Hello from Germany!

Say hello!!
SilverElephant
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Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:47 am

Hello everyone,

(TL;DR: physics major from Germany, 25, already somewhat frugal, amazed at all the info here, inherited portfolio and sees as duty to maintain and put to good (ERE) use, struggling to find interesting non-careerist job, happy to be here, looking forward to interesting discussions.)

I came across this site after reading about MMM on a German news site a few months ago. The jump to ERE and jlcollinsh etc. was a very short one. Ever since, I have been lurking, absorbing information and reading up on financial matters (still in a ... disordered fashion, but it helps).

As I would guess is the case for most of the regulars here, none of the frugality thoughts seem weird to me. I'm certainly astounded by the... well, extremes people like Jacob and others are taking it, but it's definitely an impressed and almost reverential astonishment. The thought that I could get by on part-time work struck me years ago already and it's always seemed insane to me for everybody to work long stressful careers to pay for unnecessary stuff. I've been quite frugal in a lot of ways all my life, so MMM/ERE/etc. simply look to me like awesome sources of information on investing and how to tackle all the areas in my life I'm still not frugal in.

I'm almost 26 and graduated in physics at one of the "best" (whatever that means) technical universities in Germany a little over a year ago. I got my first job in January after some family-related downtime and have hated every minute of it because I had the good fortune of dropping into a desk-only-research-online-write-studies-lots-of-meetings engineering institute even though I was promised extensive possibilities for "tinkering" in the interview (explicitly stated that I'm a tinkerer). I'm currently trying to find a job that involves dealing with tangible results and doesn't seem like a 50+h/week gig. Possibly some of you will shun me for not being willing to "work my ass off" for ERE, but I have learned that life can be over tomorrow...

A few years ago I inherited my mom's portfolio when she passed away from cancer which has certainly given me a head start to ERE as well as the first-hand knowledge that you should never mortgage ALL of today for tomorrow... there might be no tomorrow (just like you might not get to 65!) I'm happy to say it never even crossed my mind to use that nest egg for anything but a basis for a life that I can live as I see fit. My mom is the reason I'm already a fairly frugal person and that I spent most of my certainly relaxed childhood not playing too many video games (though I certainly spent a fair amount of time on them), but using the time to get fluent in three languages and building a vast amount of knowledge from tinkering with computers and programming languages. She's the one who opened me up - without ever saying a word about it - to the idea that it's possible to live your life by learning valuable skills without spending much, if any, money (besides barest necessities) and getting into investing, although I never got around to it until I inherited the portfolio. She was the only person I personally know who was anything close to the "renaissance man" Jacob describes in his book. She even bought a little cottage in France that she was fixing up herself...

I've lived on ~700€ during my degree and nobody has been able to conclusively explain why this should go up by orders of magnitude (unless I buy a house, but the family owns two), citing vague reasons such as "just wait until you get married" (not planned, but even if: well?) or "you'll want a bigger apartment soon" (had to get one as student housing was no longer an option, it looks empty for lack of stuff, even looking at selling some of the furniture I got during a stupid streak). I loved the fact that I had a cheap little room with everything I needed. Coming from already not-too-consumerist families (though my dad outsources everything, which costs him tons), my parent's house is piled high with high-quality stuff that should last forever if well taken care of (which I intend to).

Long story short... most of the basic ideas of ERE were already there in my head, all I needed was a push, the knowledge that some people have done it before me and lotsa information about the specifics, especially investing, which I'm currently massively reading up on. The major upside of a physics degree, though I agree with Jacob when he says it mainly teaches you to sit still, listen and solve pre-set problems, is the mindset that nothing is impossible save for what can be disproved. My current issues are finding a job that doesn't make me want to kill myself so I can do it for a few years, taking care of my mom's legacy (cottage still needs to be finished up), reading up on investing and DIY skills, figuring out the vital differences between ERE in the US and Germany, and taking care of my dear father, who's 85 and the reason I've always held the workplace and the idea of working 40+h weeks for forty years in contempt.

I'm also different from most of the posters here in that I'm not an INTJ, I actually test out as ISTJ or ISFJ, depending on the test, so sadly I'm not a mastermind.

