cmonkey's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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cmonkey
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cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:41 pm

Hi all,

I wanted to start a thread dedicated to the journey that the wife and I, age 26 for her and 28 for me, are on to become FI. It has been about 3-4 years in the making now and we are making great progress so far.

I stopped putting money in the 401K back in 2011 after I decided I didn't like the traditional retirement path option that was being pushed on me. I didn't really know about ERE back then, but I knew I didn't wanna work my whole life and hated not having access to my retirement fund. I'm SUPER glad I decided to stop the 401K contributions, but not sure what I'll do with that now, its just sitting in a cash fund.

Bought a cheap home with 1.5 acres back in March 2011 for 84K, paid it off in February 2014, less than 3 years later. Taxes are 2K a year so housing expense is about $175 a month.

After we paid it off, we upgraded our HVAC to a geothermal system for about 21K and are about done paying it off (super fast style, ~$2800/month)

No other debt (student/car/credit card).

Last year we had about 25K in expenses between the two of us (12K/person) without even trying to make sacrifices. I could easily cut that in half, and am planning on it for this next year. Planning on a post-FI income of about 20-25K a year, however, just to be safe.

Monthly nut is as follows:
Netflix - 8
Skype/Tracphone - 15
Garbage - 19
Sewer - 20
Car Insurance - 30
Energy - 50
Home Insurance - 75
Gas - 100
Property Taxes - 175
Health Insurance - 300 (this is an estimate)
Food - 300 (this will shrink substantially)

For a total of about 800 per month in core expenses or 9600 for the both of us.

The food expense will be dropping substantially down the road due to our love of organic gardening and permaculture. Main reason we bought some land.

Other things like netflix, garbage and the gas expense can obviously be reduced once we are FI.

Our strategy consists mainly of using Lending Club as a main driver of cash flow, focusing more on monthly income rather than building a large sum/focusing on return percentages. I have about 2600 invested now, and have been in for over 2 years now and have had great success with our strategy, not one default.

We are planning on investing minimum of $25 per loan, verified income only (for now), and 2 or less delinquencies in the past year.

To be safe, we are planning to transition slowly to FI. For the first couple years while being FI, we are going to live off of Lending Club, and throw all the work paychecks into a liquid asset (like a CD) that earns a bit higher than savings. Doing this for 2-3 years will allow us to build up 10 to 15 years worth of income outside of Lending Club just to provide a buffer in the unlikely event peer to peer absolutely tanks.

On top of this, we have a couple of side businesses that are beginning to make money now, so we are pretty confident in our strategy, however, I'll be more confident after we go through a market-down cycle.

Would love any thoughts. We do NOT plan to put anything into stocks/bonds mainly due to ethical reasons.

We are planning to begin putting 60% + into Lending Club beginning in June of this year (2015) and should have around 25K invested by the end of the year. My goal is 20K, which would put us in the neighborhood of ~$200 a month income.

Also, if anyone is interested in more details, I have very elaborate plans/spreadsheets for most every, so I could share.
Last edited by cmonkey on Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:56 am, edited 6 times in total.

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theanimal
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Dec 09, 2014 4:40 pm

Welcome!

Seems like you're doing pretty well, 9600 for two people is nice. How do you like the geothermal system? I can't say I know anyone who has one in a home/residence. I'm sure that cuts down energy costs? Also, I find the strategy to go with Lending Club exclusively pretty interesting. You're obviously comfortable with the risk?

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:17 pm

We are loving the geo system. We switched from natural gas, so the payback period is quite a bit longer since NG is so cheap right now, but our most expensive heating bill will be about $100 ($200 whole house). Summer will be super cheap, we never use air. The main reason we switched was the long-term payback, the option to run it on solar, and also depleting fossil fuel reserves. Best get it installed before it becomes more difficult/impossible.

Lending club is certainly risky if you don't do it right, but I have spent the better part of 2-3 years researching it. Peer to peer is still an evolving industry, and I think its finally starting to come into its own. The LC IPO will be the tell-all I think. Heavyweights like Peter Renton at lendacademy are slowly moving more of their net worth into peer to peer.

Also, the side businesses and large, liquid fund would help alleviate the risk as well.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by jennypenny » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:15 am

Welcome.

