Saturday, 2 November 2019

FI 48,46

I have a financial freedom number of 48,46 years because I no longer own anything.

I have counted my assets in the same way on the first of every month for years. The number kept growing from savings into investments, from living frugally and from selling a big house paid off and replacing it with a studio apartment, selling the car and never replacing it. It was all achieved through a general attitude of not spending money and through studying hard, working a lot and also very hard and not having any ambitions of glamour or style. I sold ten years of my personal life to get a career and then sacrificed another miserably ten years for those assets.

The assets have never included pension rights as I have no access to them at this time. The combination of state pension and work pension and private pension funds adds up to what the future finances may be. But they say nothing about my current assets. They may dwindle to nothing, they may grow, but it is all out of my control (almost entirely) and therefore out of my assets.

The assets have also never included the value of a property I lived in. The mortgage would be counted as a debt but the value of the house was never included as an asset. Repairs, rent, fees, taxes and other costs to keep the house was counted as expenses, but the value of the house would not increase. Market changes are fickle and so is physical property. I would always need to live somewhere and the mortgage would not disappear if the house did (for example in a fire).

I paid down and eventually off all my student debt early in my working life although I did not have to. It may not have been the financially best choice, but in 2010 when I paid the last instalment and a few months later cancelled the mortgage to become debt free - nothing else mattered than that sweet, sweet feeling of independence. Then I had almost no assets left with my own way of counting.

Since 2010 I have built the financial freedom number of this month's 48,46.
The number means I divide the sum of total assets with the calculated annual budget I can and am living within. The quotient (the result) shows how many years I can live on my current assets until they run out - while hopefully expecting price increases and inflation to be compensated by dividends and interest. I have no interest in working with money, earning through blogg ads or running side-hustles for extra income. Thee assets are what there will be for when I stop working (again).

I have an approximate life expectancy depending on lifestyle and family genetics of at least 85 years.
I am currently, for the first time in my financial history, counting financial freedom until the end of my life expectancy.

I also own nothing. Nothing at all of value and very few physical belongings. I have an education, an interesting work experience and a healthy body. (I wish I could value this in a comparative way as I have done with assets but I am fully aware of how blessed I am by birthplace and genetics. Family and social background, eh  not so much but two out of three is generally a success, so I am not complaining.)

I left my mother's country formally this year, selling or leaving behind all remaining property. The value has now been incorporated into my assets making a difference from last month. (I do not count what I most probably will not get in of the current family inheritance feud as I have no control and would even in the best case scenario only be a few annual budgets anyway.)

I have started savings in my new country but there is currently very little value and no investments.
I also have made a list of my remaining physical property to differentiate them from the man's physical property in case of a separation. My list was shockingly short. Slightly longer than what could fit into a regular car, but a van will be enough for a move.

Instead, I have financial assets.

And more importantly currently a relationship, the opportunity to live in the most beautiful capital of the world and an interesting job.
It took me forty years of misery, ten years of hard lifestyle choices and very unexpected opportunities for the future have appeared. 

Sunday, 20 October 2019

First step

In 2010, when I stopped buying, this was the first step.

The handle on my hairbrush broke. A new one could have cost anything from € 1 to 10 (or unlimited amounts but that is of course not alternative when I am involved). 
I consciously decided to repair the handle instead. 
A piece of woven tape (gaffa or duct tape) around the handle sorted the issue in a minute.
It is now 2019 and the hairbrush is still here.
It has moved three countries, lost seven pegs and has got a new ribbon to honour my new country.

I saved 1€ nine years ago. 
Interest and inflation will not have made any great financial saving or gain of assets. 
The attitude is was the change and the opportunity for dramatic financial change
This is where the savings, the asset gains and the lifestyle changes happened. 
That is what created financial independence today.
I do not need to indulge myself.
I chose saving over image.
I chose function over style.
I don’t replace what already works.
I keep things until they break, then I repair them every time they break until they cannot be repaired again. Then I live without if I can. I will replace if I need to, but with either cheapest or best.

