Friday, 1 September 2017

FI30 or so

The international stock markets are coming down and the current value of all my investments and assets are going down with it.
It is not pleasant but it is expected and it does enable some interesting purchases of shares that even I find affordable now.
I normally calculate my financial independence number - or my assets - on the first of every month, but not this month.
I see it drop on all accounts and I just can't be bothered at the moment. It will drop until it can drop no more and the will be nothing to do about it. Everything I hold is bought for long term so I am not selling anything. Just close my eyes and go and stare into the sunshine.

I am also travelling for work, living in an unrealistic bubble of hotel, trains and heavy mashinery, working 7am-11pm and having random meetings with random people.

It will be fine, I will stick my head into the sand financially for another month.
Later this month, I'll have a look at it.
Now: life, work and the thesis professor is calling. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Trash

The trash gods have been very generous lately. Particularly the trash gods of Paris provided astonishing gifts and contributions. I am very grateful and not at all ashamed.

There is a wealth of opportunities in other people's trash put out on the curbs, in the garbage found on the roads and in free-stuff-boxes.
Personally, I only take what I like and can use. Others gather what yet other people will like and can use. Together we reuse and reduce the environmental impact of other peoples consumption so it is a worthy cause. And frugal.

In Paris, I found and rescued:
Bag of skin-care samples including eye-cream, day-cream and a bottle of serum for the older skin. (Perfect for my skin type, a brand that I like but had never heard of and the total value is around €80 retailed). The carrier bag was dirty but it still had the tissue paper in it when I found it so the content was clean. I am completely over-whelmed with this find. I have never ever before found anything similarly fantastic and it is truly the star-find of my life.

Red unused vintage (style of 1960s) dress that fits me perfect (or will when I have taken it in and adjusted it some; I'll show a picture when it is done.) The dress is my style with sleeves and high neck-line with an almost knee length skirt. It comes out of an obscure French haute-couture house and is in such a gigantic size that even I can fit everything of me into it and still have room to tailor it to my body.

Dark blue denim jeans with zippered pockets. I have not worn blue jeans in thirty years but these are long enough for my long legs, slightly hip-er than anything I would buy and very comfortable so I am happy with them. Oh, and free. They were dirty on the knees but never washed so clearly only used once. The dirt came out with a simple laundry circle.
From the same stack of neatly folded trousers which were put on the street for anybody who needed them, I also took a pair of checkerd trousers, currently slightly too small in the waist which is nice, and a pair of summer trousers that I since then have lost the liking of, so they will be moved onto a charity shop. I left all the trousers that were not my style for somebody else.

Blue and white rugby shirt with 3/4 sleeves and cropped on the hip as used by bicyclists. It also came from the stack with the trousers. It has a logo for a local cycling team, the colour is good and it too was almost unused. It serves me well for summer evenings when it gets colder. I had nothing similar so even if I did not really need another sweater and never would buy something in cotton, I am very happy with this.

Two pairs of sunglasses, both brown. One authentic pair of RayBan which is my favourite style although I have never ever owned anything by the brand itself. Also one no-logo pair, more rectangular, which is the one I prefer. This means that the total cost of all sunglasses in five years is still €7,20 and now I most certainly do not need to buy sunglasses for a long time.

Now, the trash gods only need to provide me with a new sports-bra and I will be set for clothes and stuff for the year.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Internet free

I have broken a personal best.
My new record is now eight days in a row without internet activity.
I did not log on anywhere for anything or look at any screen.

Being out cycling in the wilderness with a not so smart phone as the only tool for connection, helped.

We have spent eight days cycling across the wildest parts of the Netherlands. It means that there were uninterrupted  kilometres of forestry and wild heather and sand dunes. But also that there would be a café serving coffee and apple-cake at suitable intervals and villages with public transport and super-markets throughout the day. Camp-sites almost everywhere. It is difficult to camp wild here, it is so densely populated, but easier by being member in an organisation who provides access to simple, rustic camp-sites off the tourist comfort routes. Which we are, so our camp-sites are non-commercial, rustic and almost peaceful areas to camp in.

Sleeping out seven nights in a row with more than unstable weather requires some skills and resilience. We only brought two cycle bags each and had our trusted tent rolled up on top of one of the bicycle bags. Me again on my city bike, the man on his touring bike.

