Saturday, 31 December 2016

Clothes bought 2016


I have kept an eye on the amount of clothes bought in 2016. It should be nothing, just as 2015 should have been nothing - but just as 2015 was NOT nothing, neither is 2016. 

Before we went on our 2016 adventure to Ireland I bought a new pair of hiking boots for €70, a sun hat for €1, cheap rain clothes for €11 (which were worn out in days and thrown out almost immediately) and three pairs of new hiking socks for €7 (always take new socks on a hike). 

I have also bought two t-shirts for €6, a pair of 2nd hand rain trousers for €6,50 (an emergency buy) and a new 3-season jacket for €40. All of these have been replacements for things thrown out and all essential items (except the t-shirts I suppose). 

The last month I have also gone mad and bought the following items on my wish list: silky pyjama €10, fleece winter hat €1,50, black jeans €25 and brand new high quality brand of rain trousers on a 60% off sale for €45 (same brand as the beloved rain jacket and a brand that really never goes in sale).

I have also got clothes for free: 
A hooded sports shirt I paid for with gift cards (thus since I did work for the gift cards, just as I work for money, it was not truly free), a t-shirt from our Irish adventure (included in the tuition fee so not entirely free either) and then two heavy cotton knitted sweaters the trash gods gave me from a pile of stuff thrown out. Wonderful quality, does not look even used and fits really well. 
Those were truly free and truly recycled. 

In total this makes €223 spent on clothes and shoes during 2016 : or €70 on shoes and €153 on clothes. Since I budgeted €10/month for clothes and shoes for 2016 this is WAY over budget - but I will not beat myself up for it. But I will adjust the budget for next year.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Memo Box

I have a box called the Memo box.

It was started when I was young and tried to clear out. Things I did not want to clear out and did not want to use or even display - went into a separate box.
When full, the box got taped up and put into the attic. Then I started a new box.
It contained diaries, invitations, letters, souvenirs, calendars and other odd bits and bobs. Clearing the note board usually sent some items into the memo box.

After twenty years of this, I had three memo boxes. Large boxes. Banana boxes sized but sturdier.
I would open them at times to get something or show something to somebody.
I would dream about clearing them out. Just throwing them.
I would dream about opening them and keep just the good bits.
I would dream about donating them to the museum that would open in my name as I got old.
I would think that whoever was going to write my biography would appreciate having them.

In early 2014, when I sold my house, the boxes in the attic had been unattended to almost five years.
With the emotional support of the man, a camera to capture the memory of some items, and a very, very small new memo box, I dug through all boxes.
I kept photos, albums and school books. I saved all qualifications and newspaper clippings where I appear. I tossed the rest into large black garbage bags for incineration (keeping of course all hazardous materials, electronics or similar non-combustible items on the side for more suitable waste treatment.)
Very little was donated. I could just not bear the thought of seeing those items on the shelves of the second hand shops.
From this clear out, I have since then further culled photos, calendars and the like. The only thing I accidental tossed where my student day medals (I do not think I can explain what they are without complete loss if international dignity - unless you already know. Not that I necessarily need them, but they are such a crazy memory of a life I used to live, and would not have taken up much space, that I think I would have wanted to keep them. But then, considering how embarrassing they are, I might have tossed them anyway by now.)

I still have a Memo box though. I keep items in it that I don't want to through out. For example old address books and calendars, letters and post cards from friends, physical photos I am given and other little items that means something at the time.
It is the size of a shoe box.
I cull it occasionally.
And I will never ever fill it and tape it up and put it in the attic (as I now have none and instead will keep my memories in my head).

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Sponge

I have tried to learn how to make a good decent sponge cake.
Or relearn.. After all, I ran the student cafe at my student club for three semesters. Baking everything.
A long time ago and I remember nothing.

After changing the flour, the baking powder, experimenting with soda, discarding one recipe deciding on another, changing the baking trays, trying muffins, varying with raisins (soaked in alcohol, or not, and powdered or not), I have produced some truly failed sponge cakes.

But they are coming along, and if I can just find better muffins paper (refusing to buy a muffins tray as I would need three and this is all a fad anyway) they will be very - lekker, as the Dutch say.
Tasty!

