An American Millennial

Where are you and where are you going?
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Viktor K
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Location: USA

Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:52 am

Some scenario building indicating a great financial benefit to moving back abroad. Specifically to China. Note how additional income can be made in China in the form of private tutoring. Also, there is a discrepancy in hours worked. In the US scenario, I would be working at least 40 hours. In the China scenario, I would only be working 20 hours/week at the most.

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The greatest change in savings between the US and China scenario is due to rent (paid for by company in China), health costs (subsidized in China, and insurance provided by employer), taxes (tax credit for US citizens spending more than 330 days abroad equals no taxes when earning <$90,000), and the cost of living (everything is cheaper in China).

Pros of moving to China
  • Higher savings rate
  • Less hours worked
  • Low stress employment
  • Local support staff
  • Utilize college major, foreign language skills, and relevant experience
  • Laid back culture
  • Potential to continue hobbies such as backpacking and/or rockclimbing
Cons of moving to China
  • New diet
  • Distance from family
  • Potential for 30-day quarantine when bringing pet cat to China
  • Generally unsanitary and unsafe, poor air quality
  • Currency risk
  • Political risk
Financial decisions:
Life insurance: I want to go ahead and cash out on this, saving $75/month and generating an $800 windfall for savings.

Health insurance: I can save >$100/month by switching to Medicaid. However, I'm ineligible in my state due to being eligible for insurance through work. I would need to step down and thus not be guaranteed >32 hours per week in order to switch insurances.

Student loans: Still undecided but leaning towards paying them off. I'm beginning to accept that either scenario pushes back my ERE. If I pay them off now, I'm pushing back my ERE date. If I pay them off later, I'll need additional ERE funds to cover potential payments during the 20 years forgiveness period, as well as additional funds to cover the taxes when they're forgiven.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:05 pm

Entry 8, October 22, 2016: Some professional going ons

Professional life
I have 3 jobs right now. A lot is happening at all of them. To start with, the climbing gym lost a head coach. The director is covering the admin stuff while writing up a new job description for the position. I've taken over the former guy's hours. It pays pretty close to my grocery store, but it is a lot more fun and uses more of my strengths. So, I updated my availability at the grocery store, half-expecting them to make me drop down to a non-senior role, which they did. With any luck, my relationships with my department manager will stay well enough that I will still receive a similar amount of hours. The hours at the grocery store fluctuate, dropping me down to as low as 24 hours 1 week this month. At least the hours at the gym will be stable.

As for my third job, the online tutoring is picking up. I started with about 20 classes in week 1 because I was able to get in as a beta tester for the new platform they were rolling out. Since then, hours have reportedly dropped across the board, but I seem to fill up still if I set my availability out far enough. I think the person who manages the classes likes me, and that goes a long way in China. I've taught nearly 50 classes this month and counting. Of course, there's always the chance the payment doesn't come through, or is delayed. I hope otherwise.

Lastly, I updated my resume and now I have a couple interviews scheduled next week. They're both part-time jobs tutoring ESL. One pays less, but has a set schedule and a few extra hours. The other pays more, has a scheduled time that changes every 7 weeks, and offers a few less hours. I would call it a stretch to say I have any more than 1 year of combined experience in youth coaching, ESL tutoring, and being an ESL teacher, so I'm not sure how competitive my application will end up being. Both companies reached out to me first, though, so I should have at least a shot. Landing either would net some 50% bonus income each month, excluding the online tutoring.

Goals
I'm doing well on most of my personal and professional goals. Financially, I will either barely make my goals or barely miss them. Losing a significant number of hours this month at the grocery store definitely made this more difficult. All the more reason to keep looking elsewhere. If the interviews go poorly, all is well, as I am widening my job search to include various industries, cities, and even countries. On the other hand, if I end up with any sort of job offer, it will be good experience and a nice bump in pay, but I still want to earn and do more.

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:26 am

Glad to see you could take trade some grocery store work for climbing gym work, that sounds way better - like something you might do while retired!!!

