First steps…

(I finally hit the Publish button!)

The Covid-19 crisis really brought my life plan into focus, and I thought hard about where I am, and where I want to be. I originally wrote this post months ago, which helped iron out my priorities. It’s been rewritten at least four times since then.

WHO I AM

I’m approaching 30, single, and self-employed. The majority of my income is from royalties. This can vary hugely from low five to low six figure years. I don’t want to get sidetracked explaining the biz, but I work a lot and stress even more and I love it.

I just moved from London to Manchester seeking financial security, a quality of life upgrade, and most of all… a cat. 

For those unfamiliar with London, getting an affordable cat-friendly rental on your own is less likely than meeting your favourite actor on the Tube. I want company that won’t eat my leftovers or judge me for walking around naked.

To get the cat, I need a house, pet insurance, spending money for food and treats, and maybe an outdoor run. It just so happens to support all my other goals. Sneaky, those cats.

So. Quick finance breakdown. I’ll ignore business numbers and I’m unlikely to report them here, as I currently pay myself a consistent figure.

NUMBERS

  • £3500 pm income
  • £850 rent
  • £400 car loan (incl overpayment)
  • £100 council tax
  • £120 energy 
  • £150 food
  • £280 other bills, misc spending
  • £100 car (insurance, charging, maintenance)
  • £500 emergency savings
  • £1000 LISA savings 
  • Unpredictable extra bonus income

[27% housing, 19% living expenses, 11% debt, 43% savings]

These numbers are estimates right now; I’m going to post quarterly updates as my new cost of living becomes clear!

The unpredictable income is another revenue stream that pays every other month. For important motivation reasons, I earmarked it to go directly to my LISA/house deposit fund after taking out taxes, but I can’t predict how much it will pay, only when.

ACTION PLAN

My spending is generally decent—no pointless electronics upgrades, gyms, or cable TV. I use Giffgaff, I’m vegan, don’t drink or smoke, rarely eat takeout, love to cook. Yadda yadda. 

The #1 problem in London was rent. It took up somewhere between 40-57% of my budget. If the cat will not come to the mountain, the mountain is moving to Manchester and shedding a landslide into my savings account. Oh no, my metaphor slid out of control. Take shelter.

I bought a car in November during the second UK official lockdown (though I’ve been more or less in lockdown since March 2020), which opened up the chance to move at last. I immediately decided to do so having never actually been to Manchester. I wound up renting a flat I didn’t even view in person.

My new place is a bit more expensive than the Manchester average, but in a lovely spot in south Manchester, and still huge savings on London. I’m spoiling myself slightly so I don’t run back to London when this year is up. By moving, there’s a chance at a genuine niceness upgrade and financial payoff. I really want to make this work for me as a place to live for 5+ years.

The goal is to start looking to buy in April 2022 in the £130-£160K range, assuming I like the city.

Compared to the last few years, my hair is only gently singed. (Mmm. Delicious, isn’t it? Have a marshmallow.) I do have some other expected expenses, but I should be able to defer most of them to 2022.

GOALS FOR 2021

  • £15K house deposit, £10K of which is in a LISA.

Progress: £5K including government bonus, my full 2020-2021 allowance.

I’m keeping some cash savings to dump more in when it rolls over in April. When that’s full again at £10K (including government bonus), I’ll stash the rest, and hopefully even more than that, in cash.

  • £5K emergency savings that I DON’T touch. 

Progress: £1300 or so.

I was living on my emergency savings in London. First plan is to get it up to £5K and then shift that monthly savings amount into car payments. After the car loan, I’ll resume adding to it. Not touching it will be trickier… I think some of my numbers are still a bit guesstimatey and I’m still too used to dipping into it.

  • Get to £5.5K remaining on car loan. 

Progress: £10.5K remaining plus interest. 

The loan term was four years starting in November 2020, but I want it gone in two, at which point I’ll look at the used car market again. This is a 2017 Leaf intended to last until EVs with 40+ kWh batteries start coming down to £10-15K. Given the number of charging stops between Manchester and London, that will be a huge life improvement so the next car ought to be perfect. I think 60 kWh will be ideal.

LONG TERM

My goals are a little bit different from most FIRE blogs because I don’t have a 9-to-5 or retirement date to move up. I’m in the unusual and fortunate position of earning royalties from work I love, and indeed, almost compulsively do no matter what.

But I can’t afford to keep worrying about housing costs, so outright owning a house is important to me. My huge goal is to live in a tiny house on some land, but planning permission in the UK is awful. I need to get a traditional house first, so I can afford the time to wait and fight. How sucky is that? Very fucking sucky. 

Ultimately, I want a different life. Not radically different… I’m lucky in that regard. It’s more like tweaking the great things I’ve already found.

Where I can create without worrying about how much money those creations will make.

Where I can be the person I want to be to my friends and family, and stop the constant money anxiety and stress.

Where I can take time off for hobbies and learn to enjoy life, not be worrying about work all the time.

So if holding myself very publicly accountable will help me find what’s missing, then I’m prepared to do it.

Let’s go on an adventure.

2 comments

  1. Ha! I saw your handle on a Mr Money Mustache comment and couldn’t help click (I also just want a cat). Then I discovered I also resonate with the other things you say you want from life (a tiny house on some land, less anxiety around money so you can fully enjoy relationships and hobbies). I will follow you as an inspiration and for all the UK-specific information, since I just moved here (good to know you can’t find cat-friendly rentals in London!) 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting! Woohoo, my very first blog follower 🙂 Welcome to the UK, I moved here a few years ago and I’m happy here. If you’re on a cat-friendliness search, you may have better luck with OpenRent properties (dealing directly with a landlord), and pay close attention to the wording because some will specify “no dogs” but cats may be okay if you ask!

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