Hristo's FI Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Uh oh, DW and I have been asked by our parish to prepare a "witness video" to be used as part of the parish's marriage prep course, specifically on the topic of marriage as a vocation of service, moving beyond itself to transform the world in some way. Pretty good chance this is going to turn into: (1) modern industrialized society is going to sh#@, thanks to climate change, resource depletion, and the ponzi scheme, house of cards, financialized economy; (2) even if our politicians and big corporations could do something to stop it, or slow it down in some measurable way, they won't; (3) so, our kids and especially their kids are going to come of age in a world in which there is less to go around; (3) so, we're raising our kids to be comfortable with less, and to be more self-reliant and less dependent on consumerism and the global economy to meet their needs, and more dependent upon local communities, with more of their energies invested in such communities. Oh right, we're also trying to do our very, very small part to slow down the rate at which the SHTF. Mazel Tov!!!

mooretrees
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by mooretrees »

That took quite a detour from marriage! Seems likely to scare folks away from your parish :lol:

I didn't chime in a timely fashion with my opinions regarding increasing your hours, but here goes anyways. I think it stinks! The real problem for me is that you've started doing these interesting things like building, brewing and now your free time is going to get smaller. Ugh! If I remember correctly, your weekends before covid were pretty busy with kid soccer games and such? How will you gain more skills by working more!? Well, guess you made the call already so this isn't really helpful. I was looking forward to having another semi-ERE person on the forum......but now you'll have more money to buy those 50 acres, right?

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Update, as I can’t sleep: I’m sticking with my 1,400 minimum hours requirement. At this tax bracket it really is interesting how much your gross would have to increase to make a significant impact on your take home pay. And an extra 100 hours a year isn’t worth an extra 7.5% in gross pay.

Somewhat relatedly, I did some spreadsheet therapy at work yesterday (the kind of thing I wouldn’t have time for if I’d taken the extra 7.5% in pay), and assuming 8% ROI (big assumption), we’ll be for real FI in less than 4 years. This means the kids’ schooling and our mortgage is paid off, with enough in savings outside of retirement accounts to provide us $2,500/mo. in passive income until we hit 59, which will be comfortable for monthly spending once our 2 biggest expense categories (housing and kids’ schooling) are gone. I can get comfortable with less than 4 years.

My 3-night silent retreat was fantastic, as always. Lots of great insights and discernment; also, I plowed through 4 books in my time there, including the Gospels of Mark and John, and Paul Kingsnorth’s new novel, Alexandria, and his essay book Savage Gods. Regarding Alexandria, that completed the trilogy, which I very much enjoyed; it was also a great book to read as I was taking some time to discern next steps in light of my newfound awareness of climate change (which is pretty much what the book is about—what do we do now, as the water is (literally) rising?). For Savage Gods, it read like a really good ERE journal, honestly. Lots and lots of penciled-in annotations in the margins for that one! Also, I think it’s just awesome that Kingsnorth and Mark Boyle have a standing date every Wednesday to have a pint or 3 at the local pub to play chess and talk about collapse, or whatever. Also enjoyed Kingsnorth commenting on what a pain it is when he needs to cancel on short notice, given that Boyle (of course) refuses to own a phone, cellular or otherwise.

Interesting, I took a very large stack of books to the retreat, figuring that the spirit would move me to pick the right one(s) to read during the retreat (yes, I really speak that way), rather than trying to decide ahead of time what I’d be in the mood to read. Alexandria really was just absolutely perfect. In part because the complete silence and lack of distraction really was kind of necessary (for me) to get fully immersed in the book, given the language structure Kingsnorth used (basically, how will illiterate English-speakers speak after 1,000 years of collapse). But, also, Kingsnorth has been such a comfort for me the past couple of months as I’ve been going through the grieving process in terms of the world I’m leaving my children. And, whether intended or not, I took hope from Kingsnorth’s trilogy.

Speaking of hope, this republican is feeling all warm and fuzzy following yesterday’s inauguration; hope it lasts.

