classical_Liberal's Journal

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classical_Liberal
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classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu May 11, 2017 3:44 pm

I’ve derived much wisdom and entertainment from the journals on this forum, I think it’s about time I started my own. I write in hopes that something I write has some value to someone, which it may not. In the least, it will provide value to me in the form “feeling” more like a contributor to this forum. My goal is to update this journal at least quarterly in three segments; financial thoughts, relevant personal history (the story of why I am the way I am :D ), and a segment for current life/philosophical thoughts.

5/10/2017
History
I’m going to use this first history segment as an introduction. I’m a 40 year old male who grew up mainly in the Minneapolis metro area, US. I’m an ENTJ and have tested this way consistently through my adult life, hence I’m a big picture type of person. This is relevant behind most if not all of my actions, behaviors and thought processes. Currently a travel RN working in the Midwest of the US. I move every 3-12 mos following the best opportunities for income vs COL.

I would like to think I have some degree of Multipotentiality, but it may well be that I simply bore easily. In my working life I have had the follow jobs for at least one year: Restaurant Manager, Retail Manager, Personal Banker, Business Banker, Mortgage Loan Sales, Loan Underwriting, Newspaper Distribution (paperboy as an adult), Assembly line worker, Chemical Dependency Tech, Case Manager, and currently I am an RN with experience in a variety of hospital specialties. I have attempted to maximize my earnings in this field by travel nursing for the past two years. I’ve had more than a passing interest in many more fields and topic of interest, however my knowledge base is limited to big picture ideas. Hence I am a good conversationalist. IOW, a specialist in a field “x” would be likely impressed on my conceptual grasp of his/her relatively inane specialty, but then quickly and clearly recognize I’m no expert, with the exception of the above listed items (the devil’s in the details?)

I was drawn to the idea of FIRE after spending nearly four years obtaining an RN bachelor’s degree (my second) and enthusiastically beginning this new career with vigor. The possibilities of different specialties seem endless; this would finally be the career which would hold my interest for the long haul. Nursing was unique in its diversification of knowledge base; organic chemistry, pharmacology, biology, sociology, psychology, interpersonal communications, opportunities for public peaking, and even bits of spirituality. On top of all it, I could actually have the chance to do some real good in this world, an important component to my new found ethics and values (Yes, there will be a future story).

Alas, only two years in, I began to feel the familiarity of boredom, disgust with the system, and administrative inefficiencies. I knew what was coming and I was at a loss to prevent it. Then, through happenstance, in the beginning of 2015 I came across the very active blog of MMM. I believe my transition from mainstream thought, to MMM, to ERE is an important tale in itself. For now, I’ll say the ERE blog and book provided me with a big picture that actually made sense. From systems theory, to web of goals, and Renaissance Man mentality; this was the real deal!

Life/PhilisophicalThoughts
As I type this, I’m nearing the end of a month long break from the working man’s world, taking a time off between travel assignments. Although it has not been a significant amount of time, I already feel invigorated, with a zest for life returning. My mind is clearer and I’m sleeping well.

I recently moved to a studio apartment with a walk score of 93 in the heart of a small Midwestern college town. I can literally walk everywhere, including an eight mile long park alongside a local river. It’s magical! I’ve never had (or created) this this type of living arrangement before. All of this, coupled with long awaited Spring in the Midwest has helped put me in the best mood I’ve been in since reading the ERE book.

I also just ended a five month long relationship with a coworker at my last assignment. Frankly, it’s a relief because we were not compatible in any way other than physical attraction. She was too young, and both of us knew it would end when I moved away. It was almost like we were counting the days, because why end it before I leave? :?

The idea of returning to work next week is disappointing, but far from as depressing an idea it seemed just a few weeks ago. Besides, it’s a new unit, at a new hospital, maybe things will be great there?…but probably not.

