Hristo's FI Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:15 pm

Prompted by this fascinating opinion piece: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/07/opin ... e=Homepage, I'm now reading David Sax's "Revenge of Analog." It's interesting, and I think there are some parallels between the analog thing and the ERE thing, if only realizing that every new, shiny, technological wonder that comes along doesn't necessarily make our lives better than before. And there's nothing necessarily holding us back from adopting a more analog lifestyle, because there's no reason why we can't go digital when it makes sense to. We don't have to choose one or the other, and amazingly, despite all the reports that digital would kill analog (whether in music, or media, or gaming, or correspondence, etc.), it actually hasn't, at least not yet. E.g., 99% of my written correspondence is going to be via e-mail, but for some things a handwritten note on personalized stationary just makes more sense. And perhaps it makes sense to mostly shut off online media and actually focus on a small handful of print media sources (like professional publications, and a magazine subscription or two).

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:29 pm

Hristo Botev wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:14 pm
I think I'm going to sell my Surly Cross-Check, which is the bike I was riding when I had my accident back in August.
Surprisingly, DW talked me out of my plan to sell the Surly; though I think she did so because she suspected that me selling the Surly was just a step in a sneaky plot to convince her to let me buy a proper road bike (which, if I'm being honest with myself, it kinda was). So, anyway, I still have both the Surly and the Schwinn, and I just bought some cheap "be seen" lights from Wal-Mart for the Schwinn that take readily available AAA batteries and can't be stolen without someone at least having an allen wrench on them. I kept the dynamo system on the Surly because moving it to the Schwinn would have been too much of a hassle.

On a related note, it really shouldn't be such a hassle and an expense to get a bike with a dynamo lighting system. They are so stinking convenient. You NEVER have to worry about lights--charging them, removing them so they don't get stolen, replacing them, even turning them off and on--you just get on your bike and start pedaling. I know they used to be more standard on bikes in the US, like decades ago. But it really is a shame that you've got to spend several hundred dollars to retrofit dynamo lights on a bike.

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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by jacob » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:39 pm

If you just want to be seen, I've used these in the past. They are also what every bike used to come with. It is really convenient not having to think about lights. https://www.amazon.com/Generator-bicycl ... 00H3RDVKO/ (random example)

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:45 pm

Does it just rub up against the sidewall of the tire?

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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by jacob » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:51 pm

Yup. There's a lever so you can click it on and off from the tire. They used to be wired inside the frame but you can just ziptie the wires now unless your frame comes with holes. It's nice not to have to worry about where your primary transport has lights on it. The light output is weak though (obviously gets better the faster you go, but when you stop, it's gone. You can wire some capacitors in, technically.)

You can be seen but you can't see much.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:54 pm

Interesting. Certainly a helluva lot cheaper than having a wheel built around a dynamo hub.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:40 pm

I finished the Revenge of Analog book, which was a thought-provoking read. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the revenge of print and the revenge of retail.

On the issue of print, he talked about the concept of "finishability," which is actually picking up a book (or magazine, or newspaper) in print, reading it, finishing it, putting it down, and feeling as if you actually accomplished something, and are smarter for it. Contrast that with the never-ending hyperlink chasing exercise that happens when you read anything online, which always leaves me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

On retail, I hadn't really thought about the fact that "free" shipping with Amazon basically means shipping paid for by Amazon's shareholders (of which I'm sure I'm one), because Amazon barely operates at a profit (or at least that was apparently the case back in 2016 when the book was written). It's just weird that society is funding the destruction of brick and mortar retail, complaining about it, and then continuing to buy Amazon stock to make sure it keeps happening. And Amazon is just playing a game of last man standing--destroy all your competition by undercutting costs and offering unsustainable free shipping; and then what? At some point business is actually about making money. What's the endgame?

I guess more and more I like the (analog) idea of spending good money on good things, taking care of those things, and buying those things through trade channels that make my community (and therefore my life and my family's life) better. The fact that buying things in this way is more expensive is good in a number of ways, most importantly perhaps is that it causes you to consume less, meaning you don't think of the things you buy as being disposable, which keeps those things out of landfills and likely results in you actually spending less in the aggregate.

