ERE in Finland

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

ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:15 am


Background


I'm 30, married, three children. Youngest is a toddler and other two are in school, my husband is staying at home for one year more to take care of youngest.

Five years ago I made an agreement with local social security office and became a caregiver for disabled family member. I get a small allowance of 347 euros (pre-tax), earn goverment's pension after 65 - although my generation doesn't really believe we will ever see a cent of it because boomers will spend it all - and odd position in our social system. I earn less than those who get income support from social security (they get 462 euros, no taxes) but as a caregiver, I must not be away from my charge for more than 7 hours a day or 3 days in a month. So working full time 8 - 16 isn't option. Caregiving is not best deal for my finances or myself since I hated being a stay-at-home-mom, but I see this as my duty and the person is very dear to me. Other options would be worse.

Caregiving is not my only income stream. I have a Master's degree in Public law, but the field doesn't work well with my duties as a caregiver. All jobs are in the capital and it would require lots of travelling. Giving my old profession up was hard, but now when I meet people who work in my old field, I feel relieved I'm not there! It's less about equal treatment for all and more about stupid projects, committees and trying to convince public servants that they have actually base their decisions on law.
Three years ago I started studying Social Work. I've established good relationship with local hospital and taken several temporary posts from them. For international readers; I've been told that in USA, social workers are usually therapists for middle class customers but here the profession is strictly working in public sector and customers are poor, disabled or suffering from addictions. Child protection services is a biggest field, but I chose hospital because it's safer and patients usually thank me instead of threatening.
Being qualified requires another degree, Master of Social Work. Education here is free, and unemployment services decided that I qualify for retraining so I'll get an allowance from my trade union for two years. I'm rather thrilled for this, because I don't have to work any more while I study.

All families with children get child benefit, no matter their income. For three kids, it's 360 euros a month.

My last income source is a cleaning contract with our apartment cooperative. It will begin in September. Until now, the cleaning of stairs and halls has been outsourced to cleaning company but the results have not been satisfactory. We offered to do the job instead. I think it's quite nice deal. We get 500 euros/ a month and contribution towards goverment pension. The contract is for 8 hours of work weekly, but I think I'll get the job done with 5.

Why ere?

I make enough to live comfortably - or poorly, if you ask normal consumers - with my caregiver salary and child benefit. Money from union and cleaning are extra. My caregiving contract will probably continue for decades, since it's radically cheaper option for social services than outsourcing. In my culture both partners are expected to work, no SAHMS after baby is three years old. Not working makes you some kind of pariah. Caregiving gets you a lot of praise before elections when politicians are fishing for votes, but it's a real killer in social situations when I have to introduce myself and others ask what I do for living. I'm socially odd fish already, and being INTJ doesn't help...

I decided to pursue ERE, because I loved the idea of being reneissance woman. I could spend all my days crying for lost career and bigger salary, or I could choose to enjoy the freedoms I have. If I want to sleep late, my 7-year-old employer is easily bribed with cookies :D I can take long walk in the middle of the day if I want to. If it rains, my task of the day might be knitting a sock. I also think this situation has given me exceptional chances to spend time with my children and raise them by myself. I like the results I've seen so far. I view my social work studies more as chance to enjoy myself and get some brain action than a new career. I'd be happy to work in my new field if I can find part-time position or I might continue to PhD because I have a strong interest in human rights field of social work. Since this idea is considered heretic in society where everyone must work and have a career, I thought I could find likeminded company by starting a journal here.

I'm too skeptical to feel really secure with my current financial situation. Our yearly budget per person is 6400 euros and I hope to go below. We have no debt, but we have a mortgage for apartment. We live in poor suburb and our housing costs 160e / person each month including mortgage and interest, so owning has been cheaper than paying rent.

My first goal is pay the mortgage ASAP. Second goal is investing more. I currenly have 2500€ in passive index funds, which isn't much, but last October I had nothing! I feel I'm not ready for stock market yet, need to polish up my math skills...

**edited for spelling mistakes
Last edited by Rouva on Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

riparian
Posts: 653
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by riparian » Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:52 am

Oh hey! I'm a former caregiver getting a masters in social work too!

I hope you stick around and start a journal. :)

DutchGirl
Posts: 1016
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by DutchGirl » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:13 pm

Welcome! You've got a lot of things going for you; I hope you'll enjoy yourself on your path to more financial independence.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by Rouva » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:54 am

Thanks for warm welcome, riparian and Dutchgirl!

