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