Saturday 6 April 2013

A Retirement Investing Today Review of Quarter 1 2013

For all UK based readers a Happy New Financial Year to you.  I wasn't sure if I should have put the Happy in front because for me a new financial year carries both a positives and a negatives.  The positive is that a new ISA year is upon us meaning I can again begin working hard to fill my full Stocks and Shares ISA allowance which for this year is £11,520.  The negative is that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will soon send me a request to complete a tax return where as always I will be sent a bill because of my now considerable investment sum.  This however is not as bad as it could be as I continue to push hard to minimise taxes paid through tax avoidance schemes such as ISA’s, Pensions and NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates (ILSC’s).  Over time continual energy to take advantage of these when possible (remember ISA’s are an annual use it or lose it allowance, NS&I ILSC’s come and go on an ad hoc basis and for this financial year the pension contribution limit is for me a very large lower of 100% of earnings or £50,000 which is called the annual allowance) really add up and mean this year I will only be taxed on around one third of my total investment portfolio.  Therefore on the whole I’ll call it a Happy New Financial Year.

In the past I have only tended to publish my own personal financial position on an annual basis even though I track value weekly and performance monthly.  I now intend to publish my own situation on a quarterly basis for 2 reasons:

  • My 2012 annual review showed that in the metrics that I measure myself against I had one conceded pass and one fail.  By publishing more regularly I hope that it will force me to hold myself more accountable to my objectives plus also allow more time for recovery should I fall off the rails.
  • The 2012 annual review sparked some good discussion so was clearly worthwhile to both myself and some readers. 
My own personal situation follows everything I talk about on this Site to the letter.  The site is all about Save Hard, Invest Wisely, Retire Early so as with the 2012 Review let’s continue to use those 6 words as a theme.


I am now into a fifth year of aiming to save 60% of my earnings, which I define as my gross (ie before tax) earnings plus any employee pension contributions.  This is a very tough target particularly in the current age where we have increased taxes and prices going up due to unrelenting inflation while at the same time my salary is not moving in nominal terms.  My company is currently at the point of annual “salary reviews” but even though I have worked hard over the past year and delivered a lot I expect the same increase as last year which was a large 0%.  I did however manage to this year secure a bonus so I can’t really complain as many of my fellow UK residents I'm sure received nothing.

In addition to hard work Saving Hard has also required me to live frugally and opt out of consumerism. This on the whole has been a very positive experience however every now and then I come close to straying from the path. For example I don’t own an Apple iPhone, Nokia Lumia or Samsung Galaxy mobile phone which I'm told are the current must haves. Instead my personal phone is on a Pay As You Go contract which does not include data and is carried for emergencies only. To be honest I don’t covet a modern smart phone but I would love one of these to simplify reading when on the go and to make staying in touch with the world a little easier. Instead I stick with good old fashioned books and an old laptop which seems to get slower and slower every day.

What keeps me on the path is when I look at my increase in net worth on a weekly basis plus take a step back and look at my world from 30,000 feet and realise how much happier and healthier I am since I starting down this path.  This combined with the knowledge that every day that passes I get closer to early retirement which will mean a big reduction in stress as I’ll now that every week that passes from there on in I will not be forced to work to survive.  Instead I will be able to work when I want and because I enjoy it.

For the quarter I actually saved 67% of earnings meaning I have exceeded my target by a long way.  Before you start calling me a liar and saying it can’t be done I have to say that part of this came from a stroke of luck.  HMRC for some reason that only they know changed my tax code even though my circumstances hadn't changed, resulting in a massive underpayment of tax.  They then sent me a letter a few months later saying I am not paying enough tax and that they will collect it from me over the next financial year.  Effectively they have just given me a large interest free loan which instead of being spent, as I'm sure many would have with the subsequent follow up letter resulting in panic, I am smiling as it’s all been invested for the long term.  With HMRC efficiency like this is it any wonder there is so much unpaid tax in the UK.  If I filter out this effect and work on the tax I believed I should have paid I end up with a savings rate of pretty close to 60%.

So where did the money go:

  • 17% was invested into Pension Wrappers
  • 39% was invested into ISA’s and non tax efficient locations 
  • 11% was used by my better half to ensure both our early retirement ambitions stay in synchronisation.

Saving hard quarter end score: I therefore move from a 2012 Conceded Pass to a full Pass.