Yesterday I chose courses for university's first period, starting in September. My schedule is going to be ridiculous: for my major, social work, two hours every Thursday. I planned doing a minor in Russian studies, because it sounded interesting and it gives me something to do on Wednesdays and Tuesdays. I'm expected to get 5 ECTS every month because I'm retraining with union money. If I applied for student allowance, it would be only 3 ECTS. Last year I studied 60 ECTS while working full time. It wasn't always fun, but definitely doable so this slower pace feels very odd. Of course I need time for writing my Master's thesis and reading for book examinations, but I'm confident I can spend time picking up a new hobby or two.

Here is my list for things I'd like to try:
* weaving rugs from rags. I've woven a rug for our kitchen, but it was five years ago and I bought the fabric from fiber mill. This time I'd like to use old clothes as material. I don't have a loom, but local craft center sells memberships which include unlimited use of their equipment and instruction for those who need it - I do! The cost is 65 euros for six months, 105 euros / a year. I would probably go with 6 months, because I would be able weave 3 rag rugs we currently need. I'm fed up with stupid synthetic rugs which require dry cleaning. It is expensive, getting the rugs there is inconvenient because we don't own a car and I prefer being able to toss the rug in washing machine whenever it's dirty.
* brushing up my piano skills. I learned how to play when I was nine, had a piano for years and sold it when I left my childhood home. I bought old piano this summer. It was a good find, the owner was moving and wanted to get rid of it so I paid only 55 euros. I can play melody with right hand and chords with left, and learn practically any song I'd like to play, but I'm stuck on this level and cannot progress. I need to find tutorials on YouTube or take piano lessons from community college. It would cost 115 euros for 10 * 20 min lessons.

I cancelled my credit card last month. We don't have a credit score system, so it's merely a matter of personal preference to have a card. My finances have improved considerably. Without really noticing it, I usually racked up a bill of several hundred euros for hobby costs, ebooks (my vice) or other fun projects. I get excited easily when I find something I'd like to do/read/knit/whatever and I don't consider my purchases well enough. This first month without credit card improved my savings rate for 17%!

J_
Posts: 500
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:12 pm
Location: Netherlands/Austria

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by J_ » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:50 am

Nice story to read Rouva, life pleasure is flowing out of jour plans. Playing songs on the piano is already somthing, but do you want to go more to classic music? I am just going the other way.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:43 am

J_, I'm not sure yet. Mostly I want to play something different than old movie songs! I used to have several books of those.

July projects: cutting the expenses

One thing I'm still pondering is whether I'm going to eat lunch at university or at home. Because my lectures are in evenings, both options are valid. The university lunch is partly subsided by state, and meal costs 2,60€. I've always brought my own lunch to work so eating out would be added expense, but it might actually cut our grocery budget. During winter, the children eat free lunch at school, and DH could cook a cheap lunch (eggs!) for himself if I'm not eating at home. I'm picky eater, but he's not. Also, if I'm going to cycle 15km each day, I need more energy. I think I'll have to see how it goes and do the math then.

* sold four craft books I never used
* gave away 5 paperbacks I didn't want to keep
* found a ballet dress for my daughter very cheaply, it cost 7 euros

Skills:

This month I knitted a cardigan and made a list of things family needs for winter. Several hats, mittens and bigger sweaters for children. Although I should know better, snow manages to surprise me every year, and I end up knitting mittens through night so children could put them on when they go to school. Making a list and alternating between fun projects and duty knits should help.

With piano I feel I'm progressing somehow. We have a record company, Ipanapa, which produces childrens' music. They ask national artists to compose songs with different music styles, from rap to heavy metal. I've had their note book from library for two months now, and I decided to buy my own copy because I've played it every day. I usually loan a cd, listen to songs and pick the ones I like. It's been refreshing to try different styles, and my kids like to listen.

I'm starting to get interested in sewing. I had a name day this week* and gifted myself a sewing book for beginners. I think I'll start with clothes for my daughter, because I can use her brother's old clothes for fabric and when I'm feeling confident, sew something for me. But this project must wait until at least three pairs of mittens are done. Otherwise the snow will get me again!


* = Finnish calendar has names assigned for each day. It's meant to make choosing baby names easier, because our law restricts given names. You cannot give boy's name to girl, names cannot be normal words/ridiculous/Hollywood baby names and they cannot be in foreign language if the family doesn't have strong ties to that country. Person can have no more than 3 given names. Name day can be celebrated in small scale, the person might get a small present and a card.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:32 am

This week I spent an evening with my budget notebook running numbers for ERE. It would take 2 years to pay off my mortgage and after that, 18 years to become financially independent (mostly due to Finnish investment income tax which is currently 32%). I used 40% to be on safe side and assumed my investments would earn 3% in a year. Realising I'd be 50 felt annoying at first, but my estimate is pessimistic and I think I'd reach the goal sooner. And 50 is a lot better than official retirement age of 68. Economists complain 68 too low, so it will probably be 75 for my generation. None of us believe we'll see our pensions, boomers will use it all.

