28 Dec 2012

Awesome


If you know me or if you've read much of this blog, you'll understand how awesome I am. I'm not perfect but I'm well on the way. 

One of the biggest things to help me along this path to (near) perfection has been to change the way I think about things. 

I've mentioned before that finding the right motivation is key. But also you have to have a belief in yourself - sometimes this may come off as bravado (see above), this is usually the result of achieving a lot of your goals. I've found that this feeling multiplies with every goal achieved until you have your very own shield of self belief. 

Do you have some nay sayers that are always bad mouthing your frugal ways? HA! Watch them eat their words as your next self-made project comes to fruition and watch your shield grow. Be careful not to rub this new found awesomeness in any ones face, in fact take time to help people grow their own ego shield. It will give you an enormous sense of well being. 

I'm currently looking at my next project. Project wedding and baby. They seem to be coming along okay. But I think they need a shot in the arm. One of the more ambitious aspects, making and sending out the 100+ invites has come to an inescapable impasse. Unfortunately this is wholly my fault. The only limiting factor is my laziness. 

Yes, I freely admit I'm almost perfect however not all the time. When I'm on my game I can beat anyone, but when I'm in a lazy mood, well, nothing get's done. In fact this whole blog has really been a productivity drain. It is pretty enjoyable though.

Anyone got any tips to get me off my arse?

Stay well,

Dom

22 Dec 2012

Well done!!!

Source: Wikimedia commons
A lot of bloggers this time of year are doing their yearly reviews. I think I've already covered most of my good news and my plans for the coming year. So I guess I'll cover current affairs. 

You may or may not have realised that the end of the world didn't happen yesterday as "predicted". I'm glad because I wouldn't have been able to read Monevator's great round up, the highlight for me - "Everyone likes money" - I think we can all at least agree on that. 

The other blog I wanted to point out was mortgagefreeby30, who not only completed his challenge in amazingly quick time, but was also one of the inspirations behind this blog. Well done! Mike has worked really hard on a side hustle, to help him pay off his mortgage. What's next for him? Holidays and a well earned rest I think!

Make it count.

So what's the next step? I've been thinking a lot about whether retiring early is really what I want to do. I think it's a difficult decision to make with the thick end of 70 years in front of me. So I'll just let future Dom worry about it. 

For now I'm still going to concentrate on living well and on a lot lower level of consumerism than the average Joe. 

The new focus will be making each pound count. This thought came to me after talking about Christmas shopping.

Someone told me I was a scrooge for setting spending limits on peoples presents. I tried to educate them in the ways of frugal living. Obviously they didn't get it, FI/RE didn't appeal to them (how would I afford my trip to Disney Land?! WAH WAH). 

So I tried a different tack - not wasting money - squeezing every penny from every pound. Getting exactly your money's worth, if not more! This means not wasting and maybe accepting all the good stuff that comes with this. 

Another benefit of living this way is the change in mindset. You are no longer thinking oh I'll get so and so this jokey gift, they'll think it's hilarious. You start thinking, this joke gift would be hilarious but after 5 mins it would be binned, maybe this useful gift would help them out with that problem they were talking about, or maybe even - hmm, they don't really need anything maybe I'll just focus on cooking a really excellent meal that will be enjoyed by all. Or get a good board game that can get all the family involved in some banter and maybe even let us turn the TV off for half an hour.

Installing this kind of thought pattern has really helped me so far. Or should I say reinstalling? I believe this is what we all grow up having then as consumerism grinds down our conscious thought into the "what to buy nextathon" that is Christmas / sale shopping.

Anyway, hopefully this will be a little food for thought.

Enjoy your holidays.

Stay well.

Dom


10 Dec 2012

Waste


Waste, pretty much all of us are guilty of some kind or another. Whether it be the Christmas wrapping waste that piles up after all the presents have been ripped open. 

Or maybe your just printing out some useless report at work which you don't really need. 

When I think of waste I think of two things. Wasting time and wasting effort.

My time is very important to me, using my time usefully rather than sitting in traffic or working late for no benefit makes me happy. Happiness is what it's all about. So I want to waste time less.

I thought I had reached an impasse, I had become uber efficient, not just at work but at home. I was keeping up to date with the housework, I was seeing friends/family regularly. Then BAM! It hit's me again. Cold and flu like symptoms. I immediately feel terrible, my efficient ways get shoved to the side and I just want to curl up in bed and let the world pass me by.

A couple of paracetamol based lemon drinks and I'm feeling better but still not over it quite yet. So how to get rid of the build up of wasteful ways and waste items. 

Firstly, clearout time - RECYCLE! Get rid of some crap, that always makes me feel better, even better shove it on ebay, get a couple of quid for that book/cd etc. It's worth the walk to the post box alone.