The total costs came to €267 for two which is more than I expected since it only contained one meal in a restaurant (well worth it as we happily ate our way through a large lunch while the thunderous rains passed). However, there was a lot of cake and anyway, €134 per person for eight days of vacation is acceptable.

I also spent €32 on a new, very needed pair of walking shoes and €15 on a high-tech, brand-named exercise t-shirt in a lovely colour that fits me perfectly. Both were worn immediately, actually, the new shoes replaced the old straight in the shop. Both on sale, both with extra reductions on the sale-price as it the last weeks of sales.

I also spent €10 (over the top expensive) for a bicycle mechanic who early Monday morning replaced my broken break wire, again giving my bicycle breaking abilities. I was happy to pay an over the top price as he fit the five minute job into his already planned day before he started on everybody else's bicycle and we could cycle on.

Coming back to the internet after eight days, there was very little of news, messages or emails that felt important to read or respond to. The lesson learned is that living in the real life, in real time with real people is good, and enough for a good life.

Although I am supposed to be off blogging and mostly off the internet, I am apparently still reporting my spending and inventories on-line.
After eight days, I also came back with a number of blogg posts in my notebook.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Trousers2017

With the weight reduction, I fit into all my trousers again.
Some of them I can fit with a thick sweater tucked into the waist band. Some now sit on the hip.
All, however, need a belt to stay up.
Several have already been taken in with wedges sewn into the waist band or had the waist taken in in the back (if they have mid-back seam.) Not all of them can however be taken in as much as I need.
My trouser stack is rapidly shortening, and nothing fits perfectly. 

I have raided (with permission) the man's trouser stack.
Five years ago I gave him -lent him to use- the jean's in his waist size that I no longer fitted into.
You see, the man and I have the same trouser size. Length and waist. We also like the same style of jeans. However, years ago when we met, I had already gained an inch (and since then, another inch) and could no longer fit into the jeans I had. So he could have them, to use.

Now I fit into them again and I got them back. They are even slightly on the big side, and slightly worn. I have an eye on all his other jeans, and he is invited to use mine (as several of them are men's trousers anyway). I am however told in no uncertain terms that his brand new G-star Raw jeans are off-limits. (They are probably too big for me anyway, but they are really cool so it may not stop me. "Off!", the man said. "Meow", I said, "I just want to touch, meouuw, just touchy.")

So the jeans with waist sizes, both one inch and two inches larger than currently needed, are folded up into my "fat-bag". I am not throwing them away. Who knows if I manage to keep the weight off when winter is coming? They can come in handy for mid-winter, who knows. Unfortunately, this also includes my BRAND NEW Levi's jeans I bought just this autumn. They are too big in the waist but there was then no way I could know that I would manage to do this transformation by now, and hey, at least I will have a very nice pair of jeans waiting for me if I do gain weight back on.
I do not keep clothes that currently does not fit me in my wardrobe. When I dress and something does not fit me, it is NOT hung back into the wardrobe. I just fold it up, not always neatly, and push it into the fat bag. (The fat-bag is zipped up and lives in the back of the man's walk-in closet together with tents and extra pillows. Easy to get to, difficult to take out.)

In Paris, the trash-gods also gave me a pair of dark-blue (that I never wear) denim jeans with zippers and seams in odd places. They are according to the labelled size not supposed to fit, but they are long enough and although slightly too large in the waist, fit well enough to use. And also almost brand new! I spent almost the entire second week in Paris in these jeans. The trash-gods also provided a nice pair of grey glen-checked thicker trousers that are currently too small in the waist, but since I own no "thin clothes" any longer, they came home with me as they are long enough for me.

I am left with the following trousers:
2 off-white (previous suit) trousers
2 linen trousers, one black, one white
3 office/suit trousers, barely used
1 Levi's 501, black (returned by the man)
1 Levi's 715, black
1 Shaft black which got a new zipper after they were bought in the second hand shop.
1 dark-blue denim Paris trousers
3 hiking trousers
1 pair of skorts
1 pair of shorts (the ones that was really ill-fitting before, now sit very nicely on my hips)

Into the fat bag have gone:
1 brand new Levi's 501, black
1 old much worn, bum almost falling out, Levi's 501, black
1 hot pink skinny chinos, a street-find that just can not be taken in enough to fit
2 pairs of shorts that need suspenders as well as a belt to stay up

In the thin bag, I have a pair of dark grey thicker glen-checked trousers that I have ambitions to fit over my belly (when the belly is smaller than now. I mean if the belly ever gets smaller than now).