DutchGirl
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Location: The Netherlands

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by DutchGirl » Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:56 pm

Hey Rouva,

Very cool that you can pay off your mortgage in two years.

I also have a few years to go before financial independence, but I would definitely also be FI by age 50 and also for me, that is about 15-20 years earlier than the official career path in my country claims. So we still win. Perhaps also your new career will give you more opportunities to earn money and/or to save more money.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Renaissance woman in Finland

Post by Rouva » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 am

DutchGirl: Yes, 15 - 20 years is still a win!

I'm halfway through my Master's degree, 40 ECTS done. For spring, I have thesis, 20 ECTS minor and internship to do. I'm studying on union benefits, and had interesting discussion with other student who is in same situtation. Using union money requires 5 ECTS / month, while student benefit requires only 3 ECTS/month. So I needed to get 25 ECTS for this autumn, otherwise they could have asked the money back.

The student I mentioned is in her 50s, and told me she got only 12 ECTS and is apparently getting away with it because she told them one cannot do so many ECTS in university. I almost spitted my tea. It didn't help that other student chimed in and told me how adult students (she was 50 as well) are studying for knowledge, not ECTS. I wasn't impressed, since this is my second Master's degree and I feel I know very well how the system works. Being adult student is a bad excuse for being plain lazy!

During first round, I did enjoy university and thought I was given a fascinating chance for infinite knowledge. Infinite? I don't think so any more. But it gave me the tools to find what I want to know, and that's the one thing I really like about my formal education. But I sorely, sorely dislike the university attitude - the idea of making students into academic persons by telling them you must never use the word "school" when talking about your studies, you must use university e-mail because that's how we do it and especially enforcing the belief how academically educated persons are superior to less educated people. Coming from the working class, I'm not agreeing with that.

I'm waiting eagerly to get my degree and get out. When I started this autumn, I thought I would enjoy a year or two of leisure life, but actually I'm constantly bored. Been there, seen that, nothing new. I think I'll be able to graduate next spring if I can schedule the internship properly, and then start do so something more interesting. Hospital social work is good that way - patients come and go, I don't meet anyone more than few times and there is always new, interesting stories to hear and puzzles to solve.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:15 am

2013 progress

I think my FI plan is getting more refined each year. Six years ago after my divorce I was struggling to feed and clothe my kids, and now I'm earning a living for our family of five with no problems. Giving things up becomes easier each year. I got rid of my own domain and switched to free e-mail based in Germany. Having my own adress was convenient and a memento of my old business, but I did not really need it. And new freemail brushes up my almost forgotten German :D

A major win was deciding I will no longer pay for fitness. I hated exercising until I was 28 because I always felt I was really bad at every sport we had at school. For next two years, I had a gym membership and personal trainer for a short while. I learned basic things I should have learnt in school. Finally I found my sport last February, and spent lots of money for courses, training and equipment. Doing all that was great, because I established training routine for first time in my life and I learnt a lot from courses and RKC coach I hired. But there were some - no, a lot - of misses. Diets I hated and didn't do, programs which weren't quite right and purchases which ended up being not what I thought they would be. Note for self: ebooks aimed for female audience are usually fat loss programs although they claim to train strength. Calling the program "Lean and lovely" should have told me that.
My goal for this year is keep exercise budget at zero. The programs I've already bought should keep me entertained, and although I'd like to get 36kg kettlebell for swings, my upper body strength is so far behind that I want to concentrate on that.

I'm going to try slashing our food budget from 600€ to 400€ next month. It is tricky, because one child has severe food allergies and all three of them are thin and need more calories since making them eat more has proven to be very difficult. So practically I have to switch from healthier option (rye bread) to fattening option (white bread) for kids, and continue baking rye bread for adults. I'm also thinking to make soup lunches for adults when kids are at school. Although my BMI is normal, losing few kilos wouldn't be bad, and soups are less expensive. Focusing on one thing each month and trying to get budget as low as we're comfortable with is good for my FI motivation. I've found some new recipes to try. Our biggest difficulty is that one of the kids is allergic to milk, all grains, soy, fish, corn and eggs and it limits using alternative options to meat. I expect it will pass as she gets older.

saving-10-years
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Location: Warwickshire, UK

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by saving-10-years » Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:12 pm

All sounds good. Congratulations.

