Thursday, May 13, 2021

The train now leaving on platform 3 will be......running over DD4L








Pretty much sums up how I'm feeling as I type....

Yesterday evening I had the 5G chip implant blow dart/injection to the arm aka Covid vaccine numero uno. 

So yeah feeling mightily second hand right now. 

All for the greater good though right? The greeeaaaatttterrrr goooood (Cue the village scene in the Hot Fuzz film)

Given we're in England we get none of the whole zero side effect spoilt USA champagne on the lawn Pfizer/Moderna/JNJ variants. Nooooo we get the free one, the Payless Shoe Store equivalence. But it's free so, y'know, suck it up buttercup.

We have the AstraZeneca veritable side-effect salad 5G chip blow dart variant so that we spend a couple of days trying to normalize an existence when you feel like you've been hit by a train/morning after spending the evening consuming numerous inexpensive and vastly different alcoholic beverages. 

Then I go back and repeat process in July for the second one. If at first they don't succeed....they get a second chance to see you off. Joking..joking....joking.

Not complaining at all...honestly. I understand what's going on in India and how lucky and privileged I am to even have a vaccine when numerous folks the world over are not so fortunate.

To be fair I didn't have much time for the MSM tinfoil hat fear angles, while I was at the vaccination clinic and they're getting into the bones of the whole blood clotting explanation my inner impatient Dividend Nomad was chomping at the bit "yeah yeah yeah, let's get this done so we can get out traveling again" 

In fact I can just as easily picture my epitaph reading the same statement "but he just wanted to travel again..."

Anyways, back to business.

The last of the soil mountain is currently stacked up in the corner of the yard but I'm going to the dump today even in my present heavily weakened state (I booked it, I'm going!)

Friday we have delivery booked for a tonne of aggregate so that I can get on with the patio and path.

For the past week we have been bleaching and painting the fence in a Masala Curry light orangy brown which I'm confidently informed will "calm down" in the fullness of time.

Then next week we should be good for laying turf and our little garden oasis is pretty much complete and ready for an enjoyable summer.  









Also replaced rotten wood and re-painted the shed brown and moved it along half a meter to the left to facilitate relocating the dryer to it's own little room which just needs power running to it now:-











Recent work has not been without it's grisly injury though..

For the longest time maybe we've been tempting fate such that a resetting of the old "0 days without an accident" sign was somewhat an inevitable really. I'm way too periodically clumsy for it to be any other way.

Really made up for lost time though, darn nearly sliced my thumb off via the following butchering device (Jigsaw from the Saw films would have been proud) :-

It was one of those moments where since you haven't been injured for years the shock really hits you pretty quickly. Cold sweat, sitting out the hard pain, sleepy feeling....repeat until gauze and tape can be found and attempts made to stop the bleeding. I think it hurt more because it went right through the thumbnail then carried on cutting. Fkkkk!! AAAAARRRRGGHHH!!

How did it happen? Well..I was cutting away a rotten fence post that had been screwed to the fencing panel from the inside of the latter so the screws were inaccessible. (if that makes any sense) Had no choice but to hack the post down in sections using my friend the now infamous "bastard" saw and unscrewing it by rotating each sawed section manually to free it. It was only on the very last lowest section that bastard saw worked his way through my thumb. 

Sooo close, nearly got away with it.

Anyways new post is now concreted in (mid pic) and we're good to finish off the fence all the way to the wall. Then we won't have to see the neighbors gas bottles and assorted clutter as we enter the garden..











Hopefully by next post we can show pics of the completed back garden!!

Didn't make any trades this week, most of the portfolio has seen an insane run-up, particularly Northrop (NOC) which is constantly proving itself King of the Quality Dividend stocks with monster earnings. But on the subject of "other dividends" we now have allocated parking and electric gates added to the Southport rental property. Very swish. Hope the tenants welcome the new additions.









We also did the Isle of Wight rounds to check out the new "babies" be they pigs, birds and in this case Guernsey calves. The pic above is of a calf at Briddlesford Farm we affectionately nicknamed Buckie due to his extremely cute natural underbite. Big awwww. Awwww. Seemed particularly partial to ear rubs.

Will definitely head back to see him again soon.

Love to all,

DD4L

 


 


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Uncoiling complete...I think..


