May 2022

I’ve been a bit lazy and didn’t do an April review. With the markets as they were I just couldn’t be bothered. I did update my spreadsheets, but never quite found the motivation to put out a post. I’m just going to skip straight to May’s review and take it from there. The figures in brackets are from March.

As usual I’ve got last month’s figures in brackets for comparison. I’ve got my Defined Benefits Pension in there based on twenty years worth of money if I start drawing it at 60. I track how I’m doing with my mortgage balance compared to my AVC balance. The reason for this is that I made a decision to mostly stop overpaying my mortgage. Instead I use that extra money to put more into my AVC fund. So hopefully I’ll start to see my AVC fund increase in value and more slowly my mortgage balance come down until they meet at some point and I have enough in my AVC fund to clear my mortgage when I retire. That’s the plan anyway.

Debts

Mortgage £87,006.60 (£87,933.02)

Assets

Cash £24,780.48 (£27,468.16)

Defined Benefits £137,586 (£137,586)

AVC’s £19,912.26 (£19,416.17)

Shares £82,037.05 (£79,431.87)  

House £278,089 (£278,089) 

Total £542,404.79 (£541,991.20)

Net Worth including house equity

£542,404.79 – £87,006.60 = £455,398.19 (£454,058.18)

AVC Fund vs Mortgage Balance

£19,912.26 – £87,006.60 = -£67,094.34 (-£68,516.85)

It’s all a bit depressing really. I’m trying to tell myself the markets are just on sale, but I’m not sure I’m really managing to convince myself. My cash amount is down a bit as I got some dividends from my work shares. I took this as cash and added some money from my savings to put into my index trackers. I hit £50k in my Vanguard account at the end of May for the first time. Of course it’s since ducked under again, but it was still nice to hit that figure. Considering it doesn’t seem that long ago that I stuck £600 in of dividend money just to test the waters. My plan is still to get rid of more of my work shares, but I’ll do it gradually.

So my overall figures are up, but considering this covers a two month period and I’m putting in as much as I can it’s not the most heartening of reads. It’s not impacting my strategy though. And in fact I have just increased my AVC pension contributions again. I’ll keep plugging away and hope that by the time I come to retire I’ll have squirrelled enough away to have a fun retirement, and hopefully be able to go a bit earlier than I would have if I hadn’t discovered FIRE. I need to remember that I’m looking at a worse case scenario of retiring at 60 on more disposable income than I’m living on now. Before I’m not sure I could have ever really fully retired. So that has to be a win.

I’ve got my five year fixed rate mortgage up and running now. I was sad to say goodbye to my staff base rate tracker mortgage, but the time was right for some peace of mind with rates as they are at the moment. It was the right decision for me, no matter what happens to interest rates. You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

I seem to have become a bit of a spendy pants recently. I seem to be saying yes to everything that’s suggested. I’ve barely got a weekend with nothing happening between now and the end of the summer. That’s unheard of for me, but I’m really enjoying making up for lost time. Saying that, I’m still trying to do things as cheaply as possible and I still haven’t ventured abroad. I’ve even slightly curtailed my parkrun tourism. It’s difficult to justify a 2 hour plus round trip for a 30 minute run when there’s one a mile from my house. I am however getting very good at combining trips to fit in multiple activities to make the most of the astronomical petrol costs.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It seems like a long time ago, but here are the goals I was working for in March.

  • Finish Duolingo Unit 6 of the Spanish tree. PASS. Delighted to get this one done and I’m working my way through unit 7 now, which I should hopefully get done by the end of the year.
  • Read the Spanish Intermediate short stories book that I’ve bought FAIL I’ve not even picked this up. I think it’s a bit too difficult for me which is putting me off. Must do better.
  • Watch 16 episodes of Betty en NY PASS. I am about 75 episodes into this. It’s total trash, but it’s pretty much my go to if I have a spare 45 minutes and fancy watching a bit of telly.
  • Reach 100 parkruns. PASS. I’m so happy about this one. I’m wearing my 100 tshirt with pride
  • Book a trip to Alton Towers for the summer PASS. This is all booked and we’re off there next week.

I’ve managed to tick off a few things from my 60 for 60 list as well. (I did say I was saying yes to things!) I’ll do a post on that later in the summer as I’ve got a couple more things coming up soon that are on my list. The main one is the marathon I’ve just recently completed. I’m so chuffed with that, even though it was incredibly tough. And there’s not long till my ultra marathon, so I just need to get my legs sufficiently recovered to be able to manage those 34 miles.

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

As I have so much going on running wise just now I’m not going to set myself any goals for June. I need to get myself to the start line of the ultra fully recovered from the marathon, injury free and believing that I can complete the route. I know what I need to do, I just need to put my big girls pants on and get it done.

February Review

As usual I’ve got last month’s figures in brackets for comparison. I’ve got my Defined Benefits Pension in there based on twenty years worth of money if I start drawing it at 60. I track how I’m doing with my mortgage balance compared to my AVC balance. The reason for this is that I made a decision to mostly stop overpaying my mortgage. Instead I use that extra money to put more into my AVC fund. So hopefully I’ll start to see my AVC fund increase in value and more slowly my mortgage balance come down until they meet at some point and I have enough in my AVC fund to clear my mortgage when I retire. That’s the plan anyway.

