Sunday, 20 December 2009

Random thoughts

Life feels rather more unsettled lately.

Things at work are looking a bit rocky. The boss is having financial problems. The boss says its a cash flow problem, and that November, December are always difficult months. I think the problem is much deeper than that.

The boss is a sole practitioner, he does not have any other equity partners he can ask for a cash injection into the business. Rumour has it that the bank have called in certain issues. To me the boss' business problems are very straightforward. He has taken on too many overpriced lawyers who are simply not paying their way. They are not generating enough income for the firm to even cover their wages. It is that simple.

I am really quite worried about the situation. We usually get paid early in December because of Christmas but we haven't been paid yet. I really think that the boss will struggle to find the payroll money in December. And if he makes December, what about next month and the next etc....

I really don't want to have to find another job.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Downsizing in the UK?

Is it possible to downsize in the UK?

I'm not convinced that it is. What if you have never "upsized?" You certainly don't get a lot for your money. When I move out of the city I want space, with inspiring scenery, probably a semi rural existence.

The truth is that I have never really "lived large", I grew up in a hand to mouth existence. My childhood experience of poverty really stayed with me. As a result I always made a conscious effort to live well below my means, I never signed up for a monstrous mortgage. DH and I have always lived in modest houses, we have been careful to keep our living costs down. I always wanted to keep ourselves in the position that if one of us lost our job then we could live off the other person's salary.

The more research I do about house prices in rural or semi rural areas in the UK the more disheartened I get. Initially, when I started planning for The Escape I would not have entertained the notion of living in the UK, I always envisaged living abroad. But, I just don't think it would be feasible or practical to live abroad. But, I'm keeping an open mind.

We are not looking to buy straightaway after The Escape, I envisage at least a few years of having time out and living abroad for extended periods.But, we will need a base or a place to live eventually. You cant rent forever.

But perhaps I'm just planning too far ahead.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

No car

Our car was stolen recently.

We have a "secure" parking space with our apartment. Somehow someone got it out of the car park. There is a gate which you need a fob key to get in and out from. I have no idea why they targeted our car, its a 15 year old vauxhall, there were much more fancier cars in the car park than hours.

But my little car had been a trojan over the years, I was sad to see him go, he was low maintenance, low insurance and of course paid for a long time ago. We used him for a run around at the weekends and also to escape into the countryside at the weekends.

Now we have no car. Its been four weeks and still no car.

And we have no immediate plans to get a new one.

DH and I walk to work, we have numerous supermarkets around us. We have been taking a train to the countryside at the weekends. And we do a lot more walking without a car. Last weekend we counted up we must have walked about 10 miles!

DH and I have talked about getting another car but we cant really come up with an excuse as to why we need a car. So why purchase a car when we will have to spend on the insurance, tax and the depreciation??

Talking about cutting costs, I've also cancelled my gym. Sorry but it has taken me a long time to realise that gym's don't work (for me) long term. I don't enjoy the gym and I see it as a chore. I feel that I have to go because I am paying for it. The truth is the gym makes me feel stressed. Running on a wheel and staring at a wall with other sweaty bodies makes me feel claustrophobic and anxious. I could rant on about gyms but I am sure that there are some people who enjoy the gym. I prefer to get my exercise in the fresh air hiking up a mountain. So that's more money saved. Actually I'm donating it to charity.

I've also started using cash only at its amazing how much less we spend. More on that to follow.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Nova Scotia?

Where can I get a detached house with some land on the water with great scenery for circa £100k?

Nova Scotia.

I've been thinking about Nova Scotia again as a base. I say again because DH and I have discussed in the past NS as a possible place to Escape too. At that point we were interested in buying a property large enough to run a small B&B operation. The main obstacle to this was/is the immigration rules. To run a business as we wanted you needed evidence of experience of managing or running your own business of choice etc with evidence of turnover figures. So that was a non starter.

But, what if we just bought a property as a base? We are not looking to work in Canada, we don't want Canadians' jobs and we would not be a drain on the economy. Apparently anyone can buy property there but you have no right to reside there. You have to take your chance everytime you go through immigration and enter the country.

My understanding of the immigration rules is that we can stay 6 months in Canada and then you have to leave. Well, could we just go over the border and go shopping and come back or would we actually have to fly out and get our passport stamped as evidence we have left? Is this a viable option? How strict are they at immigration?

