A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:36 am

February 2016 Summary

In February total invested assets increased by $3,300 after contributions, putting me down $12,900 quarter-to-date.

Net worth is down $10,600 quarter-to-date

Regarding the things I can control:

Savings and Spending.

YTD savings as a % of gross income: 52.0%, up from 51.4% as of end of Jan.
YTD savings as a % of after-tax income: 73.6%, up from 73.4% as of end of Jan.

February spending was $1,508 (versus target average of $2,416 and $1,990 actual in January) which is my lowest monthly spending total since I've been keeping record (viva burritos!)

YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 14.3%, down from 16.2% as of end of Jan.
YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 20.2%, down from 23.1% as of end of Jan.

Had 29 February been my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 32.3% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 34.8% at the end of January.

Although I'm down for the year in terms of invested assets and net worth, during the month of February I managed to claw back a little.

For the first time my estimated invested assets net of downsizing my primary residense would support a monthly withdrawal rate that would exceed spending for the current month ($1,620 versus $1,508). In the immediate future this will not be the case far more often than it will, but it is a nice thing to see.

On to March.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:29 am

Q1 2016 Summary

On a Personal Note

During March the doctors at the Cancer Center declared my mom's cancer to be in remission. To me this was a stunning development because she was told, in so many words, that this was an impossible accomplishment. My sister has completed her treatments and all of her outward symptoms are cleared. The expectation is that after whatever follow-up examinations/scans/tests they'll do, she'll be upgraded to "in remission" as well. Because she had not progressed to Stage 4 there was a decent chance going in that she could achieve remission.

My employment situation is still suboptimal. In the big picture sense the good still outweighs the bad (I choose to emphasize the good), but I more frequently find myself counting down the days, as it were.

I've reached a state of torpor regarding the long list of to-do's to get my house in better shape to sell. I like to pretend I'm a tough and resilient manly man, but I've been flagging under a lot of emotional weight. Hopefully with my mother's and sister's health being more stable, my employment situation settling out, and winter giving way to spring, I can rekindle the fire in that realm.

The Drier Stuff

Invested Assets and Net Worth

In March total invested assets increased by $54,600 after contributions, putting me up $41,700 for the quarter. Investment gains in March undid January losses and I am back at an all-time high, topping where I was in the summer of 2014 before making a large withdrawal to purchase the cabin.

Net worth is up $43,800 for the quarter, which is a little above average for quarterly net worth growth. Contributions were higher than normal and returns were slightly positive. Over the last 4 quarters net worth has increased by $109,200, which is a little lower than I'd like, but investment returns have been uninspiring over the period.

Savings and Spending

YTD savings as a % of gross income: 62.2%, up from 52.0% as of end of Feb.
YTD savings as a % of after-tax income: 81.0%, up from 73.4% as of end of Feb.

Those numbers are artificially high because of some irregular income that hit during the month of which 100% is saved after tax. I expect those numbers to decrease over time.

March spending was $2,809 (versus $1,508 in February) which is above the target average of $2,416/mo. A confluence of irregular and annual expenses occurred in the month to drive most of the overrun.

Average monthly spending for the quarter was $2,103 which is below the $2,416 target.

YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 12.8%, down from 14.3% as of end of Feb.
YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 16.6%, down from 20.2% as of end of Feb.

ER Status

Had 31 March been my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 22.7% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 32.3% at the end of February.

Net of expected proceeds from downsizing my house I might anticipate around $1,750/mo of spending over several decades to be supported by my assets alone, which is getting close to my personal austere survival threshold. I do not have a recently updated estimate for that threshold. That's a good project for the weekend.

Conclusion

The first quarter of 2016 started off very dark and dismal for me, but ended pretty well. I took some time yesterday to review older entries in this journal and realized that I've lost sight of my inner journey through this process. That inner journey was at one time my priority/focus, but I've backslid into putting all my attention on the material/external aspects. I think it would be a good thing to reground myself in the goals I started with. Counting money is fun, but it doesn't do much for happiness.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:09 pm

Great news about your Mom and sister! Time to go have some fun : )

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:22 pm

2 Years Here

I noticed I passed the 2 year mark participating here on ERE. That seemed like reason enough to think aloud for a while.

