Monday, 1 January 2018


I count the value of my assets on the first day of every months. This month my salary was decreased due to sick-leave and then the markets dropped hard on the last day. The value of 35,81 is either the beginning of a disaster (in relative terms) or a bump in the road. It may not mean very much because it is just a number but it is the number I track.

I call the number my Financial Independence number and is the result of dividing my total net worth with my annual budget. It means that the value of my current assets will last me during almost 36 years without further income with the hope that any cost increases (requiring budget increases) is met with interests and divided from the assets. The value of the assets does not include the cost or the value of my tiny apartment (as I will always have to live somewhere), nor pension rights that I can not access yet.

These assets does not cumulate without the effort but it is not based on any enormous amounts of income, but rather the level of frugality for my lifestyle. For New Years we had dinner at home with a friend who doesn't celebrate it and then went over to some other friends with a strategically placed balcony (and an even more frugal lifestyle than ours), watched fireworks, played games and drank for mid-night a bottle of sweet white wine somebody gave us years ago as a birthday present while eating home made fruit salad at midnight. This is a five year tradition but the tradition is also that the weather is dreadful and the fireworks are difficult to see.

During the winter and calendar year change festivities, we eat all the food souvenirs from the year. This year it included cans of tripe, duck, pickled herring and liver sausage (yes, pickled liver) and a small frozen chicken. Not really food for vegetarians but hey, even vegetarians can eat meat on occasions (or not, entirely up to the individual vegetarians). All served with enormous portions of vegetables. Nothing especially expensive or exclusive, but fun and amusing to eat and makes great stories.

During the month I have cut my own hair and mended or took in several pieces of clothing. I made two extra holes on a belt myself and can continue to use it. No money was spent on additional clothing, hygiene articles or hair products. We have started to share the same brand of skin cream, lens fluids and toothpaste (supermarket brand) which reduces the total amount paid even if it now comes out of the shared household accounts instead of the personal spending. (Deodorant, soap etc are still personal due to individual requirements, except shampoo and conditioner that I will always have to pay myself as I am the only user of such things - and owner of head hair.)

I also sewed up my leather slippers for the forth time and a pair of soles in them to keep warm during the cold floor months. It looks a bit funny but I am becoming rather good at it by now.

Slivers of soap
All small leftover scraps of soap have been collected in a jar during the last two years and now I ground them all up with just a bit of water, let them rest over night and shaped three new bars.
After drying out in the open for three weeks, they are just perfect.
I have a similar collection for left over candle paraffin that will become new candles in the future. Every little scrap goes into a bag to be melted down, no wax is ever thrown out.

We have not had dinner out this month (last month was two, each less than €30 for two; one worth it in hindsight, the other not and a lesson learned). We fill our water bottles every time we leave the house and we each have one or two cheap muslei-bars from cheap multi-packs in pockets and bags for situations of hunger or peckishness on the way. It is a simple way to reduce the need or want for unplanned spending.

In December I also did no spend any money topping up my cash card for my mobile phone or spend any money on my bicycle. The front light got damaged when parked in town and it could not be fixed although I tried, but I had a replacement that I can use until that too breaks and get something better when all bike-lights in storage are used up. Of course I did the work myself, and cleaned and oiled the chain.

I own no car (but I stare at a lot of them on the streets) so I use my bicycle to go everywhere. For longer distances we have an excellent public transport system and for even longer trips we use the international coach companies more and more. It might take time but time is free and the view is included. I did not have to pay money onto my travel card for local transports this month as some planned trips where cancelled. Next month; this year; money will have to be added though.

We do daily muscular exercises with a free app and train using loose weights either one of us has owned for more than twenty years. There will be no need for gym memberships this year either. We have a long way to go before we have exhausted all existing resources for physical exercises.
For mental training I dug out a book with cassettes (!) and a walkman (!!) needing only two new batteries. The cassettes came from a flea market sometime early 1990's and include exercises on breathing, relaxing, mental focus, problem solving, strategy building etc. After at least three months of daily listening to each exercise over and over again and only moving on when I get it, I still have four exercises left. They should last me another good month or two. Using already existing resources adding time to the problems rather than more stuff, is a cheap way to move forward, away from issues that currently are seen as problems. (Our guest last night told us she wanted to start running and had bought new trousers and a book on running. She had not been out running yet though.

We continue to declutter our house by the simple means of not buying anything and breaking stuff. I handle the last part, the man the first. The last month I managed a flower pot, a vase, a tea saucer and almost the non-stick pan we use daily for morning porridge. (I forgot the pan on the stove and the porridge burnt stuck to the non-stick.) With limited and careful cleaning, a long and intensive soaking in vegetable oil and scraping using archaeology methods, the burns could be lifted and the non-stick surface rescued. It will however never be as non-sticky as it used to be, and those careless minutes surely reduced the lifespan of the pan with years. I do not recommend de-cluttering by destroying the most useful items, but admit it is efficient!

I have for a long time needed a weekend-bag replacement (the airlines have over the years been very helpful in snagging and ripping my beloved Gabol bag bought in Madrid ten years ago). The  Christmas gift card from work was quickly used to order a new (but brandless) bag that will be delivered next year. I have to admit that my job not only pays a salary, pension, insurance and furthering specialisation while keeping me busy and keeping me from spending money - they do also cover costs for things I would otherwise have to pay for myself out of savings. Not only this bag, but also printer toner and paper, notebooks, some electronics, and lots of the coffee drunk. I probably should make a note of these costs covered when budgeting for a life without work - but not now.

Before the end of the year, I paid as much of fixed living costs as I could (insurances, housing fees and rent primarily). It makes only a very small difference but it does lower the taxes to be paid next year somewhat.

2017 ended with a decreased FI-number but for the year in its entirety, the total FI-number went from 32,3 to 35,81. From living without income from 32 to 35 years. As my target for savings was to save at least one annual budget per year, I really truly am very grateful and lucky.
I also want to thank my past self for all coffee not bought, all decorative items not needed, all happiness not bought but instead found for free in views, thoughts and daily adventures.


  1. Decluttering by not buying anything and breaking stuff? That's a genius method! Happy New Year!

    1. Don't use it for anything really liked or used - but that old present from aunt Gertrude ... isn't it a bit slippery?

  2. MrsC (Maryanne) left a comment and I managed to delete not only her comment but also my answer. Here is at least her comment:

    I love your soap recycling. I save the bars when they are down to an annoying sliver, for travel. I can only use one brand so it means I have enough for a few nights away and don't have to remember to bring them back. Same with toothpaste, saving a nearly empty tube for a trip. It's hardly a big money saver but it make me feel like I am winning at life!"

    1. I loved this comment because she expresses herself so well and I agree with her. In a world of commotion there are at least small things that can be controlled and moved in the direction of ambitions. I will too do what I can - one soap sliver at the time.