Best Board Games – H1 2018 Update

Over the last few months I’ve become more involved in board gaming as a hobby. At the end of last year I outlined some of my favorite games. Here is an update of some of the best games I’ve played over the last 6 months.

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May Financial Update

May is now over and we are heading rapidly into summer. The kids will soon be off and we are heading off on vacation next week.

So here is how the major markets and our own net worth did in May.

Market May-18 Q2 18 YTD
S&P500 1.78% 2.44% 1.18%
NASDAQ 5.32% 5.36% 7.80%
DOW 30 1.05% 1.30% -1.23%
Benchmark Vanguard 2040 Fund 0.84% 1.24% 0.70%
Our Net Worth 0.67% 0.92% -0.26%

FIRE rate YTD = 2.18%

All the markets were up this month, and after the turmoil of February and March things seem to have settled down to be flat to slightly up for the year. The NASDAQ has been the big mover for the year, so far with the DOW 30 down slightly.

Our own net worth is down slightly overall for the year. Which based on the market is about what I would expect. Our FIRE rate is currently at about 2.2% which is under our yearly target of 2.7%

May in Detail

So we had a pretty good month and ended up $2000 under our budget. Our only large bills was for some required ant treatment (an issue here in the North West) and our quarterly water bill.

Grocery expenses were good at under $500, which after a couple of months that were out of control was pleasing. We spent more on clothes than normal as we needed new hiking shoes for the summer.

Everything else was pretty much under control and where we hoped. Almost halfway through the year and i’m happy with how things are going. Next month will be mainly on vacation. This will actually not be too expensive as most of our expenses have already been paid for.

Have a great June!

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If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail – Vacation Edition

In a week’s time we will be on vacation (the blog will take a three week vacation too – you’ll find it on the beach!) and while as mentioned before we have most of it paid for we have discovered before that it’s important to plan what we actually are going to do.

With kids we have often found that just getting them out of the hotel in the morning is tricky. This alongside the family bickering over what we are actually going to do has led to some vacation tension.

We will be heading back to the UK for three weeks and half of this time will be doing some traveling and sightseeing. Therefore for the travel period we wanted to determine some themes for what we wanted to do. This involved all the family giving ideas – castles! bakeries! culture!

This enabled us to set up a framework to plan around. For flexibility and to save costs we wanted to get some sort of pass. The one we went with is the English Heritage Pass, this is for overseas visitors and is valid for either 9 days (62GBP for a family) or 16 days (72GBP). This turns out to be a really good value, as for example family entry to a typical castle will be at least 25GBP. So as long as we visit at least 3 locations (and they run hundreds) then we have made our money back. The other advantage is that if we go somewhere and are not impressed by it then we only have to stay an hour and don’t feel forced to stay the entire day.

The other thing we looked into was the London Pass, as we will have 2 full days in London, however this is pretty expensive and would set back the 4 of us close to 400 GBP. As such we would feel like we would need to be rushing around all the time to maximize the usage. We felt this would be stressful and deeply unfair on the kids.

So we now have an activity sheet with each day planned out including driving, and activities. Of course we have included contingencies for rain (it’s England in June after all!), this should keep us focused as well as keeping children excited for the next days activities.

The other thing we have planned for is food. We know where the grocery stores are and possible stop offs for cakes and snacks.  We are going to try and avoid formal restaurants as much as we can, so that we can be nimble. Having a 10 year old boy who gets hungry approximately every 30 minutes means we need to be prepared!

The last thing we just need to sort out is access to laundry, as we are trying to travel light and only have clothing for 5 or 6 days. So we will need to wash clothing after a few days.

We will also be keeping track of our expenses as per normal, probably work mainly with cash so that we can easily see what we have spent. Obviously we don’t want the kids to feel like we are being cheap, but we need to keep control of things. The one thing they do want to do that is a bit expensive is visit the Cadbury factory. We did this a few years back and the kids liked all the free chocolate, so we might do that again.

We are not the sort of family to spend all day just sitting around so we want to keep active. By meticulous planning we can maximize our activities without creating stress and friction in the family – as long as we don’t come across as control freaks!

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Camping It Up

Over the Holiday weekend we went camping in the mountains. I’ll be honest camping is not really my thing, but it’s a cheap way to get away for a day or two. For people on a more frugal budget it’s a good vacation choice.

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The Cost of Entertainment

The average American family spends around $3000 a year on entertainment. This is of course just the average’ for upper middle class families (say $100,000 a year income) the number is closer to $6000 a year. For us we would prefer to be closer to the $250 a month but realistically we are closer to the the $500 a month.

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Come the Revolution

Most financial blogs are not political. That’s not what they are there for, but certain parts of political philosophy and policy will naturally become entangled with the way any FIRE oriented person might think.

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The Hidden Cost of Leisure

Our daughter is 15, so she is at an age when music and friends are the two of the most important things in her life. There is a big concert in town in over a years time (!) so she asked for tickets as an early birthday present.

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Stability and Long Term Planning are the Keys to Success

Just like in sports, to be successful in the journey to financial independence you need stability and a long term plan in place. In celebration of the end of the English football season on Sunday here are some comparisons between the two spheres.

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Spending Nothing – The Rush

As we work through our budget there are some days when we spend nothing all day, these are the great days. It was something we try and plan for during the week; if we’ve had an expensive day say with grocery shopping or paying a large bill then we make a conscious effort the next to spend nothing.

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Our Most Useful Appliance

Over the last hundred years we have obviously come a long way in terms of labor saving devices from microwaves to washing machines to fridges. We have come to take these things for granted and they have freed up a lot of time. As a kid I can remember that the weekly wash would take all day for my mother. More than any other advancement they are the most responsible for the creation of the modern leisure time concept as we understand it.

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