Finally, I’ll call this my ERE moment of the day yesterday: I dropped my iPhone SE (the first generation, I think) and the screen cracked pretty badly, even though it’s in a case. What went through my head when it happened was, honestly: “good, now I’ll be even less inclined to stare at the screen and use the phone as a crutch.” The idea of replacing or even fixing it was never seriously considered; I just wondered if I still have my old iPhone 5 otter box case that will help to keep the bits of broken screen from flaking off. I’ll consider it an ERE success that I viewed a broken screen as a positive, as I’d already been working on ways to decouple from my cell phone reliance. Also, it pisses me off that I’ve got the same $10 Dream Machine alarm clock I’ve had since I was the kid, a 40-year-old sewing machine that functions as well as it did when it was new, a 50-year-old record player I listen to nightly (through a receiver and speakers that are 30+ years old), and my grandmother’s old 5-pound rotary phone sitting in the attic that I could plug in and use today (if I had a landline); but, my $300 cell phone (can’t remember exactly what I paid) can’t be trusted to last more than a few years.

Ok, I’ll stop now before I start ranting.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Was skimming through some pages of my journal; I hadn't realized bigato left. Makes for some pretty big gaps in my journal.

mooretrees
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by mooretrees »

You were warning that your silent retreat would lead to some possible changes, so it came to pass! I'm glad you're sticking with the less money, more time choice. There's such a difference in what one is capable of doing with less time spent at work. Your recent explorations into brewing, repairing and building will continue to improve when you don't lose your time and energy to the 'man.'

Is a broken phone the new symbol of frugality? :lol: I've got the same phone with the same broken glass. I will feel relieved when it finally dies and I can be finished with smart phones.

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

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks @mooretrees, though perhaps not so fast on the less money, more time choice. Like a lot of folks I've been mesmerized by this whole GameStop phenomenon the past couple weeks, and when combined with the whole societal collapse discovery journey I've been on for the past few months, it's all just been very unsettling. I think it's safe to say that, as it concerns climate change/resource depletion/collapse, I'm at whatever stage of the grieving process involves simply saying "F%#@ it!". I don't know exactly what that's going to look like, ultimately, but at this point it's something like: if my kids are going to come of age in a world where there are fewer resources to go around, then I need to do everything in my capacity (morally and ethically) to make sure they and their kids will have the resources they'll need; and that alone is a sufficiently noble goal to work towards with whatever years I've got left on this planet--call it a life mission of building "generational wealth,"* with "wealth" of course meaning $$$ in the bank but also other resources and skills.

Anyway, all that is to say that, for 2021 at least, I'm going to be taking advantage of increasing my earning potential at work, by taking the increased base salary for a higher minimum requirement, and building up from there with goalposted bonus levels for increased hours, in addition to business development bonuses. Currently, I can increase my annual earnings by 50% by simply deciding to do so.

That's also to say that I'm growing less and less comfortable with the idea of buying stuff to solve problems. More and more I just hate all the headaches involved with being a consumer--whether that's dealing with customer service, being disappointed with the seemingly increasing cost/value disparity, worrying about credit numbers being stolen and the security of ecommerce, remembering passwords and deadlines as it concerns subscription services, and the absolute failure in problem solving that buying a solution entails.

Finally, before I start ranting, I'll say that 2021 is off to a good start, relatively speaking (as in, relative to my family's past performance). We had a 65% savings rate for January, with less than $6,500 in spending for the 4 of us once you take out charitable contributions. That number includes $700+ for a new mattress, replacing our 20-year-old one. And with the other big categories being the house (mortgage, escrowed insurance/taxes, and HOA), the kids' tuition, down payments for the kids' various "summer camps" (i.e., non-school babysitting so that mom and dad can go to work), and groceries.

Also, with DW now vaccinated and back in the hospital for work, she's been getting up at 5:15 and out of the door before 6 so that she can be home when the kids come home from school (yeah no after-care expenses!). I've been getting up with her and have been getting in 30 minutes of intense exercise and 50 minutes of focused studying (Bodie's Investments textbook) before waking the kids up a little before 7. So far so good.

*Thanks to @MisterImperceptible for introducing me to Radigan Carter's blog, and especially this: https://www.radigancarter.com/dispatche ... on-in-life.

ETA: Looking back over the past few years, I think I've just been both bored and lazy professionally, and I've (mis)used ERE, MMM, and "FI" as a crutch to justify my professional boredom and laziness.

white belt
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by white belt »

Interesting conclusion you’ve come to with regards to the taking on more hours to make more money. I really thought you were moving in the opposite direction, especially when you talk about being tired of buying things. Financial resources aren’t the only kind of resources, and may not even be the most useful resource in the future. To an extent this is a different problem in kind, so that more money is not going to solve it unless you’re using that money towards things that make you more resilient (skills, commodities, livestock, seeds, etc).

