Hristo's FI Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

On the negotiation, I'm proud to say that when we tried to get the truck through the first affiliated dealer, he'd said that the original dealer (that actually had the truck in its inventory) would only honor the price we'd originally negotiated, but without financing, if I bought the truck on a day where they'd sold a bunch of other inventory, because that'd be the only way he'd be able to report having a positive sales day. It sounds like BS, except that he really wasn't trying to upsale me or to even sell me the car, he just wanted to be done with me.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

jacob wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:04 am
Thanks for the recommendation. I just placed a hold for The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress on my Libby app.

I'd honestly not known anything about Heinlein or Starship Troopers; I just knew there'd been a really bad movie that was only notable, as far as I'd heard, for having Denise Richards in a shower scene (that scene definitely does NOT appear in the book). But the book came up on one of the book discussion podcasts I follow, and since it was available on my Libby app, I thought I'd check it out. I'm sure there's no way that disenfranchisement is something that we can expect any of our political leaders to discuss seriously anytime soon, but it's interesting that the idea of universal enfranchisement is a very new concept, and one that seems to have a lot less to do with anyone thinking it's a good way to govern, and a lot more to do with attempting to remedy historic inequalities related to race and gender. It's at least an interesting idea to restrict citizenship (and the franchise) to only those few men and women who volunteer to serve in military service, and survive that service, in a system where there really is no social or economic reason why one would choose military service.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

This morning on my run I listened to the podcast discussion of the book, after having finished reading the book, and the example one of the contributors gave is that, "Hey, I've been to Wal-Mart, and I'll admit that there's probably something a little screwy about a system governed by the folks that I see at Wal-Mart." That's nothing against Wal-Mart, or the people who shop at Wal-Mart (I shop at Wal-Mart, when my local retailers can't supply what I need, as it's often the only way I can continue my anti-Bezos consumerism). But for the first time I understand a bit why some (typically, or perhaps always, Republicans) push back on any and all measures that make voting easier. Certainly some (or even a lot) of this is racist in motivation; wanting to suppress the votes of those who don't look like you. And certainly the idea with a lot of these efforts is that the thinking (no idea if its true) that the folks who would vote if voting is easier but wouldn't vote now are not likely to vote for a Republican. But really, should voting really be as simple as liking a post on Facebook, or filling out some sort of signupgenius type survey while sitting in your pajamas at home? Maybe it should be, I don't know. But we really don't ask much of our citizenry.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Next up on the reading list, I'm going to try and tackle Graham Greene's Power and the Glory before the end of this week, when my library loan will expire. After that, it's Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Putting this here because if I wrote it on a piece of paper, it'd be thrown away by the end of the day. For July, I want to exercise every morning, seven days a week, alternating between running and kettlebell workouts. For the kettlebell, I'll do 3 sets of the following, varying reps depending on how I'm feeling: (1) kb thrusters; (2) kb swings; (3) kb deadlifts with high pull; (4) push-ups; (5) planks; (6) kb bent over rows; (7) kb clean and press; (8) kb tricep extensions; and (9) light-weight, high rep shoulder raises*.

*I'm still trying to work out some tendinitis in my right shoulder, which has improved over the past couple months, but is still not in "throw the baseball around with my son" shape (though, it's almost there).

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

In response to an email I got yesterday from YouTubeTV announcing that they were drastically increasing their cost (again), now from $50/mo. to $65/mo., I decided to take a look at all the various ways Google has inserted itself into my life, personally:

- my personal e-mail provider;
- my word processing software and data storage repository for all my personal docs/spreadsheets;
- my thermostat;
- my cable/not-cable streaming service;
- my photo storage repository and curator;
- my navigation service;
- my Internet search engine;
- my frequent source for music, via YouTube;
- my source for news clips, product reviews, DIY tutorials, music videos, kids' infotainment videos, religious videos, etc., even streamed "Mass," via YouTube;
- the Internet browser I'm using right now;
- the Internet service provider I almost got a couple years ago;
- the source for e-books and audiobooks I use fairly regularly;
- the searchable Google Books platform I use to find books, the way I used to use the library card catalog;
- the online translation tool I use at least weekly;
- my atlas/mapping tool;
- my source for online news; and
- my personal contact list/rolodex.

