shower challenge

Let’s get better with a cold shower challenge

Do you want to be healthier, have a clearer mind and more willpower? Who doesn’t? The cold shower therapy will help you to do it effortlessly.

Benefits of taking a cold shower for 30 days

The main point here is that if you need to achieve something, you will need to get out of a comfort zone. It’s not possible to meet only unicorns and rainbows if you are doing anything worthwhile. A cold shower stimulates that environment by making you get into an uncomfortable situation.

Our brains are wired in a way that the behaviour we choose to do, makes more and more neurones connections and every time becomes more automated. The beauty of this is that brains understand things abstractly. If you can do this in one area of your life, you will benefit in others as well.

Another advantage is that it makes you totally awake immediately. After that, you can start the most important task of the day straight away.

The last but not least is that you will shower faster. Who doesn’t want to save some time? 😉

Getting deeper into the cold therapy

The shower challenge can tell instantly if you can achieve something in life. When you take a cold shower, it’s like checking if you are ready for a small discomfort. Also, the worst thing that could happen is you temporarily feeling cold. But seriously, it’s like nothing. It’s easy, it makes you feel good and it prepares you for the real life challenges.

I did this challenge myself for about 40-50 days. Sometimes several times per day, because I would take only a cold shower event if needed to shower 3 times per day (morning, evening, jogging or exercising).

I felt good about myself, it proves the capabilities of the person doing it and put his mind straight.

A slight change and continuation for month after month

After so many days in a row, I changed to a different mode. I shower in a warm shower and just before leaving I turn on the coldest water for 20-45 seconds. It makes me fully alert and energised. I’m doing it probably for 5-7 months now, plus the initial challenge of 1.5 month.

Who does nothing, gets nothing

I hope it’s not you. Do you have what it takes to achieve your goals? Prove it to yourself and the world by taking the 30 days cold shower challenge.

Do it yourself scissors attempt

Step 2: try scissors instead of a screedriver

I’m definitely not an electrician, but my father is, who lives in another country. Usually, when someone in your family is good at something, you aren’t. For example, if you have a brother or a sister who’s good with computers, most of the time you rely on their skills. Meaning, that I don’t have any electrician skills, just some basic understanding.

However, my heater stopped working yesterday. First, I tried to smack it a little bit, but it didn’t help. Maybe I wasn’t hard enough on it? 😉

I have barely any tools as I’m living in a foreign country for nearly a year and a half. However, I have some screwdrivers. After opening it, it became clear to me that the switching between blowing, heating level 1, and heating level 2 wasn’t working. It probably had overheated and plastic had changed the shape.

Well, I’m engineer, so immediately figured out that I could just connect the wires directly, skipping the switch entirely. Tried playing with it, but without pliers, couldn’t remove one to replace with another.

Do it yourself clip attempt

Step 3: use a clip

After that, I thought I need to get some metal and to make the contact to happen always. I’ve tried a screwdriver, but it didn’t work.

More time passed, I became more and more certain that the contacting two parts must fix my problem, so, I started to think that probably my screwdriver is isolated and doesn’t allow currency to flow.

As you can see in pictures, tested with super basic scissors and it worked. Of course, I couldn’t leave it like that. I didn’t have much material to use, so I was forced to you use a clip. It worked too.

So, I’ve isolated a clip, closed everything and my room is warming whenever I want.

Do it yourself isolated switch.

Step 4: isolate the clip

That’s not about saving money (of course it saves), but about not buying a new crap you don’t need, and most importantly, improving your skills and feeling a sense of an accomplishment.

Losing weight with correct eating habits

Healthy eating habits makes losing weight easier

The beginning of new eating habits

First of all, I started losing it kind of accidentally. I weighted myself and it showed 78,6 kg. That is my top weight ever and has been a trigger to start doing something.

Also, I had some days when there wasn’t time to eat, but at the same time I needed to move a lot. Seeing that it’s working, I suddenly implemented a diet for myself and added 5 km jogging in the mornings. My colleague Lucian suggested that in the morning body is more likely to burn fat, compared to other times of the day. Well, it makes sense.

So, my regime is simple. I have normal oatmeal with some cut fruits and added nuts, almonds, walnuts. Also, I put soy milk there. I eat it at 8:00am.