My real concern is falling fowl of the immigration rules. The trouble is there is actually very little written in the rules about this scenario. It just seems that one is at the mercy of the immigration officer at the point of entry. If they think that we are in reality living in Canada and just going back and fourth to every so often would we run into trouble? Its a real concern.

I have heard of people having 2nd homes in north america before without any problems. We have all heard of the older British "snowbirds" who have houses in Florida.

Can anyone shed any light on this. Or does anyone have any thoughts.

I am not thinking of Canada just because we can buy a house for cheap. I love the great outdoors and have always found the people to be warm and friendly.

Any comments or advice are welcome.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Where's my pension?

Last night I watched a programme on television about people who had lost out with pensions.

The programme featured people with concerns about final salary pensions, private pensions and even public sector pensions.

The person in the final salary feature described how she had worked for her employer for 20 years and was looking forward to retiring in her sixties with two thirds of her final salary. However her employer had recently entered into a consultation process with her (and others in the workforce I suspect) with a view to seeking her agreement to end her entitlement to a final salary pension. Her entitlement to date would be preserved but the final salary scheme itself would be scrapped. My own view is that the employer is merely going through the consultation motions and will unilaterally impose this change in the absence of mutual agreement. There was some talk of the employer offering a small “sweetener” in return for agreement. What recourse does this lady have? Well, she could sue the employer for breach of contract, but how practical is this? A common tactic for employers in this situation is to dismiss the employee under the old terms of the contract and immediately re-engage under the new terms, this can be a legitimate action for employers to take in some circumstances. In reality I fear she will just have to put up and shut up.

Anyway, this lady described how she was looking forward to her retirement so she could do all the things she had wanted to do when she was working!!!! This was someone in her early forties who described with sadness that she did not now think she would be able to afford to go to Peru or stay in nice hotels which she had thought her final salary pension would pay for. It seemed she was banking on that money. I will be honest, I sympathise with her but I was also surprised at her naivety. This is someone who had the luxury of having a reasonably well paid job with the SAME employer for over 20 years. How many of us have had that luxury?

The programme also featured a man whose private pension had drastically been reduced in value and now had to return to the workforce in poor health in his sixties. There was another man who had lost his pension fund when his employers went into administration who was campaigning for compensation from the government, he too had to go back to work because he needed the money badly only he couldn't find a job. He was trying to sell his house for £700,000! but no takers (it looked overpriced).

It struck me that it was a great shame that someone seemed prepared to wait until their sixties to go and do what they really wanted to do. The programme also featured other people whose final salary pensions were disappearing and this included public sector workers.

I don’t have a private pension, I put money away myself to enjoy my life now rather than when I’m in my sixties, when I may or may not be around. According to the governments present rules I will be 68 before I am entitled to draw my state pension. Yes 68. This is incompatible with the fact that employers can compulsorily retire employees once they are age 65 or over, this is a mockery of the age discrimination laws. So if you can be legitimately sacked when you are 65 but you are not old enough to get the state pension how are you supposed to provide for yourself?

I am not banking on the state pension. I have no doubt that the Government will keep on raising the qualifying ages for the state pension.

In these times I think pensions are a big con, they are sold and recommended by the same people who have a vested interest in people taking the longest route possible to retirement i.e. financial advisers and the Government. But this is another example of the herd mentality of society, work until your 65 and then you can take your pension and enjoy life. No, we can opt out of the traditional 40 plus years of full time working and find other ways to support ourselves. Why not semis retire at 35 for example? Why not have mini retirements or long sabbaticals. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

We have to make our own provision in life, because if we don’t no one else will.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Back from Ibiza

Just returned from a week's holiday in Ibiza.

We enjoyed our time in Ibiza, its a very pretty place, very hilly and green with fantastic scenery.

It could be a contender for an extended stay, everything was much cheaper than when we went to Greece in May.

Ibiza has a chilled out vibe, perhaps slightly bohemian in parts, that suits me.

We managed to get some hiking done, we hired a car and saw most of the island.

We stayed in an apartment overlooking the sea in the north of the island. We saw some great sunsets eating paella and drinking rioja.

Well, back to the grind for now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Feeling Trapped.

Trapped in a place where I don't want to live, trapped in an office doing a job I dislike, trapped by a house that wont sell, trapped by lack of money.

