Thursday, 31 December 2020

FI63,79 but not free

 2020 was an lovely year, if I squint with one eye and close the other.

Firmly focusing on the positives, I will look at some targets. 

Free time and travels: I sat at home from end of February for the rest of the year. From March on, I left my neighbourhood only on my bicycle (twice on train for essential visit to an authority). I like my home, my flatmate (aka the man, the partner), and my neighbourhood (Amsterdam centrum). We have room for an office and we have a balcony for gardening.

Working at home is fine for me and I thought it was an easy way to collect income. Then the bulldozer micro-manager was promoted to my manager and the workload tripled with halved production. The candle started burning at both ends and I got scorched. Enter sick leave. I left before I burned out, but it was still too late. I am well taken care of, but clearly burned out. My new daily task is to recover. It is a job in it self and does not happen without attention.

I work hard to recover but I will not even try returning to work. I will just calmly walk away from the flesh eating tigress while maintaining eye-contact. I will collect salary until the day I leave voluntarily.

Health and teeth: I have been healthy, except the three illnesses (one unknown flu, one sinuses infection and one burn damage). While firmly focusing on the positive, I will say that I am healthy. Daily walk, daily exercises, daily meditation and home cooked vegetarian food is in the agenda. I’m not sure if it would have been enough to go un-scorched through the pandamNic year, but it sure does help the general good lifestyle.

I did have one teeth cleaning appointment, I am still to have the annual dentist appointment. It is (currently) scheduled to be mid January 2021. It needs to happen. This is one of my spendings.

Clothes & shoes: I have worn the same three pairs of trousers the entire year, and perhaps five shirts. Over and over again, day in day out. With slippers. Add fleece jacket on colder days. Add blanket for colder evening. This has been my 2020-uniform. (Unless in sports clothes, pyjama or something I have sewed myself.) Very comfortable, very easy, very cheap.
In total I have spent €26 on clothes and €67 on shoes the entire year. All of it in the first half of the year. 

This has been a serious non-spend category this year, and most probably will not increase next year.

Food: The unexpected high-spending category of this year. Mostly because there has been no spend in any other category so everything has been bought in the food shops. The man and I have the bucket system to share costs (literally a bucket for receipts, added and divided when full, usually every two months.) This is not for personal spend, only costs for shared things but neither of us are entirely picky and he'll happily pay for my sweets and drink more than me of our wine.) It also includes what we eat out, coffee, beer, cleaning materials, household goods, renovation material etc. This has through out the year always been under 250€ per person per month.

Fixed costs: the top-spent category this year but so it should as it includes rent, energy, heating, insurances, internet, and all city taxes. The costs are calculated once a year and divided in two, who ever actually pays gets reimbursed at intermittent intervals. The cost for 2020 was lower than 2019 because of the new energy contract we signed in the beginning of this year. 2021 costs are not calculated yet, and although some costs actually announced to be lower, some others will probably go up. We will look for discounts but after that, pay and forget. This is the basic cost for living in Mokkum.

Gardening: There is no gardening post in our budget, but we decided early that this was a spend whatever for this year. This was instead of our vacation, travel and pleasures budgets. This year for our inner city 2x3 meter balcony, we bought soil, nutrients and seeds for some almost calculable money. Pots are usually provided by the trash gods. For next growing season, (weather it will be in 2021 or 2022), I have gathered seeds from all sorts of things we have grown or bought. I have also replanted anything that has sprouted from the different seeds buried by the Eurasian jay bird (Garrulus glandarius), commonly but incorrectly known as Vlaamse Gaai (nötskrika, nøtteskrikje, skovskade). So far hazel, oak and linden for my pretend forest). Much, much, much joy was brought by gardening this year.

 All other budget posts, have come in at zero or below half than expected for this year. Great savings this year. Next years budget is unchanged in the different posts. For 2021, I will however increase my total annual budget by fifteen percent or so (average rounded up). More about that tomorrow, when the new year begins.

The year ends in lock-down and self-isolation from people. Since 24 February 2020, I have been in the office four times and never a full day. I do not expect to go back ever, unless I need to hand in tools and access cards. 

I accept that. I have changed and the job has changed and we are no longer a match. 

After a unexpected, entirely undeserved but contractually regulated bonus payment received in December, I end 2020 with an Financial Independence number of 63,79. 

This means that my assets will last me almost 64 years until they run out, not including pension rights as they are outside of my control. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the cost increases will not exceed interests or dividends, and that forthcoming taxes will fit within the estimated annual budget. I have a life expectancy of maximum another 50 years, so I will adjust the annual budget for next year accordingly.

Annus horriblis is coming to an end today.
Annus mirabilis is hopefully coming in the next calendar year.
Stay safe, protect your eyes and laugh a little.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Fi62,05 Free

I’ve been running away from myself for twenty years, and it doesn’t work. What’s the good of making mistakes if you don’t use them?
                                                            Dorothy L Sayers, Gaudy night

The useful learnings from this months mistake are the following:

Buy a plunger (ontstopper, ventouse, vaskrensare).
The moment you have thought about it, you will need one immediately. Just get one, just do it. The need for the fix will be immediate and the regret will arrive shortly after that.

