Friday, 23 June 2017

My Marvellous Mid Year Update

Ah June, such a wonderful month. It sees the transition from spring to summer, the longest day of the year on the summer solstice, the beginning of many fetes, garden parties and barbecues, and of course it's half-way through the year which means time for a progress update!

Despite my best intentions, I've struggled to find time to regularly update on how things are going with my quest for financial independence. It was so much easier to plan time for writing and perfecting my blog posts when I wasn't working (even though it's only a year since I finished my 4 months off it feels like much longer). Any spare time I have (after working full time, keeping house and of course socialising with family and friends) is taken up with my pursuits of side income from online publishing, researching other online money making possibilities and a little bit of matched betting. My first 6 months of 2017 have been action packed, lots of fun and very fulfilling, so here's a little about what I've been up to...

It was all about reviewing how I'd got on with my goals from 2016 and taking note of the lessons I'd learnt along the way. Then, with much enthusiasm and excitement, I set my goals for 2017I was also working hard on preparing my second ebook ready for publishing: editing the manuscript, formatting it ready for kindle and paperback, and commissioning a book cover.

Near the end of 2016 I joined a Mastermind Group to keep me accountable for my goals and to share knowledge. Throughout January I participated in weekly calls which really helped me to keep focus, and ensured that I had progress to report back each week. If you haven't participated in such a group before I would highly recommend finding one to join.

On a social note, TheBF and I travelled to Wales for a weekend to visit friends and their baby twin girls who were about 8 months old, it was super to get to meet them for the first time. We were invited to a New Year's dinner party by friends, as well as 2 family games nights (such a fun way to spend winter nights), one of which we hosted.

TheBF and I also decided to take advantage of the January sales and invest in a new super king size bed! We opted for a Tempur Cloud mattress from Bensons for Beds, however we failed to research the reviews about Bensons before we placed our order. Big mistake. All I will say is that a saga of failed deliveries, lack of customer service and many trips back to the store ensued. So come the end of January, we had received a bed frame but no mattress, with no delivery date in sight!

Continuing the bed purchase story, after 3 failed attempts at delivering us our mattress and no commitment on a new delivery date, we decided to cut our losses and cancel the mattress order. We placed a new order with Dreams, who gave us a 2 week delivery slot, and delivered on time exactly when they said they would! I cannot recommend the Tempur mattresses enough, they are simply a delight to sleep on.

I am extremely proud to say that I published my second book on both Kindle and as a paperback near the end of February. As part of publishing it I ran various promotions to kick-start sales, so that took up a reasonable amount of my time. As well as that I hosted a Ladies film night, planned a holiday with family to France for later in the year, helped my parents with emptying a property they are selling, went for a delightful dinner to Nailcote Hall and enjoyed a romantic dinner staying in with TheBF.

The month began with a trip to Thurlstone in the Peak District for my second time attending a FIRE Escape meet-up. These are organised by Huw from Financially Free By Forty, where like minded individuals meet up to share ideas and generally geek out about all things to do with personal finance. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of other people in the FIRE* community and I particularly enjoy the chance to put faces to some of the blogs that I read. I was very pleased to finally meet Weenie from Quietly Saving, whose blog I have really enjoyed following over the past year. Topics of conversation ranged from investing (including the more unusual investment options of whisky and trainers/sneakers!), online publishing, matched betting, eBay reselling, blogging, vlogging and personal development.

With my desire to pursue online publishing and to make a success of it, I was grateful for the opportunity to talk to other budding publishers, as well as Huw who is now so established at publishing he has been able to quit his regular job. I was very excited to come away from the weekend having agreed with one of the other attendees to start a weekly Kindle Mastermind call.

In terms of progress with my publishing side hustle, March was mostly about promoting both of my 2 books and tracking how successful those promotions were.