If you’re really concerned about intergenerational wealth then you might want to explore alternative strategies like creating a family business that could still thrive in a low energy intensity future. I think there’s been a lot of academic research on intergenerational wealth and how it is almost always squandered by the 3rd generation (your grandkids).

Take this with a grain of salt because I’m not a parent, but I think an even better strategy is to instill in your children an understanding of the resource limitations of the world. The self-sufficient homestead is an ideal, but even if you aren’t producing everything on site, I think it would be valuable for children to see firsthand that food is grown from seed and doesn’t just magically appear shrinkwrapped on the grocery store shelf or in the fridge. Ditto with the fact that eating meat requires the killing and processing of animal, whether you choose to do that through raising livestock, hunting, or fishing. You can extrapolate with other examples for water, electricity, trash, sewage, fuel, etc.

Edit: In ERE terms, working more hours to make more money to provide your kids with resources in the future strikes me as a salaryman solution. The Renaissance Man solution could look like keeping the same number of hours or even decreasing them to focus on building other resilient skills in your family (just an example).

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

white belt wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 10:34 am
In ERE terms, working more hours to make more money to provide your kids with resources in the future strikes me as a salaryman solution. The Renaissance Man solution could look like keeping the same number of hours or even decreasing them to focus on building other resilient skills in your family (just an example).
No doubt (I'm a salaryman, after all). But, to be clear, I'm not talking about spending more hours at the office; I'm talking about making better use of my time when I'm here (e.g., spending less time on this forum, et al.). I'm in the office 8-10 hours/day as it is, I just tend to waste a whole lot of that time not on doing things like making myself better by skills development, or whatever, but by going down Internet rabbitholes--it's an aspect of working behind a computer I really hate, and one that makes me long for a non-office job, where I'd have to be a bit more creative as to how I waste time while still looking busy.

Ultimately, I just want more money, and the most effective way to get that money is by working harder in what is already a well-compensated job. More money means I can pay off my kids' schooling and my house quicker, which means my expenses will drop from ~$6,500 to ~$3,500. It's doable to get to that point by the end of next year. And with education and housing taken care of, then who knows what's next.

I understand all the Renaissance vs. salaryman stuff, and how stupid it is to spend 2,000+ hours/year sitting in my office while outsourcing my kids' educations and various other things (digging holes so others can fill them in), but that's the system I live in, and I'm only willing to fight against that system on a couple of fronts at a given time. I agree that the self-sufficient homestead is the ideal, with the overweight and over-leveraged salaryman specialist at the other extreme, the anti-ideal; but there's a lot of space in between those 2 extremes, and I'm fine with incremental growth towards the ideal. And I'm also not going to be quitting my job anytime soon, so I might as well take advantage of what that job can provide.

I'm also not really talking about wanting to leave my kids with 8 figure inheritances. I had an uncle that had 7 adult children and when he died he left each one of them a rental property. He was very much country, as we all are to varying degrees, and never graduated high school. But 20 years ago when he died he left each of his kids a passive income source that they are still relying on today. He's what we call redneck rich, which tends to mean he had a net worth when he died that wouldn't have impressed a corporate wage slave; BUT, he'd figured out a way to live well in the world he lived in, by the rules that applied to his particular way of country living, and he'd managed to pass that good living on to his kids (probably most importantly by not raising them to think they had to win at any meritocracy game to be a success).

Anyway, that's what I'm talking about. And right now, I've got a bunch of money tied up in retirement accounts I may never actually see, with not nearly enough in the way of unrestricted funds; and I need to fix that, and quickly. And I've got a way to do it, and so it's my job as a dad to do it. I.e., I've figured out a way to live well by someone else's rules, in a way that benefits that someone else more than it benefits me; and I need to change that.

white belt
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by white belt »

Gotcha. I misunderstood the piece about billable hours vs non-billable and that you have to be at the office all day regardless. I’m assuming you’ve already explored other avenues like working some hours from home (not sure if that’s acceptable in your career field).