The hairbrush still have months, possibly even years left of use in it.
When the pegs all give out and it doesn’t brush my hair any more,
the spare brush in the spare box is waiting its turn (a hotel gift from a business trip).

I have my hairbrush needs covered for the next ten years and no expenses are budgeted. 

I have hairbrush financial freedom.
It was the first step.
What do you have that will cover your needs for the rest of your life?

Tuesday, 1 October 2019


Today on the first day of the month my financial independence number is 43,59 (+).

It means that I can live on my annual budget for 43 and a half year on my current assets without income. In my assets I do not include pension rights that I cannot currently access, assets in my new country or the value of my little apartment (because I will always have to live somewhere). I do not have any debt so I do not deduct them. This year I do not even have a tax debt.

However, as of next month the sale of my little apartment will close and I will be paid the remainder of the sale price. After that, this asset will be included and my FI number will increase by another four years. I will then not have anywhere to live. I will no longer own any property and I will hold no rent contract in my own name. It is slightly scary. It is the first time in over thirty years and I try not to think about it too much. I live in my partners apartment, I am registered, a legal resident and I can claim the rent contract if he dies. I will go on the contract by law in the summer of 2021. Until then, I will hold on to money enough to buy an apartment quickly if anything goes sour. (yeah, no, but you know, one never knows and I am not stupid like that..., not like that.)

So, I hold on to my assets and my money and I save and rationalise just as always. My new savings are the + to the financial independence number. I have until now saved one year in my new country and in my new currency, and I have paid rent for the next two months.

This month, we will pay for a new fridge. The door of the old fridge broke in February 2018, we fixed it our selves. The fix lasted a very long time. Possibly a little too long.
Now was the time to invest in a new fridge. Months of research and discussions over wants, needs and wishes. Estimating costs, counting energy use, calling manufacturers asking when their next model would be presented. Nothing was right, nothing was us.
One morning after two hours of searching on-line we made a decision. Not the highest energy efficiency, but the current size, current needs and lower total energy cost than the fridges with the highest energy efficiency as they were all bigger than we needed.
About to order, I saved us €80 in three minutes. The same fridge, slightly dented, bought will full warranty, was purchased instead.
We laughed astonished at our luck.
It will be delivered for free, with full environmental recycling of the old fridge for free, and installed for free tomorrow.
We'll pay later this month.

This month, I will also go to my new dentist in my new country. It will cost me at least €250 for the initial pleasure. I cut my own hair rather than doing my own denstistry. I am happy to invest in my teeth. It will be the only set I will ever own, I hope.

This month, I will also continue to work my new job in my new country. I still love it, I feel proud walking in to it. I like the people and the people call me crazy but I work with diversity so there is nothing much they can do. And some of them like me. The company pays me money. I am not complaining. I left early retirement for them but they still will only get 40 hours work out of me per week.

It is nice to know that with a bit of luck, some common sense, some good planning and no champagne, I will have assets enough to cover a simple lifestyle until I turn 95.
Work or no work.
That makes me sleep at night.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Future independence

So what is it like to leave early retirement after less than a year, give up the simple lifestyle with no requirements and no financial worries, to go back to work full time?

It is brilliant. I love it. The position is perfect for me, the company is advanced, the management style friendly professional and the people friendly and welcoming. I have a manager who covered for me until I learned the company, the routines and the procedures. Now I am of course already insanely busy with difficult things.
However, I pack a lunch box most days, I cycle to work every day, I stay for normal working hours and I cycle home to the man every evening through the most beautiful city in the world.
And I have no work travel.

I am fully aware of how lucky I am, and how rare it is to land a job like this.
I do not quite know what I do all the time, or how things works some of the time, but I refuse to stress about that.

