ERE vs sacrifice / The Wheaton scale of ERE.

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Felix
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Post by Felix »

" To me consumption is harder than production. Too much time going through countless options and vendors none of which are quite right for what I want. I'm good at production, so it's easy for me. I'm bad at consumption, so it's hard for me."
I guess for me it boils down to me not accepting that argument. It's easier to buy a new pair of earbuds than to learn how to solder them, wait for a soldering iron on craigslist, and spend the time soldering it (and then the fix may fail because the problem is something else).
It's also easier to pay for a cruise than to work on a ship. In fact, those who pay for the cruise pay those who work on the ship so they don't have to do it themselves.
Let's take making bread as an example.
1) Buy bread at the store

2) Buy cheaper bread at another store

3) Buy bread mix and bake it

4) Buy flour, salt and yeast and bake it

5) Buy grains, salt and yeast, make flour, bake it

6) Grow grains, obtain salt from condensed sea water, keep yeast from last bread, make flour, bake it
There's a line from consumption to production (according to your terminology). 1 is most cash-intensive and least labor-intensive. 6 is least cash-intensive and most labor-intensive.
Where you land along this scale depends on how you value your time vs. your money and how much you like bread baking.
As you move further down the line, it gets more complicated. You also need other resources. An oven, a grinder, land, access to sea water. You insource more and more processes.
At each step, you can consider making the next step. I guess 1 is out of the question on this forum. 2 is cheap bread (I get better bread for less money at a different store). We can skip 3 with an internet search and go to 4 for the next level, but now we need an oven and the time for baking, also you can screw up and burn the bread and ruin any calculated savings. Step 5 would need regular bread-eating to be viable, also needing something to grind (next project).
Step 6 seems like too much effort to be worth the few savings for a loaf of bread (compared to step 5). You now have the risk of losing crops (no bread), dirty water, dead yeast.
Compared with step 1, I don't see how it's simpler.
You need to calculate these costs into it. Also, sometimes making is more expensive than buying or cost-neutral and you still have to put in time.
In the end, it's a trade-off. What you get is you save money, but you spend time.
We do a lot of bashing of brainless consumers taking the easy route without thinking on this forum. That doesn't fit the notion that growing wheat and baking bread is easier than paying the guy who bakes it for you.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca »

In case it wasn't clear, the production of an asset out of my SVO was quite energizing...much moreso than just buying my truck.
Converting the transmission in my truck from a 5 to 6 speed, rather than buy a newer one, or smaller suboptimal truck, to save on fuel and noise on the highway was however energizing. :-)
I anticipate the same when we get chickens rather than pay 5 bucks a dozen at whole foods, or get a cow to raise grass fed and drug free rather than pay exorbitant grocery store prices for grass fed.


EMJ
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Post by EMJ »

@GTOO in your Soil amendments analogy 4. is of course humanure.


J_
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Post by J_ »

It looks like this post is detoriating in "mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the purest of ere's all?


J_
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Post by J_ »

It looks like this thread is detoriating in "mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the purest of ere's all?


jacob
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Post by jacob »

@Felix -
Easy is relative.
For someone who doesn't know the multiplication table 5*9 is easier done on a calculator. Someone who knows will just tell you it's 45 and not have to look for the calculator.
Learning does take time. But it doesn't take maintenance.
Consider taxes. It took me about 30 hours to do them myself the first time. Now it takes a couple of hours because I already know what goes where. Going to a professional would also take a couple of hours. They are presently equally easy to do. However, doing it myself costs $0 whereas a pro costs $500. I'm, therefore, rapidly amortizing my initial investment of 30 hours (that was 6 years ago). [Also filling in the numbers myself made me realize how to optimize our return to make our effective tax rate very low. This benefit is worth way more than the pro-fee savings.]
Furthermore, learning becomes easier and easier the more you know.
ERE has a large upfront cost in terms of learning effort. Initially it doesn't beat buying, but after a couple of years it does. The is why the ERE experience during the first couple of years is a lot less fun than it will eventually be.


sshawnn
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Post by sshawnn »

Interesting fact about this thread: There are not many (any?) group number ones arguing their points to or about the OP ( a group number one member.)


KevinW
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Post by KevinW »


It looks like this post is detoriating in "mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the purest of ere's all?

That tends to happen when the conversation focuses on one person's choices. I think it's easier to have a friendly conversation about general principles or hypotheticals.

But their quality is absolutely terrible, and you cannot compare them with the $60 earbuds I bought. Indeed, that's why I bought them (I had been using a cheap pair for months and got sick of the terrible quality).

As I said, the serendepity strategy is usually best for cheapo things where you don't care about quality. The classics strategy is usually best for expensive things where quality matters to you.
If you want high-quality sound then I recommend researching audiophile headphones and buying a pair that are known to be repairable and retain resale value. There will be a large up front cost, but you will recoup almost all of it when you eventually sell the 'phones and that small depreciation cost will be amortized over many years.
True story, I've turned a small profit on my audiophile stereo because on average I've sold each component for a higher price than what I bought it for. So actually the Great Material Continuum is paying me to enjoy beautiful sound.

It's easier to buy a new pair of earbuds than to learn how to solder them, wait for a soldering iron on craigslist, and spend the time soldering it (and then the fix may fail because the problem is something else).