Into the on the way out-bag went:
2 very worn black office, previous suit, trousers that were very comfortable to wear around the house but are so worn that I really should not go out in them, not even to the corner-shop.

So, still I have no need for trousers. Trousers are on the NO BUY list.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Paris 2017 costs

For my personal records and potentially also for some general interest, this is a report on expenses for spending almost three weeks in Paris.

The first trip was to pet-sit five days for friends of friends. Total amount of money spent included an excruciatingly expensive ride on the fast-train (also late both directions) and was probably around €350.

The second trip, just two weeks later, was to cat- and garden sit for an old colleague while the family went on August vacation (just like all French people try to avoid and still do).
The man could spend the first week in Paris too. We worked most mornings and after lunch or early afternoons we went out to walk the town and the surrounding areas.
The first week, including two museum fees (covering three museums) we spent in total €313,09 for two, including one sushi dinner and one dinner at a lovely Mauritian restaurant. The total cost has been included in our running budget and paid through our bucket system.

The man had to go back home for work so the second week I was left on my own. I was on vacation from my job so I left the house and the cat early in the morning, returned late in the evening and spent the entire day in the manuscript room of the Bibliothèque National - Richelieu frustrating over spidery handwriting in huge ledgers from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. One day and the weekend I roamed the town, walking from morning until evening, or until I could handle no more, and then went home for dinner and cat.
That second week I spent €105, not including the €20 fee to access the research part of the Bib, nor the international bus that cost me €53 round trip but took time. The sum however does include metro tickets (ten single tickets for €14,90), coffee (costing €0,4 in the machine or €3,5 at any hippy corner café) and food (from supermarket, always taking food with me for the day, usually a can of lentils and fruit, buying fresh bread (€1-2) from a baker in the afternoon as a supportive or restorative afternoon snack. In Paris, you can still walk down the street with a baguette in one hand, ripping pieces of it, stuffing the warm bread in you mouth. However, you can not ever bite straight down into you baguette! ("Infidel!", said nobody ever because in Paris most don't care.)

I paid my accommodation by feeding and watering cats, dogs and gardens, so there were no further costs for our in total 19 days in Paris; July and August 2017.

By the way, I noted that during the second and last week, I was stopped by French people no less than three times asking for directions. I still can not speak modern French properly to save my life but apparently I made myself fit in quite nicely. (It probably helps carrying a computer bag.)
The trash gods were also very generous in Paris. I'll tell about the French finds some other time.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Salt dispenser

For Jenn and others with interest,
This is our new salt dispenser.  (Not a promotion for any manufacturers or brands of salt, although, Hurray for companies who sell products in practical, refillable and reusable containers.)

Why is this special?
It is an anniversary salt dispenser for the company's 80th year.

I also add a picture of the cat I was pet-sitting in Paris for two weeks. 

Salt

For a few months, I have pursued project Salt.
Not a big project, not a lot of work and possibly, also not very important.
Project Salt is however the continuation and result of my lifestyle.

Our favourite salt dispenser broke (the lid came off its little hinge). It worked but it accentuated the need for a new salt dispenser.
That then accentuated the fact that we have a nice salt grinder for rock salt that we do not like.
We also do not like rock salt. We thought we did, we have tried. Both rock salt from the Himalayas and salt rocks from Austria. As well as course salt from France and somewhere else, I don't know where. They have been used and used up with disappointing result.
Mostly because the salt level is unpredictable and you may end up either under- or over salting your food, regardless if you salt while cooking or directly on the plate.
It could also be that the nice salt grinder isn't sufficiently nice; that it should be made from ceramic (although it is) or by a specific brand (which it isn't) or that we use it wrong (possibly, we are not geniuses, just normal).
We made the decision to use up all the salt in the house, buy a pound or two of regular cooking salt from the regular supermarket for 30 eurocents or so and then use use that. With a new salt dispenser, preferably found for free.
I have spent the last few months and weeks going through all spice racks, cupboards, camping equipment and all and any other space for storage to find and use up all available amounts of salt in the house.

As I have now come back from Paris, I brought a salt dispenser back. It is a regular salt container that you buy 100 grams of salt in, in a super market, when you do not buy a whole bag of salt. But this one is FRENCH. And it has a lid that closes.
The salt ran out while I was there, and not intending to go through all cupboards of my house owners, I bought the smallest amount of salt available for them - and took the old empty one with me home. (Yes, their old empty one was better than the new filled one I bought them; not for them, but for me.)