I bought a new wardrobe before I started my new job.
Three suit jackets, four pairs of trousers, five tops and a pair of neat shoes. 20 pairs of black socks. €350. I added some pieces from the wardrobe, a few second hand finds and as I am working from home one day a week and wearing jeans on Fridays, there is no shortage of formal office clothes. I wear the same outfit again and again. Not an issue. I am very relieved how it has worked out.
This was a huge concern for me before I started.

I also moved countries. I have now formally relocated, immigrated and emigrated. I only live in one country. Bank, insurance, health care, city taxes, public transport, everything already taken care of. It is of course helpful that I speak the language and have the man to explain the rest for me.

And I make money. I have just been paid my first three monthly salaries in my new currency into my new bank account. Riiiiidiculous amounts of money when comparing to the budgeted needs.

I continue to calculate financial independence. On 1 June it was over 40 years. Those assets will largely remain untouched until I need to buy a property. Managed and maintained.

From 1 July I started a new journey from scratch for future independence. Added a small buffer from the old FI-assets to bridge the move but only needed it as security. It is nicely building up month by month as change settles into routine.

The ambition is to keep the same annual budget as before with a continued ambition to reduce costs further.
No expansion, no indulgence, no expenses because I can afford it.
No car, no expensive holidays, no fancy watch, no new jewellery, no new house, not even a summer house, no eating out and no lazy financial decisions.
Same lifestyle as before, just including work. And income.
I like it.

Until I don't and then I can stop working again. 

Saturday, 1 June 2019


I leave my early retirement with a financial independence number of 40,42.

The number means that all my available assets divided with an annual budget needed to keep the simple life I have, would last me over 40 years. The prediction is that interests and dividends will keep up with price and cost increases (which nobody of course will know anything about for the future, FIRE or no FIRE data. Look it up, it is a thing.)

The number also means that I could live my life without further income until I turn ... 90.
With my family history, I have a life expectancy of over 85, so the assets will be needed and used up in full.

The calculation does not include current values of pensions (private or state) or the value of my home I will always need to live somewhere, I can not assess the value until the studio is sold and a replacement home has been acquired. I may be counting lean, but rather lean than over-reaching.

Anyway, so money isn't the reason why I leave early retirement.
I leave because I need to know that I can, because it makes emigration from my mother's country and immigration into the man's country so much easier, and because I need the challenge (apparently - it is as much a surprise to me as it is to anybody else. But I really do not like not working (or making plans and decisions with large investments).) So I am going back to work.

The calculations of the independence number in the future will have to be set up, as well as a new annual budget calculated. Setting up taxation, moving money between countries and generating savings in the new country will also take time. The future will have to sort itself out.

So far during this blog, since January 2015, I have gone from a financial independence number of 28,9 to over 40. The calculations have not changed, I have not received any major pay-outs but instead paid my tax debt from having sold my house already in 2014, and I have worked 80% the entire time, keeping two homes in two different countries the entire time. Size matters, and even small savings grow over the years. Small budgets help, making them smaller step by step makes the savings better. 

Monday, 27 May 2019


I have given up the early retirement and I am going back to work.

I applied for a job I was only half qualified for, in the country where the man lives, even in the town where he lives and where I have spent much time the past five to ten years, for a company I respect.
Of course I did not get the job, but they made me another.

The company made me a job that fits me.
A perfect fit and a perfect timing.
I start 1 June.

The process has been beyond belief. The experience almost incomprehensible.
I still find it difficult to believe.
But they made me a job, advertised it internally, warned everybody that they would have to match this external candidate they had found, gave me about 25% more in salary than I have ever made in my entire life and relocated me from my mother's country to the man's country within 18 hours.
Because I do not own very much and want to keep even less, it was packed up within an hour.
I start in a few days.

It shouldn't not happen. It doesn't happen to me. I very nearly did not even apply.
Actually, I actually did not even fully apply. I only sent my regular CV. No letter, nothing more.
The internal recruiter spotted it, called for an impromptu interview and brought me to the attention of the department. This is why internal recruiters are so much better for the company than any agency.

