs so we can still have some wants too.
  • At the start of the year I drew up a ‘post retirement’ budget, which we have been living on since then. The surplus money is going into savings.
    I had to do a bit of juggling. I needed to adjust the amount of pension income, to reflect that, if that was our only income, we’d hardly be paying any tax. Then I didn’t include the money we use on petrol to get to work. We currently have two cars, but will sell one car on retirement, so I had to reflect that in my calculations too.
    I worked out that we’d have Ј1487.00 coming in each month.
    I calculated all our regular outgoings – food, insurances, council tax, utilities, Sky TV, expenses for one car, and so on. I averaged them out over the year, and came up with the monthly figure of Ј956 per month. This left around Ј530 for everything else . Entertainment, hair appointments, days out, things for the home and garden, clothes, books, magazines, the odd takeaway, cups of coffee in Costa or similar, all those probably non essential things
    When I worked out the food budget, I averaged out what we had spent on food per month in 2013.
    This worked out at Ј325 per month. As we had a three and a half week holiday away from home, the reality was, that it was probably more than that. So I have been working to reduce this figure, and also buy for the store cupboard at the same time. I’ve had a degree of success, but from time to time I like an M&S meal, so I’ll never be 100% perfect in this area!
    Since the start of the year, I’ve invested in a breadmaker, a yoghurt maker and a slow cooker, which are helping in my aim to reduce food shopping expenditure ( this part of the budget also includes things like loo rolls and cleaning equipment.)
    The figures so far.
    Food expenditure Ј340 (included a lot of store cupboard items)
    General Expenditure Ј395 (74% of allowance)
    Food expenditure Ј213
    General expenditure Ј478 (90% of allowance)
    Food expenditure Ј255
    General expenditure Ј475 (90% of allowance)
    So I’m generally pleased with progress. There has been some ‘out of budget’ expenditure, notably the servicing of our 2nd car, and we paid for a chap to cut down the large shrubs in our garden, but it does make me feel that our aims are achievable.
  • Hello and welcome (I think I saw you posting on SSS' diary)
    MFW does seem like a good home for you at present. We have boards dedicated to mortgages/pensions/savings & investments, but sometimes no one board feels right when you want to take a holistic view of things.
    I think we need a financial independence (FI) board!
  • Phew, that was a lot of writing, but I just wanted to get everything into my diary, so I know exactly where I am !
    I'm really pleased that I've got my diary under way, as it's something I've wanted to do for a while, but as I said in my other post, felt a bit shy about doing!
    I've got a lot of admiration for the MFW-ers. Your diaries are variously entertaining, inspiring, moving, and generally fascinating.
    Anyway, on with the diary!
    Monday's are typically the days when I try and get as much of my housework out of the way as possible
    I started off by doing 'the eBay run ' down to the Post Office. 12 things sold this week, so a very respectable amount of things have left the house. Also, for the first time in ages, everyone paid over the weekend, so I'm not waiting for any late payers.
    Then I got stuck into the vacuuming, and gave the kitchen a good going over. I'm going to do the rest of the housework tomorrow.
    I would have liked to have got some washing out on to the line, but it's been raining most of the day. I'll do a load this evening, and dry it on clothes horses over night. Tumble drier use is at a minimum under my new regime!
    A couple of weeks ago we had a man round to cut back our shrubs. He's back again today to clear the gutters and to wash the fascia boards of the dormer window at the front of the house. He's charging Ј80 for this, but it's money well spent, as Mr Goldie doesn't like heights, and the dormer window is VERY difficult to get too.
    The Ј80 will have to come out of 'Contingencies' fund - I normally try to keep about Ј1000 in there.
    Dinner this evening is paprika beef, out of the freezer. This is the other half of what I cooked in the slow cooker a couple of weeks ago.
    This evening I hope to generally relax and read my Kindle, and maybe do a bit of my jigsaw.
  • Welcome to the board of support whatever your goal. We all have different experiences but lots of good ideas to use.
  • Thank you LPG
    Today has dawned bright and sunny, so I'll get some washing out on the line to dry.
    I've got tonight's dinner out of the freezer, a chicken and chorizo stew. I was thinking, I must do some sort of freezer inventory/list of contents. Every 5/6 weeks I do a big batch cook of things like chilli/ Spag Bol / cottage pie, and when I cook other meals I do double, so one half goes in the freezer. Even though it's a small freezer, it's still difficult to know exactly what's in there. Long term plans involve getting another small freezer to run alongside, or replacing with a bigger freezer.
