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 »

The sourdough was about 50% a bust. The end result tasted yummy; good sourdough taste. But it didn’t rise much. So I think that means I don’t really have enough wild yeast floating around in my kitchen. So I’m starting again with my starter, but this time with some commercial yeast to help speed things along.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

November 2020 Savings Rate Numbers

Total after-tax income: $13,873.22
Total expenses: $7,192.36
Surplus/profit: $6,680.86
Savings rate: 48.16%
NW needed to cover expenses: $2,157,708

It was a spendy month, with us falling just short of our current 50% savings rate goal. That said, I take some comfort in seeing how my own personal definition of "spendy" has changed since I started this journal.

And as much as it pains me to do this, I know it's good for me (and it probably makes you feel a bit better about yourself):

Mortgage Principal: $818.26
Mortgage Interest: $468.14
Mortgage Escrow: $767.75
HOA: $254
Kids' Tuition: $1,710.20
Life Ins.: $59.15
Car Insurance: $28.90
Charitable Donations: $588.11
Internet: $20
Home Gas: $41.32
Home Electricity: $65.37
Cell Phones (x3): $78.68*
Groceries: $754.25**
Alcohol: $234.34***
Home Improvement: $221.87****
Restaurant: $270.64*****
Gifts: $270.57 ('tis the season; December will be worse)
Entertainment: $703.60******
Car: $34.47
Clothing: $5 (I bought my first article of clothing for the year--a second thermal undershirt)
ATM: $200
"Beauty": $18 (DS no longer lets me give him haircuts)

*We had Internet out for about a week due to hurricane damage, which meant DW and I were much more dependent on cellular than normal--nothing like living in a country with 3rd world infrastructure.

**This one is going to continue to be a challenge. We are certainly eating EXTREMELY WELL at home, and although we are slowly working in some dishes that are more focused on making recipes based on what we've got at home vs. recipe shopping, it's currently more of a hobby with any significant spending reductions likely still a few months away.

***This one also continues to be a challenge. DW is now on board with eliminating weekday happy hour cocktails, and as both of us are always looking for the other for an excuse, lowering alcohol consumption will definitely require that both of us be on board.

****Not even sure what this all is; though it certainly seems like Christmas decorations get us every year. Also, I'm finally starting to grow weary of paying price-gougy prices at our local independently-owned hardware store, all in the name of supporting our neighbors' local business. It's a good business with good people, but I need to be smarter about how I spend money there.

*****About half of this is kids' school lunches, which, well, don't get me started (I'll just say, there are some COVID-time biz tactics--in the name of "supporting local businesses" (i.e., franchises)--that we are buying into that are starting to piss me off). That said, the rest of this is just us falling back into some old habits, mostly in the nature of getting the family fed during weekend travel soccer games.

******Most of this is my upcoming 3-night silent retreat. The rest is DD's private soccer coaching, some movie rentals, the newspaper subscription, and quite a few books.

Regarding the silent retreat, I bet this one might be my last. Not because I don't value (and need) the experience, but because I suspect what I like most about the experience is the silence and being out in nature; and I can do that without needing to go to a retreat center. The food at the center is good (enhanced by the silence); and the grounds are pretty and I like staying in a small, bare, monk-like "cell"--but I suspect a 2 or 3-night backpacking excursion might be a better use of my time (and money). Anyway, we'll see. For the time being, I'm really looking forward to my retreat.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

This was well worth my time to read: https://www.granolashotgun.com/granolas ... 2lp452zifc. Mainly putting it here so that I have it for some time in the future when someone (or, me) is fantasizing about buying an overpriced home in some trendy neighborhood, town, etc. If a place has become "cool" and you don't already live there, it's probably the last place you want to spend your money on real estate. And not just because it probably will be a bad investment, but also cuz it's just kinda sad; make your life where you're at, don't try and buy it.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Here's my tentative plan for 2021, for what might just be my last full year of full-time salaried law firm life.

My minimum billable requirement for the year is 1,400, and so I plan on being in the office from 8 to 5, 4 days/week, billing 8 hours a day, for a total of 32 hours/week. That would get me roughly 8 weeks where I wouldn't need to bill anything.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

The granola shotgun article is a good one. As a person who has for many years thought about other places I'd like to move it was thought provoking. Personally I'd like to go to some great weather and more interesting terrain. There is appeal in going to the coolest places with the most "amenities" and cache (ex: Boulder, Jackson Hole, etc.) but they are extremely expensive and also come with some other costs like the rich people who are there for the prestige. Skate to where the puck is going to be or never will be rather than paying a premium to live where it is now.