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:37 am

@ Scott 2
I'm feeling pretty good about the decision so far. There's going to be a little adjustment period as I try to optimize my personal life but other than that, dropping hours at the grocery store feels like I'm on the right track.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:31 am

Entry 9, October 31, 2016: A turbulent month

Summary: Made less money that usual
October was just a crazy weird month for me. There weren't a lot of positives to build off, and by the end of this month, I was left each night feeling drained and as if my life had little direction. As someone who likes to plan everything out, not knowing exactly where I'm going is really stressful. The GF and I can't seem to agree on what future would be best for us, and the job search is revealing old interests and goals that don't leave much room for two people's fulfillment. Moreover, living under the mother's roof continues to add additional stresses, especially when our mother-son relationship is rough at times. I think making a point of getting outside (maybe even sleeping?) will go a long way towards keeping my sanity in November. I'm also considering the benefit of putting myself out there socially by joining some Meetup groups in the area.

Goals for October
Personal
  • Go hiking Completed
  • Go on a bike ride Completed
  • Go to the dentist Missed
  • Buy backpacking gear Completed
Financial
  • Spend less than $150 on grocery share Completed
  • Save >50% of income Missed
Professional
  • Modify resume for new job search Completed
  • Send out resume Completed
I managed to nail all my personal goals except for the dentist. I think I should focus more on flossing and brushing more routinely since I seem to keep missing this dentist goal. I went on a nice hike, went on a bike ride with the GF, and got most of my major backpacking items together.

Financially, it was tough to reach my goals becuase my income took a significant hit. The hours at the grocery store just weren't there. Still, I hit my grocery spending goal, even though actual "food/drink" spending was higher than goal. And, to be fair, I spent more than usual on discretionary items this month, while earning less. If I spent nothing on discretionary, I still may have hit the 50% savings goal.

Professionally is where I made the greatest progress this month. I'm finishing paperwork for a substitute tutoring gig that pays $50/day for a 2-2.5 ESL class. That company wants me to start as a substitute, then host my own classes starting next year. It pays $23/hour with a maximum of 19.5 hours/week. Then, tomorrow I have a demo class for another ESL company which pays $17/hour and will either hire me as a substitute or as a permanent part-time ESL teacher at 22 hours/week starting mid-November.

Other thoughts about the month
  • I need to find better ways to spend my time so that I won't be so stressed trying to figure out where my life is going.
  • My own stress about my future makes it hard on the GF. This will need to stop.
  • I'm considering kicking the marijuana habit and joining a group fitness gym. The gym will cost $20/month. The GF is considering freezing her climbing gym membership and doing the same thing. We both consider group fitness a very fun way to stay motivated and build cardio/strength in ways that we fail to on our own at the climbing gym.
  • I'm enjoying head coaching at the climbing gym way more than I was working as an assistant coach. My supervisors seem to appreciate me stepping up and my performance so far as well.
  • Working fluctuating hours may be more stressful than working a consistent schedule. I find it difficult to schedule my personal life around a work schedule that's constantly changing week to week. Couple that with the GF's schedule also changing week to week, and you get many nights where the highlight of the day was work and we're left sitting in bed trying to find out when we'll have time to do anything together other than watch Netflix.
  • The online tutoring should bring in some $450 in early November. After that, I expect about $400/month at the rate I'm currently being scheduled.
  • Interviewing for two jobs at the same time may create some conflict moving forward. One job I've already accepted a substitute position. The other I'm hoping will offer a permanent part-time role, which would then limit the hours I have available to substitute for the first. The only kicker here is that the substitute one can change to a 19.5 hour/week job that pays $23/hour instead of $17. Not sure how this will play out.
Charts

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Look at that drop in spending unmatched by an uptick in financial spending (savings). This is due to my hours getting cut from 40 on average to 32 on average and even as low as 24 at the grocery store. My manager just doesn't seem to get that people live their lives largely dependent on the hours they get, cutting people from one week to the next, with little warning or explanation (or empathy, if you decide to voice your concern). Luckily, I picked up additional hours doing online tutoring, but since it only pays once a month, it won't make a difference here on this chart.

