oldbeyond's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Post by oldbeyond » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:51 pm

I've been lurking here for some time, spending way too much time reading journals and other entries. I feel I keeping a journal will help me both figure out what my goals are, and to stick to them when I get lazy. A combination of soul searching and pep-talk then, I guess.
I'll just introduce myself and my situation and then follow up with more details and some random meditations later on.
Vital stats:
Male, 23 yo.

Swedish.

Construction Engineering student.

Living with my girlfriend.

Not too familiar with personality types, but I'm definitely introverted. I've battled through pretty severe social anxiety, and I still feel anxious at times(not only in social situations but generally).
Finacancially speaking, I have assets to the tune of $50,000(all in cash, interest rate 2.65%), and student debt totaling $ 24,000(from the Swedish government, interest rate currently 1.3 %(!)). I'm currently still taking out student loans every month. As stated, the interest is extremely low, and there's also limits to how long I have to pay(age 68) and the possibility of lower payments if unemployment strikes. The plan is to make minimum payments and keep my money liquid, though probably not in cash. The interest rate is based on the rate the swedish government pays to borrow money, plus a small administrative fee.
My plan:
- reduce expenses. We're pretty frugal already. The biggest cost is our apartment ($1100/month including utilities, 100 mbps internet, electricity and cable). The cost per person is in line with what you pay for a dorm room around here, but given that we live together we should be getting a better deal. The location is great, and because of the shortage of housing, we won't be able to get anything else for a year at least(queuing system). I don't shop much, and entertainment expenses are low. I pay around $20-30 in bus/tram fares every month, and $10-15 for my pay as you go cell. Our food budget could be reduced a bit, as we get luxuries(like feta cheese, haloumi, olives, juice) sometimes. It's not too bad though, as we mostly eat vegetables, rice/pasta, eggs, tofu, chicken and cheap meat(pork). Food is generally quite expensive here. We practically never eat out.
- get a job. The market for tutoring math has exploded because of new tax breaks. I should be able to get around $20/hour, and most companies want you to work at least 4 hours/week, which should be OK. It would be a good way to practice social skills and to strengthen my foundations in mathematics. I am concerned about the added pressure, as I'm pretty crappy at coping with stress. Recently I've been tackling insomnia and been feeling a bit burned-out, so the job will probably have to wait a while. I will also make sure to find the best possible job for the summer.
- learn about investing. I have a decent amount of money to allocate, but I want to make sure I understand what I'm getting into before I get started.
- build skills. I want to brew beer, partly because I'm fascinated by the process and love beer, partly because of high alcohol prices here. I don't drink much, so a batch should last me a while. I also want to learn more about carpentry/construction. I hope to be able to help out my dad some in the spring/summer. Bike and computer repair have also crossed my mind.
- build "character". I feel I made vast improvements to my personality and emotional life a couple of years ago, but recently I've stagnated. This means improving social skills, discipline, compassion and intellectual maturity.
That's it for know.


rube
Posts: 421
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Post by rube » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:38 pm

Welcome, looking forward to your updates!


henrik
Posts: 707
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: EE

Post by henrik » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:41 pm

Hi, for some reason your intro reminded me of Raptitude. I think you might identify with the author, David, and it might be helpful considering the problems you mention you have. Start from the beginning if you have the time. Cheers!


frugaladventurer
Posts: 118
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:05 pm

Post by frugaladventurer » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:30 am

Hi there -

I can understand you wanting to continue to take out student loans, if they are costing you less than the interest rate you are earning on your savings! However, one caution for you as you look into investing: keep as much in savings in a COMPLETELY safe investment, as you have in outstanding student loans.
The one things that would ruin your situation is if you took your savings, invested them in stocks or some other risky investment, lost the money and then were saddled with large student loan debt. So I would discipline yourself to keep the loan money in a totally safe, insured type of investment. (I don't know how it works in your country, here in the U.S., deposits in a regular bank account are insured by the federal government for up to $100,000 - meaning that if the bank fails, you will eventually get your money back from the government. This same protection does NOT apply to many other kinds of investments.


oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Post by oldbeyond » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:07 am

rube: Thanks!
henrik: A great recommendation! I actually read "Most lives are lived by default" some time ago, but I didn't check out the rest of the site for whatever reason. I'm glad I did now, he goes a lot deeper than a lot of the other "minimalist" sites out there. For me, the spiritual and psychological side of things is as important as the more tangible aspects of life.
frugaladventurer: My money is currently in a bank account that's insured by the Swedish government, so for me to lose my money, both my bank and my government would have to default. It's as close to completely safe as I'll ever get. I will not pursue risky investments with borrowed money, but I might go for something a bit riskier. After all, there is risk in everything you do. Before I do anything, I'll be sure to learn more about investing, though.


oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Post by oldbeyond » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:35 am

