Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mayer-Briggs


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 www.16personalities.com

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

Life


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

Light

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.


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Iron

I was a blood donor from my 18th birthday until the day I moved abroad.
With my family background, that is just a thing you do when you can.
And sometimes you got a t-shirt.

I also frequently got iron tablets. Not that I needed them very often, I have a naturally high level and I eat well. (I also very quickly feel the symptoms of anaemia. A dinner with spinach and chicken liver with an orange after restores it fast. (two types of iron t be eaten with vitamin C which helps with the uptake, that is how I was thought.) Add some almonds for the other trace minerals. Or just eat, if it is enough for you, a few meals with more variation.)

Still, I was usually handed iron tablets. It was probably the routine for female donors.
And as usual when it comes to useful free things, I accepted.

Yesterday I ate my last remaining iron tablet.

Probably way past expiration date but definitely still with effect.
I need a lot more fluids than normal today to you-know get things going.
But not a cold in sight. Feeling strong as an old pot.

Now there is only a multi-vitamin box in the house.
The man and I each have one after been in touch with children.
We think it helps against kid-bugs.

Do you have vitamins or minerals in the house you could eat - or get rid of?

Monday, 21 November 2016

Roaming Paris

We went to Paris and roamed the streets in the sun for three days.

We kissed on bridges and while on one over the rail road, a train driver tooted his whistle and waved enthusiastically at us.

We ate when we were hungry and inspired. Best was a restaurant with food from Madagascar, Mariania just down the road from the Moulin Rouge (no website, . Walk slowly, it is tiny and easy to miss and that would be a shame. I normally order the thing on the menu I do not quite know what it is. I by now have learned what Andouilette is and that it is fine, so I don't order that any more. Otherwise the memorable French culinary experience this time was Os a Moelle - bone marrow roasted and served in the bone.

We saw the Louvre from the inside for the first time. The history of the palace is fascinating, the "stuff" is overwhelming although fantastic. Don't bother about La Joconde (Monna Lisa) there is an in my mind even better portrait by Da Vinci. La Belle Ferronniere hangs almost unnoticed in the gallery.  Go late in the day or if you can in off season when many tourist stay away.

Our hotel was the friendliest, sweetest, cleanest dingy place I've ever stayed at. Not a place I will recommend (I want to keep it to myself). But also because I do not think most people can handle the microscopic room, toilet and shower shared in the corridor or the thread bare towels. We spent only nights there and stored our pyjamas' the rest of the time; for us it was perfect.

We went to the Arts et metier museum and although we started where we ended our visit the last time, we could not make it through. Again exhausted and over-inspired. It is a fabulous place for planes, trains, automobiles, bicycles and all scientific history you can ever want.

We also went to the Jean-Jaques Henner museum to see more paintings by an artist I first saw at the local art museum in Mulhouse a couple of years ago and who by now has had his own museum renovated. Very nice, very inspiring with room for improvements. We will make a Henner exhibition in our bedroom.

We also walked, from morning to evening. Following the New York-method meaning you cross the street on the first green street light regardless of where it takes you. Cheating is allowed. This only works in towns where the pedestrian street lights are automatic, not requiring to press a button.
We saw the modern Bastille, castle towers built year 1190, a book for sale estimated at 390 000€, an dreamy apartment costing less, a lovely church Notre-Dame de Bonne Nouvelle where the organist was practising, a art nouveau styled school, and a thousand other oh, look there's that I have forgotten now. Paris is always inspiring and it is important not to stay away. It is also the best counter-action against terrorists.

We banned work emails during the weekend but on the train home I got notice that I have received another project for my most beloved steel company (starting directly) and with another project for January, I can skip a lot of less stimulating things at work. Very inspiring! The man had an email from a client almost crying when hearing he could be available, they want him for a year. They are not going to get that, but it is nice to be asked.

The fast, high speed charge extra train home from Paris was announced to be an hour late and we accepted to be humbled by life. However, we arrived on time and we never asked why.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Paris

Enough is enough.
We are going to Paris over the weekend.

