Book insights

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ThriftyRob
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Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

I'm probably not halfway through yet, however, it's already the most influential 'self-help' book I have read. Jacob's perspective on waste and inefficiency is refreshing and obvious once you escape from the cave!

Standout points for me so far have been the concept of plotting goals with positive and negative impacts, the case for minimalism with quality, the focus on developing skills and the need for rapid transformation (e.g. disposing of unused possessions). The idea of putting the excess into storage wouldn't have sat well with me before reading ERE (increasing expense), however, I appreciate the importance of making the step change. I'd need to have a plan to dispose of everything from the outsourced storage unit though. In summary, I'm enjoying my newly developed aversion to materialism!
Last edited by ThriftyRob on Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Lemur
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Re: Book insights

Post by Lemur »

I’m on a re-read at the moment...sometimes things sink in a bit more after one has evolved a bit and other parts of book become more relevant.

For me a key stood out that I didn’t understand before. The section on changing behavior... vision, practicality, and dissatisfaction.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

Lemur wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:11 pm
I’m on a re-read at the moment...sometimes things sink in a bit more after one has evolved a bit and other parts of book become more relevant.

For me a key stood out that I didn’t understand before. The section on changing behavior... vision, practicality, and dissatisfaction.
I agree that some things have probably flown over my head in the first read as I have latched onto the ideas that are most relevant to my situation now. My eyes have been opened to how wasteful a dishwashing machine is. So that we can run it full we have about four times as many plates, pans, mugs, bowls, glasses, utensils and cutlery as we really need. Which means there are about four cupboards full of clutter in our kitchen that we could reduce down to less than one. We are preparing to sell several kitchen appliances (mixer, multicooker, popcorn maker, etc) online in the next week or so. But ditching the dishwasher is a little too radical yet. I guess we could experiment by washing up in the sink after every meal.

Another observation. DW has three brothers and we always host family get-togethers in our home. So we have about 14 dining chairs and three dining tables which are used just one day each year. A quick online search showed that we can hire in banquet chairs for less than £3 each and trestle tables for £5 each and the rental company delivers and collects. So we can free up space by disposing of two tables and 10 chairs and hire what we need for Christmas for around £40!

About 20 years ago, I was a successful and (I thought) important business consultant. I bought an expensive Lexus so that I could leave home at 5 am to drive 220 miles to my client and then return home after a day's work. I argued that I needed the refinement, comfort and safety to help me do my job well. At the time I joked that if I gave up the work I wouldn't need such a reliable and refined car and could run an old classic MG which I would maintain myself. Turns out I was right, but didn't have any points of reference for validation!

As soon as I have finished the book I'm planning on starting again from the beginning.

UK-with-kids
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Re: Book insights

Post by UK-with-kids »

I've been constantly dipping in and out of the book for years and I still get new insights every time I spend some time with it. It definitely depends on where you are with your journey.
ThriftyRob wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:07 am
We are preparing to sell several kitchen appliances (mixer, multicooker, popcorn maker, etc) online in the next week or so.
It's amazing how much redundancy there is in kitchen equipment. Popcorn makers definitely not required, or my personal favourite subject of much discussion in the office a while ago - the automatic egg cooking machine! Did you read Jacob's post from his website on this? http://earlyretirementextreme.com/the-m ... tchen.html
ThriftyRob wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:07 am
DW has three brothers and we always host family get-togethers in our home. So we have about 14 dining chairs and three dining tables which are used just one day each year. A quick online search showed that we can hire in banquet chairs for less than £3 each and trestle tables for £5 each and the rental company delivers and collects. So we can free up space by disposing of two tables and 10 chairs and hire what we need for Christmas for around £40!
As long as not everyone had the same idea as they can't hire it out to everyone on Christmas Day. Another option would be asking them to bring their own chairs!

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fiby41
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Re: Book insights

Post by fiby41 »

Another advantage of having utensils = people is they get washed immediately.