Looking forward to learning a lot and possibly interesting discussions! As stated, a big issue for me is how to handle apply ERE principles and retire early in Germany. There are many differences that make it somewhat harder here (such as much higher income tax) and some that make it easier (cheaper, compulsory health care).

altoid
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by altoid » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:59 am

Welcome ! thank you for sharing your story and I am very sorry for your loss. I lost my dad to cancer in 2012, and that was a wake up call for me as well. Life is not guaranteed, and even we all like to think there is unlimited time, until the day that comes.

I also noticed that your dad is almost 60 years older than you. How did that work out for your family? I have been thinking about family planning recently and it looks like we won't be ready in the near future, which means my DB will hit his 50s when we have kids. Is that too late?

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Chad
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by Chad » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:24 pm

Sorry about your loss. Unfortunately, I know some of what you have gone through, as my mother currently has cancer.

Welcome to the forum. It sounds like you are well on your way to ERE and "renaissance man" status. Finding the right job seems to be your big issue right now, as you seem rather focused.

SilverElephant
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:08 pm

@weiss-blau: Sorry, kann noch keine Nachrichten schreiben, weil ich noch nicht lange genug registriert bin. Hab' an der gleichen Uni studiert (bis 2012).

@Chad: I'm very sorry to hear that. I wish you all the strength in the world; the best you can do for her is to be there. Finding the right job is indeed the biggest issue, strangely enough, in contrast to people who have a job and struggle with ERE concepts, the later comes naturally to me while finding the right job is a big and very difficult thing.

@altoid: I'm sorry for your loss, as well. The answer to whether it's too late is actually not that easy because there's no one-size-fits-all answer. All I can do is explain my personal situation:

The fact that my dad is 60 years older than I am (and 32 years older than my mother) did create a lot of problems (still does), but some positive sides as well. It depends a lot on everyone's character.

My dad has an EXTREMELY strong personality. I'm not talking about someone having somewhat strong opinions and views, I'm talking tempered steel frame. Being a prisoner of war, escaping and walking back to Germany from France through the front lines after half a year of de-mining will probably do that to you if it doesn't kill you. What this amounts to is that his world view was (and still is) the one and only for him.

This led to two things: he never let us (I've got a sister) make our own mistakes (because he made us do it the "correct way") and the general goal to meet is not - as per usual with parents of a "regular age" - simply finding your way, suddenly the goal you have to meet is the whole thing, i.e. the successful, finished career, the nice house etc. etc. He doesn't see his path anymore, he just sees and talks about the finished thing and how nice it is to have a company pension and a house and how much hard work it was, but someone who's at the very beginning needs a person to hold on to for the first steps and to help them up when they (inevitably) fall on their face a few times, telling them it's alright. What I'm saying is that if you have kids at that age, it's harder for you to remember how taking first steps at something was - scary, big, unknown and full of traps. If you just edge them on with the big huge end goal (40 years later) that's not in any way tangible to them, you will just frustrate them - I know I am. I'm fucking sick of hearing how I need a successful high-profile career to maintain a certain standard of living and every straying from the path of a successful worker bee probably means no-one will every employ me again, ever, anywhere.

Similar is the inability to relate to issues of my generation. He's very liberal and has a technical understanding (since he's an engineer), but he cannot understand the full impact of something like modern computers, he just sees them as a tool used for simple tasks like spreadsheets; consequently, anyone spending time on the computer is therefor an idiot with limited interest scope. The fact that I acquired broad knowledge of hardware, operating systems, networking and programming means nothing to him: any time spent at the computer is lost because it's not put to useful purposes (as defined by him), therefor I am lost.

Upsides include the fact that he is a definite financial safety net, which is, I guess, what my mother saw in him - apart from the fact that, all negative things aside, he is a very generous and kind person with an extremely broad view of the world due to his extensive business trips. It's mind-boggling that he can have witnessed so many different styles of living and still condemn everything but his own for his children.

