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 »

A couple thoughts, as I force myself NOT to look at social media or online aggregator news while I eat lunch.

First, with this ridiculous and clearly unsustainable market rebound we've had the past 3 months, DW and I managed to cross over the half a million net worth point a couple days ago, not factoring in home equity and our kids' college accounts. We're approaching $700K in total net worth once you throw in home equity, college savings. So that's great; though of course the coming market crash is inevitable once we declare a new cold war with China and the vaccine doesn't do exactly what we need it to.

Second, DW is considering leaving her hospital job in favor of one that: (a) is remote, (b) doesn't involve managing employees, and (c) doesn't involve the constant whipsaw nonsense of hospital leadership and its worthless HR department jumping on the bandwagon of every single new social justice/woke movement that comes along, for virtue signaling purposes, in the name of "corporate culture." She was getting a little exhausted with being a manager before COVID (she loves the clinical part of her job), and that's only gotten worse as her direct reports have only gotten MORE whiny and needy since COVID, and she's had to manage that whinyness while working from home most days. She is someone who lacks the ability to not give a f*@# when her employees are being whiny, entitled little punks; she puts a lot of herself into trying to be a good manager, to mentor young professionals in her field (DW has almost 20 years clinical experience at this point). And so she really beats herself up when it doesn't work out. And her corporate hospital (and its stupid HR department) keeps doing nonsense endeavors to "empower" employees that serve no purpose but to discredit a manager's authority and ability to actually manage a department. The hospital, and I'm guessing most big corporate enterprises that hire a lot of 20-somethings, seems to be scared to death that this new generation seems to be much less likely to stick around for the long haul. So as an institution they spend gobs of money to train up these young clinicians, and then after a few years they decide they'd rather go be a yoga instructor, or whatever. So these employers bend over backwards to give employees a "voice," even though they have like NO experience, and therefore NO wisdom to offer. I guess it's great that people feel that they don't have to be "chained" to a job, or whatever, but honestly, I don't see how any of this is sustainable on a macro level.

Alright, that's my old man rant for the day.

Now GET OFF MY LAWN!

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

To be less ranty and outward looking for a moment, and more inwardly focused on self-improvement, as I try and turn some of the goal-focused objectives I identified yesterday into reflexive habits, I'm going to try tracking my progress on a daily basis; at least until I get bored with it. To that end, here's what I've put together for tracking purposes, with the idea that every morning I'll post my progress (with a success/no success indication) from the day before. So far so good for today.

- 5:30 w/u:
- Make bed:
- Exercise:
- Read paper:
- Pray rosary on morning dog walk:
- No social media/online news:
- Pray before every meal:
- Bill 6 hours:
- Developed DIY skills/hobbies:
- Keep mouth shut w/ non-family (not counting the ERE forum, obviously):
- Avoid sexually stimulating images:
- Limit car use:
- Read:
- Limit TV:
- 3 meals, no snacking:
- Limit 1 alcoholic drink:
- Lay out w/o clothes for next day:

I'm also going to try tracking my (and, more importantly, my family's) daily spending.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

- 5:30 w/u: Yes
- Make bed: Yes
- Exercise: Yes (ran 5K)
- Read paper: Yes
- Pray rosary on morning dog walk: Yes (also prayed rosary as a family before bed)
- No social media/online news: Yes on social media; no on online news
- Pray before every meal: Yes
- Bill 6 hours: No (billed 5)
- Developed DIY skills/hobbies: No
- Keep mouth shut w/ non-family (not counting the ERE forum, obviously): No (contributed in a group text about T. Jefferson in a way that didn't really benefit anyone)
- Avoid sexually stimulating images: Yes
- Limit car use: Yes (car was stationary for the day)
- Read: Yes (though just a chapter before bed)
- Limit TV: No (DW and I are currently re-watching the John Adams HBO miniseries; hence the T. Jefferson group text)
- 3 meals, no snacking: Big no (snacked the equivalent of at least a 4th meal after dinner; and today I feel bloated and gross)
- Limit 1 alcoholic drink: Also big no (somehow managed to drink 7 drinks, 3 with DW, and then 4 more by myself as I stayed up late listening to music)
- Lay out w/o clothes for next day: No

This has the potential of being a really depressing self-awareness exercise.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

For spending, neither I nor my family spent any money yesterday.

