Saturday, 1 September 2018

FI39,86


I don't know what happened but the financial markets where my assets are invested went sky high the last weeks and only dropped a little before the monthly "counting of my money". As I work the last months of my notice period, without a new job in sight and with less than high ambitions for a new job - it is a relief.

The financial independence number (FI) is currently 39,86. This means that the total assets in my name divided with my current annual budget, could last me over 39 years. I have roughly estimated another thirty five years to live and seventeen years until pension rights starts paying out with citizenship in one of the worlds socially secure countries - I think I will be all right even if it is scar. And even if I chose not to live in the country of my citizenship but in a safe but social security market oriented country.

My pension funds are not included in my FI-number because I have no control over most of them. They will pay out if and when they pay out. I have also not included the value of my apartment (although the neighbour apartment sold this summer for 1/3 more than I paid for mine). I have also not included a forthcoming inheritance as the value and the circumstances are still uncertain. It could be up to another five years annual budgets though (but not without some difficult work... Dang, if you are going to die, just get your own affairs in order, will you please!)

It is a relief to have this money available, but let us all be reminded of one thing:
Most of you do not live within my annual budget. Most of you are not motivated enough to live within my annual budget.

This FI-number is the result of some serious lifestyle choices and cost avoidances. It is the result of eight years serious savings and probably a lifetime of careful spending and budgeting before that. There are none or few "indulgences" in my life. Almost no take-out food, restaurant visits or luxuries involved. My life always involves planning each action and activity, always looking for a cheaper deal, always making the effort to save money and never paying to save time. My annual budget is below national average and touching the "poverty" income level for most European countries.
Don't be envious. You have a lot of things I do not have so be grateful for your own assets instead and value what you have.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Explosion

I had a new job. Bang! Just like that!
Explosion! Then I did not.

The recruiting agent for 'the good manager with the strange job' called me in for an interview in another country with one day's notice. On the day after the interview, I had a verbal offer. Salary accepted. I mentioned conditions (because the job is a bit strange and none were discussed) including asking for a visit to the office I was actually to work (not where I interviewed - or where the manager works). If the conditions would not alter the salary agreement, I would have a new job. A good manager and an even better corporate leader. Inspiring. Enthusiastic.
Starting soon. My notice for the old job was very timely.

Then started a very inept process with inert discussions and delayed communications about actual contract conditions and the arrangements for an office visit. I was basically doing the work of the recruiting agent and the contracting agency, and almost starting to do job assignments.

Eventually, a visit was set up in the new office. Just for a visit a few minutes to indulge the new employee, very friendly and welcoming on the day.
Except waking in, I was shocked. I was met with the most suicidal atmosphere possible. Hollow-eyed snearing people without hope or enthusiasm. And a physical space to match.
Grey, dead with people in booths and a coffee machine.
I have seen very many bad offices and work environments in my line of work. This was a burn-out machine. To work in that place was not an option. Physically or mentally.

My happiness turned into despair in a minute.

The office person saw my reaction. HR was called in. The day after the job offer was revoked.

It is really very sad. I wanted to do that job and to work in that team
That office would not be the place to do it. The company was not suitable for me - or humanity.
The manhandled recruitment process. The reaction to anything but complete obedience.
The revoking of the offer without discussions or alternatives or adaptations. (Although, to be fair, HR called to tell me directly. Not to listen, but to tell.)

I had a few days afterwards where I walked around first angry, then chocked and then sad.
I would have been so good for that team, I could walk into that job and be challenged for at least the first years and then have options to develop the tasks. It would have been so good.
But it was not to be. It took days to get over the drama. I may never fully recover. It is still sad.

The decision to revoke application and offer was ENTIRELY mutual.
I did not get to take the decision but in the end it does not matter.
With FIFTY years of life experience and with FI, financial independence, that was not to be for me.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Thresholds

Life includes thresholds and so does most homes.

They are practical to keep doors from dragging on the floor and keeping the outside out. They are impractical to stub toes against and to restrict access for people with physical limitations.

I have seven, not including the raised one into the shower room (the one I broke my foot against) and the thresholds of the front door and the balcony door.