Very sympathetic to problems of catering for child with food allergies. Our son is also allergic to several foods (thankfully not grains). One of the problems is that having worked on a new recipe which is perfect in all other respects he may not like the taste/texture so its a waste (of both time and food). Discouraging.

On the plus side it means that we don't have incentive to eat out much. In most places there are only one or two items that he can eat and these are often the most boring (plain) things on the menu - which takes a lot of the pleasure out of eating out (choice). The other side effect if that if staying away from home I have been known to leap on foods which are on offer and not kept in our household currently. Peanut butter - yum!

How old is your food allergic child? Our son was much worse before 5 than he is now. He grew out of some of his allergies.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:27 pm

Saving-10-years, she's 3. I'm hopeful her worst allergies will pass as she grows, it has happened to other family members.


My husband is returning to work and it is becoming obvious that I'm much more interested in ERE than he is. He generally likes the idea, but is not really ready to do anything about it. I'm not very happy about his decision to buy a car to get to the job he doesn't even like (and the car costs eat half of his very modest salary) but that's why we have separate finances! Separating our finances was one of the best things I've done, because now we have no reason to argue about money. I would have been mad about the car otherwise.

Currently I'm focusing on mortgage. I'm making extra payments on every month, and if I keep on schedule, I pay off my half in December 2014. Then I'll be debt-free, and can start saving. I have decided to pursue part-time retirement, because it's much better option in Finnish social security system than living on investment income. Most benefits like sickness allowance have longer waiting periods if the person doesn't work (three months instead of 10 days) and I've noticed I'm much happier when I don't have to focus solely on caregiving. Five or six years of full-time work with savings rate of 75% should get me a nest egg of 200K, which covers every big crisis I can think of. I think I can manage 75%, since I'm currently putting away more to pay off that mortgage.

My schedule correlates with children growing up. Eight years from now my ability to work gets worse, because my disabled child will finish his school and adult services don't cover 8 hour workday. So I have to be financially ready by then. I'm sure I can live on part-time salary, and my ERE savings enable me to choose what kind of work I'm comfortable with. I'm dreaming of relocating somewhere, because social work in this town isn't satisfying to do. Too many bosses and their regulations, not enough options to actually help people. Smaller community would mean less managers. Me and my disabled child might move to country together, he's outdoor person and would be much happier if we had yard and chance for physical work. He'll get state pension, so I don't have to worry about his financial future. It's not much, but more than enough for ERE-style living for one person.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:37 am

My mortgage has shrunk down to 4380€. My trade union is currently lagging two months behind the payment schedule, and with those unemployment allowances and my tax returns, I'll be officially debt free in December.

It feels odd. In January when I started putting everything towards the mortgage, my balance was -24 831€. I put my investments on hold until the loan was dealt with, and for me, it was the right choice because it gave me the motivation to do things I would not have done, otherwise. I finally sold my share of small forest I inherited (I find tree farming annoying to deal with, and getting asthma attacks from the wood dust doesn't help at all) and took a part-time job which paid less than hundred euros in the end plus caused the lag in unemployment payments, but it all went towards the goal.

The biggest difference is that my goal of reaching ERE has started to feel actually possible. It's just around the corner, not just some abstract idea I like to think about. Paying off the mortgage has made wonders to my self-confidence. If I can pay it off in one year even though I'm unemployed, how much more I can save when I graduate and get a job in April? I've learned to live comfortably on 1/4 of my income, and the delays in union payments have been annoying because I want to put them in mortgage ASAP, not because I really needed the money to feed the kids. Noticing that has been very reassuring.
I've also picked up two new hobbies, making my days active. Writing fanfics has been fun and rewarding, and I haven't suffered boredom like during the years I was a primary caregiver. Another discovery was taking up pole dancing for sport, and I've enjoyed learning things I never thought I could do. Learning a elbow handstand at 32 made me smug for days!

My studies at this point require reading at home and taking exams, no classes. I've found that I enjoy being alone at home during the day, and now when I'm going to do the final intership in January, I don't want to go back to work! It's much nicer to think I'm going back for a limited period of time, five years, and after that I can start doing what I want, forever.

One of the best things in having free schedule is my upcoming "holiday" next week. My husband likes to travel, while I hate it, and so we have made an agreement. He gets a holiday abroad once a year, and I'll arrange my schedule so I can watch the kids. I get a holiday at home each time Bioware releases Dragon Age title. Basically I lock the bedroom door, turn on the computer and emerge a week later two kilos lighter (too busy to eat) and much, much happier. I love to immerse myself in stories, and a chance to experience the game story undisturbed is better than any holiday I can think of.

suomalainen
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Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by suomalainen » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:18 pm

Onneksi olkoon! I am also looking forward to each of those little victories along the way to FI. I have a lot of catching up to do, but it's always so great to read others' successes and to take inspiration from them. Good luck moving forward!