Bigger picture the article is right in the point about all the cheap places outside of what is currently desirable. Move to an unknown spot with potential, live cheap, and make it what you want as best you can.

Covid has had some weird effects on this stuff with people betting big on being able to continue working remotely and moving to desirable places with no suitable local jobs. It also has made the outdoors and vanlife trend even more strongly, further warping the market for certain places.

One more thought is that living in a place that is on the upswing can seem great but as I watch my house price go up and up it occurs to me that if the trend continues for too many years property taxes will make my situation impossible, with or without a job since my income goes up 1% per year or so.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

For sure regarding property taxes. I happened to have bought into one of these "hip" little cities when it was on the upswing about 10 years ago; not sure if it still is (in terms of "hipness"), but I know that home prices keep rising. Meanwhile, our city commission keeps commissioning these reports to find out how to make housing more affordable, with the thinking that there's some magical way to do that without ALSO bringing home prices down for existing stock. For me, I'd love to see my little town become a bit less hip, with housing prices and property taxes going down as well, across the board. But I know I'm a minority because I don't have the majority of my net worth wrapped up in what a realtor can sell my house for (less the commission). As it is, my property taxes and insurance alone is at 1Jacob.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in a couple weeks, and without much effort on my part (and certainly no "want to lose weight"-specific effort), I'm down about 5 pounds, from ~183 to ~178. If I end up eventually getting down to 165 or so without really "trying," then I will forever be a Web of Goals fanatic. Just running 3x/week, walking and biking most places, being a bit more physically active around the house with DIY projects and the like, mostly eliminating restaurant food, eating more whole foods-based home-cooked meals, and cutting back on alcohol. I should do more bodyweight and kettlebell stuff, and I likely will now that it's getting too cold to run in the mornings; but I'm not going to sweat it.

ETA: Regarding mostly walking places, it's cold here this morning (by our US Southeast standards); and DW wanted to drive the kids to school rather than walk them in. The compromise? I walked them and DW stayed home; we really do live about across the street from the school--it'd be silly to drive them. I then walked the ~mile to work from the kids' school, and of course I was almost sweating by the end, due to all the layers I'm wearing. We southerners really are pretty pathetic when it comes to the cold.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Ha! I played hockey when I was in Kindergarten (living in Michigan). In my rose-colored memories I was the fastest skater on the rink. Now, I'd probably break an ankle if you put me on ice with skates.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Want to put this here as it came up on another thread and something struck me when I read (maybe re-read?) this article: https://www.nationalreview.com/2002/07/ ... od-dreher/

Dreher talks about seeing the world "sacramentally," which is part of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths. Stated in the much more touchy-feely way of my kids' Jesuit school: seeing God in all things. Framing this as "sacramentally" appeals to my more traditionalist Catholic leanings, but it's really all the same thing. This is something I saw VERY MUCH of in Kingsnorth's fiction books The Wake and Beast (haven't read Alexandria yet), which I know weren't "Catholic" books but I certainly read them that way. And to stretch out the "God in all things" thing a bit further, and realizing that your life isn't about you (a Bishop Barron quite DW likes so much she has it on a t-shirt); life/creation is not only not about "me"; it's not even necessarily about "humanity"; it's about God. It's Balthasar's theo-drama (God's story) vs. the ego-drama (me or humanity focused). And while humans certainly play a special part in that theo-drama, so too does every creature and feature of our environment play a special part. And just as Catholics never seem to have a problem seeing sin in the objectification of human beings (whether through adultery, or pornography, or forced labor, etc.), we really should be just as quick to see sin when we objectify other beings, thereby stripping those creatures and features of the dignity to which they are entitled as parts of God's creation. That's not to say, e.g., we shouldn't ever eat meat (or a vegetable or fruit for that matter); but, we should give that animal, that vegetable, that fruit the honor and respect it deserves, along with the land and ecosystem from which that meat/vegetable/fruit came from, and the people who brought it to our table. Seems that in our modern culture, there's not a lot of that kind of dignity floating around.