My investing strategy is no secret and I have simply continued with the Retirement Investing Today Low Charge Strategy.  My asset allocations at quarter end are now:

Click to enlarge

As mentioned above I have continued to invest as tax efficiently as possible.  At quarter end my tax efficient holdings are:

  • 38.7% (down from 39.2%) held within Pension Wrappers with the majority being within a SIPP
  • 15.8% (down from 17.3%) held within NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates
  • 12.4% (down from 12.6%) held within ISA Wrappers.  

Tax efficiency quarter end score: Pass.  Sure I have gone from 69.1% tax efficiently invested to 66.9% but I believe I have maximised the opportunities made available to me in the year while ensuring I maintain my risk profile.  If only the Government would release some ILSC’s...

Investment expenses also continue to be treated as the enemy.  These have remained fairly static on the quarter rising slightly from 0.36% per annum to 0.37%.

Minimise expenses quarter end score: Conceded Pass.  Not an improvement but at the same time simply caused by rises in some of my investments at the expense of others rather than from making wrong choices with new money.  I also refuse to expose myself to unnecessary taxes in the hunt for expense minimisation.  It’s all about minimising expenses and taxes not expenses or taxes.

If I’m Investing Wisely I should be able to beat (or at least match if I was 100% Index Tracking, which IMHO is an admirable pursuit) an Index Benchmark.  For me that Benchmark remains a simple UK Equity and Bond Portfolio aligned in percentage terms with the building blocks of my own portfolio which is then rebalanced once every year.  Today that benchmark allocation remains at 69% UK Equities and 31% UK Bonds. The 2 indices I use to replicate that benchmark are the FTSE 100 Total Return (Capital & Income) Index which this quarter has returned 3.7% and the iBoxx® Sterling Liquid Corporate Long-Dated Bond Total Return (Capital & Income) Index which has returned 3.4%.  The return of my benchmark for the quarter is therefore 3.6%.

In contrast my portfolio has provided an annualised return  of 21.8% and a personal rate of return of 5.0% beating my benchmark by a reasonable margin.  This is a true return which allows for the fact that large levels of contributions are being made continuously so is a fair comparison.

Investment return quarter end score: Pass.  I have beaten my benchmark by a reasonable margin which considering my portfolio sees expenses (fund and wrapper expenses, withholding tax on some investments and savings interest  tax deducted at source) that the benchmark doesn't it’s a result I'm happy with 

As with 2012 I'm happy to have continued to beat my benchmark in Q1 2013 however if I can’t achieve those returns long term then all my efforts aren't worth it and I’d be better off shutting this Site down, buy a Vanguard LifeStrategy Fund and going fishing.  Thankfully it does seem worth it as my chart below which tracks the performance of my portfolio, my benchmark and inflation (RPI) shows.  Note that the chart assumes a starting sum of £10,000 which is not my portfolio balance at that time but is instead simply a nominal chosen sum to demonstrate performance.  As always I never reveal my portfolio values in £ terms as it’s irrelevant to readers as we all have different earnings, investments, risk profiles, savings rates and target retirement amounts.

Click to enlarge

Since then end of 2007 the benchmark is now beginning to beat inflation albeit by a small amount.  In contrast my portfolio has increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.3% (up from 6.7% at last review).  In real inflation adjusted terms that’s now 4% (up from 3.4%).  My whole investment strategy since 2007 has been to generate a Real Return of 4% over the long term and I've finally made it.

Long term investment return score: Pass.  Right on my plan of a long term real 4% return.


This is what all that Saving Hard and Investing Wisely is about.  When I started this site in November 2009 I stated that my aim was to retire (which I define as work becoming optional) in less than 7 years.  Today we are nearly 3.5 years on and I'm assuming I can continue to save at expected rates and achieve average expected investment returns I forecast that early retirement will now come in slightly less than 3 years from today when I’ll be 44 years of age.

This quarter has really given me a big boost with a high savings rates plus exceptional general market performance.  You can see my progress to early retirement in the chart below.  Note that the last point represents a period of only 5 months.  At my end of 2012 review my Progress to early retirement was 65.2%, where Progress is defined as my Current Investment Wealth divided by my Retirement Number.  In 3 short months that has exploded to 70%.

Click to enlarge

Retiring early quarter end score: Pass.  My strategy of Saving Hard and Investing Wisely still has me heading in the right direction.

So all in all a successful Q1 2013.  How did you do?  Are you happy with your achievements?

As always please do your own research.

Assumptions and full disclosure:

  • I do have a smart (well a clapped out old Blackberry) phone which is provided by my company for work purposes.
  • RPI for March 2013 is estimated.