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:05 am

suomalainen: Kiitos!

The mortgage is gone, and this month my investments reached 10 000. I actually have positive networth! I don't count my apartment which is maybe 60 000, since I have to live somewhere. After I paid off the mortgage, it feels like money is pouring in from everywhere. The mental difference has been huge. I think it's mostly the fact I can choose how to spend my money. My fixed expenses are 650 euros a month, including food, transportation and all house-related bills, while my net income during the internship is 2225 euros.

The internship is annoying the heck out of me. My hourly net salary is grand 5.6 euros, and when I worked on the exact same job without intern status, it was 16 euros. Returning to 8 - 16 after year of studying and a lax schedule is nasty enough, but the salary really annoys me. It's not like I had suddenly lost two thirds of my skills simply because I have to do a stupid internship to graduate, but there is nothing I can do about it except grind my teeth and wait for April.

I'm finding myself increasingly impatient to retire. I think it's because I'm used to setting my own schedule, and using all the daylight hours to work sits ill with me. I'm a morning person, and I hate spending my best hours in office. At least it's good for motivation, and since I'm usually too tired to do anything after work, I spend less money on impulsive candy purchases.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:22 am

My internship is almost over, and I'm graduating on Easter.

Last three months have been first time during our marriage when both me and my husband have worked full-time. The consequences have been.. Well, not good.

During these three months, I have
- gained 3 kilos of weight, because my diet has gone bonkers. That's a lot, because my weight does not usually fluctuate at all.
- gone from steady 4-5 exercise classes / week to absolutely no exercise at all
- started cutting sleep, because I need alone time to recharge after day at work. I can exist with 6 hours, but 3,5 give me horrible headache. It's a trade I prefer not to do, but sometimes it's necessary for my mental wellbeing.
- given up budgeting - I manage money passably well even without a budget after years or practice, but written budget would help
- had persistant flu which never seems to go away (might have something to do with mold problem at the office), and had to start taking prescription drugs to cut the infection spiral
- my alcohol consumption doubled
- given up regular cleaning
- gotten stressed at the combination of studying, working and caregiving. I feel I'm not doing enough for my disabled child.
- gotten stressed because I had to take much time off to care for sick kids. Although I can do so, my superiors don't like it.
+ learned much professionally
+ gotten more money
+ landed a 4-month job which is on my preferred field and quite demanding yet interesting professionally.
+ I'm somewhat surprised my IBD has not flared yet. It reacts to stress, but apparently my diet of Turkish yoghurt helps.

As a result, I'm seriously considering quitting in September when my next contract ends. It's mostly because I don't like what has happened me during these three months. If I continue like this, I will go from one job to another and get a heart attack and die before I'm 50, like my father did.

This has been very enlightening experience because it was easy to criticize people's bad habits and be proud of things I did well. Now I've learned that for me, keeping up the good habits is mostly a time question. Before I started working, I did all *my* things like exercise, cooking, grocery shopping, hobbies during the day, and focused on caregiving job after the children came back from the school. It worked well. Now I'm taking that time off from sleeping, which doesn't help at all for being stressed already.

I know what I should do. I should quit working and take over the part-time cleaning job my husband currently holds. Saving for ERE would get considerably slower, but it would solve all problems I listed above. It's just the thought of having studied for five years and then giving it up because I can't handle full work week, holding me back.

I've decided to wait over summer, since I already promised to take that 4-month job. It's a different workplace, and the field is more interesting to me. I'll try to make an effort to regain my good habits, and if I still feel as overwhelmed as now when the job ends, it's clear enough decision.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1016
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by DutchGirl » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:29 am

Good luck, Rouva.

Yes, I recognize it, so much! I had a 24-hour workweek last year (28 hours if you include travel time to and from the different work locations), and it helped me so much in reducing stress levels and keeping up good habits, keeping the house clean, and staying in a good mood. Now I work something like 32 hours per week (40 hours if you include travel time), and it is so much more stressful, there's less time to recover, and the house is a mess (that's the first thing to go in my case: housekeeping stuff).