The take-away is this: if you want children, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having children at any age, but please remember your own first steps at anything in this world and that they will need to take them as well and make mistakes while doing so. Your being older will mean you've seen what can go wrong and you will be tempted to prevent them from making mistakes because you don't want them to hurt. What this might lead to is a person like me: I'm having to learn to think for myself and make mistakes at the age of 25, after losing the person who was kindest to me and there to help me up when I fall, when now mistakes are costlier than at age 15. And, ever since I've been old enough to comprehend the situation, I've lived in fear of calling him one day and not being able to reach him because something has happened to him. There are no guarantees, as seen by the fact he survived my mother, but at that age you assume anything can happen anytime.

As I understand it, my mother had very similar issues with him.

altoid
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by altoid » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:22 pm

SilverElephant, thank you very much for your reply. I can understand where you come from.The generational gap will be vast considering the age difference and also the life experience he had in the past. There are also other concerns like being unable to do things together with kids, like sports. Also if our health and physical strength will be able to handle the care for children in a later age. So I guess each option has its up and downs, and the hardest part is to decide, which is where I am right now.

I am also curious about the low birth rate in developed world. Is this the case in Germany? Can you share some of your thoughts on your own family planning? Will you delay parenting as your father did? Or the opposite?

SilverElephant
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:05 pm

Just to be precise, I did not mean to deter you from or encourage you to have kids, although given the level of thought you're putting into it I'd guess you'd be ahead of 90% of the pack.

Germany has quite the low birth rate (around 1.3, the lowest I could find on Wikipedia save for Japan at 1.2). I'm not knowledgeable enough about sociopolitical matters to offer conclusive explanations, obviously, and my being a rather odd specimen of my age group means my opinion might not be representative, however:

- I believe the low birth rate especially in comparison to other European countries is certainly due to the high level of German education and the push towards it, women are encouraged to put off having kids until they have an accomplished career. This is the case in most other western countries but they do not have the combination of generally high level of education and high percentage of university attendance. This is my personal impression although I'm sure if you looked up the numbers they'd check out. Women in the US are encouraged along the same lines but the raw percentage of college attendance (especially in natural science/technical fields) is certainly lower while that of "lower class" people is certainly higher.
- Comparatively high level of income taxes means the available income for kids goes down. Conversely, the number of married couples who opt to never have kids and lead a yuppie lifestyle in big cities is going up. The are driving up the rents (having more income) and in general the price of everything. This is an older topic in the states, as far as I know, and shows once more that US trends slowly spill over to the rest of the world (such as "turbo-capitalism")
- There is a high tendency in Germany for what MMM calls "Ivy League Preschool Syndrome". Again, this seems to be a natural consequence of US trends spilling over. I read an article about parents sending their kids to Chinese classes starting at age 2 "so they'll stand a chance on the job market". Of course these articles tend to be sensationalistic, but still.

My personal opinion is that I'd rather cut off one of my legs than have kids before having actual FI clear in my sights. I'm having a hard enough dealing with the real world and the shitload of unwanted responsibility right now to want additional responsibility. On the other hand, it might just provide me with the incentive to "get my act together"... which would all be a nice idea if an innocent child's life didn't depend on it.

Of course, when you go further along unusual lines of thought it's not hard to come up with the idea that kids are an awesome trap to get men into high-paying jobs. When you get right down to it the sole reason we're not living in caves anymore is because men had to "compete" to provide the greatest securities so that their genes would have a chance of being passed on, i.e. selected. Getting selected by traditional methods, i.e. a high-stress career in a societal game rigged against consumers, seems like a lot of not really worthwhile hassle right now, especially when you become aware, as a man, that you've got your whole life to father children, even if I'd want to keep them from the downsides of having an old father. The alternative being giving up my personal freedom to extents I feel physically uncomfortable with, I'd rather sit it out until I have achieved personal and financial stability.

Or, put another way, being a somewhat "enlightened" person when it comes to societal structure, it seems to me kids are just another way for "the system" (politicians, the 1%, corporations, take your pick) to sucker you along. Since I'm 25 and it's traditional for guys my age to hold views along these lines, I reserve the right to change my opinion should new information become available or circumstances change.

