subset 3

As we are now almost 3 months into our 12 calendar month year, in a cringingly corporate fashion I thought it would be good to give you all a Q1 update on my performance, as measured against the goals I set out to my shareholders (readers) in my 2014 Aspirations post. I’ll break it down month-by-month and add some commentary to make it a bit easier to swallow, lest it become a “goal-fest” in the crappy, low standard, 7 year old lads’ footy match with jumpers for goal posts and a 15-9 final score, sense of the term.


  • Challenge: Complete the 30 day mega-detox challenge – 80% completed (4 out of 5 challenges). Read the final results here
  • Financial Task: Make a solid retirement plan – Completed-ish. Post(s) already underway!
  • Financial Task: Set up a SIPP account to save pre-tax £££’s into – Failed!
  • Financial Task: Set up an ISA in Mrs TFS’s name and use it to invest in Vanguard funds – Completed.
  • Task: Buy a new (used!) car to increase fuel efficiency (MPG), and sell the old one. – Completed! Read the post about it here

Not a bad month to kick off the year. You can read about the Detox Challenge above but a quick overview was that I was pretty happy with the results! I have got an FI/Retirement plan pretty solidly in my head now but I do need to commit it down into electronic web logging format (or “blogging” as you kids are calling it nowadays) so you lovely lot can read about it. I am trying to find time to do this as quickly as I can, but I want to do it in the right order or my posts will start making no sense. Specifically, I mean I want to go through the planning process step by step in the FI Planning Series before revealing my final master-plan. I am hoping to go through some kind of post binge around Easter time (if not before) as I have a couple of spare days there to do what I please. Joy of joys!

Investing wise I managed to set up the ISA and work out how to best invest in Vanguard funds (in my amateur, totally non-certified opinion of course) but didn’t get round to setting up the SIPP, so only half marks on that account. The reason for this though was because all of a sudden we decided to move house so there isn’t much point in locking our money away in a SIPP if we might need it in a couple of months time to pay moving costs and all that jazz. Once we’ve moved, I can re-assess and hopefully set one up at that point in time! This is the other reason that since setting up the initial ISA, we haven’t topped it up at all. So yes all our extra money coming in now is sitting there dormant in our current account, although it is earning a pretty decent 3% (Santander 1-2-3 account, if you were wondering. Recommended!)

The final task was to buy a new car which we passed with flying colours! On the downside, the car has been a bit disappointing in terms of MPG so far, and we haven’t seemed to be getting many more miles per tank compared to the old car. However, I think this is because we haven’t done any journeys of any length, and local runs are notoriously bad for your MPG. Back onto a positive, the tanks have lasted longer in terms of time, so we are clearly driving less, which is great. This all flipped on it’s head the weekend just passed when we drove to France and back on just over a quarter of a tank, (200 miles) which must be some pretty decent MPG!!! So I am looking forward to seeing what this full tank gets in total miles.

  • Challenge: Run 2 half marathons (already booked in so I have to do this really!) – Completed!  – Ran the Brighton Half Marathon in 1:34:54 – a personal best! And the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon in 1:39:46. So maybe my strange training schedule throughout January did pay dividends in the end! 🙂
  • Financial: Research alternative methods of investing available to UK investors, and invest if possible. Completed. Did a fair bit of research on this front but as always with these things it is an on-going process.
  • Environmental: Energy efficiency in the home. Test all devices, make necessary changes. Completed. Bought and installed some LED lights so all our bulbs are now energy saving.
  • Task: Sell rest of stuff from de-cluttering project, and have a reassessment. Completed. We have been selling stuff on E-Bay and also had a car boot sale (in March, so a little late finishing this project off. Again these things tend to be on-going!)

100% record alert! 100% record alert!!!! 🙂

As you can see the last three tasks are all ongoing tasks anyway but it was good to get them off to a start, bring them to the forefront of our minds and get the ball rolling. Now we can continue tweaking, researching, and de-cluttering as time goes by and get an even more efficient life running for ourselves. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to well in….

