I am rather late with the monthly update this month, as it coincided with part one of our big move: selling up and moving out. After a hectic couple of weeks packing up and moving our remaining belongings into a storage container, we took a week off to recover. After a relaxing week on a lovely campsite in the Norfolk Broads in our campervan (I can highly recommend Clippesby Hall if you fancy a trip out that way), we are feeling recovered and ready to enjoy a nomadic summer.
On 1st May 2021 I embarked on a fairly un-orthodox 50% working pattern (Semi-retirement at 43). As I write this, I have only 3 working days left before I leave the corporate world, so I think it is a good time to reflect on the past year and how part time employment has worked out for me on my FIRE journey.
Every month I look back through the photos on my phone and pick one to add to the post that reflects either the season or somewhere we’ve been / something we’ve done in the past month. This month, I couldn’t resist introducing you to a new friend I met out on a walk. I hope it made you smile 🙂
I am pretty much back to the normal schedule this month, as we put travels on hold for a while to focus on preparing for our house move. The last couple of weeks have mostly been about decluttering and selling anything we are not attached to. We’ve been wandering round the house asking ourselves two questions of each item:
I am writing this somewhat later than normal this month, quite simply because I have been spending far too much time travelling and enjoying myself! As we always gravitate towards rural locations with more animals than humans, connectivity can be an issue. In fact, for us disconnecting is part of the point. We even spent a week in a favourite corner of the Isle of Skye, where we had no WiFi, no TV signal and not even a phone signal without hiking up a large hill.
Spring flowers and……snow, obviously! I wasn’t sure which image to share this month, it has been such a contrast depending on which day you pick. I went for spring sunshine. A lot has changed in the last month, and not just 20 deg sunshine turning into 2 degrees and snow in the space of 2 days.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, enough of the functional build was done to start making the project look more like a camper than a builder’s van. We decided on painted wooden cladding for the majority of the internal cosmetic finish, with grey 3 way stretch carpet for awkward areas (including doors). We started with the carpeting on the doors and around door openings, so the cladding would overlap it when finished.
February was a bit m’eh for me. I spent more of it working than not, so that may be a contributing factor to it being a bit of a non-event. We spent most of our time off de-cluttering the house and completing a few jobs, as we decided to get the house valued. The first step to pressing the go button on our rural living plan. The good news is, it seems 3 agents all agree that our house is worth more than we thought.
January has a bad reputation. I accept that starting and finishing work in the dark can become a little depressing, but I can’t help think the media make it a whole lot worse. There were some beautiful days last month, and I was feeling very positive, so the constant bombardment of negative messages really stood out. Who ever invented ‘blue Monday’ has a lot to answer for. If you weren’t feeling down on that day, you started to question if you should be, with all the media attention. My employer even did a raffle to cheer people up, but the verbiage that came with the communication was very negative – telling people how down everyone must be feeling and why we shouldn’t worry, because “the month was nearly over”. Positive mental attitude is somewhat of a cliché, and definitely one of those over-used corporate mumbo jumbo type of phrases, but there is definitely something in it.
As far as the numbers go, 2021 was a productive year, so let’s deal with the data first.
The freedom fund grew by 22% or £221,482 during the year. I know this is not a sustainable growth rate long term, but I’m happy to enjoy it while it lasts. I haven’t calculated exactly, but less than £30k of this came from new contributions. The first 4 months of the year I worked full time, and continued to save around 50% of my salary, and all of my bonus. Since May, my reduced salary has covered our expenses, but not allowed for much in the way of additional accumulation. My occupational pension continues, albeit at a reduced level.
Income is just one side of the FIRE equation, the other side is outgoings, so how did our spending compare with previous years?
December marked 2 years since we first hit our number. After sharp drop at the beginning of 2020, the value of the freedom fund has soared since then, with very few additional contributions from us. Once you reach a healthy value, compounding truly is a magical thing.
The end of the year is a time I often catch up with people I haven’t seen for a while, and this year was no exception.