Financial Thoughts

Anyone who had read my posts regarding financials may be aware, my goal is not actually total financial independence. My goal is a life free to make decisions regarding time and location without money being a primary motivator; rather it will be a distant echo only present for encouragement in providing some form of value to the world. This is important to me for many reasons. Here are a few biggies:
  • Homesis, I am a firm believer that without any stress at all I fail to thrive. I need enough to drive me to perform. I recall a post from the blog (can’t find it right now) where Jacob describes a hypothetical situation in which an ERE person is presented with a serendipitous opportunity. Of, course, I forget the specifics (ENTJ), but the big pictures was that an ERE’er wanted to start exercising and was offered a job at $10 an hour to lift boxes in a warehouse. Since the hypothetical ERE’er had no need for additional money, he passed and decided he would start exercising another time. I AM that person in the flesh. I need to need that occasional $10 hr for motivation.
  • I discussed this in greater detail here and the ever-fantastic 7WB5 expounds, but at the age of 40, there is a limit to the future benefit of money now. It’s already taken me too long to reach this point, I refuse to substantially over-save, die, and let my brother blow it in a Las Vegas casino. I tend to be a believer that if western civilization survives, SS will be around for me to collect. I have contributed to the point to which it is not an insignificant amount, even at 75% of current benefits. If western civilization fails, well, most of my liquid assets are in trouble anyway and I really should have a larger self-reliance skill set in their stead. Which means I need more time, sooner
  • From a psychological standpoint, too much isolation has never been good for me. I can get slightly depressed, this causes a feedback loop in which I spend even less time socializing. Given the choice, I tend to only spend time with a select few people (which can be good), but the social variance some employment would force is a very good thing, as long as I can limit exposure if it becomes too much. Being an ENTJ I do like to solve problems with other adults and enjoy the company of other adults. For the next 20 years or so of my life, most other adults are going to “hang out” at and solve problems through their respective employment.
  • Most importantly, I would like to be done with full-time work BEFORE I burn out as a nurse. With all it’s drawbacks it is a great diversified job market and working just enough to maintain my license and stay up to date is a very large straw in my antifragility hat. If I manage to quit full-time in brown out only, I’ll keep that straw. I can easily earn scalable income as a part time or intermittent traveling nurse to cover all of my expenses at about ¼ to ½ time (depending on specifics).
I do not budget, merely track spending. I look at spending and set goals to reduce certain areas if they seem ridiculous. Over the past few years I have managed to get two of the largest (housing and transportation) within realm of an ERE budget. I’m actively living this way without any sense of deprivation. Food, entertainment/travel, household items, personal care, and clothing are currently OUT OF CONTROL. I spend more on these items than housing, transportation and healthcare (currently cheap thanks to employment, but may be a future issues depending on politics) combined, this is where I intend to focus my energy in managing the outflows in the near term.

Given the above list of employment experience, most would agree that I have a plethora of varying and scalable income choices, even without learning any new skills (which I intend to do). Thanks to scalable income opportunities and the other information provided, I am intent on using a larger Variable withdrawal rate to determine my level of “enough”. I have considered many, including CAPE and age adjusted, but frankly, none seem to provide too much of an advantage over a simple % of remaining balance. In future posts I will likely discuss my thoughts on this subject going forward as I continue my research. Big shout out to @Tyler9000’s site and Cfiresim helping in this realm.

Wow, this post has already gotten long! In future posts I will talk about my investment strategy (currently mostly passive). I will conclude by saying that I have not yet decided how much specific financial information I am going to disclose. It makes me a bit uncomfortable to go too far, OTOH I have gleamed much insight from others who have, so I will consider full disclosure. At this point I will simply throw out some basics:
  • 73.5% post-tax savings rate in 2016, up from 42.2% in 2015 (still had some student loans)
  • End of 2016,4.8 years of expenses saved, resulting in just under 20% of expenses funded at a 4% WR. Four years ago my net worth was -$48,000.
  • 27% reduction in outflows year over year 2015 to 2016 and a 74% reduction in outflows (not inflation adjusted) from my peak spending years a decade ago. As stated above, there is still much room for improvement.
I would like interaction in the Journal, so please feel free to comment. Thx for reading!

JustAGuyReally
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by JustAGuyReally » Thu May 11, 2017 6:06 pm

From another new poster: Welcome!

I think I might know where are you are living/working. My brother went to school there, and loved his time in that area.