I’m a salaryman as well but in the unusual position that I am all work from home while I’m in online training that my employer pays for. It just so happens that the majority of these classes are pretty useless and don’t require much interaction, so I can spend most of the day doing whatever I want while still getting paid my full salary (day trading GME, growing mushrooms/microgreens, studying for other industry exams, etc). This will come to an end in the summer and the work from home is only due to COVID. Otherwise I’d be stuck in a classroom.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

white belt wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 11:44 am
I’m a salaryman as well but in the unusual position that I am all work from home while I’m in online training that my employer pays for.
My FIL was a career military man who got the military to pay for his undergrad (service academy) and two masters degrees (one from an ivy and the other from one of the premier public state unis) while he was active duty; it's a good way to do it if you can make it work.

Admittedly I'm in perhaps a bit of a odd situation: I am somewhat expected to be "available" (whether at the office, or remote at home, or on a hike with my cell phone, etc.) for roughly 2K hours/year; I just prefer to be at the office because I'm a clock in/clock out guy, and I don't like to be constantly checking my phone for emails, etc. when I'm not at the office. BUT, my compensation is based on billing (i.e., working) 1,400 hrs/year (i.e., 28 hrs/wk instead of 40). So, if I were smarter I'd come in to the office later every day, like at 10/10:30, and give myself a true hour for lunch during which I'd focus on skills development for real, and then clock out sometime around 4. BUT, the legal profession isn't really conducive to that kind of thing, because the work ebbs and flows, and from your first year you're trained to get anxious when you don't have enough work, and to think you need to bill every second when you've got more work than you can handle. I've tried multiple times in the past to make this work for me, by taking Fridays off or whatever, but it's just not that kind of job. That's part of the reason why DW got out of management, because for her, seeing patients is that kind of clock-in/clock-out type work, where she goes in at 6:30, sees X number of patients, and then leaves around 2:30, home to meet the kids when they get home. She doesn't have to check her email during the 2:30 to 5:30 range, or whatever.

Indeed, I know a couple older attorneys who have their own practices and try and maintain the semi-retired lifestyle, and it's possible but a challenge. They tend to only do work for clients they've had for a very long time, who are willing to work around the lawyer's schedule, which is very, very rare, as the law is a competitive client services industry.

Anyway, my point in this brain dump is simply to say that if I'm going to be here for 2,000 hours in 2021, I may as well get paid doing something close to 2,000 hours of work; rather than being paid for doing 1,400 hours of work while being "available" for 2,000 hours.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thinking out loud, as I slowly work my way towards taking a bit more ownership over my investments portfolio. I've made it through Part 1 of Bodie's Investments textbook, spending about 50 minutes each weekday morning going through it methodically while taking notes as if I were back in law school and creating a course outline. Also, in light of GameStop/WSB et al., like much of the rest of the country I've been consuming a lot more in the way of investments-related infotainment as of late.

With that background, my current thinking is perhaps I work my way towards some form of Tyler's Golden Butterfly, with a Dogs of the Dow component either as a component of the GB portfolio or as a "variable portfolio."* I'd say I'm not going to pull the trigger on anything until I finish Jacob's Personal Investing 101 coursework, but the reality is that by already redirecting new savings into cash as opposed to 401Ks, et al., I'm working my way towards a GB spread as it is.

Here's my current portfolio snapshot, excluding from the spread the not insignificant portion (~12%) of my total, total net worth that consists of 529 and HSA savings, as well as "equity" (ha!) in the paid-off truck.

- Home Equity: 26% (down from just over 50% as recently as January 2016, so, good on us--moving in the right direction)
- Cash/Money Market: 8%
- Stocks: 50% (31% Total Stock and 19% Int'l)
- Bonds: 16% (11% Total Bond and 5% Int'l)

And if I take home equity out of the equation:

- Cash/Money Market: 11%
- Stocks: 68% (42% Total Stock and 26% Int'l)
- Bonds: 21% (15% Total Bond and 6% Int'l)

So, if I'm right in saying that a very basic structure of a GB portfolio would be 40% equities, 20% long-term bonds, 20% cash/short-term bonds, and 20% gold, then it looks like I'm good on bonds and I need to build up cash (and, of course, gold), at the expense of stocks. I'm currently well on track to get my cash position where it needs to be by the end of the year, which would hypothetically put me at a 20/20/60 split as to cash, bonds, and stocks. And then perhaps once I get to a 20% cash position I'll focus on getting gold up to 20%. And in the meantime I can try and figure out (a) if DoD makes sense for me as one component of my stock holdings, and (b) how I should go about actually implementing that.

