A lot Has Changed – 2018 Reviewed

A lot has changed in 2018. In exactly 3 days on the 11th of January, this blog will turn 6 months old. Has it really only been that amount of time? It seems like I’ve been talking to you forever.

Even though I’ve not been posting for a whole year yet, the start of a new one is the perfect time for contemplation and planning. This way, at the end of 2019, we can look back at the progress that has been made and see if our goals and expectations have been met.

Even if you’re not a blogger, reviewing your year and planning the next one is a great way to keep you on the best path through life and ensure that you’re still heading in the right direction. We need all of the motivation we can get on the pathway to financial independence.


Before we get started, there have been some updates to the Savings Spreadsheet to mark the end of the year. There is now a ‘Savings – 2019’ section. So you can track your monthly savings in this sheet now.

You’ll need to update your ‘starting figures’ in the 2019 sheet with December 2018’s figures before you track your first month or some of the formulas won’t work.

You may also notice that there is now an ‘Analytics’ section. Here you’ll see 4 new time series graphs which analyse your 2018 data. It will plot out your year totals and predict your future savings for the next 6 months. This is a handy way to see where you might be in the new year if you continue with your current trajectory.

I’ll be using these graphs to help me illustrate where 2019 might lead, so you can check them out below :]

If you’d like to run these predictions with your own data just head over to the Ninja1 page to download spreadsheet v1.14+, you’ll have to click “Data -> Refresh all” at the top of Excel to update the charts once you’re finished with your 2018 data.

How did my finances do?

Since I started tracking my savings, all the way back in August, my total net worth has grown from £47,948 to £65,626, gaining 36.87% in value with an increase of £17,678.

Even though my investments have actually lost £3,474 in the last 6 months, I’m still proud to be £17,678 better off since I started this blog.

My net worth, excluding my home has actually gone up by a whopping 74.73% in the last 6 months. I really only started investing a lot 6 months ago.

My investments have grown from £21,578 to £37,704 almost doubling. The data forecast predicts that I should be at around £70k in July if things keep going in the same direction.

It looks like I may fall slightly shy of hitting £100k excl house net worth in 2019 unless the stock market picks up again. £100k invested is my yard-stick for when you can stop being poor, not how much I earn, so I’m really hoping that I can hit this milestone soon.

It does look like I should be able to smash the £100k barrier for total net worth including the asset which is my home in 2019, which is awesome!

Again this will depend on how the stock market behaves, and if it does misbehave, whether that will be at the end of the year or the start!

My biggest pot change has been my pension pot. It grew by 95.17% going from £12,078 to £23,573!

I’m still nowhere near having to worry about my lifetime allowance yet. The forecast shows that I may have around £65k sitting in my pension at the end of 2019. I’ll start thinking about the LTA then 🙂

My ISA pot still grew by a nice £4,564. It would have been more if it wasn’t for the festive correction, but it’s still 48.74% growth nontheless.

I am hopeful for filling my ISA pot by more than £12,000 each year going forward. It really depends on how well my emergency fund and side-hustles go. I don’t earn enough in my day job to max my pension and my ISA yet, but maybe that will change in 2020.

I’m going to get my home officially valued at some point in 2019. We’ve put a new kitchen and bathroom in since we bought the place. After fitting new carpets, upstairs flooring and painting, we’ll be fully ‘complete’ with turning the place from a shit-tip into a serviceable home. So I’m hoping that the house value will go up by a few bob. That’s if Brexit doesn’t desemate the housing market! Fun fun :]

How did the blogging go?

In the last 6 months since this blogs inception, I’ve posted 6 Savings Reports, I created the Thought Experiment blog series, and I created a highly functional Savings Spreadsheet and Budget Spreadsheet which I adore using!

All in all, I posted 28 articles. I’ve got a lot better at writing and met so many new people through the comments section and social media. 2018 was the year that I learned that I really do like blogging. I enjoy writing and using words to help me focus and think. I have no doubt that Saving Ninja will keep me on the FIRE path and help me find true happiness. I’m in this for the long haul.

I’ve also learned that blogging is hard. It’s been my number 1 side-hustle for time consumption and my worst side-hustle for income generation. But nothing has paid me dividends in knowledge gained quite like blogging has.