Get creative, spice things up in the kitchen, this time of year the winter veg can really start getting on your tits, so bust out some Mexican flavour! Get some fajitas on the go, they're easy -  cooked chicken in a bit of chilli powder and whack them in some wraps with a bit of lettuce and some tomatoes. Hey grate some cheese on it for an exuberant finish (I must be hungry).

Walk / jog / run / cycle - EXERCISE! Get your arse out of the house, I know it's cold, wrap up! Walk to the local shop/pub treat yourself to a quick half, you'll walk off the calories on the way home and it won't break the bank. If you cant indulge at Christmas when can you?

Stop procrastinating, you've been putting off the washing up / hoovering because you've been feeling all poorly, well suck it up boyo, stop thinking about doing it and JUST DO IT. It won't be half as bad or take half as long as you think it will.

See, now do you feel better? No? Well at least you'll sleep.

Stay well

Dom




3 Dec 2012

Is one income for a family enough?

I've been thinking more and more about the past recently. Mainly on how it has affected my family.

After having a few conversations with my Dad over the last week or two, it became apparent how little I know about the country and even the town I grew up in before I was about 16-17 years old and started paying a bit more attention (not a lot of attention).

The growth of standards of living have gone up enormously. I would say most people in Britain now live in houses that have some kind of heating. This wasn't so up to even 20 years ago.

I couldn't even fathom this. I took it completely as a given that everyone had heating, electric lights and a power shower*!

Then you start thinking about other "technologies" that have bedded themselves in just in my lifetime (I'm still young I tell thee!), think of mobile phones, solar panels, efficient cars.

I remember growing up, not that long ago, in the mid 90's having to wait for my sister to finish her phone call on the landline so I could ring my friend. This is completely unheard of now. You just whip out your mobile and bam, text your friend, send them a picture of a particularlly long cat or whatever.

You can even speak to a friend in Australia whilst walking through the countryside of Cumbria (if you can get signal). Come on, that is amazing. 

I guess we take these things as read now. 

Anyway, back to my point. Have these technological advancements increased the costs of the standard persons life. 

Well there's one thing I can see stick out like a sore thumb. How many couples do you know now, where both of them work full-time, I would say over 95% of the people I know do and hate it! 

Do they do it because they are chasing Financial independence and want to retire early? No, is it because they love their work and wouldn't give it up for BILLIONS OF DOLLARS? Nope. 

It's because if they didn't both work they couldn't afford to live. It's as simple as that. You now have single mums working full-time to fund their child care costs. Couples working 80-100 hours a week between them to try and afford the wedding they just have to have.

So are we better off than my parents generation? Yeah! We live in comfy ass homes where you flick a switch for heat, with fancy insulation that retains the heat and drive a car EACH to our jobs that we want to try and excel in because goddamnit I am good at this.

But if I could swap for one of us working a 40 hour week, not having a mobile/laptop/internet/abroad holidays and having every weekend free, to give my other half a rest because the kids have been running riot all week. I would in a heartbeat.

I think as much as possible, I'm going to cut out that excess crap until I'm at the "bare minimum" for living a modern life. But am riding a rocket ship compared to peoples lives in the 80-90's. 

Hopefully, these technological advances that seem to have turned us into a nation of workaholics can be kept at bay with a little effort and a little thought and I can live well, because really that's all that matters.

Stay well,

Dom


* A power/electric shower is one of my necessities for life, along with double glazing and love :D

picture: longcat

30 Nov 2012

Save Christmas

You may have noticed a theme to my recent posts, that's right Christmas has arrived in my house!!

Photo: its beginning to look a lot like Christmas :)


For a few reasons, you might be able to spot one above. We put it up this weekend. I know, it's not even December! But still it's fun isn't it. I've also set up my Christmas playlist and have been listening to that pretty much none stop. 

Love the waitresses:

(not the official video)

Anyway back to the topic at hand MONEY. 

At this time of year we all start thinking of gifts. Well some of us do, the rest have been thinking about them ALL YEAR!

That's right, I set my budget for this Christmas back when the snow was falling last January. So I'm not exactly sure how realistic it will be. 

What I do know is I put a measly £15 - 20 a head into the budget. Too tight? I don't think so!!! 

Let's see what we can do. 

Well as it turns out I'm not the only one in the family thinking frugally. We were invited round to my in-laws (to be), after a lovely meal with the family we got round to talking about what the plans were for Christmas. Sometimes we go to them, or my parents or we have them to us. 

