The reformed materialists

Where are you and where are you going?
wolf
Posts: 1088
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by wolf »

ThriftyRob wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:10 am
I found a link to an FI calculator via MMM. I put my numbers in and it confirmed I’m FI! :)
congrats! what are the conditions to be FI by the calculator?

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

wolf wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:16 am
congrats! what are the conditions to be FI by the calculator?
Thanks. The standard FIRE dogma - cover current expenses with 4% return on capital invested.

ertyu
Posts: 1511
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ertyu »

I’m FI at 4% also but boy I don’t trust it.

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 10:30 am
I’m FI at 4% also but boy I don’t trust it.
I think it's prudent to have more cover, so drawing 3% would be better!

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

The fight against consumerism
In the run-up to Christmas, the material world launches all its temptations on us. I have mostly resisted the barrage of Black Friday (just ordered two bottles of gin: one for offering to guests over the holiday and the other for a present). I was sorely tempted by a wool sweater from the manufacturer's sale (a company in the Faroe Islands). I have clicked on my size and colour choice but have left the checkout page open in my browser and I haven't completed my credit card details. I have a good choice of warm sweaters and I don't really need another, but it's blue and would join up another web in my wardrobe! I'm really pleased that I haven't been tempted to search for photographic gear or home electronics!:) There are lots of airlines offering deals on flights, but I'm not ready to book travel yet until the Covid threat is contained and the world is open again.
Work
I had a flurry of work meetings on Zoom and Teams this week. It's really wearing having to concentrate on a screen full of thumbnail pictures of meeting participants! Fortunately, two days were with a board who pay me an honorarium so the income will be good when it arrives. Today and tomorrow I'm editing and laying out a magazine for a local client, so writing this piece here is part of my relief from the boredom! The money is decent so I'm not complaining.
Retirement locations
We need the travel ban to end before DW and I can check out retirement locations. That's a bummer because fixing on a town would really help my motivation to declutter, refurb and market the house. The airline serving the Isle of Man is moving its flight from London City to Heathrow from 1 December, which would be better for us. I'm biding my time watching relocation reality tv programmes (A Place in the Sun, etc.) on satellite tv. Very educational!

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

December Update

Spending
An easy month for me to avoid spending as I was hospitalised - first for six days for a pre-planned elective procedure (which went very well) and five nights unplanned with a fever (now sorted by antibiotics). Being hospitalised while Covid-19 is spreading like wildfire was an interesting experience. The stay generated some interesting themes for blogging and I may have the makings of a blog and a book, a possible side-hustle and certainly a new project for me to focus on.
In the intervening days we spend £1221 which is about 50% up on recent running rate but accounted for by a wedding gift for our niece, a major service and roadworthiness check for DW's car, presents for family and stocking up with nice food and treats for the holiday season. I also went back to the Navia website and treated myself to the jumper I liked.

#vanlife
I have flirted with thoughts around the lifestyle for months. In addition to enabling our goal of travelling, the conversion of a van to a RV appeals as a worthwhile renaissance project. In December, a comprehensive e-book on how to complete your van-conversion was published. I downloaded a copy and having worked through it, the recommendations point to spending £8000 on the base vehicle plus about the same on converting it and fitting it out. £16k sunk cost! The investment income lost would cover many nights in hotels or airbnb. Comparing running costs between a van and an economy car, they are about double. So from a financial perspective I don't think we'll be becoming vanlifers! That prompted the 'what if' thought process about travelling in an economy car and subsequently just relying on public transport and bicycles.
In fact, I'm more committed than ever to going car-free.

Property ownership
I'm still committed to moving to the Isle of Man for the quality of life and the low tax regime. Our first step will be to rent (12-months with a 6-month break option) in case there are any deal-breakers. After that, we could continue to rent or we could buy a 'lock and leave' compact property to serve as our home base. We need to spend less than six-months/year in the rest of the UK to avoid incurring a tax liability there. I think that's easy with our ambition to visit parts of Asia and the US and also to spend time exploring Europe more.

One idea that percolated to the surface while lying in my hospital bed was a 'two-centre' lifestyle. In addition to the Isle of Man, having a property in Portugal (a winter bolthole) could be attractive. I need to look at purchase and holding costs and compare them with rental.

Transportation
If 'two-centre living' is the way forward for us then there can be complication with stuff like car ownership so I have to evaluate how practical it will be to have a pair of folding e-bikes that we take with us wherever we go. I don't know how resilient they are to go in checked baggage when flying. The idea of all my possessions fitting in a rucksack and having an e-bike as my primary method of transportation really appeals. I had already made the mental note to move my wardrobe in the direction of lightweight clothing, so that's compatible.

Folding e-bikes will fit in an Uber or on public transportation and if we are doing long trips then rental cars will take the strain. I'd previously recoiled away from e-bikes on cost grounds but when they will genuinely replace a car, what's not to like?

Work
Colleagues have been sneaky, devious and political in their dealings in recent weeks. Normally I'd have the energy to take them on and fight but weakened by a fever I have thought through my options. Ultimately it's to extricate myself from the situation at a point which suits me while not stressing about situations and ensuring they experience some discomfort from their behaviour towards me. Actually, I don't think the folks concerned have thought much about me given their self-obsessed, self-promoting, social media approach to life.