After that, I cycle to work (3,5 km) and my next food is lunch at 3:00pm, so I’m not eating for 7 hours! My lunch is again good food. Meet, bacon, chicken with rice, buckwheat or fries. Af course, every lunch comes with a salad from vegetables.

And my dinner is an orange and an apple at 5:15pm. That’s it, nothing else.

Progress

The gap between breakfast and dinner is 7 hours, so I feel some hunger, which I reduce by drinking some water.

Also, to accelerate the process, I’m running 5 km in morning on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 5 km for me a quite a short distance. It’s really just for burning fat, but you could just walk an hour and 20 minutes and would achieve the same result, except not a single drop of sweat.

Į dropped 6,6kg quite fast, but then I got stuck on 72 kg. For the whole week the weight was between 71,8 and 73,4, it depends of the time of the day. If you have just consumed food, of course that you’ll weight more.

As I’m a high achiever, I immediately tried to think of the reasons why it stopped working. These are my guesses:

  1. I started to make my food more delicious, for example adding a little bit butter to rice, some raisins. Making more salads and so on. So, I accidently increased my food portions.
  2. I initiated to value food more and eat it slower by chewing it more. It probably helps to digest it better, hence the calories intake increased.
  3. Having these two reasons helped me to come with a new plan. First of all, stopped adding anything to a rice except species. Next, I’ve bought rice in smaller packets, one portion now is 100 g instead of 125 g.

And it looks like it’s working, yesterday I weighted 71,6 kg. We’ll what will happen today.

Final day

On the morning of February 27,  I weighted 70,2 kg (no breakfast yet). At 5:00 pm it increased to 71,4 kg (average 70,8 kg).

I haven’t been so light for more than 10 years. Now, my goal is to keep my habits and increase food intake, to stop losing weight.

Benefits of the diet

  • Better sleep. Moving my last meal to 5:15pm instead of 7:30pm greatly increased quality of my sleep, because the digestion system is empty, when I go to bed.
  • More done. I don’t make dinner now, so it’s a saved time. Also, food prepared in advance lasts longer because I use it only for lunch. After cycling from work and going to shower I usually go straight back to work.
  • Saved money. There happened some savings on food shopping.
  • A new understanding of hunger. Now I know when I’m really hungry and when I want to postpone doing something (brains tell to go and take a bite with incentive to postpone work).

Nutrition regime summary

  • Breakfast 8:00 am (oatmeal with various nuts and soy milk)
  • Solid lunch at 3:00 pm
  • Very light dinner at 5:00 pm (two fruits only)
  • Eating happens only three times per day, no snacking
  • Jogging 5 km three times per week
  • Avoiding flour and diary products

 

My first journey Southend-on-sea with Honda CBF500

My first journey: Southend On Sea with Honda CBF500

First part can be found here.

Practical test: Module 1

I booked my practical course from the same school, where I passed CBT (Art rider training). I highly recommend them. They have good instructors. Lucy is very helpful even after I’ve passed my final test and had some questions about two years term in which you can get only 6 points. She found out that I’m excluded from it, because I already have European licence. 6 points in two years system applies to only the first licence you acquire.

First lesson was hard. Several moths have passed since the last time I had ridden a motorcycle. I struggled even with 125 cc. I didn’t have a good clutch control, was unable to do all the things simulationly.  So, I needed to do more riding on 125 cc instead of going for something more powerful. But after an hour or so, I’ve regained my skills, hopped on CBF500. I was still doing fine, so fast moved to Honda CBF600.

Module 1 I’ve passed without a single mistake and was proud of it. While training in the dedicated area (Basildon), I’ve learned about counter steering, avoiding obstacles and superb emergency breaking. Good experience.

Practical test: Module 2

At that time I was working every single day for 9 hours, plus 0,5 for lunch and occasional overtime. It was probably 36th day in a row when I was taking my module 2. Even in the practice before test, I couldn’t concentrate, was doing lot’s of mistakes.

At my test, I took right turn on runabout from left lane. There was nothing behind us or before us. But an examiner stopped the test with the reason “Stopped for the public safety”. My test took about 7 minutes. I wasn’t allowed to get back with the examiner, I needed to wait for my instructor to arrive and pick me up.

