Finding Enough

The journey to financial independence and a world of choices

Snowdrops in the garden – a hardy but hopeful plant

We hit our magic number in Dec 2019, Mr.W took voluntary redundancy from his office job shortly afterwards and set about building a small business, allowing him to choose his own hours and take on as much or as little work as he wants. I am currently still working full time.

It’s now just over a year since we hit our number for the first time (and watched it leak away 3 months later at the start of the pandemic before recovering again last summer). Having hit the double comma milestone for the first time last month, the value of our freedom fund is slightly up again this month.

January in numbers:

Freedom Fund Value: £1,007,357

Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £3,357

Actual monthly expenses: £1,835

January was a fairly low spend month despite another vets bill (they certainly know how to charge). Beyond that there wasn’t too much out of the ordinary, as the next stage of the van project is having to wait a few weeks. The next job is to fit the rooflights, but the adhesive / sealant we need to use doesn’t go off at all below 5 deg C and the manufacturer recommends an ambient temperature of 10 deg or above. We’re a little way off that in the UK at the moment.

Taking part in a virtual audience recording

The highlight of an uneventful January was probably getting tickets to be part of the virtual audience for a BBC live recording. I have been applying since last June, and we finally got lucky in the draw for the Radio 4 News Quiz, a satirical comedy show based on the week’s events. It was strange seeing the panellists in their bedrooms and living rooms (and in one case a large cupboard!) with one also joining from Australia at 3am, but it made me log off from work early and was a refreshing change in routine. We had to wear headphones to avoid feedback, so the dog was baffled by the laughing and clapping at nothing.

With the 3rd national lockdown in the UK now into it’s 4th week, I have recognised that I have a natural tendency to focus on the positive in a situation, and this is not something everyone has. I had never really considered this before, but it is definitely a beneficial trait in current circumstances. I have friends and colleagues who can only see seemingly endless COVID restrictions, coupled with short days and miserable weather, and that is starting to take its toll. I would rather look at all the jobs I can get done indoors and listen to the birds and look at the snowdrops in the garden rather than focus on the leafless trees and patches of bare earth waiting for dormant plants to wake in the spring. I enjoy getting results and derive satisfaction from seeing progress towards goals, even if they are small ones. The way to make progress is to focus on what is in my control and minimise the amount of mental energy expended on what it outside of my control. This is second part is something that took me a while to master. In the past (especially at work) I have had a tendency to feel accountable for things which are ultimately someone else’s responsibility and not in my direct control. I remember a bit of a lightbulb moment when someone pointed this out to me, and I think that this has carried over to life outside of work too. I may be fortunate in having an advantageous chemical balance in my brain to start with, but part of the equation for me is definitely a choice, to look on the bright side…..I can just hear Eric Idle whistling now…..

This mindset has helped me achieve financial freedom, as I have not paid too much attention to what the market is doing and just focussed on what I could control – maintaining a healthy saving rate and investing in low cost index trackers regularly. This in turn has allowed us to reach our financial goal and plan a transition to a different lifestyle and very different work life balance, and I am looking forward to starting on the next part of my journey in the spring.

I can’t control the lockdown laws or the weather, but I can control how I respond to it. I will continue to focus on the positives, as that makes me happier. Getting outdoors makes me happier, and my philosophy has always been that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

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