Hristo's FI Journal

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

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

Welcome to the tin foil hat club. I wouldn’t wait too long.

“Be quick but never hurry.”

John Wooden

Alphaville
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Alphaville »

Mister Imperceptible wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:59 pm

“Be quick but never hurry.”

John Wooden
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festina_lente

mooretrees
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by mooretrees »

Lot of interesting thoughts lately. I wanted to suggest a book for you, The Circle by Dave Eggers. I know you're more into the classics, but this was a quick and interesting/scary read. I read your list of Google products you use and then thought of that list after I read this book. Dystopian read about a company trying to complete the 'circle' of users/citizens who rely on their products for everyday living and this strange fanatical obsession with transparency and hatred of privacy.

Maybe focus a little bit on acquiring skills as well as stuff? I just read The Long Descent by John Michael Greer and it was pretty interesting take on peak oil and how to prepare for it. However, every time I read a book like that, I think, well I could have just read ERE again and likely gotten useful relevant ideas out of it.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

In today's paper: page 2's headline was the soon-to-be-announced disastrous GDP numbers; page 6 reported the S&P 500's strongest day in several weeks. WTF!?!?

jacob
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by jacob »

Hehe, yes, this particular "Hegelian dialectic" is not going to be resolved by the simple path to wealth. It's not going to be resolved by http://earlyretirementextreme.com/start ... sting.html either, but at least it's a good starting point.

Alphaville
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Alphaville »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:17 am
In today's paper: page 2's headline was the soon-to-be-announced disastrous GDP numbers; page 6 reported the S&P 500's strongest day in several weeks. WTF!?!?
this is a couple months old but still a good read

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/ ... al-economy

with a link to this included: https://www.economist.com/finance-and-e ... um-economy

some of that was free, not sure if it still is

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:25 am
this is a couple months old but still a good read

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/ ... al-economy
Ha! Here's the quote from my morning's paper about the Wall Street rally that made me laugh out loud: “The markets are very strong, but the real economy is not so strong." What? I've spent the past 15 years or so focusing on practicing law and raising a family, and not really bothered with anything else; and for the last handful of years I've reflexively tried to dump as much money as I can into broad US-focused index funds, on the advice of the likes of Bogle and Buffett. My dad (a retired industrial plant manager and turn-around specialist) has been telling me for years that the system is just off; he'd have punk Bain Capital types come down from NYC ("New York City!!!") telling him they aren't really interested in whether he's made his plant profitable, that's not really the point--which left him with the strong belief that our priorities are way out of wack and not sustainable. I tended to just give him the "yeah whatever" (OK boomer), because as a member of the highly-educated professional "elite," I made WAY MORE than my years, experience, and competence justified doing IP due diligence, etc. on all of those ridiculous M&A deals as one company bought up another in order to sell it off in a couple years to be bought up again by someone else; you've got more people working and getting paid to draw up the mountains of deal papers and the inevitable lawsuits than you do actually working to produce whatever good or service the underlying company produced. And my ridiculous salary is baked into the price that the regular consumer pays for those goods/services.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:25 am
Hehe, yes, this particular "Hegelian dialectic" is not going to be resolved by the simple path to wealth. It's not going to be resolved by http://earlyretirementextreme.com/start ... sting.html either, but at least it's a good starting point.
Thanks Jacob. If it's not already clear, it takes a while for things to sink in with me. I've got on my bookshelf Thomson West's "Accounting and Finance for Lawyers," which is like saying "Accounting and Finance for Dummies," so I think I'll start there.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

mooretrees wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:59 am
Lot of interesting thoughts lately. I wanted to suggest a book for you, The Circle by Dave Eggers.
Just checked out the audio version from my library; thanks! (Though, honestly, I'm terrified about reading this book.)
mooretrees wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:59 am
I just read The Long Descent by John Michael Greer and it was pretty interesting take on peak oil and how to prepare for it.
This peak oil stuff is new to me; is this book worth reading?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Not sure about this druid stuff, but I can get on board with this, from Wikipedia: "Greer describes himself as a moderate Burkean conservative, influenced by the political theorist Edmund Burke."

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Reading list:

- Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment (just finished)
- Jordan Raynor, Called to Create (just finished)
- Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow (currently reading)
- Eggers, The Circle (currently listening to) (thanks mooretrees)
- Emerson, Self-Reliance
- Accounting and Finance for Lawyers [i.e., Dummies]
- Tim Soerens, Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are (book club selection)
- Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System
- Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
- Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
- Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
- Larson, The Splendid and the Vile
- Galbraith, The Great Crash 1929
- Greer, The Long Descent (maybe)
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

OK, @mooretrees has me going down a John Michael Greer rabbit hole. I'd never heard this guy's name this morning. From a 2009 blog post (https://www.resilience.org/stories/2009 ... -delusion/), the bolded language is so, so true:

The economic history of the 19th century offers a good example. The rising industrial economy of the time drove a massive increase in the production of real wealth. Most industrial nations, though, inherited money systems backed by gold reserves that offered few options for expanding the money supply to match the supply of real wealth. The result was a deflationary spiral that brought major economic depressions every couple of decades for most of the century. In response, in the 20th century, nation after nation abandoned the gold standard’s straitjacket and retooled their money systems to meet the needs of an expanding economy.