I know my girlfriend isn't too happy about this view, though... even though I've already sugar-coated it somewhat.

altoid
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by altoid » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:41 pm

Lol, well said SilverElephant ! It is great to have a formed opinion and not have to be bothered by it once a while like me.

Personally I have never really liked kids, even my own niece. I got annoyed when she threw a fist, cried while not getting her way, and everyone circulating around her. On the other side, I have not really spent much time with my niece, since I have been always been away while she grew up. Many people say, this indifference will change, once you have your own kid. And I can't disagree with that, since I have not met anyone who regrets for having kids. But on the other hand, is this the synthetic happiness working? I mean we will find our way of peace in unchangeable situations, right ? Having kids, is like an expensive, yet non refundable purchase. So the best way to cope with it, is probably to learn to justify &enjoy it ?

Right now, I view parenting, as a life experience, like any other ones. It gives me one extra option to spend the limited time I am given, but on the hand, not the essential task to fulfill in life.

DutchGirl
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by DutchGirl » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:45 am

Hey, welcome from one of your friendly neighbours :-)

There must be a lot of pretty cool careers in physics; especially with some computer science knowledge. I don't know exactly where to find a job like that (sorry), but they must be out there. Too bad your current employer lied about what your job would entail...

Triangle
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by Triangle » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:12 am

Do you have to stay in Europe? For your dad, girlfriend, or whatever reason? You could just move to another country and make more money there or spend less on taxes.

prieten
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by prieten » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:30 am

Hello SilverElefant!

Welcome to the boards. Sounds like you have your life under control. Germany is a wonderful country. I lived there for six years from 1997 to 2003. You can read my story under Hello from Japan!in this Intro forum. I lived well on less than 800 euros a month, and that included a trip to the USA every year.

It certainly isn't relevant to your situation, but I have recently been fascinated by the subject of Hartz 4. For non-Germans here, that is the name given to the longterm unemployment support program in Germany. Longterm unemployed Germans now get a basic amount every month of about 350 Euros ($400?) plus rent and heat, but no electricity. This is very controversial because unemployed Germans used to get 80% of their last salary in perpetuity. Anyway, some Germans claim it is absolutely impossible to live on 350 Euros a month. I was very intrigued by two former Hartz 4 recipients who wrote a book on how to survive on such a "small" amount. They immediately came under fire for publishing the book. Now, I remember the book was a list of recipes for frugal cooking. What do you think about this topic.

SilverElephant
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:12 am

Triangle wrote:Do you have to stay in Europe? For your dad, girlfriend, or whatever reason? You could just move to another country and make more money there or spend less on taxes.
For the moment, I wouldn't want to leave my dad alone. I'm quite the family person, which I'm aware makes it more difficult to have the flexibility required for ERE.
prieten wrote:Hello SilverElefant!

Welcome to the boards. Sounds like you have your life under control. Germany is a wonderful country. I lived there for six years from 1997 to 2003. You can read my story under Hello from Japan!in this Intro forum. I lived well on less than 800 euros a month, and that included a trip to the USA every year.

It certainly isn't relevant to your situation, but I have recently been fascinated by the subject of Hartz 4. For non-Germans here, that is the name given to the longterm unemployment support program in Germany. Longterm unemployed Germans now get a basic amount every month of about 350 Euros ($400?) plus rent and heat, but no electricity. This is very controversial because unemployed Germans used to get 80% of their last salary in perpetuity. Anyway, some Germans claim it is absolutely impossible to live on 350 Euros a month. I was very intrigued by two former Hartz 4 recipients who wrote a book on how to survive on such a "small" amount. They immediately came under fire for publishing the book. Now, I remember the book was a list of recipes for frugal cooking. What do you think about this topic.
Germany really is a wonderful country. I read your story and found it really interesting! Glad to hear I'm not to only one who believes that living on a very moderate amount is possible here. A downside is the huge stigma against non-working people; I saw the thread above the virtue of working and I imagine it would be very similar here.

Hartz 4 is actually 382€ now (not including, as you said, rent and heating).

