Tuesday, 31 December 2019


Ten years ago, I was alone and sad, about to move again to a new country.
Twenty years ago, I was drunk in Prague with a group of male friends.
Thirty years ago, I was on a New Years ball with twenty of my best friends, of course drunk and dancing all night.
Forty years ago, all I could dream about was to get away from home.

Tonight, I will be in pyjamas, hopefully only slightly drunk, playing ABBA as I always do and probably stuffed by all the eating that will commence in about forty-five minutes.

While remembering winter solstice and the new calendar year, we ate strange things out of the cupboards. Souvenirs from vacations: French Puy lentils. Spontaneous purchases in exotic food shops: Wakame and pearl barley. Home made saitan and home made hummus. Garlic filled olives. Cheese filled tomatoes. All odd vegetables gathered through the fall: Turnips, swedes and Jerusalem Artichokes (aka topinambour). Everything spiced with all dried herbs from our and our volunteer herbal garden are to be at least used: Dried mint, dried marjoram, rosemary, oregano, thyme, chives, what else? Small potatoes with butter. Blocks of Gouda, Edam and Maasdammer cheese. Snacks out of bags and if everything fails, home popped popcorn.

Our neighbourhood is fireworks free but our neighbours are not. Last year the students on the top floor apparently had a party that almost got them evicted, so we expect no trouble from them this year. Amsterdam is not a great party town, and I feel a little sorry for the tourists who will be rambling from one tourist trap bar to another, trying to find something that looks luxurious.

Oh, well, not much to worry about. 2019 ends lovely, healthy, content, solid, or simply put - all good. (some bad, but who cares in a blogg post?) At least all is better than the last day of last year. Now it is all good and shiny and lovely and a year ahead filled with dreams and ambitions.

Happy old year's evening, and happy new year's morning and day tomorrow!

Saturday, 21 December 2019


Do you dream? Do you have a dream that you use when making choices?

I am so suddenly surprised to find myself in need of new dreams.
I never thought that our dream to be able to live in the same country, and together, and with jobs, and with money and with our form of fantastic lifestyle, ever, ever, ever could become real.

This year I emigrated, moved in, got rid of my own property, got rid of most of my stuff, repaired the office, got a new job, found self-confidence again and learnt to use my new language on yet a higher level. Much bravery, hard work and prompt decisions. Of course still not fluent in any way, of course still suffering from professional pretence-syndrome, live in a small apartment with much more to do, still have too much stuff, and still try to fit into my new country. Same glass, half-full or half-empty.
I never knew, only dreamt, that there could be a glass at all. I am very grateful to my old-me.

The new dream is equally impossible but hey, why not?
Now we dream of everything staying as they are, although we might ditch the jobs, and the only added thing is a garden. How do you get a garden when you live in inner-city Amsterdam in a second floor apartment with no gardens?

Our dream could be solved by communal gardens and collective summer house associations. We have after long research found one we like.
The waiting line is at least 3-5 years, and probably more. We are no where close but we have great ambitions, hopes and dreams. There are not gardens available every month but we dream, hope, plan and apply for all of them. No, of course not, nothing yet. Too soon.
Dream on.

So we dream on, plan and prepare.
The trash-gods gave me a spade blade with a broken handle. The broken part has been dug out, the blade has been polished (and will be polished more) to be painted and waxed and sharpened and when there is an opportunity, I will get a new handle for it. I would prefer to not pay for the handle, so I hope for a serendipitous trash-god to be helpful, or a gift-card or somebody asking me for a present. The whole point of pursuing a dream, is not to pay for it but to prepare oneself for it to happen. I learn skills of tool maintenance which will be important for the future. I learn respect and patience and hard work.

We practise gardening on our tiny balcony. Herbs primarily, but also our temperamental bougainvillea and the tiny plum tree. Watering, feeding, protecting. I have three very tiny oak trees in pots I have raised from acorns and a small acacia also grown from seeds. By the time the garden can be ours, they will be ready to plant in the ground. I have also tried to grow lots of things that never grew, some however...