It seems that I can add 'people will let you down' to Benjamin Franklyn's two certainties in life being death and taxes!

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

Covid
As the UK is in full lockdown again, the doom and gloom are oppressive. Our family has hibernated and we are avoiding people with a vengeance! The weather is pretty grim – freezing temperatures and grey, cloudy skies, which don't help the mood. It's too cold to do chores outside in the garden. I find myself avoiding the news, which is a miserable medley of covid fatalities, infection rates and Donald Trump!

Much to DW's puzzlement, the NHS track and trace app has instructed her to self-isolate for 10 days. This corresponds to her last visit to the supermarket, however, we find it hard to believe that she spent 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone infected with the virus. Pushing a supermarket trolley creates a 2 metre space in front and if she had been stalked by someone in the store she would have been aware of it. Dutiful as she is, she's following through with self-isolation, which ends at midnight tonight.

Transportation
Having done some more research, I found that most folding e-bikes can't be taken on planes due to their batteries being some sort of hazard/safety risk. Bit of a blow that!

#vanlife
I thought I should add clarity to my thoughts last week. I like the idea of selling our conventional home and living mostly in a converted van. DW isn't prepared to stretch that far, requiring that we keep a 'home base'. So my thoughts about the cost of a van conversion are set in the context of the cost being in addition (not instead of) rental payments on an apartment/etc. I'm all for living in a van/RV and the secret of our long marriage is knowing when to compromise!

Geoarbitrage
Heading south for winter is particularly appealing right now in our wintry spell of weather. Having researched Portugal further, it may not be our ideal winter location due to the heavy rains in winter. DW still has concerns about the remoteness of the Isle of Man which we will confront by visiting when they reopen their border to the rest of the UK. DW is doing property searches for Suffolk, which is a nice county but not very tax-efficient! We are pretty much certain to rent rather than buy a home for all the good reasons cited by JL Collins and other FI bloggers.

A wider search on 'geoarbitrage' brings up references to south east Asian countries, so I'll be doing more reading on Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in due course.

Spending/saving
Lockdown makes this really easy. Our only outgoings are utilities and food/household shopping. DW and I both receive our normal salaries while WFH and being confined to home there's no temptation from bricks and mortar shops. I am monitoring prices online for Bowers and Wilkins PX7 noise-cancelling headphones and I'll pull the trigger if there's value to be had.

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

Covid
DW's self-isolation is over and we are back to new-normal! I was talking to the CEO of an organisation I work with on Friday and her comment was 'everyone's very tired' – which sums up how I feel about this whole situation. My last vacation was almost 12-months ago, I worked through the summer vacation season and I'm really ready for a break somewhere warm and sunny! It has been ok deferring vacation and working through when we have been mostly in lockdown with travel bans, however, I'm proving to myself why regular breaks are so important for keeping energy and spirits up.
Vaccinations appear to be rolling out very slowly in my area and I have no idea when I'll get the call.

Geoarbitrage/ERE
The conversations with DW continue on this topic. She's planning her escape from her job. She has a difficulty with imagining us without a home that we return to and she asks questions like 'What would I do with my violin?' and 'What would you do with your Japanese cleaver?' – testing the presumption that we can sell all our possessions and pack our belongings into a rucksack each. Any advice from someone who has crossed that bridge would be much appreciated!
Actually, I think she's adapting pretty well to the new mindset and is actually exploring how we're going to make ERE happen without making life more difficult than it needs to be. In one discussion, she agreed that spending £100k on a flat where we would store our random possessions that we can't take travelling doesn't make much sense financially. I suggested a three-bedroom townhouse in County Durham (from £30k) and her response was 'but what about the neighbourhood/neighbours?' A rental property at £700/month is also a very expensive secure storage option!
I have been reading FIRE blogs on Chiang Mai which seem pretty positive for over-wintering.

Spending/saving
Our gas supply contract is up for renewal soon. I used a comparison site to find a cheaper supplier and have set up the changeover. Our broadband too. I have bought the PX headphones (great) and two replacement toilet seats (part of staging the home for sale) but otherwise not been tempted by all the January sales offer emails.

jacob
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Re: The reformed materialists

Post by jacob »

In the US, people who can not possibly part with their "precious" usually put it in a storage unit while they flit around the world. Then after about 12 months, they get tired of paying the rent to store things they haven't used for over a year and empty it out. If storage units are not a thing in the UK, maybe try to arrange to have things boxed up in someone's garage/attic possibly for money.

ThriftyRob
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: The reformed materialists

Post by ThriftyRob »

Thanks @Jacob for your reply about 'precious' stuff. We do have secure storage units in the UK. The cost is £11 per week for 16 square feet for one year. Cheaper than buying a flat but still an overhead. I think I'd like to cut the year in storage out of the process and dispose of the stuff when we sell the house.

jacob
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Re: The reformed materialists

Post by jacob »

I would also prefer the rational approach of just getting rid of it outright. However, I've found that when letting go of stuff involves emotional attachment, it's often better to let reality argue the point. So out of the three options:

1) Buying a #100,000 flat to store stuff.
2) Having long and boring debates about getting rid of old school papers, toasters, yarn, electronics, ...
3) Paying to store stuff for a year in a unit and letting the person reach the rational conclusion on their own.

... I've found that (3) is often cheaper.

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