I'm sure I missed something, and this doesn't even cover all the various business-related tools (e.g., online advertising) that dominate the lives of many of my business clients.

This is crazy, isn't it; That all of these services/businesses are owned and controlled by one company?

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Relatedly, according to my Google-provided spreadsheet, through May and June the net worth numbers have slowly climbed back up to (and even exceeded a bit) our January 2020 peak. Our savings this year has been totally automated, and relatively unaggressive - maxing out both my and DW's 401Ks, maxing out our HSA contribution and contributing to the 529 plans to the max the state will allow us to deduct from state income taxes, and then we do $500 each to mortgage principal, a post-tax index fund, and to our regular savings account. With that in place we've not really been tracking spending as much the past few months as we had in the past, and we've certainly been a bit spendy in some categories and sloppy in others; though still around a 50% savings rate.

Honestly, I've kind of lost any motivation to be extreme in my FI planning, in part because I don't really foresee DW or I not working voluntarily until the kids at least graduate high school and are out of the house, and with our current unagressive savings we should be more than financially independent by that time. Also, the world is in such chaos right now that our savings could be wiped out tomorrow due to some dystopian-like fascist/socialist takeover of our economy, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Reflecting today that, in these times of economic and social uncertainty, how happy I am that we discovered the MMM and then ERE thing ~5 years ago. Had we not, I'd likely still be working at the big firm or in-house at some big corporation, working minimum 60+ hours and stressed out and thinking about work even when not at work. And my marriage would no doubt be strained as DW, out of sheer necessity, would be shouldering the bulk of the child-rearing responsibilities during the day, with all the summer camps closed, while still trying to manage her own job. I'd be making 2-3 times more than I am now, but it's likely we'd nevertheless be living essentially big paycheck-to-big paycheck, as we'd have multiple mortgages (one of which likely would be covering an extensive home renovation) on a big house that requires lots of maintenance and upkeep, along with another mortgage or two on a mountain house, or beach house, or lake house, no doubt. Meanwhile, my old firm and most of the other big firms have implemented "temporary" pay cuts for attorneys and other cost saving measures (they "temporarily" got rid of the 401K match during the 2008 recession, and it never came back), in order to (understandably and justifiably) try and avoid having to implement pay cuts, furloughs, or lay offs for the firm's non-attorney staff, who get paid MUCH less than the attorneys. I'd no doubt be sweating those pay cuts, temporary or not, as our monthly expenses would likely be more like $25K-$30K, even counting mortgage principal as savings, as opposed to the $5K to $10K we currently spend most months.

Currently, although we are certainly far from being poster children for frugal living, we are in a position where we could easily live on DW's salary if needed, sacrificing only some of our savings contributions. And because I made the jump from the big firm where one services only "firm" clients, to a small firm where I am expected to develop clients of my own, if I got laid off tomorrow I could take enough business with me personally to at least cover our family's basic living expenses.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