And then, once I'm at a comfortable 40/20/20/20 split, I'll take some cash and pay off the mortgage.**

For now, however, the focus is on increasing my cash stash.

*I'll add that the dragon portfolio thing sounds interesting, for sure, but (a) I don't yet really understand it, (b) the active long volatility and trend following commodities seem like they'd be extremely difficult for a relatively passive retail investor to implement, even one who knows what he's doing (I of course don't), and (c) honestly, I'm not yet comfortable with the idea of doing anything other than going long on a stock, though that of course may well change as I understand the landscape better.

**ETA: Though perhaps not. In my way of thinking paying off the mortgage makes sense if you're going to be retiring and therefore need to rely on savings for expenses, and so it's in your interest to get those expenses down as low as possible. But, if you're not really planning on retiring (and you've got a good mortgage rate), then probably makes more sense to "invest" your money somewhere other than your primary residence. No doubt before I get to a point where I'm ready to retire we'll have already bought both an Airstream and rural land to park it on, meaning that in a SHTF scenario where I've lost my income source AND I've still got a mortgage to worry about, I'd have as a worst, worst, worst case scenario just letting the bank take the house? As it is I've got a good interest rate on a 15-year mortgage, with 60% equity on a (relatively) inexpensive home, so what's the hurry?
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Thu Feb 04, 2021 1:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

And while I'm in the writing mood; more bulleted lists!

What is my mission in life? To Build generational wealth, to ensure our kids are set for whatever madness they have coming their way, with “wealth” meaning resources in all its forms

How do I achieve my mission?
  • Improve health and prolong my productive/active years – exercise 5x/week, don’t waste food, limit alcohol, weight to 160lbs, annual PCP visits
  • Grow and protect savings, by: (a) increasing income (take the bigger paycheck, work towards bonuses, and develop business); (b) increasing savings (stop solving "problems" w/ a consumer mindset); and (c) invest savings smartly
  • Build and maintain strong community – church, family, friends, neighborhood, local voluntary associations
  • What else can I pass on to my children? Things: land, home, food stocks, guns/ammo, Airstream trailer; Skills: gardening, investing, home DIY, food preservation, hunting, self-defense, animal husbandry

white belt
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by white belt »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 12:54 pm
*I'll add that the dragon portfolio thing sounds interesting, for sure, but (a) I don't yet really understand it, (b) the active long volatility and trend following commodities seem like they'd be extremely difficult for a relatively passive retail investor to implement, even one who knows what he's doing (I of course don't), and (c) honestly, I'm not yet comfortable with the idea of doing anything other than going long on a stock, though that of course may well change as I understand the landscape better.
I would agree that Active Long Vol and CTF are both the hardest to understand and implement as a retail investor. An understanding of options is a prerequisite to incorporate Active Long Vol and an understanding of basic technical analysis is a prerequisite to understand CTF. I think options will be covered in later textbooks, but I’m not sure about trend following strategies. Like you, I’m holding off on pursuing both strategies until I have more foundational knowledge.

Anyhow, by moving towards something like GB or Permanent Portfolio or Dragon Portfolio, you’re already taking a big step in the right direction in terms of risk management and portfolio construction. You’ll be much more prepared against a variety of economic situations compared to the typical stock/bond portfolio.

I think the gateway for me was buying some gold ETFs. I get that they aren’t as good of a hedge as physical gold, but it was an easier first step and then shortly after I bought my first physical gold. I think I’m going to stick with 50/50 physical gold to gold ETF because both have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’ll be at least a few years I think before economic conditions are such that the government may try to set price controls on gold ETFs.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

white belt wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 3:43 pm
It’ll be at least a few years I think before economic conditions are such that the government may try to set price controls on gold ETFs.
Looks like the two of us share some of the same concerns!

I like the 50/50 physical to ETF (interim) goal. At least for the time being I'm about 12 months from buying gold,* as my current priority is to get my cash reserves up (the cash serves 2 purposes, it's part of my portfolio but it's also being used to pay in full for my kids annual school tuition). So I'm not quite yet worried about figuring out the logistics of buying goal as an asset.

*Edit to fix misspelling
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

white belt
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by white belt »

The gold world is weird because there seem to be a lot of extremely paranoid people who are drawn to gold to protect them against a variety of outlandish things. Then you’ve got all the people trying to make money pandering to that audience.

