Spring flowers and……snow, obviously! I wasn’t sure which image to share this month, it has been such a contrast depending on which day you pick. I went for spring sunshine. A lot has changed in the last month, and not just 20 deg sunshine turning into 2 degrees and snow in the space of 2 days.
We have been watching a TV series called Sacred Scottish Islands on catch up. As well as helping us to generate a long list of remote islands that we want to visit, Ben Fogle (the presenter) introduced a concept that really resonated with me. The idea that in a busy world, it is easy to ‘abstain from life’, just by not intentionally engaging with it. It is a belief I share, but have struggled to articulate it as succinctly. If we aren’t careful, years can go by in a hectic blur of doing what everyone else does, or perhaps what other people expect of us. If we don’t make intentional decisions and act on them, we will just be carried along by the everyday, without really choosing it.
I was certainly guilty of this at the start of my career. I left university with a few goals, but achieved them much faster than I was expecting, leaving me being carried along on the tide of life until I started reading about something called FIRE. This bonkers idea of being able to retire considerably earlier than the traditional 65+, captured my imagination and gave me a whole new goal. So here we are, financially independent a bit sooner than we had originally been expecting, and determined not to abstain from life.
Having worked for 4 weeks in a row, I had 2 weeks not working at the end of March, and we decided to go for it and put the house on the market. It was time to kick off our next life adventure. We thought the market was still hot in our area, but we still weren’t quite prepared for the whirlwind that ensued. Of course, it all fell the same weekend we had agreed to dog sit an excitable springer spaniel for friends 🙄.
3 days after the house went live online, we accepted an asking price offer. So, now we are working through all the options open to us. We will most likely rent somewhere for a while, but we are even toying with the idea of combining sofa surfing, living in the van, travelling, and house/pet sitting for a while first. There is still plenty of time for it all to go wrong, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the almost non-existent chain will keep it relatively simple.
Dealing with ambiguity has never been one of my biggest strengths, but I am finding the experience more liberating than worrying so far. After all, what is the worst that can happen?
I find it hard to believe that the housing market in the UK can continue to apparently defy gravity for much longer, with rapidly rising costs of living and interest rates slowly creeping up. Even if we are wrong on that front, being chain-free cash buyers will put us in a very strong position when the time comes. We will be looking for a project next, but exactly what and where is still very much up for grabs.
While our attention has been absorbed in cleaning, tidying and house selling excitement, the freedom fund as quietly reached a new record high, helped by my bonus arriving in March’s salary. Although paid pro-rata for my 50% hours, it is still a welcome boost to the cash coffers, which now stand at nearly 3.5 years worth of living expenses in total. This also includes the proceeds from selling some shares from an employment equity award scheme before the end of the tax year in order to utilise my capital gains tax allowance for 2021-22.
Freedom Fund Value: £1,236,280
Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £4,121
Actual monthly expenses: £2,208*
Expenses this month were actually lower than I was expecting, as they include costs for replacing a blown double glazing unit as well as an Energy Performance Certificate before putting the house on the market, as well as payments for a number of upcoming trips. We also spent well above our average on meals and drinks out (keeping out from under the estate agents’ feet) as well as taking our first campervan trip of the year. That trip was only a long weekend, but the glorious weather gave me the opportunity to boost my step count considerably in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.
Miles walked so far this year: 489 (vs. target of 1748miles in 2022 – or the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats and back)
I expect our expenses to be a bit volatile this year with selling / moving costs as well as whatever storage / rent / travel costs are incurred when we decide what we want to do next. We will probably keep an increased pot of cash until this is a bit clearer and more settled. That said, in 3 or 4 months’ time we will have a very large chunk of cash to find a temporary home for!
When it’s not snowing, we are enjoying spring time in the garden. This year we have goldfinches as well as the normal robins and pigeons nesting in the garden, and I have seen a blue tit just start to go in and out of one of our nesting boxes. March also saw my favourite spring flowers – snakes head fritillaries – come out. I hope you are managing to get outdoors and enjoy seeing nature spring into life too.
*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.