Life in the Simple household goes on, pretty much as before, no matter what is happening in the world. Despite the chaos outside the front door I am still slowly making progress towards my goals. Here’s how I’m getting on and also news about developments in my coaching programme, Grow You, by Natalie Bacon.
a change of tactic
November was the first month that I have not overpaid the mortgage in several years. Instead I invested our usual over-payment of £600 in one of Vanguard’s Life Strategy Funds. Despite the pandemic it has already increased in value, although only by about £30. All I need it to do is to make more money than the interest that we would have saved by overpaying the mortgage. My usual savings went into my Vanguard Target Retirement Fund. Again, that increased in value during the month. My total savings at the end of November came to £40, 523.53. This doesn’t including the £8000 put aside for a new car. Without an over-payment our mortgage didn’t go down as much as usual. It now stands at £61,037.35.
The move to investment rather than mortgage over-payment has been a difficult transition for me to get my head around. I know that it makes sense financially, but psychologically I found it easier to see the mortgage reducing. What has helped is a comment made by Sassenach Saving about mortgage neutrality. This is being able to pay your mortgage off in full if you wanted to. I will achieve this some time next year and although it would leave me with zero savings and no money for a new car, it’s quite a nice thought that I could make us mortgage-free if I wanted to do so, but am just choosing not to.
My food spending came to £134.76. Every month I hope that it is going to be about £100.00 but it never is. I know though that it is better than a lot of people and does include cleaning products, toilet paper, etc. Toiletries came to £40.25; again over budget by £10.25. Mr Simple has also been cutting my hair and helping me with dyeing it, so compared to what I used to spend on keeping myself looking good I can’t complain.
My miscellaneous expenses included books, Pilates socks and the Waking Up app . I have been dabbling with meditation for a while now. I did subscribe to Headspace for a while, but I was just paying for listening to long periods of silence. It also got rather repetitive. Waking Up was recommended by Pete Matthew of the Meaningful Money Podcast. It has a daily session of ten or twenty minutes and although there are periods of silence, there is also guidance to help focus your attention. Sam Harris also offers interviews to listen to, although I haven’t taken advantage of any of these yet.
So far I have used it every day for just over a month and am certainly seeing benefits in my everyday life. I think that meditation isn’t necessarily about the peace you feel in those few minutes when you are engaging in the practice, but it’s the effect it has on your whole day. It’s about trying to translate that feeling of calm into other parts of your life. Sam suggests just pausing occasionally before you go through a door or before you stand up. Only for a few seconds, so that you’re not just rushing through your day.
A new coach has joined Natalie Bacon’s life coaching team. Her name is Kirsten Simon. Like Natalie she qualified with the Life Coach School and so uses the same tools. Kirsten hosts a coaching session every Tuesday evening where she spends some time teaching and then offers live coaching afterwards. This coaching programme has really changed my life and continues to do so every day. Natalie Bacon is now offering a partner programme, where members of Grow You can sign up as affiliates of the programme. If you think that you might be interested here is my affiliate link. Take a look, it might just change your life too!
making plans for the future
I have been continuing to work on my future self, as it is called in Grow You. I have written up a financial plan which takes me up to when I am aged 67 and will be able to draw my state pension. It presumes that I will never overpay the mortgage again, just letting it run for the next thirteen years. If things go to plan I will be working three days a week from aged 55, until I get to 60, when I will fully retire. At that age I have two personal defined benefit pensions which I will be able to draw. As we all know, life doesn’t always go to plan, but it’s nice to have a possible road map to what I am calling partial early retirement.
Potentially, four years from now, this will be my last month of working full time. Between then and now we (or at least Mr Simple) has a lot of jobs to do on the house. He’s not one for plans and goals. If I mention deadlines he gets a bit stressed. Nevertheless I have drawn up a rough plan of the main jobs on the house which should be completed before my working hours reduce. When I showed it to him he didn’t start jumping up and down saying that it wasn’t realistic, so hopefully that means that it’s all likely to get done. What that means is that by the time I partially retire our whole house and garden will be fully renovated and we can spend more of our free time doing things together that we enjoy.
This is not to say that life will be put on hold until then. I have still allowed money in the budget for holidays, although I must admit not in 2021 as I can’t see lock down easing any time soon! My usual holiday budget will actually be spent on fitted wardrobes for our bedroom. Although Mr Simple is responsible for paying for the household renovations, when we received the quote for these it was more than twice what he was expecting. He has therefore asked me to contribute £2,000, which I have agreed. I will dip into the money that I have saved for a car and then gradually pay it back each month over the next twelve months.
So there we are, another month over and Christmas fast approaching. I hope that you are keeping safe and well and are able to make the most of what will be a quiet and unusual festive season.