  • Financial Education: Learn how to submit a tax form, for the purposes of having “side hustle” income. Failed! Just haven’t had the time this month! Plus I haven’t had any side hustle income yet 🙁 so ultimately I haven’t had the motivation to get this one done.
  • Financial Task: Open some new credit cards to start “Travel hacking” – hopefully I can pay for a holiday in 2015 with air miles. Failed! I looked into it and decided that Avios points are actually a bit of a crap deal. Post coming up about this soon!
  • Education: Start reading a book! Completed-ish. I started reading Guns, Germs and Steel but only got about half way through before I had to get it back to the library as someone had already reserved it. I re-reserved it so will carry on when available again! (It was pretty good so far!)
  • Blog Milestone: 10,000 page views per month 🙂 – Failed. March bought in 5,424 page views. Although I’m still pretty happy with that! 🙂

0% record alert! 🙁

Well I can explain away the Travel Hacking one easily enough, in that I looked into it and decided not to get one. If anyone knows of any UK air miles or travel points cards that are actually worth their salt, please let me know in the comments!

The tax stuff, as I mentioned, hands up, I just didn’t have the time or inclination to look into this.

The book I started reading was great so can’t wait to check it back out of the Library! And I guess I did actually complete the task of start reading a book.

Finally the blog milestone of 10,000 monthly page views, well to be honest I never thought I’d get anywhere near it so I am actually very happy with breaking 5,000 page views! Seeing as I have hardly posted over the last 2 weeks, I clearly have scope for improving this figure, so I am raring to go to get posting again with some decent content and break that 10,000/month mark in April! Watch this space!


Blog Stats March 2014

Blog Stats March 2014


Anyway cheers to all you readers, especially new readers that have stuck around, for helping me get to that number of page views!

Oh and on a slightly related note, I am now 3rd on the google results page for the search term “the firestarter” and on page 2 for just “firestarter” which is pretty cool 🙂


I have some tough upcoming tasks/challenges for April which I may have to change up a bit, the main one of which is the no meat challenge. There is no way I am going to get through April without eating meat, it’s just going to be impossible (ok so nothings impossible, but you get what I mean). I have 2 weddings to go to, at which I’ve already ordered the meat based mains so I didn’t really think this through. I could of just eat the veg and leave the meat but that’s just plain wasting it! Also there is Easter Sunday at my mums where there will no doubt be some kind of meat feast, which I am not sure I can pass up. Anyway, so I think I will update this challenge to: No meat when I am in my own house or at work. I feel this is a pretty good compromise, and will still leave me meat free for at least 90% of my meals. There is no point in signing up to a challenge that I know I am going to fail! With these new terms, I should hopefully pass.

Secondly there is no point in starting a compost heap in our little outside communal garden area, because we are moving, and also I am not really sure whether we’d be allowed to do it anyway. Once we’ve moved I can safely start one in our own little garden! Along with a little herb patch, and whatever else I try to grow! 🙂

On-Going Goals

  • Write an average of 3 blog posts per week – Fail! You must be bored of this by now but I just haven’t had time yada yada yada… I promise to do better in future!
  • Write enough articles to be able to send out and get one guest post published per month – I had a guest post over at Eco Thrifty Living and one at Done by Forty but failed to get one out in March. I may end up having two posted in April though which will even things out so I will call this one a draw for now.
  • Read and comment on 5 articles per day – Fail! Not sure what I was thinking with this one, on days where I am reading blogs this is pretty easy (although I don’t always comment if I have nothing to add to the conversation). Other days I am not even on the computer or even smartphone/tablet long enough to read anything though, so it’s pretty much unfeasible. Still, I will continue to read as much and comment as much as possible going forward.

So that’s how I’ve been doing! A bit of a mixed bag, but overall I am happy with how things have been going in 2014, especially with the whole moving house plan that has thrown a spanner into the works (in the best way possible) to a lot of my original tasks I’ve set up for myself.

How are you 2014 plans going so far? Has your Net Worth risen as you expected? Have you had any big spanners in the work or changing of plans like me already? And more importantly can you believe we are a quarter way through the year already!?