  1. Hello RIT,

    Yes, things seem to be progressing well on all fronts. Thanks for the detailed breakdown.

    You say the ftse 100 total return is 5.2% which seems a bit low? When I looked at this for my own review a week earlier the figure was 9.5% - I know the ftse has retreated a little since the end of March but....


    1. Hi John

      As I've mentioned a few times previously I update my financial position on a weekly basis each Saturday. This means my quarter is slightly different to a traditional 01 January to 30 April. The weekly analysis means my quarter actually runs from the 04 January to 05 April.

      The FTSE100 Total Return Index was 4281.59 on the 04 January and 4441.73 on the 05 April for a return of 3.7% and not the 5.2% I originally assumed in the analysis.

      Thanks for highlighting my mistake. I've updated the post. It looks like I read a value from the 04 April instead of 05 April but it's all good news as it means I've outperformed my benchmark by an even wider margin.

      This also proves another valuable point. You say the quarterly performance was 9.5% and my quarter which is just a few days later drops the performance to 3.7%. It just proves being on the wrong side of the market for even a few days can make a big difference to portfolio return.


  2. I think the ftse rose quite sharply during the first week of January and has taken a sharp nosedive in the past week - as you say, sliding the quarterly window forward by just one week has resulted in an almost 6% difference!

  3. Hi RIT, just found your site via MMM. Its good to get a UK perspective. I am 51 and am now F.I. with property and shares and a working wife. I am just going to explore your site and have clicked on the RSS feed. Just a quick point, I have a Tesco HTC Wildfire S smart phone, 5000 txts, 250 minutes and .75 meg data for £7.50 per month, cheaper than PAYG and stock date 24/7, not bad. Chris

    1. Hi Chris

      To be financially independent at 51 I'm guessing you must have some great experiences to pass on to others. Here we have both sides of the fence - those chasing FI like me and also those like yourself who have achieved the goal at a young age.

      I hope you don't lurk too much on that RSS feed and instead share some of your learnings with us all. This site receives 10's of thousands of page views a month but unfortunately only a few people choose to de-lurk as you just have. It's a shame because I value all experiences, even the bad ones, as the more shared the more learnt by all.


  4. Mr. RIT - Found your blog thru MMM as well. Did not want to be labeled as a lurker, hence the comment. We have been FI since the age of 42 and 45 (that was last year). You ask how that is possible. One of the big reason is that we do not have kids. They are wonderful and a blessing but this was a personal choice for us - had nothing to do with economics. Children do cost a lot of money - recent figure was anywhere from $300K - $500K per child from birth till college.
    Secondly, as I always emphasize whenever anyone asks - Save, Save, Save. Be frugal but not cheap. Live way beneath your means. Do not keep up with the Joneses, do not lease or derive the latest cars, do not go to Starbucks and do not eat out (yes, exceptions exist but I am talking the norm). We have like minded friends and friends on the opposite end of the spectrum. Those friends who love to eat out everyday and drive the latest model cars, do not have a pot to piss in, pardon the expression. Thank God for credit cards and Home Equity lines of credit which keeps these people in style albeit in debt up to their eyeballs but why look ahead when you can spend today. Good Luck to you and keep up the good work. I have faith in you.
    - Vanessa

    1. BeatTheSeasons9 April 2013 at 12:50

      Hi Vanessa
      Thanks for sharing your experience, it must be great to have achieved FI so young.
      I wonder if another big factor would be the price of your house? Every time I try to work out a plan for FI in a spreadsheet, our astronomical mortgage is the elephant in the room. It will take many years to pay that off before even starting to build that pot to piss in. Perhaps we should move to a cheaper area? But then we will be further from well paying jobs and spend more money on commuting.
      Don't want to be what MMM calls a 'complainypants' but the sums ain't adding up for us at the moment.

    2. The simple answer is to live somewhere cheap in the UK

      This is what the money moustache guy actually does, he lives in a cheap part of colorado (sp?)

      There are plenty of nice enough parts of the UK outside the SE which are cheap to buy a house - because there are no/few high paying jobs there

      Once you have enough money to live off your investments it would be pretty easy to move to one of those

      Roughly you probably need about £1.25m of capital, £250k to buy a nice house and £1m so you can draw down £40k a year gross, which will buy you a slightly above average lifestyle

      If you haven't got £1.25m thern you can get a part-time job at the local Tesco or start a blog peddling banner ads and credit cards, compromise on not such a nice house and get by on half that capital

    3. Hi Vanessa

      Thanks for delurking and congratulations on the early retirement. At current forecast I'll be mid way between your and your better halves retirement ages when I arrive at your point.