Actually, it's not really true to say that seeing creation "sacramentally" is the same concept as seeing "God in all things." The use of the term "things" in the Jesuit phrase signifies objectification. I think "sacramentally" is better. Perhaps this was a bad translation.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Some thoughts, as I procrastinate at work: I need to start carrying my nalgene bottle with me to/from work, and using that as my primary drinking source. Not only will that mean I'll be getting all my drinking water from work (roughly 70 cents per billing period in savings), but I also won't be using cups and glasses at home that need to be washed. Also, I've got one really good tupperware type container that's perfect for carrying my lunch to work--it doesn't leak, it's sturdy, and it's the right size. I thought about ordering more so that I have enough for the entire week, because right now I'm just using that container once/twice a week and then suboptimal containers the other days. But the better solution would be to just wash the good container out everyday at work after I eat lunch, and avoid using the suboptimal containers altogether. All of that would mean running the dishwasher less. The EPA says the average household runs the dishwasher 215 times a year, which works out to a little more frequently than every other day. That's probably about where we're at, as there are times we run it daily and times we run it every other day. So, if we can get the dishwasher loads down to every third day, or about 20 loads in a 61 day billing period, at 5 gallons per load that 100 gallons, as opposed to 36 loads and 180 gallons. And at our rates 80 gallons of water means a savings of about $1.15 per billing period (~7 cents per load). So those 2 easy changes, which have the added benefit of being more convenient for me, will result in about $2 savings every 2 months, or $12/year. If you add that to my shower savings (~$90/year), that's over $100 saved/year with really no sacrifice in quality of life.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I had a space heater at work, which I'd inherited from someone whose office I took over about 8 years ago. Yesterday morning I took it home so that DW could use it, because she's been working from home in our basement (so she's away from distractions) which doesn't have heating or cooling, but which stays relatively cool in the summer and warm in the winter on its own. Anyway, DW now has it set up so that the thermostat for the house stays at about 60 for the day, while she's at her desk in the basement with a blanket over her lap and the space heater running periodically. She said she was nice and toasty and more productive than she's been for some time. As I recall Paul Wheaton advocates using an incandescent bulb for this set up, for a desk lamp. And so this weekend I'm going to put one in DW's desk lamp to keep her hands warm as well. Heat the person, not the house, right?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Based on a discussion Divan dan's journal, got another idea for Christmas presents this year: https://madamebulgaria.com/lutenitsa-4/

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

As I posted elsewhere, I tried my hand at some Bulgarian Lutenitsa this weekend, using a hybrid of the madamebulgaria.com recipe above and one from my old Peace Corps cookbook.

Image

8 charred and peeled red peppers on the grill, and one eggplant roasted in the oven and then peeled, all blended together with oil, tomato puree, garlic, vinegar, salt, red pepper, and a bit of sugar. It turned out just as delicious as I remember, and no doubt would have tasted even better had I simmered it all together on the stove top for awhile as I would if I were canning it. This is definitely a good incentive to grow red peppers and eggplants in the garden in 2021, as this would be a wonderful way to get some summer vegetables during the winter without paying the added price for buying out-of-season produce.

As for what I spread the lutenitsa on? The sourdough bread of course. This time around my starter produced much better results, and although less sourdough-y tasting, I certainly didn't have any problems with getting the dough to rise:

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My understanding is the longer I keep this starter going, the more flavorful it will get. But even on the first time around, this starter produced absolutely wonderful bread loaves, using nothing but 6 cups of bread flour, dechlorinated water, and a little oil for the bread pans.:

Image

In other news, as I also posted elsewhere on this forum, I installed a bidet in our bathroom (same one Jacob linked to somewhere). It was a frustrating installation, as I lack all but the most basic understanding of how a toilet works. So instead of the "easy to install in less than 30 minutes"; it was more like a decent chunk of Sunday morning for me. Regardless, it was time (and money) well spent, and DW is a big fan.

In case you are curious, my shower on Saturday was 2 minutes and 30 seconds (which felt a bit rushed), and my shower this morning was 3 minutes (which didn't feel as rushed). Both showers include the ~45 seconds it takes for my shower to warm up; and I used some of that water for shaving.

Divandan
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Divandan »

Mmmmm looks good!

I ended up going to my parents yesterday and they had bought some dry aged and smoked meats from the Euro Market as well as some cabbage to ferment. Oddly enough they did not buy any Ajvar and didn't seem to be in the mood to make it.