It’s tough to summarize what has happened over the course of the two years in a way that relates to ERE specifically. In most respects it’s just been a matter of sticking with the plan I’ve outlined for myself. Since I sort of cut across the grain of standard expectations, that is not a trivial feat.

One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. As my date approaches it gets more difficult to hide or obfuscate my intentions. And since it is something I am excited about and have put a lot of effort into, it’s naturally something I like to talk about among my closer circle even when it is not necessary. I don’t mind that other people sometimes have no interest in following a similar course, but it bugs me when they repeatedly harp on me about my being “wrong”. So day-by-day I drift further away from them.

And all that’s before I even begin to consider what I see going on in terms of news/media and politics. I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.

leeholsen
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by leeholsen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:31 pm

IlliniDave wrote:2 Years Here

I noticed I passed the 2 year mark participating here on ERE. That seemed like reason enough to think aloud for a while.

It’s tough to summarize what has happened over the course of the two years in a way that relates to ERE specifically. In most respects it’s just been a matter of sticking with the plan I’ve outlined for myself. Since I sort of cut across the grain of standard expectations, that is not a trivial feat.

One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. As my date approaches it gets more difficult to hide or obfuscate my intentions. And since it is something I am excited about and have put a lot of effort into, it’s naturally something I like to talk about among my closer circle even when it is not necessary. I don’t mind that other people sometimes have no interest in following a similar course, but it bugs me when they repeatedly harp on me about my being “wrong”. So day-by-day I drift further away from them.

And all that’s before I even begin to consider what I see going on in terms of news/media and politics. I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.
most people just cant live where they are satisfied with just enough to maintain your existence, but thats just what western civilization thinks; most of the world lives their entire life with just enough to get by. if you went to some third world country and told them you were throwing 50% of your cars value out the window every 4 years to have the latest car out there; they'd think you were nuts because most of the world doesnt make more than it needs to live on.

you will continue to be an outcast unless you cave and go back to the consumer life and i dont consider giving up my time worth trying to fit in. i actually consider those people buying new cars, new phones, etc; suckers and i definitely look down upon them.

Augustus
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Augustus » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:25 pm

IlliniDave wrote:2 Years Here

I noticed I passed the 2 year mark participating here on ERE. That seemed like reason enough to think aloud for a while.

It’s tough to summarize what has happened over the course of the two years in a way that relates to ERE specifically. In most respects it’s just been a matter of sticking with the plan I’ve outlined for myself. Since I sort of cut across the grain of standard expectations, that is not a trivial feat.

One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. As my date approaches it gets more difficult to hide or obfuscate my intentions. And since it is something I am excited about and have put a lot of effort into, it’s naturally something I like to talk about among my closer circle even when it is not necessary. I don’t mind that other people sometimes have no interest in following a similar course, but it bugs me when they repeatedly harp on me about my being “wrong”. So day-by-day I drift further away from them.

And all that’s before I even begin to consider what I see going on in terms of news/media and politics. I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.
I very much understand how you feel. When I was younger I was against apathy towards things like politics and community involvement. The more I've learned and grown, the more I can't help but feel that most people are somewhat nuts. As long as they're not infringing on me, it's generally harmless, but I don't have a lot to talk about with them.

I like the locus of control concept. Focus on what you can control, be aware of what you can't, but realize there is no point in stressing out about it and since stress has a negative impact on your health, it's not only useless but outright bad for you.

inchicago
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by inchicago » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:09 am

Three things that I have learned:
1. Keep my plans and lifestyle to myself. I don't fit the definition of a consumer. Yes, I spend money, but not to the extent that most do. Eating out lunch every day at work, going shopping on their lunch breaks, new car, new phone, new outfit every day, hair and make-up, etc.
2. Find people who have a similar mindset that you do and try and hang out/talk with them. If you must be around people, it's easier to be around those who have similar goals that you do. They say that you copy what those closest around you do.
3. Don't watch/read mainstream news. It's mostly sensationalism, anyway. And garbage.

