It has been a pretty normal weekend here in the Frugasaurus household. As I am typing this, Mr. E. is pondering away on his own computer and I have been spending the morning puzzling away at sidehustles.
I would like to buy it. A part of me stops with a finger above the purchase button. I just don’t buy that much stuff any more. But I want this book. I want to buy it, write my name in the margins and then lend it out to the world. To encourage friends to write their name in it and then lend it on, hopefully leaving them inspired.
But for the moment, my finger hovers above the purchase button. I still have several tasks to finish today before the day is done. Work before play and all that.
I like the way she writes. Her style flows effortlessly off the page in a kind, non-judgemental way.
It has been a while since my last financial update (November 2017).
With that in mind, this update will cover a bit about December and January as well. All of them have been quiet months, but then again, most months are nice and quiet around here, it’s how we like it.
The biggest takeaways from February was that after two months of sub 50% monthly savings, February was firmly back in the 50 %! I received a tiny raise of about $50 per month which is being marched into savings along with all the other surplus after rent, electricity, phones and food has been paid.
Want to know more of the details? Read on!
Like many other amazing women in the personal finance blogosphere, I was lucky enough to get invited by Chelsea over at Mama Fish Saves to join her 8th of March women’s day blog collaboration. All about empowering women and money and how women rock money!
International women’s day is a strange occurrence in Norway. Not least because of all the mansplainers jumping out of the woodwork to complain about how women in Norway are already equal and have nothing more to fight for (sooo not true), and why, oh whyyy is there not an international men’s day?? So unfair!! (There is, by the way. It’s 19th of November.)
Phew. Glad to have that out of the way. Without further ado, let’s dive into it.
But first, a story.
Trigger warning: This blog post contains spousal abuse and violence.
Allowing myself to take a step back from posting regularly has brought back a lot of the joy and inspiration that was filling me to the brim when I first started writing here on Frugasaurus.
We were never going to be a blog heavy on numbers, the next hot thing or extreme optimisation.
To us, we’ve done the math and understand it. We are not interested in being rich, only having enough to sustain ourselves so that we can be free to pursue the life that we want. We are trying to create our own basic income, and it does not have to be fancy, it just has to cover the bills and maybe a night out or small travel once in a while.
With that in mind, I have sketched out the sort of life we are aiming for. Ideally, it will be so cheap that keeping it up will be easy through modest hustling, writing and other hobbies. We intend to earn so much or have so much saved up that we will still be paying taxes. After all, we like things like roads, schools and hospitals.
But even as I dream of forest gardens, homegrown vegetables and house-in-the-forest bliss, there is one thing that keeps coming back to make me anxious.
In light of the recent little bit of a dip the market did, I’ve seen a lot of incredible, witty bloggers writing a lot of clever things about sticking to your guns and either change your allocation strategy or just don’t look at your accounts for a while.
Inspired by this, I thought that maybe I should have a go at it too.
But even if I wanted to throw extra money at a dip in the market, I don’t really have extra money to throw. Not if we are sticking to our plan anyhow. And wasn’t that the whole point?
Stick to the plan, keep investing the same amount every month, and throw a lot of money at our emergency funds and mortgage savings accounts for that home we want some time in the future.
So instead, I’ve been staring at my screen. Living life, having visitors, working overtime, but not being quite sure what to write.
It has been over 4 months since I started my walking to work project.
Before that, I had spent a month or so biking, but the dark mornings started to get me. The roads would be icy soon, and I had left my bike lights in London. My knee had been hurting as well, unhappy with the strain from my hilly commute.
Excuses galore. So as the days grew steadily darker, I parked my bike in the shed and donned my reflective vest and some good walking shoes instead.
It does take more than twice as long, but I have learned to enjoy it. On my bike, the commute to work was less than 15 minutes downhill. Too short for me to really consider plugging in podcasts or other knowledge enhancing activities. Too short to properly decompress and unplug between home and work. For me, anyway.
So I started walking.
Or about 2.3 miles. Just a wee bit longer than the distance from the primary school I attended and home. It takes me about 45 minutes at a reasonable pace that does not leave me sweaty and smelly for work.
To be honest, I had not expected much in terms of change. I had already been biking daily to my job in London for over a year. A commute that took me 45 minutes by bike, and estimated at over 2 hours to walk.
But, and there is research to support this, intensity wins over time.
My commute in London had one small hill, the rest was flat. It was a leisurely route which barely made be break a sweat either way. In terms of how strenuous it was, I might just as well have been walking.
Plus, our lifestyle in London was not the healthiest.
This hilly beast, on the other hand, is a different game. It turns out walking for 1.5 hours each weekday can leave you with other changes. Not just a heavier purse.
I do not have the exact numbers of how much I lost as I started walking. I had already started to loose some, simply from coming back to Norway and getting back to a healthier lifestyle.
Depending on when I count from, either from my heaviest in London or from the day I started walking, I guesstimate that I lost between 5 and 10 kg (11-22 lbs).
As someone who has tried to get to the point I am currently at ever since before I was a teen, let me tell you, it was surprisingly jarring.
Weight loss was not something I had planned for or expected. I was simply choosing to walk because I wanted to save money on a bus pass and enjoy nature in the morning instead of a buss full of students.