I'm not sure I understand your investment strategy. I understand wanting to avoid the stock market, but Lending Club is a publicly-traded company, so you're still contributing to the stock market in a way. It's also very risky. One severe downturn, and you could be wiped out. If I were implementing your strategy, I would do the reverse--put the money into safe investments first until I had 10-15 years of savings and then transition over to Lending Club income to cover expenses.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by jennypenny » Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:11 am

The more I think about it, I guess the LC approach isn't *as* risky since you own your house outright and seem pretty self-sufficient.

It still would make me nervous, though. ;)

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:45 am

I understand why people believe LC is risky, however, I think the chances of being wiped out during a bad downturn are minimal (unless LC itself tanks). Historically, default rates across the entire credit industry have never gone above 12% according to federal reserve data (and that stat doesn't relate to the type of loans at Lending Club). Even during the 2008 crisis, credit card defaults only went to about 6 or 7 percent. Granted this is a larger set of people, and LC is smaller, but I would expect similar results, especially since LC has hit its stride during the worst of the recession. (http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/ ... lallsa.htm)

And ultimately, I'm going for monthly cash flow, so we would adjust our spending according to last month's or even several months back interest earned, less defaults. We would be ebbing and flowing with the income. Once you can get over the fact that some people have absconded with your money, its not as bad as you would think. A single default will only reduce next months income by .10 or .20 cents. Ultimately you are still losing future earnings as well, but that is made up for by the 95% that pay their loans.

To me, the biggest risk is that people will stop taking out loans, period. That would destroy monthly cash flow more than the defaults, but at least you wouldn't be losing your principle and could put it to work elsewhere.

I also have begun tracking everything (principle payments, interest payments, tax withdrawals, expected income withdrawals) on a daily basis and so over the next several years we are going to build a picture of what to expect, particularly when default hit our account.

And yea, LC is going public, but I guess you can't avoid it at all. At least I know that LC is a little more "common man" friendly than other corporations. :)

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by George the original one » Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:30 pm

> Even during the 2008 crisis, credit card defaults only went to about 6 or 7 percent

Be careful with that statistic as CC debt became virtually impossible to discharge through bankruptcy just prior to the 2008 crisis, so technically defaults might not show up (they'd be delinquincies).

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:45 pm

George the original one wrote:> Even during the 2008 crisis, credit card defaults only went to about 6 or 7 percent

Be careful with that statistic as CC debt became virtually impossible to discharge through bankruptcy just prior to the 2008 crisis, so technically defaults might not show up (they'd be delinquincies).
I think those stats include delinquencies as well. The title of the report is 'Charge-Off and Delinquency Rates on Loans and Leases at Commercial Banks'.

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:15 am

I think there is some hesitancy among the investment crowd to really embrace p2p as a good investment, so I would like to be transparent though my journey and give monthly updates on how I am progressing.

Monthly update, December 2014 -

Balance - 2607.70
Principle Payments - 42.25
Interest Payments - 29.70
Reinvested - 49.68
Income Withdrawal - 22.28 (Right now this is still being re-invested, this would be our income if we were FIRE)

NAR - 12.99%
Total Charge Offs - 0

Expenses Covered
- Netflix
- Skype/Tracphone


This month we achieved FI for phone service. :)


I have also been pondering the tax situation and playing with calculations and calculators, and between standard deductions and exemptions (particularly with children), even earning 40K to 50K in OID income, taxes drop to near $0 for federal since its taxed like interest. Now that is tax-advantaged!

Even having to pay some taxes is something I don't care about. You have to pay taxes while you are working anyway, I'd rather pay taxes and have all my time than pay taxes and have no time.



Also working on the variable expense category this year. While our core expenses are roughly $9,600 each year for the two of us, our variable expenses have been about $12,000 a year for the two of us, or $6,000 each. To be fair, most of that was mine. :) Goal for this year is to try cutting it in half, to $6,000 total, for a total output of about $16,000.

That gives us $500 a month variable. So far we are about $245 for January, a good chunk of which was purchasing 15 baby chickens for later this year!

