ERE in Finland

Where are you and where are you going?
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Aug 19, 2016 1:10 pm

vraxxos, thank you for commenting! It's so easy to become blind to journey behind me when I'm staring forwards and panicking like a deer facing car lights.

Poverty sucks, and I find myself afraid.

I originally learned to budget after my divorce. I was 26, still in university with income less than 800 euros monthly and two toddlers to feed. Because they had health issues, I couldn't work. Now, I could do much better with that income, but back then I didn't have any hardcore thrifty tricks in my sleeve. I remember days when I cried, because the kids were potty-training and I ran out of cleaning solution for the unavoidable messes, and I couldn't get rid of the damned smell. There were several days at the end of each month when I ate nothing but homemade bread because I had just enough money to feed the kids if I didn't feed myself. I lost ten kilos that autumn. All the crying I did for divorce helped to keep the appetite in check.

It got marginally better next year when I got carer's allowance, but for next five years, I lived with a budget where I could not pay a reservation fee for library books I needed for my studies and pay the postage for my friend's birthday gift during the same month. My monthly income was around 1200 euros. 500 euros for mortgage, 500 euros for household costs and groceries and 200 euros for everything else. Getting the second master's degree was pain to budget, even though the fees were nominal compared to other countries.

Fast forward eight years. I have been working for last 18 months. I have no debt and 36K in savings.

This month, my ex announced that he can't pay the child support, and must lower the amount for 100 euros because he broke up with his partner and the mortgage is too expensive.
A disability benefit of 200 euros monthly ended, because we couldn't schedule a meeting with doctor soon enough. We'll get the money back later, but it will likely be in December.
Then one of kids broke his glasses. Luckily, only the frames needed to be replaced, lenses were intact.
Then the same kid got sick again, and I had to take 4 days off work without pay.

With unexpected loss of 800 euros, my budget went off rails, and I panicked. It's ridiculous and sad, but I actually could not sleep because I felt frightened and anxious. I cancelled everything from my weekend holiday to haircut, and when my budget showed I could save 700 euros this month after the cuts, I slept like a baby.

Now I won't have a holiday, and I feel annoyed about it, but if I have to choose between sleep and holiday, I prefer my sleep.

My husband is much more laid back about his budget. But he hasn't experienced what it feels like to be poor. I think that having children in that situation made it much worse for me. My oldest was three at the time, and it took four years before he stopped worrying about money. It was not nice, or fun, or particularly glamorous. Honestly, it sucked.
My child's health issues are frightening me, because I don't want to stop working again. I don't want to go back to living like that. I want security. Ironically, the way to get that security is to go back to strict budgeting, which highlights the issue, reminds me of how terrible it was and makes me afraid.

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Location: UK

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by vraxxos » Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:12 pm

You absolutely do not need to be afraid. From what I can see since you started your log, you have control of money in your life, the money does not control you. You have 36k in savings, you are an educated woman, you have your head screwed on.It sounds to me like you have had many obstacles in life, but you have always overcome them. You can an will continue to do this in the future.

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Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:15 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Noedig » Sun Aug 21, 2016 6:28 pm


A moving journal entry there about your life and its trade-offs.

You have put considerable thought into your posts, the language is clear and well chosen.

I hope that your life and budget both gain more slack, so that you can relax a little, and choose to save or not. Discipline is good, but so is leading a good life.

Best wishes.

BTW there is an outside chance I will have to work in Helsinki: I might then have to check with you the truth of Internet statements like "The Finns are uncomfortable with and do not respect smalltalk - it is mere chatter". "If a colleague Finn likes you, they will invite you to get drunk, and/or go to a Sauna". These seem far fetched to me: Time may tell!

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Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:07 am

vraxxos and Noedig, thank you for your kind words.
Noedig, both those statements are true!