Going forward I may have to create some smaller posts to complement the bigger ones. The post schedule of 1 per week has worked quite nicely for me and most of the time I have them ready for Thursday! But, the stress comes when I haven’t written anything as other things have cropped up and Thursday comes along far too quickly.

I really want to stick to a weekly posting schedule for my readers, but I don’t want to feel bummed out when I’ve left it too late and need to have a late night to get a big post finished.

To help combat this I need a ‘reserve’. Posts that I can keep on the back-burner and release if I’m working on a particularly big guide or my work schedule is rammed.

My reserve will be full of smaller posts such as ‘5 tips for keeping your house clean’ or ‘5 tips to own at interviewing’ and all of that shit. These aren’t the detailed blog posts that I want to be giving you guys each week, but sometimes there’s just not enough time for one. Hopefully, this will change when I draw closer to financial independence, but for now, you’ll have to enjoy some ‘quick bites of info’ posts every now and again :]

A place to call home

I’ve got a bunch of draft posts and guides that I’m working on for 2019. Some that I’m unsure whether I should post as they may not be liked by everyone. I have to decide where I want my place in the blogging community to be; whether I want to try and not offend anyone or just do me.

With regards to site upgrades, my plan is to add some more intuitive widgets and improve and clean up the top menu (it’s waay too overcrowded).

I’d also like to add Google ads to the site. Not too many, don’t worry. I won’t have any invasive pop-ups that you’ll have to dismiss. Just a couple here and there. Saving Ninja runs on quite a beefy server that is pretty expensive, that’s why it’s so fast! It would be nice to fund that. It would also be nice to get some experience setting up and running Google ads.

You’ll also be seeing a lot more graphically sexy pins pop up throughout the site. TuppennysFIREplace was awesome enough to give me some 1on1 training on how to rock on Pinterest so I thought I’d give it a go. It also hits that same graphical itch that Merch by Amazon does, so it should be fun!

Like this one!

What about real life?

Another major part of this blog is seeking happiness. How are things doing for me on that front?

Happiness always seems fleeting for me, I’m forever lusting to be somewhere else, never feeling settled. That’s why I’ve changed jobs and location 4 times over the past 5 years!

I am very happy with the things that I have achieved last year. I enjoy my life and I have a loving partner. I’m very excited to be getting married this year. But, even with all of these things. I long to be somewhere else.

I feel like I’m waiting until I find my life. I’m waiting to head off into the big wide world and find that perfect place that I can call home, the place where I’ll know in my heart that I want to stay forever. This feeling makes me unhappy sometimes. Why are we waiting?

I think before I’m ever truly happy I’ll have to flee the nest which is England and live somewhere far away. Maybe then I can come back without this longing.

But for now, me and Mrs SN have got a wedding to plan! And even better, we’ve got a 3 week road trip to plan for our honeymoon as well. This will also be in one of the places we may like to emmigrate to; California.

The wedding and honeymoon is also the reason why I’ve decided to not try a switch to freelancing in 2019. A big guaranteed bonus will be paid out by my employer in the summer which I’d like to get before I leave, it also didn’t seem very smart to switch to freelancing then take over a month off :] I’ll have to focus on one thing at a time.

After the wedding, it will be straight to figuring out where the hell we wanna move. We’ll be spending 2020 visiting Canada to see if that could be a potential destination. I’m sure this will turn into a series of blog posts; “Where’s the perfect place to live?”

On that note, I’ve also got my Minimalism adventure to get started. Me and my partner are veeerryy nearly finished with Marie Kondo’s book; The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying. We’ll be getting right on to that first category, clothes, as soon as we’ve finished.

Goals TL;DR

  • Reach £100k total net worth
  • Finish renovating the house and get a valuation
  • Marie Kondo the house and simplify
  • Get married!

Nice and simple :] Now let’s get going!

  1. The Ninja page link is sent to you when you subscribe to SavingNinja. Read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post.
OddsMonkey

18 thoughts on “A lot Has Changed – 2018 Reviewed

  1. Happy New Year, SN – it looks like 2018 was a good one for you! Some great progress made there with your net worth, ISA and your pension. This is just the start of your investing journey and you are building up your ‘snowball’ for compounding.