I am very happy, for the first time in my life do I have a lifestyle so regular that I can water a seed every day and make it grow. (Yes, my new lifestyle in my new country with no travels is fantastic.) I now have an avocado pit in window with a foot long stem and seven leaves. It will be ready to come out next summer.
I also try to germinate all citrus pits provided by the seasonal fruits, but no luck yet.
The man got rose cuttings from a friend and those are carefully tendered with the aim to root.
We keep out eyes open when out in nature looking for things to take cuttings off. That was how we got most of our herbs, such as our marjoram, oregano, thyme and fennel now growing in pots.

We also lready know how to grow potatoes, cabbage, artichokes and broccoli, and those skills will be put to the test in a real garden with real soil in the ground. Very exciting, slightly nervous.
Until then, until we get a chance, we dream.

I plan to build planters, swings, tables and steps. I make drawings, and read about digging, building, testing soil and building watering systems. We have a dream and if we ever get a chance, we will try to be ready.
Until then, we will enjoy the dream on a zero-budget.
Until then, we enjoy winter solstice, and end of the calendar year. No presents, hang-out parties with family only, drinks with friends only, no over-eating and no stress. Just enjoyment and small adventures and thankfulness. 

Wishing you all out there to find joy in the moment, today. You are in my thoughts.

Sunday, 1 December 2019


The end of the month saw some developments, which will hopefully add another two-three annual budgets to the financial independence number.
The total assets have grown fast with rapidly increasing financial markets, with salary income and with a low cost lifestyle.

Adding the assets at the beginning of the month when all rent is paid until the end of the year, and dividing them with the usual annual budget that I live within comfortably, has given a total financial independence number of 50,87. In theoretical terms, it means the assets would keep me at the current annual budget for over fifty years, hoping that any cost increases are covered by interests or dividends. It is a ridiculous number, not even in my family with indecent life expectations, do we tend to live past one hundred. Not often anyway and I think I should be able to take that risk.
In practical terms, I am over the accumulation phase and into the solidifying phase.

I will consider myself fully FIRE, and fat-FIRE at that as I have not included any pension rights in my calculations of my assets. There will be more money coming, there are social systems in place and protection both high and low. I live in a civilised society with a functioning state organisation.
I have also not included any further income, and if my manager does not have a mind-change, there might be no need to. The total assets will still be enough for my current lifestyle. As that is a dream and a goal from ten years ago, it is a good lifestyle that I will be happy to keep. I will try to remember to be content.
I will consider myself ERE. (Not so early nor not so extreme but retired anyway, and regardless if I work or not.) After the end of the year 2019 calculation, I will not look at the financial independence number again.

It is better to think about goals for 2020.
The goals for 2020 will be in the healthy areas, and in the learning new skills aspects.
Some sort of target for physical activity and not to let the weight creep back up again.
Some sort of target for becoming more correct speaking and writing Dutch, not that I have broken the barrier chat comfortably.
Some sort of target for learning skills in camping, gardening, building, electricity, plumbing with the ambition for us to be even more self-reliable at home and when travelling.
Some sort of target to have an adventure or do some sort of project that needs some planning and is a bit scary and possibly difficulty. It is an even year number after all. (Since 2000, I have done something odd and difficult every summer of even years, often something that needs a year of planning, a new language and a lot of preparation.)
Time to start the dreaming to do the work to get myself ready for an opportunity if it comes.
Are you using December to plan for your 2020-plans?

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Saving money today

What did you do to save money today?
There are many ways to save money when purchasing stuff.
My focus is on not giving out money at all.

