Friday, January 15, 2021

We're moving back to Savannah!!


....for this post only...

Don't you just hate click bait

In all seriousness life is going great on this little island but sometimes when I write it doesn't quite feel authentic for anyone reading who's living in the USA and can't get a visa to move longer term or simply doesn't want to leave their family and friends behind but at the same time still wants to quit their job and live a more free existence.

There is some reality to all this too, when we exited the Savannah back at the end of 2016 we always had a thought in our heads that we would return one day and that still isn't entirely off the table. The place has a lot going for it like being allowed to drink alcohol in the street in the squares, similar to New Orleans. Also there is this other thing where you're allowed to drink alcohol in the

But besides that the winters are pretty mild and there is a relaxed atmosphere that we loved there. In that respect there are some similarities between the Isle of Wight and Savannah, the driving around here is also pretty slow...

So this hypothetical situation really entails the someday reality when our rental property there becomes available once more. The current tenants bail and we catch the flight back over there to work on it or live there indefinitely or both...

First off the primary concern would be medical. This was always our major Covid concern before we exited Oklahoma back in june 2020, winding up on a ventilator and getting hit with an astronomical out of network medical bill that wiped us out. But let's assume our USA return would be in the post-Covid post-vaccine world when we're all jacked up on Astra-Zeneca's finest..(the one where they are touting it's ability to teach your body to fight off any future SARS outbreaks..yeah that's the one)

Beyond that we would be down the rabbit hole of whether we return on travel insurance or jump face first into the Affordable Care option. I would guess we would use the former first and if it looked like a longer, workable stay then default to the ACA at the next open enrollment.

So here goes with the second because I think that's more applicable:-

We live in Savannah in Chatham county, Georgia so let's survey our options based on our $24000 per year salary which has a subsidy of $943 and our monthly on a silver Caresource plan is $177 per month with $1800 deductible and dental, vision covered. No idea if this or the alternative, Ambetter is a good company though.

"Whoa hang on...$24000?? Eh?? Are you kidding me? Think you might want to throw in rehab for whatever you're smoking"

But $2000 per month is actually a realistic figure when you factor in that we have no mortgage on our place.

We bought the house for $118k, now worth about $150k if you believe the property tax and realtor folks. 3 bed 2 and a half bath townhouse. Believe me you do need those 2 and a half baths living in the Isle of Wight place with one bathroom taught us that...

The point is I still to this day believe a property for $150k is actually affordable and pay-offable to a large percentage of folks when they finally quit work. Maybe I'm being unrealistic?

So there is your first assumption...paid off mortgage or downsized from a McMansion.

So you're still free to the tune of $2000 with a roof over your head. What about the natural overheads for that roof over ones head?

So for ours we currently have all insurances, property taxes, city taxes, HOA at $325 per month. That includes hurricane insurance though since Savannah is in that world where that can be an issue in the season. Price you pay for pretty weather most of the year...

Why HOA? Well we can go back and forth if you like but you're more than welcome to the neighbor angle-grinding his 1974 Chevy in the driveway, experience taught us we like some HOA because people can be a little, well, selfish at times. Just not a crazy aggressive one about exact grass blade height etc.

Next we then have the other bills as we walk through the door on day one:-

Electricity - $50 per month.

"Eh? Isn't this Savannah that's brutally hot all summer? No way is that $50! My buddy lives in Florida and pays 5 times that"

The property is a townhouse so doesn't have windows on either side which means the blazing sun only hits front and rear. Mainly at the rear two windows since the back door is a solid. So if during the day we keep the blinds shut back there and maybe even add some blackout curtains we're good.

Also the property is slab so no heat is coming up from below either, unlike our old house on Wilmington Island which had a large crawl space and would struggle to cool all summer.

In Savannah we only really ever used ceiling fans too, the air con just wasn't on that much.

Next we've got water at $50, garbage at another $50 and internet again at $50.

This gives us a $700 per month total per month with the medical in there.

Beyond this we have groceries. This is always seemingly the big ticket item that can make or break a retirement as it can vary so wildly. I like to go worst case with $1000 per month like I did in the figures before I retired again this time around.

So in total we're looking at $1700 per month needed so far.

Beyond that there is only really the car to consider.

Toyota Corolla. Very strict on this rule too and it comes down to running costs, resale value, reliability etc.

Ideally ex-fleet rental car to be sold to CarMax on the way out the door. 

Car outlay would be about $5-6000 and running costs used to be around $150 per month including gas, tags and insurance.

Puts us at around $1850, not far from our $2000 total. See? Ye of little faith...

So where does this $2000 per month come from?

Ok show me the money!!!

To cover the bills we'd be using the $675 per month from dividends in the brokerage.

To cover the groceries we'd be using all the proceeds from the Southport apartment rent which is $700.