I stick to one recipe that I slowly am learning by heart and understanding the variations of.

I did the same with meat balls and meat loaf a few years ago. Now I confidently can produce very nice meat balls with very little stress.

I will bake a batch of each for the old year party, taking place the evening before with celebratory anticipation of the new year.
That will my next festivity. I have childhood trauma with today and the next coming days. Actually, I think it is fair to say I dispise Christmas the way it is celebrated in the western world and in Scandinavia especially. I would be happy to join the league against Christmas. If there ever really was a war on Christmas I would consider volunteering, but probably could not be bothered enough to tell people how to live their lives.
But I do not participate.
Only John McClane hates Christmas more than I do.
Except Hans Gruber.

Oh I miss Alan Rickman!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Spare keys

It happened.

The most reliable friend in our group of acquaintances, whose spare keys we have, locked herself out.

She called quarter to ten on last Friday morning, when I was wide awake and the man barely so, and neither of us were out of pyjama, asking for her spare keys. (We do not work Fridays.)

Because we are mean people (or just sleepy), we made her come to us for the keys. By the time she arrived, we were dressed, showered and had coffee made.

Then the problem arose.
Which spare keys where her keys?
There were several identical types of keys and honestly, who will know the profile of one key from another in a bunch of identical keys?

We gave her the whole bunch and she walked home and got in so she could get her bike and go to work. (Yes, we are all working odd hours and mostly as little as possible for as much money as possible so that we can live life like this.)

This means that when the bunch of spare keys are returned to us, we have a task to do.
Whose keys are whose and of course - are they still current?
They need to be individualised and tagged.

I also have a sneaky suspicion that I heard that another set of friends whose keys we also have, said something about changing one of their locks not too many years ago.

That means we may have an old set of spare keys for some people. 

This spare key project will be a little task to carry out when we go visiting our friends for the upcoming winter festivities.
(While we also ask those who have our keys,  if they know where they are.)


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Solstice

Tomorrow is winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.
On 21 December it all changes.
It is one of the earliest winter solstices possible.

It never gets darker than it is today. Tomorrow, truly, it will be brighter.
Winter is not over but the tilt of the earth's axis will start turning us closer to the sun.
The nights is never longer than tonight and by tomorrow it will look brighter.

Not by many seconds in the north but it will be changing.
A little more light will appear by every day. The nights will be shorter.
Turn your face to the sunshine. It is coming back. 

If you live closer to the equator, you may not be aware of the change the solstice's brings.
The release, the relief, the slight relaxation of the shoulders.
Up in the north, and even north of where I come from, this is the real event of winter.

Burn a log, do a naked dance, copulate, plan your garden, eat a lamb, light a candle - 
do whatever you feel comfortable with.
But take a moment to thank universe and nature for not giving us longer nights and darker days than today.
Tomorrow all will be better.

Winter may not even have arrived yet, but the light is reappearing.

People of the southern hemisphere have nothing to celebrate today, it all turns for them too but not in a good way. Most probably they do not care, busy as they are with sunshine and warm weather.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Lights cont.

We have 19 sources of light in the house, not 18 as I previously said.

I have been out of the country and into the next one for a few weeks, causing damage to the reputation of heavy industries (aka my job) while working very hard and long and sleeping very little. I have met friends and colleagues which is always lovely, but otherwise well earned my salary.

Meanwhile, the man went into his closet.

Then he came out of the closet.

And announced that the light in his walk-in closet was really wonky and needed to be replaced.

So while I was away, he removed (having to use a saw which sounds odd but not being the one doing the job, I have no objections) - anyway, he removed the old light fixture and put in a new one.
This is the new one.

We now have 19 safe sources of light in the house - including the fairy lights which all are out of the closet for the winter festivities.
We know we have 19 safe sources of electric lights because they have all been checked and cleaned.

Next project to tackle is to look at all light switches, electrical outlets and of course, as always in winter time, the fire alarm.

Do make sure you check the fire alarm (and have one, perhaps also a carbon monoxide alarm if you have fireplaces or gas heating).
To die saving ten or twenty Euro on simple safety equipment is possibly frugal but silly.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

First

It is never the last sit-up that is the hardest to do.
It is the first one.