There seem to be a lot of obstacles in the way of The Escape.

If we could sell the flat then I would feel better in that then I would have some control over the situation.

Recently I have been thinking about approaching one of these "sell your house fast" organisations. DH wont even consider it. These organisations buy houses subject to a valuation which is usually 20% less than the market valuation. I suppose I could approach them for a valuation. It seems to me that these organisations are really for distressed sellers. But am I a distressed seller? Perhaps I am. But perhaps we should stick it out on the open market first.

Sometimes I want to scream.

We were not meant to live this way. This modern way of life is crap. It is unnatural.

I hate living in a city, too many people, too many cars, too much noise. Why do people have to drive everywhere?

I could kick myself for getting caught up in it all.

Monday, 31 August 2009

North Cyprus

I have been doing some further research about where to go after the Escape.

Cyprus has always been a possibility for an extended stay. I have been there before, fantastic food, climate and people. I should say that I have been to the southern part of the island, i.e. the Republic of Cyprus (Greek Cypriot part). English is widely spoken, and the outdoors are beautiful, calming and resting. Moving away from the tourist beach spots of the south part of the island the mountains (particularly the Troodos area) are magical. The cost of living is lower than the UK although, it is not mega cheap. You have to know where to go.

However, I had not seriously considered North Cyprus aka the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. The area is illegally occupied by the Turks both the Republic of Cyprus and the United Nations consider it as an illegal occupation. Having been to the island a few times the Greek Cypriots appear to tolerate the situation and there is no obvious on going warfare. One can pass freely back and fourth over the border from the south part of the island to the North.

Naturally TRNC is not in the EU and so it is outside the expensive eurozone. The currency is Turkish Lira, the pound is extremely strong against the Turkish Lira.

It appears as though it is possible to rent a decent apartment or cottage from £300 - £450 per month equivalent. Utilities are very low. I read that a loaf of bread is the equivalent of £0.13p and a litre and a half of Cypriot brandy is £1.50! By my calculations I think that we could live a pretty decent standard of living for about £700 per month. I have read some forums where there are British expats declaring that they live for the equivalent of £100 per week but I am a bit skeptical.

North Cyprus boasts the Kyrenia mountain range so we would be fine for our outdoor activities.

However I would NOT buy land in the TRNC far too risky in view of the history and illegal occupation of the turks.

This idea really does sound appealing. It is certainly worth an visit to see whether we could live there for an extended period.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Make it happen

DH and I have been seriously discussing whether to bring forward the Escape.

Life is too short to be stuck in an office unhappy, we think we can Escape in twelve months time. We are going to aim for September 2010.

If we Escape in September 2010 we will need to put the flat back on the market. Ideally we would sell the flat before September 2010. If we sell it sooner rather than later than we can just rent a flat in town for several months. I have decided that I would feel slightly worried about Escaping in September 2010 and still having to be responsible for the mortgage. We can take a mortgage break of 3 months but then we would have to start paying again thereafter. We do have an income from investments that would cover the mortgage but then this would mean that we would have to cover other living expenses out of our savings.

For a while, I don't think we need the responsibility of having a fixed abode until I/We decide what it is we want out of life and where we want to be. We will probably end up staying at some long term stay residences on the continent where the cost of accomodation and food will be cheaper than here. There are some really good deals out of season. I am hoping that we can live for about 1,300 euros per month. I have been doing some research.

Lately I have been thinking whether we even need a house. If I have to work at a desk all day for the foreseeable future then no, I will do without a house.

What are we really working for? Whose vision are we working to? Are we really just toiling to conform, to follow the herd, to pay the mortgage etc?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Dissapointment and Loss

I am feeling very sorry for myself again.
I am feeling loss at the absence of loving and nurturing relationships in my life. I have missed the steady hand of guidance through childhood, adolescence and adult hood. It seems as though I have been coping with loss all my life. People I have loved are gone or lost. I try to bury this sense of entitlement but is hard sometimes not to feel bitter when those you see around you have lost so little.
I wonder what it must be like to have interested and involved parents and siblings that are not lost or estranged.
I worry about the future, I wonder what will happen if DH or I get ill. I worry about being alone, I worry about dying alone.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Modern communication

There is a lot of truth in some of the recent comments that the Archbishop Vincent Nichols has made concerning social networking sites.