Sometimes it's a fine balance between work and the rest of your life. I hope you find your balance. I also hope that the new office and the new job helps; maybe it's less stressful for example.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:51 am

Thank you for your kind wishes, Dutchgirl. I'm currently working in child protection services and my clients are mostly teenagers/young adults with serious psychiatric disorders or criminal background. New job does not include direct customer service and mostly deals with arranging therapy for disabled patients.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:01 pm

1 year, 9 months on ERE road. The results so far:

NOW 16K in investments / THEN 2,5 K in investments
NOW no mortgage or any other debts / THEN 28K mortgage

I officially graduated (again) today, Master of Social Sciences. I got a bottle of bad-tasting sparkly wine from mother-in-law last week and I dragged my husband + kids to photographer to take a family portrait because I have no pictures of us. Although seeing the preprints made all too clear I should lose those three kilos I've gained, I'm satisfied. I wanted to celebrate five years of work in some way but couldn't think of anything else I'd want. 5% pay rise for having the required qualifications was good, too. Still, this feels a bit.. Empty? I didn't expect trumpets and red carpet, but I am somewhat annoyed at myself for not feeling more joy for finishing something which took awful lot of work for five years. I think I enjoyed the process more than the end result, although the degree is actually very useful. There is a shortage of social workers, and the union has succeeded to lobby a new law which makes working even temporarily without the degree almost impossible. The membership fees of the union are rather high, but they get results, so I guess I'll continue paying them 40 euros monthly.

My new job is much better than the last one. My diet has gotten better, and I sleep more. Right now I'm in the phase where my mind works overtime trying to learn all new bits of information required in the job tasks, and I long for the moment when I can actually take a file and start working on it instead of just staring at it and wondering what I should do. That's why I hate temp jobs. I have 5 month contract (I'm substituting for a person who will return in September) which will not be continued. Traditionally, it takes 3 months until I'm proficient enough to enjoy the job, and by then, it's almost over.

It's time to invent a new five-year-plan. I guess next step will be trying to find a permanent position in hospital social work and save money. After sixth year, I could apply for study leave (the requirement is eight years of working experience and I don't have much yet, thanks to caregiving) and start studying for the licentiate of Social Sciences. The degree is free, I have an idea of field I'd like to write about, and the study leave system basically means that I would get 1600e for 19 months (since my salary is 2800e) and my job would be kept for me, in case I wanted to go back. It could be a good idea for two reasons: first I would work long enough to save up a nest egg for ERE, and I would get almost two years of time off = I could use the schedule to motivate myself.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:22 am

Professionally, my new job has been a great success. I've lost 7 kilos of weight without trying, started a good eating routine, and been less stressed than during the spring. I got a new, longer contract and my current tasks serve both my interests and my career goals. If I have to work to save for ERE, I'd prefer to do interesting things and eventually get paid accordingly. Working in a public sector, getting raise without advancing is almost hopeless because wages aren't negotiated individually.

Unfortunately, I still struggle finding work/life balance. It's mostly because I feel I could handle my job, but handling the caregiving duties after work is hard. This week I had four vacation days, and the difference was noticeable. Same caregiving-related issues which make me normally feel mentally exhausted and stressed felt like nothing, when I didn't have to divide my willpower and focus between several different tasks. It's much easier to deal with something hard, if it's the only hard thing on your plate, and you can spend some time to recharge mentally.

One side-effect I've noticed is that I'm fed up with planning things. It's mostly because my work requires a lot of planning, and trying to make people follow those plans. As a result, I can't plan a single thing at home. Like exercise. I want it to lead something, but as soon as I'm trying to pick a program, I freeze because there are too many options and nothing suits precisely and I just can't summon the will to actually think about my options although I know how to tweak a program. It's ridiculous, but true. Things which are on auto-pilot (like eating, because I eat the same things five days of week, or what to wear, since I've color-coordinated my whole wardrobe, or beauty regimen because that's pre-planned, too), are going fine, but nothing else does. So I decided to hire a personal trainer, because I feel I have to outsource something and my employer pays a part of it. I just want to go out, exercise, and not to think, thank you. This is the third time I'm working with a personal trainer, and all my previous experiences have been educational in the long run, so I think this will work well. After the contract with him ends, I'm hopefully less exhausted mentally and can continue on my own.

Financially, I've not done well. Starting at new job brought many new costs, like revamping my whole wardrobe, but now I have everything I need. It's been somewhat depressing to see how much appearances really mean. I'm technically a temporary summer worker, but nobody seems to remember or realize it as long as I present myself confidently, dress well, and basically don't give them a chance to notice I'm not that experienced in my field. This has worked to my advantage, since I have my own project and budget now.