Ok maybe this one can be filed under some kind of psychology post perhaps. 

I can honestly say I've had what might be called a notable phase change in the last 2 weeks, in particular I'm referring to my mental state. 

It feels like a downshift has happened.

Since we're about 2 months away from the 1 year anniversary of my last employment finish date it looks to me like it takes this old body a total of 10 months to uncoil from the stress and rigors of full time employment. 

Hmm interesting statistic....well....it is to me anyways.

So how have I been feeling up until now then? Well doctor I didn't know it but by comparison I still think I was stressed to some extent for that period. In fact I know that for a fact. Not stressed in the conventional sense of the word where you're out and out fight or flight but some half way house between there and my recent chilled out state. 

Stress basically seemed to come in waves, ups and downs depending on the situation. It was worse when in employment and under the gun to get a job finished but post-employment I was still feeling it in the stomach if there was any drama items in my life.

Now though? Well don't seem to mind even what could previously have been deemed one of the heaviest of stressful items.

Case in point..last week I logged into the UK Inland Revenue Self Assessment site to register for this year since I'm back to being tax resident here, only to discover I had a 100 GBP fine with interest penalties accruing since I hadn't filed for last year.

What the fk?!? Sht!!Fk!! Then headless chicken routine..

Well that would have been my usual response in work time conditions since my BS levels would already have been off the charts before any news. Now it produced a little bit of a rush and then I got on the phone to someone up in Newcastle and it was dealt with straight away, the fine is now gone. I was US resident for last tax year but I needed to tell them that since they apparently aren't mind readers. Who would have thought?

Point is it was only really that instance that showed me that I'd turned a corner on the whole uncoiling deal, coping with the curveball crap life sometime throws up was a lot more straightforward and relaxed.

Looking at history I'd say the roughly 10 months uncoiling was about right for my previous incarnation too, the Dividend Nomad years. That time I finished in December 2017 and started to feel this phase shift to a kind of cruising altitude when we were in Cyprus which was about October 2018. From there on I felt this same relaxed feeling.

10 months again..

So yeah it looks like based on my limited experience in this area that's it. 

Like I say good to know. i.e. if I ever take a stressful job it takes me exactly 10 months to climb down off the ledge and stop experiencing underlying stress.

No idea if this is the case for everyone out there, we humans may work differently from a biological perspective after all. I know some folks retired years who are just highly strung by nature and fly off the handle for no good reason.

Anyways, psychology case study complete for now.

From a trading perspective I also did something I've never done before.

I sold some Williams Sonoma (WSM) exactly half of it in fact at the $180 price. No dividend cut, no bad earnings, quite the opposite in fact. 

Reason being the valuation was sitting insanely in the green after it was bought in the depths of March 2020. To clarify I didn't sell out of it I was just taking a little off the table and redeployed it in adding to the existing position in British American Tobacco (BTI) at about $38.

I still am a believer in WSM, now as much as ever but I just sometimes don't like doing nothing when it looks like a company is heavily overbought and I can use the proceeds for another stock that can be set to work boosting our dividend income a little. 

Did the same in the Roth account but that time used some WSM proceeds to buy AGNCP which is a mortgage REIT Preferred with a roughly 6.4% yield.

Finally now that the work on the house is drawing to a conclusion I've been scouting around looking to maybe replace it with some kind of a side hustle. Never been a fan of the idea in the past since I've always viewed it as reversing any retirement psychological feelings. Also don't want to take something on that would undo all this newfound uncoiling good feeling, the preference would be something that would just keep my brain active.

Not rushing into that idea though since the extra income isn't really that important. Will see how it goes.

Love to all,

DD4L


   

Thursday, March 4, 2021

I love it when you call me BPOPO...


Well...Groundhog Dave has had his restful, non-stock trading 2021 peace broken once more....boooo!

To be fair with the market now back up to nosebleed levels I've not had much to say on the subject of dividend stocks in quite some time so maybe it's a good opportunity to earn my keep for a change. Not that the market for stocks is any better at the moment, prices still do look pretty high across the board so still really sitting back and receiving the dividends makes the most sense to me.

So what stirred me from my restful place?

