vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

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vexed87
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vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:11 am

About me:
27, male, recently engaged (as of this week!) living in the UK. I am a civil servant in healthcare. ERE is fairly new to me, I finished my first reading of ERE a few weeks ago and I am having another go at it, this time taking down notes and ideas as they crop up. I found it was a lot to take in the first time around! The principles of ERE closely match my own values and I love the parallels I have drawn between my own life and Jacobs.

I have been opposed to the needless waste of energy and resources in our culture for as long as I remember having an opinion on anything. Consumerism has never really sat comfortably with me but it wasn't until I read ERE that it really dawned on me that there was another way. After obtaining my first salaried job I spent everything I earned. I saw the light about a year ago and have cut myself free from the endless cycle of contracts and needless upgrades and financing. Having been introduced to MMM elsewhere, I had already made a lot of changes that put me on track to financial independence over the last year. I must admit, I didn't think there was much else I could do to retire sooner and without a huge income I was getting disheartened about the prospect of early retirement. The best part about reading ERE was the realisation it wasn't all about 6 figure salaries!

For a long time I had been treading water with a net worth with a big fat minus figure. I didn't have any real career ambitions or savings targets so think I was happy with that for while but after being close to defaulting on a debt payment I had a bit of realisation I was going nowhere and gave myself a serious talking to.

I have since been cycling 18 miles to and from work 5 days a week since June 2014. This month I finally bit the bullet and terminated my rather expensive lease car agreement that I entered 2 years ago, I had been putting this off due to heavy termination penalties, however enough was finally enough! I'm now £350 a month better off every month, nearly a quarter of my income saved!

I haven't yet obtained a trailer for doing the larger food shop, but I do pick up the basics on the bike when needed. Now the weather is improving and it's getting lighter in the evenings, I'm seriously considering looking at buying a good trailer, used of course! ;)

I have a pretty good arrangement with family where I live for free in a rental property with my fiancé (still getting used to using that word!), and we should be here for 12-18 months, by which time we will have saved up a good deposit on our first house. My SO isn't interested in FIRE and thinks I am crazy, but she is happy knowing I am saving! Watch this space, I'm working on convincing her ERE is possible! Despite this, I find we get on pretty well as she doesn't expect too much from me. We eat out occasionally which is acceptable to me, as we generally don't go to expensive restaurants and she doesn't demand expensive jewellery, gifts or designer clothing.

We stick to home cooking with fresh meat and veg 99% of the time. Yet somehow spending on food is around £300/month for two which feels quite high to me. I do concede that some of these expenses are one off purchases (flowers, cleaning goods, alcohol etc), but I would like to squeeze this down further to £250/month max. We do eat meat most days, I guess cutting that out would bring the expense down significantly. I'm working on learning more vegetarian recipes so I can be a bit more adventurous!

I have set some clear and achievable goals for this year but as buying a home is high on my partners priorities, I don't expect to open my first investment account until we have met our target for our house deposit around the end of the year. Still, I will be saving significant sum this year which will put me in good stead for saving for early retirement in the near future.

My goals for 2015:
  • Start a veg garden (planting seedlings indoors today and preparing a small plot tomorrow!)
  • Build my first piece of furniture (I'm thinking of starting with a coffee table)
  • Make my first investment (all savings currently in work pension/basic e-savings account)
  • Plan and start my first body-weight exercise regime (my rather muscular legs are starting to look odd in comparison to my upper body as my cycling is pretty intense, and upper body workout is non-existent!)

Goals already met this year:
Cycle 4,000 miles
Debt free
Net-worth = £5,000
Car free
Buy enagement ring with cash


I look forward to updating you guys with my progress :)
Last edited by vexed87 on Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:47 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:08 pm

Well, the first update didn't take long. I've got my seeds sown in egg cartons. I've grown a few plants for indoors before, so it was a quick job. Compost taken from the garden and top soil kindly dug up by a local mole! Didn't cost a penny :)

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Should I be worried about creepy crawlies in the soil? I spotted a few!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by theanimal » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:48 pm

You're off to a good start! Having no rent payments is certainly nice.