Congrats on building up your savings so quickly. If I was more of a hands-on person, I would certainly consider nursing for a few years, as much for the options for specialization that you mention as the ability to pick-up seemingly endless overtime opportunities.
Anyone who had read my posts regarding financials may be aware, my goal is not actually total financial independence. My goal is a life free to make decisions regarding time and location without money being a primary motivator; rather it will be a distant echo only present for encouragement in providing some form of value to the world.
Amen.
From a psychological standpoint, too much isolation has never been good for me. I can get slightly depressed, this causes a feedback loop in which I spend even less time socializing.
Yeah, same here. I've spent plenty of time hanging around in developing parts over the world recently, and the difficulty I've found if you are trying to hang with locals (as opposed to other travelers, backpackers, etc.) is that you spend half the day just sort of waiting for your friends to get off work. You end up spending more time along than you'd like to admit, at least sometimes. Which is why, for me, using ERE as a tool to be able work where I want to work as opposed to just sort of completely dropping off the map is my current goal . . .

classical_Liberal
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri May 12, 2017 12:04 pm

@JustAGuyReally
Thanks for reading! Nursing is a good field, particular because of the available options working scalable, relatively high paid PT. Unfortunately, the time to brown out was quicker than I had anticipated, given the relatively time consuming & expensive training, I would probably make a different decision if I had it to do all over-again. Although I must admit, I have yet to attempt part time employment within the field. My guess is it will make it more attractive going forward.

Regarding socialization, I find it odd that so many fail to recognize (or at least don't post about) the impact of peers who spent most of their time slaving away at work. Perhaps it's related to a more introverted crowd in the early retirement communities and/or that fact that many have families/children which would occupy much free time if fully retired. I can only spend so much time working on projects alone before I require interaction. In any event, being retired in 40's would not resemble the days of college or high school in which all of my friends have large amounts of free time as well. Limited employment is the best solution I have come up with to get the best of both worlds. My experience with volunteering and "meetups" are limited. The experience I do have tends to show a a lack of challenge (ie they want help with low-level duties) on the volunteering front and a general lack of organization on the adult meet-up front. I have come to the conclusion people only truly value your time and skills if they are paying for it.

I read your journal as well and must say it's quite impressive. Most non-medical folks, particularly those lucky enough to have had relatively healthy lives, fail to understand the size of the obstacle you have overcome in pursuing ERE with a transplant. It's one thing to fail at ERE, it's another to fail and not have enough money to afford life sustaining medications and check-ups. I look forward to reading how your story progresses.

classical_Liberal
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Mon May 15, 2017 11:01 am

5/15/2017

An unscheduled update, story time.

As part of my recent time off I had taken a small road trip which, somewhat randomly, found me spending a couple days in Louisville KY, then Nashville TN. As a side note, I had never visited before and they are beautiful places in the Spring! Heading back towards the Midwest from Nashville I detoured to Land Between the Lakes, a state park I believe, in Western Kentucky, far from any large cities. I decided to stop and take a six mile hike late morning. Upon completing the hike while driving out of the park I stopped for gas and realized my wallet was missing. Without going into too many details, I’ll just say that my absent mindedness for such things is legendary. I believe I left the wallet on the top of my car when I changed into long pants for the hike.

Finding myself in rural Kentucky, without cash, credit cards, or ID and 2000 miles from home was an interesting experience. Let’s just say that the utility of a six figure ERE savings in stocks, mutual funds, electronic cash, and gold is exactly zero in said circumstance. Even social capital was worthless as I couldn’t even pick up wired funds from friends/family without an ID. My skills, however, particularly those on the social side, proved very valuable. The generosity of strangers, combined with some sincere promises, long term drafting of semi-trucks for fuel efficiency, and road-side camping got me home with a quarter tank of gas to spare.

An adventure, no doubt, well worth the $300 or so of lost cash in my wallet. This experience has changed my behavior a bit going forward. I plan to significantly increase mattress money/metal holdings on hand, along with increasing my food supply at home. It’s amazing how little paper assets are worth in even minor crisis situations.

Why tell this story today? Well, I just received a phone call from a gentleman in KY who had spent the last week tracking down my phone number. He found my wallet, with all the cash still in it! He offered to mail it to me, after purchasing a visa gift card with the cash as he was concerned about mailing cash :lol: . I essentially had to beg him to keep at least some of the cash as a reward. As stated above, this is not the first time I have lost things of relative value, which have later been found by those who are less economically advantaged (once a homeless man tracked me down to return brand new cell phone I had left at the post office). Moral of the story, if there is one; most people, despite differences, are good to each other.