Today is Saturday and I saved money by:
+ washing all work (office) clothes on the gentle and cold cycle in the washing machine.
Shirts, cardigans, suit trousers, suit jackets everything. Without regard to washing instructions, everything goes into the washing machine. Most suits are bought second hand and if the garments does not survive the washing machine, our relationship has no future anyway. The sooner they die, the better. There will be no dry cleaning or laundry service of my office clothes. I hang them as neatly as possible on hangers used especially for this, and aimed at drying them as wrinkle free as possible.
Sunday evening I will iron and press everything while watching football, late news or a film. Everything will be ready for a new working week. Making money at minimum expense. If work has a problem with the way I dress, they can just go ahead and die, as that will not be any future for me anyway and I will not spend much money to make some money. This job is after all something I do after being financially independent.

+ carving out the remaining candle wax from tea lights. I have a pot (with a plastic bag) where I collect all candle remains before intending to melt it down and making new candles. This money saving does not really save any real amount of money, but does not cost anything and it will increase skills and resilience in case of real money saving will be needed.

+ Friday night dinner left-overs, were packed into a lunch box to take to work one day next week.

+ morning exercises, and a run is free training saving money on medical costs and gym memberships and sick leave and what else not spending money on.

+ brushing teeth carefully, floss, use mouth wash. Toothbrush, floss and mouthwash all stocked up on sales and the activity actually saves no money at all today. It will however lower the dentistry costs and make me keep my own teeth for the rest of my life.
+ breakfast at home, coffee at home,  lunch at home, so maybe also not saving money  as the alternative to go out to eat or drink coffee is not longer even a choice. It is money not given out, not really money saved, but I suppose it could be added to the list. The oatmeal, the coffee beans, the pasta, the oil, the cheese : all bought on sale and stacked at home as we know we always will eat it. The herbs used were are all grown on the balcony.

+ a grooming session is also part of some Saturdays, and today hair cut/trim, dying of eyelashes and eyebrows and some waxing was carried out using products paid for earlier. Although of course a huge money saving if I had previously had somebody else to do this for me, but otherwise it is actually no money saving at all as the products cost money. But I suppose as I now have developed the skills, have the tools and the patience to do these things on my own, money will never be spent on it. And I do not wear make-up.

+ balcony gardening is activity mostly to gather skills for the future than growing food to save money. Packing up the last pots for winter, collecting the remaining green tomatoes, collecting to dry some thyme, mint and oregano, leaving the rest to rest over the winter, and de-potting any remaining annual herbs did not save money but minimised the future needs for herbs and kept me busy without spending money on other things. Packed up the fruit trees which stay out over the winter.

+ dishes are done by hand during the day. We never invested in a dish washing machine, there is actually no room for it in the kitchen anyway, so hand washing and hand drying it is. Carefully keeping the water use and the use of washing up liquid as low as possible. Rinsing in cold water and drying with ancient kitchen towels (home woven by my ancestors, probably at least two generations ago and carefully kept unused, until I inherited them and started using them). Saving money by not spending anything and using what we already have. 

+ internet services was provided by the man during the day. He installed new hardware sent by provider after extensive and technically high-level discussions. We still do not know if these changes will solve our connection problems but we did not need to call out a technician for it, not spending much money. As we both work from home on occasion, high-functioning internet is a way to make money and not spending money while making money, our savings are increased. I am very grateful the man has the interest to acquire the knowledge to provide the right help for himself, and for me.

+ impregnating a jacket that lost its water resistance with old tent-impregnation found in the cleaning cupboard, should/could/might make the jacket usable in three seasons again. Saving the money that a new jacket would cost, using up already paid for products before buying something more specific and doing it myself in ten minutes. No cost, and a chance to reduce some serious costs if it works out.

+ learn a new language on my own for an hour, using instruction books from ten years ago, using free exercises on the internet, using on-line dictionaries, on my own time and not paying for a teacher or a course. This is seriously saving money, making my life easier in my new country and culture, while training focus, determination, brain capacity. I get increased motivation to study on my own every time I see what the courses charges.

+ a spade blade with a broken handle, rusty and dirty was given by the trash gods a week ago. Cleaned up it is perfect, and only needs a new handle. Outside with the toolbox, some seriously bad language and scraped fingers, I progressed some with the task to get the bits of the old handle out. Still not finished but progress. I do not need a spade, I have no garden but I want a garden and while it makes no sense to buy things for an uncertain dream project, it makes sense to learn skills and gather free tools while I wait (plan and scheme).