I met with the cynical leader of the department. We solved the world's problems in half an hour.
I met with the manager of the department. We became firm friends in twenty minutes.
I met with the head of the department. A very impressive person, highly admirable.
I met with the manager of the neighboring department. We made plans to solve the company issues.

I do not know what is wrong with them -
they love me, they want me and they told the recruiter to get me.
It may be appropriate to quote Groucho Marx: I do not want to belong to a club who wants me as a member except in this case; this is my dream company.

I will cycle to work.
I will live with the man full time.
I will make a shitload of money... and
I will have absolutely no time to spend the money as I will be working silly hours.
I will be Senior + my profession + list of abbreviations for my specialisation + position
at a company you will have heard of. I may not blog very often after this month.

Onnittelut Suomi!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019


We go on vacation to have it worse than we have at home, so that we enjoy what we have better.

Or at least, we go on vacation to live vastly different than we do at home.

With Flux moving into the consistency of pudding, we packed up tent and camping equipment.
Strapped it on our trekking bicycles, rolled onto the train and went to sleep outdoors with limited internet access for a few days.

Steam train
Six days filled with instant food and remote sacrificial burial places from the first millennia and a steam train. I like trains.

We then went home to clean and negotiate for a job.
And cleaned everything.

Waiting for response, we packed up again and repeated the procedure for the waterlandscaped areas. Pondering pumping equipment run with either steam or wind, enjoying long conversations with several fanatic members of local museums, we slept outside another three nights.
Empty camp sites, spacious bicycle roads, cheap prices.

Came home, negotiated salary for said job.
And cleaned everything.
Our tent
Now, we stay at home enjoying flushing toilets, sitting on upholstery and walking around naked. Coffee, fresh vegetables and warm feet are treats to be appreciated and cherished.

Vacation is for change, widening of horizons and spreading ones wings. It is for living primitively and knowing what is essential and what is not.
For example: I had to buy deodorant on the way.
Lesson: Using deodorant is good, even essential.
Using one that does not smell as a Friday night on the boat to Finland would be better.
Combining warm sweaty cycling with that deodorant, smelling as the Saturday morning on the boat back from Finland, made me thoroughly appreciate the windy outdoors.

I went on vacation and came home with a deep appreciation for no-fragrance deodorant.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019


I do not know exactly what happened.
My Financial Independence number (assets divided by annual budget) just ballooned in April.

I know it must have to do with the development on the markets where my assets are invested.
It is kind of ridiculous to go from 39 last month (and 37 three months ago) to over 42 years of available assets in such a short time. Ridiculous and high risk of course.
For once, it was my turn to score some of it.
Yes, I am taking home profits and solidifying assets.

No. I am still not making any money beyond my unemployment benefits (although they are minimal income, they are exceeding my monthly needs as they are slightly below my annual budget and I can keep wants low for at least the next year). I saved hard for years to be able to say "Nah, you know boys, this isn't fun any more, close the lid on my laptop and go home.
So I did. October 2018.

I am very grateful to my previous self to have saved diligently, invested carefully and learning about investments against my natural interest. I thank my old me for every magazine I never bought, each taxi I did not take and all take-out food I never paid for and instead stayed hungry for another half an hour until I was home and cooked for myself. Every scrap of leftover food saved and utilised. Every other saved piece of money over ten years adds up to a lifestyle to be kept on a low budget and savings available to bad times. I am grateful to my past me.

Today I wear red and white in honour of Ajax beating Tott'n'm Hotspurs yesterday in the first (away) match in the semi-finals of Champions League. (This is the finest European international football league for all you with interests otherwise. Ajax is the pride of Mokum (Amsterdam) and my new love. Spurs are from north London and I've only ever been to their nightclub. A story for another time).

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Project Office 2019 finished

I can say that Project Office 2019 is finished.