We got cheap train tickets and a hotelroom for a song.
We will spend one day in the Louvre, one day in three other museums and one day trying to get lost.

We have made a stack of sandwiches and filled out water bottles. We got an outrageous amount of cheap muslei bars to have as pocket food. We packed warm sleep wear and comfortable shoes. Two changees of under clothes and toiletries. The back packs weigh five kilo and looks like a small gym back. We will look completely parisienne.

If a tasty brasserie invites us, there is budget for a two-three course dinner and wine at cafés and an oyster each in Les Halles and numerous coffees if we want to.

It is enough death for now, we are going to be alive.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

PoorAdvice

Why are there so many financial advisers with no money?

I am just wondering - and I think I will say it again.

Why have financial advisers rarely any personal wealth?

There is currently blogg-war raging between two serious financial bloggers on which is the best way to invest money. (No names. They need no encouragement.) (Both are equally insulting and infuriating btw!)

The most furiating thing is that neither of them really have any money. I do not only mean that they do not have any real money - although that is true too. Neither one of them actually have any serious amounts of money beyond the value of the property where they live.
Both of them also have children and wife's to support meaning the money that they do have has to stretch to cover several persons. Neither can survive a year with their current expenses without income from work - or advertisement. I call fake on them both.

I love to read about people who have no money and make do - happily or not, beautifully or not, but they struggle and usually succeed to keep their life within their budget. Some of them have much more income than their budget but it goes to paying off debt or establishing savings. All of them are inspiring. All of them are real. All of them are helpful and respectful.

I do not like to read about advising investments they themselves are not taking - or even in position to take. I also do not like to read about what people plan to do with their money when they have them. Especially if it is five to twenty-five years away. I like dreams, they are essential. But they are that - dreams. Not plans. I especially do not like to read about making or saving money written by people who neither make nor save any money.

I appreciate reading about people who has been through it for real.  How they did it.
I appreciate people who have managed. That is where I want my advice and inspiration to come from.
Not from those who say they do it, promise, there is a plan, and preparations will be done and there will be success, really truly.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Investments

I talk a lot about the money I do not spend.
On this blog I also occasionally mention the money I have.
In my normal life (you know, the real life where things happen? :) I never mention my money. Only the man will occasionally hear a "I am rich!" when I have counted my money and calculated my financial independence number. Occasionally it will come up in a conversation that perhaps I do know something about shares and stocks. I never talk about the markets where my money are as it is not relevant information for anybody but me. It is not advice for anybody or even good for anybody else to know.
To most people I am just a stingy, cheapskate who doesn't spend her money.
That is fine. That's the way I want it. That is the way it is - most of the time.

This week I have spent a lot of money. A lot. As in several annual budgets lots of money.
Actually, I have invested them in gold-edged secure funds and shares with large dividends.
Same thing.
I have been a buyer.
The same rules apply when buying stocks as to when buying socks.

I buy knowing what I want. I buy to hold. I want dividends more than share value increase. I buy when the price is right - or cheaper.
I buy what I want when everybody else is selling.
You may do something different with your money on your markets and with your knowledge.
There is a science behind it all but it is still a gamble, one only you can decide upon.

I have had a great week. I have bought at ridiculous levels. The markets are so volatile that bids on  ridiculous levels for shares in wonderful companies can go through. I usually put in a bid for the day before the markets open to see if they go through. I do not leave the bids in longer than that and I may change them during the day.
Now the bids go through. Only for the share price to bounce back up again.

These shares are affected by Japan, UK, Russia and the silly country of the week while the companies production, market, investments are not. The levels are for some companies lower than ever in the last five years - five years. Remember the catastrophes the financial markets have seen in five years? No, right, you don't and the markets do not either. 2008 is behind most of us and 2001 and 1995 is coming around again.