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Look at that discretionary spending! We spent some money shopping for my little sister's birthday, as well I spent money on a belt after my 4-5 year old belt finally tore whilst I was working. Maybe it could have been repaired, I don't really know. I also made some significant purchases on backpacking gear this month. Lastly, I took out a lot of cash this month, spending a chunk of it at the dispensary as well as on some paraphernalia that already broke. I'm looking to November to see some cuts to my discretionary spending, namely by joining a group fitness gym, avoiding the dispensary, and not making any more major purchases.

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The net worth continues to inch slowly up even as the student loans grow. After mapping out my total spent on student loans again and considering several different scenarios, I again don't see much benefit to paying it off now. I may consider uploading a different graph than this one to track my ERE progress. If I continue to use NW as my ERE progress while intending to wait for my student loan forgiveness, then at $0 net worth, I will actually already be 1/3 to 1/4 to my ERE goal.

Goals for November
Personal
  • Go backpacking
  • Join group fitness gym
  • Brush/floss each night
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Avoid dispensary
Financial
  • Spend less than $150 on grocery share
  • Save >50% of income
Professional
  • Continue sending out resume
  • Apply for jobs earning > $20/hour
I should be able to hit each of these goals this month. Where I failed last month in saving >50% of my income, I should manage easily this month since I'll be getting a nice paycheck from the online tutoring, I'll nearly double my hours at the climbing gym, and I should still manage 16-24 hours/week at the grocery store. My department manager expressed he would rather work with my schedule than have me leave, while I feel like my store manager is pulling his hair out trying to figure out why I've suddenly turned from the "store manager track" to the "everything comes before the grocery store track." If I average 5 hours/week online tutoring, 10 hours/week at the climbing gym, and 24 hours/week at the grocery store, then my income will be more in line with the previous months. Also, I already have a $150, 3-day substitute gig on the calendar for one of the ESL jobs. That will help with the income in November as well, unless the payday for that ends up falling in December.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:12 pm

Entry 10, November 3, 2016: Professional developments

I officially have 5 part-time jobs. The private ESL company offered me a substitute role for both of their 2 locations. They pay $17/hour for each 5 hour class. It isn't what I wanted - I wanted a permanent position. I am going in tomorrow to sign paperwork. I may bring up the issue in some way or another and see what they say. I also will be asking how many classes on average I'll need to fill in for per week. I think they had a permanent position open, I want to ask what happened to it.

I have another job with the local college teaching ESL - also a part-time position. They pay $50 per 2.5-3 hour class. They've already offered me 9 classes to fill in over the next 2 weeks and I've accepted 7 of those that I could fit on my schedule. That's a decent number, but, again, having my own permanent class would be preferred. I've reached out to another specialist in their office who wanted to see my resume. She handles classes outside of ESL, but I haven't heard back from her yet.

My hours are also picking up on the online tutoring, which pays $10 per 25 minute class. My schedule isn't wide open for them, but I've been scheduled about 20 classes this week, although a few were cancelled.

The problem with these 3 jobs, while they pay better, is that I have no idea how many hours I can actually rely on. This setup also incurs an opportunity cost, where I have to decide how many and what hours to offer to my old part-time gigs at the climbing gym and the grocery store. For example, if I offer a Monday to those 2 jobs, then I lose the ability to earn more per hour if a substitute gig comes through.

Over the next couple weeks, I will monitor how many hours I average. Since balancing 5 part-time jobs is less than ideal, I'm considering dropping 1 or 2 of the other jobs. The climbing gym hours interfere with the substitute hours that fall in the evening. That's a problem because the gym only offers me $20-$25 per shift. The grocery store offers up some $70 per shift, but that takes up 8 hours, again leaving no time for the higher paying jobs.

