Hello / Hallo from Germany

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disk_poet
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Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

I guess it's time to step into the spotlight :shock:

I've been reading the blog for a while and have been lurking in the forum for a month or so. Started reading some journals and finally decided to introduce myself. I really enjoyed the tone of discussions in this forum and the variety of viewpoints.

I am still not sure how specific I will be with personal details but since so many people are sharing numbers, feelings etc. I might join in later. Thanks for everyone for doing this it has been very enlightening and I'd like to pay it forward but for now I am just dipping my toes in the water ;)

I'm a mid/late 30s male and have been self-employed for about 10 years now. I was idealistic in my youth but feel like I kind of lost my way somewhere/sometime and now trying to turn things into a better, more sustainable, direction.

A few years back I had an o-shit-moment when I realized I didn't have a financial plan for the future so I made a spreadsheet and calculated my estimated lifespan (taking into account a chronic disease I have - That should tell you something about my personality ;) ). At that point I still planned to retire at a "normal" age of 60-65. A friend of mine introduced me to FIRE and I did the journey through reddit, leanFIRE and the ERE blog. I think one thing irked me about "regular" FIRE was the focus on money. I do realize money is a big part but what spoke to me about ERE is the addition of sustainability, reducing waste/expenses, systems thinking and so on. I guess there is no "true" way (and I think there shouldn't be) but at least some people here on the forum seem to follow a path like that. I'd very much like to go in that direction since I feel my current lifestyle is too focused on work/consumerism and not really sustainable for the following generations. I also feel burned out a lot.

I am still very much at the start. My savings rate is at about 27% and my goal for this year is to get it to 40%. My biggest cost factors are health care (mainly because of chronic disease) and housing. I can't do a lot about health care but I am exploring options in cutting down on housing. Possible long term options are: Sizing down, tinhyhouses, van/trailer-life. I plan to explore these options while in parallel increasing my savings rate and going up the Wheaton scale.

I love being outdoors and being in nature. It's when I am most relaxed/happy. I don't think my current financial situation will allow me to fully retire anytime soon but I can see myself reducing my working hours significantly and moving out of the city. I've already reduced my working days from 5 a week to 4 days and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I'd like to continue that trend.

Phew that was a lot. Thanks for reading this far :)

horsewoman
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by horsewoman »

Hallo! Welcome to the forums, fellow German here :)
A four day work week is already a good start, I'd say!

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Alphaville
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by Alphaville »

hallo bundesli... i mean hallo! :mrgreen:

(forgive me, i’ve learned a few words in your language watching fußball, and pavlov was right)

anyway—nice first post!

disk_poet
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

@horsewoman: Thanks :) I must admit i've already read a bit of your journal and am quite impressed with what you've accomplished. I've learned a lot already. I am really looking forward to immersing myself in a lot of the ERE thought processes and see how they change my outlook on things.

@Alphaville: Haha, that's great and thanks. I am an atypical german in that regard because I am not really into soccer :o. So I am waiting to get my citizenship revoked soon.

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Alphaville
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by Alphaville »

disk_poet wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:00 pm
@Alphaville: Haha, that's great and thanks. I am an atypical german in that regard because I am not really into soccer :o. So I am waiting to get my citizenship revoked soon.
haha i understand, and i didn’t expect you to be like that—some of my german friends don’t care for it either, so either it’s not so uncommon to ignore fußball or i tend to befriend eccentrics. it’s just that i’ve been linguistically imprinted by the phrase “hallo bundesliga” so that in my mind “hallo” = “bundesliga”

like this:

Image

:lol:

i’m curious about something if you don’t my my asking. you mention being self-employed and the cost of healthcare.

here in the usa being self-employed can make healthcare *very expensive.* large employers have an advantage when purchasing insurance.

does it make a difference for your healthcare situation whether you’re employed by a large company or not? i’m not really interested in private details, rather i’m curious about german healthcare policy in general.

eta: also about “ERE healthcare” because here it could amount to a significant gamble

wolf
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by wolf »

Welcome disk_poet! I wish you a good start on your ERE journey.

horsewoman
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by horsewoman »

@alphaville I can't pinpoint exactly why but my feeling is that there is not a large intersection with German soccer fanatics / ERE-minded people. The way the Bundesliga is set up it is more on the lines of "Panem et circenses", which is mostly repellent to the more alternative leaning crowd.

disk_poet
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

@wolf: Thanks :) I am sure it will be interesting

@Alphaville:

That is actually a great question. No worries asking personal questions. I'll answer them if comfortable and just say so if I don't feel ready yet. Just go for it. You hit the nail on the head. In Germany there are basically two health care systems. There is the government run one (where the rates are set by the state) and a private one. The private companies are more flexible in setting their rates based on age, health status, etc. whereas the government run companies have to be more egalitarian and can't discriminate based on the person. There are some caveats that I am brushing over with switching between the two but that is the gist of it. One common caveat is that you can't switch back to the state run one after a certain age so people don't exploit the system by saving while they're young and then taking the (at that point) cheaper rates of the public health insurance. It has led to quite some hardship.