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GandK
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by GandK » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:15 am

IlliniDave wrote:One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. ... I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.
I love your self-awareness, Dave. Your posts are some of my favorites because you not only question others' baselines, judgment, goals and motivations, you equally question your own. Few people are willing to do that.

I think this will get worse before it gets better. However, once your time is 100% your own, you will interact with a different set of people when you feel like venturing into public. Once you get to that point, you'll be able to find (or build) a better tribe, I think. And then you won't feel so out of step.

Thanks for your honesty.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:53 am

GandK, thanks for the kind words--I like the idea of building a better tribe!

leeholsen, Augustus, and inchicago, yes those are all distinct facets of it, no doubt. But there's also a facet that has to do with simply having decided to pursue a different course, rather than any of the specific differences. It's hard to express precisely.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Apr 29, 2016 10:21 am

Random Stuff to Warm Up My Pen Ahead of the End of April Summary.

Thought I'd get all the angsty contemplative stuff out there separate from the numbers this time.

My work situation seems to be dishing up curve balls at an increasing frequency. It is not all that bad in an absolute sense, but I have a twinge of melancholy now while I drive over the mountain in the predawn every day. Despite the turmoil of the last 12 months I'd still hoped to wrangle some way to go out on a proverbial high note, but that dream was dashed this week. As a consolation prize I've been deemed an SME (subject matter expert) and will be probably be allowed to do some occasional SME-ing in my old capacity. For the most part though I have been assigned irrevocably to something I know little about and so far have developed little interest in. Often the SME label is used for someone who is viewed as too old to run with the pack any longer, but is still worth listening too on occasion. That's not exactly the case for me--in the changing world my pack was disbanded by the powers that be. Nevertheless, the "honor" is a clear sign that I'm approaching the segue into the next major phase of my life.

I feel the need to emphasize that this is a first world problem and things are not all that bad on an absolute scale. I still work for a good employer and get paid what to me is a lot of money relative to my needs. But if I'd made a list of the different ways I'd have wanted these last 3ish years to go, it would not have encompassed the present situation.

I've been having a dialogue/correspondence with an "online friend" over the last few weeks. She's a friend of a friend I met on another website forum with whom I'd wound up connecting on FB.

Aside #1: I still find it fascinating how a person can strike up a conversation and friendship of sorts with someone they've never met in person, through a mutual connection with someone neither of them has ever met in person. Although these people feel like friends to me, I get tripped up using the word "friend" because there's no tangible connection, and for all I know they could be the made up alter ego of some adept prankster half a world away. Yet, reality to me is what my brain believes it to be. I don't really have another choice.

Anyway, this friend shares an amount of my attachment to the Northwoods. In her youth she spent a lot of time on some of the remote parts of the Canadian portion of Lake of the Woods (another Minnesota/Ontario border lake further west from my destination). Although she truly understands my yearnings, she's been challenging me a lot on the "practicality" of my plan in that I intend spend a lot of time alone in remote places during late midlife and early later life. Before starting a business she was a nurse so her emphasis leans towards the medical side of the continuum, but her points can be applied beyond that realm. There really are some downsides to being a loner (there's a reason most people at minimum pair up), and she efficiently pokes holes in most of the mental hand waving I've done in convincing myself my vision is a viable one. It mildly chafes my introvert nature and solitary vision, but I have to admit it might be prudent to join up with a like-minded companion for some of my longer wanderings in the wilderness, which of course is what she is trying to convince me of. It's also mildly aggravating to gradually have to concede that the conclusion someone has been goading you towards against your will has merit. It certainly could complicate things. The dog I had planned to get does not meet her definition of companion.