One solution I'm considering at this time is dropping the climbing gym, and offering my weekends only to the grocery store. This way I can make some $140 over the weekend, while leaving the weekdays open for the online tutoring (which because of the timezone difference doesn't really interfere with any other job) and for the substitute opportunities.

I've heard being a substitute is a lousy gig since you're on call, have unreliable hours, have to travel all over for all sorts of different class locations, teach all sort of different classes (age, proficiency, subject, etc.), are frequently treated with less respect than the regular teacher (although I suspect this is less of an issue for ESL than public schools) and don't get any benefits of a permanent employee. Moreover, I've heard it is easy to get stuck being a substitute since schools always need a pool of substitutes, and are not eager to decrease the pool size.

Thus, I'm not sure what to think about picking up these two other jobs. I earn more per hour, but less per day, unless I can get multiple classes per day. And since my schedule has to be flexible, I lose the ability to schedule extra hours at the gym and/or grocery store otherwise I risk being unavailable for classes that come my way. The goal was to net 40 hours/week and average $20/hour between the two tutoring gigs. I'm not sure how realistic this will be now.

If I try to estimate my income from the 3 ESL jobs it would look something like this:

College ESL - 4.5 classes/week * $50/class * 4 weeks/mo = $900 (average based on first 2 weeks only)
Private ESL - 1 class/week * $17/hour * 5 hours/class * 4 weeks/mo = $340 (I don't know how many classes to expect)
Online ESL - 15 classes/week * $10/class * 4 weeks/mo = $600 (class frequency varies each week so far, some could be more, some much less)
Total = $1840/month or the same as I'm earning right already but for 26 hours/week instead of 40-50 hours/week.

See? I pray each week that I get classes, and when I do I may have to travel all over the city (which has terrible public transportation and is not all reachable by bike), and I take all of this uncertainty to basically earn the same income. Moreover, the college classes will likely drop during holidays and vacations. I'm not sure if its the same case for the private ESL company.

I'm also not super stoked to give up seeing my kids at the climbing gym. Sure, they can be a pain sometimes, but they look up to me, respect me, and I can honestly say they look forward to our time together - as do I.

Am I being too pessimistic? Sure, maybe I am. On the flip side, being a substitute and setting my own hours for the online tutoring means that I could open up my schedule wide open when I want to get away for a few days. Trip to Yosemite? Anytime. Head back home to Texas to see my Pops? Name the date. I'm also getting great experience that could easily lead to permanent classes. Maybe I can even pick up a charter school teaching gig come next Fall or even next semester, who knows. I'm not breaking my back at the grocery store, nor am I wasting time there getting near valueless experience. Lastly, I'm using more of my soft skills and even some of my college education (I have greater insight than others as to what its like learning a new language, having studied Spanish for some 6 years before college and then intensive college coursework in Chinese for 4 years, plus going abroad and using Chinese in the Middle Kingdom).

Overall feelings? "Meh," apathetic, so-so, unsure, and a little disappointment. This is one of those areas where I struggle. As mentioned in my last entry, I don't do well with uncertainty. Once I admit it and recognize the uncertainty is stressing me, I can actually flip my psyche 180 and embrace the hell out of the uncertainty. That's something I may have to do here... except there's the issue that balancing 5 part-time jobs may not be feasible. I have to make some sort of decision in the next couple weeks. Whether that's giving the gym and the grocery store specific hours/days I can work and telling them leave me off the schedule for the rest, or straight up dropping one or both of the gigs. I don't really want to string either of my old employers along - I respect them too much. At the same time, I'm nervous to cut them off completely as I'm working with such uncertain hours and income!

#MillenialLife? I'll need a couple more weeks to feel out the new jobs. I'll go with the flow until then. We'll revisit this in a couple weeks and determine what is best for me. But really, I've been stressing too much over all of this employment business as of late. Time to just ride the wave for a bit 8-).

As always, your insight is greatly appreciated. Many of you are older and wiser and have maybe even been through situations like this. Otherwise, expect to hear from me later this month and good luck with your own ERE journeys!

