Finding Enough

The journey to financial independence and a world of choices

The next instalment in the tale of the van conversion involved cutting more holes. After the nerve-wracking experience of making that first cut in a perfectly sound panel in order to fit the window, we were a bit more confident this time. There was still a lot of measuring and cardboard template making involved though!

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Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, UK

My first full month of semi retirement went by incredibly quickly, despite only half of it being spent working. It is far too early to tell how this version of semi-retirement will work for me, as right now it just feels like I’ve had a 2 week holiday, with the month being divided with the first 2 weeks working and the second two being ‘non-working’ weeks. The first of those non-working weeks was spent in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, and it did feel great to get outside of a 30 minute radius of home for the first time in months. We even ventured out to a local pub for dinner for the first time since last October.

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Cowslips in a local meadow in April

What is likely to be my last month of full time work ever, went by in a flash. It doesn’t really seem real yet – especially as I will be starting May with 2 weeks full time in the office!

I have agreed a schedule of working weeks with my boss which totals half of the remaining year and allows me to take up to 4 ‘non-working’ weeks in one go. This schedule has me working more during key periods for the business, and working less during less busy periods (at least that’s the theory). I expect there will be some swapping of weeks by mutual agreement as the year progresses, but it is a good place to start.

Semi-retirement at 43 is a pretty big milestone in my life, and the numbers are looking similarly momentous this month. I have no idea how long this upward trajectory can sustain, but we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

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Tomato & chilli seedlings

I can’t believe we’re a quarter of the way through 2021 already! The new growing season is upon us in the UK, and just the same as every year, I am a bit behind were I wanted to be. I have enjoyed growing my own vegetables since I was very young, ‘helping’ my Dad plant crops in the garden. I suspect my ‘help’ slowed proceedings rather than making a meaningful contribution, but it sparked an interest that has stayed with me (and I suspect improved my parents’ chances of getting me to eat said vegetables).

I have managed to get my potatoes planted and have sown tomatoes and chillis, which are currently enjoying the sunshine on the kitchen windowsill until it is warm enough for them to go into the greenhouse.

So, with plants growing well this month – what about the money tree a.k.a the Freedom Fund?

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Money is a tool, not a goal. For the last 5 years or so it has felt a lot like a goal, so when the goal was achieved, it took a while to figure out the next step. Mr W has made significant changes over the last year in moving from a full time office job to starting a small business and being able to choose his own hours. Now it is my turn.

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I don’t want to jinx it, but it really feels like spring is on the way. The daffodils are coming out and the UK government are starting to make positive noises about releasing lockdown restrictions. From the freezing conditions and snow at the start of the month, the last couple of weeks have brought a bit of sunshine and a much more cheerful mindset. My work life balance definitely moved in the wrong direction this month, but the recruitment activity which is going to allow me to work less is going very well. I hope to be able to define the timeline for a more work-optional lifestyle in the next couple of weeks.

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As I work out what the RE part of FIRE looks like for me, I have been thinking about the journey to get here and the decisions I made to put me in the position I am now in. The more I think about it, the more I believe that a few early decisions really laid the foundations for what I was able to do later.

I discovered the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early) in 2014, but that is only part of the story. I was not starting from zero, or worse, from a position of debt, I was building on solid financial decisions. So what were those decisions and what did my journey look like? I suppose the story starts 19 years before we reached our magic number:

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Snowdrops in the garden – a hardy but hopeful plant

We hit our magic number in Dec 2019, Mr.W took voluntary redundancy from his office job shortly afterwards and set about building a small business, allowing him to choose his own hours and take on as much or as little work as he wants. I am currently still working full time.

It’s now just over a year since we hit our number for the first time (and watched it leak away 3 months later at the start of the pandemic before recovering again last summer). Having hit the double comma milestone for the first time last month, the value of our freedom fund is slightly up again this month.

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What a great way to start the year! When we updated our spreadsheets this month, we were delighted to see that we had hit a big milestone. Despite the fact we only had one income in 2020, and therefore a significant drop in our saving rate, our money has been quietly toiling away. It is very satisfying to see the compounding machine we have been building for years really working for us.

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