Anyway they have been a little down on their luck this year, with some injuries causing them to take extended sick leave and various changes of jobs also between the family members. So it turns out that they have decided instead of buying everyone gifts they are going to do Secret Santa. Which means instead of me and my partner buying for the  whole family, we've been secretly nominated to buy for just two of them.

To cap it off they have imposed a spending limit of £25 per person. This has helped immensely! So instead of 4 presents at ~£20 each, its now £50 total.

I think this is a fab idea, not only does it help cut down on all the over enthusiastic consumerism surrounding Christmas, but no one is left out AND because each person is only buying one gift they can concentrate on making it the BEST GIFT EVER!

So I was all set to go shopping. Had a few other errands to do which just about made taking the car a respectable decision.

Spoke to my sister on the way in for gift ideas for her, she said she wants me to go halves with my brother on a DAB radio, she knew how much the one she wanted was and still insisted on it. 

YES! Finally frugality has come to the forefront of everyone's thinking. It's been one of the cores of my thinking for over a year now. How I wish i could have found it earlier.

Any way. Back to buying thoughtful gifts and wishing well.

On a broadening your mind note before I go, Charles Dickens a Christmas Carol is currently free on amazon for kindle / kindle apps. So get out that ereader / smartphone and get some reading done. It's surprisingly short but massively heart warming!

Update: For those without kindle/ smartphone you can get a christmas carol in various formats on project gutenberg, including an audio version. Both are free downloads, that Gutenberg project is totally mega and I would definitely say it's worth having a look through. Can't hurt if it's free can it?!

Stay well ("and know me better man!")

Dom


27 Nov 2012

5 things to get your significant other for Christmas


So continuing the 5 things series, let's get all Christmassy. I have the fire turned on, I am in my dressing gown. So let's all snuggle up together and think of lovely gifts that can be enjoyed by that special person in your life.

Obviously I am not going to encourage you to increase the gruesome level of consumerism that is already upon us, these will be more esoteric gifts. Ones to stimulate their brains rather than to satisfy a passing whim.


1. Encourage their passion. 

There is nothing better than someone getting on your side and thinking about what you really want. So if your significant other (SO) loves to read, or paint or whatever, encourage it. Positive progress is always good.

2. Help them make a change

Is your partner stuck in a job they hate? Still smoking 20 a day and getting a bad cough? Maybe they can't bring themselves to ask for a pay rise or simply tell that idiot in the office to shut the fuck up. Help them, a small gesture of goodwill like telling them you believe in them and that you know they have it in them to make that change can be all the encouragement they need. 

3. Inspire them to save money

I believe saving money is the cornerstone to leading a well lived life. It brings with it freedom, freedom from consumerism, freedom from debt and freedom to spend money actively. This will help them to relieve stresses caused by money niggles (interest charges on credit cards) and give them a better nights sleep. Making them a happier and more positive person.

4. Encourage work on a side hustle

As I mentioned above saving brings freedom with it. Having a side hustle can give you extra money and provide that longed for purpose that your day job doesn't fulfil. Maybe someday you'll earn enough from this side income to quit the day job and take it up full time. Or it may just come as a nice little add on to the usual paycheque helping to pay for lifes emergencies / indulgences. 

5. Tell them the goals that you want to achieve with them.

Sometimes sharing with your SO the things you would like to do with them can be the best thing of all. Always wanted to see Uluru? How much better would it be with her/him right by your side. Creating memories for you to share til your grey and old. If your grey and old already you can always tell the grand-kids!

I hope this helps you realise that the best part of Christmas giving isn't really the gifts. It's really down to the love that you try to embody in presents. You don't really want to give gifts, you just want to see the look on their face as they open it. 

25 Nov 2012

5 Things series, starter for 10!

I've always wanted to have a nice little series of posts that can have awesome bullet points (Love bullet points).

So here we go the 5 things series.

Starter for 10 as Paxo loves to say, isn't actually ten things I hope that hasnt confused you.

Let's start of small hey. Maybe.... 5 things that would make the world brilliantly awesome and save the planet!!!!!!

1. Stop all motor sport.

Why? Think of all the fuel / money wasted and technological advances that have come about through just F1 racing. If this amount of thought had gone into solar panels I think there wouldn't be an energy crisis.

Why it's unrealistic. People LOVE motorsport. My first thought whenever someone says this, is it really a sport? I think it's more of a competition. There's skill yes and you have to be physically fit, but surely there are better ways of spending BILLIONS of pounds each year.

2. Don't allow private jets to fly.

Why? Does it matter that you get somewhere that much quicker? Can you not just get a 1st class flight? Again think of all the wasted BILLIONS on flights for one or two people, how inefficient and wasteful. There doesn't seem to be any reason to have a private jet. 

