Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

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waldo
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:02 am

Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by waldo » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:53 am

Hey! I've lurked on these forums for a while and finally decided to contribute something back. Most people don't understand the choices I've made in my life especially around voluntary frugality, but I hope you will :)

Summary:
  • Mid-twenties
  • Remote software engineer
  • >$200k income with >90% savings rate
  • Minimalist, nomadic lifestyle (no permanent home, travel a lot)
I have been extremely lucky in my life to be in the position I'm in — things could have turned out very differently. Mind you, I had to deal with a lot of shit growing up, but at least I had the luxury and privilege of growing up in a first world country (not US :lol:).

Expenses

My 2018 expenses will be below $8k barring any unforeseen events.

I'm guessing it would be around $12k/year without my all-expenses-covered business trips. I am lucky to have access to cheap public healthcare.

Lifestyle

Backpacking in the wilderness has taught me to how little I need to be content and dispelled any desires I might have had for luxuries. I decided to make the most of my low needs and high tolerance for discomfort by traveling permanently with nothing but the contents of my 25 liter backpack.

I don't own much else beyond my stored bicycle and backpacking gear. I'm in the process of donating and selling the few unnecessary things I still have tucked away. I could just dump them, but I try to follow the zero waste principles where I can.

Lets start with the downsides: my friends are spread out all over the world (this is mostly an upside for me though!), it's hard to find a partner who would fit into my lifestyle, and I miss the comfort of my own home when I'm feeling the blues.

With that out of the way, I’ve spent my time in about 10 countries in 3 continents this year. I usually like to stay put in one place for about a month (even longer would be ideal, but my business trips break things up). I find slow travel to be more immersive, more enjoyable, and significantly cheaper.

I usually travel and backpack alone — I love being able to do exactly as I please without compromise. Despite or maybe because of it, I enjoy meeting people on the road. I choose to be exposed wide variety of travelers and locals by finding accommodation in hostels and shared AirBnBs or through housesitting and couchsurfing. Yes, it's occasionally uncomfortable, but the people and the memories easily make it worthwhile.

Work

A few years ago, my life was more or less equivalent to my job. I worked even during the weekends. I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing, but I didn't have to discipline to consistently go beyond my comfort zone.

These days I find myself at the other extreme — I understand the transactional nature of work and realize that the marginal benefit of hard work is not worth it after certain point. I get my job done, but my work now revolves around my life instead of the other way around.

Future

I value my youth so I plan to quit working for money entirely sooner rather than later. I'm already financially independent and mostly doing what I want to do, but I imagine that life without the constraints of work would be even better. I continue to work only because it would be difficult to find a job with similar levels of income, flexibility, and freedom. I will quit without question if my employer ever forces me to work in an office or if they deny my unpaid time off requests for my wilderness adventures.

Stahlmann
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by Stahlmann » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:15 pm

wow.

daylen
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by daylen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:17 pm

There's Waldo!

wolf
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by wolf » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:50 am

+1 to Stahlmann --> Wow!

Welcome Waldo! Nice nickname. Does that come from "Walden"?`

Looking forward to read more about your background. Really man, awesome.

Maybe you can share your thoughts here? Best way to get rich?

Take care and enjoy work&travel! :)

thrifty++
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:58 am

Holy shit! I cant believe you have nailed that level of income,flexibility and financial dependence at your mid 20s!! I have not seen this before.

waldo
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by waldo » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:31 pm

wolf wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:50 am
Welcome Waldo! Nice nickname. Does that come from "Walden"?`
It's just a random name that popped into my head. I think I know it from Where's Waldo.
wolf wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:50 am
Maybe you can share your thoughts here? Best way to get rich?
Here's how it went down for me:
  1. Be frugal from a young age (partly inherited from my parents who grew up poor and partly because we were poor refugees)
  2. Spend a good chunk of your childhood fiddling with computers
  3. In your teens, teach yourself how to program and, perhaps more importantly, learn how things work under the hood
  4. In early twenties, use acquired knowledge to get a software job
  5. Hop jobs a few times until you get a high income job in the Bay Area
  6. Do good work
  7. Convince company to let you work remotely
  8. Save >90%
Probably not easily reproducible though! ;)

waldo
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:02 am

Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by waldo » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:29 pm

thrifty++ wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:58 am
I cant believe you have nailed that level of income,flexibility and financial dependence at your mid 20s!!
Like I said, I got really lucky with how everything worked out. Very little of this was premeditated. I discovered the concept of FIRE two years ago and it just made perfect sense given my circumstances at the time.

It has been a fun journey not just financially, but also in terms of my progress as a human. Back then I was not happy with myself and was weighed down by a lot of emotional and psychological baggage (anxiety, insecurity, loneliness, etc.). I'm so thankful to have been able to dig myself out of a hole that I didn't even know I was in.