That’s the context of the present crisis because, in terms of real wealth, we no longer have an expanding economy. The production of real wealth in the world’s industrial nations has been in decline now for decades. Some of the deficit has been made up by importing real wealth from overseas, but not all; compare the lifestyle available to a single salary working class American family in 1969 to the lifestyle available to a similar family today and it’s possible to get a glimpse of just how much impoverishment has taken place over the last forty years.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I mean, damn - consider my mind blown (admittedly, it doesn't take much. The first bolded sentence is exactly my experience living in a village deep in the Balkan mountains just a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The second bolded sentence is what you fine people in this forum keep telling me to do.

"Still, in a contracting economy, on average, all investments lose money. This is the hard reality with which all of us will have to deal. This is why, in the twilight years of the Roman world, a complex money economy that made heavy use of credit and investment gave way to purely local economies of barter and customary exchange, in which money played a very minor role and credit was unheard of. It is also why the two great religious movements that rose out of Rome’s ruins, Christianity and Islam, both considered lending at interest a mortal sin – though Christianity managed to talk itself out of that useful teaching some centuries ago.

Thus the only investment advice I can offer is to get out of investments altogether, and put your money into something that will actually be useful: training in practical skills that will make you employable in a deindustrializing economy, for example, or extra insulation so you can keep your home livable with less energy. At this point in history, the belief that it’s possible to have your money make your living for you is basically a delusion; it’s likely to be a fairly persistent one, but those who can shake themselves free of it and adjust to life in a radically different economic reality are likely to do better than those who keep on chasing the prospects of an age that is ending around us."

JenAR
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by JenAR »

Oh, I really like JMG! Fascinating perspective, very helpful and interesting fellow.

I’ve emphasized investing in skills, tools, and alternative forms of capital (social, ecological, etc) above financial investments largely thanks to him.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

JenAR wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:33 pm
I’ve emphasized investing in skills, tools, and alternative forms of capital (social, ecological, etc) above financial investments largely thanks to him.
Can I ask for some generic examples of social, ecological, etc. alternative forms of capital? I'm doing some serious self-reflection right now as it concerns our investments.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Careful with JMG. I, too, was leery of the "druid stuff" when I first ran in to him, but found his peak oil / long descent topics so solid I was able to get past it. Now I have maybe 4 of his occult-themed books on my shelf. You've been warned! :lol: (In his defense, his occult writings are the least woo-woo books I've ever read on any topic, and the content is *literally about* woo-woo. Incredible.)

You didn't ask me but I'll give a small example of social capital: I have a number of family and friends in various locations across the US who have homes and/or land with more space than they know what to do with. I maintain solid relationships with these people, because I like them and they're meaningful to me. But, also, they are more than happy for me to park my rig on their land (or stay in their extra room) for free. So one could say I am able to "spend" (not the right term, because I don't lose anything) social capital in exchange for shelter. Because of these relationships, I don't pay rent or have to own land, although I intend to eventually.

jacob
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by jacob »

ERE book 4.1

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks AxelHeyst; that's an excellent example. I've never really thought of investments that way, but it makes total sense to me. E.g., it took us 40+ years, but DW and I have finally realized that we actually have the luxury of being able to choose our friends; we're not just stuck forever with the folks we went to high school and college with, our neighbors, etc. And as a result we've sought out and "invested" time (and money) nurturing those friends who share our values and life philosophy, for the most part. Those friendships have resulted in all sorts of serendipitous (isn't that an ERE book principle?) opportunities that really have started to shape what the next phase of our post-40 lives are going to look like, in very positive ways. Just as an example, similar to yours, if/when we buy an Airstream, we've got a free place to park it now. Also, we've now got lots of help watching our kids we didn't have before. And I've got small business opportunities now that won't cost much to invest in and that will be a blast to try even if they don't succeed. And this all happens because, for one, these people are GIVERS (and we try to be as well, not as successfully); and, two, this groups is significantly more diverse than the friends/acquaintances with whom DW and I spent our 30s. If you really want to bang your head against a wall, be a fly on a wall while a group of 40-year-old highly-educated upper middle class white collar large corporate/professional services firm professional office workers (attorneys, consultants, bankers, marketing folks) sit around and play a game of poker. One need no more proof of the coming contraction of our economy and our way of life than to know that those are the folks our society chooses to reward with the highest salaries.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Because of the angst I've been having the past few days, I decided to finally do something I think I'm actually supposed to do more regularly, which is to rebalance our retirement funds and some other investments. With the new allocation, which I feel better now about just setting and forgetting, we're still pretty heavy in stock index funds, but not as much so. The goal will be to build up our cash reserves over the next few months/years, with a goal of figuring out something(s) to invest the cash in that isn't index funds. The new allocation is as follows: Stocks (index) 70%; Bonds (index) 22%; and Cash 8%. I didn't include the kids' 529 (which is a managed fund) or our home equity in that allocation.

Our retirement funds had been almost ALL invested in stock index funds prior to today.

Hristo Botev
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Ralph Waldo Emerson

Post by Hristo Botev »

Finished Self-Reliance this morning, and wow, just wow. As a Catholic and a Southerner, there's much with which I and a New England transcendentalist are not going to see eye to eye on. And there was much with which I cringed upon reading in the essay (e.g., the "you be you" relativism that predominates the essay; and the Kirkian conservative in me balks at any suggestion that we should completely abandon tradition and custom). BUT, there was much more with which I found myself vigorously nodding in agreement, which stirred my soul and nearly moved me to tears. Indeed, to reject the essay outright because there are things in it with which I disagree, or which are contradictory, would be to miss the point of one of the main themes of the essay.

There's much to ponder in this short essay, but here's what most stirred my soul:

"If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not `studying a profession,' for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances."

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