Making up the remaining $625 we have two choices, either we rent out the current place on the Isle of Wight via Airbnb or we can leave the place empty and use the Roth and Traditional IRA dividends and just pay the 10% penalty or maybe even look into a 72t. I don't really care about paying the 10% though to be honest for however long it's needed, life is short and we never know if we'll ever even make it to full retirement age.

That last $625 could just as easily be $850 if other incidentals come up but we have to be careful not to blow the ACA subsidy by having too much income. The more income we take the more we get penalized losing the subsidy so it's definitely a high wire act. 

So that's about it, I sincerely believe we could go back to the USA and live in Savannah as and when the property comes available based on the above figures.

The main reason I prefer being on the Isle of Wight though is because we only need income of $12000 to live comfortably including a small car and we can use the extra to invest and put more towards traveling the world etc. Also don't have to be too worried about the health insurance side of things like in the USA.

Ironically though as I've been writing this we've had an email from the rental agent to say the tenant wants to extend another year, that said I think the premise of this post has been pretty useful.

When we were traveling the world for Dividend Nomad we arrived at the final conclusion that it's possible to live in most places in the world for $1500 per month so it's pretty cool that the USA only needs another $500 even though we are mortgage payment free..

Good to know for future reference and hopefully this post can also inspire a future retiree.

Love to all,


Sunday, January 10, 2021

The trigger-free lifestyle

I consider myself very lucky to be able to say I remember life before Social Media, before staring down at your phone became a thing. The decade that stands out the most was the 1990's.
Aaaah, beautiful times.

Triggering and being offended simply didn't exist. Didn't seem to anyways, not so I ever noticed.

These stressful features of the modern existence only seemed to come about with smartphones and smashing the "like" button on social media. The dopamine addiction from the like button seems to me to have made us maybe a little..erm, mentally ill maybe? Addicted to attention? Constantly requiring validation to our opinions?

I don't know if anything I'm saying offends. Just comments. Opinions even. 

This was all alien back in the 1990's, fact is if we went back in the DeLorean to back then and told our previous selves about the latest technology we'd likely be impressed by the progress.  But on further inspection I feel like 90's us would pass a comment along the lines of "isn't it a bit narcissistic though?"

Maybe? Who knows..

Reason I say that is because in 1999 that was an exact comment I made myself.

I was working in an aerospace office and the IBM rep broke open the laptop and showed off his webpage. It had pics of him rock climbing, playing his guitar, mountain biking. Numerous CAD developers around me took notice but what stood out was seemingly my peculiar response "but why?"

"But why what?"

"I mean what's the purpose of these pages showing you doing these different things?" 


Little did I know but thinking back this was seemingly the 1999 early version of someone being offended in the modern technology-based way.

The IBM guy gave a little laugh and looked around the room but didn't seem to be able to answer the question I'd asked.

Again, awkward. Silence.

Was I missing the point by asking this ridiculous question?

I then proceeded to turn back to my machine and continue working. Thought nothing more of it.

The more I think about it that initial reaction was pretty much what I'd call a pure space alien response to witnessing Social Media now. If I'd just landed on this planet I'd still question the point of the entire exercise from a narcissism perspective.

Aren't we all meant to progress through the Fulcrums getting less and less ego-narcissist as we ascend the ladder ultimately becoming more and more spiritual? From birth (Fulcrum 0) to Ram Dass (Fulcrum 8 and above)

So from the Spirituality perspective Social Media seems on the surface to be taking us backwards and pausing our existence on one of the lower fulcrums..we're sitting on a ladder rung...potentially forever.

Which is ok..

I mean if that's what makes you happy. It's cool. I'm not here to judge.

If we sit on a low fulcrum and don't develop from 11-15 year old us though, then how are we ever going to achieve a more Spiritual life that will lead us to a higher level of Buddhist-style enlightenment?

Perhaps we don't care though, maybe it doesn't matter.

Look, I don't want this post to turn into a constant dig at Social Media as I'm sure there must be some positives to it but after being aware of it's existence for over 2 decades I still can't honestly see how it became such an important part of our lives.

This is a viewpoint after having had periods of being active on FB and Instagram at various points in those 20 years. 

The final reason for quitting FB was pretty much the opposite to the reason I accessed it in the first place. To make contact with old school friends from back in the day. Turns out in my case there is a good reason you leave those relationships behind as you exit the school gates for the last time...

That is because FB seemed to only be about old school friends accumulating friends in order to look popular like we were back in the playground. Once you figured that out there wasn't much point continuing with it. 

It was basically school all over again. FB had regressed us to our pre-18 year old lives while living as adults.

Then the part about them selling your data was made public and it was time to call it quits.

Next was Instagram. Again not wishing to tear all these platforms apart and as Dividend Nomad I did have a presence on it because I believed that documenting the journey with photographs mattered as part of the blogging experience. 

The instagram world eventually got a little frustrating because it became about liking photographs or people liking ones from our travels. Again as a space alien from another planet...what's the point in the exercise? Is there even a point to the exercise. 