    As regards to blogging, while it’s nice to have a schedule, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t keep to it – as far as I can see, this is a hobby of yours which you enjoy, not your job or a business, us readers will still be here if you miss a post or decide to take a break! 🙂 You have a busy year coming up so blogging will come second as you deal with real life stuff. Personally, I’m not keen on’filler’ posts of just tips or listicles as I think too many blogs have ended up going down this route, ie posting for the sake of posting. If I ever start doing listicles, it’ll mean I’ve finally lost interest and the end is nigh for my blog!

    A member of my family has just finished the Marie Kondo book and has been dropping some very unsubtle hints in my direction! I know I need to declutter and hope to make a start on this soon myself. I know clothes will be the first one to tackle(as mentioned in the Reset book we both read recently) – my head hurts just thinking about it all though haha!

    Anyway, all the best with the wedding plans and good luck with your goals!

    1. Hi Weenie, my year was definitely made better by your comments – you’re my top commenter! 🙂

      Aww, it’s nice to know you’ll always be here if I duck out for a while! I think I’m still in an experimental phase with the website at the moment, I’m currently trying a bunch of different types of posts (like the offers, guides etc) and looking what I enjoy and what other people like too. Even though this blog is for helping me track and discover things, I also want the site to do well (like min/maxing in WoW! Haha). It’s difficult to find the right balance. As you know, I get a lot of satisfaction from achieving high stats as well as the journey.

      I’ve finished the book now, Marie makes it pretty exciting, I’m quite looking forward to starting! She is pretty funny too, be prepared for hearing how your clothes have feelings and how you need to speak to the spirit of your house when you get in to thank it for sheltering you 😀

  2. Nicely done! Congrats on the awesome progress!

    I didn’t realize that you’d only been running for 6 months. I was sure you’d been at it for years – especially considered your fairly big “following” and exposure. How’s your visitor stats? (just curious).

    I know exactly how you feel when you say you feel unsettled and unhappy where you are. I’m afraid this feeling is one of the “perks” of the FIRE journey. I don’t know. It seems however that some FIRE bloggers have cracked the code to be happy NOW, while still awaiting “eternal happiness” tomorrow 😉
    I don’t think I’ll ever find that balance, so for now I try to enjoy the little things in life, and accept that happiness simply just is a fleeting feeling by nature…
    Eternal happiness does not exist – even in California! (very jealous of your road trip plans there!).
    I can recommend spending a day (at least) at Venice Beach, just hanging out watching the people and the life there. I’ve never seen anywhere quite like Venice Beach 😛 We only spent a couple of hours there, but I still get small reminders and flashbacks to those hours (even those it’s been more than 10 years since we were there).

    Some that I’m unsure whether I should post as they may not be liked by everyone

    Well, you know how I feel about that. – Screw everyone, man! 😛
    Be true to yourself – that’s where the real magic lies! I’d much rather read REAL “controversial” thoughts, than the mainstream mass-produced “10 ways to achieve xxx” crap that already overflow the Internet! 😀

    Hosting a WP blog with 10.000+ visitors per month (I’m not saying you have that many visitors – yet) should’nt run you more than a maximum of €5/month. If you pay more than that for hosting, you’re with the wrong provider (sorry).

    About the “filler” posts I know how you feel, but I’d be careful with creating content just to fill the space/time between the interesting posts 😛 (I have some of the same thoughts as you though – I find it hard to produce content and then NOT hit publish immediately though – cause my wisdom is just so infinite that I wan’t it out there NOW, you know?! 😛 ). I don’t feel adhering to a regular schedule of posting is the best approach, but it seems to be the norm. Ideally I would like to post once per week, but if I miss a week (or post twice per week sometimes) that’s perfectly fine for me! No stress! 😉

    Last thought: CANADA!? Really?! So you’re seriously contemplating replacing one shitty climate with another?! 😛 I’d go for Cyprus, like RIT!
    I’ll be surveing a few middle-eastern locations in the coming months (going there for work, so might as well write my thoughts while I’m there). Marc over at financeyourfire.com has an interesting series going, about geo-arbitrage. He’s been scouting some interesting areas in the baltic region. I have to say, moving from Denmarks (even shittier) wheather has been climbing my bucket list ladder for the past months 😛

    Happy new year!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 Yep, 6 months in the blogosphere, prior to that I was solely a Redditor! I was initially on a $2.49 per month hosting plan which was excruciatingly slow. After that, I tried their ‘WordPress specific’ hosting which was about $7 but it was still sooo slow. It annoyed me trying to edit my posts most of all, it would take ages to refresh the page! Then I thought ‘Fuck it!’ and bought a decent server through WPXHosting. What I liked about these guys was the fact that it was a monthly service and they didn’t try to upsell me to buy 5 years in advanced like the others.