Regarding eating out of pressure cooker, few considerations:
  1. Make sure the spoon is ceramic or plastic and not metal
  2. The food is not dry or stored in the cooker overnight or more than a day old
  3. Inside surface was lubricated with edible vegetable oil or butter or ghee before putting in grains
All this to prevent minute dents or scraping marks on the inside surface which can make it difficult to clean or even reduce efficiency after extended period of use.
Forest wrote:Don’t have a pressure cooker as it doesn’t travel too well
I bought mine only for travel.
Rita wrote:Kitchen stuff often collects due to gift giving
Especially true during weddings with the only reclaiming factor being is its usually BIFL with who gave to whom with which type of love & when inscribed at the back with a writing-on-metal-instrument.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:23 am
It's amazing how much redundancy there is in kitchen equipment. Popcorn makers definitely not required, or my personal favourite subject of much discussion in the office a while ago - the automatic egg cooking machine! Did you read Jacob's post from his website on this? http://earlyretirementextreme.com/the-m ... tchen.html
Yes, I've read that blog and whilst I appreciate the humour, I think Jacob's endpoint is too extreme for us. At minimum, we would need glasses/mugs/plates for our two adult children who eat with us frequently.
UK-with-kids wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:23 am
As long as not everyone had the same idea as they can't hire it out to everyone on Christmas Day. Another option would be asking them to bring their own chairs!
True. So we'll have to get our booking in early. I don't think my BIL and SIL would be able to get their chairs on Ryanair from France! A few IKEA folding chairs at £7 each would be a compromise.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Book insights

Post by classical_Liberal »

Great thread idea!

I haven't done my annual reread for 2020 yet, but last time I found the four corner quadrants of salary, working, business, and renaissance-man an extremely helpful general model. When I enter a decision making process, I try to frame it in the way a person in each quadrant would probably look at a problem. Which I think is extremely helpful for someone like myself, who has always looked at life as a salary-man. It seems most middle class Westerns do look at life this way, so other perspectives are much needed.

A side note: After my 2019 read (which was the second time) I followed up by reading The Fifth Discipline. It's basically a practical systems theory for dummies guide. I found it very complimentary.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:31 pm
Great thread idea!
Thank you!
classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:31 pm
I haven't done my annual reread for 2020 yet, but last time I found the four corner quadrants of salary, working, business, and renaissance-man an extremely helpful general model. When I enter a decision making process, I try to frame it in the way a person in each quadrant would probably look at a problem. Which I think is extremely helpful for someone like myself, who has always looked at life as a salary-man. It seems most middle class Westerns do look at life this way, so other perspectives are much needed.
That's a good call. That model helped me rationalise my attitude to life/money/work/investments as well. I was aware that I don't conform to societal norms/expectations: we don't waste resource on flashy cars, I buy supermarket 'use by' price markdowns, I do as much home maintenance DIY as I can. So identifying as a wannabe renaissance man works for me and legitimises the philosophies I work by.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:31 pm
A side note: After my 2019 read (which was the second time) I followed up by reading The Fifth Discipline. It's basically a practical systems theory for dummies guide. I found it very complimentary.
Haha, in the business consulting waters I used to swim in, a colleague embraced Peter Senge's concepts and I bought The Fifth Discipline and his follow-up Fieldbook. I think she had found it through working with British Airways. The books are stored in an upstairs cupboard with several hundred business/management theory titles I picked up for CPD self-study. I need to scan the lot with the Amazon app (or get my son to do it) to find if there's any value in offering them for sale or whether they should go to charity shops On your recommendation, I'll dig that one out and read it again.
Last edited by ThriftyRob on Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

ertyu
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Re: Book insights

Post by ertyu »

I'd sell it anyway - lots of videos of author giving various talks explaining his main point are now free on youtube, including stuff that was sold as paid seminars etc.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

ertyu wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:39 am
I'd sell it anyway - lots of videos of author giving various talks explaining his main point are now free on youtube, including stuff that was sold as paid seminars etc.
Thanks for your advice! Having checked Amazon UK, it appears to be one of the few in my collection that has a used price that makes it worth listing!