But people make money on Instagram as influencers so that's good right? Also don't the photographs give people vacation ideas that then aid the travel industry?

Well if it's a part of your new sales career then I guess so. But I'm FIRE and to be honest trying to sell me something is like flogging a dead horse, the effort to lighten my wallet is pretty much fruitless. If I'm going to visit a country seeing it on Instagram never really swayed the decision either way.

At the end of Dividend Nomad the Instagram account was disabled too. Finished. Gone.

So 2 years down the line Social Media free, has it made a difference? Has it made life better?

The best answer I can give is that I don't miss it one bit, had a good idea that would be the case though. Life is 1000 x more peaceful and pretty much like my life back in the 90's. No biggie.

The best part triggering. No dopamine hits gushing around the brain releasing feel good hormones but worth it to not experience triggering. 

When triggering goes away I feel like life becomes a lot more healthy and less stress.

Feel like a Social Media-free life is a more contented one, the time on it was quickly replaced with reading books, painting, learning piano etc. The time has been better deployed in my opinion.

Can also imagine quitting it isn't such a big upheaval for FIRE folks because we tend to do non-herd mentality weird things that society finds strange anyway. Quitting work in your 30's 40's, 50's is still weird to most people in this world. No social media either? Oooh shocker!

When you trigger it produces a stress response similar to the one which came when your Manager announced you would be coming in saturday and sunday "we lost some folks so need to play catchup" 
akin to an Office Space Lundberg accostment.

Why would we want that type of stress response on a moment by moment basis? All in the name of entertainment?

Beyond Social Media once we notice the positive life changes as a result of the  removal of trigger stress responses it becomes addictive in another way. From there you can identify other trigger sources like Mainstream Media and reduce or eliminate your exposure to that too.

All those years growing up when DD4L senior continually instructed me to "keep up with what's going on in the world" I figured he'd be very disappointed if I told him I stopped reading the news but when I explained my reasons he seemed to see my point. All good.

DD4L senior to this day get's triggered by the news, you can tell. He's retired though and I feel like he should really be living his life in a relaxed way sipping margarita's by the beach not getting wound up by Brexit and Covid fear-mongering.

Fact is what happens in the news is nothing you can influence. It's out of your control so getting stressed about it, like Social Media has to be a fruitless exercise right?

My late father-in-law used to comment "but what if a missile is about to land on you? how will you know?"

The only answer I could give is I wouldn't and I'm ok with that. Maybe that sounds ignorant perhaps. 

The removal of other people's influence in your life be it friends on Social Media, journalists on Mainstream Media, Covid fear-mongering or anyone else for that matter turns out is not so much a bad thing as you'd think. 

To be yourself, think for yourself in an organic way in control of your own thoughts, living life on your own terms is pretty much worth the bother.

It is to me anyways.

Again just an opinion. Not wishing to cause offense...y'know.

Love to all,



Sunday, January 3, 2021

The more things stay the same...the more they change..

Interesting times looking ahead a couple of weeks..

No sooner had 2021 clicked over when we received a message from DD4L Jr, asking if he can come down to try his luck living on this little island with us.

Like most young folks out there Covid has seen Jr recently turfed out of the world of employment. In a similar way to what we found out ourselves many years ago he understands the best option is to be 100% geographically flexible as well as cutting overheads down to the bone.

His best option of the both of these is to leave the North-West UK where jobs are scarce and job seekers plenty and give here a go. Bad times so needs must.

Rather than viewing this boomerang scenario with the usual retiree groan we're more looking at it as helping both him and his girlfriend when they both need it most. Free roof over their heads and food in their bellies while it all sorts itself out and vaccines get slowly administered, hopefully they can also keep their savings intact in the interim.

To his girlfriends' credit she's already got a few options lined up in her nursing home profession sector which is pretty cool to be honest. Fingers crossed she can get something squared away.

Are we ready to have our newly remodeled, peaceful little FIRE world disrupted though?

Yeah screw it we'll be fine. Actually looking forward to reconnecting with them to be honest, seeing your offspring once a year is nowhere near enough. Much prefer him be with us and hopefully then become more local when normal life resumes.

So that's the first big change of only 3 days in..

The aim of this post is an attempt to try to counter a little of the mountain of negativity that has been lumped onto this year. Everywhere I keep hearing how terrible the year has been for everyone, praying for 2021 to be better.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be an insensitive jerk. The ever increasing death rate from Covid for both pre-existing as well as non pre-existing is still ridiculous and can never be treated lightly but we cannot continue on this path of negativity, even in the face of adversity it's ok to look on the bright side. For the average person on the street to be asked to wear a mask to protect both yourself and the vulnerable is not too much to ask. It just isn't, especially since many vaccines are imminent. 

The negativity would seem to originate from our society not liking being told what to do, taking one for the team is seemingly out of the question. It just comes across more than a little spoiled and entitled. Imagine any of our grandparents acting so spoiled when asked to ration food during any of the world wars? 