We should have bought one last week. Didn’t. Needed one last week, didn't have one. Instead did the trick with the hand (creating suction with the palm of the hand over the outlet in the grubby water). It worked. Buy one anyway. (At time of publishing, still have not bought one - due to the pandamnic.)

We are a bit bored but we are still making big plans for the future and with the future in sight, we are doing all chores at home that the house ever will need. We have for example cleaned all water locks on all sinks (2), toilets (1), shower drains (1) and washing machine outlets (1) in the house.
All are now cleaned.
Some are cleaned regularly, some has not been cleaned in (minimum) fourteen years.

Meditate, practice mindful attention to the present and get a good manager.

Haven't and haven't done that so the chest pain, arms without strength and the pricking of one’s thumbs, appeared again. It is now almost five years ago since the scary trip with the pling-plong taxi to the band-aid-house (aka trip to the cardiologist identifying tachycardia; I have lived with it since then.)
That incident, almost five years ago now, gave lessons. I immediately pressed pause at work and called in sick immediately and without regret. Huge support from company doctor, colleague and friend (although I am just another name on a long list of colleagues on sick leave). 

The medical situation is now managed. The job situation is of no real importance. 

Reduce your lifestyle before it gets reduced for you.

I could spend more time in the golden corporate cage but it would require a different manager.
I have a lot of attitude at work because of frugalism and I plan to leave when the sick leave is over.
(I write this with a huge smile.)

Some ten years ago, one of my high income friends (at the time earning at least double my own wage) asked for lemon in her tea while sitting in my sofa. Possibly expecting me to cut a slice from a biologically grown lemon for her cup, her comment when I handed her an envelope of lemon juice from a airline company was: “This is what you get from really rich people. Just as in my uncle’s house.”
And that is what it is like. 
Really rich people do not splurge. Only poor people indulge themselves.
Income irrelevant. 

Set targets that can be accomplished, dream big. Do not confuse the two. Repeat.

As with all ambitions and dreams the tactics is the same: Make a dream. Think big and specific. Break it down into pieces, break the pieces down in to smaller pieces, describe what you will do as specifically as possibly. All dreams disregard possibility or ability, just dream.
The forget about the whole thing and go on with your life.
When opportunities presents themselves, you will know what to do. 

If you want to become financially independent, tentatively set a date, and break down how much you need into pieces. Describe what you need to do to get there. (The lottery is not a way to get there.) Break down the tasks into smaller pieces and smaller dreams.
Do anything today for three minutes that will move you in the direction of that target.

Small things over ten years becomes a ridiculous amount

I have worked hard for thirty years. I have been saving hard for ten years. I will not live for more than another fifty at the most.
I made a career and lost my self.
I regained myself and lost my career.
I made some money and I have held on to it. 
I have gathered and saved.
The savings have passed several important thresholds: the lottery amount, the 'fuck-off money' amount, the 4% safe withdrawal rate amount, the Fat-FIRE amount and the oh crikey I have a lot of money amount. I am to old for ERE, but the assets are there.

My Financial Independence number is now over 60. This means that my financial assets will carry my annual costs for sixty years. The FI-number jump from last month is due to the first of the family drama inheritances having been paid out and to the surge of the financial markets where my assets are invested.
I have no debt, I own no property and I have not included any pension rights outside of my control. I live in my forever home. I have a life expectancy of about another forty years.

It is not about money, it is about time. Allan Roth 

The man I share my life with is also FI in his own right, working only when he likes the client.
We’ll be fine apart and together forever and ever - as long as we are healthy.

Actually, we are fully financially free and fork me backwards but I cannot believe it.
I know I repeat it every month but I still cannot believe it.
It is time to stop running and just walk through life at a slower pace.

We have set a date when I check out from work at the latest, and if need be before than that.

In the mean time... Cleaning pots and pans

I have rolled up my sleeves to do the scrubbing and cleaning of all stainless steel pans.

I have also deep-cleaned, sanded, scrubbed, oiled and resealed all cast iron pans: grandmother's frying pan, the fancy red Le Creuset pan, the round lidded Dutch oven given by the trash gods, the huge blue lidded turkey pan also given by the trash gods, and the Scandinavian plättjärn (traditional cast iron pan making six small Finnish, Swedish or Russian small pancakes, then called blini). 

They all went into the oven with a huge chunk of white fat. Although we eat vegetarian, I will only use the finest animal fat to seal my cast iron pans. 

I wish you all a happy solstice celebration; get (your version of) drunk and break all/some rules.
Then celebrate the return of the sun while recovering from the hangover.
Everything will get better from then on. 

Or not... You decide.

The old year is coming to an end and a new calendar year is awaiting.
Heavily medicated, but I am looking forward to it.