The rest of the year will be interesting, due to beginning to remodel the house this summer. :shock: We are doing all the work, so that will help tons.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:05 am

Monthly update, January 2015 -

Balance - 2658.96 (+51.26)
Principle Payments - 53.53 (+11.28)
Interest Payments - 32.44 (+2.74)
Reinvested - 61.61 (+11.97)
Income Withdrawal - 24.33 (+2.05) (Right now this is still being re-invested, this would be our income if we were FIRE)

NAR - 12.79%
Total Charge Offs - 0

Non Variable Expenses Covered
- Netflix
- Skype/Tracphone

Variable Expenses (things I can directly control) - Actual (of Budgeted Amount)
Gas - 105.22 (of 100)
Food - 210.96 (of 200)
Energy - 122.90 (of 100)
Misc - 379.12 (of 500)

Total - 818.20 (of 900)

Geo Loan - 13,319 (-5732.44) We paid off a large chunk in January after getting our 3,100 rebate from the electric company. Expecting this loan to be gone at the end of February after two paychecks and a very hefty tax refund. This loan was 41,000 back in August.

Truck Loan - 9,914.32 (-183.74) We just made a normal payment, this loan will be gone at the end of May after about 6 paychecks.

We had an excellent January budget wise, stayed under budget by 80 bucks. The gas was over budget because it included traveling back from holiday, February will be a LOT less.

Food was excellent considering we buy nothing but organic food. Having lots of stored food from last summer and buying only raw ingredients helps. We budget 100 per person per month.

Energy was a bit more than budgeted, but I think spring, summer and fall will balance this out considerably. The geothermal installation is turning into a great investment.

Misc includes everything else from toilet paper to baby chickens (this month only!). 80 bucks of the 379 was spent on 15 baby chickens, many of rare decent, that we are getting in April. Excited for that.

4 years, 11 months left.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by steelerfan » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:25 am

I am enjoying tracking your progress on analyzing LC as an income stream. I am playing around with it at this point - adding maybe $100-150/mo. We are older and this bucket is just one of several with the others being 401ks and roths. I am buying dividend stocks in the roth. My annualized rate on LC is 13.6 percent a few months in but really think LC will ultimately yield 7-8% by the end. I view LC as a portfolio of micro junk bonds. As I am not particularly risk averse I find it fun and addictive to track the building income stream of micro payments! My biggest challenge is I don't want to take my eye off the ball and cut back on buying divendend stocks and it is more fun to spin the dice with LC. The income stream generated by the dividends is still more secure in my mind. Good luck and keep posting!

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Dragline » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:07 am

I'm also a huge LC proponent/investor, and use it as part of the "cash" component of a Permanent Portfolio. I've been investing in it since 2009. "Sticker" returns are around 13% and overall returns are in the 10% range.

I agree with steelerfan's analysis that these are essentially short-term junk bonds with very large diversification. I current hold over 2500 of them, with over 1300 paid off and about 100 that partially defaulted. Certainly, defaults will increase if there is an economic crises, but that's one of the reasons to focus on higher income borrowers with decent employment. Basically, you are looking for that consumerist person in the office/cubicle next door that's run up too much cc debt and wants to refinance, but is already habituated to forking it over to the credit card companies every month. Now they fork it over to you instead.

Oddly enough, as a long-time customer, they also invited me to participate in the IPO (that was a first), but only to the tune of 250 shares. I can see why people make bundles at that racket.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by steelerfan » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:36 pm

If LC is a portfolio of micro junk bonds does that make the investors MMMs (not Mustachians - Micro Michael Milikens)? I am dating myself here but I was pretty interested in the corporate raider LBO Drexel Burnham Lambert days - which was before most of the people on this website were born! IIRC, one of the central tenets of Miliken's belief was that it was possible to make not just a profit but a killing buying subprime paper in large volume even with anticipated defaults. The key is to hand pick the least risky of the notes. I remember reading a WSJ column about Miliken riding the bus poring over bond data by headlamp...before the Drexel days.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by steelerfan » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:39 pm

Correction: Milken not Miliken

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:13 pm

@steelerfan
Thanks for the encouragement! I will definitely be updating each month as I have never been more sure of creating an income stream from LC, but am definitely putting money elsewhere as well including dividend stocks. I am not going to be able to really start investing until July of this year when I pay off the truck.
When you begin, you certainly get double digit returns, but after about 2-3 years the first wave of defaults will probably come in and knock you to single digits. I have a goal of keeping at 10%. Still, 7-9% is wonderful return if its providing me with an income. I'm not sure why people sweat a few percentage points when ultimately we are just after an income in the long run.

@Dragline
That is a interesting comparison to make. I don't know much about junk bonds so I'm curious what makes them similar in your mind. Glad to see other people in the ERE community investing in LC. I agree with targeting higher end consumers and also higher interest rates. Right now I never invest in anything less than 12-13% and nothing over 20%, but I think I'll bump my upper limit up a bit. Haven't had time to do some filter work.