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:39 pm

I thought you really liked the climbing gym job? That's the type of work you'll be trying to get back into the rest your life. I wouldn't let it go easily.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:10 pm

Scott 2 wrote:I thought you really liked the climbing gym job? That's the type of work you'll be trying to get back into the rest your life. I wouldn't let it go easily.
I do. I was thinking I may try to give them just the one or two afternoons each week so that I can keep the job. One thing that has changed is that, while I do like working with the kids, my favorite thing to do was set the routes. Unfortunately, at this time, they aren't scheduling me for it, and that makes it less enjoyable.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:54 pm

The situation I'm in right now has come to this: the grocery store is my main source of income, with the various teaching and coaching positions as supplementary income. Thus, it would still be disadvantageous for me to quit the grocery store at this time since I would lose money. While the other positions could just barely keep me at a similar level of income, it is better to make more than a grocery store wage rather than a grocery store wage on less hours. I'm in the wealth accumulation stage right now, not income preservation.

Following a tip from a friend at the climbing gym, I've started researching charter schools in the area. With this city's extremely high turnover and the fact that people just don't stay here, there is a great shortage of teachers. Dozens of charter schools nearby are hiring for multiple positions, and charter schools don't require a teaching degree (whereas public schools do). Browsing some of the job applications, it appears that a few require licensure from the state while others don't mention anything. The state website isn't loading currently, so I can't tell what it takes to get the licensure, but I'm strongly considering this as an opportunity in the next 6 months to a year. The charter schools pay close to the same as the public schools, and the public school average salary here in Nevada is $54,000. Not bad for my ERE goals, having holidays and vacation periods off, and doing something I'm good at.

In fact, when I plug this opportunity in to my personal "Potential Wealth Calculator," I reach ERE a year earlier with significantly greater assets, even at my last 6 months average spending levels.

_JT
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by _JT » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:00 pm

You're correct in that you're in the wealth accumulation phase, which is precisely why you need better employment than a grocery store. And better than sporadic part-time internet work.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:36 pm

Entry 9, December 3, 2016: Steady as she goes

Summary: ERE on coast-mode
This month was pretty good personally. I nailed several of the goals that were important to me, and managed to get a new pair of glasses which made everything better. I've picked up a new hobby, which brings friends and family together for as many nights a week that we can all fit it in our schedules. I worked less than previous months but earned more. I increased my average wage from $10, to $14.15. I'm going to see nearly half my November income in paychecks hitting the account in December, so it won't show in the graphs. The month ended with an ESL class offer for the Spring semester, which I am going to accept next week. This means I will also be putting my two weeks in at the grocery store. To be honest, I hardly looked/thought about ERE over the last couple weeks, but my discretionary spending still managed to stay rock bottom. Sure, double rent payments makes my graph look off, but I know I'm doing fine. And I feel really good personally right now, which is something I haven't said in a while. This is one of the first times of late that I've enjoyed the present more than worried about the future.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:18 am

Entry 10, December 31, 2016: a 5 paragraph essay

Summary: Last post of 2016 (graphs coming 2017)
I usually just let my hands fall on the keyboard when I post here, but I actually did go to college and mastered the craft of essay writing. This post (and hopefully those here on out) is going to be "hella" better. The purpose of this post is to review December from the ERE perspective. If December was better than November, than ERE will be closer still. So, how was December? December was characterized by higher spending, less employment, and a lot of plans for early 2017.

I spent more than usual in December. This increase was led by about $100 more in discretionary spending. "This makes sense because it was Christmas time," is a nice excuse. But the fact is that some spending like marijuana, alcohol, and lazy food purchases remain a great opportunity for saving. This means that really, no progress has been made in regards to spending less. I also forgot to pick up a few paychecks this month. This isn't too concerning, as they'll be either mailed out or picked up soon. However, this lowers income, thus lowers saving, which thus increases discretionary spending as a % of income. It also means that I may get lazy in January because I will be cashing more checks, so I may find it easier than normal to hit savings goals. Therefore, December, especially graphically, will appear as a blemish on my ERE journey with a lower savings rate than normal, and really didn't include any progress as far as savings is concerned.