Seven thresholds covered in black and grey laminate - except that I took ten minutes off my life and a rag with regular cleaning liquid and washed them.
Fifteen years of only having been mopped when the floors been mopped and they turned grey in the corners. After a scrub, they are now all black and only black.
We might be the only ones in the world who never cleaned thresholds with any particular attention.

Either way, I am not going back to just mopping the thresholds. Yes, there is yet another thing to clean - but a very rewarding result from ten minutes and some arm strength.

I am still leaving my job. Rubicon has been crossed.
I might project manage every little thing in our lives from now on. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Jeans for a fiver

I have bought jeans for a fiver. That is €5 per pair of perfect beige jeans in my size.

As the man has the same size in jeans as I, together we bought four pairs of identical jeans.
We were on a walk when we dropped into the neighbourhood outlet/left-over/damaged goods shop.

I have rarely bought anything there but it is an excellent shop to visit when retail therapy is needed. Allowed to buy anything I want, as long as I really want it, spending an hour looking through everything usually cures any retail needs and rarely cost much or even anything (I rarely really really want anything from there but that is mostly not the point when the shopping bug hits. The wanting I mean.)

This time we walked onto a pallet of odd coloured and odd sized jeans, including our odd size. The man wanted yellow, green, red, blue jeans but our size were only available in beige which I preferred anyway. The shop provides no opportunity to try things on, but I pulled one pair over my shorts and declared them perfectly sized. We bought two pairs, went home, tried them on, looked for any faulty sewing or fabric damage and then promptly went back to buy all the other available pairs in our size.

All fitted even better after being washed. Only one seam had a loose thread needing a few stitches.
A three minute job.

I put one pair in my storage while I start using one pair normally. (This way in three years, I will have one good pair and one used pair instead of two worn pairs.) The man will probably dye one of his pairs when cheap fabric dye comes up. I struck the task of finding right sized trousers off my wish list and the man took the urgent need to find summer clothes off his.

We are very happy with four pairs of jeans for €20. An unexpected cost but a much needed wardrobe addition for whatever the future contains.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Vertigo

I have vertigo (mentally) and I have to remind myself that I have solid ground around me.

My financial independence number is over thirty, meaning I have assets worth over thirty years of my current annual budget. I have pension rights that will pay out at least something in fifteen years. I have a small apartment that is also worth something and cost very little. It could be generating a few more years worth of financial independence while reducing the annual budget.

Normally I only count my financial independence number at the beginning of the month.
Now, I count it again.

I have just given notice to my current job and will leave after a vacation. The vacation started immediately. I actually just walked out (or logged off as I work remotely on-line.)

It was dramatic yesterday but after having complained about the decreasing quality of  the product the company delivers as well as the quality of support the employees receives, an invite to a meeting to go through the entire system to look for things that could be improved, pushed me over the limit. Every report I have made over the past years when noticing something wrong, has been clubbed down, hard. Anybody else reporting the same thing is thanked for bringing attention to the issue - I get a lecture on why it has to be as it is until it can be fixed in half a year.

So I've had it.
They can replace me.
I've got money to safeguard me.

I have been to two interviews for two different new positions in the last weeks but nothing has come of it, and while one manager was great, that job is a bit strange. The good job has a strange manager.

Deep breath, it will sort itself out.
I have thirty years to make more money.

Now I will enjoy my vacation.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Cat

I have not adopted a cat.
I will not adopt a cat. The man will not adopt a cat. We have been without cat for five years now and although we miss the last grumpy fat cat terribly, it is nice to go away for the weekend without a cat sitter.

We said we would not adopt a cat. I said we would wait until we got adopted.

We have not been adopted but oh my - it was so close.

Kitty was what I called the scared cat who occasionally came to the back area of our apartment building. She had a collar that mostly looks like a flea collar. Kitty used to be very shy and never wanted to cuddle.