Before ERE, it always seemed to me spending your life doing something other than working was both a moral failure and a way to emasculate yourself. In a culture where work and virtue are intimately intertwined, to abstain from work seemed like abstaining from doing the right thing, giving up an opportunity to build character and strength. For me at least, working was seen as perhaps the only arena to prove myself as a man. Other things in life where important, of course, but only as additions to the main event. A life without work seemed like a barbecue with great potato salad, beer and company, but with no meat. What's the point, right? But just as you can barbecue not only steak but also fish, vegetables and mushrooms, your career is not the only steak to fry in your life.
I remember thinking about the good life, way back, and coming up with something along the lines of "do a lot of things and discover a lot of aspects of life", and I think that's a pretty decent thing to aim for. The more I've seen and done, the more I've come to realize that what I am in this moment is not what I will be a month or a year from now, and that every experience and every action changes me in a subtle way. I've always had a pretty definite sense of who I was - an introvert, bad dancer, bad at math, good with words, melancholy, socially awkward, defensive kind of person. New experiences have not given me the sense of being a tabula rasa, an empty canvas capable of painting on itself whatever it desires. Rather I am even more aware of how nature and nurture both continuously recreate "me". But the once rigid lines are much blurrier, and I see how very much is within my power to change. And this change, this insecurity, is probably the end I am seeking.
For me, what ERE showed me was not only the possibility of escaping work and reckless consumption, but the idea of the renaissance man, the many ways to excel at living, the many modes of interacting with the physical world around you, and the endless potential for improvement. I feel for the first time like I have a quest, mystical and endless in nature, and for that I'm very grateful to this community.


oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Post by oldbeyond » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:39 pm

Easter break has begun, which means a couple of weeks of free time. Income-wise not much will happen, apart from some job hunting. I've decided to apply for some tutoring jobs. The income would be welcome, and I think it would add more structure to my weeks. I need to improve my time management skills, and learn to be better at coping with stress. I feel so much more motivated to work after discovering ERE, as I now have a clear sense of what money is buying me(time, and a higher quality of life, not status symbols and temporary relief).
Skill-wise, I will focus on investing, health, and on improving my Chinese.
I don't really know anything about investing, apart from a common sense idea of risk, returns and the market. I'm fascinated by this complex, dynamic system, and the constant struggle to keep up with its changes. My ambition is to read the ere wiki, wikipedia and blogs just to get the terminology and the basic concepts down, and the decide on a few books to start with. Any recommendations are welcome.
Health wise I will run every other day and do body-weight exercises every day. I will also keep away from junk food and alcohol(I've had my share recently). The writers of a swedish blog i read(traningslara.se) have published a book on exercise and nutrition which seems like a good middle ground between pop science self-help books and real academic writing. I will check it out from my local library and read it during the break. Health-wise I'm not overweight, and I could probably run 10 miles(horribly slowly, and I wouldn't be able to move afterwards). I'm not very strong. My goal is to be able to run a half marathon(time being insignificant), and have I decent time running 1000 m. Regarding strength, I'm just gonna do the body weigh exercises for a while.
I've studied Chinese(standard mandarin) for a while, and I'm at a place where I can hold simpler conversations, and understand shorter texts and simpler tv-shows given some time and some use of the dictionary. I've been consolidating elementary vocabulary and grammar recently, but now I'm at a point where I need to push on, so I get to a point where native material is more enjoyable. When I get there, I will be using the language as much as studying. I fully expect to be a student of Chinese for the rest of my life, but I want to get to a level where I'm able to enjoy whatever native material I find, and partake in any conversation. This is a passion of mine, but it might turn into an income stream, if I get to a point where teaching/tutoring, translation or doing business in Chinese is realistic. During the break, the plan is to read and watch TV-shows a lot. I have a pile of textbooks and a few series ready to go, so it's all about execution.


oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:21 am

I got my old supermarket job back for the summer, which actually means decent pay here. I'm paid 17$/hr, with 50-75% extra evenings after 6 pm and 100 % extra on weekends, and I get quite a bit of evening and weekend work. June has been a bit slow, but the pace is picking up now in July, and hopefully I'll manage to gross upwards of 4000$ after my tax return. Unfortunately I didn't manage to rent out my apartment for the summer, which will cost me. I didn't apply for any tutoring jobs in the spring, mainly because of feeling burnt out. The cause of my fatigue was school to some extent, but mainly my inner mental processes. They have improved since, but I still worry easily, and I have a hard time really relaxing. In this respect, ERE has made things worse, as it has made personal finance a matter of choices rather than blind faith in the herd instinct, but I'm still very happy the site and the book opened my eyes. In general I've lived with a sense of existential insecurity the past year; the center cannot hold, you know. In other words, I've grown a lot, and although I can't deny that this new awareness of the transience of all things is anxiety-provoking, it is ultimately an awareness of an indisputable fact, and something I need to confront sooner or later. And it has made me feel very much more alive. I will however apply for a tutoring job this fall. I should be able to get around 17-20$/hr for work which isn't too demanding, and I think I might learn quite a bit myself! Most likely I will tutor math, but Chinese would be optimal.

I've read up a bit on investing, and I feel I'm at a point where I need to find myself one or more good books on the subject, preferably at least one of which which deals with the particulars here in Sweden. However, I'm in a phase right now where my focus should be on reducing expenses, building skills(mainly in school) and maximizing my income(tutoring and summer jobs), so learning about investments is a long-term thing. As for expenses, food and possibly my cellphone is where the gains are to be had. I also have some superfluous stuff I should be able to sell for a few hundred dollars at least.

Health-wise, I had a knee injury in early june, so running is off the table. Apparently I need to develop my leg muscles, which most likely means weight lifting in a gym. This will cost some money, but our apartment is too small for me to invest in equipment. At first weight lifting felt like a drag, but after some thinking and reading, the benefits to health, energy and appearance seem greater compared to running, making my injury a blessing in disguise.