This means that this weekend is the time to go through your long term investments and read and understand what is happening and ponder where it is going. Do it in the weekend when the markets are closed. Do not make any decisions, just get a sense of what is happening.  Monday is the time for decisions. And do not trust anybody. Not even banks. And most certainly not me.

Don't tell me I told you to do anything. Never follow the advice of a blogger with no credentials.

But understand and learn and know and look and read and take no risks with money you need.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Socks2016

Socks have been in focus the last few days.
After a summer vacation spent in mostly wet hiking boots, socks have taken a hard beating.

All socks have been washed hot inside out. All have been gone through to weed out the poor ones.

I am approaching the point when I can buy a new set of ten or fifteen new black office socks (something I thought would happen last year but found not needing). I am planning it for spring 2017.

The man has eliminated all his poor socks and is currently living with only nice socks. It makes dressing in the morning easier. It also makes sorting socks easier (as all match each other there is no matching needed. They are all just bundled up in pairs when they come off the line and go in the sock box.

Currently I have seven short black office socks, five long black office socks (not including two that are worn every week to wear them out, two pairs of fun socks, three pairs of warm socks, six short summer socks and two pairs of sports socks which how ever serve as bed socks. (I do not do sports in socks). I also work from home some of the time when I do not wear socks (warm indoor slippers)

This usually takes me through a week or two.

BTW Death has come and gone, the pain is over and the grieving has started which is easier for everybody. The mother was happy into the end, ready, prepared and with everything arranged and having said her farewells. In this country it is a choice for the terminally ill to decide when they want to die.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is going to be a really very memorable utterly shithole of a day for somebody.

The only reason that it is not miserable today is that today is Monday.

Tomorrow however is Tuesday and that can be made devastatingly awful.

I am focusing today on trying to make tomorrow better. Not today. All focus is on tomorrow.
I cook, clean, write notes, send encouraging text messages, fold laundry, vacuum and prepare for the rest of my life. We need to be strong and prepared. Tomorrow is going to be awful.

This evening our friend is by her dying mothers side. Tonight her brother will be there.
Tomorrow her mother will be gone.

Today I am focusing all my might on trying to make tomorrow a better day.
I go write an assignment for my studies. I will mend a sock. I will bake a cake.

Anything to improve on tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Spoon

With financial freedom comes the time and strength to support others.

We had the children for dinner last night (including homework checking and bed time arrangements).
We are about fourth or fifth on a list of people ready and willing to take care of these children and only occasionally are we needed. Two commuting parents with problems of their own are raising two kind supportive, interesting and unusual individuals. Although we are in general not fond of children, these two individuals we do like. We are always happy to help and most of the time available.

Yesterdays dinner and dessert resulted in us having no clean large spoons in the house this morning. (No problem, we had pancakes with cheese, but still rare enough to mention.) This almost never happens, we have so much cutlery. We also do dishes most days (the apartment has no washing machine to store dirty dishes in) so the sensation of being out of spoons just does not occur.
I didn't even break out the ridiculous but convenient pic-nick set for four I was given several years ago and which is used for midsummer pic-nicks and large family gatherings.

Consequently, because this is me and how I do things,
this morning, instead of starting doing the dishes, I cleaned out the cutlery drawer. (Most was out of it anyway so not a lot of work.) The drawer and the insert was washed and wiped and when completely dry, all cutlery and stuff will go back in. Or not, depending on what stuff has actually been used the last year.
I already sneaked away a hand held cheese grater that I do not like and the man does not use, into the "on the way out" box.
If he wants it back, he can; if not, he will not.
There might be more pieces up for discussion.
That one was not. The discussion has been had three years in a row.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Sweet

I have been talked to very sweetly by my employer.
Not a single snappy comment.
No answers and no resolutions but I have been let in on the secret plans for the company and I have been stroked and petted.