I booked the next available exam date, but it was Christmas time, plus you need to wait 10 days before making another attempt. Finally, I’ve got a data for 2014-12-30 12:15. Booked one more 4 hours learning session two days before the exam (it costed 250 £). I was well rested as peak season was over at the workplace and we had some days off for Christmas and would finish work earlier, like 2pm. So, I was feeling quite confident.

But the day was coming and weather was getting worse. The day probably was the coldest of the year. In the morning even the cars weren’t allowed to take the test until 10:00 am as there was ice and frost on the roads.

I was guinea pig, being the first motorcycle rider allowed to take the test that day and I finally passed it!

Bonus video: riding in winter

However, I was already prepared for the worst case scenario. Look at me finding some ice on a road below. If you paid attention to camera position, you would see that instructor also slipped a little bit.

The second part is available here.

Getting A motorcycle licence through direct access

I’ve used direct access scheme, which required to be at least 24 years old (other options and more info).

Getting counterpart driving licence with A entitlement

Being a holder of a European B category licence, I needed to fill D9 form, instead of D1. I received my Counterpart driving licence in about two weeks, which had a provisional licence for A category. The counterpart itself is just A4 paper.

I’ve read stories on the internet, that sometimes DVLA doesn’t issue one. The advice out there was to add a note “for CBT”. It worked for me.

My riding experience in Lithuania

I had some riding experience before with this superb JAWA motorcycle (made in 1979):

Jawa 1979 6v

I had ridden it through a mud road and forests. There is no front brake and clutch isn’t operating correctly – you cannot make a full stop, because some power from the engine is always delivered, you must hit neutral gear.

Passing CBT (Compulsory basic training)

As you can guess from the story above, I was complimented a lot for my skills and passed CBT very easily (2014-08-17). But also, I’ve improved a lot on doing an emergency stop and relying mostly on a front break. Also, using more clutch and making riding at a small speed much more smoothly.

I bet that people who have driven only a car, think that most motorcyclists have bad skills as they constantly revving and using a clutch. Meanwhile, it’s supposed to be like that.

Theory test

After CBT, I needed to register for a theory test. That’s where my problems started. I went to a dedicated website and got an error that “CLH driving licence is not supported on the web”. CHL is the last 3 letters of my driver number.

I called them, and they said that they needed to get confirmation from DVLA that I  was really eligible for a theory test and that it would take up to 10 working days. I waited patiently, called them again after like 2 weeks, they explained that 10 days if they had been doing it themselves, but in this case they were waiting for DVLA, so it would take longer.

Probably a month passed and I got and answer that I wasn’t allowed to take a theory test. I protested that I had everything and did what I’m supposed to do. That I could send copies of my provisional entitlement. They didn’t care and told me that I needed to call DVLA and sort this out.

Called DVLA, it took for them 30 minutes to find my data. That was really strange, but finally they told that everything was fine and that probably I had forgot to tell DVSA that I held European licence or that I want motorcycle theory (not a car). I immediately thought that it wasn’t not the case, but gave it a shot.

This time I was more persuasive, but again waited for 3 weeks until I got the same answer that I can’t take a theory test. I started discussing how it’s possible. They advised me to call DVLA.

These forth and back phone calls took like 3-4 hours in total. Finally, DVLA told me to write them a letter explaining my problem. I wrote quite an angry letter, got a reply like in 2 weeks. And the answer was “There is no problem, call DVSA and book you theory test”. In other words, they told me to fuck off. Also, the letter included a new counterpart driving licence. It had the same driver number, but issue number was 02 instead of 01.

I was quite pissed and it was already October or even November, the weather was getting worse. So, I decided maybe I’ll just try to get my licence in Lithuania in the summer.

Second attempt to register for a theory test

My friend bought a motorcycle started speaking more about it and my motivation hit the sky. I decided that I’ll give it one more shot. Probably it was November (and I passed CBT on August 17th). The same story again that they need 10 days. After that period of time, I called them, pushing to just do it now. Explaining my story. They ask to wait, then they redirect me to a guy, who says it’s all OK and let’s book your theory.