My spending as a student averaged 705€ per month (yeah, I have a spreadsheet that I started on the first month at university) for what felt like an extremely luxurious lifestyle. Indeed, I never worried about food and still ended up with "only" 168€ per month for food. These are squanderous levels by ERE standards and I have brought this down to 100-120€ mainly by reducing "big" items such as the occasional fast-food pizza (I make my own) and eating expensive meals when out at a bar with friends (I eat beforehand except when the occasion is an explicit trip to a restaurant). 316€ on average were housing, I was very lucky here because I got cheap student housing which is quite difficult in my city; this number will depend heavily on where you are, obviously. The third big item is travel, which was 129€; it's this high because I visit my dad on a regular basis and I quite liked to be home a lot, still, this is much cheaper than owning a car and doing the same trips, which some of my friends did. Count in all the other small stuff and you arrive at 705€.

I started working as a tutor after the second year and made about 10k€ with that, about a third of which went towards non-essential spending such as a new laptop and gadgets (this is not accounted for in the 705€). I'm a bit ashamed of some of this non-essential spending now, but then again, the cumulative total of "pointless" spending in my life at this point is probably just under 5000€ (all of which I earned myself), so if this doesn't go up a lot in my life now that I've wizened up, I'll consider it a win. The rest of my personal money went towards helping my parents pay for my university.

When you break it right down, 705-316=389 or just 7€ above the current Hartz 4 amount. This does not account for the gadgets and such, but then again, if I'd had a hard budget of 382 (and not a rather elastic budget due to having savings in principle), the frivolities would have been kept to an absolute minimum. Considering that my spending was absolutely non-optimized and included tons of luxury (by my understanding), 382€ after rent and heating seems perfectly doable if you keep a tight track of your spending. Allow 100€ for food (no eating out, of course, maybe the odd beer with your friends, like two per week), 30€ for internet/phone/mobile communication, 20€ for electricity, 20€ for personal grooming and pharmacy stuff that is not covered by state health insurance and you've covered the absolute human necessities for 170€, leaving you with 212€. Let's assume I forgot something or the numbers will vary and call it an even 200€ that you're left with to intelligently ration for things like travel, clothes, electronics and other acquisitions. One might argue household items cost a lot as well, but only very few people will actually start off with an empty apartment, and even then, a basic set of cooking and eating items along with a microwave will maybe eat up 200€ or one month worth of surplus.

Think of what you can do with 200€ monthly surplus!

This is of course torpedo'ed by the fact that a lot of people who receive Hartz 4 watch cable TV on their flatscreen all day long while drinking beer. One of my earliest epiphanies (even before finding out about ERE) is that the real entertainment in this world is nearly free: nature, books and conversations with intelligent friends. If you save up to buy a cheap used computer, you can learn programming languages and all about operating systems and networking for FREE! You can learn about most other things for free too, for that matter.

fips
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by fips » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:20 am

For the purpose of clarification - Hartz IV is only available if you don't have enough income OR accumulated assets ot support yourself.
If you have enough assets to support yourself (which as I understand is one of the key goals if you want to become FI through ERE), you are not eligible for Hartz IV. I would count aid programs as being dependent.
If, however, you are intrigued by living from one state check to next month's and don't think, that taxes could be used for more needy people, it might be one way of living.

SilverElephant
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:27 am

I should perhaps specify that I wasn't endorsing living off the state, but merely answering whether or not I believe it's possible to live off Hartz 4. Its only purpose is to enable you to live a "humane" life until you find a new source of income.

Triangle
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by Triangle » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:31 am

@fipsfrugal:

I don't think anyone here's suggesting that we should all live of welfare. It's just interesting to see that some people live a very convenient and comfortable life on what others call "inhumane" and "not enough to live off of". And feel superior to those people *g*

@SilverElephant:

How much do physicists with your degree make in Germany? If you're liking the hardware & software world, consider starting up your own business instead of a job career. With the enormous taxes in Europe, I think it's a lot easier to write off items as business expenses when you own your own business. It also makes you more flexible if your situation ever changes.

Basically, just go to companies and offer them what you do with hardware & software as a consultant.