Are the UK tier systems, lockdowns and Covid countermeasures ideal? Not at all but it's just a very brief moment in time that we needed to adapt to until the vaccine comes along. Again, it's not a drama and can even be viewed as 2020 giving us a lesson in humility that we can carry forward.

In another 2020 positive at the very end of the year Brexit finally happened and the UK broke away from the EU with all the opportunities this now presents.

Something that can get missed in all this is that the UK has never been anti-European it's just anti-EU which is a completely different issue. The EU has evolved from being a good idea to a bureaucratic all-powerful monster that has grown too large and corrupted whereas Europeans themselves are awesome multicultural people, like I say two completely different things.

From here the UK can now hopefully grow unimpeded in the way it should have done for the last few decades and strengthen trade links with the many countries of the rest of the world. I am looking forward to seeing all this unfold as we go along. 

See what I mean? Positive things happening and still in the dreaded 2020...

The point I'm trying to make is that when major upheavals come up, which they always will, it's a matter of deciding how you respond to them and the lessons you take away. Do you take the changes in your stride or allow them to get you down?

Covid has re-iterated to me how short life is and how it can taken from you in the blink of an eye so go ahead and enjoy every minute. Nothing's changed there.

Here are a few pics from our 2020 post-FIRE life that we've loved...not ashamed to say it's been an awesome year! 

Freshwater bay

The Needles


Yaverland Beach


Hanging out with the Guernsey calves at Briddlesford Farm...lots of arm licking involved (from the calf not me obviously)

So happy 2021 from DD4L and hope yours is every bit as good as we found 2020 to be.

Per Monty Python's Life of Brian closing scene:- "Always look on the bright side of life...."

Love to all,



Friday, December 25, 2020

The Christmas move-in!

Happy Christmas Day everybody!!

Big milestone this week. We moved into the house!!

So from here forward normal FIRE service is resumed, house payment free and hopefully we can now get back to enjoying a more regular cashflow with one set of property tax, one set of utilities, no rent overhead etc.

We had an idea we wanted to be in for Christmas roughly thereabouts and sometime after the flooring went in and pretty much stuck to that plan. Is the place perfect? Not quite, still has some odds and ends to tie up, some minor damp issues to chip away at but for the most part the work can be better done with us in place. The jobs are also now more like retirement "tinkering" than full-on projects.

Like finishing off quarter rounds, adding new door handles, dimmer switches and light fittings etc.

Besides that I was getting a little tired of the whole leaving the place to head back to the East Cowes apartment. So as of earlier this week I went around cleaning the apartment, met the landlord to give back the keys and had our deposit returned. Yay!!

Feels like a huge weight has been lifted, back to sleeping in our own paid off place in our own bed once more. We haven't done that since September 2019 back in Southport before it got rented out. I still hold the mindset that renting is giving away money so it never feels quite right.

Just when I was gearing up to enjoy an easier ride though the Savannah house throws a little hissy fit. A $700 hissy fit in the form of 2 new air conditioning dampers so majorly reduced rental income for a month and then as December rolled around it needed a couple of new toilet seal rings which saw us lightened of another $180. Oh well, that's rentals for you.

So for the last couple of months we've really been 100% surviving on brokerage dividends and rental from the Southport place in UK British Pounds. Things weren't actually that bad at all though, it seemed to work out ok on just those incomes alone and considering it's Christmas with all the added expenditure I thought it was a good test for us. Good to know that in the event the Savannah house ever sat empty it wouldn't be the end of the world income-wise.

Also recently paid off the HOA dues on Savannah for the next 12 months up front from a percentage of rental income accumulated since October. Now we get on saving a percentage towards next year's property taxes, hurricane insurance and city taxes.

What I love about all this is it's like running a little business of your own, managing the income and having a clear handle on where the inflows and outflows are. FIRE is definitely not about sitting around doing nothing that's for sure, never a dull moment.

The Isle of Wight as I write is currently in Tier 1 (ready to go Tier 3 in a couple of days) per the government tier system which is pretty much as normal an existence as you can get in the UK right now. To be fair though the whole lockdown deal here hasn't really felt like it's affected us thus far due to working on the house or taking the allowed unlimited exercise. The only part we're missing is the traveling to Southern Europe but right now that is not the place to be, it just isn't. Much as we'd love to be in our beloved Seville right now eating tapas and drinking red wine in the warm winter evening.

In Spain lockdown means lockdown, no going out at all with police enforcing the process. Yikes! No thanks.

On the daily exercise front we are back to walking twice a day through Cowes to the waterfront and back, with a run or bike thrown in for good measure for me. Got to be honest I love it here and am very happy to call it my home town once more, today we spent the time watching an NCL cruise ship sail by and reminisced about our winter vacations around the Caribbean out of Miami.