The queue time was probably like a week, I went there (Ilford). Showed my European licence and counterpart. The lady looked at me and said that’s not enough, that I need some magical identity proof. I thought not again. Explained her how I did everything, that’s it’s the right way to do. She called here supervisor, who confirmed my story and allowed me to go further.

Now I was in a room, waiting for my time to sit at the computer. Finally, I was asked to go in, but at first they needed to check my identity. I showed my European licence. And the story repeats itself. The supervisor was called and once again allowed me to take the test.

I’ve passed it!

You can find the next part here, where I’ll tell how I passed both practical tests.

 

My stash status

Let’s start with the most important thing. My stash for 2015-02-01 is 35 717,14 £. It improved from 27 711 £ (2014-10-01). Which means that I’m on average my stash monthly grows about 2000£. It’s more than I save, because stocks adds some growth. Anyway, the result is very impressive, because I had one time 3882,3£ expenses for passing my motorcycle licence, buying all the protective gear and the motorcycle itself. Also, I’ve paid 1580£ for increasing my share from 50% up to 75% in www.classifiedsrunner.com. So, the result is more than good! I will be getting more from business and hopefully I will not have any big expenses anymore. I have everything, except my financial freedom.

My motorcycle licence and the first motorcycle

Honda CBF500 2005 Abs

My first motorcycle – Honda Cbf500 Abs

Honda dealership took this nice picture of me with my first motorcycle. To be honest, I’ve driven illegally a little bit in Lithuania through forests and other places, where the police doesn’t go. But it’s the first bike on my name and first time I’m riding with licence.

I needed to pick it up from Kent and that day it was raining and snowing. I couldn’t use my phone navigation as the screen gets wet and I cannot clean it to anything, because my clothes are water repellent. I got lost couple of times, but finally arrived safely to my workplace, where I’m keeping it. It was a nice adventure and I’m looking forward to having some more!

My ISA account status

I was wondering for some time, how it comes I’ve never received dividends to my account. One day in January I noticed in my account that it shows some dividend statements for total sum of 71,16 £. But those money weren’t showing up in my ISA accout balance. I contacted helpful support staff of IWeb share dealing and in two working days those money appeared in my account.

It was like finding some cash when you take out your previous season clothes for the first time.

Here is my ISA portfolio for 2015-02-05 (plus 84,34 £ as cash in account)

IWeb ISA account 2015-02-05

My ISA account for 2015-02-05

 

My work status

At workplace a got a decent bonus, but most of it was eaten by taxes. However, I’m still happy as overtime and bonus (1800 + 1442 = 3 242£ ) managed to absorb the damage to my stash, which I have done with motorbike. After being happy with the bonus, the next thing I wanted to work less ours. My company has a weird 9 hour + 0,5 hour lunch work schedule. Asked for 8 hours workday, but they said it would cause problems as everyone would start requesting the same. Then I suggested that we already talked about working one day per week from home, so that day we would work only 4 hours. This looked like a good option for my manager, but he needed confirmation from others. This offer was extended in a way that in those 4 hours we will be doing mostly online training and the manager will be able to check how much we went trough. Also, it means there is no more finger print scanning – being 10-15 minutes in the morning will not count anymore.

My plan of early retirement is getting known in workplace

Hence I’m putting my real picture here. I doubt that anyone will see it, even if they do, my direct manager already knows that I’m doing it. I’m integral person, so I’m happy that everyone is getting on board with this idea.

I bought my current bicycle 2014.08.03; through advertisement on gumtree.com. It’s several years old, model Merida Matts Speed, mountain bike with 27 rapid fire gears, disk brakes, air front fork. Has everything you want except hydraulic system for brakes.

My Merida Matts Speed bycicle

Costed me 410 £ and additional 100 £ to service it (configure gears, change chain and rear cassette). You can find all my expenses regarding the bicycle here:

Cost for used 410 £ 2014-08-03
Halfords’ Silver service 50 £ 2014-08-04
Chain (SRAM PC971 9Spd Silver) 20.99 £ 2014-08-04
Rear cassette (SRAM PG950 9SPD 11-32) 27.99 £ 2014-08-04
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 U-lock 31.49 £ 2014-08-05
Chain lube 7.4 £ 2014-09-03
Front fork high pressure pump 15.48 £ 2014-09-03
Total 563.35 £ 2014-10-18

That initial service price and needed spare parts was unexpected. That’s how you learn to buy used things; and to buy the same parts online to save at least 10-15£.