+ food shopping on sales and in advance in the right places saves money while spending it. We took the daily walk to one of the supermarket advertising cheap vegetables and bought a week or so worth, as well as supermarket priced chips and beer for tonight (one bag and one beer each).

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent on the sofa eating snacks, watching football and surfing the internet for cats. A very cheap Saturday night, just as I like them. Lazy is the cheapest activity. Tomorrow a half day free class on improvisational theatre.

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.

Friday, 12 April 2019


I live in a state of constant flux and it is tiring.

My focus is on short term projects, this day and possibly this weekend.
No longer and not often more than right now.
Baking is a relief.
Tomato bread. brown bread and a huge frangipane (Bakewell) tart.
I try keep the long term projects in vision, the five-year dreams and the twenty year ambitions. 
Long term ambition is to not eat too much cake.
All our medium-term projects are all up in the air. This summer, the rest of the year, the next one to three years are undecided.
The plan to leave work, study and live happily ever after, was realised last year but it has turned out to not sit very well with me.

I like having a lot to do and although I can keep myself busy, I miss my job.
So I am looking for a job. A good one and a long-term one.
My job search is laborious and although not successful, not without its accomplishments.

There has been a number of high-level interviews in the past few months.

Each job interview invitation triggers a new medium-term project for our lives.
A lot of strategic questions have to be discussed.
How we could live, where we could live, which country or countries we could live in, if the salary would be worth it, and what other consequences are.

It has been tiring and straining. Dedication costs energy.

After each job interview, either the project (aka the job) peters out or is declined - from their side or mine. So far, only one interview has presented a job similar to the advertised position. In that process I was vastly out-merited by another candidate. Disappointing but good for the company to be able to hire a real gem. Simultaneously, somewhat a relief as the personal life-style consequences were high, possibly too high. Some career moves are just not worth doing even if they are possible and have benefits. It is all chess; it is all a cost-benefit analysis.

All these medium-term projects proposals, have had a few constant requirements. Very few as our lives are quite flexible.
Location can be any EU/EEA/candidate country/CH except the UK.
The man only moves from his country if he wants to.
I only move from my mother's country to the man's country, otherwise the company must 'expat' me.
The new housing situation is paid by me.
The job is at a company with professionalism and sound work-place values.
and most importantly, a company needing my marginal work specialisation.
Moving is easy as I do not own much beyond books and clothes.

I am going at it again this afternoon with another interview.
Shoes are polished. Suit ironed. Meditation done. Peace, harmony and personal drive.

Monday, 1 April 2019


Spring is here, 
Tom Lehrer

And 1 April came as a joke; it came fast, unexpected and changed my world.

Financial independence number is 39,77: A remarkable number for a person without a job.
It is a calculation of an accumulation of all assets (except pension rights and the value of my small apartment as I will always have to live somewhere), divided by my annual budget. The number indicates the number of years my assets will last me if price increases are covered by interests and dividends (which nobody will be able to know anything about). I do not expect to have any assets left when my life comes to an end.

April is the end of March when we renovated our office (or second bedroom), established seven bookcases and filled them up.
We have entered modern style and fine interior. Although nothing has changed, this being a restoration rather than a re-decoration, everything has changed and is now of a quality to last us 15 years (the previous hurried works did not last the thirteen years that has passed since they were done).
We have patted ourselves on the back several times and spent a lot of time just standing in the office looking around amazed at what we managed to do. The annual project renovation is closed.

March has been a month with several different futures. Each job interview generated preparations with studies into a new technology, a different company and assessment of a new life style, often in a different country. After three such projects with two disappointments and one flat out refusal on my behalf (there are life styles no amount of money can compensate), the decision was not to make any more plans. The next project was not planned and also cost nothing - and will come of nothing. Again, the life offered by the job is not worth the price we would have to pay for it.