SilverElephant
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:54 am

@Triangle

Difficult to say; somewhere between 40k and 50k, depending on the job and your negotiation talent. The reason it's difficult to say is because physics enables you to pick so many paths. Quite a lot of physics majors go into industry R&D, or banks, or consulting, etc. PhDs get about 20% more right after graduation and faster access to management positions. I have to say I've never had any thoughts in these directions. The reason I took up physics was because I was interested in understanding how the world and universe work on a broad basis. I very quickly figured out that actual physical research is tedious and involves writing up papers based on next-to-nothing evidence to get your name out there (Jacob said something similar in another thread, I fully endorse what he said although you have to adjust for the fact that he was in astrophysics, which has... well, no tangible results on this planet; there are more practical fields). Thing is... I like the quiet life. Something practical and interesting with a few motivated people. I guess I'd need to find a nice little startup, but the startup scene in Germany is slim. Nothing like silicon valley.

I've thought about becoming a consultant, of sorts, but Germany is very big on pieces of papers with certifications on them. My impression of the US is that it's very easy to start any contracting or consulting business on the basis that you dabbled with it a bit (painting a simplified picture here), while in Germany everything requires a certification. This has very positive effects and is one of the reasons our artisans deliver very high quality on average (even plumbing is a three-year apprenticeship), but makes it difficult to just pick something you're good at and provide a service to people. Granted, it's still easier in IT because the certifications are not yet very widespread... but, in general, Germany is a country of extreme specialization and generalists or non-certified people are eyed with suspicion. The upside is very high quality and reliability for which Germany is known throughout the world.

I realize it sounds as if I'm rationalizing every idea away; that's not my intention, I was pointing out that I've thought about it but come up with problems that I haven't yet found answers to.

Triangle
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by Triangle » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:56 pm

Haha, that must be a really good plumber after 3 years. He's going to plumb the shit out of my toilet! Oh wait ;)

You said you're a physics major. What kind of degree do you have now? Bachelor of Science or equivalent, Master's degree?

50k doesn't sound bad, especially if it's euros, and especially if you live in a cheap town. Germany has better public transportation than the US, so you might not even need a car. (You mentioned your cheap travel costs).

I think you could pretty much pull off exactly what Jacob did. Great if you like a quiet life - that will save you a lot of money. You don't need to move to a fancy downtown area and spend a lot on fancy clothing and drinks to impress people.

Try to embrace the positive sides of your relation with your dad. The worst you can do is hate him for who he is - he's still going to be that way, but now YOU are angry! Go your own way and take what he has to give you. My parents gave me some great things, and they sucked at other things. No use hating them for what they couldn't do too much.

If I judge you correctly, you've probably already made a spreadsheet of how you could do ERE in various future scenarios. Let us know the projections, would be interesting to see how ERE works out in another country. It's almost like an A/B test with Jacob in the US and you in Germany ;)

SilverElephant
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by SilverElephant » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:22 am

To those Germans who sent me PMs: I can't send PMs yet, not sure whether there's a minimum post or time requirement... sorry.

I know it sounds ridiculous, so check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apprenticeship#Germany.

I have a German physics diploma, i.e. five years of university (took me five and a half due to my mom's illness, then I took a few months to try and get everything settled).

My dad's house is in a tiny village just three miles outside a middle-sized town (50,000 people, middle-sized by German standards ;)). Most people would say you need a car because the trip back up to the village takes you UP 130 m (400 ft), I'm convinced it's a matter of practice, although biking up such a steep hill in the hot summer or cold winter really is hard... anyway, it's my dream setup; you can bike into town or take the bus if the weather is too bad (still cheaper than a car).

50k doesn't sound bad but at this level of income you're in the 42% tax bracket, which in Germany includes the contribution to public health care, happily (along with unemployment insurance, contributions to the state retirement "fund" (really a transfer system) and some other minor things).

The spreadsheet is in the works, I have a basic version that I'm constantly expanding. The main thing right now is that I'm unsure how to invest the portfolio because I don't fully understand the finance market yet. So I'm left with speculation as the achievable mean ROI rates.

