ember's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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ember
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:41 am

ember's journal

Post by ember »

This is my first journal entry so I’m just going to dive right in and talk about what’s going on in my life lately.

It’s been an expensive week due to medical issues – nothing too serious, but I had to get some dental work done and then had to have a procedure done on my left leg. I had an unsightly varicose vein running down it so decided to get it fixed and this was the final stage. I now have to wear a compression stocking for three weeks, rather than the two I was previously told. Apparently this is because I have pale skin. Cheers! Having spent a vast amount of money on this, because it isn’t something covered by the NHS, I declined to fork out an additional £20 for a leg cover for showering, and tried to keep it ERE by fashioning one out of a bin bag instead. The people in the clinic suggested I could go into production and undercut the leading brand 😊 Unfortunately, the bin bag didn’t work too well (thank god for hairdryers) but I’m going to stick with it. Maybe I’ll take a bath tomorrow instead of a shower and see how that goes.

The other ERE-type thing I did this week was make my own eggshell calcium. I’ve been experimenting with a carnivorous diet but haven’t got round to making bone broth yet. I discovered that eggshells are a good source of calcium so I boiled them, dried them out and turned them into powder, which I shall sprinkle on things. Quite pleased with that!

The reason I’m experimenting with the carnivore thing is primarily to lose some weight (nothing like an upcoming wedding for motivation), and so far so good, but what I didn’t predict is that it’s given me back that feeling of mental clarity and sharpness which is the thing I like most about intermittent fasting. I crunched my way through the spreadsheets at work in record time, which is great as next week I have a new colleague joining us and am going to need to spend most of my time training him. I have high hopes that this guy will be able to take over from me when I leave, which is hopefully going to be in just over 2 years’ time.

I came out of the stock market a couple of months ago after running some simulations, getting my head round sequence of returns risk and feeling uneasy about stock prices, so I’m no longer anxiously checking my investments although I am still anxiously watching the exchange rate. The political situation here continues to be turbulent and nobody really knows what the hell is going on. Neither of the two main parties has any appeal to me at the moment. There was an excellent article about it in the FT a couple of weeks ago here, probably behind a paywall, sorry, https://www.ft.com/content/037a2750-e4a ... 5a370481bc which explained the situation pretty well but didn’t come up with any solutions… I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

halfmoon
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:19 pm

Re: ember's journal

Post by halfmoon »

I commented on your intro, but I'll say it again: welcome!

Regarding your anxiety over exchange rates: is there any way to open a bank account in the US and invest in US dollar CDs? There's a credit union in Pennsylvania that's offering 3.25% on a 3-year CD, which might fit nicely with your plan to move to the US. I don't have any idea if that's possible for someone who doesn't live here, though.

ember
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:41 am

Re: ember's journal

Post by ember »

Thanks, halfmoon! That's an interesting idea. About half my capital is tied up in property and most of my savings are in fixed-term accounts in an attempt to eke as much interest out of them as possible. I'm also hoping the exchange rate will improve as it's low at the moment by historical standards, although higher than a few weeks ago. I have actually been looking into CDs, which don't exist in the UK, and will certainly consider it as the time draws nearer. I haven't quite got my head round the mechanism of transferring money from here to the US yet. Interesting that it's possible to get 3.25% on a CD. There's nothing like that over here. I'm getting about 1.6% on my ISAs, although I have a bit in P2P which is paying 5.75%. I don't want to put too much in that though, as several P2P operations have gone bust lately!

chenda
Posts: 1222
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:17 pm

Re: ember's journal

Post by chenda »

Welcome ember I liked reading your intro and long distance love story :)

A refuge in rural Pennsylvania sounds ideal if you don't need to work or worry about immigration rules. I think things could get very bad here soon; civil unrest, supply shortages, fascism, violence...Makes sense to spread the risk and have a get out plan.

ember
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:41 am

Re: ember's journal

Post by ember »

Thanks, chenda! I assume you're talking about the UK. I hope things don't get that bad, as I'm not really in a position to stock up living where I do. After the riots in London a few years ago I did store a few tins of tuna in a wooden box for a while. I called it the Riot Diet ;)

ember
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:41 am

Re: ember's journal

Post by ember »

End of October report. I’ve done my monthly finances and it was an expensive month due to the medical stuff, so I more-or-less broke even. But the numbers are still on track for retirement in 2 years at which point I’ll be 48.

I’ve been keeping a record of my spending for the last 3 years so I have a good idea of what I spend here, but with my plan to move to the US some things are a little unknown at this stage. I discovered this week that a house is for sale in the same road that my fiancee D lives in, and the listing gave information about property insurance and tax, which was useful. After the road trip we took in September I now know how much petrol costs (much less than here in the UK). I think I’ll need to get my own car when I move, because D is a 10 minute drive from the nearest town. I plan to take some driving lessons so that I can get used to driving on the wrong side of the road 😉

I don’t know yet if we’ll stay in D’s house. I like the area and her house is cute and has a nice yard with a fire pit. It’s near her parents, which is important to her. We made some progress with the vegetable garden this year, although by August it had turned into a bunny sanctuary. There was literally a bunny living in it, hiding under the courgette leaves and strenuously avoiding eye contact. I was excited that we grew our own herbs and I introduced D to making our own pesto, and we made a start planting some wild flowers to help the bees out. On the other hand, the house is relatively small, quite dated - it used to belong to her grandmother - and the basement definitely needs work. D has turned one of the three bedrooms into a “hiking room” where she keeps her impressive collection of backpacks, and one is the office. If we did the basement up, I could create a new room down there for myself which could double up as a guest room. I’d like to be able to have friends to stay which at the moment would be tricky, unless we put them up in a nearby hotel, which doesn’t feel like a very hospitable approach.