The reverse is true when you plan ahead and acquire the spares, parts, and knowhow before the need arises. I used the word "stockpile" deliberately. When the cheap free headphones I use for podcasts eventually break I'll be able to repair or replace them without leaving my home. Actually that will be faster and easier than traveling to a store or waiting for drop-shipping to arrive, let alone earning the money for the purchase.
Cooking is another example. Equipping a kitchen and stocking a pantry might cost $500 starting from scratch and learning to cook takes effort. At that moment buying a $8 McDonalds meal seems easier and cheaper. However after this initial investment of effort and capital, food is forever cheaper and easier. And *healthier*, which *supports other goals*, which is where the synergy and upward spiral effect comes from.
For example a couple weeks ago avocados were on sale and I felt like a fancy Sunday breakfast so I made "California" Benedict (avocado instead of ham). Long ago I learned about the components of Benedict and how to make Hollandaise. I had bought all the other ingredients on hand as part of my routine pantry-keeping, and had homemade brioche in the freezer. The cost per serving was maybe $2-3 and I'd put the product against any restaurant brunch. But this was only possible due to past investments in learning technique, equipping my kitchen, and stocking a versatile pantry.
So yes, there is an uncomfortable period when you first start building up these capabilities where you have to put in a lot of energy and some cash, and don't see any immediate return. But once you have these facilities set up to meet all your anticipated needs, that investment starts paying off and things start getting easier and cheaper, and dare I say better. I think that's what @jacob is referring to in the analogy to martial arts training, where there's a period of doing breakfalls and punching drills for pedagogical reasons, which seems like pointless busy work at the time.


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jennypenny
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Post by jennypenny »

So much of the discussion seems to focus on whether it's worth the time/effort/savings to learn a new skill. Is choosing to learn a skill always about the ROI?
Does anyone ever really regret learning a new skill? Most of my regrets are about not learning skills sooner.


J_
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Post by J_ »

To my humble opinion the discussion originated in not ROI things, but just other ere topics. First e.g . Learning to play piano, or ukelele, just for fun, because you have now time (after ere) and the peace of mind to study and enjoy it just for those reasons.

May be you can later earn something with your play ( or when you are not so good, get some money for not playing!) but that is not intended.
On the other hand: the willing to learn many skills, lead towards that some of them will gain also (some) profit.


Dragline
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Post by Dragline »

IMO, whether a skill/activity is worth doing depends largely on whether it fulfills three factors to some extent: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
Most of this discussion has focused on Purpose, and in particular, whether it saves enough money to justify it. But the components of Autonomy -- "I'm doing it because I want to -- not because I have to" and Mastery -- "hey, this is really cool and I can get better at it and I like that" are no less important. Others have noted here and in other threads that the Mastery component often can fulfill an aspect of spirituality -- think "The Zen of [fill in the blank]"
I always consider these three factors when deciding whether a new activity/skill is worth my time. And more importantly, re-evaluating periodically whether what I am doing with my time still fulfills these factors. It helps in deciding when to make changes and not falling into the "consistency" trap of just doing the same things you did before.
The reason many people are unsatisfied with their jobs is because they are lacking in one or more of these three components.


noskich
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Post by noskich »

Great topic, while frugality has always been my lifestyle Ive been feeling stressful since I decided to pursue FI. I just feel the urge to reach it ASAP and that has been kind of a pressure Ive been living under. I stopped enjoying work and cant wait to get it done. Havent been particularly lucky with investments and hunt for a part-time job either. So I find it somewhat difficult to push through 3-4 years more.


akratic
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Post by akratic »

I see myself as someone who naturally punches hard (high income, low needs) and mastered the techniques quickly (got FI) but haven't necessarily grokked the deeper stuff yet (what exactly am I supposed to do with all this freedom again?).
Maybe it's because I'm closer to $200/hr person than the median income person, so specialization has always been to my advantage (rather than disadvantage).
Most of what I got from ERE so far has been on the technique level: there's a ridiculous ROI on cooking and strategically choosing where to live, plus I learned a new way to think about money in terms of years/SWRs. Also just knowing that FI was possible in a short amount of time made it seem more real and achievable.
That said, I didn't really make any sacrifices in my pursuit of ERE, although I think that mostly had to do with punching hard (both in the offense sense of making good income, and in the defense sense of naturally not wanting possessions or status in the eyes of others).
PS: I think there are people for whom ERE would be an uphill sacrifice filled battle the whole way, and people who would find it energizing, natural and freeing. In my opinion, the difference mostly stems from what the person's highest values are, which I don't think are particularly malleable.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

> Does anyone ever really regret learning a new

> skill? Most of my regrets are about not learning

> skills sooner.
I'd agree with that.
Also, I think that it's equally important to find out our own limits for perfection, ability, etc. You can better evaluate opportunities as a result.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

"Also, I think that it's equally important to find out our own limits for perfection, ability, etc. You can better evaluate opportunities as a result."
Also, I think it's important to respect and tolerate others' limits for what we define as perfection and ability. People with ideas tend to do a lot more good for society than people with ideologies, and I don't think it'd do anyone much good to look down on people choosing a different lifestyle.


BeyondtheWrap
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Post by BeyondtheWrap »

Does anyone ever really regret learning a new skill? Most of my regrets are about not learning skills sooner.
Sounds like an INTJ thing to say. I'm guessing that what someone regrets probably varies based on their personality type.
Something like this:
NT: not learning skills sooner

NF: not being myself or spending time with loved ones

SP: not traveling enough or experiencing enough

SJ: doing something I'm not supposed to


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