I still work there and I will for at least six more months.
Unfortunately for them, while being annoyed, I sent out a number of resumes to potentials.
And I counted my money.
Again and again.
And I spent almost nothin'.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nov2016Project

The project I have set myself for November 2016 is related to clothes.
Yes, yet again.
I still have too much clothes. With too much I consider more clothes than needed to keep me dressed  a month or two without laundry and that are not special occasion pieces. Although I bought very little the last five-six-seven years and the amount in "storage" (meaning waiting to be worn until I need it) is rapidly reduced, there is still too much clothes in my possession.

I am however on the verge of wearing out a lot of clothes.
I therefore think I need to focus on using what is on the verge of being discarded so that I can tip them over the point and actually get it out of the house.

The project for November is the following new habit:
After every laundry and when the clothes are being folded up to be put back into the closet, all good clothes go into storage. Unless it is something I do not quite like, something that is worn and should be on the way out. These things go back in the closet (or in the "on the way out the door box" if it is really something I do not want to wear again. Some things are thrown directly.

The project started with the kitchen towel-project. We have some (terry) towels for the kitchen. They always started to smell after a few days. They were not even very old an not worn or bleached. So they got laundered in a very very warm wash. When used the next time, they still started to smell after a few days. So they got soaked in vinegar for a few days and then rinsed. They still started to smell after a few days. With the first one, we looked at each other and without breaking eye contact, just put the towel in the bin. It was easier with the second one. The third one survived a week without starting to smell so it is still in use.
With only one kitchen towel in active duty, we also suddenly saw what else was available. A terry towel advertising a gym is our new kitchen towel. It had been sitting in the man's drawer for many years, now a free kitchen towel. We also found an orange towel from a previous kitchen. The colour is wrong for the "décor" but seriously, who cares. Now all our kitchen towels are upgraded. When these are out of action, we can get a new set.

So I thought I would do the same thing with my clothes. Store the things I know I like and keep using the things I question. Now, I do not have to dress up for work but it doesn't matter. If the clothes you have in your wardrobe does not suit your work and that is your lifestyle, then they should go.

This is not a money saving project, but neither does it cost me anything. I simply use what I have until it doesn't work for me any more and then I will be left with the good pieces - and possibly a wardrobe where all clothes are good and well fitting.
I am currently folding the third batch of  laundry in this project and I am starting to see which things come back again and again.

Today I am wearing:
- a funny coloured much loved pair of socks that really are on its last leg of life, 
- the loved perfect pair of jeans that have not yet been laundered under this scheme,
- a too transparent sports t-shirt under
- a slightly faded sweater.
Except for the sports-t which was a mistake bought one-two years ago, I have probably worn this combo five hundred times before. I will continue to do so until the individual parts cannot perform any longer.

Besides the jeans. They will be put aside after next laundry.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

FI31,43


I am currently one snappy comment away from full freedom and financial independence.

This is what all the skimping, saving and investing all comes down to.
The opportunity to say - no, this is enough - and then walk away. Calmly.

Or in my case: This is not enough! (and I am not calm at all).

My current financial situation is that I hold 31,43 annual budgets in my possession.
It is not as much as it was about ten days ago (31,47) but it is more than I have ever owned. It is way more than the 25 that is estimated to regenerate itself eternally (with an estimated 4 % return,  See more about Early retirement Extreme ERE on its blog).

I count my financial assets every month, divide with a set annual budget that I have lived within for years and estimate the amount of financial freedom it gives me. I do not include the value of my home (as I live there), nor any and all legal or restricted pensions that will (or will not) start paying out in 20 years or so.

So when the going gets tough, the arguments are mounting up and the room closes in - I am free to walk if I want to. (Yes that will be walk. There is no money available for luxury.) But I am free to just close my computer, take out the SIM card out of the phone and never going to work any more.

There is a fair bit of separation anxiety. There is a lot of uncertainty.
There is also a great deal of rage and annoyance. Several bad words roam my brain.
I have however no crippling fear for the financial situation.

It took hard work, five years and several difficult decisions. But it is now done.
The remaining question to decide is: Have I had enough of this?

(I have the Viking blood roaring in my ears and I know I need to calm down a week or so before I make a final decision to pack my bags... )