Anyway, needless to say that I am in the public system because of my chronic illness. There it works as following: The rate is roughly 18% (it's a bit less) of your income before taxes. There is a lower limit of roughly 150 EUR that you have to pay regardless of income and if you earn more than 4.700 EUR per month it maxes out. So the maximum monthly payment is 4700*18% = roughly 840 EUR per month or 10K a year.

If you are employed by a company the company will basically pay half of that so you in effect pay 50% less. In addition the employer also pays half of the other mandatory insurances that come with employment like pension and unemployment insurance. If you are self employed the pension and unemployment insurance are not mandatory. Esp. the pension is leading to some discussions in Germany since a lot of self employed people don't save for retirement (because they don't have to) and it is expected that a many will end up in the social security system.

Your question is spot on because I have thought if "normal" employment might be an option for me. It just usually comes with way less flexibility regarding the working hours. In my field a lot of companies want to hire people full time because they have fixed overhead costs and social insurances top out after a certain amount so the extra hours become cheaper. For example if you earn 6K the effective health insurance cost goes down to 14,5% because the max is 840 EUR. I am not sure if my thinking here is distorted because I am resisting change and/or don't want to go back to a "normal" job and therefore stopped looking for one I like. I think it is one of the things I need to evaluate on my ERE journey.

:shock: Sorry I got carried away there. Too many details? I hope I answered the question.

disk_poet
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

@horsewoman That is my feeling also.

disk_poet
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

@Alphavilla: Thanks for asking that question! By answering it I realized that I need to re-evaluate a lot of implicit assumptions that I have in my head. That is actually something that I really like about ERE. It's (from a low Wheaton level standpoint) so outrageous that it really get's me to think more deeply about things and even that alone I find hugely satisfying.

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Alphaville
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by Alphaville »

horsewoman wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:04 am
@alphaville I can't pinpoint exactly why but my feeling is that there is not a large intersection with German soccer fanatics / ERE-minded people. The way the Bundesliga is set up it is more on the lines of "Panem et circenses", which is mostly repellent to the more alternative leaning crowd.
i don’t know... your tickets are cheap! hahahaha. unlike the outrageously expensive premier league. :lol:

funny enough, our FI novelist friend is a big fan of the sport, i mean he attends games, suffers with the team etc, while the hand-to-mouth boho kid (well, not a kid really anymore but a millennial) doesn’t care for it, and then the other three arts-related people we stay in touch with, yeah, they do not follow either.

but in any case, i didn’t mean to make a big deal out of it, i used to watch a show called “hallo bundesliga” that gave a summary of the week’s action, and that’s where i learned “hallo”. i enjoy watching the sport for the aesthetic value, as to me a team operates much like an orchestra, but i have no tribal affiliation to any orchestra. i do like the music though. :mrgreen:
disk_poet wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:19 am
:shock: Sorry I got carried away there. Too many details? I hope I answered the question.
not too many, and thanks so much, and yes this helps me understand things better here too.

here in the usa we often talk about how healthcare works in country x y or z but we know little of the details that make all the difference.

for example one of my german friends (the kid with no money) had a hard time finding a provider for some issues, and when i heard about it i was shocked about the scarcity of medical care there, and the long wait times for an appointment. this is in the government provided system i assume because she works a micro job where the owners don’t pay insurance. eventually she found something, but had to return to her village of origin as she couldn’t find anything in the city (or so i understand).

and yes, this is a big part of things here too, which is why i can’t see going full ERE... we don’t really have a public health system and private insurance for the self-employed is currently in limbo. we enjoy the employee benefits, but without the purchasing power of a large organization it all seems out of reach.
Last edited by Alphaville on Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

5ts
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by 5ts »

Hallo! Interested in your journal because I haven't found a lot of discussion about how chronic illness changes the calculus of early retirement. Alles Gute.

disk_poet
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

@Alphaville
i enjoy watching the sport for the aesthetic value, as to me a team operates much like an orchestra, but i have no tribal affiliation to any orchestra. i do like the music though.
That is a nice way of looking at it.
here in the usa we often talk about how healthcare works in country x y or z but we know little of the details that make all the difference.

for example one of my german friends (the kid with no money) had a hard time finding a provider for some issues, and when i heard about it i was shocked about the scarcity of medical care there, and the long wait times for an appointment. this is in the government provided system i assume because she works a micro job where the owners don’t pay insurance. eventually she found something, but had to return to her village of origin as she couldn’t find anything in the city (or so i understand).

and yes, this is a big part of things here too, which is why i can’t see going full ERE... we don’t really have a public health system and private insurance for the self-employed is currently in limbo. we enjoy the employee benefits, but without the purchasing power of a large organization it all seems out of reach.
I don't think talking about other countries systems without understanding them is US specific though :D (not that you said that). The same discussions happen here and I feel like with all of these systems the devil is in the details and also hugely depends on context and other systems that are in place.