Aside #2: Anyone reading this with the devious heart of a matchmaker might be thinking, "Geez, dummy, it's not complicated, the solution is right there poking you in the forehead!!!" Indeed, assuming the pictures she shares are really of her she is rather solidly on the attractive side of the continuum and of the appropriate age range for me. However, she is married, so that has been off the table from the outset.

Aside #3: Yes, she is the one I referred to in another thread who insists I am "lucky". It is ironic because I get the distinct sense that although she values simplicity, their combined income is much higher than mine.

So I am reluctantly starting to think through how I will approach some of the longer soujourns into the parks, allowing for the possibility of a companion. I will do at least one 30-day solo trip--it's the measure of badassity in canoe country, and a virtual prerequisite if I ever want to do any guiding in the future. It's good to have a plan and pursue it; it's even better if you let the plan evolve along the way. There might be some room for compromise in this area without messing everything up.

I've also begun my magnum opus (no, not this endless post). I don't know what it is going to turn into yet--I expect that it will develop a life of it's own if I keep giving it attention and lead me where it will. It will mostly be written, although some other things might find their way in. As best I can tell now it will be part travelogue, part memoir-journal hybrid, and part an aging father's desperate attempt to pass on what life teaches him to his children and grandchildren. It will be done over many years. I might do some of it via blog--the parts more concerned with the outer journey and specifics of traveling around in the BWCA and Quetico. That's probably a fairly saturated blog space so I don't anticipate much opportunity for monetization. I hope to find a way to do that without too much out of pocket expense. It seems like a convenient format to share my adventures with family, friends, and acquaintances who are interested, but in a passive way that won't disturb the disinterested. The inner journey stuff might wind up looking like a book or collection of quasi-haibun style pieces.

It's pretty fuzzy right now, but having a project above the day-to-day mundane stuff has given me a lift and offset some of the other challenges inherent to a midlifer.

George the original one
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by George the original one » Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:45 am

> The dog I had planned to get does not meet her definition of companion.

ROFLOL

On the practical side, I have a couple of friends reserved for certain exploratory escapades. Because we have a small habit of wanting to take chances to try satisfying curiousity, we find it advantageous to do so together so that one of us is available to help get us out of a jam (or be a witness as to what went wrong). Typically, after the exploration is done, we then feel comfortable knowing our limits and will return for solo trips.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:30 am

April 2016 Summary

I'm jumping the gun here and assuming I can make it through the day today without spending any money.

Invested Assets and Net Worth

In April total invested assets increased by $15,800 after contributions.

Net worth is also up ~$15,800 for the quarter. That assumes cash balances in my bank accounts didn't change much. Typically I only bother to factor those in during quarterly summaries.

Savings and Spending

YTD savings as a % of gross income: 60.4%, down from 62.2% as of end of Mar.
YTD savings as a % of after-tax income: 80.0%, down from 81.0% as of end of Mar.

March spending was $1,674 (versus $2,809 in February) which is below the target average of $2,416/mo. It is the third-lowest monthly spending total I've achieved since keeping accurate records starting in 2012.

Average monthly spending YTD is $1,996 which is also below the $2,416 target.

YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 12.7%, down from 12.8% as of end of Mar.
YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 16.8%, up from 16.6% as of end of Mar.

ER Status

With 30 April as my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 19.5% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 22.7% at the end of March.

April spending represents an equivalent withdrawal rate of 3.22%; YTD the equivalent rate is 3.94%.

Net of expected proceeds from downsizing my house I might anticipate around $1,796/mo of spending over several decades to be supported by my financial assets alone. Last update I mentioned it's about time to reexamine my personal austerity threshold (how low I think I could go before it hurts). However, I have not done that yet.

Conclusion

April 2016 was an adequate month in terms of retirement preparation. I'm most pleased with having maintained somewhat lower spending for the first third of the year ($1,996 versus $2,530 for the same period last year). I felt like I'd hit a plateau at around $2,550/mo on average and I'm encouraged to see some evidence that I might be able to break below that without feeling monastic about it.