Also, targeting 'loan/credit card refinance' loans that have had 0 delinquencies in the past 2 years seems to be holding up well for me, no charge offs yet. I figure its because they are used to making payments by now. :)

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Dragline » Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:30 pm

This is a useful site for running filters and backtesting: http://www.nickelsteamroller.com/#!/

In my experience, the most important stat for reducing defaults is number of inquiries. The vast majority of my loans have zero inquiries. But I don't think its really feasible to reduce defaults below 1% consistently -- you'll end up with nothing to invest in.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:05 pm

Do you stick to zero inquires for every loan, or do you invest in a few with inquires? I find with delinquencies that the number of eligible loans really gets reduced and have wondered if there would even be enough loans to invest in at the minimum level of 25 per loan once I have several thousand notes. Do you see that as well?

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Dragline » Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:22 pm

Over 90% of my loans have zero inquiries. I invest in a few with inquiries if they have high incomes and are at higher interest rates, especially if they are debt consolidating.

I was perplexed at first as to why this stat is so meaningful. But now I figure it just eliminates people who have applied elsewhere and were found to be unworthy for reasons that may not be apparent from the other parameters.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by reepicheep » Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:32 pm

@cmonkey:

Lending Club is my primary Roth IRA account, I have 18.5k invested and I put in $458 each month and have for almost 2 years. I choose loans with zero inquiries in the past 6 months and 0 delinquencies in the past 2 years. Major derogatories 0 in the last 59 months. My Net Annualized Return according to LC, including $470 in past due loans, is 11.36%. I invest $25 at a time.

The $458 for this month hit my account less than 5 days ago; all of it has been invested in one loan or another by now (I use the auto-invest feature). Not all of those loans have fully funded, but by the time next month's $458 hits the account, most of this month's cash will be fully invested. I don't seem to have any trouble finding loans to invest in. I can go into further detail on my loan criteria if you want.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:03 pm

Monthly update, February 2015 -

Balance - 4030.20 (+1371.24)
Deposits - 1342.07
Principle Payments - 53.53 (+11.28)
Interest Payments - 29.96 (-2.48)
Reinvested - 115.33 (+53.69)
Income Withdrawal - 22.47 (-1.86) (Right now this is still being re-invested, this would be our income if we were FIRE)

NAR - 13.40%
Total Charge Offs - 0

Non Variable Expenses Covered
Skype/Tracphone = 15

Non Variable Expenses Not Covered
Garbage - 19
Sewer - 20
Car Insurance - 30
Home Insurance - 75
Property Taxes - 175
Health Insurance - 300 (this is an estimate)

Variable Expenses (things I can directly control) - Actual (of Budgeted Amount)
Gas - 87.82 (of 100)
Food - 193.50 (of 200)
Energy - 137.54 (of 100)
Misc - 637.37 (of 500)

Total - 1056.23 (of 900)

Geo Loan - 0 (-13,319) As expected, we paid off this loan in February!! Only took us 6.9 months 8-) . This loan was 41,000 back in August.

Truck Loan - 9,707.69 (-202.63) We just made a normal payment, this loan will be gone at the end of June after about 8 paychecks. (revised from end of May after 6 paychecks)

Lending Club is pretty much coasting at this point since I haven't begun heavy investing yet. I did throw in 1300 bucks I had sitting in a savings account, mainly because I'm getting antsy to start having my money work for me. We had a couple people pay off their loans this month, thus the higher than normal principal payments. Also a couple of people are late on their loans, so slightly lower interest payments.

We had a pretty decent month for expenses overall. The Misc expense as a bit higher due to a car sensor that went bad on my car. I replaced it myself but still cost ~220. Without this we would have been about 400 in that category. Overall about 150 over budget for the month. I guess I can live with it. Food and Gas were lower than budgeted!

The loan front was excellent, we used our tax return/geo thermal credit to pay off our geothermal/new well loan! Feels great owning the home (again for the second time in less than a year). Now we will be putting those payments (~2800 a month to the truck loan). After that, its all gravy.

Also, we decided to scrap the Netflix subscription this month. The 8 bucks a month didn't really bother me, but the fact that it was such a waste of my time that I just couldn't justify paying for it. I don't know how people pay 100+ for hundreds of cable stations that never get used. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night! I had been feeling the urge to cancel for a while and finally got pushed over the edge by Barry Schwartz's TED talk - The Paradox of Choice. It really hit while watching that, that the wife and I would spend half an hour just trying to find something decent to watch. In that time we could pop up a Seinfeld, watch it and be done and on to something more productive.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:58 am

My ERE Motivations

I have been pondering the motivations I have for EREing for the last month or so and have come up with a couple that really stick out in my mind. They are not healthy motivations, so beware.

