So When Will You Be Able to Stop Working?

When I turned 40, I resolved to start saving for my retirement. I met with an Independent Financial Advisor who insisted I buy a lot of insurance policies so that if I got sick, lost my arm or died, I would receive plenty of cash. Paradoxically, this new set of monthly standing orders meant that I had less money to save for my retirement. Although I pointed this out to my IFA on many occasions, he insisted that I keep paying the standing orders…

A few years later and still without a retirement plan, I took matters into my own hands and began investing some of my income into ISA’s and property. And, thanks to property inflation and compound interest (no thanks to my IFA), I began to accumulate some wealth and I could see that, with a fair wind from the UK economy, I might be able to stop working in my sixties!

A few years ago at a trade show, I met Thomas Dickson, a Chartered Financial Planner. (I had no idea such folk existed). He offered to review my “wealth creation planning” and since then (about 7 years ago), Thomas has helped me achieve two valuable things:

  1. He helped me build a financial plan so that I can retire (or as I prefer to call it, choose whether to work or not) and have enough money to maintain my (somewhat extravagant) lifestyle and,
  2. He helped me understand exactly what I have to do in terms of earning, spending and investing in order to reach this point.

Now I know Thomas better, I have realised that just like dentists, who don’t/won’t go to the dentist (or the hygienist!), financial planners are better at giving advice than sorting out their own affairs! Last year, Thomas, wrote a piece for this blog detailing his financial planning to-do list for 2017. You can find his article here:

A year later, he has kindly agreed to admit to the many readers of this blog, how he got on with simply doing the sort of things he regularly asks his clients to do!

  • As promised, I did set aside a date after 5th April 2017 to work out all the figures the accountant would need to prepare my personal tax return. That wasn’t until the end of November, so not much to be proud of, but still two months earlier than the year before. Will do better this year!
  • I completely failed to review our household monthly spend (despite simply being able to do an export from our personal HSBC accounts). This year I’m planning to review all the direct debits and make sure we’re not paying for anything we don’t need. We did just find out we’re paying £7.99 for a kindle subscription every month. Never downloaded a book in my life!
  • Pleased to say I set up a monthly contribution to my stocks and shares ISA (maximum contribution is £20,000 in the 2017/18 tax year). Doing it monthly saves having to organise a lump sum at the end of each tax year.
  • I also promised myself I’d make company pension contribution before 31st December 2017. I managed to do this on the 29th – so just in time!
  • I did think about investing in a VCT (Venture Capital Trust) investment. However, despite the generous tax relief (a £5,000 investment provides a £1,500 tax rebate), I wasn’t quite ready for the capital risk or the long term required for this type of investment.
  • Agghhh – completely forgot to review our cash ISA interest rate. This is a must for 2018!
  • This year I’m going to help develop our 3 children’s financial education. Current plan is to set up a monthly standing order, so they get their pocket money regularly. Having neglected to review their Child Trust Funds with them or pay their pocket money regularly, I’ll take this as a fail for 2017
  • We’re now saving hundreds of pounds a month having switched to a different mortgage deal: that was probably the single best resolution we achieved in terms of savings. Also re-financed one of the investment properties and are planning to review one more in 2018.
  • We switched our home energy as resolved in May 2017 and will do this again in May 2018. Only took a few minutes as I now know exactly what our energy usage is.
  • I successfully completed my application for critical illness and have made the most of the app that helps promote an active healthy lifestyle. With the accountability of the Apple Watch tracking my exercise, I easily managed to lose 10 kgs and plan to keep that going. Having achieved the Platinum status, I’ll also get 1% off my premiums next year, £125 cashback and £500 off the road bike I’m now planning to buy!
  • We did set up a monthly charitable contribution and also decided as a company to make some end of year contributions. We chose Edwards Trust (local), Heart Foundation (one of our team unfortunately had a massive heart attack in September last year) and Dentaid (supporting a dental charity makes sense as we principally work with the dental profession).
  • We’ve made quite a few pounds for charity de-cluttering our house and taking stuff we don’t need to Sue Ryder. As I’ve signed the gift aid form, the charity can then claim an extra 20% from the government.

I’ve decided not to add any additional resolutions for 2018 – it seems keeping the above resolutions will be just enough for this year.

Thomas Dickson is our go-to financial planner, all-round-good-guy and Managing Director of Essential Money. You can contact him for a chat at:

Honestly?! I’m not the most patient or compliant client for a financial planner, but what I’ve realised, rather late in life, is that the peace of mind of knowing that I will have enough money until I’m 99 years old is worth the pain of saving rather than the pleasure of spending!

And, as Einstein said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it. Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe!”

If you would like some help with your dental practice, contact me for a chat:
m. 07770 430576

Best wishes,


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One Response to So When Will You Be Able to Stop Working?

  1. Bertie Napier says:

    Simon, your situation as you described it in your first paragraph- You have written my experience and current situation word for word!!
    Unbelievable, but I feel so much better. I’ve been kicking myself over this for years!! Like you I’m ok now with strangely the same things in place. Lots of trust lost and difficult to move on from that. I’ve been working with Wesleyan advisers who work to a different (not perversely incentivised) financial model where their remuneration isn’t linked so directly to what they ‘sell’. I’ve definitely had to teach myself a lot but their financial tools etc have been very helpful in understanding what we need to do.

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