Why it's unrealistic. They see me rollin' they hatin' . This mentality is so basic. If you have no idea what that means, basically the rapper thinks people are jealous of him because of his money. Well just to let you know, I don't care

3. Have more national holidays.

Why? Holidays are awesome! In a lot of families the holidays (Christmas/Thanksgiving) are the only times that everyone gets together. There should be more of this! Spread the love.

Why it's unrealistic. Businesses want Money, to get more money they work longer hours or more days. This means less holiday, boohoo.

4. Free broadband for all.

Why? BROADBAND IS AWESOME, wi-fi is awesome. It should be available to everyone, for free. 

Why it's unrealistic. Rolling out broadband is pretty expensive. Someone has to pay for it unfortunately. So either you can pay your monthly subscription, or the government could pay for it and tax you more. BOO! 

5. Your only allowed to get one present at Christmas (in total).

Why? Everyone is uber-spoilt over the Christmas period. There is a lot of pressure to get EVERYONE the BEST presents ever. People even go into debt to be able to afford to buy their family presents. Enough is enough, 1 present for each person. It's like secret Santa but for the world is how I envisage it. I can tell your worried that this one present will be crap right? Well no, if everyone only has one person to buy for, then they can put all the thought into that one. 

Why it's unrealistic. People are stupid, they think that Christmas is a time for treats and not a time for thinking. STOP BUYING STUFF YOU CAN'T AFFORD! Even if it is a present! It doesn't matter.

So once I am KING OF THE WORLD, I will implement these 5 things and the world will be sorted in a jiffy. 

Or maybe we could all just be a bit more thoughtful in life, cut down on the amount of fuel we waste, reduce our fancy pants holidays to reduce wasted plane journeys, prioritise our family above sitting in front of the tv and cut down on the number of people we buy superfluous gifts for. 

Is it that difficult? Not really if we think about things a bit more.

Stay well.

Dom

P.S. Did you spot I didn't use bullet points? Maybe I don't love them that much.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boklm/486646486/

19 Nov 2012

Thinking Net

It's a common mistake and something I've only recently come to. Thinking net is really the big concept behind all things purchasing / income generating.

To explain more I saw a post a couple of weeks back either Retweeted by the savvy scot or by Elaine. I can't seem to find it at the moment so if you know of it please drop me a comment. 

Anyway, it was all about how you must to think about how much your life will improve by overall not just the initial hit, which normally leads to buyers remorse or impulse buying.

I'm not explaining this very well let's get an example going: 

Rob over at SEI (who is great btw) was rather candid about his wages recently. So I'll use him :D. He says he earns £18k a year, not too shabby for his first job out of Universtiy I thought, but I bet some of you are thinking - how the hell does he live on that. 

So maybe Rob goes looking for another job. At the moment he has quite a low cost of living. But he goes chasing the big bucks (possibly with $ / £  signs in his eyes?) in the big old city of London. He can easily get a job here earning £25k say. Wow you might be thinking or kerching at least! But let's think this through a second. 

At the moment he saves £7.5k a year, a phenomenal amount! But say he's now living in London, his after tax on £25k will be £19532 , his student loan contributions will knock him down to £18632.

He's put accomodation down as ~25% of his total costs. This will unfortunately skyrocket. London prices are ridiculous. A room in a house will cost you £500 a month or more (source: rightmove.co.uk). This will push his costs up from ~£3600 (which includes gas/elec/council tax!) to say £35 a month gas/elec (if he's sharing a house I think that's fair enough) + £500 for the room + his share of council tax/water say £50 a month. Which is £7020 a year. Crikey! Almost doubled.

So we're down to £11,612, if we say a 5% increase on the other costs/ food costs that's £3055. That leaves him with £8557.

Woohoo! He is Just over £1000 better off A YEAR! 

If you can't tell that's sarcasm it's time to start watching blackadder again. 

Don't forget this means he has no transport costs. After speaking to a friend he averages £30 a month, which seems to be about right, although I'm sure Rob would walk or cycle half the time at least. So say £15 a month for him. This brings that £7k payrise down to a paltry £877. Yes he has increased the amount he saves a year.

But only by £73 a month. In the mean time he has had to move house, misses all his great northern friends and will probably have to learn cockney. I feel sorry for him and he hasn't even done it!

This is what thinking Net really is, taking into account the total of the costs that changes in your life make. Not just the initial savings or increases in income.

Obviously this thought process ignores the fact that Rob is awesome at saving money. Also that you will probably start earning more as you get more experienced at work, sometimes you have to pay your dues first.

But this thinking net holds true for other items in life that are supposed to save you money. Like wood burning stoves.

Stay well

Dom




18 Nov 2012

What's it for?

