Monday, 1 June 2020

FI47,28 and safe-ish

For the first day of June 2020, my financial independence number is 47,28 and for the fist day of May it was 45,82. It is bad, but has been worse and is a lot and I am still FIRE and fine.
The number means that the financial assets are currently available for the next 47 years, as long as I stay in my current budget, unless anything unexpected happens, the costs stay in line with the compensation of the dividends and interests gained by the financial assets. Which they of course will not.
So I hold on to my cheap life style, my cheap living accommodations, my free hobbies and my man. It is good and it can stay good for a long time. I still hold my job as it is currently fine. A new manager is coming (again! third in 11 months) but this one I think I actually look forward to.

Amsterdam is has been in intelligent lock-down since mid March, I have been at home since late February. We have been in quarantine twice for fourteen days in that period. The people around us and Amsterdammers in general have been relatively intelligent about the lock-down and the rules about social distancing. Of course it helps that we are allowed out daily together, and in shops on our own. The curve has come down, the exposure to the virus is reduced and we have all learned new routines. The new normal is starting to become normal. At least people over thirty seem to behave (relatively) sane and intelligent.

Between colds, we are still running (early in the mornings), cycling in the weekends (early in the morning and staying away from the pretty places).
My work is quite intense, and I work harder and longer than before. In between, the man and I grow our balcony full of eatable plants, sew clothes from the existing fabric in the house, deep clean the house and continue to go through our belongings. I have only gained four kilos through reduced movement and comfort eating. I also have volunteered to teach my home language on-line and the man manages his family computers and electronic needs at a distance.

Physically, we are relatively safe and doing fine. Mentally it varies between days. 
I am not bored, I can keep doing this for a long time, but I do notice that our bubble is closing in on us and we are becoming unsocial. We will need re-assimilation and social training soon.

I try to focus on now, here, the benefits to come. For example, that Amsterdam will not be over-run by cheap tourists again. We are taking our city back, moving out on the side walks, closing the crap shops selling souvenirs, kicking illegal or over priced subletting to tourists out, and instead providing housing for the people who live and work here. You all will be guests in the future, and will be expected to act as it.
I hope.

I enjoy that is nice to sleep with the windows open with no drunken screaming on the streets (only tourists, the Dutch do not sing on the streets). It is so nice to not hear the constant sound of roller-bags over the cobble stones (only tourists, the Dutch have bicycles and bicycle bags).
It is so nice to hear all the different languages on the street and know that it is because we are already an mixed society with people coming from all over the world.

There are benefits, although even a incurable optimist like me will have to look hard sometimes.
Stay safe, keep breathing, wash your hands.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

FI42 and physically safe

Safe, content and out of risk.

This is basically the only thing relevant these days.

I have been working from home since early February, with colleagues in China in quarantine since the beginning of the year and I am looking be at home until at least beginning of June; at least.
I work full time, more than full-time, and all on-line systems work fine. I still have my job but have no illusions about any future work security. Work for the man is drying up. I'll just continue to do and plan to do my job until they stop paying me.
Thank heavens I like my job, where I live and who I live with (and I am reminding myself how happy I am to not living with some other people).

My bean, pea and tomato plants are doing very well, and wait for the weather to become warmer until they can go live on the balcony. A few paprika and a few kale are coming too. This year I have been able to care for them daily, almost hourly and finally managed to grow plants from seeds. The man focuses on different salads, thyme, basil, parsley and other herbs.

We have food in the cupboards, and the shops are full of food. Being a bit of a ´prepper´ has really paid off this year (as well as last time some years ago when the distribution chain for the supermarkets fell through). It is simpler for us than for most as we don't eat meat. Dried, canned, packaged and fresh root vegetables can be stored a longer time as the fat content is lower. Some bottles of different liquid fats, oils or butter stores a long time. We already had this at home together with a few cans of sardines for if the food cravings develop and the animal concerns decrease. We do one visit to our local shop but only once a week and trying to support this family owned store rather than a supermarket chain.