As I spend more time with my church group of friends, who all own or work for small businesses, as opposed to my secular group of friends, who all work for big corporations or big professional service firms, it's very easy to see how their stress loads are just different. The church group stresses (to the extent they do) about being able to make payroll and some of the other stresses of running a business; though, honestly, business seems to be booming for all of them. The secular group seems to stress (constantly) about keeping their jobs, or about furloughs and pay cuts. I get the sense that the church group seems to worry less about their ability to provide for their families, and more about making sure that their employees will be able to provide for theirs. The secular group, on the other hand, worries constantly about being able to provide for their own family and their ability to maintain their current standard of living, with the private pool memberships, the kids' prestige extra-curricular activities, the ability to afford to live in our public school zone, their international family trips, their BMW or Tesla car loans, their expensive craft beer tastes, etc. This isn't necessarily because the former group is religious, and the latter group is not; I think it's just because the former group are blue collar/small business owner folks who both know how to make a living with their hands and have already gotten comfortable with the risk involved with starting and running a small business. The latter group, however, is entirely (or at least almost entirely) dependent on staying in the good graces of their corporate overlords. This was the group I belonged to ~5 years ago, until we saved enough FU money, and until I went to work for partners who also had gotten comfortable with the risk involved with starting and running a small business.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Alright, that's enough patting myself on my back for one day; tomorrow I'll have to go to confession for gossiping about others in a manner completely divorced from worrying about their well being.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Noticing that among my various circles of friends, acquaintances, fellow parishioners, and family, things seem to be reaching a boiling point as it concerns differing views on what to make of what's going on in our city and our country right now. People seem to be picking sides, with fewer people picking some sort of middle ground; or if they are, they are choosing to keep mum. It's a bit scary. As for me, given just how on edge people within my own communities are at the moment, I'm going to opt for the keeping mum approach, and bury myself in old books with enduring ideas.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I created a topic on the Work & Education forum, seeking ideas of entrepreneurship, and I'm realizing much of what I want to say is probably better fit for my journal (of the self therapy variety)--though I'm definitely still interested in business ideas, not of the online or "work from home"/side hustle variety.

My current restlessness is due in part to the fact that, professionally speaking (as it concerns my legal career), I realize that I've probably accomplished what I want to do. I don't really have any interest in becoming a judge, or winning that big trial (too much work), or developing a massive book of business that I can then service through the law firm pyramid scheme-ish revenue model. And I certainly no longer have any interest in getting published in legal journals no one (and I mean no one) reads, or speaking at conferences or at CLEs. I enjoy practicing law; and I enjoy the clients I work with and the work I do for them. And I want to keep doing that, but not much more. But I still have ambition, generally speaking, it's just not really particularly tied to practicing law. And I don't have any interest in hanging my own shingle; or being some sort of "legal rebel" who develops the next best technology driven solution to address legal needs.

Honestly, I'm wishing in part we still did the gentleman farmer thing, like John Adams (or even the way my grandfather and great grandfather did). You'd have a townhouse where you'd live and work, practicing law, for parts of the year; and you'd have your country farm and farmhouse (the family homestead) that you'd work during other parts of the year. This would give you the break from the monotony of legal practice you'd need; some time away from the desk and working with your hands in the sunshine. This would also allow you to pursue some other interests, whether its scholarly pursuits or hobbies. I know there's nothing really stopping me from doing something like that, apart from the fact that I know absolutely nothing about running a farm, profitably or otherwise. So perhaps some sort of non-legal entrepreneurial endeavor might scratch that itch. I could continue my legal career, on whatever sort of reduced hours model makes the most sense; and I could focus my ambition on trying to build up a successful business, with success measured by whether or not I ethically address a market need, and create employment opportunities so that fathers and mothers can support their families' needs doing work they can be proud of, for bosses that support them.

Perhaps the endeavor(s) become so time consuming and enjoyable that I decide to give up the law practice, or to scale it further back; or perhaps that doesn't happen and I decide to go back to practicing law full time.

The truth is that if you calculated how much time I spend actually practicing law (which of course I already do, because that's how I get paid), and compared that to how much time I sit at work not practicing law, surfing the web or whatever, you'd see that I'm already splitting up my time at the office, I'm just wasting half or so of that time. What I'm looking for are ways to make that wasted time more productive, and I think I've finally come to the realization that I'm not really interested in spending that time practicing more law; I practice enough.

I think ultimately I'm just tired of this stupid idea that I've got to do what I'm doing (or at least look like I'm doing it) ~8-10 hours day, 5 days a week, ~50 weeks a year, with ~2-3 weeks or so a year where I line up on the highway behind all the other big-city schmoes to head down to the beach of wherever.

ThriftyRob
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by ThriftyRob »

An interesting read, Hristo. From where I'm sitting, it reads like you have become a creature of habit, keeping up appearances, and without any clear, discernible goals.