I also have that convoluted metric looking at what percent of my assets would be depleted under nominal conditions between a hypothetical ER date and age 70. 20% was the upper bound I established for that as a signal of ER viability, and I crossed below that in April. It's a fairly volatile metric being dependent on invested asset balance on the start day, meaning that in isolation, barely creeping inside the upper limit is not cause for wild celebration. Still, it's a nice sign that I'm progressing.

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jennypenny
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by jennypenny » Sat Apr 30, 2016 8:22 am

IlliniDave wrote:With 30 April as my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 19.5% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 22.7% at the end of March.
Are you expecting to collect SSI at 70? Will it cover your expenses completely? Are you expecting to receive the full amount SSA.gov projects, or only a percentage of it? If so, what percentage?

Sorry for the questions, but we're the same age and financial temperament, so I'm curious how you're approaching this part.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Apr 30, 2016 9:43 am

jennypenny,

I don't mind the questions. If I didn't want to talk about it I wouldn't post about it. :)

Yes, my going in position is to defer SS until 70. That's what prompts my interest in my assets during the period up to that point, where if things go as expected, they'll have their biggest role.

SS won't completely cover my "planned" spending. It will probably completely cover what I call my "core" spending (food, utilities, heathcare premiums, transportation, basic home upkeep and maintenance, my essential comforts and an occasional small luxury). That would assume they eventually fix the shortfall currently anticipated. Sometimes, though, I'll run the numbers with 75% of my currently estimated benefit. I will also have the residual of a modest retirement annuity to bolster that, but there's no COLA associated with it so only time will tell how much that will help down the road. Even at 75% SS provides enough of a "floor" that it should keep me from having to live under a bridge even with minimum additional resources.

I recognize there is some uncertainty surrounding SS, which is why I want to ensure I will have a significant portion of my assets intact at that point. When I say "nominal" or "expected conditions" regarding my plan I'm referring to a set of assumptions that I feel are conservative but not outright pessimistic (~3.5% read investment return, 3% inflation, a spending profile pegged at the high side of the range I anticipate, and a reduced annuity).

If I play absolute worst-on-worst scenarios the plan implodes, but I have a small palette of adjustments I can make if the future excurs substantially into the lousy side of the continuum.

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jennypenny
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by jennypenny » Sat Apr 30, 2016 7:14 pm

We always use 75% for our SSI estimates. Like you, we're aiming to have that money cover the base expenses. I'm not sure when we'll begin benefits. A lot has to do with medical issues and whether we'll be able to continue our medical insurance through DH's work after he retires (at present, they include medical insurance to age 65 with early retirement packages for the lifers).

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Sun May 01, 2016 7:04 am

I'd have to work to 60 to have the option to buy into my companies healthcare plan (and pay 100% of the cost myself). I've been pricing on the ACA exchanges and while it's not pretty, at least for now it is a place I know I can get insurance. If it is dismantled and the guaranteed coverage provision goes away, that could be a game-changer. I'm looking at $800-$1000/mo including net premium cost and assuming I hit the out of pocket max every year. Hopefully that will happen less often than it does, but the plan assumes it always happens. That compares to about $7,300 I'd max out at today. Healthcare inflation is not helpful either. It's what I see as the big risk area in terms of estimating future expenses, and the main reason I use a conservatively high spending rate in my plan.

I probably should use 75% for SS, but honestly I don't pay much attention to what happens after 70--in all my scenarios save the one I label "disaster" my assets tend to either flatten out or more commonly begin to grow again at a nice clip. Going between 100% and 75% doesn't seem to change the character of things a whole lot.