Archbishop Nichols who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has recently voiced his concern over the modern tendency towards transient relationships. Yes, I can relate to his sentiment.

The Archbishop also went on to say that social networking sites put too much emphasis on the number of friends rather than the quality of those relationships and that mobile phones were dehumanising.

I have to say that mobile phones really get on my nerves. I do have a mobile phone but it is for emergencies only. It is hardly ever switched on. I cannot stand this texting nonsense, it is another zombie craze.

We need community, we need interpersonal communication, we need to see people and converse with them, well that's how I feel anyway.

Are transient relationships symptomatic of modern life? Sometimes it feels like everything is built on shifting sands.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Other people

It seems to me that people only want you if they want something from you e.g. money/legal advice/shoulder to cry on/mentoring etc. When they don't need anything they don't bother, they don't want to know.
I'm sick of it. My expectations of people are low, I now have no expectations. I will take it as it comes without hope of anything more.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Angry Britain

People in Britain are angry.

Yes you can walk around with a plastic smile on your face but I know that you are angry.

The disillusioned and discontented lurk beneath the false appearances.

Put down your tools people and look around you.

There are support clubs for the overeaters, alcoholics, gamblers etc but why no support groups for the disconnected and disenchanted? Lets all get together and have a moan, admit that we are fed up to the back teeth of the high cost of living and this dreary grey place. Then lets do something about it, like a mass exodus.

The minimum wage in Britain is something like £6.00 per hour, the average house price is in the region of £160,000. It wont change. The Government has a vested interest in keeping house prices artificially high. Can you think of a better way to keep the masses in check?

Things are getting worse. The social fabric in this country is a joke. Every day I pick up the paper and there are horror stories about knife crime and people being glassed. I'm afraid to go to crowded places anymore.

Its a long standing joke that the English like their drink. Yes, that's an understatement, they drink until they cant drink anymore.

I really don't want to have to be here.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

On kids

I've never wanted children.

Apparently that makes me weird, because I am a woman and you are supposed to desire children if you are a women.

All I know is that I don't want children and never have. I don't wish them harm but I simply don't like them, not interested, don't want to know, don't find them cute, etc.

I used to think that for most people children were just something that happened out of poor planning and one just went along with the process thereafter. But, it seems that people do actually go out of their way to have them. People actually plan them!

For some reason today the issue of having kids has really irked me. Its probably a conversation I had with a colleague this morning who was gushing over her life's dream to find suitable husband material and have kids as quickly as possible. Actually, what irks me is that yet again I feel like an alien, don't fit in, cant relate, um sorry nothing to say except I've never wanted them, that's putting it politely.

I want to be free, I want to spend long summers wandering around Europe, maybe join the hippies in Ibiza playing the drums as the sun goes down with beads in my hair (I'm going there in September BTW), no I don't want kids thank you very much.

Am I being quite forceful in my opinion? Well perhaps its just something I feel quite strongly about, its all part of the same thing, when will people consider that there are other ways of living one's life rather than wage slavery and breeding?

Monday, 29 June 2009

Where is my place in the world?

Now that The Escape is getting closer, I admit to feeling a little skeptical about it.

I am frightened of not finding my place in the world, the place where DH and I were destined to be.

I am looking forward to travelling and not being tied to a job. But at the same time I am scared that I will end up being a permanent wandering malcontent. I'm not sure whether these thoughts are reasonable or not or whether they just form part of my depression.

I am not sure that an itinerant lifestyle will ease my soul. I need a place or a base in the world.

I have come to realise that "The Escape" will not solve all of my problems. It may not bring relief to the background noise in my head which appears to be almost permanent.

The trouble with me is that I am much too fond of introspection. Too much thinking and self evaluation never did anyone any good. I'm a big thinker, I could sit all day and think.

I am fed up of living in the future, I want to live for the now instead of planning all the time.

Life is too short. None of us know what is around the corner.

Saturday, 13 June 2009


I have to remember that the best things in life don't come easy.

To give us the best possible cushion we really need to wait until 2011 for the escape. We have worked out our numbers and we need to be saving £4k a month to reach our goals. Fortunately, our living costs are relatively low so it is doable.

But today we had to spend £500.00 on car repairs and I really need new work clothes, but I cannot justify the expense in light of our plans. We don't go out anymore, we rarely go out to eat, we drink at the cheap places if we fancy a pint out. I don't buy take away food, I don't buy lunch out or takeaway coffees. I go to the supermarket once a week only.