Life goes on, new projects, new days. All is well. The baking and the running are advancing.
The baking included a honey sponge cake (it looks pretty but didn't rise properly) and Yorkshire puddings which were simple, filling and absolutely lovely.

Spring is here and there are pigeons in the park.

Sunday, 10 March 2019


We currently live with one room less.
Normally, we think we have a small apartment. Two small bedrooms, one single, one double. One narrow kitchen, with no room for a table. One living room. And six meter hallway, one walk in closet, one heating closet, one toilet and one shower room.
(We sleep in the single bedroom where we have squeezed in a large bed between three walls.)

The double bedroom, that we use as an office/ study/ library, has been emptied into the living room.
Seven book cases have been dismantled into the heating closet and kitchen. Desk and chair into bedroom and hallway. All books and stuff, including two chests of drawers, decorate our living room.

Every thing we do requires planning. That goes there, this here and that can stand in front of the fridge for a while. The bicycle storage is filled with old carpet and under flooring. Bicycles stand outside, double locked of course. (It is Amsterdam after all.) We even have some in the hallway until the city comes to collect Tuesday (sorry, neighbors).

However, we have reached phase two. We are now done dismantling and are working to put good things in. Almost everything is painted, the building manager has been here too look at the wet/rusting wall, and we’ll live with the non-sticking poster paint (we have a great housing corporation but it is a repurposed building, and it is Amsterdam after all. Standard of living isn’t as high here as in Scandinavia. We’ll survive.)

So now new under flooring go in, the new floor start going in tomorrow and by the weekend, we can slowly start the chaos of assembling seven book cases, two chests of drawers and trying to restructure some type of order again. I think we will find stuff in unexpected corners and keep moving things a round for a long time.

Interesting timing. I have an interview for a cool job later this week, only two hours away.

Friday, 1 March 2019


Holy camoly; my financial Independence number has come back up and is today at 39,31.

That means that when all my assets available to me (so not pension rights or apartment value f.ex.) are summarised and divided by my annual budget, it would last me over 39 years. Presuming the value of the assets doesn't crash again or that the dividends and interests cover price increases - and presuming that I never make another øre in my life (read: penny, cent, kopek, groschen, centime or which ever your financial references are).

So Jeez Louize - although I left my job in October and have not have had any salary income since November and although no inheritance has been paid out yet (because I am related to imbeciles), and although my unemployment benefits are less than my monthly budget; although everything:
interest, value increases and dividends have covered the rest and kept the assets at a level for FIRE. (Google the term if you are not ERE - Extreme Early Retirement or belongs to the Mustachioed group or the Money or your life-generation.)

I am also eating lots of iron and vitamins and have finally kicked the coughing. Healthy and energetic again, finally. Liver sausage and oranges together are a great pick-me-up for the north hemisphere in the winter. So what if I am a vegetarian by choice - I like liver sausage - especially with pickled cucumbers. Together they increase ability to be absorbed and usually within a day or to, the pale Scandi's look almost healthy again. I hope the weekend will include a re-start of the running.

It is Friday and we are sharing a bottle of wine and watching this weeks episode of the Great British Sewing Bee. So lame, so camp, so lovely.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Project Office 2019

In 2018 we renovated the bedroom in Project Bedroom.
Earlier the same year we also did the smaller Project Closet and Project Basement so I could fit in my new bicycle. In 2016 we painted the kitchen in Project Kitchen.
In between I have had several Project Pipe struggling to paint the unsightly and expansive amount of external heating pipes that this apartment contains. (The house is old and re-purposed and the central heating is added in the 1980's.)

Now, Project Office has been initiated.
The flooring we used in the bedroom last year, came up for sale.
Yesterday we cycled out to the shop, bought 15 m3 flooring, borrowed their carriage and walked home though town. Off-loaded, carried upstairs and then walked the empty carriage back to the shop. Cycled home and crashed. This is the methodology for inner city living without a car.
Money well saved and the flooring is now in the house. First step accomplished.