Is the 4,000 miles cycled only from 2015?! Or is it dating back to June?

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:30 pm

I started tracking mileage with a cycle computer in August, so just over 4k since then! I get a lot of leisure miles in in addition to the commute, frequently heading out on 50-60 mile rides on the weekends and I also like to extend the commute in the good weather (but obviously not much of that since last summer!). I really love my bikes. I do all my own repairs and maintenance. I ended up spending a LOT on tools and pissing off my SO, but they are definitely an investment as they have prevented many trips to the Local Bike Shop for repairs.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Egg » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:03 pm

Great to have another from the UK. Welcome.

And that's still strong work on the cycling tbh, even if it isn't since the beginning of 2015.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:16 am

Welcome - I'll welcome Egg's sentiments that it's good to see another Brit :)

Your shopping bill is pretty high for two people, we manage to stick to £190/mth for the most part, not including alcohol spends of c. £20/mth.

I wouldn't be too hung up on paying for an engagement ring with cash - why not stooze it on a 0% APR credit card? We did this with my wife's engagement ring, got c. 8% of the cost back in savings interest. Also, depending on where you buy it, you might be able to combine a 0% deal from the shop with a stooze, meaning 2-3 years of free interest ;)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by GandK » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:22 am

Welcome! Congratulations on your engagement!

You're on the right track. Switching some meals from meat to beans gave us big grocery savings without giving up protein. Meat is kind of a garnish now most of the time when I cook.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:15 am

Thanks guys!

@Ydobon, I looked into stoozing but the kind of credit limits I get offered (£3500 max) it's not worth the hassle and with a mortgage on the horizon I need to be careful about my debt utilisation (credit scoring etc), besides the ring is already purchased! My SO is in law, the kind of limits they offer her is dizzying.

@GandK, as it happens I have just got back from the supermarket today, I bought several huge bags of beans, looks like lentil curry is on the menu tonight! :)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:34 pm

Being from the UK and having some seeds going I am sure you have heard of the BBC 2 show Gardeners World??

The DW and I are from the USA and are obsessed with the show (watch on Youtube). We have 1.5 acres and are doing a lot of what Monty does at Longmeadow.

The creepy crawlies, not so much, but there will most certainly be disease/fungal organisms that will not be good for your seeds. Its recommended to get sterile seed starting mix. If you make your own compost and it gets hot enough (140+ F) this is good enough to kill off any spores.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:20 pm

I have seen the odd show, but before ERE I was never really interested in gardening! My mum has passed me a Garden's World book on veg growing, I've yet to do more than flick through the tools section, but it's got lots of advice for beginners, so it's on my reading list!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:51 am

Quick update, just ordered a pressure cooker and bought some beans and lentils for experimentation. I used red lentils for the first time the other day and created a delicious veggie curry. I could get used to eating that. :)

The PC wasn't cheap (one Jacob has recommended on the blog) but if it helps me drop my food budget even by £50 a month by using more beans it will pay for itself in just over two months.

Can't wait to try some new recipes, any recommendations for the pressure cooker?

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:46 am

Ooh - one of the fancy Swiss ones? We're using a 20 year old Prestige dealy, it just about works.

I have found the PC to be absolutely fantastic for making stock, soups, beans and pulses and stews. Where I find it very hit and miss is the cooking of vegetables (although I suspect this may be due to the dud seal on our PC).

Just be sure to soak all beans overnight and rinse them after soaking. The fun thing about a good PC is that you probably only need to heat the beans on medium-high for 8-10 minutes, after that you can just leave them to sit for another 20 minutes with no heat.

Definitely not vegetarian, but PC steak pie filling is immense :)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:24 pm

Finally got around to totting up my income and expenses for Feb, as you can see it's been an expensive month, with 0% savings, not great but this really was my last month of paying off debts, getting engaged to my fiance and purchasing my summer holiday. The fact that I have done this all without using a credit card shows how far I have come personally since last year when I racked up a £2200 holiday debt on credit card. I recognise I still have a little way to go before I can call myself frugal (holiday, cough, cough, oh and champagne?! :oops: !) I'm not normally a spender like that!

