FIRE Update 14: November

We have arrived in November, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and we can take stock of how the month went. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

I’ve been AWOL again. Yes, yes, you can probably find many blog posts here about how I am desperately trying to get back into the swing of things. Truth is, I’ve been burnt out, overwhelmed with work and university, and just trying to keep my head above water. However, I have implemented some new time management strategies that will hopefully pay off. And practising getting up earlier, haha.

Also, I’ve invested in Sherry’s budgeting tool, which will hopefully provide some nice graphs for each month. I’ve only just started it, so once we hit December, I’ll have some better visuals and overviews of spending, saving and paying off debt.

Savings

My current general savings are $156.
My travel and luxury savings are $485.

WTF happening to my savings, you might think? Well, I do technically have a large chunk more, but most is saved for taxes and tuition fees. So that means that the “general savings” are my actual savings that I do not plan on touching. It is my cushion and FU money. So yeah, not much, but it is a start. In terms of luxury and travel, I am saving up for flight tickets for Christmas and Christmas presents. I am still working freelance to pad that some extra.

Spending

I’ll provide visual overviews starting from next month!

Investments

My current investments are $7,529 out of my $33,000 goal (22,8%)
My net worth is -$58,200

Yep, my net worth also took a dip thanks to the student loans. However, I have continued to contribute a little to my investments each month (I have time on my side + it is automated so I don’t even think about it) and I am happy to see that I’ll be hitting my first milestone soon. Once I have demolished my expensive tuition fee loan, I’ll definitely amp up this category.

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $75,010 (when I last calculated it).
I paid off $2,030 so far this month. There is $28,116 remaining on the first loan.

I’ve started my postgrad, so that number just skyrocketed. However, I am getting a very favourable interest rate on the majority of the loan (less than inflation), so right now I am focused on paying down the more expensive UK tuition fee loan – and I am doing that semi-aggressively (especially given my income level as a student).

Goals for next month

November is a spendy month since I’ll have to book flights, Christmas presents and similar. However, I am expecting some money to flow back to me because of returns, travel compensation and similar, so I’m staying positive. Otherwise, I am staying focused on my work – that’s also the best strategy to avoid overspending and shopping, haha.

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 13: August

We have arrived in August, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and we can take stock of how the month went. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

I’ve been working like crazy, especially since BOTH of my holidays were cancelled due to covid. So far, it has not been the best summer, but I am going back to my home country next week, and I hope all the extra work hours will pay off come September. I am looking forward to catching up with friends and family, eat food for free (lol), and have something that can resemble an actual holiday. I’ve also had some luck with eBay and Vestiaire Collective, where I am expecting some money to trickle in soon. Overall, I am very positive about the next few months, even if I am in a tight spot right now.

Savings

My current general savings are $9,066.

My travel and luxury savings are $103.

I have to dip a bit into my savings to make up for the missing $1,721 in state grants, and moving into a place with practically no furniture or kitchen stuff has also proved to be expensive. However, it is true that splitting costs with a partner help lessen the burden, so I hope to bounce back soon. The more I save now, the less I need to loan to cover my tuition for the coming academic year.

There’s also not a lot of luxury in the luxury savings account at the moment – I’ve had to pay for tests before flying, and I expect to use the remaining money for birthday presents and celebrating my own birthday with friends. However, I do feel prepared for these extra expenses, since my freelancing gig is going pretty smoothly. Hopefully, it will help cover the rest.

Spending

I have tracked my spending generally but deleted the sheet before I realised I had to post a number here. Whoops. I promise I’ll do better next month. I can tell you, however, that the number is probably super high…

Investments

My current investments are $6,966 out of my $33,000 goal (21%)
My net worth is -$25,900

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $54,800. (when I last calculated it).

Goals for next month

I plan to relax and try being sensible about my upcoming holidays. I will be saving on general food costs, but I imagine that transport and eating out will go up significantly. I’ll just take things as they come and try to prepare as much as possible for the trip, so I have enough funds to get by.

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 12: July

Another skip, but I’ve been overwhelmed by everything it seems, haha. It has taken me longer to recover from stress than what I realised. The next few months will be tough on the finance end, but I’ll do my best to make everything work out smoothly.

We have arrived in July, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

The weather has not been very summery, so I’ve mainly focused on work and an upcoming move closer to central London. I also had the unfortunate realisation that I’m losing out on a couple month’s worth of my student grant until I start my Master’s, so I have to save a lot more this summer to avoid dipping too much into my savings. I’m really grateful that I have my freelance work right now, because that will help lessen the impact as well.

Savings

My current general savings are $14,238.