A few weeks ago, Kitty became sociable to me. Very sociable.
Kitty came when called and always very sweet. She started to lie under our balcony on the downstairs neighbours outdoor space every day and talk to us when we were outside.
It was very hard not to scoop her up and take her in.
Except that it is not my cat.
But she had what looked like a bad eye infection. Should I scoop her up and take her to a vet? After several weeks of agony and googling all lost cat registries in town to see if somebody was looking for her, I put a piece of tape on her collar asking if there was an owner. Do I have a home?

Within two days there were two identification tags on her. With two different phone numbers.
And the downstairs neighbour had started feeding her and was willing to take her to the vet AND to adopt her permanently.
Everybody in the area was ready to be the owner of Kitty.

Kitty had cuddled her way into at least two homes, and was well on her way into the third. The owner who spent the most money on the cat identification tag, lives around the corner and has three other cats. The damaged eye happened when Kitty was a kitten and is not an eye infection.

I am now safely down to fourth in line to be adopted by Kitty.

She still comes when I call but I think she knows I am on to her tarty tricks. I also do not feed her so I am only her fourth best friend. We still cuddle well together though and she licks her lady parts while I stretch outside after running.

It is nice to have a cat of ones own who comes when being called for but goes to hair on the sofa of somebody else.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Culottes


I am not sans-culottes any more.
I have culottes! I am not to be blamed for the so called French Revolution any longer.

I finished sewing my green cotton culottes that I started during the World Cup this summer.

They turned out really good. The pockets, the covered fly, the raised waste band, the folds - everything came out perfect and very very neatly sewn. No mistakes at all (left after unpicking...)

The man commented it with: "Wow, it really looks ... as it should." High praise indeed.

Only one sliiiiiiight problem. They don't fit ME very well.
Comfortable, but too big even though I worked hard to fit them to myself.
Fitting on oneself by oneself is very difficult and probably should not be attempted. I will ask the man for more help in the future.
Unfortunately, this model does not have belt loops and they cannot be added afterwards so onto the hip they slide.

They shrunk quite a bit when I washed them but are still slightly too big.
The shrinking also made it obvious that they were not shaped to follow my body. I also think I may sew down all the folds for a sleeker look. Any ideas to make them fit better are much welcome.

Still, ridiculously comfortable and perfect for city-visits. Secure to sit down in anywhere (without showing my underwear). Dressy enough to go anywhere.
Happy colour for summer.

Better result than expected as they were primarily a project to train sewing with the ambition to sew more of my own clothes.
My skills, unused for close to twenty years, is being awoken and re-sharpened.

The fabric (thick soft cotton twill) was bought on the market for €1/metre, the cotton thread €0,50 for 500 metre (used in max €2,20 for fabric and thread.
The zipper had been rescued from an old bag before I threw it out so cost me nothing. I had to purchase a bit of fabric stiffener for the waste line for €1/metre but I only used max €0,20 worth for this project

In total the coulottes cost me around €2,4 and are wearable.

(Especially if I gain back a couple of kilos, they will fit perfectly!)

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Cto5K

I have graduated.

I have run for thirty minutes or little over five kilometres three times in one week.

Small small steps turned into a running routine and a succeess.

I want to thank all people providing running inspiration over the years. You have no idea you were inspiring at the time and I probably made fun of you then. During the last months, I have thought of you often and the memory of you and your words have truly been helpful. I am so glad you ever even casually told me you went for a run in the morning before breakfast, that you ran every week, that you ran just a little when you felt sad or just ran, ran, ran, ran, ran or wanted to run (you all know who you are) as it has served as inspiration for me.

I have graduated the Couch to 5 kilometres program that NHS has for free on the website to download for free for everybody around the world.
It is a nine week program to take people who do not run through a series of ... events... to enable the confidence and stamina to run in ones own pace for thirty minutes or five kilometres.

Nine weeks is a fictional number, it is more of a nine seasons program.
It says that there are three ... events ... per week with a resting day in between.
That is idealised and not suitable for grumpy untrained over 50s like me. More resting days are good, especially in the beginning. Just keep it up and keep going back to it. Each run, even each attempt to run, is different and even a bad attempt is better than the running done on the couch.

