Finding Enough

The journey to financial independence and a world of choices

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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How many times have you heard someone say “one day I will……..”<insert dream / vision of the future>. Maybe you have even said it yourself a few times, but for most that vision will never become a reality for one simple reason – it is never backed up with any form of action. The passage of time alone will not make dreams a reality – it requires a little effort. Some goals may seem a long way off and difficult to achieve, but if it is important to you, the only person who can stop you is you. If you don’t think you can do it, you are right. The good news is – if you think you can do it, you are right. You just need to take that first step. We often over estimate how much we can achieve in a day, but it is far more common to under estimate what we can achieve in a year, just taking it a small step at a time.

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Handmade lino print Christmas cards

November brought a new record for the freedom fund, and the anniversary of Mr W finishing his last office job. All our accounts have soared to new highs with my S&S ISA topping £200k for the first time. I am expecting a choppy ride ahead, but I’m happy to enjoy it while it lasts. Despite spending nearly £700 on materials for the van conversion this month, our spend remained below £2,500 and well below what a 4% SWR would give us as passive income.

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reversing camera display mounted on the windscreen like a rear view mirror

Before we start insulating the van, we wanted to fit a reversing camera to help us navigate narrow lanes and tight parking spots without incident. Having looked at various options, we decided on a camera mounted in the high level brake light at the top of the rear door, together with a display which mounts on the windscreen just like a conventional rear view mirror. There are a lot of complete kits available on Ebay, but by buying the camera kit and display separately, we managed to save a few quid (around £90 total rather than the £120-£130 for a kit).

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Autumn sunshine at a local National Trust property

Freedom Fund: £920,254

Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £3,068

Actual monthly expenses: £2,436

October was a busy month and it turns out that it was good that we took the opportunity to get out and about and catch up with friends and family, as we are now back in lockdown in the UK for at least a month.

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