The questions that come to mind are: which parts of your work give you satisfaction and which get you down? Is it possible to do more of the former and delegate/divest yourself of the latter? Is there an opportunity to be more niche, so that you do less work but it is better remunerated? Do you have a strong passion for a cause or injustice that you could devote some of your time to, maybe pro bono or at a discounted fee rate? Are there opportunities for you to move in-house working for a client? Would a sabbatical or secondment freshen up your approach. Do you have a network and are you exploring options outside? Is it possible to transition by taking on board directorships that may bridge you towards something you would rather be doing? Have you worked out the kind of activity, stimulation and challenges you would like to face in your next work persona?

Have you gone through a process of establishing a web of goals? Certainly, your financial goals should be clear and then it's a case of working out the options that would get you to them.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

A good read on one of my favorite pet topics from a surprising source (sort of - this is entirely consistent with Burkean/Kirkian conservativism, as applied to this topic through Dreher's Crunchy Cons): https://www.theamericanconservative.com ... e-or-cars/

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

"What makes matters more desperate is that for auto-based development patterns aging is not graceful. While buildings in the traditional development style have a natural interdependency—they line up in a pattern, often share walls, their value is a function of the quality of the public space they front, and so forth—each auto-oriented building is, by design, totally independent. It will have its own parking. Many are fenced off from their neighbors or have ditches or berms in between. This is done, of course, to facilitate efficiency in construction. The result is that each failure becomes a random blight.

Auto-based development patterns follow a now familiar cycle of growth, stagnation, and then rapid decline. During the growth phase, when everything is shiny and new, the affluent move in and enjoy the prosperity of a place on the rise. But as those random failures emerge and things start to decline, those with the means to move on tend to do so, leaving behind cities of dwindling wealth. As the decline steepens, local governments borrow money in the hopes that their revenue problems are simply a temporary cash-flow crunch. The result over decades, however, is an insolvent city with huge debts serving an impoverished population poorly situated to bear the financial burdens of an auto-dependent existence."

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Call it confirmation bias, but I love anything that lays out how the automobile is most responsible for the decline of western civilization.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

ThriftyRob wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:45 pm
An interesting read, Hristo. From where I'm sitting, it reads like you have become a creature of habit, keeping up appearances, and without any clear, discernible goals.
. . .
Have you gone through a process of establishing a web of goals? Certainly, your financial goals should be clear and then it's a case of working out the options that would get you to them.
Thanks ThriftyRob. To be defensive for just a second, I'd say that you're likely right about me not having any clear, discernible career goals at the moment; but that's in part due to the fact that, for the past couple years, I've been more focused on family, faith, and personal development. That said, you're right that I shouldn't view those various pursuits as being wholly independent of one another. And to that end, here's a first draft of what will likely be an ongoing (and, perhaps, perpetual) attempt to frame out a web of goals. Note I'm doing this without the ERE book handy, which is at home, and which I haven't looked at in a couple years. Hopefully I'll have time tonight to further develop this web of goals with the benefit of Jacob's writings on the topic. As I'm balancing various work-related tasks today, I'm also working on populating the next level of this project, which are the interrelated objectives, which will be followed by the strategies/habits to meet those objectives. I'm not sure if that's what is meant by "web of goals" within the ERE universe, but I didn't want to wait until this evening when I have the ERE book as a reference to get started.

Essential Purpose

To live a holy life

Personal Motto

Tempus fugit, memento mori

Web of Goals

- Be authentic, through the conscious, disciplined, and persistent striving for virtue
- Be the best husband and father I can be
- Be the best friend I can be
- Be a “competent man”
- Be a trusted counselor and legal advisor
- Be a learned/well-read man
- Be financially independent and self reliant
- Be an asset for my community; always adding value

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Building this out a bit more. If anyone has thoughts, criticisms, whatever, I'm happy to hear them.