There are several reasons I have started myself on a path to financial independence. But above all I would say that it is my own pursuit of happiness.  

I first became aware of the real meaning of happiness when I read Aristotle's ethics. I have to say at 15 I didn't really get it. Why would I want to not pursue the latest gadget like the (then) newly arrived mobile phones. Why would I waste my time exploring nature and learning; when there are pretty girls to be turned down by woo.

But now I still don't fully get it, hey I'm no philosopher! What I have got out of it and what it's taken me so long to realise is that happiness is really all there is in life. If you are doing something that is not making you happy or inversely not doing something that would make you happy, something has gone wrong.

It finally dawned on me about 7 years ago that this was the case. I was sitting at home with a hangover after yet another night on the town being turned down by girls wooing young ladies. I realised that it isn't worth it.

Not the wooing young ladies part. But wooing these particular ladies. They haven't realised yet that the bar scene is ultimately completely unfulfilling and just moves your hard earned cash from your pocket into the local pub/club's. Whilst leaving you dehydrated and with a slightly larger beer belly than when you started. 

Then I decided to think about the things that are really important to me. 

Family
Friends
Partner
Children

Not necessarily in that order. So I thought what can I tackle first. Being single I couldn't really start thinking about children so I started actively trying to spend more time with my friends and family. Before I always let myself be approached, now I try to arrange meet ups, especially if I haven't seen people in a while.

What really got me was the quote: "Never let the grass grow long on the path to your friends house" I don't know who said it but it's awesome. Love it. 

I also realised that none of these things were necessarily to do with money. Yes, I might need to be able to buy petrol to get around. But it's not like I buy my friends or I can buy a loving partner. 

So as money is not a big thing for me, I decided to try and utilise it as best I could. 

Long story short, it didn't work for years!!! Not because it was the wrong thing to do but because I wasn't being conscious of my spending. So I started tracking my spending. To some degree it worked. I cut back a little. It really wasn't until I started reading Mr Money Mustache that I realised how much I was wasting. Not just my money, but my time as well.

So I have renewed myself, I am stringent and conscious of my spending at all times. It makes me realise all the alternatives available to me and how much better they are. Just a little thought before purchasing can create a lot of spare cash. 

Which can then be saved, compounded and used to become financially independent. This will then allow me to spend more of my time on the things I love. In the mean time I'm going to do all I can to use my time productively to increase my happiness whilst minimising my unnecessary spending to the reduce the time it will take to reach the FI milestone.

This life is now the norm for me and I have to say that I feel a lot more content than with the one I had before.

Stay well.

Dom





16 Nov 2012

Great Work!


Goals. I'm sure we all have a lot of them.


As you may have seen, I've been tracking mine for a while now and I think it's about time I started celebrating. Sure, it's no the time to indulge myself. But I have hit a lot of my (short-term) goals.


It's been about 6 months maybe more since I started the £250 challenge, and I have to say it's going great. 


For the first time in my life I have savings - (maybe only for a short time) but it's enough to make me think that if I carry on like this, with improvements in my still quite unfrugal budget (Mobile phone!!) then I could really make that big life changing step and retire before I'm 50. 


So how have I done it? Well to be honest I couldn't really tell you, it's the little things. Shopping around for car/ home insurance saved me ~£300, getting a cheaper gas/electric contract probably another £200 and other things I can't even remember.


But the biggest change that's really been with me from the start (so I guess not a change?) is just trying to live below my means. I've always shopped at Aldi rather than the big super market (own brand beans taste loads better!!). I've always rather put a jumper on than stick the heating on, it's just the way I am.


Not to say that I don't enjoy treating myself, I love a good quaff of beer now and then. It's not such a big priority to me anymore as it used to be.


So if you're struggling with reaching your financial goals, give yourself a little credit for how well your doing. It is definitely worth it to keep going. Hey guess what it can make you find things about yourself you didn't even know (I'm now a pretentious blogger, who knew?!).


Stay well


Dom


1 Nov 2012

Indulgences / Temptation


It seems Briton is spending itself rotten at the moment who would have thought we're only just out of recession. 

So I thought I'd get involved!! But in my own way. I love indulging my thoughts having a look through the latest gadgets, or maybe some new shoes. But the difference is I have the mindset that I can't afford these things. 

Why can't I afford them? Am I really poor. Well no, I have a good job. I earn a decent amount, I've worked hard to get where I am and I hope am going to get further up the career ladder. 

So? What's the problem? Why aren't you busting down the road in your brand new puma's or writing this on the new ipad 3 with 4G technology? 

Well... there is a problem I have to admit. I cannot bring myself to spend my hard earned on such frivolous things, especially when I have much more important things in my life.