I don't hate my dad for who he has - really, I love my dad. But recognizing his "shortcomings" or rather, the big differences between the two of us and where he might have ill-prepared me for the world seems critical to me. Look at it this way: most people go through a "rebel" phase in their teens at some point, challenging their parents' values, making mistakes, forming their own view of the world. What with one thing and another I'm doing this at age 25... which sucks, in a way, but on the other hand the world holds many more possibilities and a mind aged 25 can deal with many more things in a critical way.

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Chad
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by Chad » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:51 am

SilverElephant wrote:
I've thought about becoming a consultant, of sorts, but Germany is very big on pieces of papers with certifications on them. My impression of the US is that it's very easy to start any contracting or consulting business on the basis that you dabbled with it a bit (painting a simplified picture here), while in Germany everything requires a certification. This has very positive effects and is one of the reasons our artisans deliver very high quality on average (even plumbing is a three-year apprenticeship), but makes it difficult to just pick something you're good at and provide a service to people. Granted, it's still easier in IT because the certifications are not yet very widespread... but, in general, Germany is a country of extreme specialization and generalists or non-certified people are eyed with suspicion. The upside is very high quality and reliability for which Germany is known throughout the world.
I would say it's easier to do this in the US than Germany. If you can demonstrate some for of expertise you don't need a certification. Especially, in Silicon Valley. You probably get slightly higher quality work with the German way and slightly more innovation with the US way.

workathome
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Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by workathome » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:47 am

Don't feel so bad about 42%. Taxes in California can now exceed 50% :-)

George the original one
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Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by George the original one » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:34 am

> 50k doesn't sound bad but at this level of income you're in the 42% tax bracket

Just for clarity's sake, are Germany's income taxes progressive? So you're really paying 42% on the income above a certain level?

bulgaria
Posts: 71
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:28 pm

Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by bulgaria » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:10 am

Germany has a progressive tax system.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_Germany

No income tax is charged on the basic allowance, which is €8,004 for unmarried persons and €16,008 for jointly assessed married couples. Beyond this threshold, the marginal tax rate increases linearly from 14% to 24% for a taxable income of €13,469 (€26,938 for married couples). In the subsequent interval up to a taxable income of €52,881 (€105,762 for married couples), the marginal tax rate increases linearly from 24% to 42%. The last change of rates occurs at a taxable income of €250,730 (€501,460 for married couples) when the marginal tax rate jumps from 42% to 45%. The course of the marginal tax rate and the resulting average tax rate are depicted in the graph to the right.

Triangle
Posts: 161
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:37 am

Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by Triangle » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:02 pm

@SilverElephant:

I think you can take your time with investment as you build your savings. At first, you won't lose much by just having it sit in the bank account. As you read and learn more about investing, you can start investing small sums and as you save more, those will grow. Don't start investing hundreds of thousands when you don't know what you're doing. Start small.

mxlr650
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:33 pm

Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by mxlr650 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:51 am

workathome wrote:Don't feel so bad about 42%. Taxes in California can now exceed 50%
DINK here, no deductions except charity, don't even have mortgage interest, and my Federal+CA combined tax rate is little under 30%. We both are on company payroll (not consulting or SMB scam) and we are in top tax bracket. I am not sure why others would any worse unless they are making 500k or above per year.

mxlr650
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:33 pm

Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by mxlr650 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:01 am

silverelephant wrote:Hello everyone,

(TL;DR: physics major from Germany, 25, already somewhat frugal,
Welcome! Germany is my favorite country in Europe! While I would never work there considering the hierarchy/work culture in general, I always enjoy my travel experiences in Germany. Swimming laps at Olympia Schwimmhalle (1972 Olympics) was more awesome than attending Oktoberfest. I did not attempt diving, as I did not want to be Mr. Bean :D

Hope you find a job soon and get towards ERE soon!

JeffD
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:49 am

Re: Hello from Germany!

Post by JeffD » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:04 am

Welcome SilverElephant! Don't feel sad if you're not INTJ. I think most people here are ISTJ, INTJ and some INTPs. ISTJs seems to be interested in ERE the most.

I grew up with my grand pa who fought the war. And I can totally relate with you regarding your father.

I hope you reach ERE soon!

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