I've started reading newspaper articles in Chinese, and it's not to bad with some help from the dictionary. The main obstacles are literary language, idioms(成语) and names(of both people and places). More work, but much more rewarding than textbooks. I've also watched some TV in chinese on youku.com. Both are great(and frugal!) ways to improve language skills, but of course you need a good foundation first.

oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:14 am

Working the same job almost every summer in your most formative years makes for a great gauge of your personal development. Returning to a familiar situation after spending a year tackling completely different problems in another place makes the transience of "you" apparent. When I think back on my first days working here five years ago, that person doesn't seem to be me, really. We have some things in common, but our actions and our mental processes both are vastly different. He dreaded every social interaction and felt like having to excuse his existence all the time. I handle any situation with patience, and if not with grace then at least with competence. He counted the minutes of a six hour shift - I blast through a ten hour day. He was obsessed with how little he could get away with, and I try to figure out what needs to be done. This isn't to say that I'm the perfect person or worker. Far from it. It is rather saying that a lot of obstacles that were once in my path are now gone. This has been a gradual process. The main difference between the last time I worked here two years ago and this summer is how natural it feels to succeed with something. By two summers ago I was already rid of my most pressing issues, but every success made me feel exhilarated and somewhat unreal. Today I take it for granted.

My approach to work and money has also changed drastically. It was only a little under a year ago that I discovered the concept of FI/RE, through MMM and later ERE. I had always been a reasonably frugal person. I spent some unnecessarily large amounts of money on gadgets and computers in my teens, and on clothing in my early twenties, but it was never out of control, and most of my paychecks went into savings. When just starting university I had dreams of extravagant consumerism later on - house, furniture, BMW, preposterously expensive suits - but I came to realize the emptiness of it pretty quickly. For me it was pretty simple, really. I was miserable, so I fantasized about expensive stuff because I wanted to feel like the beautiful and confident people in the commercials. Sad, but true. I then moved on to some kind of semi-frugality, being reasonable and saving some for a rainy day, but lacking goals and feeling like I was just saving for the sake of being virtuous. I also fetishized the minimalist aesthetic for a while, fantasizing about my future empty apartment and my three pairs of socks, but it also lost its charm. Then I finally came to realize that money could buy freedom. I never knew it could be so useful.

Not working at all for a couple of years it's easy to forget a lot of the stress, politics and tedium of working. Granted, working in a supermarket might not give you the best possible experience of the workplace, but I think a lot of white-collar workers have a lower "quality of work" than me. And even if you work in a great place, you might get a new boss, or face restructuring or budget cuts or whatever. It's been a good reminder to not grow complacent and cut The Man too much slack. I've also learned that I'm still bad at coping with stress, that having a lot of shallow social exchanges with people just drains me, and that I still worry too much about others opinion of me.

oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:31 am

Depending on your perspective, 2013 could be seen as the year when everything changed or the year when nothing happened. The sentiment of stagnation is supported by hard evidence; nothing major has happened to either income, spending or investments. I probably spend somewhat less than before, and I'm better at tracking my finances, but I am on the whole set in my decently frugal ways. I'm still only "invested" in savings accounts, and my income is in line with previous years. However, my outlook is completely changed. At the beginning of the year it was all rather abstract and confused. I learned about savings rates, SWR:s and investments, but it was all about other people and their journeys, and I refrained from doing my own numbers. This was probably to allow myself to live a bit longer among the clouds, rather than having to face my own future. It was nice, but ultimately quite silly, and after the summer I spent some time thinking about my own situation. I want to raise a family, and this means compromise(even if my girlfriend is very frugal, too), and unavoidable costs. Add to this high taxes and relatively low wages, a relatively high cost of living and my distrust in 4% as a sufficiently conservative SWR, and this means that my retirement can be early, but probably not extreme(I guess for Sweden it still would be!).

Generally, I feel that being completely reliant on investment income/withdrawals isn't all that different from being completely reliant on job income. One could argue that one can always go back to work should the need arise, but at least around here showing up with a 20-year gap on your resume is likely to be quite devastating, even if you only apply for unqualified work. As long as there's capital left, one could always "create his own job" by starting a business. However, skills atrophy, so this might mean having to start from zero, at say age 55. Psychologically, this might be tough after many years of carefree rentier existence.

If you haven't guessed it already, I might as well state for the record that my temperament is a decisively defensive one ;) Was this the only thing holding me back from attempting to live off investments, I'd get to work on overcoming that psychological hurdle. Even if things went bad I'd probably manage. But for various reasons, I want to have some "economic" activity be a part of my life. I'm not saying that one cannot live a rich life without a "job" of some sort. The benefits employment can provide can certainly be found elsewhere. For me, personally, I find the social aspects of common effort, the acknowledgement that compensation(and status) gives, and the supply of interesting problems that can be found in good job a attractive package. This doesn't mean that I've decided to ditch the whole FI-thing. Rather, my goal is to save and build a decent, if not completely sufficient income stream, and then leverage my by then considerable career capital(yes, I am a fan of Mr Newport) to device for myself part-time or contract work, which would cover the rest of my expenses and a leave decent cushion. Given a decent hourly wage and low taxes rates on my low income, I'd be amply compensated. Even given conservative estimates, I should be able to reach this goal by the time I'm 45.

The whole idea of resilience really speaks to me. I'd say that the plan outlined above is more resilient than being completely reliant on either job or investment income, but it leaves me very dependent on the economic system. I'll be mitigating this somewhat by buying high quality tools and clothes and by learning skills, mainly fishing, beer-brewing, gardening, and construction, but maybe also hunting and woodworking. I have a dream of building a cottage on some cheap plot of land in the middle of nowhere, using only time-tested techniques and materials. We'll see what comes of that.

oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:31 am

Mental

Having been to a funeral(not someone close, though) has made me even more aware of the transience of all things, and I think it increased my acceptance of this fact. My emotional understanding of the function of death, and our minds' need of volatility to appreciate much of anything, has increased. Old obsessions are fading somewhat, and a mindset perhaps best described as opportunistic utilitarianism is emerging. The more I try to grow, the more I realize that the best way to do so is to use the rare moments of lucidity that I am blessed with to create a favorable environment and then let this weird organism do it's thing. Self-discipline be damned.