Pic: NCL cruise ship on the Solent (at the end of a rainbow...awww)

So from here it's just about moving along with the as-now neglected rear yard to work towards getting it ready for spring. Plan on building a nice patio with fencing updates and stone pathway additions. The outdoor work is the good stuff though and there's no pressure on those jobs.

I'll get around to adding some more completed house pics when it doesn't look quite so upside-down with Christmas debris...

As a side note, purely from a state of mind, psychological perspective I'm really getting a lot more relaxed again daily too, it's been 6 months back retired and I can definitely say the laid-back feeling is returning slowly. I think I was getting there at the end of the last 2 years of retirement and going back to work did set me back stress-wise but getting back to normal has been pretty quick this time around. I think the state of mind will only improve as time goes on and uncoiling continues. 

Hope everyone has a Happy Christmas and wish you all the best for the New Year!

Love to all,


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Why Dividend Growth Investing?

I'm happy to say I've been a Dividend Growth Investor for over 7 years now but it's become so much like second nature that to be honest I forget to even talk about it on this blog or even with anyone else I meet. Just because I don't talk about it though doesn't make it any less my favorite way to invest even to this day.

Fact is it isn't DGI's problem, it's a me problem...

Whenever anyone talks about any money topic recently I tend to cringe and not want get drawn in.

The main problem is that in my eyes the world seems to have become so money, power, corruption, greed obsessed that us everyday folks have become more and more insignificant to what seems like an increasingly bought off machine. Call it paranoia, cynicism or both but I just don't like to think about any part of the negative connotations that come with money. It sadly does make the world go round and these days especially it feels like money says jump and everyone asks how high?

Even writing this is quite uncomfortable. Weird huh? It's not even like by talking about it implies I'm automatically gonna run off and buy off a politician or a media company.

Does this mean that I'm meant to give everything away Ram Dass style and just live to serve other humans? After all isn't money simply a man-made social conscript that has seemingly created most of the negatives that ail the modern world, would we all treat each other better and be a lot more mentally healthy without it?

Maybe Ram's decision was a little extreme, I believe a balanced life can be a combination of both, take care of your basic financial needs per Maslow's pyramid and then go help others as and where you can in whatever way shape or form that takes.

But this blog is called Diversifieddividends4life, so technically isn't my job writing here meant to be all about investing? In it's defense I like to believe this blog is helping people stop being modern day slaves since unions are no longer around to protect us.

I just sometimes ponder that we're all on the wrong path with priorities upside-down doing things mother nature never intended. Lawless, godless and wild with money being the perpetrator.

Apologies for the rant, as usual, I digress....

Dividend Growth Investing is simply investing for growing dividends. As in growing dividends for the rest of your time in existence on this earth. 

Other investing strategies just didn't quite make as much sense to me all those years ago, the whole saving up a couple of million, dealing with crap from my boss etc couldn't wait that long. I was already burnt out and growing more and more frustrated and stressed by the day.

Can you imagine it though? My Manager in Big Corporation gives me relentless pressure, put-downs, beat-downs and my only response is "you'll be sooo sorry you said that in...err....6...(counts on fingers)..maybe 7...hmm...hang on 8 years time!!"

"Yeah in 8 years time, if you're still working here...I'll bring you back to this day and hand you my'll be soooo sorry when I reach a million, maybe 2 million dollars.....stock market permitting obviously"

Conventional investing wisdom was never honestly going to work, I couldn't stay there another decade to make some arbitrary million and then spend it down until an estimated date of demise in retirement based on historic family longevity. 

I mean what if I live to be over 90 and I've spent it all in the old folks home? What the heck do I think I'm going to do then?

"Ok here's your pudding but take your medication first.."

"Nope, gotta head back to work, I'm outta cash"

As I shuffle off the commode and pop the teeth in to go work on my resume...

Harsh example but you see what I mean though? A successful DGI strategy should always see your portfolio worth considerably more than the first day you retired. Throwing off ever-growing dividends along the way over and above inflation. It should be at it's highest value when you are at your most vulnerable, when you are likely to experiencing your most trying medical issues.

The onus should be on trying to live longer and happier, not praying for an early demise because funds are dwindling fast, or begging DD4L Jr for a bailout.

So in my case the portfolio value at age 90 should be considerably more than when I first retired at age 45, long after retiring when a comfortable level of growing income is reached.

That's it. Right there. You get to tell the employer you don't need them anymore when your life is covered financially. I tried to stay longer, honestly but found it impossible/unbearable, even that last OM6months. 

On the way to FIRE the same strategy was followed, growing dividends getting reinvested along with regular contributions, bonuses etc into the portfolio, growth-on-growth like a snowball rolling down a hill getting ever-compacted until it becomes an avalanche (in a positive way)

Keep that snowball rollin'....

As you go along it's pretty cool to actually line up each utility bill, be it electric, gas, water, groceries and allocate a growing dividend to each one.