Like what? You might be thinking, you've worked hard, treat yourself go on! Worked hard? How can you measure that. Yes I think I have worked hard, maybe a little too hard, but I always think I could have done so much more. How can I justify treating myself? I don't think I can. I already have so much. 

Come on people. When you were 8 would you have ever believed that you would be walking round with a star trek style communicator that allows you to talk to someone on the other side of the world!!!! If I think about it I kind of can't believe it now. I think it works through pixie dust though!!

Maybe I am already treating  myself, I cook up yummy meals for myself every night and get to hang out with really cool friends and my life is generally pretty awesome. Would it be improved with the latest gadget? I think not.  

I love looking though.

29 Oct 2012

How to solve Burnout: describe, identify - resolve

Burnout has occurred. It crept up on me over a couple of months. 

It's multiple things that have added up, work, money, home (keeping house - tidying up etc), crappy weather. So I've decided to rest, recuperate (hibernate?).


Really I should be looking as this as an opportunity. Something isn't working in my life!

So describe the problem:

Working late = makes me tired
Come home late = too tired to tidy house
No cleaning = compounding mess
Massive clean up on weekends = less time to relax and catch up on rest
Less rest time = more tired
This becomes cyclical with less and less time to rest. 

So identify the actual problem(s) from this:

Working late
Too much stuff to clean in house

Now I just need to work out how to fix it.

1. Working late - we're a bit hectic at the moment, this will calm down over the next couple of weeks. Taking regular breaks will help as well.

2. Too much stuff - we're in the process of reinventing our lives as we are becoming parents. For us this means clearing out a lot of old junk (think an entire rooms worth!) and giving ourselves new wants/needs. Like millions of nappies!


Then implement. 

Easier said than done I guess. But let's see how it goes.

Pic: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burnout.jpg

21 Oct 2012

Looking for a side hustle

What a weekend it's been. The weather has been crap, mostly. So like a lot of people it has made me look inward. 

I've pretty much got my budget in order, so what next? 

Well as MMM says, it's spending and income or income and spending. So income then. I'm pretty settled in my job. Ha guess what I'm not paid enough though! So I could either work harder on cutting my costs, or get a side hustle!!

Side hustles can range from a fully blown part-time job, which works well for some, to earning a few quid filling in questionnaires.

I've done both in the past and enjoyed neither very much. Probably because I have this little thought constantly ticking along in my head that I'm worth more!! $25 doesn't seem like that much though, I was thinking more like £50. 

So what side hustles could stand up to my (probably inflated) sense of worth? Well  £50 translates to £104k a year. I think earning that much is probably a little out of my league at the moment. Unless I break it down.

So today I did some painting. No, I'm not the new Van Gogh, it was more for decoration purposes. So what's this got to do with side hustles? Well I had a look on myhammer and to paint a four bedroom flat they were quoting £1000! Shit I thought, I effectively saved that much today. Although we did only one room, so only £250, but how long did it take us? 5 hours, woohoo that's £50 an hour! Where's the champagne?

Yes, this is simplistic, it ignores the cost of the paint we bought and there was two of us doing it. 

So maybe not quite living the dream yet, but I guess it depends on your dream.

19 Oct 2012

Crazy rates



I don't have much experience in buying houses, I've bought one in my life and I didn't even get that totally right. I probably paid a little too much for it, it's not in the best location in the world and it still needs a bit of work doing to it. 

I do feel at home here though. I've lived here for almost 2 years and I thought I got a pretty decent mortgage rate when I got my 2 year fixed deal. 

But this was back before I realised all the stupid mistakes I was making with money. So I thought I'd start looking around for new mortgage rates. 

So what should I go for? With rates so low it's tempting to try and lock in a long term deal. But this strategy seems to mean I have to pay a premium in the short term to possibly protect me IF rates rise. Is this the best way to go? Then you have to ask yourself when will the base rate rise, this article says 2018!! 

So why not a tracker? It will let me take immediate advantage of the low rates, allowing me to pay more capital and knock a few years of the mortgage. Sounds good! But then I would have to pay more if rates rose.

As the above article "guesses" rates aren't going to rise dramatically (although it also shows that they have done by 6% or more in just a matter of years), so a tracker would seem to be the way to go. It allows me to take advantage of the current low rates, gain more capital and not be affected if rates rise slightly over the next few years.

The problem is I hate having that little stress bug sitting on my shoulder constantly getting me to check what the swaps rates are doing, also with my present situation of a baby on the way and a possible job change in the short term a bit of stability could be exactly what I need (although extra cash would be handy too!). 

All it really comes down to is me being a big wussypants and preferring to protect myself against the downside risk rather than take the risky short term profits.

Damn you possible regret!