Feb 2017. Current savings: 47k

The situation with my child's health issues is stable, now. The condition is chronic, but the medication is working, and things are calmer now at home. Ironically, now that everything is "normal" (our new normal, I mean), I've been feeling very tired lately. I know it's normal reaction to prolonged stress, but I'm unhappy because I don't have energy to do things which I normally enjoy, like music or writing fanfiction. I'll get there back eventually. I developed a nasty tension headache which flared up every single day when I got tired, and had to start treating it with Azzalure (a botulinum toxin). It's 300 euros every three months, but I'm willing to pay it for painless existence since it works very well for me. As an added bonus, I got rid of my forehead wrinkles. Ha!

With my child's illness, reaching FIRE has gone from priority to pure necessity. Now I need to support two of my children throughout their lives, and my ability to work will be always compromised. It sounds harsh, but I prefer not to sugar-coat the facts. At work, I've met so many families with similar problems that I know how things are likely to go for us.

I've found new hobby, makeup. I never really got it before, and only started to get interested after I finished my capsule wardrobe project. After some hits and misses, I've figured out which products work for me and what I like. I have two foundations, eight lipsticks, three eyeshadow palettes, one blush and so on. It's enough to give variations to play with and learn new things, but not too much. I think the limit for me is that when I look at the mirror in the morning, I can tell which shade of my lipsticks would work with the outift I've put on.

When I first started saving money towards FIRE, I was happy with my appearance as it was. But now I would not feel content with the way I looked before, because I like my current appearance better. I like having a nice hair and getting complements from people I don't know, and I find makeup a relaxing hobby. Amusingly, there is a very ERE-like learning curve here, too. For first four months, I went to cosmetologist to tint my lashes and eyebrows. Then she had a baby and stopped working, and the new cosmetologist wasn't as good. So I taught myself to do it myself, and now I've gotten so good at tinting my lashes and brows that I would never pay anyone else to do it. Same thing with makeup, or facials, or manicures. I've enjoyed the learning curve very much. It's nice feeling to become skilled something, especially when I never thought myself any good at drawing or painting.

It's surprising to see ERE mindset in a hobby which centers around buying things and using them up. The brushes, for example. I have some good brushes and some less good. But I would not buy more, because then washing them would get annoying. Eventually, they will start performing badly and then I can replace them. I don't like buying new products, because I'm particular about colours and how the products feel on my skin, so I tend to stick with something I've liked. That keeps the value of my makeup bag in reasonable sums.

I keep an Excel file of products I have, what I have used up, and my opinions on the products. It's very interesting to see how long they last. A lipliner, used 5-6 days a week, will last 9 months. A 30ml moisturizer costing 5 euros lasted me a month used once a day, while a nicer moisturizer costing 38 euros lasted six months with twice a day applications. I'm currently panning an eyeshadow I like the least, and it takes ages. Seeing how long it takes to use up a product certainly turns me a picky buyer. It's no use buying something I don't love if I'm going to be stuck with it forever. The stores here do not accept returns like in USA.

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Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:15 am

March 2017: no debt, 50k in investments

I reached 1/4 milestone of my goal yesterday. My original plan was to save up 200 000 before 2022, when I can no longer work full-time, and then just to sit on the money and let it grow while I support myself with my caregiver's allowance and part-time work. I'm a year behind of my original schedule, but it's still achievable.

Children continue to throw curveballs at my budget. The child I'm a caregiver for, got sick and I had to take a day off from work, unpaid (-100 euros). Now it looks likely he has an ear infection, and our local health clinic didn't have any available appointments. They never do. I swear, we have the crappiest local clinic in whole city because we live in a poor area with lot of immigrants, elderly and alcoholics -> they have hard time finding doctors willing to work here, and getting acute appointment is hopeless. I have to take him to private clinic, which is easily -80 euros, plus antibiotics, so today's total is 220 euros for missing work and getting him treated. My son's disabilities make it very hard to tell if he is in pain, since he can't speak, and he's terribly afraid of having his ears checked, so I'll need to hold him still for the doctor. This is a reminder that I really should take up my strength training again.

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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:00 am

Keep on going. Don't let anybody or anything distract you from your goal. Stay on track and you'll reach your goal. Today I have first read your journal and I like it because it's also a bit about Finland, which is a beautiful country in my opinion.

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