The man and I try to focus our in-house life more on doing things, rather than just watching and reading. Gardening, cooking, cleaning and de-cluttering get more attention than otherwise, but also starting up projects involving sewing (we are each making a pair of trousers), acting out theatre plays together, dancing, and making hiking plans. We talk about learning languages, drawing, writing stories, and other ambitious projects but it does not happen, so it just remains an ambition.

Health is fine; morning exercises, rope skipping and shadow boxing are still a normal part of the morning routine. I work on keeping the immune systems active (cold showers, garlic, healthy eating, sleeping well and anything that does not cost money). We are still allowed outside for individual activities in the near area so we both go running early in the morning a few times a week. Not far, not together and staying away from all other people. We will still be fat and unfit when we are released, but hey ho... Alive is the target, healthy is the ambition, fit is just something to dream about.

Friends and family are all in-house, behaving badly, but at least without contact with others. (Being from the Scandi countries, most family and friends have very little physical contact in their normal daily life anyway, no social kissing, very little hugging and strangers and acquaintances are kept at distance.)

The financial situation is disastrous in monetary specifics, but without concern in specifics of financial independence. The financial independence number is still sufficient for a 4% withdrawal rate to cover my personal annual budget as it is current. Beginning of February gave the financial independence number (total assets divided by annual budget) of 50,15 years, beginning of March 47,39 years and now beginning of April 42,82 (equivalent to September 2019, and the value of an apartment later).

So all is crap, but could be worse, and is much worse for some of you and many others,

          I try to focus on everything, anything still good. Anything. 


Saturday, 8 February 2020

China

I continue to break our kitchen porcelain.

One of the two smallest side plates (assiettes) recently went to pieces during dish washing. Unfortunately it was not the one that already had a chip and lived on borrowed time. It was the good one. There is a high chance that we will have no small side plates after the kitchen clean out I do now.

I have a very high resistance to disgusting but chipped china is not acceptable for food preparation. We'll hang on to it for another month or so. The entire family is coming for the annual party and we will need all plates available then. We don't use them very often and really do not need to replace it. If we're lucky, somebody will break it for us.

I recently also found a large crack in one of the largest coffee glasses.
I did not do it! (At least not that I am aware of). It has not officially yet been classified as broken but it is definitely on its way out. I still did not do it! However, it is not a major problem as the trash gods recently gave me a very nice double walled tea glass in glass.

The man however crushed one of our beloved porridge plates the other day. While doing dishes he dropped something less cared for, on top of it. The dropped item did not break but the porridge bowl did. Now we are down to four porridge bowls out of the six we bought some four years ago cheaply in a restaurant outlet wholesaler. This is the longest time we've had bowls surviving in our kitchen. We can live with four and do not need to replace anything yet.

Sadly, one of the a dinner eating bowls is showing wear and tear. It is not yet actually chipped or cracked but there are clear signs of distress. Strangely, because the other identical one has no wear at all and we always use both. It doesn't matter. They were gifted to the man at least fifteen years ago - possibly even included in another purchase - and has well earned their existence. We started thinking about how we could replace them since we use them all the time. Then we started measuring how much food each bowl actually held and compared it to the breakfast bowls (half size) and the enormous restaurant styled dinner plate-like bowls we never use thinking them way to big (same size). So we'll just use what we have until and also after the beloved dinner bowls break.

We still have five normal sized dinner plates (all white but three different versions) and if needed, four fancy gargantuan sized restaurant styled dinner plates that we only use for pancakes (portion control stats with the size of the plate, you know). It could look like need but it really isn’t, not even really a want.

If the china breaking isn't going to increase, there is nothing we need in the kitchen this year.
But that is not a promise.

While my colleagues in China and all over Asia are either quarantined or with no production going, and we all being perfectly safe, I clean the kitchen and wash my hands.

