Finding Enough

The journey to financial independence and a world of choices

Spring!

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.

The not so good news is that many estate agents live up to their stereotype. As I was in the office for a few days, I only met one of them, but he turned up in an electric blue range rover with a vanity plate spelling his first name, and you could smell his aftershave in the house for several hours after he left. Mr W had the full benefit of over 4hrs of sales pitch between them.

I think we had some of every type of weather except snow last month, but I managed to keep the walking up, partly helped by all the running around gardening, tidying and decorating! Storm Eunice didn’t help, by adding fence repairs to the seemingly endless to-do list of jobs. I also had to spend about 30mins on the shed roof in gale force winds, when the felt that we had only replaced a few months ago, started lifting at the edge. A liberal application of staples and a few small paving slabs later, and it withstood the storm and the second one that followed immediately after.

All the walking helped my first monthly metric look healthy, which is just as well, as I realised that when I originally looked up the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats to set my walking target for the year, it was the distance as the crow flies (including crossing parts of the Irish sea). The true shortest overland route is 874miles, so I have decided to stretch the goal a little. There and back would be 1748 miles, so I have a little catching up to do.

Miles walked in Feb: 146, making 277 so far this year (target of 1206 1748 in 2022)

February was not a good month for the freedom fund, but I am feeling fine about the drop. Time will tell if that continues to be the case. I think we have built enough buffers into our plan to ride out most things, but who knows what the future holds?

Our spending is still well within the 4% safe withdrawal rate if we were to start spending from investments. This fall has started me thinking about how we would balance withdrawing from investments with spending from our 2 years worth of cash. When we are ‘retired’, what would the trigger be to start spending from cash rather than drawing down from investments? We have always said we want this cash buffer to reduce the need to sell investments in a ‘market downturn’, but what does that mean practically? x% drop from the value at the point we retire, or a drop below our initial target number, or something else? I don’t know the answer yet, but I think it would be a good idea to set the rules before we need to make the choice.

Freedom Fund Value: £1,174,885

Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £3,916

Actual monthly expenses: £1,564*

Spending in Feb was pretty low, helped by being the second month of no council tax direct debit (they’ll start again at the increased rate next month). Our energy direct debit will also increase from £155 to £205 next month. This is up from £102 at the end of last year. I’ll keep a close eye on it, to make sure we’re not running too far in credit during the summer months, but I fear this level of payment is here to stay.

Even though I was working for much of the month, I still managed to catch quite a few sunsets, helped by the fact they are getting later 🙂 There are some beautiful colours to be seen if you take the time……..

February sunsets carried on being just as colourful as Jan

*Includes £500 per month personal allowances (£250 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.

3 thoughts on “Financial Independence + 26 months, February Update

  1. ryangibsonclever says:

    Another fantastic update.
    Your progress is outstanding and it’s exciting how comfortably you live despite having such a nest egg. The beauty of your life (IMO) is how you have happiness with the simplicity and freedom; namely an outdoor lifestyle.
    One thing I am missing however is you seem very much ‘away’ in terms of runway. Unless the new home build and rural living is going to increase your expenses massively then I think you’re home and dry. I assume you may make some money on your current property also?
    You’re in a fantastic position and given you are so far below the SWR (and additional savings) + still working I genuinely think you have created a lifestyle of longevity and fulfilment. I applaud you for your simplicity 🙂

    Like

    1. I agree that financially we should be ‘away’ and it is finally starting to feel that way. For us the harder part has been the mental transition away from the ‘norm’. One of the main reasons I started this blog was that not so many people talk about the mindset transition from full time demanding career to ‘retired’ (what ever that means for you), and what happens next. I can honestly say that we have never felt that we are restricting ourselves, as most of what really makes us happy isn’t costly. It did take time for us to realise that though. A quote that always appeals to me is from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia – “He who dies with the least toys wins, because the more you know, the less you need.”

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  2. Al Cam says:

    Re: spending from a cash buffer – I think it would be prudent to at least outline some “rules” in advance. Like all good plans, you should expect the “rules” to be finessed /revised as things develop. You may be able to cull some ideas from this popular series of US posts, https://www.theretirementmanifesto.com/revisiting-our-drawdown-strategy-after-3-years-of-retirement/

    Liked by 1 person

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