A recap of the latest month and a look at my income and expenses.
Welcome to another monthly report!
Summer suddenly seems to be a distant memory; it’s already feeling cooler on the walk to and from work. Before I know it the clocks will be going back an hour and Halloween will be here. Where has the time gone?! I’m not ready for it to be dark when I finish work yet!
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Enough of my complaining. On with the show!
The most exciting thing this month was that we began wedding preparations. We gave our 28 days notice (which could have been increased to 70 days, as Ms FIRE is from the US, but thankfully that didn’t happen for us) and booked a venue for our reception. Now that we’re actually in the process of organising things and paying for bookings, it seems much more exciting!
Other than that, it was a pretty typical month. We went to visit some friends and family on two of the weekends in August, and the other two were spent chilling and playing videogames and boardgames. Ms FIRE bought me a new Dominion expansion which I’ve been enjoying playing. I highly recommend playing Dominion if you’re a boardgame fan who hasn’t had the opportunity to play it yet. And if you have played it, then Empires is a good expansion to check out. It adds a lot of new mechanics to the base game and makes it much more challenging.
I slightly increased my pension contributions last month, so I expected my wage to decrease accordingly. Needless to say I was surprised when I saw that it had actually increased somewhat! After looking into it, it turned out that my employer gives everyone a small increase in salary at this time of the year, which offset my increase in pension contributions. Very serendipitous!
Income from Matched Betting was the highest it’s been in several months. Still not reaching the lofty highs of many other UK bloggers, but I suppose that reflects the time I put into it. I attempted Each Way betting for the first time this month, and that is where most of my profit came from. I’m keeping the stakes very small at the moment at £2 each way, but so far so good. If you want to give it a go, OddsMonkey* have a free sign up, where they walk you through two offers that should earn roughly £40. That should give you an idea of whether or not it’s for you, and if it’s worth signing up for more offers.
Misc covers two things. First, I received £125 from First Direct for switching to them a month or two ago. Secondly, I received £25 from RateSetter for referring Tony from OneMillionJourney. Thanks Tony! If anyone else wants to sign up for Ratesetter and get a bonus £100, feel free to message me here or on Twitter.
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Rent and bills are more or less the same as ever. There’s a new expense that’s forcing its way to near the top of the table. As I mentioned above, we’re starting to incur some wedding costs! £94 of that is to give notice of marriage; giving notice usually costs £70, but costs slightly more because Ms FIRE is not from the UK/EU. The rest of that expense is booking our venue for our reception next year. I expect the next thing that we’ll have to get, sometime before Christmas, is the rings!
The other big expense this month was fun, the majority of which was £180 for the cost of a flight and hotel for a friend’s stag party in October. The rest of that is made up of about £6 on a few Kindle books (which I’ll cover in the Currently Reading section) and £40 on an escape room for a friend’s birthday. It was our second escape room and, whilst it was easier than the first one we did last year, it was still very fun. Everyone had their time to shine, and we ended up escaping with plenty of time to spare! I definitely want to try out a few more in the near future.
Everything else is pretty standard: ~£150 on trains to see friends on a few different weekends, ~£200 on groceries and toiletries, etc.
My savings rate for August was a mere 7.1%! This brings down my average for the year to 22%. I’ve got some work to do if I want to bring that back up to 25%!
I calculate my savings rate from my net income. This means that I don’t factor in pension contributions (currently about 10% of my gross income) but that I also don’t factor in tax, national insurance or student loan repayments. I could factor in pension contributions, but I think that will just artificially inflate the number. In some perverse way, I like seeing the low number as it inspires me to try to push myself to save a bit more.
August was my most active month since October last year, with five new posts. As I said in my one year anniversary post, I find myself having more ideas on things to write about (and the enthusiasm to match) than I have in a long time. I think hitting the one year milestone and looking back at some of my earlier posts gave me a push to get back to posting more than once a month. Monthly reports are all well and good, but it’s fun to write something more creative as well.