Finances

Expenses have been a bit higher. I've paid for two upcoming trips, and gone out more with friends. I will curb the social spending a bit going forward, but it was well worth it to get my out of the house. The social arena is still my weakest one. Income is the same. After tutoring for a bit, I found that the 150$/month wasn't worth the commute, stress and parental interaction. I liked the work fine though, and it definitely made me grow.

I've finally invested some of my money, and the plan is to keep a ratio of 1/3 equities to 2/3 cash until I graduate and get a real job. I'm following a defensive value investment philosophy, starting out with swedish stocks. Reading blogs on the subject, mentality seems to be key here too. You see some people doing lots of trades, contradicting their stated philosophy one month only to recant the next, being very confident about the newest and hottest biotech firm one month only to sell in a panic the next. That's how I would end up if I started trading a lot, too. For me, having a simple philosophy and sticking to it over the long term will pay off. I look at my brokerage account once a week or so and that's it.

Health

I've been going to the gym two times a week since christmas, and it's starting to pay off. The increased muscle mass is starting to show. I think I'm genetically favored in this department as my brother is the same. It's mostly mass though, rather than strength, but a least I'm stronger than when I started out. I can bench press 45 kg in three sets of eight, and leg press 100 kg. The biggest difference is probably that it feels good to exercise, and I no longer have to force myself to get out of the door. It's about time to change my routine and add more free weights(deadlifts and squats) and get serious about technique.

My diet is about the same - very varied. I'd like to add more fruits and nuts, and I'd like to eat more beans and lentils. Other than that it's mostly about avoiding sugar and snacks(salty snacks are hardest to avoid for me!). I think I've eaten a bit more than before since becoming more serious about exercising, and I'd like to avoid falling into the bulk/deff cycle, even if I won't grow muscle as fast.  

oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:33 am

I'm now as invested as I intend to be(40% of my liquid assets in equities), which means that I've been quite aggressive in my investing over the past few months. I've picked up a few blue chips(swedish and american) at attractive levels, which I plan to hold for the long haul. I've also picked up a couple of good if not great companies that I deem to be quite undervalued, and made a play in net-nets. The net-nets are the worst companies by far in my portfolio, business-wise, but the extremely low valuations act as an enormous cushion. I'm also reassured by the fact that market inefficiencies are very likely to occur in the pricing of illiquid companies of tiny market capitalization.

On the expenses side, we've found a new apartment, that net of all expenses(buspass) will save us $400/month. I've changed cell providers and we will reduce the coverage on our renters insurance(paying extra to insure our electronic devices when pretty much all of them are so old that our deductible is higher than the value seems less than optimal). In buying items and clothes I try to buy quality, and used if possible. The only areas were any real savings can be had are in food and social expenses. We don't spend a ton on food, but I could eat for $100 less/month and still eat really well. Still, it is a great source of pleasure for the both of us, so this inefficiency will most likely remain. We've spent more than usual on eating out and coffee shops over the summer, but on the other hand we won't be going away this year. I consider it a cost-effective vacation :P

I've been expanding my knowledge of zen and taoism, and generally spent a lot of time reflecting on the world and my place in it. The more I ponder and plan, the more I am awed by what I can only describe as a kind of intelligence in the universe that appears much deeper than ours. More than one night has been spent reading about peak oil, overpopulation and climate change, and considering industrial civilisation generally. We seem overly focused on the short run as a species, but from a certain perspective, that too is "natural". I believe it is perfectly possible for individuals to see past their noses, but I wonder if it is possible for us as a society or a civilization.

So, on the one hand I have been reading about zen, the objective of which perhaps can be clumsily described as unity with the present(of course in zen, you are the present and there is no objective). On the other, I've kept reading FIRE blogs and forums(really as a sort of support group, since I've already internalized the basics), where people live in their heads and can tell you how the purchase of a toothbrush will impact their net worth 30 years hence. This is not inherent in ERE, but for a lot of people(me included), it is easy to start out with an open mind, and asking "what would happen in 30 years given these sensible assumptions", only to see them fossilize. It is easy to fall in love with the equation and forget the assumptions. In zen buddhism, "clutching" the world of flux we live in is seen as the root of suffering. Since everything is impermanent, being emotionally dependent on the stability of a certain state of the world will lead to anxiety in the absence of change, and suffering when/if change arrives. ERE is a fine, multifaceted strategy, but I know I've been guilty of devising a plan that is suitable where I am right now, and then clutching the hell out of it. The genius of ERE it's general, strategic nature, and that some moves will enhance your well-being regardless of what the future brings.

oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:21 am

Financial

I've graduated, so an era of deleveraging is upon me(until I get a mortgage, should that happen...). My net worth is in the black, if only slightly, meaning that my invested assets are pretty much offset by my student loans. However, the terms for the student loans are very favourable - long term financing at 1% real with a swiss army knife of insurance built in. I've found a job for the fall, that should enable me a 50% savings rate without breaking a sweat.

