So where the hell have I been? In short, life has taken over in recent months with my new role at work and focusing more on my family. This has meant that the blog has taken a back seat. I’ve also not had the time to read many blogs either which is something I miss doing.
I thought I’d write this short post just update you on a few things; how my thoughts have changed on certain topics and the future of this blog.
I will write in more detail about some of the things I talk about here at some point in the future.
Mrs CfC is well and continues to be on maternity leave; due to be back at work in April after a year off.
Part of our consideration with my wife returning to work was childcare. I spend half of the week away from the family working down south so cannot do the childcare on those days. We had looked into a full time nanny, part time nanny, au pair, child minder, day care – everything we could think of. In the end; we ruled out each of them for different reasons; but they centre around: 1) lack of training and qualifications of the child carer; 2) cost; 3) complexity; and 4) flexibility.
The two boys are growing up so quickly. There is a two-year age gap between them with the eldest turning three this year. He is still trying to figure out how he fits into the family and gets jealous of his sibling. Something which we hope he will eventually grow out of. It’s wonderful watching them develop but it doesn’t make their tantrums and meltdowns easier to cope with.
I’ve been in my new role (still policing) for a few month now. It’s a regional post covering a large part of England so I now get a company car, spend a lot of my time on the road and in hotels. It’s interesting work, very challenging and learning a lot.
Mrs. CfC has had her flexible working pattern approved by the MoD and will be going part time. This is very unusual because flexible service something relatively new for the MoD. There was one point where we thought it would be turned down but after a few months; she finally got the approval.
Her total working hours will now be reduced by 40% and coupled with my new role which is relatively flexible (working condensed full time overs spread over 3/4 days a week); it means we can sort out childcare without hiring someone.
That said, mother-in-law will be helping out quite a bit on days when our shift patterns don’t allow for one of us to look after the kids. We are very fortunate.
With all the changes and uncertainty above; we were anxious about the future and money was definitely a factor. However, we were never worried about not having “enough” money – just how much less we will be able to invest and the effect this could have on our FI date.
We had planned for the scenario where the MoD would not accept her flexible working request. In that situation, she would have handed in her notice and we would relocate down south to be closer to my work and mother-in-law. She would then do ‘bank’ shifts (flexible part time working) for the NHS.
It wouldn’t have been ideal because she stills enjoys the RAF and would be sad to leave; but it was something we were ready to do.
I think that’s the beauty of being on the path towards financial independence; the ability to be prepared and having the resources to adapt. We would have of course had to change our budget and dip into savings; but would have been fine.
The reality is that there is still the possibility that this flexible arrangement agreed might still not be enough and she will need to leave. We’ll just have to wait and see how things work out.
Our “home” – the place I stay when working down south (not the MoD subsided accommodation up north where she works) will be mortgage free in June this year!
We are paying about £2,250 a month on that mortgage and once that is paid off; it will give an incredible boost to our cashflow. This was a big factor in why we were not overly concerned about the future of Mrs. CfC’s work.
Seeing the balance approaching four digits is an incredible feeling and we have no regrets about overpaying our mortgage – just the thought that we wished we started overpaying sooner.
We have also decided on where our “forever” home will be.
Mrs. CfC doesn’t quite believe in a “forever” home because she says our post financial independence life could take us any where in the world. That’s why we make such a great team – she has such an open mind about everything and an adventurous spirit.
For me, a “forever” home is somewhere I think our kids will grow up in and perhaps act as a base for us to return to whilst we are on our travels.
It’s a small town on the East coast right by the sea. It’s also about an hour’s drive from mother-in-law. We’ve been there a few times now and will go there often to have a better ‘feel’ for the area.
We also intend to rent there for a period to be sure it is the place for us to bring up the children.
We both love to be near to sea; it really helps us to relax and the fresh air is great!
All this sounds expensive. You’re right!
We’ve budgeted about £500k for this – £250k for the sale of our home (Zoopla estimate is £275k), £125k for deposit, legal, tax and other purchasing costs. This leaves us with a potential new mortgage of about £150k.
This will give us a LTV (loan to value) of about 30% – although ideally we’d like to hit the 25% figure purely for psychological reasons. To hit that number, we will need to look for a cheaper house or increase our deposit.
I know, I know…to pay off a mortgage only to contemplate taking one on again. We are a few years off and have no plans to purchase whilst Mrs. CfC is in the RAF. It’s more of a medium-term plan for when she leaves and we are in no rush.
We might decide against the whole idea altogether. If we did, it will give us more flexibility in terms of cashflow but we’ll see.
Our FI Plan
I need to update our FI Plan post. We decided to pay for the services of a financial planner to check our numbers and FI Plan. The good news is that it has been reality checked, run through the various financial modelling they use and we passed.
We are on course to be FI by 2025.
In fact, our financial planner said we have room to enjoy our money a bit more and not to focus too much on our pensions. It’s good to hear that we were being overly cautious rather than the other way around.
Remember, this advice is based on our own unique circumstances. Also, whether we continue to pass will depend on how things change for us as the date approaches. This is why we have also decided to keep the financial planner going forward and have bi-annual reviews.
How will our plan to purchase a new home impact our FI date? It is something we will need to re-calculate and factor in. There are so many variables and ‘what if’ scenarios – trying to factor them all in is near impossible and can make the whole planning process pointless.
Back of the napkin calculations seem to indicate that it won’t affect our FI date all that much because the new house mortgage could be paid for using other income streams in the future such as rental and/or pension lump sum payments and/or my big PMAS payment when they become accessible.
This is something we will look to discuss with our financial planner in more detail over the next couple of years.
In relation to two of our rental BTL properties which still has a mortgage on them; we have decided not to overpay on them. One of them is due to be paid off in 2025 regardless because that’s what we set the repayment period as. For the other one; whilst interest rates remain low, we will pay it off over a longer period of time. The excess cashflow will be invested.
The bog is now two years old. For most of last year, I was experimenting with treating the blog more seriously.
Hats off to anyone who blogs professionally; has a full time job as well as young children. I can safely say it is not for me.
Whilst I was at it, I managed to increase traffic substantially together with my domain authority. This has since dropped after I stoped blogging so regularly; but it’s nice to see I’ve retained some new readers.
From now on; I will write as and when I find the time or have something I really want to share. A bit like what I was doing in the first year of my blog.
Interestingly, whilst I was experimenting, I was approached by a few people asking if I was willing to sell the blog. I politely declined. I can’t imagine ever selling it to be honest – maybe once the kids turn 18.
I enjoy it most when I treat it as a hobby rather than a business.
The next post will be a long-overdue book review which I had promised someone I will do – there will be an audible book version and a signed copy of the book to give away.
So near and yet so FI
As we approach our FI date (2025) ; we are getting increasingly less worried about money. I’ve noticed that although we still continue to loosely budget, we are both a bit more relaxed about it all. I am not as consistent or as accurate in keeping track of our spending as I used to be.
I find that I am in what I can only describe as the “boring” part of the path towards financial independence. Not close enough to be properly excited, but not too far away to think this is impossible. We have our strategy and just need to stick to it – nothing fancy, nothing too adventurous; set it and forget.
The ability to be flexible; to have one less thing to worry about in our already complicated lives and being able to prioritise the people who are important to us, in my opinion, is the best thing financial independence provides.
We’ve even booked our first family holiday abroad together this year – a cruise of all things ; not frugal I know. I arranged the trip to meet with some of our rescuers for the first time but decided to also make a proper holiday of it – a treat for paying off the mortgage.
Hey, as my financial planner says – don’t forget the now.
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