Cycle to work scheme

My winnings is quite small compared to using http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/ because of that initial 100£ service.

When I’ve learnt about this scheme, I got all excited, because misusing calculator showed 42% discount. I got approved by my manager and went shopping. Selected the best I could including mudguards, pedals (you always buy them separately), front/back lights, computer, helmet. The price was nearly 1000 £, which is the limit the scheme allows. The next step is to present this bill to the workplace and get a confirmation.

All happy and excited started to google more about how scheme works and learned that I would be saving not 420£, but 320£ (32% because I’m not in high tax rate payer). It was still a good deal, giving me 320£ off. But reading further I found out that after 3 years I would need to pay 7% if wanted to keep the bike. If your stuff costs less than 500£ instead of 7% you would pay 3 or 4 percent. So, the savings started to be only 25%.

Also, I’m not sure about future of my employment. But for the first year you must be working in the same company that the scheme would work. If you stop, you will be paying full price since that time you quit the company. The scheme ends after 3 freaking years – the time I’ll be already in Lithuania. So, it was impossible to use it to my benefits.

I always wanted to learn buying used things, that’s how I got this my bicycle. A friend tried to give me all the knowledge trough skype and looks like I’ve got a good enough bike.

Learning to fix your bicycle

When you buy a new bike, you get a free service after 6 weeks. After driving for about 6 weeks, the tension in cables changes. Everything works according by the tension, because cables themselves does all the work. When I did my service, I’ve learnt how expensive it is. So, when minor problems started to occur with shifting and brake noises, I was forced to learn how to adjust them. It took a while, even with super detailed youtube videos. The bicycle is old, not in perfect condition. Anyway, I’m now experienced enough for minor adjustments.

Next thing was my air fork maintenance. You need to adjust air level when weather gets colder or just every 6-9 months. I suspected that there should be more air for my weight, because the travel length was too long. I’ve bought this air pump:

High pressure fork pump

When I asked at Halfords about adding the air, they said that they don’t do it, but send the fork somewhere else to be serviced. Of course, I believe they would do more, than just to add air as they did more than just adjust gears and change parts with Silver service. But I didn’t want to pay the money. The pump price is definitely less than the service cost. Learning how to use was quick enough. To select proper pressure I needed to find out what is the travel for my fork (12 mm), because the table is for 12 mm and 8-10 mm, but doesn’t tell which one I have.

Finally, I added more air than recommended, making sure it will not travel more than it should even as air gets colder.

Also, I had a problem with the biggest crankset ring. I believe it’s made from alloy instead of steel. Two teeth were somehow bent to inside and the chain wouldn’t go on them. Both of them are at the opposite side of the ring, probably their purpose is to make putting chain more smoothly. The new one costs 20-70£, depending if you want the same quality or cheaper. However, I’ve just bented them back with pliers. One tooth was damaged a little bit in the process. But after commuting for two week everything looks fine. Especially, since yesterday I achieved my high speed record 46,8 km/h while driving back home. Here are couple of pictures to illustrate my problem.

Crankset ring tooth problem Crankset ring tooth problem with chaing

Money saving and exercise

Having excel file helps to track all the expenses and gains. Currently my savings for transport is 78.4 £. My problem here is that I’ve already moved close to work, so needed only to buy bus ticket (3,5 km). Secondly, after work me and coworkers being taken to Barking station with a cab for free (the company pays). That makes my savings only 1.45£ per working day. However, I believe that bicycle will pay for itself in about 2 years: 78.4/2.5 *12 * 2= 752.64£

Not everything is tracked, because the software is not perfect. But I have these numbers from Endomondo:

Average per month 169 km
Total in 2,5 month 421.41 km
Average per month 5 466.8 kcal
Total per 2,5 month 13 667 kcal

Having fun with your bycicle

So far I’ve been to Hainault forest once to do some MTB, that was a lot of fun, but also felt like trying to break it. That makes ~50km at high speed, so in the long term the numbers might decrease a little bit in the above table. Another fun thing was to spend couple of hours riding in prudential ridelondon event. You can see a short video from it here.