Actually and honestly, it is not really the first step though.
The project sort of already started before October 2018 when I left my job. The office has seven enormous book cases, two chest of drawers and a large desk. It holds books, binders, bookkeeping computers, camping and sewing equipment as well as some of the man's clothes.
Slowly over the months, we have worked our way through the shelves and drawers. Dusted, sorted, culled, packed, and discussed. Slowly the shelves have been emptied, never and rarely read books donated, rarely read books to keep packed up, everything dusted and dusted again, inventoried and assessed. The office cupboard I brought home when I cleared out my old office has been filled with the most precious books.

This has taken weeks and months and we are not done yet. But soon, everything remaining will be moved out of the office and piece by piece, fit in somewhere else while still leaving space for normal living (and the continued writing of my thesis). 

Then we will be doing the following:
- Scrape and paint pipes and radiators (but this can be done with the furniture still in there)
- Wash and mend walls.
- Paint walls and ceiling using paint remaining from 15 years ago and from project bedroom.
- Take out old carpet. (Re-wash the walls or take out carpeting first.)
- Put in new flooring.  
- Move in all bookcases, adding two more that have been in a corner for years waiting for this project.
- Find space for the content of the chests of drawers - or the chests.
- Put up a work desk, either the existing, a smaller that stands dismantled behind a bookcase or an entirely new one. (And get rid of all the redundant furniture.)

And then comes the fun part - ha-ha - to put back all equipment, books, binders and other loose stuff into the bookcases - but only the stuff we really want to keep.

While I think of that, I will enjoy only having to do the scraping and painting of pipes that is on this weeks agenda.

Thursday, 21 February 2019


Between trying to recover from a second cold this year and a relentless cough (still coughing),
trying to keep the nerves about Europa League (football, the international version),
and completing intelligence and suitability tests and preparing to be interviewed for different technical sectors of which I may know or not know very much -
I bake again.

I wanted an apron but could not find anything in the style I wanted for any kind of money I would like to pay (read: no money at all) so I grabbed an old towel and a cotton ribbon. Sewing the ribbon on the towel took probably five minutes and although the style is exactly the one I didn't want - the price is wonderfully low. The ribbon comes from the waist of an old pair of shorts and the towel is woven by my grandmother in the 1930's. Although by now worn through in a spot and really too worn to hold a position as a towel, it is perfect for an apron.

Then I baked a bread with sun-dried tomatoes as well as a ginger-pimento sponge cake while also baking dinner.

If only football was going better, all would be good but as it is not even the best tasting cake I have ever made, seems to help in the second half.

Still unable to comment on other blogs; it could be a virus - it could be the one also causing the cough.

Friday, 1 February 2019


Today, on the first day of a new month, my financial independence stretches 37 years.
If all my available assets (except the value of my studio apartment as I will always need to live somewhere) are divided with my annual budget that I live under, the financial independence number is 37,02.

The financial markets have today recovered. Literally today for the first day in month there is a jump up. Nothing certain, not securities on the financial markets, but it is warming my heart anyway.

I am still unemployed but went to a very promising interview today for which I prepared over two weeks. We'll see, it is out of my hands now. I can go back to studying and living frugally.

I have bought shoes for €50, partly for the interview and partly because they are exactly what I want. I may only use them for dressing up, but I am happy I have them.
They were not on my feet when I joined an old friend for a free soul concert in my mother's country the other day. Free soul with free food and old friends - worth every penny.

I count my financial assets the same way every month to be sure the numbers are comparable. I do not include my apartment, my pension funds that I cannot reach, or any other assets that are not available to me today. As I now own very little (no car, jewellery, boat, art or antiques) my financial assets are all that there is.

But it is mine and I can do whatever I want with it.
For now, I chose not to do anything with it but also not worry about money or income or spending.

