Finding Enough

The journey to financial independence and a world of choices

We have chosen to convert an H1 (low roof) van to ensure we have access to all the places we might want to go in it – from carparks to small country lanes etc . This means that there is not a lot of height to play with inside the van and we want to maintain as much of that height as possible during the conversion. This also means that a lot of thought has gone in to how best to insulate and fit the floor and ceiling.

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Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, UK

My first full month of semi retirement went by incredibly quickly, despite only half of it being spent working. It is far too early to tell how this version of semi-retirement will work for me, as right now it just feels like I’ve had a 2 week holiday, with the month being divided with the first 2 weeks working and the second two being ‘non-working’ weeks. The first of those non-working weeks was spent in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, and it did feel great to get outside of a 30 minute radius of home for the first time in months. We even ventured out to a local pub for dinner for the first time since last October.

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Cowslips in a local meadow in April

What is likely to be my last month of full time work ever, went by in a flash. It doesn’t really seem real yet – especially as I will be starting May with 2 weeks full time in the office!

I have agreed a schedule of working weeks with my boss which totals half of the remaining year and allows me to take up to 4 ‘non-working’ weeks in one go. This schedule has me working more during key periods for the business, and working less during less busy periods (at least that’s the theory). I expect there will be some swapping of weeks by mutual agreement as the year progresses, but it is a good place to start.

Semi-retirement at 43 is a pretty big milestone in my life, and the numbers are looking similarly momentous this month. I have no idea how long this upward trajectory can sustain, but we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

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Tomato & chilli seedlings

I can’t believe we’re a quarter of the way through 2021 already! The new growing season is upon us in the UK, and just the same as every year, I am a bit behind were I wanted to be. I have enjoyed growing my own vegetables since I was very young, ‘helping’ my Dad plant crops in the garden. I suspect my ‘help’ slowed proceedings rather than making a meaningful contribution, but it sparked an interest that has stayed with me (and I suspect improved my parents’ chances of getting me to eat said vegetables).

I have managed to get my potatoes planted and have sown tomatoes and chillis, which are currently enjoying the sunshine on the kitchen windowsill until it is warm enough for them to go into the greenhouse.

So, with plants growing well this month – what about the money tree a.k.a the Freedom Fund?

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Money is a tool, not a goal. For the last 5 years or so it has felt a lot like a goal, so when the goal was achieved, it took a while to figure out the next step. Mr W has made significant changes over the last year in moving from a full time office job to starting a small business and being able to choose his own hours. Now it is my turn.

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I don’t want to jinx it, but it really feels like spring is on the way. The daffodils are coming out and the UK government are starting to make positive noises about releasing lockdown restrictions. From the freezing conditions and snow at the start of the month, the last couple of weeks have brought a bit of sunshine and a much more cheerful mindset. My work life balance definitely moved in the wrong direction this month, but the recruitment activity which is going to allow me to work less is going very well. I hope to be able to define the timeline for a more work-optional lifestyle in the next couple of weeks.

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As I work out what the RE part of FIRE looks like for me, I have been thinking about the journey to get here and the decisions I made to put me in the position I am now in. The more I think about it, the more I believe that a few early decisions really laid the foundations for what I was able to do later.

I discovered the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early) in 2014, but that is only part of the story. I was not starting from zero, or worse, from a position of debt, I was building on solid financial decisions. So what were those decisions and what did my journey look like? I suppose the story starts 19 years before we reached our magic number:

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