My financial plan is reasonably simple:

- put my spending on a credit card with rewards
- use every months salary to pay off my credit card bill and whatever other bills are due
- save the rest, split 50/50 between CDs and what is basically a cashless PP(I separate the cash for practical reasons). The reason for keeping such a large portion of my savings in "cash" is that I'm saving for a down payment for a personal residence within 3-5 years.
- pay the required amount on my student loans
- keep a spreadsheet of my spending. Things to watch will be future housing, and food + eating out/alcohol. Other parts of the budget should be unaffected by me entering the workforce, apart from the fact that I'll feel richer than now.

Health

I've picked up weight lifting, again. Grounds for optimism in me sticking with it this time around are that I'm generally a lot better at forming habits now and that I've learnt a lot more about technique, both from friends and online sources. I've seen some progress and I'm generally a lot more energetic than before. The plan is to lift weights three times per week and do cardio 1-2 times on top of that.

Mental and spiritual

I've gotten a lot better at savouring what is actually happening around me. There's also an acceptance of the dark sides of life and society that makes me feel more grounded than before, but also happier about the good things in life. I still have a propensity for avoidance behaviours when it comes to "work" were I have low confidence in myself, as well as a tendency to brood. The avoidance often takes the form of excessively reading various investing and personal finance blogs and forums. By now, I gain very little from most such sources(this forums being an exception!) so it is really a waste of time. I need to become better at "grounding" myself, by means of meditation or habits, and I need to strike a proper balance between effort and realism in the "workplace", widely understood.

Education

My last year of formal education has in many respects felt like a study in diminishing returns(apart from a math course and parts of a course in ecology). In many ways, the only reason for taking these classes is because it is mandatory to do so to get the degree, and the degree is mandatory for getting a job. Formal education has been great for me when learning technical subjects and pushed me far beyond what I could have done on my own, but when it comes to "softer" subjects, such as various social sciences and the arts, or "simulated work" project based courses, I'm much better off learning on my own or on the job. Various forms of bias, in both teachers and materials, tend to make the softer sciences boring, and "simulated work" always feels a bit awkward and silly to me. In my private time, I've mainly pursued literature, philosophy, history and investing during the past year. I'd like to attempt technical subjects, especially gaining a better understanding of maths and physics, as well as gaining a basic proficiency in programming. On the practical side, I'd like to do some basic carpentry/construction, which I'll hopefully be able to test out during the summer.

oldbeyond
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:54 am

Financial

The financial side of life is well established, if not overly creative. Rental apartment, short bus ride to work(yearly cost less than that of a parking space)+carpool without fixed fees, home cooking+pack lunch, phone and gym card from work, little in terms of shopping. Even with a few discretionary expenses(alcohol, books, eating out) I manage to save half of my net income without breaking a sweat. My portfolio consists of two years of living expenses in cash, and the rest in 40% global stocks(including EM by market cap), 20% VGIT, 20% BNDX and 20% gold. I'm considering dialing down BNDX to 10% and putting the remainder in global corporates(CORP) and putting 25% of the stock allocation into GVAL. I also feel I've made great progress in several of my intellectual interests(investing, economics, history, philosophy, literature). I've continued lifting weights, and even if I'm not exactly proud of my accomplishments, I've at least made it further down the path this time than ever before, especially when it comes to core strength. My vanity is pleased with the outward signs of the progress, too.


Other

While the practical and intellectual part of my life is advancing steadily, the social, emotional and creative side of my existence has stagnated. I have come to live a somewhat monk-like existence(if in a committed relationship... so not that holy), consisting mainly of work, chores and reading. As a deliberate choice I'm sure this can be fulfilling for many, but in my case it's rather the depressed path of least resistance, and the reading is of a rather less erudite variety than the preceding paragraph might have hinted, consisting mainly of reflexive refreshes of various blogs, news site and forums without much in the way of a plan or deeper engagement. Rather, whatever real intellectual development I've achieved has been had in intensive bursts of focused reading. I'm acutely aware of the fact that many of my behaviours simply serve to pacify me, creating a safe bubble for me to crawl into. I've come to twist my frugality and minimalism into defending this state of affairs, boasting to myself how disciplined I am in my money management, when it really isn't a question of money. I avoid free or potentially lucrative vocations just the same. In many ways I feel I've adopted a negative(not only in the most obvious sense of the word) mindset, focusing on removing the bad(clutter, consumerism, tv-watching, junk food, facebook) without really creating a new positive myth to live by. Thus I mainly feel "good" when I assert my holiness through abstinence, not in my being or doing. It really doesn't make for a healthy, vital existence.

Obviously, what cannot go on forever will not. Du mußt dein Leben ändern. The most crucial part is probably to regain my mental clarity and fundamental mental self-discipline, to have a tool with which to build something better. That, rebuilding my social life and finding some creative outlet for my energies.