It is nice.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Clothes 2018 and 2019

My target budget clothes was for 2018 10€ per month, a total of 120€ for the year. 
I have kept a list during the year of all clothes acquired and their cost. If paid for by gift cards (received as payment for on line surveys or presents) the cost has been what I have paid out of pocket. Clothes that have been gifted from friends or the trash gods have no cost at all, unless I have paid for repairs.
My total cost has been added up to 109€ for the year. The result for 2017 with the same budget was 67 €. 2018 I have spent money on underwear, sports clothes and jeans in smaller sizes when I got fed up living in clothes two sizes too big after my hard work on grinding off my excess weight.
Some of the clothes bought did not last the year, some cheap clothes are cheap only as a reflection of quality and presumably the low wages paid the people who manufacture these garments. Some clothes lost shape although brand name, returned and refunded, reducing the spending.

It seems the spending was well within budget but it is only because there it is a questionable budget.
For among other things the following reasons:
- Shoes are not included and I bought running shoes for 130 € last year, calculated as a part of my jolly-time or vacation budget. That may be fair but I know that 2019 will most probably need a pair of regular shoes and I have no shoe budget, and that shoots all calculations out of the water already. Note to self: Add shoe budget to the annual budget.

- I live in jeans, sweaters and walking shoes. I need no work clothes with a certain style and I am surrounded by people who could not care what I wear. I also still have an extensive wardrobe with fancy clothes from my affluent and high flying years to bring out on the rare occasions when I need or want to dress up. Adjust your budget to your needs, but cut your wants.

- I have applied for a new job and am advancing in the recruitment process. If I go another step further, I will need a new outfit and if hired, all hell breaks loose as I working wardrobe for a new work environment will have to be sourced. (Not looking forward to that part.)

- The above step is a reason that I may be culling some of the worst garments remaining in the wardrobe starting in spring. It is fine to wear thirty year old thermal shirts under a sweater in winter because it is warm an nobody will see it. But unacceptable in an office situation where the jacket may come off at any moment. Also will affect well-fitting office shirts which are pristine white everywhere except under the armpits. ( A change of deodorant makes a huge difference.)

I will need to budget money for a going back to work wardrobe. But if, no, I mean WHEN, I get the position, I will as the leader insist the entire team wears jeans in the office. We'll see what happens.
I may have to blow my entire clothes budget on one garment.

Remember to start your clothes-list now if you want to remember everything brought into the house during the year.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019


Yeah, it is great that I have a health target for the year.
Didn't really make any difference. I've been sick since my last post.

After a visit to our favourite children - lovely but snotty - the man started coughing.
He got better and promptly gave it to me. I have never stopped.
Not bound to bed but definitely anti-social.
I have also not run for the latest three weeks. I have barely exercised beyond the morning bellies.
What I have done however, is gained weight and lost stamina.

Coughing is boring. It is tiring for the cougher and also for the audience who have to listen to it.
My new trick is jumping up and down instead of coughing, I recommend it, it is so much easier on the body to get the liquids out of the lungs.

My other ideas for good coughing health are:
Cough into elbow.
Wash hands with soap.
Drink double the amount of liquids you ever think you need or can handle.
Sleep sitting up.
Walk around as much as there is energy for.
Go outside at least once a day.
Do lots and lots of laundry, especially sweaters, blankets and pillowcases, to avoid re-infection.

But then, don't listen to me. I still cough.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Health 2018/19

Health is my primary target.
A few years ago work and money and happiness and such things were more important.
Then I had health issues and my priorities changed.

In 2015, I started the process to increase my movements with a daily walk. In 2017 I started the process to reduce weight (there is no loosing in weight, there is only dedicated grinding off the excess). In 2018 I finally managed to learn how to run.

After years of dedicated attention, I am proud to start 2019 at 50 years old with the same weight I had before 40, and the same weight as at the beginning of 2018.
The 15 kilos I took off in 2017, I have kept off for over a year. Deal with physical health issues, taking off the over-weight off is a good start for a serious approach to health - even though my heart problems are completely unrelated to weight.