I do intend to make SS a year-by-year decision starting at age 62. If it begins to look like my longevity will be below average or my assets are taking a real beating I might file earlier. That would lower the monthly benefit below my desired floor, but still cover the at least a good majority of day-day living even at 75%. Shifting the filing time around seems to affect my terminal wealth a little and not much else under any other than really bad conditions. My decision to defer to 70 is mostly motivated by a desire to extract as much from my 401k as I can at 15% and lower tax rates, as well as a hedge against excessive longevity. According to the plan I'm supposed to die between 80 and 85, enough time for the deferral to 70 to about equal out.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Sat May 07, 2016 8:43 am

Survivor's Guilt

I learned someone close to me "attempted" suicide earlier this week. I used quotes because the attempt was I guess what you could call half-hearted and appeared to be more a gesture of profound frustration than a legitimate attempt to end life. However, it obviously represents a serious/worrisome situation. Three weeks ago, my primary coworker (I'm sort of his sidekick) lost a 26-year-old son to suicide after the young man couldn't cope with his wife having left him and taken their young daughter with her.

Counterbalancing that, tomorrow is Mother's day which my mom will be celebrating as, for now, a cancer survivor when, six months ago, it was all too easy to envision the day being much gloomier.

Through it all I skate in my beige little introvert's life, convincing myself that by piling up money and learning to live a little simpler I'm somehow doing something worthwhile. I don't know that there is really much else I can do aside from taking the path I feel I need to take. In that one limited realm I am pleased, but there's a lot of empty hovering beyond the perimeter.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Augustus » Tue May 10, 2016 9:22 am

Yikes. I recently found out a co-worker from a few years ago was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 1 month to live. I sent him a message trying to lift his spirits, but with one month to live I wonder if he is more aggravated by polite messages than reassured. If it were me, I think I would probably cut the bull shit, talk straight, and be with family. I suppose it's just as likely I would hold on to the polite nothing's of society like a drowning man holding on to a life preserver. A favorite quote I read a while back is "Life, Pascal said, is like living in a prison from which every day fellow prisoners are taken away to be executed."

I think we each have to build our own meaning in the world. This goes against the grain of the usual idea of the quest for knowledge, and "finding" the meaning of life. I've always strived to live like a hobbit, I really think tolkein outlined the ideal way to live as odd as that sounds haha.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Sat May 21, 2016 4:58 am

May 2016 Pseudo-Summary

In a few days I'll be leaving on the first leg of a journey that will take me ultimately up to the cabin, so I will be away when the time comes for a proper summary. Expenses for May should be higher than they've been running and will likely exceed my target average of $2,416/mo. I've already put $465ish into the cabin ordering a replacement refrigerator, and am on the hook for what I expect to be another several hundred in medical/mental health expenses for my youngest daughter. The latter should spread across May and June. The travel will bump up my expenses as well, but not a whole lot--I intend to keep things pretty simple. I'll probably incur another couple hundred doing work on the cabin once I'm there. Invested assets at this point are down slightly for the month I think, but still up for the quarter.

It looks like my visit to the Northwoods will be solo this time. Although my mom's in remission she's still not 100% recovered from the chemo, so it's not a good time for my dad to be away. My brother had to cancel as well. Not sure of the details but I think it comes down to his wife expecting him to act like an adult on a more consistent basis, most likely including in the realm of financial responsibility.

Part of me is disappointed they won't be coming, especially my dad. He'll turn 77 this summer and odds are before anyone would like we'll be having the last father-son adventure in the Northwoods. The three of us have talked loosely about trying to put something together in September as a rain date.

Another part of me is deeply looking forward to making it a solo venture. It will be my first chance to settle into the place with my full introverted nature unimpeded--a good audition for my ER lifestyle. I plan on canceling the boat rental and wilderness motor permits (will save some $) and instead alternate renting 2-3 models of solo watercraft and going on some non-motorized day trips into the wilderness area (which are free and not subject to quotas) to audition them. Models of the style/quality I'll want to eventually purchase run on the order of $2,000 or more new, and maybe half that used, so making a good choice is important. This will cut down on my fishing, but what fishing I will do will be more in line with how I will fish in my ER future. There are three lakes that are a single portage from the chain of lakes I "live" on which I think I can make a day trip out of with enough time on the destintion lake to fish, so I'll even get to explore some new water. Two of the lakes have brook trout, which I hope to add to my "life list" both in terms of catching and of eating.