Conrete steps:

1. Quitting my regular internet routine cold turkey. I don't think anything else will do. Time to kill on the bus et cetera will be spent reading books, doing flashcards or reaching out to friends/family. No "quick checks" at work.
2. Meditating every day. Simply sitting with eyes closed, observing my mind for ten minutes.
3. One text/email/call to friends or family per day.
4. I need at tribe to share intellectual/cultural/spiritual interests with. I don't really have local friends I can have deeper conversations with, and my girlfriend and I are also quite different in this regard. Keeping it all inside stunts my development and robs me of any opportunity for rapport and mutual appreciation. I've basically denied the importance of social recognition, even if only from a few peers, thus far, but it also isn't very healthy. I am no enlightened sage.
5. I need to be more strict with my exercise regimen and push myself more. Self-discipline is a wider issue, also affecting many other areas of my life. Basically I've sold myself the idea that since I'm so insightful and clever, there is little need for me to apply myself. Yes, that was embarrassing to admit. I need to begin cultivating it so I can leverage whatever few insights I manage. Exercise is a great place to start. If I follow my regimen three days a week and apply myself, that would be real progress, both physically and mentally.
6. I need to plan at least one social outing per week and take personal responsibility in reaching out to people and organizing events. Currently I don't because I prefer comfortable misery over the risk of rejection/awkwardness. But I'm not really enjoying my misery. I've learnt before that I need other people to stay sane, but somehow I tried to make myself forget it again.
7. I create nothing. I need to do something with my thoughts, but also with my hands. Cooking is one area where I get creative and hone my skills, but I need something intellectual(likely writing), as well as something practical that I do for it's own sake. A blog is an obvious outlet for my writing ambitions, but I'm not sure on what to do for the practical side.
8. In general terms, I've expanded my worldview to encompass the dark sides of the human experience: death, loss, calamity, impermanence, realistic social dynamics. This has however tended mostly to inspire lethargy, quietism and extreme risk-avoidance, when an adult response would be grace in the face of massive uncertainty. I really need to cultivate this perspective and treat the tantrums for what they are.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Sat Apr 30, 2016 7:29 am

This is a really good post. Good for you for thinking the problems through and formulating a plan.
I need to plan at least one social outing per week
Depending on what you are looking for you might be able to attend someone else's event. I like meetup a lot.

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Ego
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Ego » Sat Apr 30, 2016 7:35 am

+1 Made me think about my routine as well.

oldbeyond
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:49 pm

Financial

Bills and money management are know as automated as I'd like them to be, only requiring a few clicks at the end of the month. I've decided to get out of bonds given valuations and my cash allocation, and will be adding some REITs and commodities. I might make a few plays in a separate account, too. The only major change I could make financially would be housing, but I'm reluctant to trade better cashflow for a mountain of debt, especially for a co-op, since the co-op usually carries quite a bit of debt, too. I've been looking at buying a house but that's a couple of years down the road if we don't relocate away from here.

Productivity at work has been up quite a bit, but I'm still a bit to comfortable in my -zone. I value work more, but I need to work on getting as much value(not necessarily status/salary!) out of it as possible. I could be a lot more engaged here, and work out a way forward.

Health

I made a long trip this summer, and the last few weeks before leaving were spent preparing for the trip to a large extent, meaning that I've just gotten back on the threadmill, so to speak. I'm regaining lost ground pretty quickly, and I've reached the endorphin-junkie state. I will maintain this momentum as long as possible, but my problem really is complacency. I used to get picked last for soccer at school, so as long as I keep my nose above useless I tend to feel undeservingly good about myself. My current state(being able to run 10 km in an hour and bench pressing 50 kg) is rather weak in absolute physiological terms, but there are a lot of people around who are worse off. There are also marathoners and people benching three times the above in my vincinity, but since I identify as a slacker, their example doesn't really inspire or embarrass me. In the intellectual arena I'm constantly pushing myself, because my identity is based on my intellect. I'm not striving for mastery, but I am striving for competency and I am far from it.

I keep on lifting weights and doing 20 minutes of intensive cardio three times a week. For everyday habits I take the stairs, carry the groceries home myself, stand at my desk(more and more...) and do a lot of manual chores at home. Eating is also "solved". I've basically hit diminishing returns and should focus on exercise for now.

Intellectual

I've made progress battling my internet addiction, which still surprises me a bit. I haven't gone cold turkey but I still manage to keep the time down, and I have read a fair bit on the tram. I guess the trip was my withdrawal period, as I lacked internet access a lot of the time and had a lot of other things to do, think and talk about. I need structure here, and I am looking at the canon for guidance. I really value erudition, and the barriers are really stunningly low. But I will need to be ruthless in prioritizing, or I will get bogged down by perfectionistic desires. This is possibly something I could make more social. I need a book club.

The other part I need to focus on is the other side of the mind; learning to put the tools back in the box. I've been bad at meditating. I've hade some success short circuiting worry and apathy, and focusing on my strength and the glory in struggle. But my mind is still very much monkey and I get taken in with it.

Social

I've been a bit better at reaching out to friends and made some initiatives, but I still lack my tribe and I'm rather defensive at work, talking to people but keeping them at a safe distance. There are not many people I click with but I need some lighter socializing, too. I also need to take responsibility for making seeing friends further away happen.

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Viktor K
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Viktor K » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:20 am

Hey there I've liked reading your journal so far. I don't know what it is about the internet that makes you want to quit it so badly, although I can say that browsing the internet can be a large time sink. I hope it goes better trying to quit it - cold turkey is always really challenging! I think I would still need to use the internet for things like e-mail, posting here, maps, music.. so much. I guess I hope the internet never goes down and am curious why you want to get away from it. If it is more like wasting time on the internet, than I totally get that. I also think that filling time with learning from books is likely more productive in many cases. Your journal is really interesting to me and I hope there will be more updates :)

oldbeyond
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:30 pm

Viktor K wrote:Hey there I've liked reading your journal so far. I don't know what it is about the internet that makes you want to quit it so badly, although I can say that browsing the internet can be a large time sink. I hope it goes better trying to quit it - cold turkey is always really challenging! I think I would still need to use the internet for things like e-mail, posting here, maps, music.. so much. I guess I hope the internet never goes down and am curious why you want to get away from it. If it is more like wasting time on the internet, than I totally get that. I also think that filling time with learning from books is likely more productive in many cases. Your journal is really interesting to me and I hope there will be more updates :)
Well if I were to quit it completely, I guess my journal would be rather pointless ;) I'm striving to reduce the time spent and increase the quality of the material I decide to spend time on, not to completely shut myself of from it. It's not only the time but also the emotional aspect of it, where my regular internet routine serves as a sort of pacifier for me, providing familiarity and making me feel good about myself.