Alphaville
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Location: Quarantined

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Alphaville »

ex-catholic here. read your goals a couple of days ago. forgive me if i make some theological assumptions in my reply, your post is all i got. and since you posted for public viewing, i’d like to offer a suggestion.

you list is full of great hononorable goals, they’re all worthy and commendable.

but the problem as i see is that the focus on such high standards for the self can become a platform for “more self.” the self... likes to feed on vanity and anger and pride.

i think your list could use a little room for humility and fallibility and compassion and forgiveness.

sure, a monthly confession allows for some of that, but we need to live with our limitations every day, we interact with people who come up short every day, so we need those things every day.

this is not to say to throw all your goals out of the window—they are good goals. but that perseverance in your path requires more understanding and forgiveness, less flogging and rigidity? more christian love and less perfectionism? i think many of the items in your list could be fulfilled by that general principle rather than itemized.

then again i’m no priest or theologian or any of that. i just had a lot of therapy :lol:

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:38 am


Thanks for your thoughts @Alphaville. Some background, my parish was taken over by Jesuits a few years ago (yes, the "takeover" language is intentional), and to be honest, when it comes to the mercy/justice dichotomy, I've had it up to my eyeballs with mercy lately. Justice is important to. And I might lose it if I hear one more homily about how God is love, as if Christian "love" is just some feeling or emotion, and how we all need to be tolerant and kind and nice and accepting, of others and of ourselves. I get it, and I of course agree with all of that; but that's just surface-level stuff. Christian "love" is willing the good of the other; or as it concerns self love, willing the good of yourself. So it's not enough to just say, we are all fallen sinners who are imperfectable, and be defeatist about it and shrug your shoulders. Lately, at my parish, it seems like the only individual guilt that is acceptable is racial guilt. Self flagellation for the sins of our forefathers? Good. Self flagellation for our own failings to live virtuously? Bad, we shouldn't judge others and we shouldn't even judge ourselves. This is all nonsense, and this sort of watered-down, feel good, judgement free Christianity is exactly why the mainline Protestant churches are empty; and its why the likes of Jordan Peterson et al. have messages that speak to people, because although we aren't perfectable, we are certainly improvable.

I don't think it's asking too much of myself to stick with 1 drink a night, or to pray the rosary every day, or to avoid sexually suggestive images so as to not objectify someone's daughter/mother or commit marital infidelity, and so on.

Alphaville
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Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Alphaville »

hahah! i like jesuits. they have the best schools.

i was in no way trying to say be defeatist or that it’s all about woo-woo feels. i’m just saying in the language of my upbringing that pride was lucifer’s undoing, and that it was the pharisees who rejected christ. so, that’s something to be watchful about for whatever is worth, that “the rules” don’t become everything.

i’ve been done with parish life for ages though, so really i’m not the best to discuss catholic doctrine at this point, although the opus dei still gives me the willies. i do remember that vatican 2nd generated conservative splinters, and personally know of a priest who became greek orthodox as a result. so seekers find their homes.

best wishes with your pursuits. i just wanted to comment on the dangers of perfectionism as i see them.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:42 am
best wishes with your pursuits. i just wanted to comment on the dangers of perfectionism.
I should say I view my journal as my private journal; I know its on a publicly-available forum, but my journal is me trying to work out my stuff, financially, yes, but also trying to improve myself in every way (and, frankly, to vent about some of the goings-ons of the day that are driving me nuts and that I can't or shouldn't vent about with friends or colleagues). I get the point about the pharisees, but my intention is not to say: look upon me ye fellow forum members, and witness how valiantly I strive to live virtuously.