      You've given some great hints at how you achieved early retirement with the save, save, save, frugality, live below means and importantly do not keep up with the Jones's. I practice all of these but I'm guessing you must also have invested wisely to help get you there as well as keep your passive income flowing in retirement.

      I'm sure you would have plenty to share with us all charting your progress to retirement plus also how retirement is progressing. Would you be interested in a guest post to share your 'secrets'?


  5. @Anonymous

    £1m of capital generating £40,000 with no rent/mortgage to pay sounds like a lot of money when the average salary in the UK is currently £24,440 (source: KAB9 AWE Jan '13). Particularly when if you've minimised taxes you'll likely be paying less tax than the average PAYE worker bee on a £ by £ basis.

    I believe I'd live like a king in that situation.


  6. @RIT

    Well obviously £20,000 a year from ISAs and VCTs and £20,000 a year from a SIPP (no tax or NI payable I think) is very different from £40,000 in taxed income

    In fact I think its about double the average wage you talk about after tax probably

    However, its still only £750 a week


  7. Income from ISAs would be tax free. Income from a SIPP would be taxable over £10,000 but not NIable over retirement age - as SIPPs are a tax deferral rather than tax avoidance tool.

    So if the hypothetical £40,000 income was shared between two people, half tax free from ISAs, and half from SIPPs at 20% over their personal allowances, then the overall tax rate could be as low as 5%.

    This is, of course, all based on current tax rules, which could change in the future when the government can no longer afford to pay all the public sector pension commitments being made now...

    Anyway, this all touches on an interesting area, as few bloggers reveal their own personal spending. Mr Money Mustache feels he has a luxurious lifestyle for under $27,000 per year, and he has one child. Anyone furiously saving every penny might wonder why they'd need "only £750" a week if their house was paid for.

    It's the key issue really when working out when you can retire, and there's a double benefit in spending less before you get there. Firstly you can save more, and secondly you reduce the capital target by learning how to live frugally without compromising happiness.

    1. Hi BeatTheSeasons and Anonymous

      As BTS highlights "few bloggers reveal their own personal spending". I'm no different and don't reveal my own salary, net worth or proposed retirement SWR to name but three. I always talk in percentages or describe the approach I'm taking. This is because while we are all looking for something similar (otherwise we wouldn't be on this site) we all live very different and are at different stages of life.

      Anonymous demonstrates this nicely with the comment " its still only £750 a week". For Anonymous it's clearly not a lot of money but if I owned a home and had £750 per week I'd live like a king. Actually, come to think of it, I probably wouldn't as I'd be forced to go back to consumerism to be able to spend it all and would lose some of the happiness I have developed over the past few years.

      Thanks for the discussion guys.

  8. @Beat

    Mr Money Moustache has a luxurious lifestyle compared to 95% of the world's population for sure (remember a big chunk of them subsist on a £1 a day or so)

    However if you want the "traditional middle class retirement" that has become the norm over the last 20 years - i.e nearly new cars, several holidays a year and eating out - £750 a week will just about cover it

    Of course £280 a week from the state pension (for a couple) goes a long way towards this, but i suspect that will only be handed out to seventy (plus) year olds shortly

  9. Being labelled a 'lurker' is making me feel a little guilty as I enloy reading this site and others, perhaps its time to make a modest contribution. Barring unforseen events I should achieve FI next year, aged 51/2. I have always saved from as young as I can remember. My parents having lived through harder times, encouraged both my sister and I to save and never take on debt. I stumbled from this path on one occcasion to buy a nearly new car (stupid boy!)and of course a mortgage. I have had periods of unemployment and have always been a basic rate tax payer. I began investing, as opposed to saving about twenty years ago. Modestly at first £50 pcm as I recall. My spending increased at a slower rate than my income and the balance was invested. Falling interest rates also helped, I recall my mortgage taking around 50% my income at one point, not much room for saving in those circumstances. I did not set out with the specific intention of achieving what is now referred to as FI, I didn't consider it possible. I think this is really where sites like RIT, Monevator and Simple Living in Suffolk are important, they enable ordinary people to see that taking control of ones own life is possible. They also educate and help reduce investment mistakes and I have made my fair share, endowment mortgages, split caps, highly geared property trusts etc. If only such sites had been around twenty years ago I might have reached FI ten years earlier. Not having kids, living in the north of England and finding a partner with similar aspirations have all helped. Live well below your means and it is possible to retire early. But don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way, nobody knows when the grim reaper will call! Fatlaksh

    1. Hi Fatlaksh

      Thanks for delurking and sharing your story.