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Forskaren
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Forskaren » Sat Sep 03, 2016 1:00 pm

I am also thinking about decreasing time spent on useless internet use, TV etc. I am still exploring what to do. I found a interesting series of 31 days what have started with the 3 first days. The principle to find a few things that you care deeply about and focus on those seem interesting. I realise that I spend a lot of time on things I care a little about. Is that the fact for most of your internet use?

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... -the-deep/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... -shallows/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... d-meaning/

oldbeyond
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:22 am

Forskaren wrote:I am also thinking about decreasing time spent on useless internet use, TV etc. I am still exploring what to do. I found a interesting series of 31 days what have started with the 3 first days. The principle to find a few things that you care deeply about and focus on those seem interesting. I realise that I spend a lot of time on things I care a little about. Is that the fact for most of your internet use?

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... -the-deep/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... -shallows/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... d-meaning/
Thanks for the links!

Yes, that is the case. Or to be more specific, I read stuff I do care about - FI, geopolitics, resource depletion, economics, cultural commentary, but from sites/authors/forums where there's a consensus I've already internalized, so the new information gathered is miniscule, but I still can't stop. I don't get stuck for hours on buzzfeed or playing farmville, but it's still time wasted and it's always the default thing to turn to when I have spare time. I think the lack of areas of focus also shows itself in other ways, as I tend to get too caught up in chores, and tend to obsess over diet and money management, even though they're "solved" as said earlier. I guess I lack a proper output for my energies outside of work.

My "core things" per the link above would be financial autonomy, building a strong extended family(there are some clannish genes in me, I think), erudition and spiritual maturity. Tier 2 would be a well-rounded phsyique, friends, a beautfiul environment around me, good cooking and some involvement in politics/public affairs.

oldbeyond
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:21 pm

I tend to get rather long-winded, so I've strived to make my resolutions brief for a change, and also focusing on high impact changes:

HEALTH:

# Do 20 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by deadlifts-overhead press-pulldowns alternated with leg press-benchpress-barbell rows three times a week
# Always take the stairs and do shopping by foot

WORK:

# Bill my time every day before heading off, making detailed notes of what I spent it on. Determine my time budget at the start of new projects and keep up with it over time
# Attempt more difficult tasks first, leaving routine stuff for later
# Keep a "what I don't know"-list and update it over time
# Be at my desk 7.30 every morning

MENTAL:

# Meditate for 10 minutes every day
# Avoid brooding over stuff beyond my control by writing down my thoughts on an appropriate message board when I start getting ramped up
# Memento mori - daily

SOCIAL:

# Plan one social gathering/outing/trip per week
# Take one active step to further relationships at work every week(asking for a favour, suggesting lunch, suggesting outing)

FINANCIAL:

# Do diligent due diligence(hehe, couldn't help myself) before purchasing any property. Speak with the co-op board and do own estimates of maintenance needs 20 years down the line. Make a budget for any planned upgrades in the apartment(new kitchen etc).
# Save 50 % of post-tax earnings.

ERUDITION:

# Read a book every two weeks
# Do a course/read a book on art history
# Finish all of Jordan Petersons lectures on youtube
# Do chinese flashcards daily, read 3 books, listen to 100 podcasts

oldbeyond
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun May 07, 2017 7:44 am

An update on my goals:

HEALTH:

I've been decent at walking and I've followed my regimen to the dot every time I've gone to the gym. I have not averaged 3 times per week, more like 1.5, with a couple of weeks lost due to illnesses. I have to improve in this department, frequency(volume) is the most crucial variable for me. To improve I will plan when to exercise at the start of the week. In general I've seen a decent improvement in body composition. Going by this image: https://www.healthstatus.com/wp-content ... 00x199.jpg I'm at roughly 15%, down from 20+, with total body weight constant. I seem to have built muscles mainly in my legs and core, reverse disco? My progress has been noticeable, but mediocre, mainly due to low frequency(volume). I feel I am doing the right things, just too little of them. I will start biking to work after the move(see below), upping the light daily exercise a bit.

WORK:

I've become way more independent at work, a necessary transition from a cushy apprenticelike existence that was ultimately very unfulfilling. I've been good at showing up early and have vastly improved my time management, even though I still have a penchant for busywork. I need to work on focus, efficiency and endurance, but I am happy with my progress. Currently I'm quite swamped, hopefully this is transitory.

MENTAL:

I've neglected all of this. At least I'm writing this down. Memento mori happens, though.

SOCIAL:

I've been quite active on the social front, with work, friends and family all. I still strive to develop relationships at work and to up my social skills which are still a bit rough around the edges. My goal is mainly to have a bit smoother interactions, I'm not wired to be a people person but I want to avoid weirdness. If I can manage that, I'll be pleased. A more active social life has helped somewhat, though.

FINANCIAL:

Savings are roughly on target, no major purchases besides some outlays for a planned trip and replacement of a couple of worn out pieces of clothing.