Speaking of which, prompted by the Analog book and the ensuing discussion I had with DW, DW had the idea that we check out for the first time a local independent bookstore that's relatively close to our house but in a 80s-style strip mall in a part of town that we don't generally visit. It was great, and I walked out with a used copy of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity with a wonderful handwritten note on the inside cover from a woman who had given the book to a man, hoping that it would serve as an introduction for him to her faith. Story within a story; love it.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:56 pm

And I love my 80s Schwinn for this very same reason: Every time I get on it to go to work or run an errand or whatever, I think of how many people have enjoyed this bike over the past 3 decades, and how wonderful it is that back in the day even cheap, entry-level bikes were built to last.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:48 pm

I didn't realize until @Suo mentioned it in his journal that there is a Jordan Peterson thread on this forum. There goes the afternoon.

Hristo Botev
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I love Harry Crews

Post by Hristo Botev » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:45 pm

"The novel Car would, I think, be a better book if the automobile outraged me less. I hate its stifling presence and abhor the sheer stupidity of the automobile industry. Consider this question: How much sense does it make for a 113-pound housewife to get into 4,000 pounds of machinery and drive 2 blocks for a 13-ounce loaf of bread? That question and others like it made writing the book Car inevitable."

From Harry Crews' 1993 introduction to the Harry Crews reader ClassicCrews, describing his novel Car.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:56 pm

F@#k December.

December 2018 net worth numbers

Net worth w/o house: $320,024.49
Net worth w/ house: $497,355.05
% of $1.8m target net worth: 27.6%
Net worth change from last month: ($16,082.07)
Monthly PPI from total net worth: $1,657.85
"True" PPI (excluding house, 529 from net worth): $1,002.04

December 2018 savings rate numbers

Total after-tax income: $15,473.58
Total expenses: $12,100.96
Surplus/profit: $3,372.62
Savings rate: 21.80%
NW needed to cover expenses: $3,630,288.00
[S]WR based on total NW: 29.20%
[S]WR based on total NW, excluding home and 529 accts: 48.31%

DW and I actually agreed on a budget for January, with the understanding that we'd actually try and stick to it. That budget would result in a savings rate of 61.50% with no additional income coming in. We shall see.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:44 am

Just for the hell of it, non-work related New Year's resolutions for 2019:
  • Average 50%+ savings rate for the year (this is an ERE forum, after all)
  • Pray daily (suscipe; St. Joseph's prayer; rosary; kids' prayers; examen; lectio divina)
  • Monthly confession
  • Monthly adoration
  • Yearly retreat
  • More board/card games with kids
  • More family hikes and public park time
  • Be a better dog owner, and specifically, more walks and trips to the park
  • Make my bed daily, and don't allow dishes to pile up in the sink
  • Read more books (aim for a book a week); listen to more music and podcasts; and watch less TV
  • Schedule each day and stick to it (including up at 5:30 and asleep by 9:30)
  • Workout 5x week (HIIT run; HIIT body weight exercises; HIIT run; power lifts with weights; distance run, swim, or bike)
  • Shower at the gym to save money on gas
  • Start 2019 with Whole30 in January, and eat more whole foods and drink significantly less throughout the year after January
  • Weight to 160
  • Actively participate in selected social/religious/professional organizations
  • Always think bike/walk first, car second
  • More handwritten correspondence
  • Agree to monthly budget and stick to it
  • Spend more time with friends who have a positive impact in my life, and less with those who don't
  • Tackle honey-do items around the house as I encounter them, rather than waiting to tackle them at some indefinite time in the future

    Hristo Botev
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    A glimpse into how you poorly manage a budget with a family

    Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:29 pm

    • Dec. 30: DW and I agree to actually try and stick to a budget for January, which would result in a 65-70% savings rate. That budget includes $375 set aside in a catchall and impossible to predict category that includes entertainment, travel, personal (haircuts for DW, etc.), kids recreation (club soccer, etc.), and gifts.
    • Jan. 1-3: Everything is going swimmingly, and DW even avoids the very strong temptation to spend money on activities with the kids (movie, bouncy-house type place, whatever) when she's stuck at home with them while they are still out of school, and they are jumping off the walls because the weather is crappy and you can only play so many board games. (This 2.5 week winter break nonsense is ridiculous; DW took a PTO day on Wednesday just to avoid having to pay for yet another day of "camp" for the kids while they are on break.)
    • Jan. 4, 10 am: I receive a text from DW that she'd forgotten that the registration fee for the semester for kid1's girl empowerment running club (don't ask) was due in January, at a grand total of $145. Mind you that kid1's running club meets while she is at aftercare, for which we pay about $170/month. So we're double-paying for people to watch and recreate kid1.
    • Jan. 4, 10:30 am: I say cool, that leaves us with $230 for the month for that catchall category, which should be fine because we don't have any travel in January and we've already paid for club soccer, etc., and we don't have any big family birthdays in January.
    • Jan. 4, 11 am: DW tells me that kid2 was invited to 3 different birthday parties on Sunday, and kid1 was invited to 1. And none of the parents for those 4 kids did the decent thing of saying in the invitation that gifts would not be accepted. One of them actually said that gifts "would be appreciated, but are not required." WTF does that mean?
    • Jan. 4, 11:30 am: I say no big deal, we can certainly get 4 kids' bday presents for under $230.
    • Jan. 4, 12:00 pm: DW tells me that we also need to get a birthday gift for a good mutual friend who invited over for a party at his house. Likely a $30-40 bottle of whiskey. And we need a babysitter for that party.
    • Jan. 4, 12:30 pm: Again, I say no big deal, 4 kids' presents and 1 adult present and a babysitter for $230 is definitely doable.
    • Jan. 4, 1:00 pm: DW tells me that she has a hair appointment scheduled in January that she'd forgotten about. Apparently that's $125 (oh how I love being able to cut my own hair myself at home).
    • Jan. 5, 1:30 pm: I say whatever, we've got $100 set aside for "ATM," and that money generally goes to babysitters anyway. So we've got $105 left over for 5 presents and a babysitter in the catchall category, plus $100 in the ATM category.
    • Jan. 4, 2:30 pm: Kid2's school sends an e-mail about a little kids' basketball league that the school is doing beginning in January that costs $55, due to be paid by Jan. 7. The e-mail was supposed to have been sent out at the beginning of December, but the league organizer screwed up.
    • Jan. 4, 3:00 pm: DW asks if I got the e-mail and asks (but not really) if I think we should sign kid2 up. I say no, given the late notice, but I am overruled by DW, because kid2 is certifiably obsessed with sports (true) and because all of kid2's school buddies are going to sign up. If you're keeping track, that's $50 remaining in the catchall category and $100 in the ATM category, before accounting for the 5 birthday gifts we have to get and babysitter we have to pay for.
    With 4 weeks still left to go in this month, things aren't looking good for my catchall budget category.

    suomalainen
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    Re: Hristo's FI Journal

    Post by suomalainen » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:06 pm

    Ha ha ha. Best laid plans never met a mom of multiple kids. Today I calculated out that even if we never saved another dime (other than 401k and HSA contributions and bonuses) and we spent every salary dollar direct deposited, we'd still be ok if I worked until the kids are gone (9 more years). Even more cushion if I work until the youngest graduates college. I guess that's not meant to be aspirational or anything, but more a "could be worse" perspective. At this point, I'm just trying to survive to emptynesthood. How much is sanity worth? :?

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    jennypenny
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    Re: Hristo's FI Journal

    Post by jennypenny » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:33 am

    @budget: I do a quarterly budget instead of a monthly one, and I find it smooths out the unevenness in budget spending. Some months have a lot of social obligations, others have a lot of kid-related fees, but quarter to quarter I find it's pretty even. It also means the budget amounts are larger which gives me more wiggle room.

    @praying daily: I've used a Pray the Rosary video to get everyone to pray together. It was easier when the kids were little (they're wired to pay attention to screens now), and to be honest, I find it helpful for tuning out distractions when my mind won't settle down enough to do it on my own. There must be a podcast available, too, but I haven't checked.

    Jason
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    Re: A glimpse into how you poorly manage a budget with a family

    Post by Jason » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:28 am

    Hristo Botev wrote:
    Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:29 pm
    • Jan. 4, 10 am: I receive a text from DW that she'd forgotten that the registration fee for the semester for kid1's girl empowerment running club (don't ask)
    Dream on.

    https://www.girlsontherun.org

    "we inspire girls to be healthy, and confident using a fun, experienced, based curriculum which creatively integrates running". In other words, "Pay us $145 and we will yell "On your mark, ready, set, go." I'm guessing that doesn't include the additional $25 upgrade for the "Girl empowerment jumping rope club."