      Like you I made the car mistake not long after I graduated from University. I've also made plenty of other mistakes but interestingly all different to yours including not considering investment expenses, buying ETC's that suffered from contango and foolishly trying to trade.

      I'd be interested to know if given you are only 1 year away from FI whether you intend to carry on as you are or are you going to make a life change? I'm still a few years away so am not giving it much thought yet. I'll be about 44 or so at current rate and thinking as I write this plus how I feel today I'd probably carry but with a spring in my step as I headed into the office. That would continue until/if I found the right opportunity. You're a lot closer to the goal than me so if you do intend to make a change it would also be interesting to know when you made that decision?


    2. Yes I will go next year.

      For several reasons, my partner is a little older than me. We want to spend more time cycling and in the mountains whilst still fit enough.

      I have been monitoring my spending on an exel spreadsheet for the last few years so have a reasonable idea of how much I need to enjoy life. I consistently spend the same amount, work expenses will fall but inevitably leisure related costs will rise.

      I have an income target from my investments which I will achieve next year. I'm excluding income from savings & NSI index linked bonds. They are my safety cushion.

      I am a public sector worker and will be able to claim (a much reduced) pension at 60 if needs be. On its own it will not be enough to live on but it means I can afford to spend some of my capital in the intervening years if necessary.

      Sometimes I think I am being to conservative and should go now and be more prepared to spend some capital. But having lived with very little in the past I have no wish to repeat the experience. Despite whats printed in the tabloid press its not much fun.

      I intend to do some work, but when I want and things that I want to do. I would have gone years ago if I could have afforded it. When work becomes a chore and you gain less and less satisfaction, its time to go!


    3. Sounds like you have it well figured out. Please do hang around as it would be great to hear about the journey from work to FI. I'm a few years behind you but I'm sure could learn a thing or two.


  10. Hello to all Non-Lurkers (and Lurkers alike) from Vanessa. In response to your query:

    Housing is very expensive, I agree. We live in Southern California and bought our house at the height of the market - a big mistake on our part but hind sight is 20/20. Paid $800K and watched it fall 20% the next year. Very painful. We bought our house free and clear for cash. No mortgage.

    Before you get the wrong idea - we are not trust fund kids nor did we win any kind of lottery or hit it big in Las Vegas. We stay as far away from gambling as humanly possible. No windfall or inheritance. My husband came to this country with $200 in his pocket but with scholarship to pursue Engineering degree. My parents gave me a good education but didn't have much in way of money.

    My husband is very adamant about not having ANY debt. His philosophy - buy what we can pay for. Even a house. The biggest asset you have is a good education and with that comes good job and good pay (usually). And as your tag line suggests - Invest your money and do it wisely. It's not how much you make but how much you save.

    We have been very adamant about saving as much as possible and investing it and saving some more until you feel like you have literally put Mr. Scrooge to shame. I agree 100% with everything you say - Save Hard, live frugally and opt out of consumerism. I have done that and continue to do that but at a lesser degree now. Now I feel like I can let go of those purse strings. Slightly. 😊

    Reaching that first Million is the hurdle. After that it gets better - Keep your eyes on the ball. Seeing that net worth creep up every week keeps you going. Once you reach the point of financial independence, there is no other feeling like that in the world. You are no longer a slave to work which is like a vampire - they suck your blood with no work life balance and stress factor so high, it's a miracle people don't drop dead in their cubicles!

    1. Many thanks for this response Vanessa.

      Watching $160,000 disappear in a year must have been painful. For me that is a lot of money. I'm still out of the UK property market as I believe it is over valued and am trying to not end up in the same situation. Only time will tell if I'm smart or foolish.

      You make an excellent point about investment in education. Growing up I didn't get to learn about compound interest or financial independence but what I did get which has enabled me to learn what I know today was a big push towards ensuring I gained a University Education in a subject which would enable me to increase my earnings to a level above the average. For that I am thankful.


  11. I'm disproportionately proud of the fact that the only time we bought a new car was in 1974 when inflation was obviously taking off. The loan we got was therefore in large part a gift from the bank's shareholders to us. When we sold the car 15 years later we got almost as much for it, in nominal terms, as we'd paid for it in the first place. Forgive the boasting, but it tickles me still.

