November brought a new record for the freedom fund, and the anniversary of Mr W finishing his last office job. All our accounts have soared to new highs with my S&S ISA topping £200k for the first time. I am expecting a choppy ride ahead, but I’m happy to enjoy it while it lasts. Despite spending nearly £700 on materials for the van conversion this month, our spend remained below £2,500 and well below what a 4% SWR would give us as passive income.
Freedom Fund value – £987,228
Hypothetical monthly income @ 4% SWR – £3,291
Actual Monthly Expenses – £2,435
At the start of the year, our plan for 2020 was to set ourselves up to move from accumulation to withdrawal. We wanted to increase our cash holding from 12 months of expenses to 24 months of expenses to prevent being forced to sell in a significant downturn, and we also wanted to simplify our portfolio to reduce the overall number of holdings. We have always been well diversified, but over time, individual holdings have evolved on an ad hoc basis. We weren’t diligent about maintaining a target diversification or really thinking about the mechanics of making withdrawals. The cash goal was achieved in the summer and we are slowly rebalancing to simplify our holdings over time. As we have now decided to take a phased approach to the ‘RE’ (retire early) part of FIRE, neither of these goals are particularly urgent, but it is comforting to know that if all our income were to suddenly disappear we would be all set to go.
As the title of this blog would suggest, we don’t have a clear idea of exactly what a meaningful and fulfilling life looks like. In fact, I am pretty sure that our ‘enough’ will change over time. What we are sure of is that we didn’t have enough time outside of work to fit in everything we wanted to do, so the first step was making time. Mr W took the first step a year ago by taking voluntary redundancy from a full time office role to set up a more hands on small business. The intention was that he would earn a little income, but more importantly he would be able to make his own hours and have the freedom to take a week or 4 off whenever he liked. Fast forward to March and the pandemic rather slowed his progress, just as he was getting started, but this is now starting to work out nicely. The income he generated in year 1 was earmarked to pay for the van conversion, and this is working out quite well considering the only advertising for the business has been in a local farm shop and post office window. I think it is safe to say there is local demand.
This leaves me still working far too much to be able to take advantage of Mr. W’s new found free time, even if I am working from home most of the time. It has been comforting with so much enforced change and volatility in 2020 to have a stable monthly income, but as we are now well and truly into the ‘new normal’, it is time for me to work less too. I have some exciting news to share on that front very shortly, so watch this space……..
As well as making a start on insulating the van, I decided to make time this month for a little creativity and spend a wet Saturday making lino print Christmas cards. I have had the pre-folded blank cards in a drawer for several years and my mother in law gave me a lino print kit a couple of years ago for Christmas. I really enjoyed my arty afternoon and am quite pleased with the result – apart from the one I managed to print upside down – d’oh. Maybe it will be worth a fortune one day like rare stamps that are mis-printed the wrong way up 🙂