The sacrifices are necessary. I don't need to buy things to make myself happy. I know that to make myself happy I need to get out of the city, quit the 9 - 5 and live in a fresh, natural environment. But it all needs to be done with careful planning.

The thing is, I don't plan on coming back, ever. It has suddenly dawned on me that as of 2011 this life ends then.

Recently I read an interview with Oprah Winfrey who was discussing her latest battle with her weight. She described how she was asked the question of "what are you really hungry for ?" I forget her exact answer but I thought it was an interesting and probing question.

So I ask myself "what am I really thirsty for?"

I know what I am really thirsty for, most of which I can make happen, but somethings I simply cant deliver, these things will always be out of reach, that part of my thirst I will never quench.

Sunday, 31 May 2009


Well I am back from Greece and DH and I had a lovely time.

It was hotter than anticipated for that time of year, but we still managed to get some hiking in. I think we could all learn some lessons from the Greeks in term of quality of life and attitude. I felt a lot more relaxed being out of the city.

I did notice how expensive Greece had become. Certainly the poor exchange rate we were getting on the Euro did not help but there was something else going on. We were paying the equivalent of £6.00 for 2 pints which is about the same as we would pay here, if not more! Has there been a period of high inflation in Greece or were we just paying the "gringo" prices? It seemed to be that way right across the island.

Anyway, back to work and the boss has a surprise for me. He says I can stay, permanently, i.e. he wants to put me on the payroll as an employee as opposed to retaining me as an independent contractor. The money is less of course. Its great news. I will take the position of course.

I will be £1k worse off a month but it gives me certainty insofar as The Escape goes. Now DH and I can really put that 2 year countdown on the calender and just go for it. Actually, its less than 2 years, we plan on escaping in March 2011.

Although I will be losing in terms of less money, as an employee I will be entitled to paid annual leave and bank holidays. This does go someway to offset the drop in pay. Actually I am really looking forward to having paid time off again. When you are self employed it is tempting to take as little time off as possible in order to maximise income.

So 22 months and counting!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Off to Thassos

DH and I are off to the Greek island of Thassos on Sunday for 7 days.

I cant wait to go!

Its been so long since we went away, or even had a break. Our last break was September last year. Its really overdue.

So, this time of year, the weather should be mild but just warm enough to swim/sit outside. I don't like the heat so this suits me fine. Apparently the island is very green and mountainous and is great for cycling and hiking, both of which we will do.

I'm looking forward to a week of not cooking and sampling the delicious Greek foods such as dolmades, souvlakia, mousaka, stifado, tarama salata, souvlakia - the list goes on!

See you soon!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Buying a home

Is a home an investment or a liability?
Its a question frequently discussed in the personal finance circles.
Some say that you should buy a home because you want to live in it and not because it is an investment. I don't necessarily disagree with this statement but isn't it based upon the assumption that all things stay the same?
But things don't stay the same do they? Nothing remains constant, does it? People change, people lose jobs, change jobs, circumstances change etc.
When DH and I bought our flat we bought it because we liked the building and we wanted to live in that specific location AT THAT TIME.
Now, six years later, I need to offload the property to downsize. I have no idea whether it has been a "good investment". I can look up sold prices on other properties in the building but that can only serve as a guide. The flats in my building vary in size and detail and more importantly price. The variations are quite significant, on line sold prices wont tell me any information about the property, ie square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms etc.
My circumstances have changed, I've changed, my life goals have changed. Perhaps in hindsight I should have thought about the property more in investment terms.
So whether my home has been an investment or a liability remains to be seen.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Lately I find it a real struggle to get out of bed every morning.

Most days I just want to stay in bed all day every day.

I am hoping that this darkness will lift soon.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Weekend blues

Feeling down again today. Its a long weekend and its hard to keep the demons at bay whilst stuck at home in the city. Most of the time my social isolation does not hugely bother me but this weekend it does. I think how nice it would be to socialise with people, especially people my own age. We could have gone away for the Easter weekend but what pleasure is it when everyone else has the same idea. The motorway queues, kids running around, queues at the airport. No thanks.

I'm not sure how long I can put up with city living for. There isn't anywhere around here where I would move to as an alternative. Well not anywhere where DH or I can commute to our present jobs. The next move will be semi rural. I need trees and green and I need to be close to the water and the outdoors.