My travel and luxury savings are $64.

The travel/luxury account got depleted, mainly due to flight tickets and so on, but I’m not too fussed. Since I am moving, I’m selling a ton of stuff on eBay so it would be stupid to buy more things anyway (except for the basic apartment stuff, of course). The dip in my savings are mainly due to moving and the lack of income I suddenly experienced.

Investments

My current investments are $6,648 out of my $33,000 goal (20%)
My net worth is -$22,282

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100. (when I last calculated it).

Goals for next month

If I can get through July with a sensible moving experience, some basic purchases for the new place, and work enough to only use a minimum of my savings, I’ll be happy!

I’ll also add a spending category for next month, so I can track how much I spent.

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 11: May

First of all – I skipped the April update. I was caught in a mix of exam stress and blog-crisis. We’re back now, hopefully more improved by now!

We have arrived in May, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

I have just been busy with exams. I also had a bit of shopping spree – not a big one, but enough to soothe my stress (lol, at least I am aware of it now!) and to celebrate some good things happening in the family.

I’ve also taken some time to reflect on where I’ll be prioritising my energy from now on. I’ve had an incredibly stressful semester that took its toll on my body. It was a scary experience, so I now have to be ruthless on how I navigate my everyday life and not just “power through”. Therefore, I am now only sticking with stuff that I either find enjoyable, is worth the money, or is a core activity that makes a significant positive impact on my life. I’ll be talking more about that later in a post on how I plan to “summer audit” my life.

Savings

My current general savings are $16,065.

My travel and luxury savings are $890.

So I’ve done some readjustments since I’ll be embarking on a Master’s degree next semester, and I got some unexpected money. Suddenly it seemed like a reasonable task to try to save up as much as possible to diminish the need for loans. I’ll also be moving houses in a few months, so it is nice with a laser-focus on saving money and reducing my belongings. However, I also plan to travel (if the world allows it) and still buy a few quality pieces from my wishlist if they show up, so I also have a separate account for those frivolous things…

Investments

My current investments are $6,186 out of my $33,000 goal (19%)
My net worth is -$20,200

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100. (when I last calculated it).

Goals for next month

I’ll be finishing up my degree (woo!) and plan out a whole Life Audit over the summer before I start on my Master’s degree. More on that later!

How is your May going, and how did April go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 10: March

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ian-dooley-dj7bwa-gwks-unsplash.jpg

I can’t believe I’ve almost done this for a year! We have arrived in March, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable. I am still keeping up, even if life is a bit overwhelming at the moment!

What happened this month?

I was very happy to learn that I have been accepted into a really good Master’s programme, so it has been a great month so far. Other than that, I am still just grinding away. I have also signed up for All Star Money, which looks super interesting and the articles they pick out seem quite inspiring. So maybe I’ll attempt to rack my efforts up here some more and hope for a good opportunity to show up, haha.
Otherwise, I just had my 2-year anniversary at the world’s best student job, aka my consulting position. I got a raise, which is not bad, and I’ve been handed some extra work on a more regular basis (although that is not related to the raise). So I take that as good signs, because I do prefer to divide my energy between my studies and that job.

Savings

My general/apartment savings are currently $7,600.
So my computer had to be repaired, which means I had to dip into my savings. I am not trying to worry too much – after all, this is what my savings are for and I am grateful for having this kind of cushion. Therefore, I am just continuing with work and spending as minimally as possible. This is turning out to be easier than I expected – when you are worn out and overworked, I often find that I spend less – because I am too exhausted and don’t have time for online shopping. So as long as we avoid emotional spending to cope with the stress, it should be OK on that front (while looking out for my mental health).

Investments

My current investments are $5,500 out of my $33,000 goal.
My net worth is $-30,500.

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100. (when I last calculated it)

Books I’ve read and texts I’ve written

Mainly just academic stuff, and then some money articles from the website I mentioned above!

Goals for next month

I am going to get back into the minimalism challenge. I ended up stuck after 2 weeks, but I’ll get my head into it again. Then I also hope to have written a big chunk off my uni work, and have launched my website.

How is your March going, and how did February go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 9: February

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ian-dooley-dj7bwa-gwks-unsplash.jpg

We have arrived in February, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable. I am still keeping up, even if life is a bit overwhelming at the moment!

What happened this month?

Busy as always. I have finished most of my applications by now, but I still have, well, a whole thesis to write and stay on top of work and uni. It feels like pouring in a lot of hours without a lot of tangible output just yet. But we are staying on track.