Have a party pretty much every time a bill is covered, announcing to the world you won't be paying an electricity bill ever again...well, using sweat of the brow money anyways.

When each bill has a dividend allocated which covers the worst case scenario you're good. Test the portfolio while you still work. Ignore your regular wage and live off it's dividends alone for a year. maybe two to test if it works for you. Throw your highest bills at it, the hottest summers your aircon can handle, children that take showers twice a day.

Then when you have enough confidence from all the testing you're Financially Independent. Retired if you want. Done.

A million dollars? Two million? Safe withdrawal rate? Nope, it's just about covering the bills. I always worked to the concept that it's all that's necessary. That and ensuring the dividends continue to grow into perpetuity with a healthy back up fund for emergencies (new roof, deductibles etc) and for any buying opportunities. Withdrawal of principal should never even enter your mind for the decades to come, passing the fully matured portfolio onto your offspring eventually.

High quality companies that have grown dividends for decades through recessions, booms, busts, low dividend payout ratio's, low debt and ideally a sturdy, long term product that everyone can't live without. Like utilities, food, toothpaste, chemicals, home improvement etc

Alongside this though I did work on building home equity by buying properties in need of modernization, working on them and selling them before one final property downsize to become mortgage free. Not needing a dividend to cover a mortgage or rent payment makes life so much simpler.

So in a nutshell this is the premise of the blog, DGI as the strategy to get you over the FIRE finish line the soonest and then growing from there all the way into your senior years.

Obviously there are many other different ways to invest but DGI has always been the strategy that seemed to make the most sense long term, making it possible to quit thinking about money all the time and get on with living as soon in life as possible.

After all there's only so much money one person needs, any more won't make you any happier so why bother pursuing it beyond meeting your basic needs. Isn't it just wasting your life to keep pursuing more money than you can ever spend? Or to just keep going in order to buy more stuff? Society tries to dictate when the average human should do this, buy that, retire, no reason to really listen though since we're not at school anymore.

Here are just some DGI company examples who recently upped their dividends....evidently didn't get the Covid fear email. Not advising anyone to run out and buy them all, just making a point that even through the worst recession dividends can still grow, do your research and build your own confidence levels:-

Agilent Technologies (A), Aarons Holdings Company (AAN), Aflac (AFL) Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Air Lease Corporation (AL) Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX), Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR), Emerson Electric (EMR), First American Financial (FAF), McCormick and Company (MKC), Merck & Co, (MRK) Roper (ROP), Southside Bancshares (SBSI), South Jersey Industries (SJI) , Spire (SR) Tyson Foods (TSN), Visa (V) and The York Water Company (YORW) to name but a tiny few...

As is always the case though each investor should research and follow an investing strategy that is right for them and they are comfortable with, performing their own due diligence or employing a financial adviser if in any doubt. 

Long : ADP, AFL, BDX, MKC, MRK and SR,

Love to all,



Monday, November 30, 2020

Finally getting there...

Happy times!! The flooring is in and others sanded/varnished and we're finally starting to slack off a lot more now, turning up at the house as and when we choose, loping around the place with less of that pressure-pressure-pressure mentality for the move-in date. It's a heck of a relief.

Even found the time on top of the French to take on another two Duolingo languages, Spanish and German. Not jumped back on the Gouache painting yet but it really shouldn't be much longer. 

Anyways back to house. 

This one has definitely been more stressful than all the others so far because of the unknowns, and the fact that we'd never pulled up boards and replaced floor joists before. Those things were just way too rotten after a century of neglect so we managed to replace all the ugliness or sister the semi-ok ones. 


Pics: Sistering/replacing of the joists in the front and dining rooms, below is the central heating installation.

In the sanded and varnished state we also love the upstairs floors, that's it shown in the pic at the start of the post. Bear in mind these are 130 year old floors and have seen a lot of history so it's cool they get to see the light of day again.

So now it's just a bunch of putting up chests of drawers and wardrobes for clothing and adding linolieum floors to kitchen and bathroom and we're ready to move in on the 15th of December. We even gave notice on the apartment in East Cowes so we'll be then down to only one set of utilities and taxes!! Yay!! Much more FIRE budget friendly.

While working on the place both of our minds have definitely been wandering back to travel and the hankering therein. It's strange to be FIRE free and yet still be stuck in a cold weather climate, we've usually high-tailed it to a warmer snowbird climate by now to extend summer but due to Covid obviously regular life is on hold. Oh well.

At least the Isle of Wight is currently Tier 1 on the government system so life is as normal as it can be after lockdown finishes on the 2nd of December.

In the spirit of the last few blog posts here is a Dividend Nomad post about Measurement:-


For as long as we can remember the societies in which we have lived have been run by measurement in some way shape or form. We can never seem to help ourselves, from birth through education and in our chosen workplaces we are constantly reminded that we need to be the best at whatever task, exam, project we undertake, we are even measured in the success of our personal relationships. We are measured against our classmates, peers, siblings and eventually work colleagues and our relative success or failure is judged accordingly.