  12. Hi
    Another lurker coming out of the woodwork here.

    I am already FI. I retired from work at the age of 56, having reached the point of contributing the maximum allowed to my final salary scheme pension. I loved my job, but wanted more time for myself. I left with the idea of being part-time self-employed in order to supplement my pension income. Two years on, I do some bits of work, and I could probably advertise for more, but to be honest I’ve learned to enjoy spending my time the way I want.

    What has prompted me to join the discussion here is the debate about the sort of money one needs to be able to live comfortably in FI. As someone who has been FI for a while now, I found that some things worked out as expected, but others somewhat differently.
    Since becoming FI, I have made significant savings in some areas – for example, I’ve more time for comparison shopping in relation to groceries & necessities, and I do more home cooking, including batch baking. So my food bill is much lower and I eat much better. I also do more DIY, spend less on formal clothes and on travel to work.

    But these sort of savings are offset by higher costs in other areas. I’m at home much more of the time, and this has impacted on my needs regarding the house looking nice and the garden more attractive, on account of the time spent there. So the savings on DIY are offset by spending more on paint, paper, garden products & plants, and wear & tear, etc. I find that my gas & electric bills are a lot higher, reflecting the fact that I do more cooking and I need the house to be warm throughout the day during the times when I used to be out at work. I tried cutting down on heating costs – such as lowering the thermostat or having only one room heated during the day – but I rapidly discovered that this had a deleterious affect on mood and motivation. I don’t want to feel confined to one room when it’s cold! I also spend a lot more on entertainment. I enjoy doing things with family and friends – such as going to watch sport and going to the theatre. As I’ve got more time on my hands, these activities are even more important to me than ever.

    I have considered economising on some of these things, such as buying last-minute cheap theatre tickets or perhaps even getting a volunteer job at the local theatre, and get to see productions for free. But I find that there is a psychological cost if I feel that I am scrimping and scraping all the time. I had found it relatively easy to ‘save, save, save / be frugal / live beneath my means’ prior to FI, as it was leading somewhere – to that goal of financial independence. But now that I’ve got there, I don’t know that it is the way that I want to live the rest of my life. An unexpected effect of FI has been to make me focus on what it means to ‘be living the rest of my life’. Each person is different but I’ve discovered that, for me, having more time on my hands means that I have a different range of needs & wants, and that includes wanting to have more comfort and enjoyment in this post-employment phase of my life and not feeling that I’m always scrimping on what I can spend on myself.

    I’m in agreement with Fatlaksh’s comments above – that it’s not so much fun living on very little. Whilst a frugal lifestyle may be recommended for achieving FI, it is perhaps not a recipe for how to enjoy life thereafter.

    1. Hi Anonymous

      Thanks for de-lurking and joining in the debate. Some good food for thought in there from somebody who is already living what we talk so much about here.


    2. I can identify well with some of the points made by Anonymous above.

      I see FI as something to be worked at. I've become a world-champion comparison shopper for online purchases, utilities and the like. Cooking is a passion, and we eat like royalty compared to many folks, but we do so on a frugal budget, shopping as cannily as possible and wasting nothing - ever! Tasks I may have once outsourced I look to do myself where practicable.

      The latter point bumps up against something mentioned above though: with a lot of time spent at home, the condition of the home and garden may become very important, and can be a source of expense. So, some things I could DIY I sometimes pay professionals to do if I gauge they'll be able to do the job much better than I could. Even so, I focus on finding ways to always get the best bang-for-the-buck, sourcing materials as cheaply as possible and coming up with innovative and inexpensive ways to solve problems. There's been plenty of opportunity for this, as a I downsized into a home needing refurbishing.

      It was a combination of the downsizing, past investment returns, and years of living well within the means of a generously paying job that opened the door to the FI at a young age. I don't take the FI for granted, and see it as something to be worked at and carefully tended, not least because I see the financial (investment) environment as likely to prove difficult (if not outright hostile) for the foreseeable.

      Anon wrote: >>> An unexpected effect of FI has been to make me focus on what it means to ‘be living the rest of my life’. Each person is different but I’ve discovered that, for me, having more time on my hands means that I have a different range of needs & wants, and that includes wanting to have more comfort and enjoyment in this post-employment phase of my life and not feeling that I’m always scrimping on what I can spend on myself. <<<

      I can identify with that. Realising the future may require perma-frugality can be a little disheartening, and I do sometime crack and get myself a "fix" of consumerism. But I sure get my fix at the lowest price when I do!

      With regards entertainment, I've cultivated hobbies that get me outdoors and take advantage of where I live. Healthy and in theory inexpensive, although the latter point is dubious as dogs and bikes can soak up lots of funds if you're not careful!