1. A desire to beat the system and to let the system know that I have beaten it. I want the economists to know that I don't buy into infinite growth paradigms. The truth is, though, the system doesn't care if you've beaten it. One less person working for money? That makes no difference to the system. I try to justify it by thinking of what my boss will think when I tell him I'm done working or what my in-laws will think when I tell them I am done working for money (they think money making is the highest calling in life). The strange thing is that thinking about their reactions gives me pleasure, knowing they will be confused, the in-laws even angry possibly. Then I realize how fleeting that feeling is. As soon as the can is opened the feeling goes away. The feeling is only there before the actual retirement. Life will move on - the boss will hire someone else, the in-laws will probably forget about it. What motivation then?

2. This is something I haven't shared with anyone but the DW but I have a pretty strong case of driving anxiety. Just thinking about the afternoon commute makes me a little nervous. Mornings are much better, less traffic, but afternoons can be hell. I end up taking side roads and taking "long-cuts" to avoid traffic. Its not so much speed that makes me nervous, its traffic driving behind me. When someone is behind you they are looking at you and can see your mistakes. So ultimately I think I have a fear of judgement. This is a very strong ERE motivation for me. I have noticed that its only afternoon commutes that are the problem. Weekends are fine for the most part, even driving during non-rush hour is good. So my thinking is that upon ERE, I can time my trips during non-rush hour and that will work. But will it? What kind of healthy motivation is rooted in anxiety and fear? The answer is none in my mind. I am just running from something. I have visions of EREing and then spending weeks or even months at a time whiling away my time on passions and hobbies that require no travel, watching the world whiz around me while I am content as a clam. Maybe I won't be? Its a valid concern.

3. A desire to opt out and just watch. Watch the world with its infinite problems and see what happens. Watch our civilization muddle along, thinking its on the right track, all the while I "know" they are not on the right track, and taking great pleasure from that. In fact, I think this motivation goes a little further than that, I feel that I am waiting for problems that will absolutely show up "someday" (economic & energy) and that I need to get to a point where I can sit quietly and wait for them. The question that crops up in my mind is "what then"? I feel a bit of "I told you so" in that and it's clearly not good to use as motivation. I also think that finding John Michael Greer really contributed to this motivation as there are strong overtones of his type of thinking in it. I honestly think this is probably the most unhealthy of my motivations because it allows one to take pleasure in suffering and economic destruction and desperation. Thinking that I can sit all that out is clearly delusional and I need to work on this one.


I really think that healthy motivations should be the basis for EREing and they can consist of fostering your own creativity, learning to live without a clock in the house, learning to downsize how much you expect from this life and even how much you want to accomplish while taking even more pleasure from those activities. Unhealthy motivations can lead you to make irrational decisions and even taking risks that you shouldn't, such as EREing too early.

It hit me while I was typing this up that another strong healthy motivation for me is reducing the amount of information that is constantly flowing in and out of my life. I don't do social media but still feel like I need to downsize, particularly with regards to financial news and energy news. I track these things on a daily basis. This is clearly something I can work on right now. Last year I spent the better part of 2 months not staying up to date on news, weather, etc... and the world did not end. It gave me great pleasure and just thinking about it calms me quite a bit.

I also have motivations rooted in plant breeding, preserving rare varieties of plant and livestock, machine shopping, and meditation/spiritual growth. This is what I hope to shift to in the coming year or two.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:29 am

Broken Circles

It hit me as I was responding to my Salmon post that all our environmental, cultural, economic problems might be fixed by simply changing our geometric orientation to ourselves and the world.

Modern culture is obsessed with lines. Linearity dominates everything from our cultural narrative of cavemen rising from the dust to explore the stars, to the accumulation of stuff and money (transferring from person/point A to person/point B), to simply our survival (stormwater runoff, industrial farming/sea food harvesting, energy extraction, etc....). We live in little boxes (made of lines). A lot of us work in cubicles (made with lines). All of these things are very linear.