It is not at the end of the running track that most people does not do.
It is the first.

It is not the last push-up that I fail most often.
It is the first one.

It is not the biggest projects I don't complete.
It is the smallest.

It is not the large catastrophies that throws my life over.
It is a cumulation of the small ones.

Do the little things.
Do one push-up.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Address Book


I used to start a new address book every time I moved counties, and sometimes even when moving cities.

Then the electronic revolution started and I was the crazy person who still kept an address book.
Now I am the odd person who still know the physical address of people.

In my attempt to keep up with friends and family, I try to send cards for new-years. There are less and less physical cards sent out with every year. Mostly this has to do with the decline in family members.
But it also has to do with more and more people being in a continuous stream of interaction through different social media channels.
Those will get electronic greetings and wishes for a happy new year.

However, it is the people in between that need the attention. The social-media haters (of which I know several) who also does not communicate via email continuously (some of the social-media haters) and who still really love being in touch. Some of them I also want to stay in touch with.

(Not all. Seriously, if you are blasé and jaded about your friends trying to stay in touch with you, if you not even show affection or interest when they do, even if you are depressed and unemployed, and especially if you do not ask advice or comfort in said sad circumstances - seriously, you will not get a card this year.)

(You know who you are!)

Last year I found holiday cards in a free trade bucket. This year, my storage of suitable or even unsuitable winter cards are so low that I have bought cards.
I bought a pack of winter photographs from where I live. Uncommented so I can add the appropriate greeting for the appropriate holiday the person is celebrating (Between the pagan, Jewish and atheist friends, there are few appreciative recipients of Christian cards in social circles.)

The address books all came out. I will to merge one into another.
I will continue to use the address book from the previous country and add the old and the new addresses into it (plenty of space). I will do that now while I do the send out of the cards.
And the old address books will go into the memo-box for safe keeping.

Now I can start with those cards...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Jackets2016

Ever since 2014, I have had a buying ban on jackets.

I had all the jackets I needed.
In 2013, I even spontaneously bought a wonderfully pretty and cheerful rain coat that I didn't need. It still makes me happy but I don't use it much as it fills a need I very rarely have. (How often to I walk prettily in the rain? It isn't suitable for hikes, bikes or for any kind of physical activity. But when we go for slow Sunday walks in the rain, I could look pretty. This does not happen near enough often to create a need to buy a special rain coat.)

Anyway,
since 2014 the only jacket that has been bought is the rain jacket. After a long and elaborate process, it was finally bought in 2016.

I had to lift the ban on buying jackets recently.
The most beloved brown three-season hooded jacket from 2008 that fit like a glove and suited all occasions, died. The zipper broke earlier this fall and although I bought a new zipper in a close enough colour at the market for 1€ (a fantastic price for a long double-ended jacket zipper!) to put it in, it is not possible to save the jacket.

When I started removing the old zipper from the beloved brown jacket, the fabric breaks.
Even if I am ever so careful, I am unable to remove the zipper without ripping the fabric. I also found out that the zipper has been included in the button-holes and even if I can get the old out, it will be very difficult to find room enough to put the new zipper in.

I may still give it another try.

But with the cold weather coming and the fall jackets arriving in the shops, I went for a look-out.
I found it. On the second try.
The jacket of jackets to replace the most beloved jacket.
The beloved jacket is roomy enough for an extra sweater under.
The colour is unfortunately black but the price was fantastic. I joined a shop-club for five minutes and got another 30% off. I even remembered to de-register the day after.

The jacket is wind-proof and rain-resistant (absolute musts for Northern Europeans without a car). It has both zippers and buttons (yes, same problem if I need to replace the zipper).
It is not too warm as I will use the winter coat when the real cold hits me - most probably because I travel north.
It has a hood that fits well and stays on when cycling. The sleeves are long enough (but I use warm extension sleeves underneath anyway). 
The jacket has a coat model so it is long and goes down over the thighs a bit. Good for extra warmth.
Ideally, it could be a little longer as I am very tall but the proportions works which is the most important.