      To be honest, they’ve been awesome. The support is instantaneous 24/7/365 and I’ve had no problems with speed or dropouts. I’m also running two other websites on the same server. Not that it matters, I’m still probably paying way too much :)) What hosting are you with? Your website is blazing fast! Ha, not quite at 10k page views per month yet, maybe in 2019??

      I actually like the cold, my favorite sport is Snowboarding, which is why Canada is up there on my list. The scenery looks incredible over there too. I went to Croatia last summer, it was 38 degrees on some days! I thought, “This is what hell must be like.” :)) The holiday was filled with 100s of insect bites and trying not to leave the shade.

      Damn it, you spoilt my next blog series; “10 ways to achieve things” :)) I very much adhere to the notion of no stress. But, sometimes I think I need to set myself rules to bring me greater happiness later. e.g. Make one merch by amazon t-shirt per week to ensure continued growth/sales on merch. Do one programming challenge a week to keep my problem-solving skills sharp! Saving for FI is kinda like that too, forcing yourself to commit to certain thrifty habits to save more for the promise of an unshackled future.

      Sticking to certain weekly rules means each thing I love gets a piece of my time! If I didn’t do things like this I’d probably just defer everything and just play on video games. Then I’d look back after a year and think what the hell happened.

      I feel I’m waffling on a bit now, I’ve lost track of what I’m even responding to! I think it’s time for bed 🙂

      Happy new year Nick!

      1. Ha! Good point about the heat! I know how you feel. 25+ degrees and you’ll find me inside with the A/C on or in the shade! 😛 I guess I didn’t really think of that! Cyprus is out of the question then! Maybe somewhere like Madeira (around 18-28 degrees year round) would be more to my taste then 😀

        I use https://www.unoeuro.com/ unfortuntately the €1 webhotel is no longer an option, so the name is now a bit misleading 😛 I’ve used them for years, and have never had any issued. Their support is also very responsive (don’t know if they offer 24/7 support though).

        I can also recommend https://www.one.com/ they are priced similarly to unoeuro. I didn’t have any issues with them when I used them (a few years back), but for some reason I switched to unoeuro at one point – I think it was because I could save a few € (when the webhotel war began!), and their services are very similar.

        I used to ski a lot, but I’m now definitely more inclined towards vacationing in the warmer climates now, than when I was younger.

        Habits. I haven’t really gotten around to crack that one yet. Maybe next year! 😛

  3. Hey SavingsNinja – looks like a good year for you!

    And with the changes coming in, it’s not a great time to start freelancing. But your plan to emigrate sounds very exciting – hope you manage to pin down where to go next.

    1. Yeah, I think 2018 was a success 🙂 Hopefully, 2019 will be even better!

      I hope so too, we’ll need to do a fair bit of exploring before we make the move!

  4. Wow your savings and investment progress is impressive! I started back in 2013 and I haven’t seen such growth, but then I do have a tendency to quit my job and travel. I think it’s a good experience emigrating – it helps you experience a new culture and country – and see your own with fresh eyes. I see your top choices are English-speaking countries – have you considered others? I can definitely recommend Thailand!

    Nice work on the Pinterest pin btw.

    1. For top salaries and low tax (15%), maybe check out Hong Kong…? No need to learn the language as English used in business (although many ex-pats now learn Mandarin to get foot in door of China).

      1. This may be an option as I have experience in the banking sector. A friend who lived there said it was extremely expensive though? Can you still live frugally?

        Another tax haven is the UAE (tax-free!), I’d probably only stay there for a few years to top up my investments though, I hate the heat.

        1. “A friend who lived there said it was extremely expensive though? Can you still live frugally?”

          Correct and it’s possible to do so (though many do not). The low tax and high salary combo means that many ex-pats are able to make and save a lot of money (including various members of my family). Why didn’t I do it? I never had the urge to leave the UK and was/am happy here.

          Heat-wise, HK can get very hot in the summer but does have short cold/colder seasons, unlike the UAE.

