Sunday, 16 July 2017

Half 1 2017 – Some decisions made

The first half of 2017 required a few decisions to be made and we spent a bit like drunken sailors to make them.  Average monthly spending was £2,404 which is well up on 2016’s £2,250 average.  When I look at the detail the story is all holiday/relocation research where we had a monthly average spend of £544.  At least we were able to decide on Cyprus over Spain although I freely admit there is only a cigarette paper between them and this could change in the coming months.

Anyone for a beautiful quiet beach, Tarifa, Spain
Click to enlarge, Anyone for a beautiful quiet beach, Tarifa, Spain

How about views to die for, Akamas Peninsula National Park, Cyprus
Click to enlarge, How about views to die for, Akamas Peninsula National Park, Cyprus

We also decided I’d push on with work a little longer while Brexit played out a little more.  As the dust has settled on that decision we’re all a little uneasy about it.  One of the whole points of this FIRE lark was about control of our lives which includes the ability to do what we want where we want to do it and here we are letting government incompetence rule our decisions.  More on this in future posts I’m sure.

Financially, it’s actually been reasonably successful with wealth up £107,000 in the first half of 2017.  I say reasonably because while that looks pretty good it’s in a currency that less and less people seem to be wanting post the Brexit vote.  Measured in the currency that is important to us that wealth growth falls to EUR92,000.  Still admirable I think.

The famous Pound, fast becoming toilet paper
Click to enlarge, The famous Pound, fast becoming toilet paper 

Let’s look at the detail.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

One more year’ish

So when are you taking early retirement I hear you ask?  Before answering let me first provide some musings of how the world of somebody who has been financially independent for just shy of one year is playing out.

In short life is good, no I mean life is great and I mean really great.  We were fortunate enough to be able to spend some more time back in Cyprus and this time around it really did feel like home to the point we were quite saddened to return to Blighty.  We also think we have found the town we will first settle.  Of course we’ll first rent for 6 to 12 months just to make sure but it felt really good.  I think now there is really only one thing that will stop us from migrating to Cyprus which I’ll explain a little later.

my walking/running route from a possible Cyprus home
Click to enlarge, my walking/running route from a possible Cyprus home

my cycling route from a possible Cyprus home
Click to enlarge, my cycling route from a possible Cyprus home

The stress from my work is also now an order of magnitude less making it tolerable.  This is predominantly because there is no longer a sword of Damocles hanging over me.  If I’m fired, as opposed to FIRE’d, I’ll just take my payoff and sail off into the sunset with a smile on my face.  Stress has also been reduced because I now speak very freely as again there are no repercussions of saying something that maybe others don’t want to hear.

Mrs RIT has early retired in a Mr Money Mustache kind of way.  For some time now she’s been pursuing a passion of hers which has been absorbing more and more time because of the enjoyment factor associated with it.  What’s actually a bonus is it’s also actually starting to earn beer money and importantly can be done from just about anywhere in the world.  The original plan was that we were going to FIRE together but after some RIT family discussion we decided that was a nonsense piece of planning and so she has now stepped away from the corporate world for good and now just does fun stuff.  One down and one to go...

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Why I won’t be using Vanguard wrappers

Vanguard has recently announced that in addition to the ETF’s and mutual funds (OEICs) currently offered, they will now offer a selection of wrappers to hold them in.  Given one of my mantras is to always minimise investment expenses and given Vanguard’s low cost reputation this should be a great thing.  Let’s take a look.

Firstly, let’s look at my SIPPs.  I have two – one from Hargreaves Lansdown and the other from YouInvest.  Over the years, despite pushing the actively managed variety through schemes like The Wealth 150, Hargreaves Lansdown have made it unattractive from an expense perspective to hold mutual funds in a SIPP wrapper.  The first £250,000 attracts a charge of 0.45%, the next £750,000 a charge of 0.25%, the next £1,000,000 a charge of 0.1% and above that level there is no charge.  In contrast shares, investment trusts, ETF’s, gilts and bonds attract a flat charge of 0.45% but importantly it’s capped at £200 per annum.  This meant that when I first started transferring my expensive employers insurance company based Group Personal Pension (GPPP) into Hargreaves Lansdown I went straight for direct shares (REIT’s such as Hansteen, Segro, British Land, etc) or ETF’s (VERX, ISXF, VFEM etc).  I currently have a little over £250,000 worth of wealth in my Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP meaning my annual wrapper expense is capped at £200 or 0.08%.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Predicting Retirement Financial Success

One of the negatives to using a Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) model, such as the 4% Rule, to predict when early retirement is possible and to guide spending in retirement is that if history repeats you could leave a lot of wealth on the table.  This is because if a conservative SWR is chosen it tends to have very few historic sequence of returns that fail meaning the withdrawal rate you choose is based on some of the worst sequence of returns rather than the best.

Let me demonstrate with an example.  Let’s enter retirement with $1,000,000, a portfolio that is 75% US Equities : 25% Bonds, expenses of 0.18% and a retirement period of 30 years.  Plug that into cFIREsim and you get the following historic sequence of returns:

4% Rule Sequence of Returns for a 75% Equity : 25% Bond Portfolio
Click to enlarge, 4% Rule Sequence of Returns for a 75% Equity : 25% Bond Portfolio

After 30 years that $1,000,000 has in Real (ie after inflation) terms become an average of $2,027,248 and a median of $1,531,784 while the highest wealth value is $5,957,932 and the lowest is -$370,926.  So in the one extreme you’re living under a railway arch begging for food and in the other you have nearly six times what you started with.  If history were to repeat could we potentially be more precise than that?

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Personal Inflation

When trying to figure out whether or not I can FIRE I’ve needed to understand just how much I spend (along with a few other numbers).  To calculate this properly I started a few years ago to track every penny that I spent.  With this data I can then also make pre to post-FIRE estimates more accurately.  For example, in my case I know I can net off work related costs and rent but I know I have to add on home maintenance costs.  This is what my spending has looked like over the past few years:
RIT monthly spending
Click to enlarge, RIT monthly spending

In 2015 I spent £24,413 and in 2016 I spent £27,001.  If I did nothing 2017 could be around £26,000 but FIRE is coming (could come?) this year so my spending profile will (could?) transition from pre to post-FIRE so that’s not bankable.

The other advantage of tracking spending like this is that you start to understand what your personal inflation is actually looking like which allows you to take action if it’s starting to get out of hand.  It’s no good going into FIRE with a planned spending of £20,000 per annum, which you then plan to increase with published inflation, only to find you’re actually spending £25,000, which is then increasing at a rate greater than inflation.  That’s a road to potentially running out of wealth before you run out of life.