All in all, four vacation days have reminded me that although I like my job, I like my free time much more. It's easy to forget when I get used to having no time to relax, and feeling stressed becomes a normal state. I wanted to write these feelings down so I can come back, read them and remember why I should concentrate on keeping a budget even though it's ardous sometimes. I'm much happier when I can control my own schedule, and every euro saved is a one step closer to goal. Retiring in five years isn't impossible. I just need to focus on that goal.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:26 pm

Two years, nine months on ERE: no debt, 30K in investments.
Progress: 14K since last year

I'm not very happy with my progress since last year, but the reasons are apparent. This was my first year ever being employed for 12 months straight, and I got lax with budgeting. Also, I've made few big purchases.

My work requires making house calls, and I don't have a car so I travel by bus/walk. In January, we had two weeks with uncommonly cold weather -30 celsius. I purchased a goretex down parka which cost ten times more than my previous coat (I paid 650 euros) and I love it. I have worn it every day since and every time I put the coat on I just feel so smug because I don't have to care about petty things like chilly wind or getting rained on...The difference is notable, and I'm spoiled for life.

I changed my phone into smart phone model and paid 450 for new one. I have a plan of switching all family calls and texts into WhatsApp messages, so this will likely save money in long run, but I could have paid much less for a smartphone. Cheapest Lumia models are 40 euros, like my work phone which I hate. My main reason for this purchase was that Marshall phone was pretty. Yes. I'm sucker for things I find pretty, and then I get mentally stuck on those, and can't make myself to switch for cheaper alternatives.

I also spent a lot of money on clothes last spring and summer to establish a professional wardrobe. It worked fine - until this spring when I noticed that my strength training has had obvious results. The dresses which had great fit last autumn now leave red marks on my shoulders because stupid armholes are too small, or can't fit over my forearms at all. My t-shirts, especially those with slightly longer sleeves (to hide saggy arms) are starting to look they're next. It's ridiculously funny, and I'm proud, but it means I have to take my whole wardrobe to seamstress for alternations and ask her to sew me two new dress shirts because ready-made ones don't have enough width in shoulders. It's not going to be cheap... And the part when wearing my work clothes actually hurts is not fun.

Like I wrote in my last update, I hired a personal trainer because I felt drained and unable to plan anything. It has worked very well. I went from zero pullups to three unassisted. I got six push ups on my knees and now I regularly do thirty, and it's easy. I can do pistol squats. My weight has remained the exact same number, but now I have visible muscles and sharp cheekbones. I'm still quite shocked at how hungry I feel all the time. I can eat normal breakfast and evening snack, a restaurant lunch and Subway sandwich in one day and not to gain any weight. I have no idea on how many calories I burn daily, and I like it! I knew that strength training increases metabolism, but knowing it theoretically and actually experiencing it are two different things.

My contract with personal trainer is ending, and I've decided to renew it. It's expensive, but three weeks without weekly meetings did not go well. It seems that as soon as something comes up - hard week at work, children having flu - my willpower wanes, and I just don't go. So I budgeted for another thirty sessions. I have also changed gyms. When I started, I could work out at my workplace gym, but it lasted only for two months because they didn't have weights heavy enough or a proper squat rack. Then I switched to municipal gym, which has great equipment and costs 2 euros/visit, but the opening hours don't work for me. I can mostly train in the morning before 8AM, and the municipal gym opened at 11AM. In February, a new commercial gym opened within a walking distance from my apartment, and it has opening hours from 5 AM to 11 PM. Cost is 30 euros/month. It's been a good choice.

My work is taking me to places nationally, and I'm still secretly wide-eyed at that. This spring, two of my science idols have offered to help if I wanted to write doctoral thesis on subject relating to my work, and I'm considering it. I have wanted to do that eventually (just to get sword, hat and title. Studies are free) but I don't know if I'm willing to do that right now. My career is going upwards very fast, and it is satisfying because things I can do with my clients are genuinely good and necessary for their well-being. I'm working on a small scale social reform which is growing bigger because it suits current political climate, and for my idealist INTJ nature is thrilling to watch the ripples when my idea spreads. I'm building a system, and it's beautiful. I'm cynical enough to know this won't last, but if I can take this far enough, something will remain. Right now, we can ride the waves, and crusading social work is enormously enjoyable even though it requires a lot of effort.

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun May 01, 2016 1:36 am

This month I have been thinking a lot about power.