At the beginning of the month, my financial independence number was (in years) 50,15 (plus 2,6 in my new currency). Even with a possible financial market decrease, I start out very safe and I have a pantry stocked with at least two weeks worth of dry and canned food that is not needed anymore.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Second step

Yesterday, I had a stern talking with myself. It made me sound quite angry, but I was disappointed with myself because I have become sloppy with my ambitions since I went back to work.
It is time to shape up!

If you have taken the first step to save and live frugally, these are the second steps.

Quit indulging yourself, you can live in the real world.
You are not a hothouse flower. If you already live in the real world, announce it proudly. There is no pride in being sensitive, difficult and particular about pointless things.

- cancel media subscriptions, cable, gaming, all except basic Internet, data and phone.
If you live in an underdeveloped Internet country and you have only one provider, lower your expectations and support competition and anti-monopoly. (I am looking at the US, not Nigeria.)

- turn the lights off when you walk out of a room. Teach yourself, train yourself, it is worth it financially and if you can’t change enough to do this, keep dreaming financial stability and forget financial independence.

- turn your heating down, keep non-used rooms cold, close doors, don’t buy an open floor plan house in difficult climates needing too much energy to heat or cool. Move around if you feel cold. Then put socks, slippers and a sweater on. Shorts is not indoor clothing in the winter for frugalists aiming for financial independence.

- stop shop. If you need anything and continue to need it a week to a month after you put it on your need list (or a year depending on you own rules) then you can start looking for it. I intend to wait at least week with purchases up to €10, I do wait a month if up to €50 and for anything above, unlimited waiting until the want becomes a need.

- buy smallest, cheapest and used. For a new fridge your need is less than you think. The smallest is the only choice if eating out. Used is everything, especially furniture, bikes, cars, clothing. If clothes does not survive one owner, then it will not survive you either.

- Buy cheap wine and basic food. You can’t tell the difference anyway and you may not like expensive wines enough to make the price worth it. Put your own effort into the food, instead of paying for fat and salt. It is tacky to leave the price tag on you shopping so nobody will know what you paid anyway. If your friends do know, and you care about them knowing, you should forget the dream about financial independence on you own. As long as you live in the eyes of others, you will stay spending on conventional levels.

- establish a neighbourhood; live, work, train, interact and use the social services in the same place. Make the distances as short as possible between your fixed points in life. Travel is an occasion, a rare adventure, it is not for work. Stay and make connections in your surroundings. It will make your work independence so much easier.

- drink water, eat more veg and beans than meat and cook most of it yourself. If you don’t trust yourself to boil an egg, find training, and a change of attitude to allow yourself to try. Allow yourself to eat all cake and biscuits (cookies) you have made yourself.

There is no social pride in being incompetent with everyday task. 
Learn to sew, fix a puncture on the bike, take care of a car, find the way by reading a map and knowing more than one language, at least at base level.

- identical socks are a time-, concern- and money-saver. Start with 20 pairs of identical socks. Replace when you have less than a weeks worth left. Same with underwear. Even if you do not need to pair underwear and bras, eliminating the need to chose will make you day easier.

- care for the clothes you own, use them until they are unrepairable. If you have more than you need, stash the best away until later, until the current is worn out. Keep it unused until what you use is unrepairable. You do not buy anything then, you will have free clothes available. Keep your weight. Don't bother about style. Stay healthy. Drink tap-water if safe. Use sun-cream every day.

These are not the truths anybody else need to agree with me about.
I want to agree with me and stop fooling myself.
You can argue with yourself and make your own agreement.

I do however know that I, as well as you,
we need a lot less than we think and we already have a lot more than we think.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2020


This year starts with ambitions and dreams.
The targets are
Health,
Intellectual Pursuits (used to be called Studies, now also includes Work),
Economy,
Pleasures,
Home (including Friends&Family)

Health
The daily activity targets continue with the 10 minutes belly exercises (in my case combined with rope skipping, push ups and yoga/tai chi stretching) and recently also working on adding ten minutes of meditation to it when there is time. The daily activity also includes a daily walk, sometimes combined with grocery shopping, sometimes with trash searching and sometimes only used to walkie-talkie about the events of the day. Twenty to forty minutes and because we live in inner city Amsterdam, there is always something new to discover, something odd to see, some adventure to be had.