18 Oct 2012

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a process whereby you would compare a process in a company to the same process that another company undertakes. This could be any part of the customer experience, logistics, reporting methods, etc etc. It's done to find efficiency savings and hopefully money savings!

It's a complicated process which can be undertaken by getting companies to work together (unlikely!) or by using an independent agent to assess the companies that would like to take part without any of the possibly sensitive company information being leaked to rivals.

It is assumed that both parties will benefit equally from the process. Although I always believe one company will always benefit more than the other.

So what's this got to do with me I hear you asking. Well... after reading Maria's post on how comparing one person's budget to another is dumb, I was a little shocked! I have always found looking at other people's budgets quite enthralling. You can really get a feel for someone's passions from what they spend their cash on. You can sometimes learn a thing or two, or be inspired. The last one is where I normally sit, because I go, how the heck do they spend that little on that.

It's not just budgets either, it's when I'm speaking to people. A few months ago my Dad told me about how his gas/elec bill is less than £40 a month. I was flabbergasted as mine has kept rising and rising over the months. So I pressed him for details and picked up some great tips in the process.

It's really this enquiring that brings about the results. So don't feel your being too nosy I'm sure plenty of people would love to share!

If you really want a kick up the backside why not compare yourself to Mr MoneyMustache, I exported the table to Excel and then divided all expenses by 1.6 to turn $'s - £'s I then noticed that in most cases I am pretty crap and the ones I was better than MMM were ones out of my control like the property taxes - although comparing taxes across different countries is probably silly anyway :D

For more information on benchmarking see wikipedia or check out your local library.

If you like this why not follow me on Twitter @domliveswell

15 Oct 2012

Laugh


I had to laugh today, quite a few people were late into work today due to some bad traffic that had closed a road nearby. People were saying "oh dear, it took me over an hour longer to get into work today" so I asked how long in total they were in the car "oh, two hours, so I guess it wasn't that much more". 

I sort of lost my cool and started laughing at them (very not cool of me I know, I'm sure karma will kick my ass for it later!)

Don't these people realise how much of their time they're wasting? 

One person I talked to him and his wife commute over an hour each, each way! These people are incredibly intelligent people, they have both progressed in their careers to quite senior positions, what the hell do they think they're doing? 

I also love the fact that they complain about how little time they get to spend with their kids. Or how they don't seem to sleep very well and don't know why!!

I must admit before I had my epiphany, I was the same as them. Now I've realised what a huge waste it is it actually gets me a little angry that these actions are allowed to take place. 

Now I've realised don't get angry I can't force these people to do what I want, so instead I just laugh. Although I'll try not to do it right in their faces next time!

Oh well, we live and learn.

13 Oct 2012

How to save 10 days a year

I did something different today. I got stuck in traffic. It was the first time in ages, I was stuck for about an hour due to a burst water main.

As I sat there I got to thinking, this is a massive waste, not only are all these people stuck in cars unable to be productive, with all their engines running burning fuel, costing them more money, the environments being damaged, causing people to be late for meetings and getting them more and more stressed because they're late for the meeting or late home and miss seeing their kids before bedtime.




Why don't we stop it?

Why don't we all just say no to traffic jams. Why don't we say no to traffic full stop. Yes I realise people live far away from work. But I don't understand why they live far away? Why can't they just move closer so all this commuting malarkey would be at least reduced somewhat. 

I was able to cut my own commute from 45 mins each way to a 15 minute car journey. Although I have to say I am being incredibly lazy at the moment and not cycling. It would only take me 20mins cycling and save me almost a thousand pounds in petrol alone a year. But on the bright side I've saved an hour a day that I don't have to commute. Doesn't sound like a lot does it? Well... if there are 250 working days a year and I have 22 days annual leave that saves me 238 hours a year! Is that a lot it just sounds like a random statistic there. Well... It's the same as 9.92 days. I have in effect increased my holiday time per year by almost 50%!!!

So what  have I done with this extra time? Well I've spent it with loved ones, or catching up with old friends, occasionally I've worked late and still got home at the same time as I used to.

This all sounds very dull you might think but what if you had this much extra free time? You could volunteer, start a new part-time business, read to your kids, cook dinner with your significant other, just take some time to de-stress after work and chill the hell out. Hey you could start your own microbrewery (something I'm thinking of doing).

The possibilities are almost endless. So why not rethink where you live. 

11 Oct 2012

Motivation


I've always struggled with motivation. I always blamed it on being plain lazy. I'm still pretty lazy now, but I have got better.

One of the things I've found that helps me out of the rut is picturing the end. Whether it be the finished masterpiece or the pay rise that will (hopefully) await me.