    Your unwavering faith in God in the face of these day-to-day circumstances is truly inspiring.

    Hristo Botev
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    Re: Hristo's FI Journal

    Post by Hristo Botev » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:42 am

    suomalainen wrote:
    Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:06 pm
    Today I calculated out that even if we never saved another dime (other than 401k and HSA contributions and bonuses) and we spent every salary dollar direct deposited, we'd still be ok if I worked until the kids are gone (9 more years). Even more cushion if I work until the youngest graduates college. I guess that's not meant to be aspirational or anything, but more a "could be worse" perspective. At this point, I'm just trying to survive to emptynesthood. How much is sanity worth? :?
    I'm with you. One thing I tend to not remind DW of on too regular a basis when we feel the bookkeeping/money-in vs. money-out squeeze is that between 401k, HSA, 529, mortgage principle payments, and auto transfers to savings and investments, we've got about $9,000 in automatic savings each month that we never see. That's not as aggressive as I'd like to be, but it's enough to most likely have us in a very comfortable FI position by the time the kids finish high school. So the "squeeze" we feel many months is in part an artificially created one.
    Last edited by Hristo Botev on Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

    Hristo Botev
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    Re: Hristo's FI Journal

    Post by Hristo Botev » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:46 am

    jennypenny wrote:
    Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:33 am
    Good idea on the rosary video for the kids. We'll give that a shot.

    Also good idea on the quarterly budgeting. The problem we have is that with two young kids this is all just unexplored territory for us, and so we don't have much of a way to predict what the expenses will be. As soon as we think we have a handle on things, along comes some new expense that we didn't even know was a thing but that apparently we are supposed to do.

    Hristo Botev
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    Re: A glimpse into how you poorly manage a budget with a family

    Post by Hristo Botev » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:20 am

    Jason wrote:
    Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:28 am
    Yep. If any of you out there in the ERE community is looking for a lucrative side hustle, there's a growth industry in "child-centered, expert-guided, emotionally absorbing, labor intensive and financially expensive" child rearing. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/25/upsh ... nting.html. It's shocking just how much upper-middle-class, two-income Americans will pay to keep their kids from falling behind where their peers are. I'm currently reading Harry Crews' A Childhood: A Diary of a Place, which documents his life as a kid growing up in a sharecropping community in southeast Georgia during the depression. And the contrast between that life and the life of the intensive-parented upper-middle-class kids of today (discussed in the NYT article above) is striking.

    We try and fight the tendency toward "intensive" parenting where we can. But the fact of the matter is that it's just very difficult (exhausting, expensive) to raise kids in a way that prepares them for a well-adjusted and productive adulthood, when no one knows what the world will look like when they reach adulthood.

    suomalainen
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    Re: Hristo's FI Journal

    Post by suomalainen » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:17 am

    Interesting article.
    While this kind of intensive parenting — constantly teaching and monitoring children — has been the norm for upper-middle-class parents since the 1990s...but social scientists say the relentlessness of modern-day parenting has a powerful motivation: economic anxiety. For the first time, it’s as likely as not that American children will be less prosperous than their parents. For parents, giving children the best start in life has come to mean doing everything they can to ensure that their children can climb to a higher class, or at least not fall out of the one they were born into.
    What struck me was this idea that upper-middle class people (here defined as top quintile in income) have economic anxiety of the sort where they don't want their kids to fall out of their class. If you flip the perspective in the way that @jacob does, if you're lifestyle is defined not by your income but rather by your spending, and you raise your kids in a lower-class lifestyle, in theory that downward-mobility-anxiety should be lessened, no?

    I often feel the tug of wanting to inflate my lifestyle ("I've earned it"), but I resist because I don't think my children have earned it. If they think that my lifestyle is the norm, and I'm living a fancy lifestyle, isn't the better solution to reduce my lifestyle than it is to do all these extra activities in the hope that it gives them a leg up to continue the fancy lifestyle?

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