My 75% savings rate starts next month (March), I've been itching to get going with my investments but it will be well worth the wait (I hope).

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Spotted a few typos in there, sorry about that it's been a long day!
Last edited by vexed87 on Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:27 pm

Ydobon wrote:Ooh - one of the fancy Swiss ones? We're using a 20 year old Prestige dealy, it just about works.

I have found the PC to be absolutely fantastic for making stock, soups, beans and pulses and stews. Where I find it very hit and miss is the cooking of vegetables (although I suspect this may be due to the dud seal on our PC).

Just be sure to soak all beans overnight and rinse them after soaking. The fun thing about a good PC is that you probably only need to heat the beans on medium-high for 8-10 minutes, after that you can just leave them to sit for another 20 minutes with no heat.

Definitely not vegetarian, but PC steak pie filling is immense :)

Yes the Kuhn Rikon Inox, used it 3 times already and love it! Tonight we ate a lovely spicy bean & sausage soup. My SO looked at me in disappointment when I confessed to the cost, she thinks I was mad spending that on a "pan", but it's not any old pan is it! When I explained It means we can eat beans last minute (cook in under 40 minutes) and tasting as good as that soup I think she came around quickly!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:44 pm

cmonkey wrote:The creepy crawlies, not so much, but there will most certainly be disease/fungal organisms that will not be good for your seeds. Its recommended to get sterile seed starting mix. If you make your own compost and it gets hot enough (140+ F) this is good enough to kill off any spores.
Only just noted this part of your post, indeed, it seems my seedlings have been overcome by some fungal spores and have gone fuzzy :evil:

Also, I have forgotten to move them from the top of the fridge and most have become "leggy" due to poor lighting. Oh dear, a bit of a failed experiment! :oops:

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:38 pm

Yes seedlings need lots of direct light. Even being outside at this time of year is not enough, the angle of the light isn't right and so the light is less instense. If you buy a cheap fluorescent light and keep it a few inches from the seedlings they shouldn't stretch.

Also, you will want to bleach all of your seed containers now to get rid of the mold spores :( We had issues with mold and algae after we used fish water to water our seedlings a few years ago. NEVER DO THAT! :shock:

Don't worry still plenty of time to plant!

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Mid-March Update

Post by vexed87 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:43 am

Note to self: Cycling fit is not running fit.

Living car free in favor of a bicycle is not without its inconveniences! I had a meeting in another city for work which meant it would not have been practical to get to work with a bike yesterday. I was lucky enough to get a lift to the meeting, and then back to the office with my boss. Getting home from the office without a bike is a challenge on public transport, I would need to catch 2-3 different buses, all operated by different companies, so it would have been expensive (no day pass!) Given my new found fitness from cycling I decided to try running home, 14.4km in total.

Big mistake! Today I can barely walk. I should have foreseen this! I'm hobbling around the office, if it wasn't so embarrassing it would be funny! Next time I will be building up to the 14km run with shorter runs in the evenings! My hat comes off to anyone running this distance on a daily basis, plus this has given me inspiration for my next sporting achievement, a triathlon!

It seems my plan for personal growth and development is being slightly derailed by my recent engagement and subsequent wedding planning! I haven't had time for various projects I have set myself so really need to focus on these again. Hopefully writing things down here will spur me on, I need to make a start on these again this evening/weekend!

Clear out wardrobe of stuff not used since last year.
Sell/give away old media
I have a pile of boxes, literally to the roof in a spare room which has been there since I moved which needs sorting through.
Draw up design for bookcase, buy timber, construct bookcase
Finish veg plot project
Make some headway on my ERE reading list, where to start!?
Try learn two new recipe's a week (have been falling back on the same old dishes lately, need to be more adventurous to cut down food bill).