This measurement process has been the case for generations even though it is universally well known that not all people are born with the same level of intelligence, natural skills, personalities or abilities. But in all fairness who decided all this measurement was necessary? If we know full well that all human beings are not created equally then why is it still necessary to pitch everyone against each other so that society is divided into so-called winners and losers, successes and failures even though the odds are obviously already decided by nature.

Towards the end of my Engineering career I witnessed this measurement taken to it's extreme, I was always led to believe that a little measurement did no harm if it created a little healthy, harmless competition between people but in reality it has now gotten completely out of hand. In fact it has gone to such an extreme that we are now starting to see catastrophic consequences of this lunacy, for that is what it truly is. Needless lunacy.

While busy working 60+ hour weeks in the USA I lost two cousins based on what I see as the needless repercussions of measurement and it's unnecessary pressures that it places on society. The first cousin was unemployed for well over a decade before landing his first job after many years of trying with no qualifications in a high unemployment market, after a time he was unfortunately redeployed in his role to one of the most dangerous locations in the UK and started to receive death threats daily in his public-facing role. As a result he turned to alcoholism and proceeded to lose his job and eventually drank himself to death. I am convinced that the pressure of keeping the job he had struggled so hard to get and living by the success and failure rules imposed by our society led him on this depressed path. 

The second cousin suffered a brain injury at the age of 10 and as a result was never to successfully hold down a sustained career or relationship, he took his life in a local hotel on valentines day in 2017. Again society dictates that everyone should marry, have kids and hold down a career and he acknowledged that he could never achieve any of these so saw no reason to continue.

The needless end to both of these young men's lives highlights very well the point of how the societies of the world have become almost obsessed with applying pressure for people to conform to it's measurement. Our schools, colleges and careers are now more measurement-obsessed than ever and we are rapidly catching up to Japan where the Karoshi culture of burnout and death by overworking has been prevalent and costing lives unnecessarily for many years now. The only positive silver lining of this situation has been the FIRE movement that it has created, placing control firmly back in the hands of the measured. It's easy to see how it's growth is now critical moving forward if society is ever to return to some sort of sanity.

The sad part is that it's only towards the end of my Engineering career in the height of burnout that I began really to take an introspective look at how my own life has been directed by measurement towards one pressurized and unnecessary goal after another. Be it the pursuit of ever-increasing education, wealth, or forging up the career ladder to be judged by my peers and relations as a success and create some subsequent perceived internal happiness. It's only now that I see measurement for the negative force that it truly can become when left unchecked in this society, I have since spent a lot of time uncoiling it's grip on my life and the life of everyone who is willing to listen. Any acceptance of measurement or goals and ambitions in anyone's life should be from within and personal, not because society dictates it so. It's time to break this cycle that we have seemingly freely and willingly trapped ourselves in for centuries and live our own lives on our own terms doing what truly makes us happy, whatever that is. If we choose to do nothing, never get married, never go to college then that is our choice and freewill and no member of society or family has the right to judge us accordingly.

Even though I know that I can't bring back my two cousins, if I can highlight the detrimental results of societies' obsession with measurement and help people to see it for the nonsense that it truly is, then maybe more people can start to also uncoil themselves from it's grip before it has a chance to also damage their lives and mental well being irreparably. 

Thanks for reading,



As of the time period ending June this year (when I re-FIRE'd) I can honestly say this is all still very much relevant, the employer where I worked for those 8 months had for years been a hold-out for the burnout measurement mentality but even it had transformed too. The pressure was pretty much there immediately, tracking progress twice a day. Almost like my two years of FIRE never happened and I can now say I realized I'd made a mistake by the first week. Now after 6 months back in FIRE it's easy to see this is where I belong, no doubt about it all. My curiosity and burning question whether I retired too soon/should be retired has been categorically answered with no room left for any doubt.

No more measurement, period.

And time to enjoy a paid off house of our own that isn't a rental for someone else's benefit.

Love to all,


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Happiness is....eliminating redundant habits

Flooring... this week has been completely dominated by the addition of laminate to Chateau Mildew so apologies again for my lack of dedication to the blogging cause.

But why laminate? 

Well we were proceeding with floor sanding but then had a change of heart. 


Well we tested out the varnish and the floor took on a kind of multicolored look about it due to the previous use of different wood types which made it a bit too surreal for our tastes so rather than replace all the planks laminate it was. Much cheaper and not actually bad quality.

Laminate has come on in leaps and bounds since the first IKEA maple glue version:-

So this week was chopping away at the bottom of door casing with the japanese pull saw and fitting the new laminate across the living room to dining room. As I write this the task is nearing completion which is awesome and means I can get on with installing the lino in the bathroom and kitchen (after painting)

In the flow of last weeks lazy journalism though here is a blog post from Dividend Nomad back in August 2018:-


One of the many changes we've noticed in FIRE is that when you cease to trade your time for money it suddenly hits you how important it is to continue this trend. The path to FIRE after all involves an awakening and realization that our time on this planet is so short and being in control of your own time once more brings to light other areas where it is being wasted.