Savings

My general/apartment savings are currently $8,000.
I am very close to reaching my savings goal, and I had initially changed it to $8,250, but I might just go for $9,000. The extra padding is to ensure that I have enough for moving apartments, studying (even if something happened with my finances), and still have leftover money to put down a deposit after my studies. But once that has been solved, I am going to go all-in on investments and a bit of debt repayment. I am also adding to a travel fund, which is obviously not gonna get used any time soon, but once the pandemic is over, I think I’ll be happy to have funds that are allocated to have fun, lol. Especially between my degrees.

Investments

My current investments are $5,380 out of my $33,000 goal.
My net worth is $-29,400. You may have noticed there is a sharp decline in my negative net worth, which is mainly because I put in extra money on my savings and recalculated my student loans.

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100.

Books I’ve read and texts I’ve written

I am currently reading “Superhero nutrition”, but I am in the process of setting up a website for my articles and everything.

Goals for next month

I have started a minimalism challenge with my friend. I have to declutter 1 item a day, and send her a picture of it, which keeps me accountable. I’ll save all the pictures for a collage. 1 a day seems reasonable, and if I keep it up, I’ll be in a much better place once I am actually moving out. I refuse to carry around stuff I will never get to use.

How is your February going, and how did January go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 8: January

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ian-dooley-dj7bwa-gwks-unsplash.jpg

We’re already well into January, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable. I am still keeping up, even if life is a bit overwhelming at the moment!

What happened this month?

Christmas happened! It was great seeing my family and I enjoyed the time there, but I also still have tons of studying and work to do, as the exams are just around the corner. So the grind is still on, but I am staying optimistic. Better to focus on my studies than worrying too much about my applications for further study. Lol.

Savings

My general/apartment savings are currently $6,270.
I have done some calculations concerning the next year of my life. My primary objective is to have a sufficient safety net that would cover living costs during a Master’s degree, and still have money leftover for a deposit and moving costs. My goal is, therefore, to have $8,250 in that account, and then I’ve decided to focus somewhere else. I want to build up a travel fund and my investments further, and then pay down debt a bit more aggressively. I’ve written some smaller goals along the way that I am working towards.

Investments

My current investments are $5,200 out of my $33,000 goal.
My net worth is $-48,000.

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $56,634.

Books I’ve read and texts I’ve written

All I am reading for now is just academic stuff. 🙁

Goals for next month

My goal is to survive exams and deadlines. I am also pulling out a bit more from my closet and shoes to sell (it is highly addictive once you get going), so I will not have as much of an overflow as before. Since I know I am moving in six months, I know I need to downsize as much as possible.

How is your January going, and how did December go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading

About lockdown life and “getting my shit together”

We are halfway through May and I have somehow not lost my marbles being more or less stuck in my flat here in London. My other flatmates have gone back to their families, and while I enjoy the space and quiet, then I more than ever long to go back to my home country. I just have to be patient and wait for flights, that will hopefully be back in a couple of weeks.

I have finished the semester, so now I have a long summer ahead of me. I’ll continue to work at my part-time job (I was a remote worker from the get-go) and then do some more freelancing, but I’ve also started to read much more. In addition, I’ve started some awesome courses on Coursera, so I have plenty to keep me occupied, besides my determination to eat healthily and get in shape (which always occurs around this time of the year).

I have started to read Sarah Knight’s Get Your Shit Together. I like her writing style a lot and I do feel like I have been in a slump lately, most likely due to poor time management, too many commitments and, ya’ know, a global pandemic. That kind of stuff. I need a little hope, a bit to work on, and this might just be it. I am already the master of a to-do list, but her thoughts on, e.g. procrastination, time-wasters and what sort of fucks I should decide to give, it does make me reflect on my priorities and lifestyle. And take notes.

What has gone well in my finances?

  • I’ve put some extra money into my savings and my investment account.
  • I finished reading Your Money or Your Life, which was super interesting.
  • I’ve only ordered takeaway once (and tipped the driver). But I’ll probably do it again once Five Guys reopens, lol. I dream about burgers.
  • I have a ton of healthy, tasty recipes.
  • I have been booked for some tutoring, which will also add a bit of extra cash.

What has gone not so well in my finances?

  • I ordered this very expensive item, which I will make a separate post about, since I hope the cost might be worth it.
  • I bought a training program. I usually don’t use them, but this time it is about flexibility, which I have been working on consistently.
  • I have been slacking off and haven’t put everything up on eBay that I want to sell.
  • Online shopping is really fucking tempting, but we are trying to stay good here..

I do look forward to go back and (besides eating for free, lol) go on long runs, sunbathe and see all my old friends. Going stir-crazy is a real thing and I don’t think it has a good influence on my finances.