It has taken me from the end of April until the beginning of August to finish this nine week program. I started the first time in December and there has been injuries, low self-esteem, bad temper, insults, muscle pain and exhaustion. There has been misery, and drama and super supportive strangers and hopelessness and cats to help.
The time it has taken me to reach the target does not matter one bit. Only my persistence matters.
Aaaactually, not even my persistence: but rather my ability to return again and again to do again things I say I will not ever do again.

Most importantly there has been Laura.
Laura is the name of the running coach for the NHS Couch to 5 K. 
And what Laura says, you do. Laura says you can do it. So you do it.
(If you can't run, just focus all the things you can do.)

I did what Laura said.
And kept doing it.
And nobody is more surprised than me - I ran for 30 minutes or over 5 K, three times in a week.

I am a C25K graduate.

I will continue doing this for three months with no increase in ambitions or targets.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Hygiene products 2018 - in progress

I have been working hard on an additional target for almost two moths:
Use up all hygiene products. 

That includes all hotel shampoos and soaps collected over the last years. The products bought and not liked very much. The products bought in mistake. The samples given and accepted. Anything in the category of hygiene in general, including bug spray and hair spray.

The aim was to buy fresh new products in August when the sales start and then only buy exactly what was needed, the right sort, brand and price.

The man and I also aim to share as many hygiene products as possible. Currently, this means we use the same brand and the cost is shared through our bucket system. That includes shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouth wash (not Listerin), lens fluids, skin lotion and sun cream.

It has taken some adaptation over the last months (years) to get to this point. I have joined his perfume free skin cream and he has joined my cheap high spf sun cream which turned out to be better quality than his high street stuff. We have also been through several different brands of tooth paste in the lower price ranges until we found a brand we both could stand the taste and texture, kicking out the more expensive products. We will however probably never share deodorant. although soap is  still difficult, it isn't unimaginative that we could find something we both can accept.

We will however probably never share deodorant and as I am the only one with hair in the house, I have to agree with myself when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. I will not need to buy conditioner for another few years because I am blond and can't read.

After focused use during the last two months or so, I can see the end of hotel shampoo, test packages of skin cream and eye creams that do nothing. By the end of the summer, I will hopefully also see the end of the fake skin tan lotions that are at least eight years old. By the end of the year, I hope to finish the last of the eye creams.
And I didn't think I had that much.
The man is going trough his stock of products that he has bought but can't use and I have been given all sorts of foul smelling perfumed skin creams. 
And soon the new travel season starts and the accumulation of shampoo and soap starts again.

This  ambition is not to buy anything new until every last bit is used up.
It is difficult.
Especially since August is already here, the sales have started and I still don't neeeeeeed anything yet!
There is also amazing amounts of space generated in the bathroom and I don't want to fill it.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

August 2018 - Electronics

The target for August is Electronics
"Find all things in your house that needs electricity to operate (easily recognised as it has a cable or needs batteries).
Clean your hard drive. Do a back-up of all the content to usb, disc's or cloud storage. Download all photos from your phone. Print special photos. At least send the most important documents in an email to yourself."

The targets starts with the gathering or at least the identifying phase. Where do you have equipment that is electronic or needs electricity to operate? The things you use every day is probably easy to think of. Just as the things that stand on your TV-console-computer-office centre.
Just clean/dust those off.

The hard ones are the things that you don't use.
The old stuff. The cables. The chargers.  The batteries.
The toys. The exercise equipment. The electronic birthday card. The electronic stuff.
In which drawer are they leaking or draining out?
Where can they start a fire or destroy the things next to it?

Gather, inventory, mark, hold, enjoy or get rid of.
You know the drill by now.

I am adding to this list the task to collect all my university papers, memos and my thesis(-s) in one electronic folder to burn on a CD. I will never need it, read it or use it, but I spent way to much intellectual hard work on those words to just leave them to rot on a computer that is not being updated. 

I am also going to see if I can inspire the man to take another good look on our electronic libraries of books, music and pictures as well as his numerous servers and old hard drives he sticks in every corner of the apartment because they contain his work data. No pressure, it is his choice to do or not to do, but maybe he'll be inspired by what I do? 
Some gentle sub-conscious inspiring or role-modelling for later can be more efficient than outright nagging. If not, nagging it will be.