random thoughts from york
So I’ve attended my first “as yet officially unnamed meetup of people interested in FI/RE”* in York along with Mrs T at the weekend, and what a fantastic time we had! For a more thorough write up of what we all got up to, you are best off heading over to Huw’s blog, but I thought I’d put up some thoughts on random stuff I found interesting when talking with people at the meetup.
*I guess you could unofficially call it an “FI aficionado meetup” or should that be “aFIcionado meetup”? Huw if you are reading there’s another idea for the name of the meetups, although it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? 🙂 – I much prefer my original idea which was a “FIRE Assembly”
it’s never too late to start…
… although somehow it actually always feels like you started too late. Yes everyone (myself included of course!) mentioned that they wish they’d found out about FI sooner and that was completely across the board, from the slightly older but still very early retired compared to the standard retirement age people there, to the 20 somethings! This is a strange phenomena but I guess it’s also very easy to understand why; once you’ve “taken the red pill” your outlook on life changes so drastically you wonder how you ever lived in blissful ignorance before that point.
Until time machines are invented it’s probably not worth spending too much time agonising over the what ifs, I don’t think anyone was really but “I wish I’d started earlier” was definitely a common phrase I heard mentioned.
everyone there was a frugal badass!
It may pain me to admit this but I am not one to delude myself (for too long at any rate!). I don’t have the exact figures, but I would hazard a guess that everyone we met are far more frugal than we are. Rather than be disheartened by all of this, I look to the people we met as inspiration and I fully subscribe to the to achieve greatness you must first admit that you suck line of thinking. The bottom line is that there is still plenty of low hanging fruit to cut out of our budget and all of the people in York attest to the fact that you can still live full, rich, and exciting lives without spending wodges of cash.
We also got some great tips from some of the people there. A really good one that stuck out in memory was how to spend the Tesco Vouchers you can get via TopCashback, which I wrote about here – shout out to A&Z for that one – thanks! My initial thoughts were just to use them on the 4x rate at restaurants and other places of entertainment. However we were talking about home renovations and they mentioned that you can get 3x your voucher value at Tops Tiles, which is going to come in very handy for when we do up our bathroom and kitchen at the end of the year. This should save us around £300 on something we’d definitely have bought anyway (rather than the “entertainment” stuff which is entirely optional) so as I say, great tip! The same couple also told us that it is easy to accrue cash back by signing up with casino and/or bingo accounts, something that I had not really considered before and will be trying out over the coming weeks. I will report back here how that turns out no doubt 🙂
does consuming first make it easier to save later?
I may be way off the mark here but we were chatting with some of the younger members of “the crew” and I got the feeling that the relentless frugality may have started to bog them down a bit, with such a large 10-15 year time horizon before they will hit FI. As I mentioned we are not exactly mega frugal but are still managing to sock away around 50% of our income, however I think the “sacrifices” we have made since starting on the road to FIRE haven’t seemed like sacrifices at all. I also think we could go a lot more hardcore and still not really be all that bothered about it. I think this is at least in part down to the fact that we’ve had a good 7-8 working years of just spending everything we’ve earned… a.k.a being normal consumers, travelling the globe and buying pretty much what we wanted. I feel like I’ve gotten most of that out of my system. Look, I’m not saying we aren’t going on holiday or anything any more as we clearly are getting about (more than ever perhaps!), but it is just a lot more local and a lot cheaper than in previous years. We are definitely buying less consumer goods and this does not feel like a loss in the slightest.
I guess what I am saying is that with a 10+ year horizon it might pay dividends for your mindset to just blow out and treat yourself to something that is really valuable to you, every now and again.
The counter point to this is that if you just start off frugal, then keep it that way, then there is no fat to cull later on down the line and so it is easier to just maintain that status quo. I think I can see both sides of the argument 1 to be honest and it probably depends on person to person!
making the journey part of the destination
I don’t really like fast travel so we tried to split the journey on the way up by stopping overnight at Sheffield, which worked fairly well.
On the way back we googled a couple of parks to stop at near the A1 instead of the usual service station pitstop. I would heartily recommend this strategy on future road trips! On the way home we stumbled across the lovely little town of Newark complete with canal lock and castle. This view sure beats a Starbucks and the M1!!!
other random thoughts on the meetup process itself
It was certainly a bit weird (in a good way) to just turn up and meet a complete bunch of strangers. It was even weirder when people asked if I blogged and I guessed I just had to answer… “Yes, I am the Firestarter” – well it certainly made me chuckle anyway 🙂
Some people just turned up on their own and for that I give them maximum kudos points! That must have been a bit nerve wracking.
Ultimately though, as Huw has pointed out many a time, everyone was very friendly, welcoming, and easy to talk to, and the whole weekend was very rewarding and enjoyable.
If you were thinking about coming to York and didn’t for any reason along the lines of worrying about it being a bit of a clique already I can assure you it was not like that at all. Also if you are worried you won’t bring anything to the conversation as you are still learning the ropes then you should completely reverse that thought process and definitely come along next time. You can learn a lot from all of the people there and everyone is more than willing to dish out advice. In fact you just learnt things by chatting really, it wasn’t exactly like any of the conversations were all one way traffic.
There is also talk of making the next one a bit more frugal in nature which should suit the general ethos of everyone involved a bit more. York was expensive and in all honesty I could have done without it in the middle of my two most expensive months of the year so far, but I am looking at the money as a bit of investment into making stronger personal relationships with people in this scene, so it was definitely money well spent. Next time we’ll keep it more on the frugal vibe no doubt, which is great news!
Did you come to the meeting?
If so what were your thoughts on it? Did anything stick out as a common theme or interesting to you? Let me know!
If you didn’t attend then let me know if you are thinking of attending the next one and what you’d like to see from it, and I can pass this on to Huw when the time comes.
I will leave you with a parting picture of the main “organiser” man himself in action, on our run on Saturday morning … 🙂
- I’m arguing with myself here… this is not good! 🙂 ↩