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Fish
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Fish » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:33 am

Great story! I found it thought-provoking. If in a place outside the reach of the market (aka "nature"), survival depends on you, your skills, your stuff, and the environment. Even more dangerous is being in a place where the market dominates, but being unable to transact with it, because much of that environment has either been trashed or subjected to private ownership.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Mon May 15, 2017 11:01 am
I plan to significantly increase mattress money/metal holdings on hand, along with increasing my food supply at home.
Did you realize this plan? My initial thought is that it seems like an over-reaction to an exceptional situation, not unlike the characterization of depression-era people remaining excessively frugal for the rest of their lives following their experiences. Or is it a practical response to realizing the true nature of wealth? I can't quite decide.

classical_Liberal
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:12 pm

Hello @Fish, thanks for reading. I think this is a very good point.
Fish wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:33 am
Even more dangerous is being in a place where the market dominates, but being unable to transact with it, because much of that environment has either been trashed or subjected to private ownership.
Certainly one which becomes more apparent to those on the outskirts of society who try to live a low impact life.
Fish wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:33 am
Did you realize this plan? My initial thought is that it seems like an over-reaction to an exceptional situation, not unlike the characterization of depression-era people remaining excessively frugal for the rest of their lives following their experiences. Or is it a practical response to realizing the true nature of wealth? I can't quite decide.
I did in fact make some pragmatic changes. As far as reasoning, I believe it was the latter. The former implies more of an emotional response to a perceived traumatic event. I actually enjoyed the situation, it was the most fun part of my trip!

I purchased some (about 3 mos worth) compact, long term food stores which are compatible with my mobile lifestyle. I had to pay about 3X price per calorie, but If it truly does have a 20+ year shelf life, I can replace it in a couple of decades if it goes unused and literally eat my investment error. At that time inflation will probably make it's initial cost per calories look more competitive, so losses will be reduced.

I also added some mattress money in the form of metal coinage and US dollar cash. Both fit within my current preferred passive allocation, I just take a little hit in ROI having it in the most liquid form. Over time, small mattress money withdrawals have the added benefit of getting lost in day-to-day accounting of personal expenses. In the unlikely event of future legal or medical issues, if creditors come after assets, I'll have a small, off grid, buried treasure.

Augustus
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Augustus » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:05 pm

Just FYI heat degrades long term food, so if by mobile you mean car, it won't last very long. Cool dark dry and no oxygen in the bag will keep it for 20 years.

classical_Liberal
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:22 pm

Augustus wrote:
Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:05 pm
Just FYI heat degrades long term food
Thanks for the heads up! I did know that cool & dry will extend the shelf life to max and have/will avoid keeping it overly hot and humid places to the best of my ability. Currently its in the closet of my studio apartment. Do you know "worst case" for storage time? IOW, with some occasional exposure to heat due to lack of basement, how long would I likely reduce shelf life?

Augustus
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Augustus » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:18 pm

I don't that anyone has tried testing it, probably lots of variables too. In a house in a closet is probably fine, cooler is obviously better, but more expensive.

Augustus
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Augustus » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:30 pm

I was also going to ask, what do you think of 2 year nursing programs and part time nurse work? I'd like to pick up another skill, part for fun, part as diversification. What are hourly rates in large cities (la, NYC, etc)? Would I be stuck with night shifts? Are you just cleaning up poop all day long or is it rewarding? I have a hazy understanding that there are 3 levels of nursing but I don't know the details and how they relate to pay and part time work.

classical_Liberal
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:57 pm

@ Augustus and anyone else who is curious about this.

Well, technically there are three ways (or two depending on state) to obtain an RN license. A "two year" associate RN, a "three year" diploma RN (some states no longer recognize this, but established nurses are grandfathered), and a "four year" bachelors BSN, RN. The years are in quotes because it can actually take much longer to get the degrees due to a high level of prerequisite requirements. I had a Business administration bachelors and it still took me seven semesters to get my BSN. Time to degree is very situational and many nursing programs are so overwhelmed with applicants they will only take the top few, it's not uncommon for a near 4.0 nursing specific prerequisite GPA to be a requirement for admission. Frankly, I was very surprised how time consuming the schooling was for nursing. At least twice as much as for my previous degree. Lot's of hands on clinical time, lots of wasted busy work required (although the latter is true for many degrees). Easily done though if ERE or working PT, very difficult if currently working a career job.

Theoretically all three have equal standing and all pass the same boards, but in practice it's a little different. Employers always prefer BSN's. Depending on region, it could cost you a job or gain you negotiating advantages (like for a better schedule/pay). Once 2-5 years of experience is obtained in shortage regions BSN becomes unimportant, in regions without shortage it can remain a height requirement for many positions, so it's really variable.