How is your May going so far?

Continue Reading

Shopping is a symptom

I have previously touched a little upon consumerism in here, but I have recently read a string of interesting discussions and blog posts about this, so I thought I would give my two cents on it as well. My general theory is that “shopping is symptom” – for everything that is going on for you, really.

Now, I am not talking about “shopping” as in “buying food and toilet paper”, but when you order another useless gadget on Amazon or browse a string of your favourite webshops “just to see what is new”, or you purchase something you semi-like because you have a discount code.

Let’s try to dig into that a little. I am by no means perfect, and Heaven knows that I have spend quite a substantial amount of money on online shopping. And still do sometimes, especially in these quarantine times. It is a process, but just being aware of your patterns can really help to just close the window and let it be sometimes.

“I need a new wardrobe” aka Hello I Feel Insecure And Uncomfortable

The first real, dramatic change of wardrobe occurred when I was around 16-17 and on my way out of a long punk phase. I still love black clothes, studs and fishnets until the day I die, but I may no longer be wearing awful kiddie-punk t-shirt, write on everything I wear and pierce my poor ears with an unclean safety pin. A lot of my shopping was, granted, because I really just needed some normal clothes.

But since then, a lot of “wardrobe revamps” and purchases cannot exclusively be ascribed to my evolving fashion sense and has had more to do with how I was feeling during that time. Usually, something felt wrong and if I just bought XYZ items with this particular aesthetic, then I would just magically start to feel much better about myself. Somehow I would look exactly like the model in the photos and all my problems with my self-image, self esteem or stress level would just be thrown out with the bathwater. What an incredible sweater! That probably got used a few times before I donated it or sold it.

It can be difficult to really identify whether you actually are in need of new clothes or if you are just feeling particularly shitty about yourself. That is alright. I do not really have a magic formula, except for the more generic things such as, ya know, trying to deal with it in the best way you can and love yourself more. If I look back at how I felt back then and how I viewed myself versus how I actually looked, there is a world of difference. It serves as a reminder that my self-image is more tied up to my emotions than my eyes and they will give a distorted view if they so wish to do that.

I Am Stressed Out and Scrolling All The Webshops

When we feel stressed out or overwhelmed, some of us have a tendency to either shop mindlessly in stores after work, or get the online shopping going. By “us”, I sort of mean myself here (but let me just believe for a second here).

It actually took me a while to notice, because the problem was two-folded. First of all, when I was working hard (and presumably earning more money), I felt it was justified. And also, sometimes I mostly just looked at online shops for procastination and then envitably found something I just could not live without, thus spending more money than if I had just kept my mind busy and found the damn items.

I am very bored

Although it sounds laughable, it is true. If you feel inadequate, boring, or just do not know how to spend your time better, it can be convenient to just surf the net, stare at the TV or other activities that expose you to a lot of commercials. When you are bored, you shop or you may just find yourself spending more unnecessary money in general.

Tricks for resisting the urge to shop

These things should hardly surprise anyone out there, but just for good measure, I felt it would be appropriate to share some of the things I do to avoid the urge.

  • Take a look at your closet
    You may just find that you already have more than enough and perhaps three different dresses that are oddly similar to the one you want. Sometimes we tend to forget when our closets are literally overflowing.
  • Meditate
    I am not saying that you should just sit down, close your eyes and hum to yourself for a bit, but mindfulness is a good tool for dealing with stress – and take a moment to actually feel your feelings instead of treating them with a random dress.
  • Make a wishlist
    Instead of trying to crush your want straight away, then just try to put it aside for later. Sleep on it. It gives your brain time to calm down and catch up, and you may just forget about it or realise that you don’t actually need this dress, if you are being perfectly honest here.
  • Remind yourself of your goals
    You may have some financial goals or big-ticket items you are trying to save up for. Maybe that’s a classic handbag, a vacation, or an emergency fund if your washing machine breaks down. Who knows. But just having a list you can whip out and have a look at really makes a big difference to stave off those impulse buys.
  • Unsub-fucking-scribe
    Yeah, of course. The best is to do some prevention and self-parenting by unsubscribing from e-mails, perhaps even blocking certain sites so you cannot access them at certain times.
  • Play a game
    Of course I’ll shamelessly promote playing some sort of game – mind you, not one where you buy shit. I enjoy playing The Sims. While you do have to resist buying all sorts of add-ons, then it works for me and effectively fights boredom.

I hope this may either serve as a reminder or help some people out. If you have noticed any patterns with your own shopping behaviour, feel free to share as well!

Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

Continue Reading