As you can tell from the rest of my blog I try to save as much as possible. As I'm just starting out I don't have a lot of savings. I thought the best place to start saving was in a tax sheltered ISA. This type of savings account allows all interest or capital gains to come to me tax free. 

Great! I thought so I looked around for the best rates and what did I see? Bum all! 3% was the best I could get without tying myself in for 3-4 years. As I will probably need to tap this cash in the next 12-18 months I had to put this limit in place.

So as you can probably tell I'm not earning a lot of interest. This has caused me some concern, is it really worth saving all this money if I hardly earn any interest? 

Then I had an epiphany today. I got my water bill! Hardly the most exciting news ever. But   when I saw the amount I thought OUCH! Is that just for water? Then I looked a little closer, it was for 4 months of water usage, so it then didn't seem too bad.

Then I had another thought, even my small ISA balance with it's paltry savings rate has allowed me to earn as much interest as this entire water bill!

Then I thought, someday I'll have enough saved up to earn enough interest to pay all my bills!! 

So now all I want to do is save as much as humanly possible to get to this end point as quickly as possible!!! 

Any tips on how to do this would be brilliant!


9 Oct 2012

Holiday - good times

So you may have seen my recent post about I completely busted my budget on holiday. Well here's the other side to that. The great fun things you can get out of life. 

We visited some amazing places. 






It really goes to show the massive amount of places we have in Britain right on our doorstep. Which are incredibly cheap to visit, none of the above cost more than £5.50 to visit. This sometimes included a guided tour, but mostly we just muddled our way through or spoke to the staff about the history of the buildings. 

I really should have spent more time researching before we went. Oh well. Now I think it's time to start planning my next holiday :D

7 Oct 2012

Holiday - bad news


Well don't I feel relaxed! 

Sorry I don't want to rub it in too much, but I've just come back from holiday. Shall we start with the bad news? 

I somehow managed to go almost 3x over my budget I set out for the holiday!! Crapping hell, what did I do wrong?

Well, everything! 

First my budget was unrealistic - I hadn't thought about what we were going to be doing, or eating. 

Second - I had holiday brain, I did what I've been trying to not do over the past 3 years, just spend without thinking. Most things went through my debit card so when I look at my bank statement it sits there taunting me!

Third - I was unaware. If I had realised what was happening halfway through the week I could have done something about it.

Fourth - I didn't plan anything, we just winged the whole holiday. If we'd set more of a schedule we wouldn't have been caught in the rain so much or stuck for dinner plans in a place where everything closes at 4pm!

So what conclusion have I come to about this? What life changing thing have I derived from this time of hedonism? Well... to be honest... nothing.

At first when I checked my bank I thought someone had fraudulently accessed my account, but after going through it with a fine tooth comb I realised this was just me. Then I got angry, at myself firstly, then at my partner - in the form of a bad mood for half a day (sulky pants!). When we talked it through I realised something.

I had a great time!! It was brilliant, so nice to be away from work for a week, so nice to break the routine, I indulged a little too much maybe but it's not like I threw all my money in a drain. I exchanged it for some good times and some great memories that will stay with me for a long time. Hey I got to see a freaking lighthouse in real life (never done that before!).

Would I do it again? Sure, I'd probably plan it a little better though - maybe having a few less meals out, as to be honest I can't really remember half the things we ate, the things I'd really concentrate on are the good times. 

All in all it was a great experience.

24 Sep 2012

Struggle

I've been struggling over writing a post all about how I feel about happiness. I'm finding it difficult to put the words together that define exactly what it means to me. As you can probably guess I don't buy into the regular short term buy your way out of sadness idea.

So here's something completely different while I mull over that. 

A few blogs I follow have been banging on about the Blog-up event, it sounds like a laugh a minute I have to say. Maybe a little bit corporate? Or am I being a little cynical - hey if they were able to drag the ermine away from the Stella bashing, all is good in my eyes!!

In other places, MMM has highlighted the upsides of p2p lending, I've looked into it and would like to have a go at some point - I would also like to have "play" money to test out these ideas. I hope he doesn't start thinking he's winning monopoly as that would be a dire shame, his head does seem in the right place though. Hopefully we'll see the good affects of a moral and wise investor giving back. Maybe something we can all learn from.

Otherwise it has been a quiet week, a gem from the other side of the sea has popped up in the shape of http://whatstostopyou.blogspot.co.uk/ after having a short read through, his ideas seem very close to my heart, along with an acute financial brain (spot the economist / accountant!!), I also love the wonderful moment of the day.

Which brings me back round to my work in progress post, I love taking a moment each day to find a bright point. Even when the auditors are breathing down your neck and you know you won't get home til 8 :(

Picture: www.picturesdepot.com