Was there a set recipe your followed or did you do it by feel?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I used this recipe https://madamebulgaria.com/lutenitsa-4/ and an old cookbook I have from when I lived in BG as a guide, and then by feel from there. Ultimately I probably used too much oil, and simmering it on the stove probably would have thickened it up a bit. But honestly, you can't really screw this up. That said, it's kind of silly to make this from fresh produce during late fall/winter (I paid $10 for 8 red peppers, and those were on sale). It's for sure something that is best when it is serving its purpose: a tasty way to preserve summer peppers.

I'd also forgotten that for peeling the red peppers, you really do need to char ever square inch until they are black. I'd charred/blackened most of mine, but those little bits around the corners that didn't get blackened were very difficult to peel. So, next time I'll cut the peppers into smaller and flatter pieces, for more consistent charring.

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Lemur
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Lemur »

Never heard of lutenitsa...looks delicious though. Is that something you could mix up with maybe black beans or lentils for a meal?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Lemur wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:14 pm
Never heard of lutenitsa...looks delicious though. Is that something you could mix up with maybe black beans or lentils for a meal?
We used to call it Bulgarian ketchup. You can put it on anything (think a salsa made from red peppers instead of tomatoes). DW and I had it with gnocchi Saturday night. The conversation started with ajvar on @divandan's journal, which IIRC is more associated with the former Yugoslavia countries, and doesn't normally incorporate eggplant (so it's redder than lutenitsa). Anyway, I'm talking out of my ass here, as an American born and raised in the South. But I ate a whole helluva lot of this stuff during the 2 winters I spent in Bulgaria. Though it's good the rest of the year as well, it's just meant to be a way to preserve summer veggies for the winters.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

2 more things related to water use that you can all put in the category of "too much information." One: bidets really are wonderful; wish I'd have done this a long time ago. Two: I checked my weather app when I woke up this morning and it said 30 degrees, so I said "nope, my run will have to wait for either this afternoon or tomorrow morning." What does that mean? I haven't showered since Monday morning, and I feel fine and as far as I can tell, no one gives a shit. Apparently our water guy was at the house today checking the meter; I asked DW if she felt the urge to run up and ask him: "pretty good, huh?" She said she didn't.

ETA: Yes, we're still paying guys to drive around and manually check water meters every 2 months.

ETAETA: A benefit of always wearing mask in public is that I don't feel the need to shave my face any more than I shave my head. Also, even without the masks, I doubt anyone gives a shit anyway.
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Wed Dec 09, 2020 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I was scrolling through old journal entries this morning as I was laying in bed, trying to stay warm, and NOT going for a run in the 30 degree weather, and 2 things: First, the frequency of my journal entries went up exponentially with COVID; and second, the entry below made me laugh out loud.

Here's what I posted at the very beginning of this year, regarding my plans for work:
Hristo Botev wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:50 pm
As for my law practice, I've resolved to focus on earnings in 2020. My first two years at my new firm I've been largely coasting, enjoying the break from big-law. But for 2020 I'd like to focus on taking advantage of the bonus and business development incentives built into my pay structure, which could result in a doubling of my take-home pay.
Spoiler alert: I continued to coast, notwithstanding my 2020 "resolution," such that I likely will "make" my relatively minuscule minimum billable hours requirement (1,400 hrs/yr) at the end of this week or the beginning of next, with just a couple weeks left to go in 2021. If I get any sort of bonus, apart from what should be a pretty sizable business origination payday, it certainly won't be because of my hourly billings; it will be because my law partners think I'm irreplaceable, or at least difficult to replace (though, of course, I know better: https://earlyretirementextreme.com/you- ... eable.html)

Contrast my 2020 work resolution with my 2021 resolution, which I posted a couple weeks ago:
Hristo Botev wrote:
Mon Nov 30, 2020 3:56 pm
Here's my tentative plan for 2021, for what might just be my last full year of full-time salaried law firm life.

My minimum billable requirement for the year is 1,400, and so I plan on being in the office from 8 to 5, 4 days/week, billing 8 hours a day, for a total of 32 hours/week. That would get me roughly 8 weeks where I wouldn't need to bill anything.
More evidence that my tolerance for this job is starting to run thin, and a change is coming.

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