The $ide effects of Fasting

I’ve been experimenting with fasting lately. For 2 reasons.

  1. My life is filled with excesses, food, entertainment, luxury, beverages, comfort. Fasting for a day is a good mental exercise in appreciation for all you have and it exercises mental discipline. Even though I’ve felt broke at points in my life I’ve never experienced scarcity of food or true hunger.
  2. I’m overweight and have a family history of type II diabetes. There is research to suggest regular fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity.

    Fasting has FIRE upsides!

    One side effect of regular fasting is the money you save. It’s one whole day a week where you don’t have to buy any food. I also don’t drink any beer or wine. No cooking means less power used in the kitchen. I also don’t particularly feel like being around food so I avoid doing any shopping or being anywhere near shops on my fasting day.

    I like to keep myself distracted from the lust for food so I’m often really productive on my fasting days, but usually in low key activities like doing the accounts, writing or doing a coding tutorial on the internet.

    I’ve noticed too that planning and thinking about meals actually takes a whole lot of mental energy. On fasting days I feel really free because I don’t have the hassle of organising meals.

    When fasting, drink lots of water
    mmmmmmmm Water, or as I call it……Dinner

Fasting may seem a little extreme. I see it as having a bit in common with FIRE philosophies. A little sacrifice for better health is just like saving now for future wealth. I deny myself fancy cars because I know it would be bad for my financial goals and I’ll deny myself dinner once a week because I know its doing wonders for my insulin sensitivity.

Fasting is seen as a bit fringe in my social circle, so is the idea of retiring early. Both ideas are going a little against the norm. I don’t tell my coworkers I’m fasting and I don’t talk about my plans to retire early. It does seem that most of the “retire early” crowd I read about online have really open minds and are keen experimenters. I like to think I’m open to new ideas too, It’s why I didn’t go “Retire early? That’s impossible” when I first read about the concept. So I’ll continue with the weekly fast and the weekly savings, short term sacrifices for long term gains.

What’s it like switching Kiwisaver providers?

Have you ever moved your retirement savings? I recently switched to new kiwisaver provider Simplicity and here’s how it went.

Contemplation

I first started thinking about switching kiwisaver providers when I wrote this post about kiwisaver fees. New Zealanders don’t have many options for super low fee retirement funds. My current provider Kiwiwealth while very open and transparent still charged 1.17% in fees. This is (shockingly) below average. Many providers are charging a lot more than this!

Last month a new kiwisaver provider started showing up in the local newspapers. Simplicity claimed very low fees of 0.31%, they are owned by a charitable trust and a 1/3 of their management fees are donated to charity. Its an easy sell, sounds great on paper. Oh and they mostly use index funds, so nice and diverse.

Simplicity Kiwisaver provider

The Switch

I was intrigued, a low fee fund finally on offer in New Zealand! After reading a bit more information on their website (including the product disclosure statement) I boldly decided to make the switch. Simplicity makes it easy to switch, you have to provide your IRD number and upload some identification (scanned my passport). Painless and after that it’s all in their capable hands. Like all good decisions it was made on a Sunday afternoon. I’d been with Kiwiwealth since I first joined kiwisaver, leaving was hard, for the most part they were pretty good but in the last year my balance had flat-lined. I also learned that they don’t invest in New Zealand shares at all. Which didn’t sit well with me and maybe that’s not very rational, but I like to think we have a few companies here in New Zealand doing exciting things. Show a little faith in your home economy!



 

Patience and Denial

The days dragged on, I paced, I checked my emails constantly. I logged into my old provider most days to see if the balance had been transferred. I got a reassuring email from Simplicity letting me know that yes things are happening but it might take some time, apparently your old provider has 35 days to transfer the funds! That’s working days, so its 7 weeks to get their arses into gear.  Finally on day 13 something actually happened, I was LOCKED OUT of my Kiwiwealth account. Now I know my money is (likely) no longer with them and I’m no longer a client but it seems just a little passive aggressive to delete my login credentials. There wasn’t a “Sorry to see you go email” or even a plea for me to stay. No communication, apparently I’m dead to them now.

What the hell

At lunchtime on working day 15 I got notification from the IRD that they will be forwarding money from my paycheque to Simplicity, yay things are moving along. Meantime no idea where my money is. For 2 days my money has been in the ether, drifting. How do they transfer it anyway? Send a check, money order, bank transfer? Its a mystery.

Resolution

Anyway I got home after work and there was a letter from Kiwiwealth, finally communication! It was a statement of my accounts letting me know how much money would be moving over to Simplicity and that they were sorry to see me go. Thanks guys, I was really hurt when you locked me out. I missed the chance to down load my historical info and how can I geek out on my savings numbers now? Thankfully I had loaded some annual info into a spreadsheet so I can make graphs to my hearts content.

Later in the evening I got an email from Simplicity announcing that my account was active! I logged in and all my cash was there. They did let me know that the deductions from my paycheck were not occurring just yet, but I had the notification from IRD so I know its in the process of being sorted out.

So overall not too painful, 3 weeks of limbo and then bam, all done. Although they legally could take up to 35 days it only took 15, so not super speedy but not terrible either.

 

September Spending

Graph of September Spending

Ah September, I attempted to be more mindful in my spending and reduced the grocery spend considerably. However beer expenses were up up up!

What I do like about looking at the graph is that our expenses after mortgage and savings are roughly a third of total expenditure. So once the house is paid off we’ll be able to really ramp up investing and our retirement expenses probably aren’t going to be as high as we think.

The Good

I managed to save a bit more money this month, I transferred money out of my checking account most days into my savings so I wasn’t tempted to spend it. Grocery expenses were down helped by more careful spending and a $100 voucher I got in exchange for taking part in a nutritional study.

The Bad

Spending money category or I may as well call it, the beer category. I bought a delicious amount of beer. Not only for drinking at home but I also went to my favourite bar’s 3rd birthday celebrations (free food and lots of special brews on tap for the occasion). Then there was my husbands album release party. Yep, my husband is among other things a musician and in his spare time he has been recording this album. He plays all the instruments, sings all the song, writes all the songs, does all the recording and he designed the cover! He doesn’t have a record deal or anything but we threw a a big party for all our friends and gave away loads of CD’s. I spent about $250 on the party. Worth it, it was the best fun we’d had in ages. Other spending money includes Netflix $12.99, Steam $5 and $80 booking a food and craft beer matching evening. I’m starting to think I should break down the spending money category a little further, but I don’t think I want to admit to myself just how much money I spend on beer.

Spending breakdown

The not so bad

Giving – It’s way down, I’ve only donated $174 so far this year, but I usually give more around Christmas. I don’t have an amount in mind that I want to give, its kind of ad hoc at the moment. I would like to be a bit more consistent with my donations.

Household goods – I bought two rugs online, we have hardwood floors and the rugs were on sale. They certainly make the place look more inviting but it was hardly a necessary spend.

Holiday spending – I booked a bus tour of craft breweries North of Auckland. It’s organised by my local craft beer club.

Transport – I used the bus a bit more last month and I had 2 Uber rides (both from events with beer consumption so I wouldn’t have to drive).

So many beer related expenses.