Saturday, 14 October 2017

Quarter 3 2017 – Celebrating a 10 year anniversary

10 years ago I took a step back and looked at where my life was going.  Family life was great for which I was and remain incredibly fortunate.  However when I looked at my career I saw an industry that was being hollowed out, was being outsourced to the lowest cost country and where all the stuff that was fun was slowly being weighed down by stuff I disliked.  I was also 34 years of age and by that time had been working for 12 years across the globe yet when I looked at how that work had helped build our financial future I saw limited progress with the vast majority of the money I had earned having ‘disappeared’.

I was at a turning point, some might call it an early mid-life crisis, and clearly had to do something different.  Stay the course and I was looking at having to work until the nice government would let me retire but the risk I ran was finding myself without a career before that period.  So I started to think about retraining to do something different.  I’d also heard of people retiring a little earlier (this was before the millions of personal finance blogs appeared on the scene) and so I spoke to some financial planners about how they might be able to help me bring retirement forward a little. One of my strengths is quantitative analytics which meant I was able to work my way through their sales pitch which led me to the conclusion that while that route would help me bring retirement forward I would also be helping to bring their retirement forward as well.

In tinkering with those spreadsheets I also discovered something quite amazing.  If I could modestly increase my earnings, modestly decrease my spending, invest averagely and just not give my wealth accrued away to the financial services industry or tax man I could possibly bring my retirement forward  a long way.  I also thought I could do that myself and so in October 2007 I built a spreadsheet and a plan that would see me retire by age 50, a period of only 16 years.  I thought it also meant I didn’t need to retrain and instead just had to get my head down and run the plan I had built.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Look after the pennies...

...and the pounds will look after themselves.  A reasonably well known proverb that simply means if you focus on saving many small amounts of money you'll soon amass a large amount.  It’s also a proverb that in the circle of people I associate with both at work and in my personal life seems to not get a lot of attention.  I’m a little different and so it’s a proverb I’ve lived throughout my journey to financial independence and one I continue focusing on even as I sit here typing this post with over £1 million of wealth to my name.  Let me give a couple of examples of it in action over the past few weeks.

The financial services industry is a voracious beast that is continually trying to devour as much of its host as possible without its host noticing (all in my honest opinion of course).  I showed this previously by referencing a Grant Thornton study that concluded that someone entrusting £100,000 for 10 years to a UK financial adviser or investment manager would pay an average 2.56% annually for financial planning services and financial product expenses. 

In contrast to this my work defined contribution scheme extracts 0.6% in annual expenses from me.  Sounds like a great deal in contrast but in relation to what I know is possible I know it’s still expensive.  I choose to be a part of the scheme because it allows me to receive free money in the form of an employers match to my contributions up to a contribution limit.  Additionally by salary sacrificing I save on employees National Insurance and my employer saves on employers National Insurance for which they also pay some of the savings they make into my pension (I actually think it’s derogatory that they don’t pay all of the savings but that’s for another day).  Amazingly some people in my company don’t seem to be contributing to the scheme at all which is just turning down free money but the remainder I’ve spoken to seem to be happy just leaving their pension investments in that scheme which means they are losing 0.6% of their wealth every year.