Work has been busy as I was training my new colleague, doing my own job and covering for someone else who is away at the moment. Less time than usual for ERE surfing. However, the new colleague is enthusiastic and seems to be getting the hang of things which is good for my future plans. I had some social life too – book group, went to the cinema with a friend, and had enjoyable lunch with some other friends on Saturday. This evening I saw the local fox on the way home from work, which was lovely. I saw one earlier in the year, probably the same one, in the early morning walking through Senate House, the extraordinary 1930s building which is the HQ of the University of London. Told a friend about it and quick as a flash he said “Of course, that was the Vice Chancellor.” :lol:

The stocking on my leg continues to be a nuisance, particularly when it comes to bathing/showering. I can have a shallow bath fairly easily but prefer a shower. No matter how much clingfilm I use to wrap my leg, the stocking still seems to end up soggy. I expect I’ll get the hang of it just as it’s time for it to come off. It’s also meant that I can’t go to the gym at the moment which has been frustrating. I wouldn’t describe myself as a gym bunny by any means, but I discovered that reading trashy books on my Kindle while walking on the treadmill at an incline helps pass the time and sometimes I actually look forward to going, if the trashy book is really gripping…

Anyway. Two more weeks and then I’ll be off to Pennsylvania for a few days, can’t wait!

ember
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:41 am

Re: ember's journal

Post by ember »

Last week I discovered that a friend had a copy of Antifragile, which I’d been meaning to read. I borrowed it from him and made it as far as page 32. The author is certainly pleased with himself. One sentence did resonate with me: “academics (particularly in social science) seem to distrust each other; they live in petty obsessions, envy, and ice-cold hatreds”. Yup, sums up my experience very well. I’m so glad I don’t operate in that world any more, although I still have occasional nightmares about it.

After that, I was slightly concerned that my brain might be turning to mush, so I found another nonfiction book to read, which I suspect I found out about somewhere on ERE. It’s called the Rise of Superman (available on Kindle Unlimited) and is about how action/adventure sports enthusiasts harness flow to break records. It’s very readable and there are some fascinating anecdotes about lots of people I’ve never heard of – skaters, surfers, etc. It made me think how can I get more flow into my life and what activities generate it. Hiking is certainly on the list, although, when not concentrating on where to put my feet, I find my mind wandering to important questions such as whether it would be possible to make a British version of trail mix using Smarties instead of M&Ms… Writing is another activity that gets me in the zone, and I really should dust off the piano and get back to playing some Scott Joplin. A flawless rendition of Maple Leaf Rag would be an excellent micro-mastery 😊

In other news, I had an email from Zopa (a UK P2P site) telling me that they’ve sold some bad debt, which offers a glimmer of hope that I might get some of my defaults back, although I’m sure I’ve heard it before. I’ve had money in Zopa for some time but in the past year or so the defaults have often almost cancelled out the interest, particularly in my ISA which is annoying as that’s the tax-sheltered account. I took some satisfaction in moving my cash balance to Assetz, who so far have delivered on the 5.75% they offer and appear to have more security and do a better job of vetting people for loans. I still get a little nervous about having too much in P2P but since I have no shares at the moment, it’s the only risk I’m taking.

I’ve been thinking about how nice it will be not to have Sunday night blues any more, once I pack in my job. Fortunately, my new colleague is getting on well so it looks like my exit plan is coming together. I’m off to Pennsylvania in eight days and will spend some time talking to D about the timeline for the next two years. The whole marriage and immigration thing is pretty challenging but I think I’ve worked out what we need to do and am grateful I’m in a position to make it happen.

ember
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:41 am

Re: ember's journal

Post by ember »

Time for another update, as it’s been a while. My plans were thrown out of whack when my mother broke her wrist while I was staying with her for the weekend about a month ago. She had a fall in the kitchen while we were making lunch. I had to call 999 and we spent the afternoon in A&E. Fortunately she is ok and has a lot of friends living nearby who have been visiting, but I’ve been taking it in turns with my brother to see her more often - she’s about 70 miles away - and will be spending longer at Christmas with her than originally intended.

This did make me think about one of the potential benefits of retiring in 2 years time, which is that if something happens to my mother I’d like to be able to drop everything to be there, without any pesky work commitments getting in the way. By then, hopefully I’ll be living in the US so it would involve getting a plane at short notice but at least my brother will still be relatively close.

I had a nice trip to Pennsylvania to see D in the middle of November. It was only a short trip and there wasn’t time to do all that much, but it will keep me going till I get to visit again for New Year. D is working very hard at the moment and often at weekends too, which I really appreciate as she’s going to come over to the UK twice next year, first to give notice and then to get married!

My own work has been busy lately, as the run up to Christmas is a busy period for us, so I’ve spent less time surfing ERE than usual. I’ve been getting some reading done in the evenings. My book group read Circe this month, which we all enjoyed. I’ve also been reading a book called Deep Nutrition, which is mostly about the insidious effects of vegetable oil. It seems this stuff gets everywhere. Lately I’ve been concentrating on eating meat, vegetables and butter, which has been going quite well. This evening I spent some time on a blog https://fireinabottle.net/ which proposes the theory that it’s all about the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. The science is way over my head, but personal experience suggests that the more butter I eat the looser my trousers. There's also the advantage that fat is cheaper than protein. I’ve just ordered some cacao drops to boost my saturated fat ratio even more, but for the time being I draw the line at eating croissants…

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