Alphaville
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Location: Quarantined

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Alphaville »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:55 am
I get the point about the pharisees, but my intention is not to say: look upon me ye fellow forum members, and witness how valiantly I strive to live virtuously.
oh no, i never read it that way, i never read your list as a show“look at me how great i am” nononono. you don’t come across that way at all.

as i said your list is great and your goals honorable and sincere in your striving. if anything, you’re very quick to recognize when you come up short of your goals. but then you allude to the coming up short as depressing, and you’re frustrated with other people’s shortcomings.

i guess the idea i’m trying to find (i tend to know what i’m thinking better when i write it out, rather than think first and then say, because i guess i can’t think clearly without verbalizing) is the need for an escape valve in the judgment process.

by escape valve i don’t mean it as indulging in the unwanted behaviors. i’m not saying “it’s okay, go get wasted in a strip club” or suspend your judgment either, and “everything goes.” no.

it’s rather that perhaps the judgment ought not to be harsh, but kind. know what i mean? (it’s a bit of a stupid thing to ask you if you know what i mean, because we’re not telepaths) but e.g. like the attempted stoning of the adulterous woman: go and sin no more, but skip the condemnation maybe? i guess that’s the concept i’m looking for. not to ignore the failings, but to handle them with compassion and kindness.

anyway, i don’t mean to interfere in your private journal, but it was public and i read it. please don’t regard my comments as judgments, much less of the unkind sort.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:14 am
i’m not saying “it’s okay, go get wasted in a strip club” or suspend your judgment either and everything goes.
Damnit, I didn't even think about adding "don't get wasted in a strip club" to my list; one more thing to beat myself up about.

I get what you're saying, and I was being overly dramatic by saying "depressing"; it's not, but I think it's necessary to feel at least a little guilt when you fall short of where you've aimed (especially when you do so by a multiple of 7!). But for sure there's no value in being too harsh on yourself. As you alluded to earlier, that's why the sacrament of reconciliation is such a wonderful gift. The whole process of doing an examination of conscience, confessing your failings to God, resolving to take concrete steps to do better, receiving your penance, and receiving total and complete absolution, it's one of the most wonderful things in the world.

But as for skipping the condemnation, I of course agree that condemnation isn't right, but "go and sin no more" only works if you admit and feel sorry for those sins, which necessarily involves some guilt.

Also, you can interfere in my "private" journal any time you want; that's the only reason why I've stuck with this journal for 2+ years, when I've lost interest in and abandoned every other attempt at journaling I've made in my life. It's the reality that it's "private" only in that its anonymous, that people might actually read and comment on what I've written.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:27 am
Second, DW is considering leaving her hospital job in favor of one that: (a) is remote, (b) doesn't involve managing employees, and (c) doesn't involve the constant whipsaw nonsense of hospital leadership and its worthless HR department jumping on the bandwagon of every single new social justice/woke movement that comes along, for virtue signaling purposes, in the name of "corporate culture."
So apparently we're really considering a move, in connection with a change of DW's job. I keep hearing about how, in our current environment, its significantly more expensive to rent a uhaul to leave a major metro area than it is to rent one to move to a metro area. And we're feeling that sentiment. We've made a couple recent trips back to the redneck rural place where DW and I grew up, and I certainly no longer feel sorry for (or think I'm better than) our friends that never "got out." Turns out they may have been right all along.

Anyway, the primary reason we moved to the "big city" in the first place was because it was necessary for me, in the field of law I practice, to get my start with a biglaw firm with a sophisticated practice in my field. But I've checked that box, and bigcity living is less and less appealing these days, in no small part because as the country seemingly gets more and more divided along cultural (not to mention political) grounds, we're much more feeling like outsiders here than we ever did before. We used to be our friends' and neighbors' token conservative buddies, who could always be relied on for a fun, spirited argument. Now, it's advisable to just keep your mouth shut, as the landscape of what is considered a thoughtcrime seems to change every hour.

I don't think we'd pull our kids out of their K-8 parochial school, absent any significant liberalizing of the school's administration or instruction (along the lines as what's already happened with the parish administration itself), because that's about the best thing we got going right now. But I could see some sort of situation where DW gets a job at a hospital in a less populous town 2-4 hours from where we currently live, or a job that is all or mostly remote, and we'd buy some sort of rural homestead, perhaps on a lake or some place with lots of land, and we'd split our time between there and between where we currently live. My in laws have a condo here that they are never at, and so we could rent out our current townhouse and then stay at my in laws place rent free Sunday night through Thursday night, while the kids' school is in session. Or, alternatively, we'd just buy a fancy new Airstream and park it at my buddy's warehouse when school is in session.

And as for me, if this little pandemic has taught me anything it's that I certainly can work remotely, and so there really shouldn't be any basis for my law partners to object to me not coming into the office every day. Or, worst (or perhaps best) case scenario, I just hang out my own shingle and take some work with me.