There are also advanced practice nurses which have prescriptive authority. Advanced practice usually requires the BSN plus 2-3 years of grad school and scope of practice (level of autonomy) really varies based on state. Most states have an LPN or LVN nurse as well with reduced scope of practice. This is generally a "one year" degree plus different boards. LPN's are usually working in lower acuity situations, although some hospitals systems use them as part of teams, or for lower acuity units. I have met many LPN's with experience who are better nurses than many BSN's hands down; its just scope of practice issues regarding patient acuity.

Wages for PT are very good, only slightly scaled back from FT. My experience is all in hospital nursing which is the highest acuity patients and generally the highest pay. HCOL states can be in the $30-$50 hr range for PT, more for intermittent-full time (contract travel nurses with good experience, usually 13 week FT contracts). LCOL states (south and nonunion Midwest) PT more like mid $20s/hr. Like any other profession there are some "sweet spots" geographically with high nurse pay and LCOL. This can be actualized very easily with the previously mentioned travel nurse contracts. The Nurse Licensure Compact comes in very handy for travel nurses as it reduces regulatory issues in many states and expands yearly. Pay increase is generally in line with years of/type of experience. In union states PT at .4 or .5 FTE often get benefits as well.

Is it worth it? Well, I do make a big difference in peoples lives. Not every day, but many days. Some days I literally save a life. I have had people stop me in public places who I don't even remember and thank me/hug me. Truly priceless. If you become a nurse with the intention of helping people, you will experience the same. If you are in it to count hours and get some good PT pay, you likely will not. The skills I have learned navigating the healthcare system (what tests are needed, risks vs rewards of procedures, what symptoms are worrying, treatments, outcomes, ect) will be invaluable for me as I age and are already invaluable to my aging family. Also, the above mentioned wages and non full time options are huge bonuses for ERE types.

OTOH, Entry barriers are rather high (education plus boards). The B.S. bureaucracy factor is high if you let it get to you or suffer from careerism. Some of the work can suck. You will clean up some poop (and other bodily fluids), although that is primarily the function of support staff. Lack of resources/staff is real and you must overcome on a daily basis with what you have (sounds almost ERE?). It's hard physical work, my back and feet hurt, all-of-the-time. The hours suck, you will have to work some nights, especially without experience. It's mentally taxing; the very fast pace decision making along with stress of having lives in your hands can overwhelm some, make sure you have the right personality. Often times your patients will move from the hospital to other facilities and you will not get to see the end outcomes or they can die; this can be tough for those more emotionally inclined. There are nursing options with less stress, but more bureaucracy if that's your thing... Oh, and I have become a bit of a hypochondriac.

Probably more than you wanted! :lol:

Augustus
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Augustus » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:51 am

That is great information, thank you! I enjoy helping people, so I think my personality fits there, but I hate jumping through hoops and bureaucracy so that's definitely something to think about. I was also thinking it would be really beneficial to have the skills as I age though, and to provide motivation to keep healthy. I think I'll give it a shot in the next few years, I've got a toddler right now, when she starts school I think the time would be right, too time intensive at the moment. I tend to plan waaaay in advance, and I think doing a nursing degree shows a lot of promise.

You mention back and feet pain, I've got bad knees, runs in the family, think that's a big problem? For example, if I walk a mile without running shoes I'll have pretty severe pain and stiffness in my knees.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:44 pm

Glad you finally started a journal =)

classical_Liberal
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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:07 am

@ Augustus
I wish I could give you an activity to try, but it's very varied so hard to tell. In a given 12 hours shift (actually about 13 hrs), I spend maybe 75% on my feet. Much of that is standing or over a patient bed, but I've worn a pedometer before and its seems about 5-7 miles of walking a shift is normal for me. That will really depend on the setting though. There is intermittent lifting of people (dead weight humans are heavier than you think) and equipment. If you take the time to do lifting safely, using the right equipment and number of people it's fine for most. You should probably have the strength to lift at least 50lbs in awkward stances/situations.

Personally, I find that it's an accumulation of working many shifts that taxes my body. PT it would not be nearly as bad. Investment in very good shoes/orthotics and chiropractors seems to be the norm for hospital nurses. I had lower back pain before becoming a nurse, honestly, if anything, its better now when I'm not working. Maybe exercising the muscles at work has strengthened it?

@2B1S Thanks!

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