Objectives

- Maintain an active spiritual life; pray regularly
- Develop improved cooking/bbq skills
- Regularly play with my kids
- Read an average of 1 book per week
- Develop my own book of business amounting to at least 1,000 hours of IP work a year
- Obtain (and maintain) weight of 160-165
- Build functional strength
- Become proficient in jiu jitsu
- Become a competent handgun owner
- Develop and exercise home DIY skills; always think DIY first
- Walk or bike whenever possible
- Be well informed on current events without drowning to the point of distraction
- Write a narrative family genealogy
- Learn how to make beer or wine at home
- Maintain a container vegetable garden
- Pay off the house in 5 years
- Obtain a $1,000,000 net worth; diversify by acquiring non-stock/non-mutual fund assets
- Start a business

Strategies/Habits

- Weekly mass
- Monthly confession
- Annual retreat
- Pray the Rosary every morning when I walk the dog
- Pray at every meal, and every night with the kids
- Teach Sunday School
- Walk to work every day; walk or ride my bike for errands/shopping whenever feasible
- Bill 6 hours of work every work day
- Read the newspaper every day; and otherwise avoid consuming news
- No social media
- Eat a modest breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day; no snacking
- Limit alcohol intake to 1 drink a day, or 1 shared bottle of wine with my wife; except social situations
- Exercise every morning, except Sunday, rotating between kettlebell routines and running
- Lay out exercise clothes the night before
- Read books in the evenings and as breaks at work; limit television and websurfing
- Cook and eat at home; limit restaurants to social events
- Avoid sexually stimulating imagery
- Think hiking/camping first for family getaways and recreation
- Make the bed every morning upon rising
- Dress respectfully, every day
- Keep my mouth shut outside of my marriage; speak not but what may benefit others or myself--avoid trifling conversation
- Join jiu jitsu gym when Covid is gone
- Continue automatic mortgage principal payments and index fund investments
- Research non-stock/mutual fund assets, for diversification (rural property perhaps?)
- Always look for business opportunities; identify market needs that are not being sufficiently served

Weekday Routine

- 5:30-8:30: wake-up; exercise; walk dog; coffee/newspaper; shower/dress
- 8:30-5:30: commute; work (bill minimum 6 hours--walk, read, or pursue hobbies for mental breaks)
- 5:30-8:30: family; dinner; read; hobbies
- 8:30-9:30: read; walk dog; hobbies
- 9:30-5:30: sleep

ThriftyRob
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:20 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by ThriftyRob »

Thank you for sharing your thinking and framework for your web of goals. They are clearly your property and will hopefully give you an algorithm for how you prioritise and allocate your time, energy and resources.

My observation is that your business/career aspirations sit within a much broader context of family/values/lifestyle. If you re-read the section of the book on web of goals, the relevant consideration will be for you to ensure you have alignment without negative conflicts. For example, your 'start a business' goal could potentially make demands on your fitness/exercise/dog-walking routine or make it more challenging for you to hold to your 'limit alcohol' strategy, which I guess should enable you to focus more selectively on what kind of business and how you choose to develop it.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

ThriftyRob wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:49 pm
For example, your 'start a business' goal could potentially make demands on your fitness/exercise/dog-walking routine or make it more challenging for you to hold to your 'limit alcohol' strategy, which I guess should enable you to focus more selectively on what kind of business and how you choose to develop it.
I should say the "start a business" goal just barely made it to the goal list, and might be removed. The reason it's there now is that I'm currently reading Jordan Raynor's Called to Create, which has changed my perspective a bit on entrepreneurship. If I endeavor to start a business, it will be because it fits with my spiritual and family goals, as well as my other less important goals like exercise, fitness, etc. A couple of good friends of mine got out of the corporate/professional services world and started their own businesses SO THAT they could be more involved in their kids' lives, and more involved with our shared church and community. For sure, they both work A LOT, but, they often have their kids with them while they are doing it; more of the family restaurant kind of situation. If I had to choose, I'd take 10 hours a day where my kids are in and out of the shop or store, than 8 hours a day where I'm off in some office where kids aren't even really allowed.

Post Reply