Debts

Mortgage £88,443,23 (£88,933.02)

Assets

Cash £26,496.43 (£26,841.91)

Defined Benefits £137,586 (£137,586)

AVC’s £17,360.11 (£18,132.06)

Shares £75,798.37 (£82,111.70)  

House £278,089 (£269,000) 

Total £535,329.91 (£533,671.67)

Net Worth including house equity

£535,329.91 – £88,443.23 = £446,886.68 (£444,738.65)

AVC Fund vs Mortgage Balance

£17,360.11 – £88,443.23 = -£-71,083.12 (-£70,800.96)

We all know the markets are down. The world is going to hell in a handcart and there’s not much we can do about it. Apart from some minor adjustment to my strategy, which I’ll talk about in a moment, I’m just carrying on the same as always. Yes my shares are down, but then that’s the same for everybody. I’m still putting money in each month to investments, so no change there. The one good thing about the state of the markets is that it seems to have cured me of my daily habit of checking my Vanguard account. It used to be my treat to myself after work. It’s more trick than treat now, so funnily enough I’ve not checked it for weeks!

Based on recent Bank of England base rate increases, including yet another one yesterday, I was starting to get a bit jittering being on a tracker mortgage. Yes, it tracks the base rate exactly, so for a long time I was only paying 0.1% It’s hard to argue with that. We now have an alternative staff mortgage which is a discounted fixed rate. If you go over to that you can never revert back to the base rate tracker. I absolutely love my  tracker mortgage, but this month I bit the bullet and moved over to the discounted fixed rate. I’ve tied in to a 5 year fixed rate at 1.49% Considering the base rate is already up to 0.75% I’m more and more convinced I’ve done the right thing. There’s no way I’ll be in a position to pay my mortgage off before the five years is up (I wish!) so I reckon it’s a good call. I feel like I’ve future proofed my mortgage nicely there and it will help me sleep at night without worrying about future rate rises.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

As a result of that application I found out the index valuation for my property rather than relying on the Zoopla estimates that I’ve been using up till now. Not that an index val is necessarily all that accurate, but I’m happy to go with the higher figure. As my plan is to use the cash lump sum from my AVC fund to repay my mortgage when I retire I have slightly increased the amount of AVC’s I’m putting in each month. I can’t really afford an increase, but I’m sure I’ll manage somehow, I always do!

Not much else to say really. The figures are rubbish, but in the grand scheme of things there’s more important things happening in the world. At least I’m not getting bombed, so I’m counting my blessings. I’m readjusting my mindset to a potentially slighter later retirement age. I was thinking 58 was definitely possible, with 57 being potentially achievable with a following wind. I’m now thinking that maybe I should pace myself for retiring at 60, and if I can go earlier then fantastic. I think if I have the expectation of going at 57 and then I have to work an extra 3 years then that will feel awful. Much better to over achieve I think rather than grumping my way through an extra three years of work that I didn’t think I was going to have to do.

Without further ado let’s move on to how I did in February against the goals that I set myself.

  • Continue to follow my marathon training plan PASS I’m now half way through the plan and although I’m slow as anything I’ve done all the miles that I’m supposed to up to this point
  • Find an ultra training plan and figure out how to combine this with the marathon plan PASS I’ve found a plan with the best name in the history of the world. It’s the couch to 50k plan. My race is 55k, so I need to tweak it slightly, but I’ve started already and so far am managing to combine the marathon and ultra training
  • Walk at least once a week PASS I’m doing twice a week. Once for 90 minutes and one for just under an hour. This is not a chore, I absolutely love it. Particularly nice now the nights are getting a bit lighter
  • Do 2 lessons a day on Duolingo Spanish PASS I’m doing great with this. I’m really enjoying it and feel that I’m definitely making some progress
  • Watch at least 4 episodes a week of Betty en NY in Spanish PASS I actually watched more than this. This has become my go to boxset. Crucially I don’t have an English language boxset on the go, so if I fancy some down time watching telly I just stick this on.
  • Finish setting up spreadsheets with alternative retirement dates and how much I need to have in investments (Finally a FIRE goal, yay!) ALMOST! I’ve done up to retiring at 56. I’ve still got the retire at 55 spreadsheet to do, but quite honestly that is such a fantasy spreadsheet that it’s barely worth doing. I’ll get around to it at some point, but honestly there’s no rush
  • Go to the cinema and watch The Godfather (It’s always good to have a fun goal, and considering how much I love this film I have to take advantage of it being on the big screen for an anniversary showing) PASS And I even saw the second one at the cinema too. I didn’t manage to make it there for the third one, but it was fabulous to be back at the cinema

Reading that back I’m pretty chuffed with myself. I’ve worked hard this month. I do feel that I’ve pretty much just worked, run, done Spanish and slept. My house is chaotic, I’m constantly chasing my tail and despite getting to bed early I feel like I’m not getting enough sleep. I’m doing it though. I’m on track with my training plans and as long as I can stay injury free I should be good to go with both the marathon and ultra.

There’s not much time in my life for much except work and running just now. My goals for March are going to reflect that, so they’ll be very similar to last month’s

  • Follow marathon training plan
  • Follow ultra training plan
  • Complete half marathon race
  • Trip to Ipswich to do parkrun (sorry I mean to collect my son from university, even if Ipswich is 50 miles in the wrong direction. That is absolutely nothing to do with needing an I for the parkrun alphabet challenge!)
  • Watch 16 episodes of Betty en NY
  • Set up retire at 55 spreadsheet
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

That’s more than enough to be getting on with. There are only so many hours in the day after all. 2022 seems to be turning into the year for running. I’ll focus on that, get some of my 60 for 60 goals ticked off and then turn my attention to other things next year. I probably need to stop entering so many races though. It’s starting to get beyond ridiculous. I’m sure there’s worse hobbies to have though.