In addition, December was characterized by low employment. I only averaged 22 hours/week in December, with 3/4 of those hours coming in the first half of the month. This was due to the holidays and an upcoming job change. I figured it was a good time for a vacation, and the less hours really paid off in the form of rest and renewed focus, but means less income and savings. Still, my average wage for the month increased to a little more than $15. This marks a continued trend upwards from last month. To be honest, I've actually made this wage before shortly after college but it was soul-killing employment. Now, all of my hours are actually spent doing things that are either a) enjoyable or b) easy and fulfilling for me, and it also means that I'm earning more for my efforts. Thus, low employment in December is actually an improvement in regards to energy and fulfillment, but definitely hurt income/savings.

Lastly, lots of plans were made in December that should bring future ERE successes. I made goals for 2017 to be healthier and save money. These have been written into a monthly action plan which I will use to maintain focus. New years resolutions have always been somewhat of a joke to me but here I am setting some for the first time. This should mean that 2017 will bring me closer to my ERE goals than it would without such a focus. Also, breaking news: the girlfriend returned from her Hawaii vacation to visit family (I declined the invitation to go with her this year) and now has a great and sudden eagerness to take off for China come early Spring 2017. This was, of course, a surprise, and means that savings and hourly wages are about to increase dramatically for the both of us. This also means that there will be a lot of drama and potential stress around leaving (a lot to do, leaving behind friends/family again). Outside of the actual "dull numbers" ;), December may actually just be a springboard for the future.

Overall, it is easy to, at first glance, say that December was an unsuccessful month on my ERE journey. And, in many ways, it was. However, while the actual record will show otherwise, the changes we are making and deciding on this month should set us on a great ERE trajectory for 2017. If I accept the changes I've made so far as sufficient, there's potential to coast through 2017, grabbing the low hanging ERE victories along the way. While this sounds nice, I will still need to seek any and all thus far unforeseen opportunities in 2017 to cut spending and increase savings + investment income if I ever hope to reach my goal ERE date. In this way, December can be bookmarked as the start of something great, with the real highlights coming from the opportunities I'm able to create in 2017.
Last edited by Viktor K on Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:15 pm

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:27 pm

China is offering us up to $40,000/year right now with housing, health insurance, and Chinese lessons included. In addition, we'll get airfare reimbursement and contract completion bonuses. Not a bad deal as far as ERE is concerned. The more hours we commit to, the more money we get. Public schools which have summer and winter vacations will pay a little more than half the above amount for about half the hours or less. Private schools will pay up to this amount, but have only like 20 days vacation per year plus holidays off and nearly 40 hours/week. And these offers aren't really competitive. We have several dozen schools courting us at this point.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:24 am

Entry 11, February 4, 2016: a 5 paragraph essay

Summary: The world is war

ERE is nothing but a dream for most. Seriously, how quickly can you get ERE? Without the right education, you're looking at many years of sacrifice, followed by many more (but at least you won't have to go to work?). Commitment and actual earning potential make ERE less likely for those without the right education, or at least delay attainment.

Education seriously affects commitment. For example, I didn't even bother to deposit money in my savings this month. On-time deposits only really help my graphs look better. What happens on my graphs makes little impact on my ERE date due to my low earnings. Another example: I stopped smoking weed but spent a lot on alcohol. While I'm thinking about quitting alcohol as well, this too will make little impact. The biggest impact would be time-traveling back to 18 and choosing a different major. If I quit drinking now, I could reach ERE maybe 6-12 months sooner, but that ERE would be an ERE without alcohol/weed. Not that that's such a bad thing, but the point is, without the high earnings, my ERE is going to be more impoverished than many others, so I'm not really that eager to give up more now, just to have less earlier.

