As the month progressed, August shaped up to be a good pressure test for whether the monthly income from our investments at a 4% withdrawal rate would hold up to an ‘expensive’ month. It seemed like every day there was a new expense, so I was wondering how it would balance out when I came to write this post. We have been comfortably within our hypothetical income from investments every month so far this year. So, how did we finish up…..?
Despite £807 in van related expenses 😲, a car service, MOT and road tax as well as the renewal of our home insurance, I was pleasantly surprised to see we were still comfortably in the black compared with what our freedom fund should provide if we were to start drawing on it. It helped that it was a low grocery spend month, and probably the fact that we have spent every spare moment working on the van project meant there wasn’t much time for social spending either.
It also helped that the freedom fund reached another record high this month, up £22,684 from last month.
Freedom Fund Value: £1,146,597
Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £3,822
Actual monthly expenses: £3,095*
As you can see from the image above, the veg garden is in full production, which helped lower the food bill, as sweetcorn, raspberries and plums joined the still plentiful french beans, courgettes, potatoes, tomatoes and salad available for harvest. The crop of plums this year was more than we could keep up with for the first time (young trees we planted 2 and 4 years ago respectively), so there is now a healthy stock in the freezer for crumbles in the winter as well. Corn on the cob from the garden is always a real treat. It takes up quite a lot of space in the garden for the yield it produces, but so worth it. From the moment it is picked, sugars start turning to starch, so if you can get it from plant to plate with butter in 15 mins, it tastes so much sweeter than anything that has been through a conventional supply chain.
As far as working and the semi-retirement experiment goes, August was made up of three working weeks and one non-working. I was ready for a rest after 4 consecutive weeks of working (cue tiny violin), and I was starting to feel the stress levels rising towards the end. It is interesting that when I was working full time, most of the time I wasn’t really consciously aware of this. It was just ‘the norm’. A background stress level that I only really recognised or acknowledged when I stopped for a holiday of a week or more. Although 10 days straight of DIY was exhausting, it was physical tiredness rather than mental fatigue. This feels a lot healthier, although I rarely wake up aching the morning after a long day on MS Teams!
As well as van conversion labouring, I did also make time to do a proper job of shopping around for home insurance this month. For the past 2 years, I have done a very quick search on a comparison site when the renewal letter came through, and then not bothered to make the change when the difference between the best price for like-for-like cover was only £20-£30 less than the automatic renewal. This year, that quick check highlighted a potential £180 saving which could not be ignored. After losing an afternoon to what seemed like endless online data entry and the selection (or deselection) of numerous optional extras, I ended up with a quote for better cover and a saving of £120. I was going to give my current provider the chance to match it, but after 3 attempts at trying to get through on the phone and having to wait more than 15 mins in a queue, I gave up, cancelled the auto renewal online and took out the new policy.
I now have just over a week of work before an extended break. For those of you interested in the camper project, I hope to make a few updates on progress on the dedicated page before the next monthly update. The last couple of months have been focussed on doing it rather than writing about it, so I have a bit of catching up to do.
*Includes £600 per month personal allowances (£300 each), which may not be spent in the month, but which is not tracked. Some of it may show up in the freedom fund in the future, if savings build up and are invested.