The project included emptying our office/library/largest bedroom where we do not sleep. This took over three months.
The aim of the project was to take out disgusting cat-friendly flooring and to put in people friendly floorboards. At the same time we were to repaint the entire room. For us this meant that we paint it exactly the same way it was before, as the project is not a redecoration, just a renovation.

The floor went in over one day, the painting took two days including drying time.
It then looked like this:
Left corner
Right corner

Then it took another day to erect the seven book-cases and the desk. Another week or two was used in order to focus on the correct replacement of all books and stuff (this is after having gone through everything in the previous months, culling a lot of not-any-more interesting books and stuff.

Curtains, floor-strips, a slight adjustment in one floor board and since the middle of April, we have been standing in the office being astonished that we did it. The total cost has been calculated and was equivalent of a month and a half of food. This was more than expected as we unexpectedly also had to change the under-flooring. It adds nothing to the value of the apartment as we rent and are responsible for floors and most things internally.

Since then the office has been in full use. The plan from over five years ago, had been completed and we could not say exactly how it happened. Many, many little steps over long time. We pat ourselves on the shoulder for a job well done and closed the window for annual house repairs. 2019 was done!

But I could not honestly say that the project was finished. There were still paint pots and tools in the kitchen, a left over book-case in the living room and the last stack of books on their way out of the house to the charity shop. It has been a ridiculously slow process to move each item into their right place.

However, now, now, now - it is done, almost The paint pots and tools are cleaned and stacked away neatly. The temporary book-case we have used for five years, is waiting for its new owner. There is a bag with books by the door for today's daily walk past the charity shop. Then it all will be done.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019


When evening has come, I return and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered in mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reasons for their actions: and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.
Printed in Frank Furedi Power of Reading (2015), p 52 note 72, referring to dead web link of the Catholic university of America from 2014.

When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered in mud and dirt, and take on the garments of court and palace. Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where, solicitously received by them, I nourish myself on that food that alone is mine and for which I was born; where I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me. And for four hours at a time I feel no boredom, I forget my troubles, I do not dread poverty, and I am not terrified of death. I absorb myself into them completely.
Machiavelli and his friends: Their personal correspondence, Northern Illinois University Press, 1996, p 262-65- Translation: J.B. Atkinson, David Sices

On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day's clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and courtly; and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient cours of ancient men, where received by them with affection, I feed on that food which only is mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with tehm and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their kindness answer me; and for four hours of time I do not feel boredom, I forget every trouble, I do not dread poverty, I am not frightened of death; entirely I give myself over to them.
Quoted from University of Washington (no source given)

Als het avond wordt, ga ik naar huis terug en begeef me naar mijn sudeervertek. Zodra ik over de drempel ben, ontdoe ik me van mijn vuile en beslijkte plunje van alledag en trek een koninklijk en ceremonieel gewaad aan. Wanneer ik me aldus passend gekleed heb, treed ik de hoven van de grote mannen uit de Oudheid binnen. Ze ontvangen me hartelijk en ik voed me daar met de spijs die de enige is waarvoor ik geboren ben. Ik schaam me dan niet hen aan te spreken en hen naar de drijfveren van hun daden te vragen. Zij antwoorden mij welwillend, en vier uur lang voel ik geen ellende, vergeet ik alles wat mij terneerdrukt, vrees ik geen armoede, jaagt zelfs de dood me geen angst aan. I word één van hen.
Tijdschrift De Tweede Ronde 7/1986. Transl to Dutch: Frans Denissen

This is from a letter dated 10 December 1513, from Niccolo Machiavelli to Francesco Vettori.
It is one of the world most spread private letter and available in numerous translations.
All slightly different. Which one do you prefer? Do you have another version?
I prefer "courtly garments" but "unashamed", "forget my troubles" and the Dutch ending where he becomes one of them.
I now wear an old gentleman's pyjama jacket with silk collar when sitting reading in the sofa.