Payday is next week, while I no longer worry about my next paycheck coming in, this will be a milestone as I finally have a refund on my car lease and no further deductions, have reduced paid income tax (due to monies owed) and get a little pay raise all at once. Not sure how much I'm going to have NET in the month, but hoping to be £300 better off each month, no small sum :)

Also tomorrow there will be a solar eclipse, I'll be up at the crack of dawn to make sure I don't miss this! I will be cycling to work when it happens! :D 8-)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:30 pm

So far in March:

I have cleared out my wardrobe of unwanted clothing, donating the good stuff to charity and tearing up old clothes into rags for bike maintenance (mickle method anybody?).
I have sold my entire DVD & Video Game collection +£250, while I was at it, I also pruned my hard drive of unwanted media. I don't know why but deleting all that media felt liberating.
This month was my first month without a lease car payment, which feels like a +£3600 raise, even before the cost of fuel is added! Easily another +£1200. I had no idea having a car was costing me 4 months of my life, every year, shocker :shock: .
I have attempted to grow my first seedlings, but it went horribly wrong and I ended up killing them all, I think I'll put off starting a veg plot this year after all, it sounds like excuses, but I'll be moving by next winter anyway, so don't see the point working the land. I'll still be growing my own herbs indoors though.
I met a new personal milestone today, net worth of >£5,000! This is huge for me as I was approx -$6000 last year.
I've stuck to my plan to learn two new recipes a week, largely using staples and have cut my food budget by £50 despite stocking up on meat for the freezer, very pleased with this!
Today I have started journalling, the private kind, so that I can reflect on each day and hopefully live with a new sense of purpose, I think my kids might even appreciate their Dad's banal thoughts on Thursday 26th March 2015 some day in the distant future.

Today was an interesting day for me, I was out of the office on a training course, I had the pleasure of meeting some interesting people. They were not of the ERE mindset, but were concerned with living low-impact/anti-consumer lives which makes a nice change with the yuppies I have to put up with on a daily basis. One woman I was chatting with had 10 chickens, 2 pigs, 10 sheep, 3 horses and from what I could gather was living almost self-sufficiently from her land. It was refreshing and has spurred me to start thinking a bit more about where I want to be in the future, I quite like the idea of starting my own family life in the country and keeping the animals (for food!), the thought of doing so had never really crossed my mind before today.

I haven't got quite as many goals for April, I need to de-clutter my spare room (lots of boxes with old magazines etc) and I want to start a new woodworking project. I need to think of some more stuff to do for the long weekends coming up. I also love that spring is finally here, the clocks change in the UK next week and I can't wait for the light evenings! :D

Everything seems to be going well for me right now, touch wood!
Last edited by vexed87 on Sat May 02, 2015 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:35 am

I'm surprised that you've never considered a vaguely self sufficient existence somewhere rural, this sort of lifestyle often seems to go hand-in-hand with attempts to be frugal/minimal and reduce dependency on 'the man'.

My own sums suggest that £200k would be enough to sustain an almost self sufficient croft somewhere pretty but remote (buy croft/stick in huge amount of insulation/add a source of renewable energy/put in polytunnels/plant a small forest/keep meat animals and bees :)

This probably seems insanely expensive to all the Americans on the forum, but you would be left paying a small monthly amount for property taxes, maintenance and any food/other stuff you needed, but couldn't produce yourself.

You'd basically be a high tech modern crofter with no risk of starving with a bad harvest etc.

The benefit of doing this as an ERE option would be that you wouldn't need to be dependent on grants etc., which would make you popular with the government!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:15 am

Yeah, it's odd! Having lived in metropolitan areas all my life and having a career which depends on being near urban centres hasn't exposed me to much of this sort lifestyle, so it's largely just something I see and hear about from time to time, previously mostly through the TV, but I feel it calling now!

Suitability for self-sufficiency is high up my checklist for the new house on the horizon. I'm not expecting miracles with my budget, but enough land to grow food is going to be important, maybe some room for a few chickens. A larger plot with more animals is way off in the future, land here isn't cheap...
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:30 am

This weekend I had a slight slip up, I jested about buying an Apple MacBook Air in another thread about downgrading from my smartphone, and I have now somehow managed to talk myself into buying one.

Before we get judgmental :lol:, it's 2013 model (used, obviously) via ebay purchased new last year but mine for half the RRP. I even managed to convince the seller to drop the shipping costs (due to listing error, less RAM than advertised). Luckily, selling off my 'junk' from the spare room and CD/DVD and Xbox games collection mostly cancels out the purchase so it shouldn't effect this month's budget too much, although I know this is money that could have gone towards savings.