Anyway, DW and I both have gotten very effective at persuading one another over the years. We know the best strategy is to drop hints over the course of days, weeks, and months, to get the other person first comfortable with the idea, and then get them to the point where they take actual ownership of the idea. And, needless to say, DW has been dropping hints for a couple months now, and as she's starting to actually apply for jobs, I can see what's coming, and frankly, I'm down with it.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

It's not escaped me at all that I married a military brat who is accustomed to moving every couple of years, and who gets itchy feet. For those of you keeping track at home, since we got married in 2006, we've lived in 9 different residences, including 5 different residences since 2015. Next month we will be one year in our current townhouse, so, itchy feet it is. As long as that itchy feet is limited to her choice in homes and not her choice in husbands, I'll count my blessings.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

The family spent the day yesterday driving around looking at some rural properties, to get some ideas. What we learned: (1) we want to be at a higher elevation, north of the city, so that we can at least get a little bit of a break from the summer heat; (2) but, we'd prefer the mountain foothills to the mountains themselves, preferably with some lightly rolling hills and some flat land; (3) a lake, pond, or creek on property would be nice; (4) we'd prefer property where there is already some sort of house/cabin already on property, even if we don't plan on that being the permanent residence; and (5) something north of 20 acres is probably necessary, for what we're looking for.

I've spent several years now saving money in the name of security, and as the country seems to be falling apart, I'm realizing that financial security might not mean much.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

So what will provide security, if some 401Ks, 529s, and HSAs won't do it?

- DIY skills, for sure
- Physical health
- Land, the more the better
- A food source
- Guns, naturally, and a place to keep them and fire them

Anything else?

Thinking to the time I spent 2 years living in a country that, at the time, was just a handful of years post-Soviet, the people who it seems had thrived during communism were those who were as self-sufficient as the government would allow. These were the people who had kitchen gardens and the skills to not only grow the food but to preserve it, to get through harsh winters. People who had built their own houses and could repair them, because you couldn't rely on the government building one for you. People with mechanical skills who could keep decades old cars and motorcycles operating, with limited parts with which to work. People for whom the highlight of their week might be going for a daylong hike outside their village with some friends and sharing a picnic of homemade sausage and wine, and singing old songs. People who managed to stay healthy and without need of medical or dental care. People who relied on multi-generational living situations to spread out the workload of living. People with seamstress skills who could keep clothes looking sharp and who could create clothing. People for whom one or two lambs would provide all their family's meat for the year.

No one that I met was all of these things, but they all had little community networks within which they could barter their various skills and goods. And the better you were at something, like construction or auto mechanics, the more in demand you were within your community. Think of Winston in Orwell's 1984, who was probably allowed a little more leniency than he might have otherwise because his neighbor constantly needed his help with the plumbing.

For sure these self-sufficient types weren't the most powerful or the richest people in the villages I lived in; the rich and powerful were and had been the government types, who had somehow managed to remain in the party's good graces. But the point is that the government and the party were fickle, and if your livelihood (and your life) is entirely or almost entirely dependent on the government or the party (or anything or anyone other than yourself), you're totally screwed when the winds change.

As Orwell wrote in 1984, "if there is hope, it lies with the proles."

So, endeavor to be a prole, and perhaps both the government and the tyrannical mob will just leave you alone.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I remember being invited to dinner at one of the government type's homes (he had some sort of fancy job with their equivalent of the EPA or the forest service, and his wife was the village school principal; he also had the raddest car I've ever ridden in, a Lada Niva 4x4); what was interesting is that he was arguing why the American system of super-specialization was right, and the generalized skill sets that he attributed to his fellow countrymen was wrong. I remember thinking, even at the young age of 22, that just doesn't seem right to me. Yes, specialization works on a macro level; it will make you a winner in the international economic game. But I also remember how much happier the people in the village seemed to me, notwithstanding how poor they were in terms of their own personal assets, and the personal assets of their village collectively.

Seems to me that at some level, ERE is a hack to exploit the fact that we live in a country (countries) that are winners (for the time being) in the international economic game, where riches, luxuries, and comfort abound at levels unprecedented in human history. But the ERE man, as a "competent" renaissance man, knows that the super specialization that works on a macro level doesn't work on the micro, individual level.