I'll also probably spending at least a day viewing property. If I stick with my plan to work until age 55 I should have enough resources to buy a remote wooded property (<= 40 acres). The thought there is to add to my exploitable resources in the area in case I ever decide to reside up there full time. In the short run I'd probably maintain a primitive campsite on the property and have it serve as a getaway when hustle and bustle of the edge of the wilderness area get to be too much for me. There's a lof of facetiousness in that statement, but I do have neighbors there, and there are a handful of boats/canoes that pass in front of my cabin going in/out of the park most days. At the lake I have a high solitude quotient, but it's not really isolated. Later I might build a small off-the-grid cabin on the second property should I find one.

I might get to make a brief update of the ER numerology towards the end of next week.

IlliniDave
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Greetings from the North Country

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:22 am

I spent the morning experimenting with solo canoeing and fishing from such a boat. It's been a challenge so far. The canoe I rented has a hull design suitable for a tandem but a seat position for a solo. Immediately after I picked it up I got blown halfway to Canada because the thing rode way to high to control in a strong wind. Since then I've been experimenting with adding weight to try and find the minimum I need to make the thing controllable (since it is dead weight I'd have to lug over portages, which generally sucks). It's supposed to be breezy and gusty this evening so it should be a good test for handling.

I'm on my bi-weekly trip into town, possibly meeting an acquaintance in the real estate business to schedule a day for viewing various tracts of wooded acreage in the area.

I've not had much success fishing, but the quiet and solitude has been first rate.

EMJ
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by EMJ » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:48 am

Could you add some sort of water filled containers as dead weight?

DutchGirl
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by DutchGirl » Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:37 am

Augustus wrote:I recently found out a co-worker from a few years ago was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 1 month to live. I sent him a message trying to lift his spirits, but with one month to live I wonder if he is more aggravated by polite messages than reassured.
I have heard that many people who suddenly are very ill find themselves with friends and colleagues who don't know what to say, and then say nothing. At least you did say something. I wouldn't expect anything in return from someone who is clearly in a terrible situation, but maybe you did give him a small smile.

I've seen something similar in my own life, where a co-worker died suddenly, and while everybody talked about it, and a year later everybody still talks about him and everybody still misses him as a colleague with a lot of knowledge and some wisdom, turns out I was the only one writing his widow at the first anniversary of his death. She wrote back that she really appreciated it.

Reaching out and showing you care is very likely to do good.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:55 am

Back to the Real World (Mostly)
Yesterday I drove from the edge of Minnesota back to Illinois. My heart always sinks a little when I get near Tomah, WI, because that's about where the character of the woodlands change (southward you notice the lessening and virtual disappearance of evergreens and paper birches). The trip served to reinforce the rightness of my plan at least for the foreseeable future. I spent much more time hiking and moving around by canoe than I did fishing this time. Canoeing solo is a bit different than with a partner, so there was a learning component. I also learned a little more about plumbing than I had intended (the type that involves small copper tube supply lines and compression fittings), so a bonus learning opportunity. I found a few potential berry picking spots via my on-foot adventures.

Happily I see that the financial markets were kind to me while I away. I always like to take it as a good sign when I am "rewarded" while not turning the crank and grinding out the sausage for my employer.

Aside from that, as I contemplate the drive down to the Southeast in a couple days, I have a distinctly deflated feeling.

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GandK
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by GandK » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:36 am

That trip sounds blissful to me, Dave.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:05 am

Aching Viscera[/color]
GandK wrote:That trip sounds blissful to me, Dave.
It really was, in a deep way that I don't completely have my head around yet, although things grow clearer as more time passes. I wish I knew off the top of my head how to post photos so folks could see them here. This time I got one or two that to me seem to have captured the moment pretty well. They might not mean much to anyone else (no different than words in that sense), but images can be the more efficient of the two.