Socially there was plenty going on with a trip to see my niece's ballet show, a fun day out celebrating St. Patrick's Day, a trip to a gun range as part of a friend's birthday celebrations, helping on the telephones for Red Nose Day donations, enjoying a Sunday roast out with family for Mother's Day and holding a dinner party for a couple of friends in our newly fitted dining room.

* Financial Independence Retire Early

There were many exciting things happening in April for me, but the most outstanding of which was attending a Tony Robbins' event in London called Unleash The Power Within. I booked to attend when I saw tickets on offer during last year's black friday sales, not really knowing quite what to expect. This is truly a life changing experience. I simply cannot do justice in a few sentences to how great these 4 days are, or how much I have learnt, or even how many changes I have been able to apply to my life since attending. What I can say is that I am now determined to go to more Tony Robbins events, no matter where they are in the world, because it was totally worth every penny. I should also add that as part of Unleash The Fire Within I became a fire walker! Yes you read that right, I walked across a bed of hot coals, and I didn't burn my feet one little bit. It's all part of the process of showing you how to conquer your fears, and proving to yourself just how much you can do if you put your mind to it.
Hot coals at the firewalk event
Socially we enjoyed spending wonderful time with family over Easter as well as a fantastic trip to the Kenilworth Cocktail Lounge followed by dinner at The Almanac in Kenilworth, and we also spent a weekend visiting various friends in Southampton where I used to live.

Healthy eating and post-it notes would be the unusual tagline for May! 

Fresh from the Tony Robbins event which was at the end of April, I was all fired up to do the 10 day challenge which is about changing your eating and lifestyle habits to really maximise your energy and create a body which is primed to go out and achieve all the goals which you have set for yourself. I jumped into the challenge full on, with fantastic weight loss as a side benefit to feeling really alert and alive. I'm happy to say that I have continued with the majority of the healthy changes ever since.

When you come away from something like Unleash The Power Within (UPW), there are so many ideas, thoughts and things to remember buzzing round your head, it can be a little challenging to know where to start at first. I decided to focus on re-reading my notes from the workbook from the event and writing up key points onto post-it notes which are now taking pride of place on our office wall! I also shared my experience with several people who were keen to hear of what it was like and all that I'd learnt. This was not only fun to do because it meant I could relive the event, it also helped seal many of the learnings in my mind.

One of the things I made a decision about while I was at the event was that the time had come to leave my freelance work so that I can start working on my sideline businesses full time. Ironically forcing my sideline businesses out of the "side" income genre and making them my main income streams. I have set myself a goal of quitting freelancing by the end of 2017, and I will do this no matter what. During May I started to take a look at what I'd been working on the past month or so, to assess where the money will come from, so that I can really focus on those money making ventures. My two weekly mastermind calls are still going strong, and these will help keep me accountable as I move toward my new giant goal.

There was plenty going on socially in May with some family dinners, a ladies film night to attend, hosting afternoon tea for some family friends and of course our traditional sweepstake evening watching the Eurovision Song Contest final.

Which brings us up to the present month. Business-wise, I've begun my transition from freelancer to online entrepreneur, by negotiating a new contract with my current client. I'm now working just 4 days a week as a freelance Scrum Master, and the fifth day each week I work from home on my own business ventures. I've now prioritised generating new books to publish as my first priority and this is what I'm spending my spare time working on.

I have also started to turn my attention to opportunities for mentoring, training and coaching others. As an established Scrum Master I already have lots of experience at mentoring and training in Agile skills, so I am now starting to offer bespoke introductions to agile and scrum master training through the wonder of online video calls. I am also offering mentoring and accountability partnering in goal setting, life organisation skills and basic personal finance planning. I held my first Scrum Master mentoring sessions in June with great feedback. I have also been helping with CV reviews for aspiring project managers, to help give them the best chances of finding their first agile role.

My weight loss goal is progressing nicely, fuelled by the healthy lifestyle changes I've made following UPW. The current heatwave has somewhat hindered my exercise regime since we don't have air conditioning at home and I simply couldn't bring myself to do my usual morning run on my rebounder (mini trampoline). I'm hoping to restart this next week.

