My impressions on my journey so far.

Hello again, long time no see!

Lots going on in my life at the minute so I have been ignoring the website for a while. However, I wanted to share what I am thinking of my saving and investing journey so far.

It’s slow and repetitive

Yes, progress is slow going. As I rely on my monthly wage to save and invest, I am currently only contributing to my stocks and shares ISA once a month. The numbers aren’t going up very fast I can tell you.

At one time, I used to obsessively chart every single penny that I earned and if I spent less than a certain amount a week I would transfer it to a savings account . However, with all that is going on at the minute (viruses and stuff) I don’t really have the mental space to do this at the minute. I check my accounts when I think about it and let the automatic payments do their job to contribute for me.

It is working though as I have 0.19% of my goal invested at the minute with a 4% return (at least that was yesterday, it could be -1% for all I know).

It’s boring and hard work

Okay, this one is probably my fault. I am probably not as passionate about my goal as I was 6 months ago. And that is probably because the gap between what is portrayed on YouTube/Instagram and social media in general and the reality of actually saving/investing are very different, at least for me.

I loved reading Fruglewoods blog posts and their excellent book explaining how they changed their life. Tales of doing home haircuts (which I have learned to do thanks to Covid), packed lunches (they because a necessity at work as our cafe closed) and buying second hand clothes (I have to admit I don’t always do this) hide the daily reality that convenience goes out of the window. In an already hectic life I don’t always have the time, mental space or energy to really engage with this.

(I like my takeaways on a Friday!)

My takeaway from this

You can maybe tell by this post that I am borderline burnt out at the minute and that I am feeling quite overwhelmed by everything that is going on.

This post shouldn’t discourage you to save and invest because the payoff down the road will be immense! I just think that in many of the websites or YouTube channels about FIRE they seem at times to gloss over the daily grind of giving up convenience and how microscopic progress can be discouraging at times.

Conclusion

Keep going! It will be worth it. In the mean time, I know how you feel and how the daily reality of it differs from the highlight reels of Instagram and YouTube.

Going back to basics – expense tracking

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Every financial blog post, podcast, Youtube and article that I have read over the last two years have contained this one piece of advice: ‘track your expenses’. This was usually followed by: ‘create a budget’.

I have during different periods of my life definite phases:

  • the ‘I have no money so what’s the point’ phase
  • the ‘Not having a budget works for now, why bother’ phase
  • the ‘I need to track my spending obsessively with loads of charts phase’
  • the ‘I missed a week, I give up!’ phase

You may recognise yourself in one or more of those. I know that I have cycled through these quite often at different times. However, there was a golden period of 4 months were I did have it down to a tee. That’s what I aspire to go back to.

So what should I have done differently at the time?

Find a really motivating long term vision.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/ToNic-Pics-3001971/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1573529">Tom und Nicki Löschner</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1573529">Pixabay</a>
A long term vision.

In that golden era, I recorded all my spending and savings and knew exactly where every single £1 went. I saved enough for my yearly car insurance with a sinking fund; I even saved for Christmas presents. However, there was one problem that affected the sustainability of my system: I didn’t have a long-term goal.

At the time I hadn’t even heard of the FIRE movement. I didn’t have any concrete financial aspirations. I had never even considered investing in the market or real estate as an option. So when I saved money, though it did feel good, I didn’t have a clear purpose for it other than spending it later.

Since getting more interested in personal finance, I have discovered the caveat of not saving/investing for retirement. I have learned how inflation very slowly gnaws through savings. As a result, I have found out I cannot afford not to invest in my future.

Know your milestones

As you saw in my last post, there are some resources out there that can give some realistic and broken down milestones for financial goals; whether it is saving 3 months of expenses for an emergency fund, investing enough to cover basic living expenses, or just striving to be debt-free.

Creating a long term plan with realistic and achievable goals is the one vital thing I didn’t do during that 4-month golden phase. As a result, the £10 I saved on my phone bill, the £5 I didn’t spend on drugstore make-up and the £3 I saved by packing my lunch that day just got absorbed by my everyday spending.

What I do in those moments now is take out a calculator to work out how much closer to my goal I would be if I didn’t spend that amount. Even if it’s 0.00012%, I know that it is making a difference. Charting progress on a graph can also help to see this change visually.

Learn the art of delayed gratification

This is by far the most difficult one for me at the moment. I want to see progress and I want to see it now!!!

I know how frustrating it is to see number creep up super slowly. Times where I have set backs and times where I overspend. And times where I think to myself ‘is it really worth it?’

I want to throw in the towel, give up the hard work of going through my accounts everyday, writing everything down, planning every expense and be disciplined in my spending. I just want to live in the moment, ‘Carpe Diem’ and buy that thing I really want.

However, I need to remind myself that though the process takes time, it will be completely worth it one day. I know this because of the inspiring testimonials of people who have done this before me.

To conclude: This is something I am starting to work on from now. I hope to be able to share this journey to inspire and motivate people on their own journey.