What this means is at the point where you no longer need to erode your already short time on earth working at a job for 8-12+ hours per day to perpetuate a debt payment cycle, then you can truly begin to focus on what makes you feel happy and positive in life.

Take for example something as simple as sitting down to watch the evening news. From our own experience this used to invariably entail watching some item about an unfortunate local person being shot or involved in some sort of road traffic accident, quite upsetting to be honest. But back then we never seemed to stop and think whether this was information we really needed to know or if it was burning through life hours and making us miserable in the process.

Without sounding too selfish it's hard to understand exactly how our lives actually improved with the knowledge of bad things happening to other people. Maybe the plan of the TV programmers could have been that if we knew the victim personally then we could maybe go visit them to pass on our best wishes, but in all honesty how many times would that likely be the case? On the face of it it actually became difficult to understand why we would habitually use our remaining time on the planet to watch unfortunate events. This was one of the first items we decided was redundant time with zero gain so we stopped it. 

In the UK there is also a habit of watching soap operas from 6pm until 10pm in the evening, in fact we attempted to watch one of these from a hotel we stayed at initially and at some point it just seemed that the storyline erupted into an argument between a few of the main actors, it honestly became unbearable. We could have presented a case for watching was that the acting was of an excellent standard but at some point it ceased to make sense, all it seemed like we would effectively be doing was committing to a time block of watching people lose their temper with each other. Again we decided this was an example of redundant time. 

The same was the case for newspapers, at some point in our existence it was put to us that it's everyone's responsibility to know what is going on in the world so reading newspapers or online news is critical. However there is a counterpoint to this argument that involves the fact that there is very little if anything at all that you can do about most of the worlds problems, a general overview understanding is sufficient. Stressing about these problems on a day to day basis or trying to decipher biased from real reporting seemed like another pointless exercise. We're now able to walk past all those big headlines in the racks at the grocery store without ever feeling the need to know more, reading online news has also been eliminated.

So you see what we were doing here? With no real effort we have analyzed aspects of time usage and decided which were accreditive to happiness and positivity versus ones which we felt were redundant. All the while remembering that our time on earth is finite, anything could happen to us tomorrow so happiness in the present is crucial.

From here all that was necessary was to begin figuring out experiences that we preferred to do instead. Turns out we really enjoy walking near the lake feeding the swans and geese, watching the sunset, heading out for a long run or bike ride, hitting the gym, consuming informative books, blogs and podcasts from some truly intelligent, insightful people that we feel help us become better people. Simply put, these activities that brought joy and happiness to our lives needed to be more prominent.

When we occasionally watch TV now the preference has become towards a Netflix film or situation comedy and if we find nothing suitable then we switch off and figure out an alternative use of life hours. This can mean sitting and talking or researching our next remodeling project or perhaps researching the advantages of any new countries we want to visit or live in.

The sitting and talking has become our best time to be honest, and we definitely get a lot out of it. When friends and relatives come to visit us here or we go visit them there is nothing better than to catch up with people without the nagging thought in your mind that you need to be somewhere else, you can truly devote all your time to listening and enjoying people's company. We've successfully eliminated a lot of redundant time and replaced it with positive, happy, memorable moments. It doesn't take much to optimize your life in this respect, just a recognition of old habits that are counterproductive to your life as a whole.

We've found that one of the best exercises to determine what is accreditive versus redundant is to simply think about reaching the end of our lives and asking ourselves what we think we would wish we'd spent more time doing. This is a good way of thinking from moment to moment about the path your life is taking you on and whether an action is a habit that might need to be broken.

In conclusion, this is definitely a classic 'each to their own' post. If you love nothing more than watching soap opera characters argue or seeing tragic events on TV on a regular basis then that is entirely an individual decision and if it makes you happy we are not here to tell you otherwise. However if there are aspects to your life that you aren't happy with then it might be a good idea to identify and strip away redundant time and re-allocate that time to researching a go-forward plan that is more amenable to future, longer term enjoyment. 

Thanks for reading,



This post is still very much applicable to our lives in FIRE, though I can admit I did cheat a little and follow some of the election coverage and have been keeping a close eye on the ACA supreme court outcome. It's easy to see the negativity creeping back in though so it becomes necessary to shut it back down.

Before working on Chateau Mildew I actually took up Gouache painting after not lifting a paintbrush since mid high school, not to mention learning piano and the French lessons on duolingo. These activities wouldn't be possible if too much time was spent watching TV or on the internet as mentioned in the above post.

Once the Chateau work tails off I'll be back to painting, reading and music, maybe a bit of mountainbike. I'll detail all that in a later post though.

Love to all,