This month I've had the pleasure of helping out at my niece's 6th birthday party at the local bowling alley, a trip to see Shirley Valentine at The Belgrade Theatre with my Mum and Sister, a visit from a group of University friends where we all went to my niece's school fete, and a lovely barbecue in our garden for Father's Day. Coming up still in June, we have a trip to London to see Annie to look forward to, and spending time at my parents' as we celebrate my Mum's birthday.

So that's my half-year summary. Hopefully you're still with me! I should probably add that during the first half of the year I have continued to add to my Personal Pension and Freedom Kitty, remaining reasonably on target for the financial goals I set myself. So far I've added £6,000 to the Personal Pension and £6,000 to my Freedom Kitty bringing their current values to £130,266 and £37,747 respectively. I'm really pleased with how both of these are growing, and at the moment my intention is to continue to pay £1,000 per month into each of these for the rest of the year. Once I stop freelancing I will have to reconsider how much I continue to invest while I build up my new businesses to a suitable income level.

How is your year going? Are you on target for meeting your goals (if you set them)? Have you ever attended a Tony Robbins event, and if yes what did you think? As always I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, I read all of them and am always really grateful for your interaction.


  1. Great to see how you're getting on, OM - it was indeed a marvellous update!

    Likewise, it was great to finally get to meet you at the FIRE Escape, especially as we had narrowly missed each other at the previous one! And yes, it was fun to 'geek out' about personal finance!

    Sounds like you're doing great with your online publishing - all the best with your books.

    Interesting stuff about the Tony Robbins' event - I recall people at work doing the walking on hot coals thing but I don't know what event that was.

    It sounds like things are going very well for you (bed delivery aside!). Good luck with your goal to quit freelancing by the end of the year - I look forward to following your progress on this and seeing how your money making ventures continue to grow!

    1. Hi Weenie,

      I figured it was time to write a reasonably lengthy update, given my absence the past month or so. I'm excited to press on with my money making ventures, and hopefully try/find some new ones too. So fingers crossed everything will stay on track from my departure from the 9-5 by the end of the year!

      Great to hear from you and I hope your year is going well.


  2. Wow, this is a BIG update! I have about a million questions, I've never heard of Mastermind groups before, would love to hear more, a dedicated post maybe?! Great news on the 2nd book, and with the decision to really focus on the side hustles. Also the FIRE meetup and Tony Robbins event, both sound really interesting, and great at keeping you inspired and motivated. Looking forward to hearing more, wishing you an equally successful 2nd half to the year! Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks so much for your comment and your well wishes for the second half of the year. It's going well so far (if a little hectic!)

      The idea behind a Mastermind Group is to hook up with at around 1-3 other people who are looking to achieve goals in a similar area to yourself. You can meet online or in person (the former for me) and share progress toward goals, any problems you're having which the others may be able to help with, and to commit to what actions you will take before the next meet (hence providing accountability as well). Of course you provide a willing ear, share suggestions for help and ensure the others stay accountable too. I believe that Mastermind Groups and accountability partners are proven to make you more successful at achieving your goals. I'd highly recommend trying to find one, or form one (which is what I did!)

      Since last year I've been trying to get out more and meet with like-minded entrepreneurs and other members of the FIRE blogging community. It's a bit daunting at first, but SO worth the effort. If you're interested in financial independence or retiring early I'd heartily recommend coming along to the next FIRE escape when Huw arranges it.

      I hope that the second half of your year is going well. If you have any other questions do feel free to let me know.


  3. Have just stumbled across your blog. What a great update, you're inspirational.

    1. Hi Sam,

      Thank you so much for your kind comment, I really appreciate it.


  4. Very nice blog post. I certainly love this website. Keep it up!

    1. Hi there!

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comment. I appreciate it.