I feel guilty for having bought an apple product, especially when I have a perfectly functional first gen core-i5 desktop PC. I have however been yearning to buy a laptop for many years (I have never owned one) as I was finding the desk (and dingy spare room/office) to be sapping my creativity, I hope to benefit from the freedom of taking my computer anywhere with me. In order to justify the purchase to myself, I know if I find I'm not getting any value from it, I'll simply sell it on for what I paid, surely it won't depreciate a great deal more from £500 in the next year?

I'm kicking myself for not sleeping on this, but before I knew it the bid was in and I won the auction. I will perhaps report back in a week (from the MacBook) and let you know how I'm feeling about it. Not sure it was worth delaying my ERE plans by .5 of a month, but at least I have two computers that will last me another 5 years. Please feel free to berate me for my foolish behavior! I deserve it. :evil:

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:51 pm

Haha - justify, justify :P

I regret fancy tech purchases these days (sitting typing this on a Core-i7 monster laptop that was too much in 2012, and is still too much!)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:48 am

I have successfully cleared the spare room at home. It used to be where my clutter was dumped. Now there's just a desk and a sofa bed that never gets used. It feels good to have finally discarded a lifetime's accumulated consumer tat. Everything that was useful was sold or given away, it's a real eye opener of how much stuff will ultimately end up in landfill. I felt rather guilty taking two rubbish bags of junk out, but it's gone now and never to be repeated!

I picked out what could be sold on gumtree and listed it, including things like PC case fans, power supplies, various cables, DVD racks, Nintendo DS and games I forgot I owned! More money towards the MacBook Air I purchased last month (the jury is still out on whether that was a wise decision!)

I'm thinking of moving the sofa out of the room too and turning it into a gym. A home gym is a bit of a luxury I know, but I have been neglecting my strength training lately and think it will motivate me to get back into it. In terms of equipment, I think I only need to add a barbell, full length mirror (for checking form) and a rubber floor mat. I already have dumbbell's and pull up bar (one of those that mount on door frames) as well as resistance ropes. I'll be picking this stuff up on ebay/gumtree as I spot them.

After reading the 'Salmon Confidential' thread I have put some serious thought into going veggie, while I haven't made the decision yet, I haven't actually eaten meat since 30th March. I can't say I have missed meat. Even if I don't completely cut it out, I now realise I was eating too much of it. Making the most of my new pressure cooker has really helped me change terrible habits. The SO and me are eating a lot more beans and lentils, no grumbles from the SO so far!

There's not a lot more I can do to cut down expenses, estimated savings rate for May is 82%. This will improve slightly in the coming months with a pay bump, changes to tax relief and reduced mobile phone bills as I switch to pre-paid, so the only thing left to do is chase a promotion or taken on some side gigs. I have to admit, now that I think about it, I am not really enjoying what I do for money. I work in a bureaucracy (albeit necessary one). I feel like I literally push paper around all day. I really need to work on finding work that I can love. I knew this day would come, but now I can't put it off anymore!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:35 pm

Regarding the Macbook, do what Jacob does and resell for nearly the same price down the road. Net cost ~ 0. If you can resell something for near the cost you purchased it doesn't count as an expense.

I am not familiar at all with Apple products, do they hold value? I know PCs do not.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:43 pm

Apple products seem to carry higher residule values than regular PCs, a bit like a BMW I guess. In theory the higher sticker price can be recouped if sold on as apple products are still desirable in the used market.

I bought this mid 2013 model at 50% of it's list price. Computers could never really be considered an investment item as they continue to depreciate due to the silly consumer upgrade cycles, though this plays to our advantage as we get last years tech for 50% less!

I think if I sell up within the year, I could break even, sale after 1-2 years I could maybe get away with losing £100-£150 on it which is negligible really. In all likelihood, if I keep it for a year, I'll keep it until it is considered obsolete by ERE standards (not silly consumer upgrade standards!) so if it survives 5 years of use here, I'll be happy.

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