On that note, here's a quote that really resonates with me:
Edith Wharton wrote:I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity—to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.
Last edited by waldo on Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by jacob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:18 pm

waldo wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:31 pm
  1. Be frugal from a young age (partly inherited from my parents who grew up poor and partly because we were poor refugees)
  2. Spend a good chunk of your childhood fiddling with computers
  3. In your teens, teach yourself how to program and, perhaps more importantly, learn how things work under the hood
  4. In early twenties, use acquired knowledge to get a software job
  5. ...
Yup ... I don't think it's generally realized/appreciated how even early-twenty-something programmers often have 10-15 years of experience already because they started serious hacking at age 10 or so. This is vastly different from most other fields.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:18 pm

waldo wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:31 pm
It's just a random name that popped into my head. I think I know it from Where's Waldo.
And here I was, thinking that you were inspired by RW Emerson. You’re a complete disappointment to me and I doubt you’ll ever amount to anything.

Welcome.

waldo
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by waldo » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:56 am

Time for a long overdue update!
waldo wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:53 am
Lets start with the downsides: [...] it's hard to find a partner who would fit into my lifestyle
A week or two after I wrote this, I saw an interview of someone whose story about quitting her job and changing the course of her life deeply reasonated with me. I sent her an email because I wanted to bounce thoughts with her and, lets be frank, because she was cute :-) We were both travelling in different countries at the time, but thanks to a series of happy accidents, we managed to meet up for coffee in person and today I am super lucky and grateful to have her as my partner!

Despite being in my mid-twenties, this has been my first relationship. I've grown immensely during our time together. She has helped me confront deep insecurities around my sexuality and my body and she has helped me overcome fears stemming from the lack of self-worth and self-confidence in certain aspects of myself. It has been an incredibly liberating journey and I must admit that this freedom tastes way better than financial freedom.

Mind you, our path has not been easy. I made many mistakes that hurt her to the core and overcoming them was hard for both of us. As an example, I lied about my sexual past because I was ashamed of my inexperience. I didn't lie to mislead, but because I was afraid to confront my feelings of inferiorty. As another example, some of her history that she has shared with me triggered insecurities in myself and in defense I questioned her as a person. I experienced some of the most difficult times of my life with her, but I'm beyond thankful that we got through all of it and for the relationship that have today. I'm incredibly happy to wake up next to her every day and love her and be loved so deeply.

She is not only an amazing human with an intriguing life, but she also happens to be frugal and values freedom as much as I do. Our travels together have taken us far off the beaten path and the experiences we've shared on the road have helped us grow together. I think I won the lottery!
waldo wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:53 am
I value my youth so I plan to quit working for money entirely sooner rather than later. I'm already financially independent and mostly doing what I want to do, but I imagine that life without the constraints of work would be even better. I continue to work only because it would be difficult to find a job with similar levels of income, flexibility, and freedom. I will quit without question if my employer ever forces me to work in an office or if they deny my unpaid time off requests for my wilderness adventures.
As it happens, I requested time off for a few weeks to go hiking in the part of the world I'm in right now. My manager was reluctant to accept so I sent him a very polite email afterwards explaining that I no longer need to work for money, but that I'm happy to continue to work if I can do so on my terms. I suggested reducing my hours from 5 days a week to 2 - 3 days per week. They are working out the legalities, but looks like it's going to happen.

This is an excellent development! I'll have way more time to explore, learn, relax, read, etc. I'll be able to fiddle with my working days to get a 8 day weekend without requesting any time off. I get to continue my involvement in the software industry. I get to enjoy the perks of my employment (like visiting the company HQ in the Bay Area all expenses paid for two weeks every quarter!). And of course I get more money with which I can do whatever I want. FU money at work! :D

Jean
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by Jean » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:53 am

Wow wow!

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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by frihet » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:09 am

waldo wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:56 am
I am super lucky and grateful to have her as my partner!

but she also happens to be frugal and values freedom as much as I do.
That's amazing, congratulations Waldo! I guess this is what happens when you break out of your comfort zone. Traveling can be so great for this in my experience also.

You seem to live my mid-twenties dream life. Maybe you can write a book on "How Waldo Found Freedom/FI/Love In a supposedly Unfree World" and deliver to preteens. So they can start on time! Like you did.

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prognastat
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by prognastat » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:29 am

Congrats on finding yourself in a happy relationship. Sounds like it had some rocky moments, but glad to hear you managed to work through those.

Gotta love the power of FU money too.

wolf
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by wolf » Wed Mar 20, 2019 12:17 pm

Congrats Waldo. That sounds incredible! Wish you two the best on the road. Take care and give updates from time to time.

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Bankai
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by Bankai » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:52 am

That's an amazing and inspiring transformation! Keep up the good work and best wishes to both of you.

Frita
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Re: Frugal by Choice — Waldo's Journal

Post by Frita » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:13 pm

Enjoy your journey together.

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