I've got a lot of "The world made me this way" mentality. I can't earn much because I don't have the experience/education. Let's face it, if I had a different major, my earning potential would be double/triple, meaning ERE would take half to a third the amount of time. With my degree, ERE even in 6 years seems unattainable, even while I still maintain ridiculous levels of personal spending. Does Jacob even spend this little? My ERE will be slower and worth less than others. You see journals of people with $100k annual income talking about how they can't reach ERE any sooner than my 6 year goal. Man, that must be rough. If I had their income I would be ERE in 2 years, living like a king in China. These factors generate some degree of disillusionment with ERE.

Does education affect ability/willingness to ERE? Absolutely. With the wrong education not only is your income lower, but your actual desire for ERE can also be affected since you're really working towards a pretty crummy retirement, early as it may be. This means that people like me aren't really represented on this site as much because they probably look at this ERE concept and think... Wow, look at all these engineers and their $80k+ incomes. Must be nice! Then they never come back because they would rather go out and blow a paycheck having fun for once, rather than suffer for the next 6-10 years just so they don't have to 9-5 it anymore.

PS: My bank account isn't showing the totals for my spending reports so I'll upload some graphs if it gets fixed.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:59 am

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Stahlmann
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Stahlmann » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:05 am

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 9:06 am

Yep, it's not even close to fair. The system is broken.

I can tell you, my greatest improvement in quality of life came with 1-2 years of living expenses saved. That's it. Enough that I didn't owe anyone anything, and I had the freedom to tell any employer to piss off if I wanted.

Jason
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Jason » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:34 am

What ERE and MMM teach you is that you should worry about yourself, so don't waste your time about others. They are not thinking about you.

I'm not a move to another country type of guy. Also, I have too much money and too many vices at this point so I'll end up dead within the first week.

Now I understand you are in Vegas where from watching The Big Short, strippers were buying houses with their lap dance money, but this was my thought on you.

You are motivated, young, healthy, frugal and not an idiot. You also seem to be nice and fair person. What you seem to lack is job opportunity which is common. IMHO - You seem to fit the profile of a house guy i.e. a guy who builds his wealth through rental income.

Maybe focus on that goal, when you despair or doubt.

Regret can become consuming. Also, you will regret all this time you are currently wasting on regret when you look back upon this time in your life.

trailblazer
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by trailblazer » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:47 am

I graduated with a degree in history and worked in a grocery store all through college, so I can relate to your dilemma.

I'm approaching my late 30's, and ERE is finally in sight, but only after many years of additional education and student loan debt, and slogging away in the corporate world. More than once I've been envious of the 21 year old right out of college who did everything just right, usually through the guidance of parents. One guy I work with is 28 and well past 100K, with tons of momentum for future earning and opportunities.

As others have noted, you are very under employed. Frugal living isn't your issue . . . buy the alcohol.

Just from skimming your journal, you have communication/writing skills (don't underestimate how key that is) plus analytic and cross-cultural ability. Plus you are an ENTJ! You will add value to an employer.

I think you should experiment with some sort of corporate job, even if it's an entry level assistant type job. Your skills will quickly be put to use. You might need to relocate, and it will be a slog even in the best of settings. But consider putting yourself into that environment and see what happens.

Also I'm intrigued by your comment about "living like a king" in China. Would be great to have more detail on what that might look like as some of us might want to copy.

Jason
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Jason » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:53 am

I just assumed that involved opium and concubines.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by jacob » Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:09 pm

Viktor K wrote:With my degree, ERE even in 6 years seems unattainable, even while I still maintain ridiculous levels of personal spending. Does Jacob even spend this little?
Well, yes, I do! If I eyeball your graphs currently, you spend about $750/month. I spend less than $500/month. I've been in that range for many (15+) years ($5-7k/year) in various situations (single, married) (room, apartment, house, RV) (dog, fish, none of the above) in various countries (Denmark, Switzerland, US). It's all possible.

