Saturday, 3 December 2016

Green gloves

This is a story of how I work my "items in storage" and "using things up" over time.

In 2010, when I stumbled on ERE and the rest of the frugal community and forced my savings into over-drive to make myself financially independent, then I had a pair of green gloves.

Knitted, synthetic, unglamorous and unflattering gloves in a shade of green that was somewhere between neon green and apple green. They fit on my hands and in my pocket, they were silly and made me smile when wearing them in grey continental Europe. In 2010, they were already several years old.

When I made an inventory of all cloves and mittens earlier 2016, they had a hole in them and were to be thrown out. I lied in that post though, I did not throw them out. I mended them. Used them, washed them and put them back with the winter clothes in spring. I think I may even have used them during the summer adventure.

When it got colder this year, I wore them together with the black 1 € gloves mentioned in the post above. During the weeks of last winter when I needed double gloves, or even gloves at all, they were worn out. They were made of a fleece sort of material and I had mended the seams several times. When the fabric gave up, they were trashed unceremoniously.

In my life it is the bicycle handles that cause the death of gloves and mittens.

The green gloves were kept and taken to use again as the weather got colder this year.
It only took a few weeks before they need another mending.
I decided to treat myself.
Anomaly, anomaly. 
I am not going to mend the green gloves again.
They have been trashed, equally unceremoniously.

I am now the proud wearer of a very nice pair of brand name hiking gloves that I found in the spring of 2011 in a trash heap. They fit perfectly, look very nice and are slightly thicker than the green gloves.

Total glove budget 2010-2016: 0€
Lesson: Don't minimize and get rid of things you still can use just because your affluent lifestyle have made you accumulate too many. Use one at the time until it are worn out (under the condition that you like them) and then take out a "new" item.

Friday, 2 December 2016


The cryptic title means that I have a financial independence equivalent of 31,74 years counting one way (the old way) and 25,39 years counting another way (the new way).

The maths behind it is simple. My total amount of assets (not including my house as I live there, nor any pension expectations as I do not control them) divided with my annual budget.

My annual budget is low, I admit, but it is higher than what a lot of people live on. Even more importantly, my annual budget is higher than a lot of people are expected to live on legally. State, society, companies set a poverty line, and then they set an amount that you are expected to sustain yourself on. My annual budget is still higher than that.

Most importantly, I have been living within my annual budget for years. It includes a lot of no-buy's and not-spend's but it does include an occasional weekend-tip to Paris and occasional weekend-trips to the country side.

I also retire legally in twenty years.
I also may leave my current job within the year. 

It makes sense to adjust my annual budget to an amount higher and primarily safer. It needs to include all and any costs that can, could, might and would be included with a slightly different lifestyle. If I do leave my job during 2017 and set out on a different path, it will cost money.

So I budget for a much higher annual budget for next year. This also includes price increases that can be expected. I do not think I need all of the budget, and I surely hope I will not have costs amounting to the annual budget. But I might. And I need to be prepared.

The new annual budget for 2017 will not increase my spending. But since the new budget give me a financial independence number of 25,39 years without income, I feel safe.

I pamper myself with security.
Because I am worth it.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

New Annual Budget 2017

I have for years calculated my financial independence as a division my total assets and a set annual budget.

This budget has remained the same for a very long time. It is not a very elaborate budget but I have comfortably lived within it for many years. It is a budget many people live within. It is also a budget above what both students, social services recipients and unemployed are expected to live on.

(On that note: It is a good idea to know what budget your authorities are expecting you to live on if you become long term ill or long term unemployed.)

My annual budget is of course higher than my annual costs.

Anyway, for the past year I have carried a financial independence number above 30.
This means, I hold assets to cover thirty years of my current annual budget.

This is way beyond what I need.
20 years from now I will - unless the sky falls on our heads - receive some form of pension covering at least something equivalent to my current costs (adding cost increases if related to inflation).

For 2017 I have decided to change my annual budget. This means that the financial independence number will change, probably all the down to 25.

I do not plan to increase my spending, just increasing the annual budget I use to calculate my independence. I am basically only increasing the security for my independence. 

And the amount is not the point. The point is having one that you can live within.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Sometime in 2007 I went through a number of recruitment processes.
All of them interviewed and tested with various methods.
I am not particularly interested in talking about myself in a professional setting.
The job I had at the time was so odd and unusual that it was difficult to talk about it with recruiters.

(Actually, let's talk about recruiters. Have any of them ever worked with anything else than recruiting? I truly have difficulty seeing the benefits a recruiter brings to the person you are trying to recruit. I completely see the benefit a recruiter can bring to a company, by weeding through applications following key-words and specific requirements as well as keeping salary expectations down. But I have yet to meet a recruiter little better than an evolved text search engine. Can anybody bring diversity, creativity or development to a job beyond exact search criteria and trigger words? I honestly doubt the recruiters even understand most jobs they recruit for. Or even understand the meaning of the specific requirements required.)