The daily three minute jobs are not a daily occurrence but a common expression to combat stagnation, restlessness and is used to make oneself feel good and in control.
It is not the big jobs that create a sense of control. It is those really tiny jobs that does not take three minutes usually. They still take months to get around to. Dusting the ventilation grill. Painting the last strip of the wall. Nailing up the skirting board that fell off. Mending a sock. Fastening a button before it falls off. Dusting a book shelf (the one). Wiping a window sill. Picking up the scissors and moving them to their real place to be. You know, those little things.

The target includes sub-targets for weight, food, exercise, teeth, health concerns and the ambition to use sun cream every day without fail.

Intellectual pursuits
For 2020 the ambition is to concentrate on my favourite things to do. Breathing, thinking and doing nothing. Perhaps being active in creating activities such as baking, knitting, gardening - entirely without ambitions for results of course.

I still dream about finishing my thesis for a Master in History, but the ambitions fluctuate on a scale between just doing it to get it done and doing to do it well for eternal fame and fortune. Doing it well always wins, and also means I do nothing about it (beyond daydreaming and gathering quotes).

The target includes sub-targets for work, work training and personal training through free on-line courses. This target is dangerously close to my Pleasure target.

Economy
I have a financial independence number of 50, meaning current assets will last 50 years with the current budgeted costs. It does not include pension rights which will start paying out at a level of a (current) monthly need in fourteen years. I also have two years and very limited pension rights in my new country. Even I consider that enough financial security for when I need to start living off it. For the coming year, I continue to calculate my Financial Independence number on the first of every month, but I will not focus on it. I also own nothing, no car, property, furniture or valuables.

I have a job currently. It pays handsomely and mostly contributing to the other targets. It pays current costs and adds to assets above. When it ends, if it ends, or when I want it to end, the assets will have grown a bit. Until then it is important the annual spending has not grown with it. No extra frivolities!
The job costs me extra in clothes however, but I try to keep it as low as possible by only buying clothes for work once a year. I have managed to keep a running tab on all money spent on clothes this year.
The target has sub-targets for accumulated assets at specific times during the coming year, as well as an entire annual budget calculation with all fixed and flexible costs budgeted together with the man.

Pleasures
The pleasure target is simple, breathing, thinking and doing nothing. More difficult to do well than one may think.
The target also includes running, cycling, hiking and going to see interesting things. The budget includes a weekend away per month. We use the budget to go somewhere special for a few days a year and then hike or cycle and camp as much as possible in the country (still so much to see). Last year we went to Antwerp for a weekend and to Paris for three nights, providing us with plenty of new experiences to pursue from the comfort of our home for months. We go to Madrid for three nights in February and already read everything we can get our hands on about it. (Both returning for the first time together so very specific about what to do and experience.)

Home
I have a home with the man and I am properly, legally registered and on the lease and everything. I do not own any property this year and I have taken it harder than expected to not have a "base". It is only a mental thing, but I need to work on this.

Friends &Family will also need work this year. Family is no less complicated than last year. There has been no improvement but possibly an acceptance that my family should be kept as far away as possible. The man's family is lovely but possibly also because they are already kept at a distance. The age of our respective mother's are causing concern, but only one wants to be cared for. As said, complicated.
The ambition for friends is double this year. Continuing to keep regular connection with lovely friends now around the world continues to be a target with sub-targets to ensure specific people are connected with at regular intervals. Trying to find more lovely people in my new country is the new ambition. 

That is 2020. It will of course change during the year. Some plans will change because they always will, others because they will have to. Trying to be flexible, trying to own as few physical belongings as possible to stay light and trying to be as mentally and intellectually filled up as possible.


Do you define ambitions for the coming calendar year?

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

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

Dream


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

FI48,7+2,15

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.