As I’m traveling to work every single day, I’ve stopped enjoying simple short bicycle rides and don’t do those anymore.

Let’s finish the article with my problem going back home from work on Friday’s evening:

Monthly budget

Monthly budget. Photo credit Tax Credits

Let’s start with my most recent frugal achievement. Last month I managed to live by on 814 £!

Now let’s calculate my money.

Monthly expenses

I’ve started to live on my own and track expenses in pounds from April the 1st. Excluding bicycle and laptop the average is 1 007,72 £. That’s how my monthly budget looks like.

  • Rent 540£ (includes all taxes)
  • Other 100£
  • Health 20£
  • Phone 10£
  • Transport 40£
  • Food 250£
  • Fun 30 £

Monthly income

My salary after taxes is 2500 £. There is a halfly passive small business in Lithuania, which generates about 175£ per month.

Also, I get ~600£ per year as dividends from stocks invested in Lithuania.

All this makes my total income to be 2725£ and savings ~1725£ with rate of 63%.

Introducing early retirement calculator

We have a good guy, who made this calculator into a website. There is a link with my data https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement It includes my current stash of 27 711 £ (2014-10-01).

I’ve managed to reduce transport by 25£ by starting to cycle to work. The next target is food. I believe I can decrease it to 220£. I should quite easily achieve 900£ average of expenses. Also, I’m going to live in Lithuania after retiring.

To see the correct forecast I need to use my expenses from Lithuania (3500£ yearly) and decrease my income by 12 000 £ – 3500 £ = 8500 £. This allows me to calculate how much money I really need. My final calculator result. 2,5 years!

Safety margin and my optimism

Firstly, I will still be getting those 175 £ per month after retirement from my passive business. Of course, there is no guarantee that it will be generating any money after 3 years.

Secondly, I’m supposed to get at least 1500 £ in overtime and bonus yearly. It could go up to about 3000 £, we’ll see.

I’m certain I can accumulate 85 000 £ till my 30th birthday and retire!

Looks like this post is exclamation count king!!! 🙂

Picking cheap online broker in United Kingdom

Opening ISA account in United Kingdom

Opening ISA account in United Kingdom. Photo credit to Ken Teegardin

In United Kingdom we have special account type called ISA (individual saving account). Recently they increased the amount of money you can put to it yearly up to 15 000 £.  Another difference is that now you can put all your money in your savings or shares account, previously there were limits. After that ISA is called NISA, first letter means new. To conclude, if you want to retire early, you are going to open share dealing ISA account.

To do that you need to pick up the broker. I’ve did some research online and in mustiachian forum and came with this great link http://monevator.com/compare-uk-cheapest-online-brokers/ The great thing about is that it gets updated, for example IWeb half a year ago changed deal fee from 2£ to 5£ and you can see that in the list this change is up to date.

The winner from that list is IWeb for me, because there is only flat fee per deal and no annual ones. Also, you’ll need to pay 25£ to open an account. Everything is done online. You go to their website, give required data. Wait for a letter with your temporary data. Don’t be surprised that the email will tell that you’re opening share and dealing account instead of share and dealing ISA account. After you’ll login, you’ll be able to see both accounts and set up ISA as your default. I was so concerned about it that even made a call to them.

For money to get to IWeb you need simple debit card. Money comes to IWeb instantly. First tested with 1000, then with 2000, after that with 3000. No problem, no additional charges.

Opening account facts: applied online 2014-09-23 19:18, received letter with temporary password 2014-10-01, waiting for pin letter to arrive (this one is not needed to start dealing).

Buying index stocks using IWeb platform

As I received the letter yesterday, today I made my first deal. Bought Vanguard all world index (VWRL) etf. First let’s take a look at buying window.

Buying stocks through IWeb platform

Buying stocks through IWeb platform

You select Trading on the left. Then pick Buy or Sell option. Near verify button I wrote VWRL, pressed verify. Saw current price, calculated how many stocks I can buy for 5 000£. Selected Number option and put 120 to the field. Pressed deal now. After some moments I was presented with possible price and needed to decide in 15 seconds if I like it. After confirming the deal, I got the window below.

IWeb First Deal VWRL index etf

My first stocks deal using IWeb

Well, the egg is laid, time to wait for the chicken 😉