So away again we shall move. Away again anonymity and no support structure. Constantly searching, searching for what? What the hell am I searching for and what am I running from?

Oh yes I forgot, I'm running from a dysfunctional childhood.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

A new plan

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how life is too short to be stuck at work for most of my waking hours. The thing that keeps my nose to the grind is probably lack of money and FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of poverty etc.

Work is all consuming. I'm too exhausted after work and at the weekends to have time to do anything for me. Sometimes we come up with the energy to go hiking, if we can manage the 40 minute drive out of the city (one way).

DH and I have been discussing a new escape plan. We think that we might be able to manage another 2 years in our present field. Thereafter we plan to take a long sabbatical. Perhaps for six months or so. DH would have to resign to do this. I really cant see his employer granting him an extended leave of absence. We want to take the time and space to re-evaluate exactly what it is we want. During that time, we may put the apartment on the market as it will be easier to show if we are not there all the time.

We think that we want to downsize to a semi rural area. Since they wont let us in the US or Canada we have been looking at North Devon as an alternative. We are hoping that by that time the economy might have improved and we might get a decent return off our savings again. We are also thinking about ways that we can work for ourselves or do some part time work.

City living has lost its appeal for me. I want something closer to nature and something more real. I want to connect with something. Most of the time I feel like I live in a concrete jungle. But I'm also scared that I will be isolated in somewhere like North Devon. But the thing is that I feel isolated here most of the time. But that's the strange thing with living in a city, there are people everywhere but none to connect with.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

All or nothing

The big thing that bothers me most about traditional employment is that it is offered on an "all or nothing" basis.

I am not afraid of hard work but I want some balance in my life. I dont want to spend most of my life in an office. Please dont think that I am ungrateful for being in work. I do know how lucky I am to have work now.

It seems to me that the traditional 9 - 5 office type work/career does not offer this balance. How many people are lucky enough to work part time out of choice or have a flexible work schedule? I don't know any employers who offer this.

A few years ago I did some locum work at a local firm of Solicitors. Someone in my department had gone on maternity leave and wanted to return to the office for 2 days a week. Lets call her X. I told my boss that actually if he was minded to grant X's application for flexible working then I would be happy to job share with X at 3 days a week. As soon as I opened my mouth I wish I hadn't said anything. My boss said but "what will you do for the other 2 days?" I said oh well "lots of stuff". I felt like saying well I will just be glad to be out of the cage for 2 days but I didn't. But it was the look he gave me which said it all. It was almost as if he could not comprehend why I wouldn't want to work 5 days a week and earn as much as possible.
Anyway it didn't happen.

I read many blogs written by people who want to downshift/downsize etc. There are many discussions about how people will make the transission from a career to early retirement or even semi retirement. They think that if they get bored they will just get a job at McD's or Starbucks et al? But how easy do you think it is for an accountant or a lawyer or an engineer etc to get a job in Starbucks. Its not easy at all. In this economy one would have great difficulty. The problem is that in a recession or times of economic difficulty your plan B is someone else's plan A.

So is there another way? Is there a middle ground? Or, is it the 9 - 5 grind 5 days a week until you manage to become financially independent?

Is this a revolution?

Will things ever be the same again?

Will there ever be a sustainable and secure way of living?

Will we ever have peace of mind?

Will we always have to put up with a transient and temporary lifestyle?

Will people still buy houses and put down roots or will they rent a house and rent a lifestyle?


Are we perpetually doomed to have to scrape together a living?

Are we always going to have to take contract work instead of permanent and long term stable employment?

Are we always going to have to live with economic uncertainty?

Is the concept of a vocation dead?

Just some thoughts I have had recently.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Still at the job

Well, I've been at the new job for over 2 months now.

I like it. But its not a permanent gig.

The role I am doing at the moment involves practising in a different area of law to that in which I usually practice. Don't get me wrong, I've done it before but not for a while. But nothing much changes. At the end of the day its still involves general litigation practice so I am not out of my depth, well not too much anyway but the firm I work for realise that I am a bit rusty but its not a problem as I can refer to someone if I need to.

Actually, what I am doing now is really a nice change. It is slower pace and there appear to be more opportunities in this area of law. I am actually thinking of giving up on my usual practice, I really enjoy it and its dynamic and ever changing but quite stressful and there are few opportunities.