The major event in the financial realm is me having bought an apartment in a bostadsrättsförening, basically a co-op with a HOA. We found one with low debt, low maintenance, good cash reserves, decent bathroom + kitchen and horrible wallpaper/wall paint within biking distance of both our jobs in a quiet area 20 minutes from downtown, for a decent price. It's a normal size 2-bedroom with an additional small(but very usable) room carved out of the living room, meaning we could raise a family here should the housing market tank, without having to fork out too much extra cash upfront or in monthly fees. We paid 5x net income, which is a lot, but a lot better than I feared. I doubt it'll make us rich, but I feel I can mange the downside. There is some potential specific upside in the exemplary financial state of the co-op(especially since it's likely that new legislation will force real estate agents to advertise debt/square meter and a few other indicators in the prospectus) and in redoing the horrible decor on the cheap. We are thinking about repainting the kitchen cabinets to get a cheap do-over of the kitchen(not more than a few thousand dollars hopefully), since the layout and bones are solid. My goal is to get involved with the co-op, hopefully being able to cut a few costs and influencing the upkeep of the property.

The purchase of course influences my asset allocation. Fixed rate mortgages can only be transfered to a new property under special circumstances, and then only co-op to co-op, not co-op to house. If rates fall, you have to compensate the lender for lost interest if you terminate the mortgage prematurely. Say you get a fixed 10-year and sell after 5. If the rate on a 5-year fixed at that date, + 1 percentage point, is lower than your original 10-year rate, you have to pay the bank the remainder. Eg. original 10-year is 3%, 5-year after 5 years is 1%, then you have to pay 3-(1+1)=1% of the outstanding principal for the remaining five years. In a raising rate environment, the borrower gets no compensation for terminating the mortgage prematurely. Because we'd prefer to move to a house in the medium term, my plan is to go for a 5-year fixed. If we manage our savings rate, and with current assets at almost 2 times net income, that would leave us with 0.5x NI net debt, provided flat returns for our assets. With our student loans, that ratio would be more like 1.5x, but the terms are extremely favourable(current rate 0,34%! and unemployment/illness provisions built in).

We will split our savings 50-50 between principal paydown of the mortgage and investments in securities. Since the mortgage is basically a bond position, and a long one given that I won't pay it down before the term expires, I've excluded bonds from my asset allocation. Since I am massively invested in real estate, I see no reason to overweight REITs, and I've avoided commodities futures in favor of EM. I like gold as a hedge against government/political risk, so it will make up 20% of invested assets. Living in a small, export-oriented country I've decided on a global equity allocation. Currently, basically all of it is in global index funds. I will overweight emerging markets(10% of invested assets), and there's a local mutual fund tracking investment companies(Berkshire, Fairfax etc) to which I will allocate another 10%. I have a few individual stocks I have my eyes on, basically conservatively managed companies which I think have a better shot at surviving the coming storms. 30% of the portfolion will be allocated to 6 stocks at 5% each. I will rebalance if they reach 10% of invested asset value, or if they fall below 2.5% with valuations prohibiting me from increasing my position.

To sum it up:

30% global index(unhedged)
10% emerging markets index(unhegded)
10% investment companies(unhedged)
30% individual stocks(will be mostly large cap, value, likely lower volatility)
20% gold

Basically, the big risk I am taking on is deflation or a massive strengthening of the SEK.

Apart from this we will have 0.5x NI in an emergency fund.


ERUDITION:

Mostly failed, I've been quite bad at keeping up my reading habit, let alone getting started on the other projects(I think I've gotten the gist of J.P so I won't be plowing through all of his lectures). I will decrease time spent on Netflix/blogs and start reading on the tram again(until the move at least).

oldbeyond
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Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sat May 13, 2017 7:37 am

Following up on the mental stuff, from the post from a little over a year ago:

1. Quitting my regular internet routine cold turkey.
This has not happened. It's not a huge time waste at work, but it is a distraction, and a mental crutch. I'm still addicted to a news cycle, mostly business news and blogs related to FIRE/investments. Looking at the urges more closely, it's one part addiction to novel stimuli, one part FOMO. But on a daily basis it's mostly just noise, or repetition of familiar concepts in the case of FIRE. I really believe that the best strategy is going cold turkey. I will block my regular crop of sites on my phone and work computer.

2. Meditating every day.
To get started, my goal will be to simply sit down to meditate every day, with no goal as for duration.

3. One text/email/call to friends or family per day.
The social front is covered for now I'd say.

4. I need at tribe to share intellectual/cultural/spiritual interests with.
I have gotten a bit of this from a book club. For now that will have to do, as other areas are in greater need of my energies.

5. I need to be more strict with my exercise regimen and push myself more.
I have made progress here, both at work and with exercise and social engagements. I have a long way to go but am on the right track. Exercise will be a key area.

6. I need to plan at least one social outing per week
See 3.

7. I create nothing. I need to do something with my thoughts, but also with my hands.
As for trades, we will be doing some work on our condo, so I think I should focus my energies there. It has been a pattern for me to avoid the obvious, urgent projects right in front of me in favor of daydreaming arbitrary ones I've read about, where circumstances have made it hard/impossible to realize them. An obvious way of escaping having do to anything. I will also sit down to write once a week.

8. In general terms, I've expanded my worldview to encompass the dark sides of the human experience: death, loss, calamity, impermanence, realistic social dynamics. This has however tended mostly to inspire lethargy
I've read the stoics, the existentialists and collections of eastern wisdoms. I do not need more mental concepts, I need to apply them. Gratitude, acceptance, realism, wonder.

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