I start 2019 having run for 30 minutes at a steady pace and ending it with a rush and energy to spare.
I have had two long breaks in the running training in 2018 (both over a month each) for a cold and an injury but that does not matter. The only thing that matters is that I have come back to it again. The success is in doing it, not in how it is done. Re-start is the success.

I also start 2019 with an eighteen month track record of daily morning belly exercises. By now, both the man and I are so completely into the routine of waking up, drinking coffee, changing into sports clothes, showing furniture aside, doing bellies on the floor, preparing breakfast, showering, dressing, eating that it is more like brushing teeth than an exercise. It is just done. Success is only measured in doing it, not how well it was done or even if it felt good. Over 18 months, we have progressed from five minutes to ten minutes in a free training app  and adding personal exercises before and after. There is no space to skip rope in our apartment but I figured out a way and can now do over fifty hops in a row. Without breaking anything. Still working on the 100 hops'.

2019 will also be a continuation of our eighteen month long vegetarian eating. There has been meat eaten in the time, and the man eats more than I do, but it is more on a monthly basis than daily or even weekly. I try to eat fish once a week but probably don't and then mostly canned sardines or salmon anyway. The veggies have been an important part of reducing calorific intake to reduce my weight and to keep healthy intestines. As the man is struggling with his now, food has been an enormous issue for the last months. As we cook almost everything we eat from scratch, we pay attention to what we eat. We still wait for final test results although we know the problem isn't related to lactose, gluten, sugar, fibre or any additives or preservatives - which is good.

The health target for 2019 is to end it as it has started. On weight and running 30 min a few times a week. Mental strength will be my next training target and I will look around to see if I can find some training version that I like.
How do you prioritise health in 2019?

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


From a financial independence number of 35,81 on 1 January 2018 to a financial independence number one year later, today 1 January 2019, of 35,47 doesn't sound so bad, does it?

It is as if I have kept my assets at an even level, lived off my income and not saved anything.
But it is not so.
Instead I worked hard and saved lots of money by living cheaply and consciously and I have nothing to show for all that work.
It is also as if all previous years of savings and investments had stagnated instead of increasing during the year to a high of FI40,08 on 1 October.
Instead the last months of the year suddenly wiped out every increase in the uncertainty of the political and financial future. Financial markets - and me - like certainty.
Straw men and short sighted politicians are not predictable or reliable.

My last day of employment in the year (14 October) was also the last day of the financial increase. Retrospectively, I should have sold all financial instruments then and converted it into something else. But I didn't. No not angry, not bitter - just disappointed.
The positive aspect is also that I have assets whose value can be increased again.
I also do not own a house to pay through the nose for while property prices decrease nor a car that costs both to use and not use. There are many burdens of other, quite normal people that I don't have to worry about.
My student flat keeps or increases in value every year with the growth of the nearby university. The apartment where the man and I live on the other hand is rent controlled. Housing will be fine. I do not include the value of my flat in the calculation of my assets.

Food costs and taxes are increasing and the annual budget will be difficult to keep in the coming years. This is one of the reasons why I also do not include future pension payments or similar assets as their value cannot be estimated until they start paying out (and by then there might not be much left - or worth much.)

There is no doubt that financial concerns are on my mind, especially since I do not have any income any more and do not know if and how I would gain any under the current business climate. What I did professionally is one of the tasks that gets cut quickly but on the other hand, I also could just go and eat humble pie with my previous employer and have my old job back - or not (gughrrr - sudden nausea just hit me). There has to be another way than that!

On the other hand, I have a free university master degree to finish this coming year and the daily thesis writing makes me very happy. My new "title" is much more comforting than my previous one (although there is no hope of paid work in my "new" field.)

The man and I are also very happy together and that does count for a lot (a bloody miracle it is). The health concerns we are dealing with at the moment are manageable and although we would prefer them cured, they are not life threatening. We humbly accept that we have made choices a long long time ago that we are now reaping the benefits from - even if it means cabbage for dinner every day.

But seriously, dude, who stole five annual budgets from me since October?