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

So, I finished my first read of the book this morning. Interesting that the concluding chapter was on investing as that's probably the area of ERE that I feel least confident about. I know plenty, having worked for a spell in an investment bank, however, somehow that makes it harder for me to see the wood for the trees.

I totally buy the concept that investment return isn't that important for anyone who is saving a high percentage of income to build the capital for investment. Jacob is also really clear throughout that his book is not a 'how to' manual with lists of detailed instructions or rules.

However, I have to confess that I felt slightly disappointed that the 'take-away' is 'spend the equivalent amount of time to an undergraduate degree learning about your chosen field for investment'. That followed some fairly challenging math formulas, which I admit I skipped over.Compared to some of his insights on frugality in housing, transport and food, there's less direction. I was hoping there's be some wise words on attitude to risk, reliable and unreliable sources of data, and pointers about market psychology and maybe counter-intuitive investing.

Overall though a great read and I'm going to start from the beginning again.

jacob
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Re: Book insights

Post by jacob »

ThriftyRob wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:38 am
However, I have to confess that I felt slightly disappointed that the 'take-away' is 'spend the equivalent amount of time to an undergraduate degree learning about your chosen field for investment'. That followed some fairly challenging math formulas, which I admit I skipped over.Compared to some of his insights on frugality in housing, transport and food, there's less direction. I was hoping there's be some wise words on attitude to risk, reliable and unreliable sources of data, and pointers about market psychology and maybe counter-intuitive investing.
I thought about it including such discussions but then realized that it would double the size of the book and that you can find these in any number of books. In particular, doing the freshman curriculum of finance/business would have wise words on risk, reliability of data sources, psychology, and investment evaluation. Having read those, the math would also be trivial (anyone with a freshman year in finance or STEM would understand it). (It's mainly there because in 2010 when the book came out, nobody (<- literally) had actually done the math and so intuitively didn't believe that high savings rates really make an exponential difference. These days everybody accepts it and so walking people through the equations is unnecessary.)

I could of course also have provide a simple investment prescription---giving it a gimmicky name---like some other FIRE books are wont to do but such simplification would almost surely go down in flames eventually even if it would sell more books in the present. I did not want to author one of those. Just because something has worked for centuries doesn't mean it will continue working. See e.g. living off the interest of government bonds which for most of time has paid 3% real. The point of reading the curriculum is to know what to do when the strategy stops working.

History is littered with simplistic wealth strategies that stopped working after 0-20 years. People who took a simple retirement prescription to heart (because they got it from a book from someone they trusted w/o bothering to learn more) and consequently went down with the ship when the market went against them and the paradigm never changed back.

My position is/was that a renaissance person who intend to make a living either full or in part for a lifetime best spend more effort than reading a few chapters in a book and setting up an online account and then hoping they have a magic bullet. The engineering trilemma is that you can pick any two of (cheap, good, fast). Most people are prone to pick "quick and easy" (cheap and fast). With ERE I propose "slow and safe" (cheap and good), but this means spending time studying and paying attention to one's income sources. Basically there ain't no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to ERE, FIRE, or investing for a sustainable income.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