When I was in grad school (Age 24-28), I made about $25000/year, like you. I had just about 4 different recurring expenses. I spent <$50/year on everything else.
  • Rent at 355CHF (about $275) for an 8x18ft room (thereabouts) sharing kitchen and facilities with 18 other students ten minutes away from the university.
  • Health insurance (about $90)
  • Food (about $120) which was very simple. (And people still tease me about that one.) (If this looks high, it's because food in Switzerland is $$$$)
  • Train tickets to see GF (about $60/month on average) [that was my single discretionary expense]
Currency conversion by memory. Might be off by 10%, but you get the range ...

That's it. When I bought clothes, it was thrift stores. No TV. No phone. Books from library. And so on. Those were the early years. Those weren't easy years either, but after 4 years, I had almost $100k. In the beginning, due to the lack of frugal skills, the lack of assets, and the lack of systems-thinking, the most effective thing is simply to do without. This is much harder if you've been used to spending more and have to cut back than if you never had any money-sucking habits in the first place. In my case, I lived at this level even when I was an undergrad, so my main challenge was to simply direct money I had previously wasted on electronics towards savings.---That was tough [not doing] in the beginning, but I got over it experiencing exactly the same journey as the people who do those "buy nothing year" books. However, at that point I didn't have and never had any car, bus ticket (when I could just walk or bike), alcohol, pet, restaurant, etc. habits. What you never had, you never miss.

I've maintained the same spending level subsequently but I've become a lot better at getting mileage out of my spending by using more systems-theory (web of goals) and learning various ways to "get something from nothing". Now we have car, alcohol (DIY), pet, and the skill to cook "better"(*) than restaurants at home.

(*) Exactly to personal taste.

It's obviously much easier for anyone making $75k/year to live on $25k/year than it is for someone making $24k to live on $8k ... but I became FI on what I think qualifies as hard-mode. It doesn't feel hard at all today but that's because of all the skills and experience I've built up over the past 15 years. One thing that did make it easier was that I had a single source of income (however, I worked many more hours) and I didn't have any debt, so I didn't start behind the starting-line so to speak. My first job out of grad school at age 28 paid $40k/year.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Jason » Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:58 pm

Gee whiz. 5-7K a year. Johnny Depp just drank that at lunch.

But that is power - like FU "Not Spending" Money.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by George the original one » Sun Feb 05, 2017 2:21 pm

Honestly, you can make more money than you currently do without bothering with more education. Sales is the obvious career, but you could also work on an oil rig. Do a little research and get out there!

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Fish » Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:48 am

Maybe semi-retirement would be a meaningful intermediate goal on your way to conventional FIRE? Though your NW is negative, your expenses are low and you have several proven streams of income. Speaking as a golden-handcuffed specialist whose choices are 40 hours or zero, I envy the flexibility and variety you have wrt work. You don't have any problems with appreciating this aspect of your lifestyle, but if you must trade this freedom and tie yourself down to a career, make sure you're getting something really good in exchange.

While income is still your biggest area for improvement, housing is another area with high return on effort. I'd recommend looking into housesitting (@Did, @theanimal) or being a live-in property manager (@Ego). You don't have anything holding you down, so go wherever the heart desires. With housing and utilities taken care of, your main expenses would be food and the minimum payment on your student loans. Your fixed costs should be covered by ~10 hours/week of work. Scale your income up/down depending on how much free time you desire. Work a little extra whenever you want something that's not in the baseline plan, like plane tickets, etc. I might be missing something but you may be closer to an ERE lifestyle than you think.

I don't mean to advocate financial recklessness. It would still be prudent to set aside some savings as an emergency fund. Accumulate the work credits needed to qualify for SS. Have some sort of backup plan in case of serious illness or disability. See: viewtopic.php?p=120055#p120055 What I meant is that in a flow sense, you don't really need to work a lot since your needs are low. Take advantage of this when figuring out a lifestyle that works for you. But due to the negative NW, you are vulnerable and that needs to be accounted for in the plan.

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