    2. Thanks Mindy 🙂 I just hope I can keep it up!

      America has always been on the list of potential homes as I’ve always had a severe case of the ‘American Dream’ fever. Silicon Valley is also a kind of mecca for software engineers and the top of my game for earning potential. As early retirement is also in my sights, I like that the USA is so big. With citizenship there, I could effectively move to any climate I’d like, or we could change with the seasons 🙂 Englands a bit too small and limited.

      Canada is also up there as I love Snowboarding! And they have a fast-track system in place for engineers at the moment.

      I haven’t visited Thailand yet, but it’s definitely on my bucket list, some of the beaches and islands look amazing!

  5. Pretty good year there SN. Particularly as I think you said it was the first year that you really started to invest seriously. It must be good to have the figure of £100k in mind as a number that will give you the wealth you need not to feel poor and to be able to see how you’re going to get there.

    I love your thoughts on emigrating and I look forward to hearing more as that develops. If I have one big regret it is that I haven’t lived anywhere else but the UK. The most I have done is a couple of 3 month trips when I was a lot younger but travelling is very different from truly embedding yourself in a new community somewhere.

    Also I agree with Weenie that you can cut yourself some slack on the blogging. With blogs readers, social media and email alerts I think that fewer people got to a blog on a certain day every week expecting to find new material. They know that when it comes out they will know about it – and in your case the post if worth waiting for! I also love your Thought Experiment series – you should be very pleased with how that’s taken off. Great initiative.

    In any event 2019 sounds like it’s going to be a huge year for you. I’m very impressed that you are thinking of doing anything beyond getting married!

    1. Hey Caveman! Thanks for the words of encouragement! 🙂

      Yeah, this year should be a good one for me investment wise, I’ll hopefully end up a lot better off than I am now due to a full year of heavy saving. New Thought Experiment announcement planned for the 1st of Feb so keep an eye out! 😀

  6. 100K in year 2… incredible scenes!!!

    I think it took me at least 4 and that was not from practically a standing start like you have had (I already had a bit of a pension pot built up and been a home owner for a few years before I discovered FIRE).

    “It’s been my number 1 side-hustle for time consumption and my worst side-hustle for income generation. But nothing has paid me dividends in knowledge gained quite like blogging has.” – This is so true! The hard money benefits are negligible but the side benefits can be huge. I am so glad I decided to start the blog over 5 years ago, it’s helped me immensely in ways I would never have imagined and also had great fun meeting people and going to a few random events that I would never have done otherwise.

    The Happiness question is always a hard one… On the face of it I am living a pretty good life (Part time work, easily enough money coming in to cover our expenses and still save for FIRE, lots of hustles going on etc….) but the day to day happiness is still something that is tough. The life you build for yourself can definitely move the needle on that stuff in the right direction but at some point I feel that we may need to forget all of the goals BS and look really hard at ourselves and work out why we can’t just be happy with what we have right now? To be clear, I am very happy with what I have right now but like you say I still look to the future, the next milestone, etc… I am slightly concerned that once FI happens it may make me unhappier in a weird way as there is nothing to work towards. Although I am sure I will be able to think of loads of new goals to work towards, of course…. as I’m sure you will do as well, but if we are still looking to the next thing constantly, it’s just never ending… isn’t it?
    Getting a bit too deep now, it’s late on a Sat night and I haven’t even had a beer… haha.

    Congrats on making so much progress in 2018!

    And 2019 sounds like a blast, enjoy the marriage and amazing sounding honeymoon and I look forward to reading the posts about your travels and how much your side hustles have made 😉

    1. Thanks TFS :D! I can’t wait to cross that 100k threshold!

      I went through a period after quitting matched betting for the first time and before starting this blog where I had absolutely nothing to do. I thought that it would be great and I’d catch up on video games and reading. What actually happened is I got a bit depressed, I had nothing that I was excited about, nothing to be ‘addicted’ to. Then when analysing my past I realised that I seem to only be really happy when I’m obsessively doing something new like matched betting or merch. So I think that’s just my personality, that I need to be obsessively doing something, maybe so I can forget about being sad? Haha. It is not nice thinking that I’ll always be looking for something though, and the obsessiveness seems to always pass and I need to move onto the next new thing. I feel like traveling and meditation/mindfulness will be the answer to shifting your happiness needle into a longer lasting positive state. But we’ll see – lot’s more investigation to do on that front 🙂 Most people are aiming towards FI so they can have more time to discover how to be happier for longer, right?

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