I am writing this somewhat later than normal this month, quite simply because I have been spending far too much time travelling and enjoying myself! As we always gravitate towards rural locations with more animals than humans, connectivity can be an issue. In fact, for us disconnecting is part of the point. We even spent a week in a favourite corner of the Isle of Skye, where we had no WiFi, no TV signal and not even a phone signal without hiking up a large hill.
The image at the top of this post was a small sign we found on the windowsill of this cabin, looking out onto the shore of a sea loch. If you are lucky enough to be too young to recognise the reference, it’s worth a google – you will discover a classic, which I think should be part of everyone’s film education.
With a view like this, we weren’t that interested in staring at a screen anyway. The changing light and visiting seals, otters and numerous sea birds, gave us plenty to watch when we weren’t out exploring. That is without mentioning the tiny lambs wandering around right outside the cabin, that were turned out for the first time halfway through our stay.
We did hike up the aforementioned large hill on 1st May; enjoyed the fine view, a flask of tea and made a note of the values of each of the accounts that make up the freedom fund – I just didn’t do anything with that data until now 🙂
Freedom Fund Value: £1,237,867
Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £4,126
Actual monthly expenses: £2,822*
Expenses were up this month, mainly due to travel related spending, but we also had to replace the front springs on the car before driving all the way to the highlands and the hike in energy direct debit that pretty much everyone is experiencing. We also paid our first legal costs relating to the house sale.
The sale is proceeding without complication so far, but our solicitors have not heard anything from the buyers’ solicitors for a while. Fingers crossed, this all falls in the general category of ‘legal delays’ rather than anything problematic. The bigger news is perhaps that I have handed in my notice at work. After 1st July, I will be officially retired, whatever that really means. Maybe it would be more accurate to say: after the 1st July, work will relate to passion projects only.
Even though I formally resigned 4 weeks ago, it still isn’t common knowledge in the business, which is feeling a little awkward at times. I think my boss wants to have a succession plan in place before announcing it, and while I have presented some options, I have no visibility of any developments. That said, I have been out of the office for 2.5 of the last 4 weeks.
In preparation for my last day of regular paid work (probably), I have been planning the liquidation of my employee equity scheme. I have been lucky enough to do very well out of this over the last 7 years, so making this process as tax efficient as possible will make a big difference to the resulting proceeds.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that the value of the freedom fund is actually up slightly on last month, which is at odds with the general direction of the market. This is because I overestimated the tax burden on some of my equity awards. Whilst exercised share options are taxed as income (and subject to NI), I hadn’t appreciated that my RSUs (Restricted Stock Units) were taxed at vesting, so only liable to capital gains tax. By timing sales and transfers either side of the end of the tax year to fully utilise annual allowances, this has worked out much more profitable than I had previously allowed for. These extra proceeds offset the drop in value of other accounts.
All of our exploring in Scotland (and not sitting in front of a screen) has been good for getting ahead of target in my walking challenge. I am well on track to ‘reach’ John O’Groats by the end of June.
Miles walked in 2022: 639 (vs. target of 1748 miles by the end of the year – or the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats and back). When plotted on a map, I would now be somewhere in the Cairngorms National Park.
May is probably my favourite time in the garden, and when we returned from our travels, as well as grass long enough to hide small tigers, we discovered many plants had burst into bloom. As this is highly likely to be the last May I get to enjoy in this garden, I will leave you with some photos:
*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.