The last remnants of course salt was brutally been emptied out from the nice salt grinder. (It has been  cleaned out and put back in the kitchen cupboard awaiting new content. Probably pepper.)

The new FRENCH salt dispenser was refilled with salt from a whole bag of salt.
It is a wonderful souvenir. Every morning when adding salt to the porridge, we can read words in French and remember our weeks living in Paris.

The rest of the bag of salt is closely closed and tucked back into the cupboard. I do not expect to spend any money on salt or salt dispensers in the forthcoming 12-months.
Salt is now a NO BUY.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Money and muscle

Money makes more money.

Muscle makes more muscles.

Gather your money and build your muscles - you know how and how not to.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

FI34,27

Last calendar month my FI-number was 34,98. Or 35 years.
This meant that my assets divided with my annual budget would simply speaking last 35 years. This I call the Financial Independence number.
This of course comes with a few conditions:
- Price increases in the future need to be compensated by interests or dividends. Or additional income.
- I need to live within the annual budget. This is a very frugal budget but it is also a budget that I have lived within for several years now. However, this is with the current lifestyle and changes in lifestyle will need to be addressed with (possible) changes in budget. I will not reduce the annual budget but I may consider increasing it. The annual budget always needs to be larger than the annual needs and costs as it is impossible to predict everything and the funds need to be available also for accidents. See Eye on Savings. Not the disastrous, life-changing accidents of course. For those, the annual budget will need to change.
- If the growth rate of my assets is higher than the price increases, I could safely withdraw a certain amount every year without reducing capital. I know the SWR numbers and I put no trust in it and do not use that. My financial future does not include any financial risks at all.

I count my assets the first every month, excluding any possible value of my apartment (as I always will need to live somewhere) and the value of any pension funds that I cannot access until I retire. This includes both private and national pension rights as once paid into, I have no or very little control over the value. They will however pay out in about fifteen to seventeen years.

Last calendar month the stock market were my money are placed, went down. Since then, it has gone down further. I have bought some stock in companies that I believe in but where the fickle and short-termed stock market discounted the value. These shares were bought with savings from this months salary (as I still work four days a week).

The current financial independence number is 34,27, meaning I can float financially within my annual budget for another 34,27 years. I have lost half a years annual budget in a month - at the same time, there has been several months in the past when I have gained as much or even more in a month. Swings and roundabouts - stock markets and financial risks.

I keep one months moving costs on a debit card, six months total costs on an easily available savings account, ten years in stocks and the rest in solid index funds. I also still have a job and keep myself updated with qualifications, trainings and merits.

It has taken many, many years of savings to get me to a position like this. However, it has only taken me six years to change my life so that my spending is low, my lifestyle is frugal and my work is to make money - not my life. Not an easy process by any means, but possible for anybody.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Eye on savings

Today I had a lesson to remind me why I save and have savings.

Something got stuck in my eye last night somehow. I was not doing anything special, I had not been doing anything special and still, when I took my lenses out to go to bed, something cut into my eye. The eyeball. Blood red. Painful.
No amount of rinsing made any difference. Eye drops hurt.
When the man came home, I was in bed with one eye closed and slightly whimpering.
Eventually, we called the medical hot-line and was, after eliminating the high-risk scenarios, advised me to take a paracetamol and seek medical help in the morning if it didn't get better.

It didn't get better (but I did sleep).
After half an hour on the phone, I had a doctors appointment within the hour. We were there early and I got in directly.
Examined, treated, advised and medicated within ten minutes.
Two small darkblue fragments were removed. Unindenifiable.
All this in English (well, sort of, but very helpful since English is not the language of the county where I currently am)! Banned from wearing lenses for a while, so I'll be blind bat Betty for a while.
As I am uninsured here, I had to pay full price. 105 euro.
Now, about ten hours later, my eye has almost healed and life can go on.

And this is why savings are so important. Accidents will always happen, even when this probably never will happen to you.
With savings readily available, I could throw money at the problem and make it go away.
If I had not seen a doctor immediately, the problems would increase and threaten my eye sight.

Because I have access to national universal health care, I will get most of the money back, but that is in this case beside the point.
It is important to have savings enough to pay for that first visit to a doctor.
Access to competent health care even more important.
Insurance too, but the first doctors visit is often vital to get arranged quickly.
(and the rest of the world feels very concerned for all Americans this week.)