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.
We had a lovely relaxed weekend on the south coast with friends and benefitted from their recent Masterchef addiction. We take it in turns to visit each other, and there has always been a good natured culinary rivalry, but I think we probably hit a ceiling with ‘marsala sauce split with parsley oil’ and caramel panna cotta with homemade gingerbread and apple gel. If I am going to avoid spending a solid week in the kitchen before their next visit, I think I may have to lower expectations slightly…..
Pandemic allowing, an old school friend and I always make an effort to meet up in Dec and on this occasion, the halfway point was Coventry. Not exactly an alluring destination, but this year saw the city hosting the Turner Prize exhibition, so we picked that as a meeting place. This year’s competition was contested by collectives for the first time, with the winner being a reconstruction of a traditional Irish pub, complete with screen playing folk songs and poetry recitation as well as an interpretation of standing stones outside. It’s always nice to do something a bit different, and when entry is free, what do you have to lose but a couple of hours?
I also managed to catch up with a couple of ex-colleagues this month. One of those meals was a bit of an eye opener for me in terms of demonstrating how different my lifestyle is from some. I arranged to meet in their local town and they suggested the restaurant. On arrival, at least 3 members of staff greeted my friend personally by name. I then discovered that this establishment has a loyalty scheme for kids, whereby you get a stamp on a card for every meal, and when the card is full (10 stamps), the child gets to choose a small soft toy. My friend has 2 kids and 27 of these soft toys!! I think I managed to hide my shock fairly well, but I sat there doing the mental arithmetic of how long it would take us to notch up 270 evening meals out anywhere, let alone in one restaurant, and came up with about 20 years. I thought it best not to share this calculation, as he seemed quite proud of his achievement.
I enjoyed my prawn and chorizo risotto, but I am confident I could make the same thing, to the same standard or better, at home. Once you factor in driving to the restaurant and parking, it would have been quicker at home too. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t begrudge spending the money to catch up with a friend; we had a lovely evening, but I can’t imagine eating out multiple times a week for no special reason. Am I tight-fisted or sensible? Perhaps a little of both? I will let you decide.
I will cover a round up of 2021separately, with my reflections on my first year not working full time, but for now, December’s numbers looked like this:
Freedom Fund Value: £1,208,710
Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £4,029
Actual monthly expenses: £2,443*
The freedom fund continues to climb and ended the year at another record high. The monthly income it would provide at a 4% standard withdrawal rate, broke £4k for the first time this month. Spending this month was about at the average for the year, with Christmas presents, increased groceries costs for festive food and drink and a couple of deposits for planned trips being the biggest costs.
We decided on a low key start to 2022, as we ‘got boosted’ on New Years Eve. As it turned out, the only side effect either of us suffered was a bit of a sore arm, so we popped open the bottle of Champagne we had chilling in the fridge (a Christmas gift). We started 2022 as I expect we will continue much of it – out for a walk. It was ridiculously warm for the time of year (11.5 deg C at midnight in Dec / Jan is pretty much unheard of) and we enjoyed listening to the church bells ringing and watching the free fireworks displays all around us.
I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, preferring to take action whatever the time of year, but I think it might be helpful to think about goals for the year. I hope you had a relaxing time over the holiday period, whatever and wherever you celebrate and whoever you spent it with. Bring on 2022!
*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.