Because it was not on the radar, it was something I denied at first. I would notice my trousers getting looser, but not a lot, as it was around the same time I started wearing woollen tights underneath. My belt does not have holes, so I didn’t notice it there either.
M. and Mr. E. made a comment or two about it. Nothing obnoxious. I waved it off and kept denying it. It was not that much, it did not make that much of a difference.
Realisation hit me when I was catsitting M’s cat one weekend. She had gotten a used scale somewhere. Being curious to a fault, I checked.
“Hah!” I texted Mr. E. “M’s got an old scale, but it’s pretty off-kilter. It claims I lost over 5kg.”
“That sounds about right.” Was the level-headed response I got. I grumbled, still not willing to believe it, and still not quite comfortable with the thought?
Well, as I mentioned a little higher up, I felt as if I had lost control. And I did not like that one bit. If I was loosing weight east and west simply walking to and from work, when would it stop? How would I know it had stopped? Was I getting enough nutrition?
I felt as if I had lost control over my own body, and a part of me was panicking. I have always been a pretty stable weight. A little bit on the curvy/chubby side, but stable. Ever since junior high. I still wore the same trousers in university as my mother got me for 9th grade until they pretty much fell apart.
Now though? The old jeans M. had given me because they had grown too big for her, were getting loose on me too. Jeans that only a few months ago had been tight! When would it stop?
As it turns out, I was stopping around the time I checked my weight while catsitting. As I am writing this, I have been at this new stable for over 2 months. I am getting used to it, though a part of me still refuses to believe M’s scale is entirely correct.
We still focus on eating plenty of fresh produce, which I figure is one of the more important things.
A healthier body is not to be sniffed at, but it hasn’t been the only benefit from walking to work. With the time it takes to walk, I have had plenty of time to listen to podcasts to expand my horizon. ChooseFI, The Mad Fientist, FIRE Drill Podcast, The Fairer Cents and Writing Excuses are all staples in my audio diet. I also listened to an episode of Lore once, which was thoroughly enjoyable. It’s on my list, but I need to catch up to all these other ones first…
Another benefit is watching the seasons change. Leaves turning and the crisp, crackling sound of snow underfoot. It is one of the best mood-boosters I know. Plus, I know exactly when the wild raspberries are ripening, or when the meadowsweet blooms.
Once spring and summer is well underway, I will probably dig the bike out of the shed again. It is nice with a bit of variety, and to feel the wind rush through my hair.
For autumn and winter though? Walking is the thing for me.
Or rather, can you walk to work? I know plenty of people live too far away to manage without loosing most of their day. There is also safety to take into consideration. In London, my commute was along bike superhighways and perfectly safe, while Mr. E. tried the same to his university and got into far too many dangerous situations. Make sure you stay safe!
It is round 4.30 am here in Norway while I am writing this. Yup, you read that right. Other people might get up at five to go for a run or do other exercises before work.
The two of us on the other hand? Quick splash of water to the face, brew some tea, perhaps a small bite to eat and then hunker down in front of the computer until 6 am to work on our sidehustles.
Part-time FIRE, barista FIRE, leisurly FIRE, time for other projects or unable to work full time for health reasons. Whatever you want to call it, I want to call attention to it.
The trend I see from a lot of other bloggers in the personal finance world, is that in order to reach FIRE (financial independence, retire early), you should get a second job, maybe even a third job. Hell, sidehustle a bit on the side while you’re at it to really kick it as soon as possible!
Whew. As an introvert with ample need for quiet downtime and holes in my schedule to just wind down, I can tell you straight away that I would not be able to do that. A great, big kudos to those who can, but my heart rate increases just thinking about it. Read More
Again, I have a good friend who, while they absolutely understand the maths behind financial independence, simply do not wish to pursue it.
Their argument is simple: If everyone pursued and achieved financial independence, society would collapse.
Unlike this post by Mr. MM, my friend was not thinking about the horrors of a less consumerist lifestyle. They were thinking in more practical terms of “we need nurses, government officials, shop clerks and plumbers to make our society go ’round.”
I actually rather like these thought experiments. My friend is a very clever engineer who likes to work and contribute to society. They are always respectful, but as it so happens, I’m really bad at thinking up counter-points on the spot, so I ponder the issue in a blog post at some later point in time instead.
It has been a while since we did one of these frugal Friday posts. Originally, I had planned on posting the recipe for meadowsweet juice a little closer to summer, but seeing as I had already posted spruce shoot syrup way ahead of time and I got a request in for it (thanks!), why not put it out there early for people to prepare?
Now, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is a perennial herb in the rose family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has been naturalised some places in the US. It is an aromatic herb and contains the same active ingredients used to make aspirin, among other things.
In Norway, meadowsweet is called “mjødurt”, which directly translates into “mead herb”. As the name implies, it has been used for millennia to flavour mead. It is also weakly antibacterial, and could be used to clean throughs and tools before use. It likes sunny spots, and in our area they are easiest to find in places where humans tread often or have changed things, such as adding wide paths for hiking and thus providing more sun to the forest floor, or alongside fields and acres. Where there’s one, there’s usually many. Read More