    Then this morning I'm going to run round with the duster, and iron yesterday evenings washing.
    Have a hair appointment at 1 o'clock. I have my hair cut every six weeks. I used to have colour put in every 3 months, although I have cut back slightly on this, and have my colour done 3 times a year rather than 4. I cut my husbands hair, but I'm not willing to let him loose on my hair! I think my hair appointments are something I'm not willing to compromise on. Also, I've been going to the same hairdresser for 32 years, so it's a social thing as well.
    Had an email through from M&S about the house insurance renewal. I might do a couple of comparisons, but I think we'll stay with them. I know they aren't the cheapest, I trust them. When my mum died and we had to cancel a holiday at short notice, they paid out on the travel insurance with no fuss whatsoever, so that was one thing I didn't have to stress about at a terrible time.
    Anyway, better get on with the day
  • Hello Goldie,
    I am pleased to see your diary. I think that you are where we will be in a couple of years. However, you have inspired me to go off and add up our necessary spending as opposed to treats... I will let you know!
    Thank you,
    Squirrel x
  • Hello,
    I am back with the figures , there are not many so it didn't take long! Petrol, TV, water, media, gas, electricity, contact lenses, prescriptions, council tax, union fees, food, car taxes and insurances comes to Ј1104. That does include Ј320 for work travel though and we would not have that if we stopped work. But what it doesn't include is.... Holidays and trips away, entertainment, eating out, gifts, Christmas, dry cleaning, furniture and house maintenance, clothes and all the little goodies that make life fun! So without petrol, Ј800 for basics, then from our Ј1500 budget that would leave Ј700 for incidentals each month. I can't believe that that is not manageable. We will see from next month.
    Have a good day,
    Squirrel x
  • Hello SSS, thanks for dropping by!
    It's really interesting and helpful to hear from someone in a very similar situation and income as me.
    When I worked out my budgets, I included Ј325 for food & cleaning stuff etc. Based on my spending so far this year, I'm pretty confident I can average out at between Ј225 to Ј250 per month, so that'd give at least an additional Ј75 per month.
    Also included in the essentials is Sky TV. We have the complete package, which is a hefty Ј67.25 per month. I've been thinking about this for a while. I think it's worth our while keeping Sky Sports, as we genuinely watch it a lot (or at least Mr Goldie does ).
    But I am considering ditching Sky Movies. We do like films and cinema, but have been aware for some time that we haven't been getting our money's worth with Sky Movies.
    In order to use it more, we've stopped going to the cinema, and stopped buying DVD's, in order to watch more films on Sky.
    But even so, there's still only about 2 or 3 films a month that we watch on Sky. Not really worth Ј37.00 !
    If we ditch Sky Movies, we can have nice outings to the cinema in the afternoon, or buy it when the film comes out on DVD and sell the DVD on eBay fairly quickly, so we can get some money back for the next DVD we want.
    I know there's things like Spotify or Netflix, but I'm a bit of a dinosaur, and I'm not sure about them
    By making these savings, we could put our fun budget up to Ј650 to Ј675, so very similar to you.
    It does sound a lot, on paper.
    So far this year we've been doing ok. I've managed to get a few household things like a breadmaker, a steam mop and a slow cooker. We've had a couple of outings, and I've booked a couple of theatre shows for later in the year (Canterbury, not West End), and I've booked a coach trip to Harry Potter Studios. Also had a few coffees here and there, but I haven't bought any clothes so far this year.
    But this is while we are at work..... we may want to do more 'fun' when we stop. We will be looking at cheap days out too. We are in National Trust and English Heritage, so we could visit one of their properties and take a picnic lunch, so that'd be quite cheap. Or go for a walk in one of the local country parks and take our own coffee, rather than stopping in the refreshment hut !
    I tend to think it's do-able, but we'll have to be careful and think about what we spend.
    Incidentally, we are going to Bluewater tomorrow, so that'll be a test of the new budgeting systems!
  • Welcome and good luck!
  • Hi GG,
    Go for it, I am interested in your (if I may be so bold) normal perspective on your retirement plans. I have read one or two posts on the pension forum, and sometimes you have to be an actuary or accountant to understand, so an everyday reality of how you achieve your retirement is something I get Count me in on following your journey!
  • Hi GG, another GG here . Fascinating reading so far .
  • Morning GoldieGirl, welcome to the madhouse