What I am doing at the moment is recession proof. At the moment I need some stability and I need a role which is sustainable.

I don't need a lot of money to live on. I am not greedy. At the moment I save all of my pay. I can afford to take a 40% (gross) pay drop and still save for the escape. I would prefer to do that than have to continually do locum work. The last two years have been hell for me mentally given the insecurity of work but fantastic for the wallet. But I am slowly learning that money is not everything, no not at all. I would prefer to earn 50% less but have the peace of mind of stability of employment and to be able to take regular vacations.

Those are my thoughts at the moment.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


I have been suffering mentally and emotionally again recently.

I have decided to finally go and see a professional therapist.

I know what the problems are, but I don't know how to fix them. The thing is that I don't think my issues can be fixed by therapy, I think that the most that can happen is that I will learn coping skills.

How do you fill the void. You cant. That everlasting sense of loneliness, isolation and sometimes bitterness.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

What to do with the mortgage

Since the financial crisis and the drop in interest rates our mortgage payment has dropped by £270.00 per month.

We are now paying £680.00 per month. We have a repayment mortgage.

This is a substantial saving. We are on a 2 year "tracker" deal.

But in December 2009 our deal expires. Its likely that our repayments would shoot back up again.

So at the moment I am thinking of dumping some cash off the mortgage when our deal expires. This would drastically reduce our monthly repayments. I am getting quite excited because I think wouldn't it be great to have a mortgage payment which is less than £500.00 per month.

But when I think about the rising costs of food the wind is taken out of my sails a bit. The thing is, our house payment is not really our biggest outgoing. We seem to be spending a lot more on food than we used to.

I think that sometimes the idea of paying off ones mortgage is overrated. Of course if you have a great whacking monthly payment then yes I can see the attraction of getting rid of it.

But I would still like to pay off a chunk off our mortgage. We are not able to get any interest off our savings so we might as well pay it off the mortgage.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The credit crunch has crunched the Escape

Yes its just dawned on me in the last few days.

The credit crunch has crunched my Escape.

The recent economic woes have definitely had an impact on my financial planning. The pound has fallen sharply with the dollar. Furthermore the pound and the eruo are now almost even. Now our money is simply not going to go as far in the US or Europe.

I don't know how much my apartment is worth. It might not be worth much more than we paid for it in 2003. The saving grace is that at least we have a repayment mortgage so there is equity in it but probably not enough to finance a permanent Escape.

The drop in interest rates has also had an impact. At the moment we are not worse off as most of our savings were in fixed rate bonds which I took out before the crunch. But these are going to mature in the not too distant future. I have a feeling that interest rates are not going to recover for some time. This also has an impact on the Escape. We were getting several hundred pounds a month in interest from these bonds. By the end of the year that will probably be halved.

Ha! There goes my plan of living in a magic bus in California or Oregon on $1k per month! Or my idea of buying a home in Nova Scotia outright and living off the interest from our savings. Perhaps that will happen one day but I cannot see it happening for at least a few years.

There is nothing I can do about it but sit tight. I have to think of my DH, not just myself.

We will probably have to work for longer. That means staying put for longer. Sigh.

But I remember to be thankful for what I have. Remember gratitude.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Back to work

Well my first two weeks at the new job have been ok.

Actually I am quite enjoying the work. Its relatively hassle free. I only wish it could be permanent.

I wish I could find a permanent role. The feedback I am receiving from my applications for permanent work is that potential employers apparently don't like the fact that I have been working as a Locum. What planet do these people live on? There is no tenure anymore, no security. The annoying thing is that most of the decision makers are probably middle class, middle aged, white men who have probably worked for the same employer for the last 30 years.

But I digress.

I haven't written about finances lately but 2008 was a good year for us financially. We managed to save circa £45,000 towards the escape fund. Not bad.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Post Christmas slump I can feel the black cloud approaching me.

I can feel the demons circling again up overhead. They are chanting.

They are chanting the usual messages of insecurity. They tell me that the future is dangerous and uncertain and doomed to failure. They tell me that I am alone, isolated and two steps from deprivation. They tell me that the only person that is good, wonderful and secure in my life can be snatched away from me in a moment.

"Face it" they say, "you are no good, worthless, useless and all alone."