So I now that I have bought a jacket - I have a new ban on buying jackets.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Green gloves

This is a story of how I work my "items in storage" and "using things up" over time.

In 2010, when I stumbled on ERE and the rest of the frugal community and forced my savings into over-drive to make myself financially independent, then I had a pair of green gloves.

Knitted, synthetic, unglamorous and unflattering gloves in a shade of green that was somewhere between neon green and apple green. They fit on my hands and in my pocket, they were silly and made me smile when wearing them in grey continental Europe. In 2010, they were already several years old.

When I made an inventory of all cloves and mittens earlier 2016, they had a hole in them and were to be thrown out. I lied in that post though, I did not throw them out. I mended them. Used them, washed them and put them back with the winter clothes in spring. I think I may even have used them during the summer adventure.

When it got colder this year, I wore them together with the black 1 € gloves mentioned in the post above. During the weeks of last winter when I needed double gloves, or even gloves at all, they were worn out. They were made of a fleece sort of material and I had mended the seams several times. When the fabric gave up, they were trashed unceremoniously.

In my life it is the bicycle handles that cause the death of gloves and mittens.

The green gloves were kept and taken to use again as the weather got colder this year.
It only took a few weeks before they need another mending.
I decided to treat myself.
Anomaly, anomaly. 
I am not going to mend the green gloves again.
They have been trashed, equally unceremoniously.

I am now the proud wearer of a very nice pair of brand name hiking gloves that I found in the spring of 2011 in a trash heap. They fit perfectly, look very nice and are slightly thicker than the green gloves.

Total glove budget 2010-2016: 0€
Lesson: Don't minimize and get rid of things you still can use just because your affluent lifestyle have made you accumulate too many. Use one at the time until it are worn out (under the condition that you like them) and then take out a "new" item.

Friday, 2 December 2016

FI31,74/25,39


The cryptic title means that I have a financial independence equivalent of 31,74 years counting one way (the old way) and 25,39 years counting another way (the new way).

The maths behind it is simple. My total amount of assets (not including my house as I live there, nor any pension expectations as I do not control them) divided with my annual budget.

My annual budget is low, I admit, but it is higher than what a lot of people live on. Even more importantly, my annual budget is higher than a lot of people are expected to live on legally. State, society, companies set a poverty line, and then they set an amount that you are expected to sustain yourself on. My annual budget is still higher than that.

Most importantly, I have been living within my annual budget for years. It includes a lot of no-buy's and not-spend's but it does include an occasional weekend-tip to Paris and occasional weekend-trips to the country side.

I also retire legally in twenty years.
I also may leave my current job within the year. 

It makes sense to adjust my annual budget to an amount higher and primarily safer. It needs to include all and any costs that can, could, might and would be included with a slightly different lifestyle. If I do leave my job during 2017 and set out on a different path, it will cost money.

So I budget for a much higher annual budget for next year. This also includes price increases that can be expected. I do not think I need all of the budget, and I surely hope I will not have costs amounting to the annual budget. But I might. And I need to be prepared.

The new annual budget for 2017 will not increase my spending. But since the new budget give me a financial independence number of 25,39 years without income, I feel safe.

I pamper myself with security.
Because I am worth it.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

New Annual Budget 2017


I have for years calculated my financial independence as a division my total assets and a set annual budget.

This budget has remained the same for a very long time. It is not a very elaborate budget but I have comfortably lived within it for many years. It is a budget many people live within. It is also a budget above what both students, social services recipients and unemployed are expected to live on.

(On that note: It is a good idea to know what budget your authorities are expecting you to live on if you become long term ill or long term unemployed.)

My annual budget is of course higher than my annual costs.

Anyway, for the past year I have carried a financial independence number above 30.
This means, I hold assets to cover thirty years of my current annual budget.

This is way beyond what I need.
20 years from now I will - unless the sky falls on our heads - receive some form of pension covering at least something equivalent to my current costs (adding cost increases if related to inflation).

For 2017 I have decided to change my annual budget. This means that the financial independence number will change, probably all the down to 25.

I do not plan to increase my spending, just increasing the annual budget I use to calculate my independence. I am basically only increasing the security for my independence. 

And the amount is not the point. The point is having one that you can live within.