My “favourite articles” page was going neglected for a while, but this was mostly because I was figuring out how to automate the whole process. Many thanks to Indeedably for sharing his methods; now I simply have to click a button on the browser when I find a worthy article, and then it gets automatically added to the page. Much easier than manually editing the page each and every time! It’s not as pretty as Indeedably’s equivalent page, but I’m sure I’ll figure out how to edit it eventually.
Exercise and health
Last month I had grand visions of starting a whole new exercise regime; running every week, some yoga, maybe buy some weights. Instead, my biggest activity this month was Pokemon Go! Which is fine, in that it gets you out the house and going for walks occasionally in the evenings as you try to catch ’em all, but isn’t quite what I had in mind!
To be fair, I did follow along with a yoga video once. And Ms FIRE and I bought some tennis racquets; there are a few public tennis courts nearby, so we went and had a few games one evening. I lost! Outrageous. Turns out Ms FIRE played a lot of tennis in high school, so I had no chance! It was fun though, so I think we’ll go for some more games this month (as long as the weather behaves). If nothing else, my competitiveness will not let our tennis score end at 1-0 to her!
One of my goals for the next five years was to read at least one book a month. To help keep myself accountable to anonymous people on the internet, I’ve decided to track my progress here in these monthly reports:
I think I did pretty well this month, finishing four books:
The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley:
This is a surprisingly good book. The authors carried out a study of America’s wealthiest, and sought to identify what made a millionaire. The advice boils down to, 1) millionaires spend less than they earn, whereas those who earn a lot but spend it all never accumulate any real wealth, and 2) the majority of first generation millionaires got there through owning the means of their wealth generation, i.e. they are typically business owners. Although the book is specific to the US, the advice contained within is relevant to the UK as well.
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card:
An enjoyable read. The only thing I couldn’t get on board with is that the main character, the saviour of the planet, is six years old at the start, and maybe twelve by the end. I get that he’s supposed to be a genetically-modified super-genius, but I just couldn’t reconcile that in my head with my experience of six year olds! But ignoring that, I liked it.
Don’t Save for Retirement: A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Freedom, by Daniel Ameduri:
I picked this up because it was only £0.99 on Amazon Kindle. It starts off well enough, but the overall premise is that the stock market is volatile and is to be avoided. Instead, you should create passive income by investing in things like micro-caps, precious metals, cannabis, cryptocurrency and life insurance. It was interesting to read something that recommended a completely different approach to most FI blogs/books, but overall I found that it wasn’t for me. It expressed some views on healthcare and the gig economy that seemed short-sighted, and stating that the stock market is more volatile than p2p loans seemed like a bold claim! Having said that, it did also raise some valid points. The main one that resonated was that most people who spend 20 years saving and investing as much as possible find it very difficult to adapt when they suddenly quit work and have to live off of their investments. I’m not sure I’d recommend this, unless it goes on sale again in the future.
RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money: The Unconventional Early Retirement Plan for Midlife Careerists Who Want to Be Happy, by David Sawyer:
That title is quite a mouthful. This book is the complete opposite of the one above. It takes a lot of the advice from the US blogosphere and translates it for a UK audience. I felt this book was quite specific in it’s target audience; it’s clearly aimed at people in their late 30’s to early 50’s who earn a good wage, but are perhaps stuck in a rut. I think it’s a good read for those who find themselves in that position, but I’m not there yet! A lot of the information contained within is kind of “obvious” to someone who’s read a lot of UK FIRE blogs. However, tt makes for a good starting point for someone who might be just discovering FIRE.
And now I’m now reading the following:
4 hour work week, by Tim Ferris:
Still reading this. I actually made some headway this month and it’s not as egotistical as I remember. Maybe the first few chapters were worse? Or maybe my tolerance has increased!
Daughter of the Blood, by Anne Bishop:
I haven’t started this yet, but it’s next on the list. Ms FIRE bought the series and highly recommended it, so hopefully I agree!
After a very expensive month, September should be back to normal. Unless we find some wedding rings that we like, and then it might turn into another very expensive month! Other than more wedding planning, the only other thing coming up is that we both have separate conferences in Europe. I’m hoping that this will keep us busy enough that we don’t have time to spend much money!
Over to you
That’s all for this month. I hope you had a good month, and thanks for reading!