Regarding the mini-job: Yes I brushed over that. That is basically a job which pays less than social security (400 EUR a month typically but they can go up to 800 EUR with some additional taxes and social payins). Your friend probably just had the minimum public option at that point or (depending on age) was maybe even insured through the parents or as a student (there are cheaper rates available for students).

It is true that there is a shortage of a lot of kinds of doctors especially in cities. Sometimes you have really long wait times and some practices don't take new patients. It is quite location and illness dependent though. It is definitely not a perfect system.

The US seems to be tough for self-employed or unemployed people. I had a friend there who racked up considerable debt because they were not insured and had to go to the ER for treatment. As far as I understand that is also how a lot of people go bankrupt. On the other hand the US do have great hospitals (if you can afford it). I recently had to go to a hospital in a different country and that opened my eyes in terms of standards of care.

@5ts

Thanks :) Not sure I will start a journal but I have been mulling it over ;) . Chronic diseases definitely add to the calculus. In my case it adds a dependence on the health care system and also substantial costs or lock-in which seems to make ERE more difficult. On the other hand it kind of opens your eyes that life is short and your health will most likely not improve with old age so it is an incentive to live the life you want now and not in 20 years when long terms effects are kicking in and the risk of things getting worse is higher.I also find it takes an emotional and energy toll on me. I've recently come across this explanation https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles ... on-theory/ (I don't have lupus, mine is much more common and less painful, just to be clear so I can not fully empathize with her) and found the metaphor not suuper helpful but the thought of just having to be more explicit with choices in everyday live resonated with me. Being always sick opened my eyes to the "invisible" choices we make every day not only health but in our lifestyle in general. So there was definitely some enlightenment that came out of it.

5ts
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by 5ts »

Great link, thank you. I agree with your perspective. And early retirement with a chronic disease can mean no early retirement when you aren't guaranteed healthcare. It's also quite humbling to realize you could die at a relatively early age without modern medicine.

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Alphaville
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by Alphaville »

@disk_poet

yeah she remains matriculated so she can get cheap health insurance and rail passes.

there aren’t many full time jobs right now so she’s sticking to the mini job. these sound to me like ways for employers to avoid paying benefits because they ask for extra hours and pay under the table hahaha.

maybe a way to do ERE would be to return to school for the cheap benefits? i think i understand there are no age limits for this... but i’m not sure.

re: the disease, the word you’re looking for to summarize this is ableism, which is the societal/structural assumption that everyone shares the same abilities or health status, and discriminates against those who don’t meet the assumed standards. some people feel uncomfortable discussing -isms because “politics,” but that doesn’t make them any less real for those on the receiving end.

so while you have my sympathy for the additional challenges you face, i’m also glad you’re bringing them up here in the forum because some of those “-isms” are often overlooked or dismissed when discussing work, money, opportunities, choices, etc.

the healthcare situation in the us is particularly difficult to discuss because it varies by state, and we have 50 states plus a handful of territories. but i think the basic problem is that we have an expensive system which overall probably costs double of what you are paying for in germany, per capita. so people who cut corners (e.g. going without insurance) often end up slammed when something does not go as planned.

disk_poet
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by disk_poet »

@Alphaville
maybe a way to do ERE would be to return to school for the cheap benefits? i think i understand there are no age limits for this... but i’m not sure.
That is a good point I need to look back into it. I think if you're working at the same time there might be some limits but also the rules changed a bit over the last few years and I am not 100% up to speed anymore. I will put this on my research list. Thanks for the feedback and input.
re: the disease, the word you’re looking for to summarize this is ableism, which is the societal/structural assumption that everyone shares the same abilities or health status, and discriminates against those who don’t meet the assumed standards. some people feel uncomfortable discussing -isms because “politics,” but that doesn’t make them any less real for those on the receiving end.
I learned a new word today. I see how it can feel uncomfortable talking about these things but I agree, they are still there. I think discussing what to do about it is tough because it might lead to comparing different (dis-)abilities which I am not here to do. I think I have it pretty good in general and am well taken care of by the health care system (despite regular frustration with bureaucracy). I do think it gives me a certain perspective though which I am happy to share to hopefully get some discussions going.
the healthcare situation in the us is particularly difficult to discuss because it varies by state, and we have 50 states plus a handful of territories. but i think the basic problem is that we have an expensive system which overall probably costs double of what you are paying for in germany, per capita. so people who cut corners (e.g. going without insurance) often end up slammed when something does not go as planned.
That's interesting and also sad. I guess it follows there are more ERE friendly states because health insurance costs are lower. I'll do some digging in the forum there are probably some threads about it.

Crusader
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Re: Hello / Hallo from Germany

Post by Crusader »

disk_poet wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:06 pm
I do think it gives me a certain perspective though which I am happy to share to hopefully get some discussions going.
I would be interested in these discussions, just saying :)

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