Changing to a circular mentality seems to provide solutions to all these problems. Rather than working to accumulate (linear) I would be giving away (circular). Ecological circles would include planting more trees than I cut down (closing the lumber circle), providing conditions to keep wildlife flourishing (closing the food circle), building swales to collect storm runoff (closing the water circle). Composting is a perfect example of a circular construct. All of these things close the broken circles that dominate our lives. Another example I gave in the Salmon post was planting food stands and building a pond so that deer would be attracted to your land and could flourish. This would allow sustainable harvesting. A perfect circle.

Could it really be as simple as changing from a line to a circle?

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theanimal
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:14 pm

I like that and I think so. Nature is full of circles. That's what's so great about things like ERE and permaculture. There's minimal to zero waste. The loops are closed.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by spoonman » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:26 pm

Yeah, we've removed ourselves from the overall natural circle and that's what's screwing up the planet. Must of us humans think that we are above and removed from the natural circle. I think there's hope, though. More people are realizing that sustainability is the way forward.

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:53 am

Monthly update, March 2015 -

Balance - 4072.08 (+41.88)
Deposits - 0
Principle Payments - 77.82 (-30.02)
Interest Payments - 42.97 (+13.01)
Reinvested - 88.56 (-26.77)
Income Withdrawal - 32.23 (+9.76) (Right now this is still being re-invested, this would be our income if we were FIRE)

NAR - 13.78%
Total Charge Offs - 0

Monthly Nut
Skype/Tracphone = 15
Garbage - 19
Sewer - 20
Car Insurance - 29
Mediacom - 55
Property Taxes/Insurance - 150

Total - 288

Variable Expenses (things I can directly control) - Actual (of Budgeted Amount)
Gas - 103.66 (of 100)
Food - 279.32 (of 200)
Energy - 148.78 (of 100)
Misc - 1128.93 (of 500)

Total - 1660.69 (of 900)

Total Expenses - 1948.69

Truck Loan - 9,494.85 (-212.84) We just made a normal payment, this loan will be gone at the end of June after about 8 paychecks. (revised from end of May after 6 paychecks). This month I decided to contribute more to liquid savings accounts rather than paying off the loans, and boosting our checking balance a bit. It will begin dropping like a rock in April.

Expense-wise this was a horrible month, however, I was fully expecting it. We had a number of supplies to get for maintaining our orchard going forward (we have about 2 dozen fruit and nut trees) and also had some supplies to get for our chickens which are arriving just after Easter. Most of these expenses were one timers for things like a backpack sprayer, pole saw, heat lamp and other material for building the brooder. I am fully expecting this to reverse in April and May, and to be able to help offset the budget overage from March.

I blame the food budget overage on the annoying fact that a few times per year I go just over 2 weeks per paycheck and we do all our grocery shopping every other Wednesday to catch the best deal on organic food.

Lending Club is still coasting, although I now have one loan which has entered collections activity so I can expect my first charge off in April. I am very interested to see how this affects the FIRE withdrawal amount going forward.

In other news, I made one major lifestyle change in March. I decided to reduce the amount of commuting stress in my life by riding the metro bus to work instead of braving all the insane drivers around here. There is an accident at least once per DAY on our highway ( I am not joking ). We hear the sirens from our house and since we are always outside they are louder. Two days ago, I actually heard the screeching of tires and crunching of about 3 cars just 1/4 mile from our house. Anyway, I digress...

The walk to the bus stop is the only "treacherous" part of my commute. About 1/4 mile in the dark along that dangerous highway. The raccoons make me more nervous than the traffic, however, so I now carry a large walking stick and flashlight. I am finding I enjoy it a lot now! The walk home is very fun actually. The combination of my newly growing beard (going for a JMG type) and walking stick makes me look like a wizard and the drivers give me funny looks and plenty of breathing room. I find it therapeutic to slowly meander down the road while they all jockey for a better position and whiz about. Its not as dangerous as I make it seem. I strategically choose my walking route so as to minimize traffic danger.

The end result is significantly less stress in my life and a much happier mood! I am also much more productive when I get home in the evenings now because I am not fatigued from the drive and can plan my evenings while on the bus. Even the DW has noticed the difference.

Speaking of working in the evenings, I want to start sharing with the ERE community (for anyone that wants to see) some of the things we are doing on our homestead.

To start things off here is a photo of some of our backyard from 2014. I say some because we have 1.5 acres and its hard to show it all.

BEFORE (in 2011)

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AFTER (in 2014)

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Last edited by cmonkey on Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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