I’ve done the Great North Run twice so far, and I’m doing it again this year. I remember a big banner on one of the flyovers last year which said something like “find your pace and settle in”. That became a bit of a mantra for me during that race. I got to a pace my body was more or less comfortable with, got my head down, got in the zone and got on with it. That worked pretty well for me. It seems to me that “find your pace and settle in” applies equally well to working towards FIRE. If I go too extreme then there’s a risk I’ll burn out and end up giving up. If I find the right pace for me on my journey towards FIRE then I can live the life I want to, confident that it’s sustainable for me and that I won’t look back and regret the things that I missed out on in life.
It’s been playing on my mind quite a bit recently that I’m getting a little bit obsessed with what my net worth is and how long I’ve got to go until I’m free. I’m waking up thinking about it, any quiet moments at work have me playing about with various figures to calculate when I can afford to give up work (spoiler alert, it’s going to be a while yet), and I’m constantly mulling over different scenarios that could lead to me reaching FIRE. I am a bit of an all or nothing girl anyway. Moderation isn’t really in my vocabulary. So it’s not really massively surprising that I’m constantly thinking about FIRE. It would be a lot more useful though if this thinking and planning led to a bit more action rather than just counting how many years there are to go. It hasn’t escaped my attention that what I’m actually doing is wishing my life away. Yes I want to reach FIRE as soon as I can, but do I want to do that at the expense of living life to the full and being properly present in the moment? Er, no, definitely not.
I think I’m probably at the point where I’m saving as much as I’m prepared to, based on my current income. The key now is going to be growing my income, hopefully from some sort of side hustle that I can fit around my current work, children, friends and hobbies. The things that I’ve got in place so far to pay off the mortgage and invest will keep doing their thing whether I’m constantly thinking about the figures or not. Keeping track of spending and what you’re worth is clearly an important part of reaching FIRE, but once you’ve got your life organised to spend less than you earn and invest the rest, then you should just be able to get on with living your life. So being slightly less obsessive is something for me to work on. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be on that score, but I can only try.
So without further ado, here’s my net worth figures for last month.
Money in sharesave £9,804
Total Assets £289,105
Net Worth including house equity
£289,105 – £88,889 = £200,216
Net Worth excluding house equity
£61,105 – £88,889 = -£27,784
So ta da, I managed to just sneak over the £200k mark for my net worth when I take into account the house equity. I was lucky with a bump in the price of the shares I hold from work, which nudged me over that elusive figure. It won’t take much for it to drop down below again, but hopefully with my continuing paying off of my mortgage and keeping saving then I’ll keep going in the right direction. The next milestone is getting to the point where I have as much in savings and investments as I owe on the mortgage, so I could theoretically pay it off. I reckon within the next two years that net worth figure excluding the house equity should be at zero. Hardly an impressive figure, but better than the negative amount I’m at just now.
I’ve had a change of heart about what I’m going to do with my pay rise. I was planning on investing in index trackers, but instead I’ve decided to put another £100 a month towards my mortgage. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, as I know I need to grow my passive income, but at the same time I can’t be financially free whilst I’ve still got the mortgage as a millstone around my neck. I think for me I’d feel more comfortable knowing that my debt was getting smaller. Barring interest rate rises (I know, I know, I’m forever the optimist) then this new payment means that I’ll have my mortgage paid off just before I reach 60. As 60 is the worse case scenario for when I want to pack in work, then I feel better knowing the mortgage will be gone by then to allow me to stop working. £100 is also more than my payrise, but I’m working on the assumption that I’ll find the extra money somewhere. I always do.
So with my current expenses excluding my mortgage I reckon I can live on about £15k a year. My pension at 60 will be about £10k, so I just need to make up the shortfall in passive income. Any income from a side hustle can hopefully also continue to pay for fun stuff that I’m sure will be in abundance in my post FIRE life. A bit of travel thrown into the mix with all my free time would be much appreciated. So I want to keep hammering away at the mortgage, keep on with my current share save schemes, as they’re due to net me a nice wee profit over the next couple of years, and work on increasing my income so I can afford to invest more now and use that to top up my passive income once I reach FIRE. Sounds like a bit of a plan.
A plan to reach FIRE is one thing, but what a post FIRE life will look like is a whole other thing. As I was getting ready for work on Monday morning I started to daydream about how differently my day would go once I’d reached FIRE. I certainly wouldn’t have set my alarm for 6am, although I imagine I would still be waking up fairly early, but having had enough sleep to feel fully rested. I might get up and do some yoga in the house. I’d spend my morning working on some sort of a side hustle, which I’d decided to continue after I reached FIRE to bring in some extra cash. I imagine when being free from work was still a novelty I would spend a bit of time getting my house sorted. I like to think I’m quite good at decluttering, but the reality is that just now I begrudge spending too much of my limited free time clearing things out. When I have much more free time I could sort my possessions and only keep those that were useful or brought me joy. I’d like to think my house would be a lot cleaner than it is at the moment, but whether that would actually be the case or not remains to be seen. I tend to do as much cleaning as is really necessary and then clean like a dervish when it gets messier than I can stand. I’m not entirely sure that would change with more time on my hands.
I think I would enjoy spending more time exploring where I live on foot rather than whizzing by in the car in a mad rush. I love walking, but just now I hardly spend any of my time actually doing it. Without things being so busy I would have time to walk places rather than automatically jump in the car. It would also be nice to spend time with friends without being exhausted and feeling like you’re needing to try and find time to fit in visiting them. I think everything will be all the better for not being shattered all the time and having the luxury of taking your time with things.
I think the key to a happy post FIRE life will be to have enough going on that you feel fulfilled, but not so much that you end up feeling just as frazzled as when you’re working for the man. As with everything in life, balance is key. Sometimes when I’m off work I end up feeling at a bit of a loose end and that I’m not really achieving anything. For me, a bit of structure works well. So I imagine once I’m able to stop working I’ll want to adhere to a bit of a schedule, whilst allowing enough flexibility to go with the flow and make the most of opportunities that present themselves.
I sometimes have hermit like tendencies, so making myself go out in the world will be important for me. As long as I’m still running then my various clubs will work well for this, but I’ll also need to factor in some other social interaction. Just now I crave time to myself, but once I haven’t got the enforced social aspects of work, then it will be important to make sure that I’m not spending all my time alone. Nice problems to have. You effectively get to design the life that you want to have. It takes a bit of thinking about though. For so long our lives are structured by our working hours and then trying to cram our actual lives in to the few hours in the evenings and the all too quick weekends.
So all in all I’m reasonably happy with how things are going in my quest for FIRE. It’s been really motivating to get over the £200k mark for my net worth including my house equity. Still a long way to go to say the least, but I’m definitely making progress. The next step is to increase my mortgage overpayment again to make good use of my pay rise. I’ll keep having a think about potential side hustles and do some more research on this. It’s been good having a think about what I want my post FIRE life to look like. By visualising my ideal life once I’ve reached FIRE I’m much more likely to keep on track and make the necessary changes to bring in the extra income that will allow me to be free from my mortgage and have enough passive income to support my lifestyle. Let me know how you’re getting on with your FIRE journey. I’m always keen to learn from others that are striving for FIRE, or who have already achieved the holy grail of financial independence.