September Progress Review Of My 2018 FIRE Goals

Hi folks,

Happy October!

September felt like a wind rush that literally just blew past me. My days have merged into one with work and childcare. The weather has started to turn cooler and wetter in the UK. The days are becoming shorter. Summer is definitely past us and winter is fast approaching.

As usual, I’m going to perform a review of how it went versus the various personal goals that I had set myself at the start of the year.

Here’s the progress summary chart:

I decided to change the format of these posts slightly. Rather than going through each goal individually and sometimes repeat myself month after month, I’m going to highlight the key progress/setbacks happened during the month. This will cut down the length of these posts significantly and convey the relevant information across quickly.

Without further ado, here are the highlights in September.

Remortgaged my mortgage

The teaser rate period (also known as fixed rate period, where the interest rate is fixed at usually a very low point for a limited number of months/years) of my existing mortgage was coming up for expiry in September. I had been with Barclays Bank for 2 years at that point, enjoying a lovely 1.35% rate.

Just to put that into perspective, I could get a 2-year fixed saving rate at 2.3%. This is how cheap quantitative easing (QE) has made money!

Unfortunately, that rate was set to lapse at the end of September to the standard variable rate, which was sitting at 3.99%. I didn’t fancy doing that for 2 reasons:

  1. This rate is far in excess of what I could achieve elsewhere in the market.
  2. This rate is variable and linked to the Bank Of England’s (BoE) base rate, which is set to rise (it’s sitting at 0.75% currently). I simply didn’t want the uncertainty and want to fix it for as long as possible.

I wanted a mortgage that has the longest fixed-rate teaser period because I believe the base rate will rise:

  • The interest rate is already at a historic low and we are 10 years into the QE cycle that is set to end.
  • Even amongst the Brexit uncertainties, the UK economy has performed strongly with near full employment and rising inflation. There’s significant pressure on the BoE to raise the rate to prevent overheating. In fact, it has already hiked the rate twice in November 2017 and August this year from 0.25% to 0.75% currently.
  • If the Brexit negotiation fails and we are faced with the prospect of crashing out of the European Union without a withdrawal agreement in place, then £ will take an absolute nosedive. Our import-reliant economy will experience significant cost increase, driving up inflation. At that point, hiking the rate to stabilize £ would be the most effective arsenal at BoE’s disposal. This is very bad news if I had a variable mortgage.

Long story short, I found a 10-year fixed mortgage with Coventry Building Society at 2.39% APR.

The monthly payment is slightly higher (by £100) than my previous mortgage. However given that I have been overpaying my previous one by the same amount every month, it feels no different. The great benefit of this product is that the rate is fixed at 2.39% for the next 10 years and I have the option (but not the obligation) to break after 5. It really combines the best of both worlds.

For people who wish to consider remortgage, I really recommend the services offered by Seico Group. They are an independent mortgage broker that scans the entire market to get the best deal for you.

A Solid Dividend Month

September is the end of Q3 and most companies release a dividend payment at the end of each quarter. Unsurprisingly, my dividend income this month was high.

It represented 2.5x of the income in the same month last year.

This just goes to show the powerful effect of goal setting and rigid execution.

I’m currently reinvesting all of my dividend income through DRIP in order to achieve compounding. I’m hoping that such consistency will eventually be sufficient to replace all of my monthly living expenditures (currently sitting at the £850 mark). We are more than 50% there!

Sales of my novel

I published my first novel last month. It has been a long-term dream of mine coming true and I was so excited to have brought it to fruition.

The marketing effort so far has been minimal. I simply scrapped my Gmail contact lists which added up to about 1.5k (fairly sure half of them came from spammy origin due to the various sites I’d signed up historically). I drafted several pre-launch emails and sent to them. So far this has resulted in over 40 sales. Not bad.

You can purchase my novel here. I promise this will be the most epic action-adventure story you’ll read this year.

Running Is On Track

One of my goals for 2018 was to restart my commute run. Ever since I moved into the suburb, running had bizarrely taken a backseat despite the abundance of nature trails around the house. The goal was to reignite my passion for running and introduce variability into my fitness routine, which had previously only consisted of cycling and rowing.

The goal had been a bit of a disaster for much of the year until August. Then I made a solid start by completing my first station to office run in over a year.

September had seen a lot of improvement and I was doing one run every week. I saw significant improvement in timing and have already shaved off 6 minutes per run compared to the August one. I’m hoping to eventually get that 7.5 km run into 36 minutes. Wish me luck!

We Went On A Holiday After All

So in my update last month, I wrote in frustration about a scuttled holiday plan to the Balkans as a result of an emergency medical appointment for WB40 Junior.

Well, I have some good news this month: we managed to go on the holiday after all.

The medical appointment finished at around midday that day and everything was clear. We were super relieved. Therefore, I started booking for flights and hotels as soon as we got home, for that very same day!

5 hours later, we landed in Madrid, Spain and spent 4 wonderful days there in the company of old friends, warm climate, passionate language, and delicious food. It was my first trip to Madrid and it certainly won’t be my last!

Another goal accomplished.

Wrap up

This has been a very smooth and successful month where I knocked off another goal and closed in on another. I am excited to see what October brings.

How are your 2018 goals progressing? I’d love to hear your stories. Please comment away.