First up was our slow, steady and (as far as I thought) old dependable position in People's Bank (PBCT) which is being bought out by M & T Bank Corporation (MTB) at a price of 0.118 per share. Looking at the math on this eventually if we did nothing would mean a 50% dividend cut in the final product since MTB is paying 2.71% versus PBCT's 3.76% bearing in mind our buy-in price.

This is not to say M&T isn't a high quality company, it most definitely is but right now or at least until we reach full conventional retirement age when the full cavalry arrives, it's still preferable to buy a little bit higher yield whilst trying to retain a high quality level.

With the resulting cash from the transaction I decided to open up a new position in Franklin Resources (BEN) which is a new name for the portfolio. Yield sits at about 4% which is more in line with the outgoing PBCT with a nice long dividend growth history from all the way back in 1982. Not too shabby.

Payout ratio is a little on the high side at 70% but bearing in mind the pandemic I'm cutting some slack on that metric as long as I can see better growth times ahead. Plenty of opportunities I think since the Franklin family of funds includes Templeton, Fiduciary Trust, Darby, Balanced Equity Management, K2 and LibertyShares brand names.

Is it as cheap as I'd like? Well it bottomed at about $16 last year so it's not too terrible a valuation increase from there at my $26 buy-in price. To be fair though the portfolio has been a little spoiled with all the March 2020 lows so we just have to re-calibrate to "real life" prices now. Those levels are basically unicorn events so it's critical to understand that when making newer purchases.

Also starting to see some movement on the redemption front on some of the Preferred's, all par for the course unfortunately. Pun intended...

Gladstone (GAIN) has just set up to replace their monthly Preferred GAINM with what is being provisionally touted as GAINN. Rather than wait around I decided to get ahead for a change and sell while we're sitting above the $25 par redemption value. 

I flipped those proceeds immediately into the final of the three Preferred options for Popular Bank Inc, another monthly payer! Yay!! Since I already own BPOPM and BPOPN it now made sense to grab BPOPO, sounded a bit Biggie Smalls to me hence the title of the post.

Since it's a bank this is non-cumulative unfortunately which is a bit off-putting versus GAINM which was cumulative. (Gladstone would still be on the hook for back-payments should they ever stop paying a distribution in hard times)  

The reason I like Popular though is a combination of solid earnings, low payout ratio for their common divided which I use as a metric indicator on how reliable the payments are, that and these issues are Perpetual so hopefully less prone to the regular calls like Gladstone has been. Obviously nothing is ever guaranteed but it's been feeling like we can never really rest easy on the income from Gladstone with the calls constantly being expected in this lower interest rate environment. Good for the company, not good for our income stream dependence.

Apart from that there is still their GM Motors old Austin facility that still isn't being re-used just yet, their biggest asset. Maybe just the right time to replace them with a bank. Still have GAINL though for now but we'll see how that plays out.

House-wise I've taken advantage of the mild February weather on our little island to get outdoors and start digging the foundations for the patio ready for spring. Been a good long while since we've had the luxury of a garden to work on so quite the novelty, especially after apartment living for so many years.  

Finding I definitely have a soil surplus here so might have to come up with some ingenious way to get rid of some of it..

Apart from that we had the Covid pandemic land right on our doorstep! Yikes. 

With having our son and his girlfriend living with us this was always a risk the delicate ecosystem so should have been expecting the "she's positive" statement at some point.

Nope. Still an insane shock.

We pretty much stood like two deer's in the headlights then proceeded to run around randomly bleaching pretty much every corner of the house in blind panic mode with our two family members restricted to their room for the 10 days.

We held our breath for our own testing but luckily they came back negative for both of us. So then just 10 days of marigolds and waiter service to the upstairs bedroom and we were all back to normal.

It's pretty strange to truly be in quarantine house-arrest style without the daily exercise and I have to be honest and say I didn't like it one bit, really missing pure unadulterated freedom now and am getting really ready for this vaccine process to get to us. Allegedly we're on for this month but it all depends on how fast this island is getting through the older folks before us.

Like I say, truly can't wait to get this whole thing behind us and get roaming the globe again. Will always appreciate the freedom and take full advantage of it from here on in.

Vietnam? Bali? Turkey? Oh for the Dividend Nomad days when we had these choices...

Long BPOPM, BPOPN, BPOPO, BEN and GAINL.

Love to all,

DD4L

(Image at the top of the post is the last one taken of Biggie by photographer Barron Claiborne)



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Everyone has a plan...'til they find a dirty big hole in their wall..