Jacob, thanks for your comments on my post.
jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:46 am
I thought about it including such discussions but then realized that it would double the size of the book and that you can find these in any number of books. In particular, doing the freshman curriculum of finance/business would have wise words on risk, reliability of data sources, psychology, and investment evaluation. Having read those, the math would also be trivial (anyone with a freshman year in finance or STEM would understand it). (It's mainly there because in 2010 when the book came out, nobody (<- literally) had actually done the math and so intuitively didn't believe that high savings rates really make an exponential difference. These days everybody accepts it and so walking people through the equations is unnecessary.)
I'm not sure that everybody even realises that high saving rates make an exponential difference. The majority of people are hooked on credit card debt and hardly save at all.
jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:46 am
I could of course also have provide a simple investment prescription---giving it a gimmicky name---like some other FIRE books are wont to do but such simplification would almost surely go down in flames eventually even if it would sell more books in the present. I did not want to author one of those. Just because something has worked for centuries doesn't mean it will continue working. See e.g. living off the interest of government bonds which for most of time has paid 3% real. The point of reading the curriculum is to know what to do when the strategy stops working.
I'm really glad you didn't include a prescription with a gimmicky name. I didn't mean to convey that I was expecting a prescription, I don't. Just that in the area of housing you provided really useful examples from your own experience about the benefits of living in a small home. Also, in advocating walking to work, you provided some really helpful and specific pointers about outerwear, hiking boots, wearing jogging pants over jeans and not running! That's really practical input to enable a reader to commit to a behaviour change. Something analogous related to analysis, investment strategies and thought processes around allocations would be equally instructive. For example, in the UK where I live, traditional investment advisors recommend building a portfolio with mostly FTSE stocks. However, the FTSE is over-represented in oil and gas and is light on tech stocks in addition to being burdened with pessimism about post-Brexit issues.
jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:46 am
History is littered with simplistic wealth strategies that stopped working after 0-20 years. People who took a simple retirement prescription to heart (because they got it from a book from someone they trusted w/o bothering to learn more) and consequently went down with the ship when the market went against them and the paradigm never changed back.
I agree and have had that experience myself a couple of times. There's no guarantee that studying financial markets and economics will lead to a breakthrough in thinking. The critical aptitude is knowing what to pay attention to and how to respond to changes (being certain that they aren't just noise).
jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:46 am
My position is/was that a renaissance person who intend to make a living either full or in part for a lifetime best spend more effort than reading a few chapters in a book and setting up an online account and then hoping they have a magic bullet. The engineering trilemma is that you can pick any two of (cheap, good, fast). Most people are prone to pick "quick and easy" (cheap and fast). With ERE I propose "slow and safe" (cheap and good), but this means spending time studying and paying attention to one's income sources. Basically there ain't no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to ERE, FIRE, or investing for a sustainable income.
Taking you literally, 'slow and safe' would suggest investing in fixed interest products (government-issued debt) and index-tracking funds (low fees).

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

I have now started reading the ERE book from the beginning again. The section on overcoming barriers/resistance now has much more relevance and meaning this time, after having been immersed in the full battery of ERE practices presented in the book. I'm very amused by the irony of spending so much time at work to pay for so many things that we don't have time to enjoy. Jacob's discussion of what to do with all the time freed up by ERE and giving up the church of possessions struck home.

Regarding barriers, we certainly have high dissatisfaction with our current situation (stupid excess, waste and redundancy of stuff, working too many hours and too much stress) and we have a vision of the lifestyle we want and how we'll use all the time that we free up. Our strategy is broad brush – downsizing and moving to an area where housing is cheaper, with a rural/leisure/quiet feel in a walkable town location with good amenities. The plan is to declutter and renovate the house so that we can sell it, while visiting and researching contending locations. The timescale is not determined but we would like to progress as quickly as possible. We are implementing many of the expenditure reduction measures as we go as I'm now so aware of how wasteful our long-held habits have been and I'm motivated to maximise our savings.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Book insights

Post by ThriftyRob »

I'm continuing my second reading of the ERE book and really enjoying some of the subtler points that didn't register so heavily with me on the first time through.

I've just completed the section on web of goals which then follows on to tactics. I was always ok with web of goals, because it's the cohesiveness of the lifestyle I aspire to that I want to design. I'm not sure whether I need to draw the reverse fishbone diagrams, I can intuitively assess the negative impacts of different behaviours/activities and so mitigate or eliminate them.

Rereading 'tactical principles' blew me away. I highlighted so many paragraphs (Kindle version). There is high relevance to my journey and having reset my values and priorities over recent weeks, the 'building blocks' section was great reinforcement. I have a stack of kitchen appliances ready to photograph for sale online, which I will be listing tomorrow, so Jacob's comments on redundancy (all those electric motors and heating elements) was totally apposite.

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