News from Back Home

My mother continues to do better while bouncing back from the chemo (it's all relative, of course, she'll likely never be her old self 100%). She has another scan this week so we are all lifting our thoughts in our own way in the hope the news continues to be good. We had a scare with my sister. In a follow-up scan they identified what appeared to be "lesions" on her spleen, but have subsequently decided they are not as worrisome as first thought (but to be sure she's headed up to University Of Wisconsin next week for a more detailed assessment).

ERE Notes

I won't bother to do a full summary for May this late, I'll just wait until June and do sort of a 2-month financial update. The dominant feature of the time period is the trip up to the North Country, and the costs of that were spread across both months. In May I exceeded both my monthly spending target for the year (not unexpected, and the target is an average for the full year anyway, not an ongoing cap) and my post-ER monthly spending target. The latter was not expected. I'd hoped to stay easily below that but some higher-than-expected auto maintenance costs combined with general sloppiness kicked me over the threshold. May spending was $3,427 (preliminary estimate) versus the targets of $2,416 (2016 goal) and $3,355 (ER bogey). My YTD monthly spending average through 5/31 is below $2,300; so at least through that date I'm meeting my yearly goal.

Otherwise, things are creeping along with all the excitement of watching grass grow. But even the boring grind appears apt to pay off eventually. It's nearly time to think about going through my junk drawer to dig out a second comma--it may not be too much longer before one is required should I decide to write down my standard-definition net worth. To me, the standard net worth number is a neat curio but not a particularly valuable (IMO, it overstates one's situation, sometimes substantially). Nevertheless, it will mark an "achievement" of sorts that in 2008 I would have sworn I'd never reach without working to or beyond full retirement age (i.e., 15 or more years down the road until age 67+).

Inner Journey

Partway through my recent trip I was standing at the foot of a beaver dam I'd come across unexpectedly while hiking. It was an interesting perspective because the dam was built at the outlet of a small lake where the flow trickled down several feet below the base of the dam before making it's way on to the next lake (if the flow were greater I'd describe it as a small waterfall). With the height of the dam and the slope I stood several feet below the lake level. The resident beaver was agitated by my presence, although it did not sound the tail slap alarm. Instead it swam around and sort of chuffed/grunted at me. I watched it for a few minutes until I noticed I'd become absorbed by the beaver's behavior and let myself be turned into an all-you-can-eat buffet for an impressive cloud of mosquitoes, then I moved on.

As I was walking it occurred to me that what I like to call mindfulness is my default outlook while up there, and it takes effort to pull my awareness out of my surroundings back into the mundane world of "thinking". Once I made it back to Illinois, and more so when I finally drove back to the Southeast, it is mindfulness that I struggle to cultivate. The be-er takes a back seat to the thinker. I wonder if I'll ever be able to reverse that. Or worse yet, whether the thinker will someday cast the be-er out of the Northwoods. I think the latter will in many ways be the great battle of most of the rest of my life. If the thinker conquers the north, it's likely that it would take some convoluted reasoning for me to claim that ER was a success.

I always have a reluctance to return to work after time away. In the past it has usually been just a token feeling, perhaps more a result of social expectations than of true aversion. This time it's quite deep and visceral. The word "dread" would be an exaggeration,yet would fall short of hyperbole. In about 3 hours I have to go pick up my dog and once I have her home and settled, it's back to turning the crank and grinding the sausage. I wonder whether continuing that process is really the thing I should be doing right now. Ironically even the thinker wonders that, not just the subjugated be-er. I've never really had any serious doubts in the past that working was/is the prudent thing to do for the present time. Prior to the last several days my "serious" considerations have not been about if I should keep going, rather about how long I should keep going. It's not an exploding thunderhead epiphany, but something in the substructure has shifted. It will be interesting to see how I hold up after a day or two back in the fray.

And for those keeping score if you happen to be reading (you know who you are since I am about to use the image you coined) the golden-haired blueberry girl has yet to overtly appear. The lines are holding in the other great battle of the rest of my life! :)

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