I'm 33, and the organisation at my workplace is going through a major upheaval. It is likely to be positive for me, because I have good relationships with my bosses and I'm fullfilling a niche which answers to current political demands. I have been at my job for a year, and I've realized that I have moved into a position which seems to be the starting point for unwritten career advancement ladder. Snooping around LinkedIn and reading the cv's of my superiors has revealed a pattern. 3 years working in a project -> then moving away from client work to administrative position -> in five or six years, a position in executive group.

The downside of it is the revelation about doors this choice closes.

I didn't have a teenage rebellion, because I couldn't afford it. I lost both my parents when I was child, and I was too occupied by trying to survive and take care of my younger sibling to have time for anything else. Then I got chronically ill when I was 16, and spent a lot of time in hospital until the issue was fixed with major surgery when I was twenty. And then I had to have kids, because the surgery made it likely I wouldn't have been able to get pregnant if I had waited too long. When it comes to relationships, I'm careful and extremely picky. I'm not very social, but when I find someone who suits my preferences, I'm certain and catch him. That's why I've ever kissed two people, and later I ended up marrying them. Terribly INTJ. I don't regret my choices, because if I was placed in same situation again, I would still make the same choices. But I acknowledge the cost.

The cost, this time, is somewhat different. It's like playing a role in theatre. Certain clothes, manners, make-up, being thin or at least normal weight, exercising. Thinking carefully what I say. Being careful. Calculating.

If I have to pick between having no power at work and having some power at work, I prefer the latter. It saves me from much frustration and boredom, because the work is more interesting. And I find the unwritten rules of workplace advancement fascinating in social sense. It's like moving into different, very unfamiliar group of people who all know each other but have little contact to outside. People who never bothered with me are suddenly interested in what I do, and I'm asked to hold lectures about my work. Three events this month. People whom I used to admire as a student are offering to assist. I'm climbing upwards socially, and it feels very strange. Sad, too.

I was the first member of my birth family to get higher education. When I was five years old, I remember my grandmother buying linen for "when you go to university". She called them dowry, and it wasn't joke for her. My family has a history of being working class poor, choosing the wrong side in civil war, and I was always supposed to do better. For years, I felt like I had failed the task, and now suddenly the situation changed and I didn't fail. But it's foreign, and I don't always want it, but I can't go back either because I've changed too much. My uncle called last week, drunk, and he was beaming because they had read from local magazine that I had applied for a job and he said that he didn't know I had so many (two) fancy titles. He was proud, and then he was sad, saying that now I can never go back to countryside because I've changed too much. Actually, I hated living in the country, but it feels sad that both of us feel the same thing. I was raised to become different, and now I am, and it means I don't think the same way anymore. Education does it to your brain, opens mind to things and ideas which exist outside the daily sphere. I could not be happy living in a small village and gossiping about missing dogs, planting new trees and neighbour's lost driver's licence. But sometimes it makes me lonely, too. And sad because my children don't really understand where I come from. They are hopelessly middle class creatures.

frihet
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Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by frihet » Mon May 02, 2016 8:24 am

Thanks for sharing your story Rouva. I like your strategy to "enjoy" work place politics more. It's for sure à game . :D

Also touching to read about your drunk relative being sad that you can't come back to the countryside because you've changed. My mum is from northern Sweden and my uncle still runs the family farm up there. Sometimes I wonder how it would be to move up to the country side but I think like you that I would not stand the lack of privacy!?

As for the ERE just let the years work for you an you'll get there........

Rouva
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:30 pm

The summer has been interesting, to say at least. My ERE plans were momentarily disrupted by one of the children becoming seriously ill. The child had to be hospitalized for two weeks, requiring an adult at home for whole summer, and a second hospital stay of two months is going to be required later in the autumn. At least this isn't USA; we got compensation of 60% for lost wages and the hospital bill was 150 euros.

The whole ordeal has been mentally exhausting for me, and I haven't had enough willpower left for saving. I have nothing to show for three months,and now I feel marginally better, I'm attempting to rein myself in again and stop doing retail therapy. The health problem is something I've anticipated for years - just didn't think it would happen so soon - and one of the reasons why I decided to do ERE. If we had two cars, nice house and debt, this would have been much bigger mess than now. I was able to float this financially despite the loss of wages, and didn't have to touch my savings.

I have a summer leave of two weeks coming up in September, and I'm waiting for it so much. The kids are at school, my husband returns to work, and I'm looking forward some alone time. Recharging is definitely needed.

vraxxos
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:36 am
Location: UK

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by vraxxos » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:26 am

Don't get too disheartened if you go off the rails. In our situation where you have a partner and children, it is inevitable you will have bad months. It's easier said than done, but I think you should just forget the two bad months (you can't change them anyway) and focus on the 3 years where you have made wonderful progress.

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