Can imagine if Mike Tyson got into house remodeling there's a reasonable chance he might say that...well, y'know...one can only guess..

I think in my last house-related post I might have understated the whole "fix some small remaining damp issues" or words to that effect..

As myself and Mrs DD4L sat watching TV one evening she couldn't help noticing a little draught coming from around the door to the electric meter cupboard next to the sofa. I agreed we needed a little insulation around the thing, maybe some crawl space air was coming up through the floorboard gaps inside? Perhaps.

I put some insulation around the tiny gap around the door and thought nothing of it, until the next cold evening...

Yeesh it still feels cold in here even with the heating on.

Finally figured I'd get in there and put some insulation on the floor in the cupboard, kill the problem once and for all..

Got my head in there though...right in, other side of the hinge and I can see the inside of the damn front wall. WTH??

Basically I had access to the inside of the wall cavity. I could put my hand in it. Yikes!

So pretty much all the cold air inside the cavity was flowing right into the meter cupboard and into our front room. No wonder it was so damned cold.

Block of wood and a packing of caulk and it was blocked off...done. Yeah I know a bit of a bodge fix, needs bricks and mortar but it can wait for now..

Also had a strong damp smell coming from the front hallway to which Mrs DD4L responded "aah jeez you're not gonna rip the entire damn wall apart again are you?"

Well...erm...











(Proceeds to rip the entire damn wall apart....again)

So after chiseling and smashing the plaster and wall I arrived at the source of the damp mildew smell:-

Check out this little sucker..

Basically this piece of wood had been bedded in the wall for years, if not decades most likely as part of the original Victorian house front door and then plastered over, soaking in water over the years until it got all moldy and smelly. Why had it never been just dealt with? Your guess is good as mine.

But gone it is. Good bye random piece of moldy wood your days are no more.

Then proceeded to drill holes and add damp course rods in the brickwork in a few other locations around the house and we were good to add new baseboards and plaster.

 

NOW it's done...

Hopefully...

Shouldn't need to rip any entire damn walls apart anymore...

Hehehe...we'll see.

Oh and per the previous post DD4L Jr moved into our place with his girlfriend. You might remember I mentioned the boomerang deal in January. Well it happened on time and they are now living in our second bedroom.

We're about 2 weeks into this new situation and it seems to be rumbling along pretty well, his girlfriend got a night shift Carers job almost immediately so we barely ever see her. Junior hasn't had as much joy as yet though, Engineering has been hit pretty hard here as you can well imagine with a lot of projects on hold. No worries though I'm sure it will all work out when it's meant to.

Got some stock news too, which seems to be quite rare nowadays due to lofty valuations.

Sold out Gladstone Land (LANDP) Preferred and bought in...wait for it....

Gladstone Land (LANDO) Preferred. 

Yeah I know not exactly what you'd call a stretch but just wanted the longer redemption date. Prices were about the same for sell versus buy and yields are pretty much the same too. 

Also sold out Private prisons (GEO). It's been a long time coming and I know I should have really bailed on it sooner, I just think the new US leadership is going to spend the next few years trying it's best to decimate the private prison industry while GEO continues to gradually decimate it's dividend. I'm over the rollercoaster ride, time to move on.

So where did the proceeds get redeployed?

Well for all you investing with a conscience/non sin stock folks sorry to disappoint but I plumped up the cushions on the Altria (MO) position some more. Theory being now that Mr Trump is out of the way along with his smoking vendetta and unjustified JUUL hatred (rest of the world thinks vaping is healthier as it helps smokers wean themselves off regular ciggies.....DJT disagreed) we now have a chance to see better days.

Apart from that longer term I like to believe we'll see more widespread legalization of cannabis US-wide under the new leadership which may finally see little MO enter that market with avengeance.

Happy investing!!

Long LANDO, MO.

Love to all, 

DD4L

Friday, January 15, 2021

We're moving back to Savannah!!

 ....hypothetically...

....for this post only...

Don't you just hate click bait articles....lol.

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 squares.....lol.

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,

DD4L

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?" 

Awkward.

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 though...no 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,

DD4L.

 




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 2021...at 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









Stonehenge

Yaverland Beach



Shanklin


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,

DD4L