But I digress...
Among the tests in 2007 was a Mayer-Briggs test. Then one of the most relied upon personality-identifying test. Today, perhaps not so much, but I may be wrong. Today these tests are available in shorter (but still extensive) versions on-line, for example through

In 2007, I tested as an ESTJ.
The letters stand for Extroversion (or Introversion), Sensing, Thinking and Judging.
The personality type is called "The Executive".
Yeah, that is me!

The E was however very close to an I. (Test provides results on a scale between two outer ends of a spectrum and nobody is 100% of everything, and even rarely of anything).

If the E had been an I, the personality type would have been called ISTJ.
I heard (on the ERE-forum) that most frugalists are ISTJ.

The man did the test the other day. Not very surprising, he is introvert and sensing (ISFP).
We are not disputing that result at all either!!!

I re-did the test with him. Interestingly, ten years later, after life-changing events and a complete turn-around of my lifestyle, the result is that - I am still an Executive.
Still an ESTJ.

Although closer to being Introverted than before. Thanks, man.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Lights finished

We have 18 lamps and other sources of electrical light in the house.

Nine ceiling lights, two floor lights, three table lights, one bed light with two heads and two light strings (only one currently connected). And a light by the stove.
Very rarely are more than one or two lit at the same time. The man and I tend to spend time in the same room and of course (of course!) are the lights in unused rooms, turned off.

There are some rumours about another light string, type winter wonder land light, in the basement. (We found the spare bulbs.)
However, until the man has dug his remaining boxes there are no proof of an eighteenth source of light for the house.

All lights have now all been cleaned. 
We never turned the TV on today. Instead we dismantled and cleaned the glass covers of the remaining lamps. (They need some cooperation.)

Now, afterwards, it is really an amazing difference.
The amount of light generated by a dusty bulb in a dirty lamp is nothing compared to the radiance generated from a wiped bulb in a sparklingly clean lamp.

We pay for electricity and we really do get our money's worth this way.
No need to turn on two lamps when one does the job.
We might even in the future buy a lower wattage for the smaller rooms.

How many electrical light sources do you have in your house?

Sunday, 27 November 2016


I was once asked what my ideal life would be.
If I remember correctly I answered something meaning that I wanted to live as if it was Saturday everyday. I remember I then called it Plan B Impossible.

In 2015, when I had settled into my one-day-a-week-retired lifestyle, I really enjoyed it.

In the end of 2016, when this life-style is threatened to become a three-to-five-day-a-week-retired lifestyle, it is important to remember to enjoy it.

I do enjoy it. Breakfast food, books in bed, coffee on tap and a lot of time looking out the window, or reading out loud to each other and then going to look up things we learned or should have remembered from things we have learned before, making plans to go and see things, people and places, and preparing food to cook slowly and eating deliberately with or without friends...

I just wish I would get out of my pyjama a little earlier in the day.

Today it is the third day in a row, when I do my morning shower after three o'clock in the afternoon.

(See why it is good for me to hold on to a job routine!!!)

Thursday, 24 November 2016


As a Northern European, November means lights.
Lights turned on, kept on and added to.
It is darker outside longer and the light hours are greyer.
It is important to emphasise the indoor light to avoid winter depressions (unless you hibernate).

We had a few light bulbs breaking last week so we started the light project early this year.
(The light bulbs always seem to all blow at the same time, don't they?) We have access to a collection system for electrical waste and the broken light bulbs are saved for the next collection time.

I have kept "in storage" the low-energy light bulbs from my previous apartment. Two were used to replace the expired bulbs in the living room. They had been bought in 2011 and since they can last six to ten years there was no way I was just going to leave them behind when I moved in 2013. I knew there was plenty of use left in them for the money spent as I had cut out a piece of the packaging and made a note when I started using them and I know that I took them down in May 2013. There is now only one low-energy light bulb in storage. That was bought this year for the office and turned out to be way too bright and with the completely wrong coloured light. Since then I have leaned to always ask to try the bulb in the shop before buying.

In storage there are also three small, low wattage light bulbs with small fitting, two clear and one frosted. They are at least five years old if not more, and although we have only two lights in the house where they fit, they can sit in storage for a possible future use.

The light bulb are stored in a wooden wine box I once found on the street. I also keep our batteries in it (when ever we have any). The box is highly flammable of course and possibly not the cleverest of choices.
But it looks good.

The November light project is to clean all our lamps and light fixtures and we are currently working our way through it.
Ceiling lights, bed lights, floor lights and window lights are cleaned and dusted, both used and unused.
We got out a table lamp that has not been used for a long time and put it in the kitchen window. Its old fashioned style gives our otherwise stark kitchen a very cosy feeling. It is a nice light to make morning coffee in.

I will also put up a light for the mid-winter light festival later on.