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fiby41
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by fiby41 »

Nice writeup! Thanks for sharing your experience of the Soviet era and for the Orwellian references.
Hristo Botev wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:33 am
Anything else?
8 types of wealth:
1. Foodgrains
2. Family relations
3. Social relations
4. Accumulated capital
5. Courage/industry/enterprisingness
6. Physical strength/prowess
7. Knowledge/technical knowhow
8. Domesticated animals

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

fiby41 wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:56 am
8. Domesticated animals
Oh man, this just reminded me that when I first got to the country I was vomiting every morning after breakfast because I didn't know how to tell my host mother thanks but no thanks for the goat's milks she was feeding me, straight from the goat living in her backyard. By the time I figured out the words, my stomach had grown accustomed to it and I actually got to like it.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I've always been a jlcollinsnh.com, set it and forget it, VTSAX-ish, passive investor type, and that's worked out fine for me so far, mostly because the automatic withdrawals via the paychecks, 529, and Vanguard force us to be less spendy than we would be otherwise. I don't think the investment strategy is going to change anytime soon. BUT, I've started to freak out a bit that very soon this whole house of cards that is our propped-up, consumer-driven, debt-laden economy is going to come crushing down in a very real, long-lasting and perhaps even permanent way. For sure I've been listening to too many of the wrong kind of podcasts, and watching too many Joe Rogan interviews. But man, I just don't understand what's going on. DW's employer offers these free financial advice seminars on a monthly basis, which DW always joins, because the guy that leads the seminars offers some good, solid money management advice, and he's not really selling anything. Anyway, today he apparently went on and on about how consumer spending is really bothering him right now, because its so high given everything that's going on right now, and he doesn't understand why/how the stock market keeps going up. I don't either. Everyday I read the paper and on the same page where it lists yesterday's gains in the S&P 500 it also talks about all these huge corporate bankruptices and layoffs; it's nuts. Granted its retail that's getting hit the hardest, but it's also the service industry generally--and these are MAJOR employers. Where do we expect people to get the money to support our consumer economy? And if the answer is to keep stroking federal relief checks, indefinitely, do we expect our stock market to keep chugging along when the underlying financial system is socialism-lite, when we've effectively admitted that we really just DON'T WANT most or at least a large minority of the population to work or contribute anything to society? We just want them to spend. I don't understand the FED or monetary policy, really even at an elementary level; and maybe if I did I wouldn't be freaked out so much--or maybe I'd be freaked out even more. But just at a sniff-test level, I'm not buying that our economy is so sophisticated (and complicated) that it can thrive in an environment where a handful of oligarchs, and the tech-savvy winners of the meritocracy who work for them, are the only people we really need to keep society chugging along.

My point is, DW and I have started realizing we probably need to prepare for a world that might be vastly different than the one we've been thriving in for the past 10-15 years. I've never been a prepper-type, but I'm starting to get it. And at a minimum, we realize we probably need more accessible cash right now than we've got. So for the time being we're not going to max out retirement accounts anymore, and take them just down to the match. And we're not going to do any more post-tax index fund contributions. And we're going to move all that money to cash, except for some that we'll use to boost what we pay each month to pay down the mortgage. Once we've got a sizable stash built up we can figure out what sort of tangible stuff we should spend it on; stuff that will serve some purpose in a post-apocalyptic world. Whether that's land, or guns, or investing in small businesses, or a camper (that scene from Independence Day keeps playing in mind, where 1,000s of campers are driving through the desert toward Area 51). And/or, perhaps we'll be at a point where the stock market won't seem so incredibly overvalued. Or perhaps I'll start following some of the advice of many of you on this forum and actually read up on real investing, to graduate beyond the level of Bogle's The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Where's my tin foil hat.

Hristo Botev
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Sr. Sean Mayer, fsp

Post by Hristo Botev »

"Beware the trap of pitting:
Martha vs Mary
Service vs contemplation
Catholic Social Teaching vs Eucharistic Adoration
Apostolate vs piety
Hold them in creative tension, sure—but don’t fall for thinking that one comes at the expense of the other. They work together."

Love this; I need to be reminded of this constantly.

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