I think a prudent and practical approach is the 50/50 physical to ETF mix we talked about, along with storing half of your physical gold onsite and half stored elsewhere. I think this provides sufficient hedges to mitigate some of the risks of physical gold like theft and natural disaster. I also split my ETF allocation between GLD and IAU to reduce the risk of one fund having issues. After the whole Robinhood fiasco, it might be prudent to split between 2 different brokerages as well.

Of course it all ultimately depends on the individual situation.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Just want to drop a note here (where no-one but Jacob can delete it!) to say that all this journal deletion sh#@ is really bumming me out, and I really hope this was all just a little "phase" for the forum that has now run its course. And maybe, just maybe, some of my favorite fellow paranoids, decentralists, and luddites who have left us will return, either under their old username, or in disguise, or perhaps under their real names. I, for one, would absolutely LOVE to know how ffj's house is coming along (he says hoping for a private message to pop up, with pictures . . . .).

I mean, I'm as much a believer as anyone that we're living in a world in which "soft totalitarianism" is more and more a reality. But hey, isn't ERE in part about having the kind of resiliency and self reliance to be able to live authentically, and to speak truth and to "live not by lies," and all that? I'm working to decouple myself from the meritocracy, so what do I care if society gives me demerits in some sort of social capital game?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I'm sure its selection bias (or whatever the correct term is), but everyone I've been reading lately that makes any sort of sense all seem to reach roughly the same conclusion, whether JMG, or Kingsnorth, or Kalmus, or Charles Hugh Smith, or Rob Greenfield, or this guy: https://www.radigancarter.com/dispatche ... zed-future. And that conclusion is some form of simplification and back to basics, and decentralization.

Pilgrim
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Pilgrim »

Hristo, I've caught up with your journal (not every word, but most). I was opening new tabs along the way with YouTube videos and links to various subjects to view later, but gave up because it was too much. It's going to take time to digest all the content on this forum (or even your thread, which links to probably 50+ books and also caused me to be late to work this morning because I was up late last night finishing reading/skimming it).

It seems like you have already created a lifestyle that works for your family and you're not living in a state of pining for some "exciting" future. So in that way, you've already won. And FI seems inevitable before too long (not to jinx anything).

Which reminds me, I'm glad you are still alive after the bike wreck and COVID-esque scare. Life is fragile.

Just so you know, you've inspired me to try my hand at DIY home-brew and ice cream, at the least. And more philosophical reading too.

In recent months as you've been contemplating the future with climate change and weakening US influence, etc, it seems you have got fired up to learn new skills. No doubt things will be bad/worse in the future, and also no doubt I'm uniformed about how bad of a situation the climate really is in, but my blissfully ignorant perspective at this point is we will probably adapt / figure it out as we go along.

I often wonder if America in the future will look more like Haiti (where I lived several years). Already, in the 5 years since I returned to the US, I see signs of us moving in that direction (still a long way off, but in that direction). For instance, in California with the tent cities, homelessness, and rolling blackouts. Or an example closer to home, I notice lots more cars driving with body damage than when I first moved here. In Haiti nearly all the cars were beat up, who had money to waste on body work? I was just at the DMV today and the car parked next to me had the front drivers bumper / headlight bashed in. That's becoming a common site in parking lots here, but wasn't 5 years ago.

In the long term, from a Biblical standpoint, I see things going from bad to worse until Jesus comes back to reign for 1,000 years and fix all the problems. Since I believe in the Bible and that prophecy, I don't think climate change/global warming is going to wipe us out in the medium term. Though it will get plenty worse before that happens ("as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" - which was a pretty messed up time). The tricky part is getting our kids ready for the next level-up of difficulty, which might be far harder than my life has ben so far.

There's a passage in Ezekiel 38 about a battle where a group of nations come against unsuspecting Israel where they are living without walls or bars or gates. When I was in Israel I saw plenty of walls, and the Kibbutz I stayed at by the Gaza strip was surrounded with a wall that had watchtowers and guards, etc. So this war seems likely to me to be far in the future (though modern end-times talking heads often try to shoe-horn this event into being imminent).

The reason I bring this up is that Ezekiel 38 talks about the nations that come against Israel are on horses with swords and shields. Again, many modern commentators say what Ezekiel really meant was tanks, artillery and such, but since he wouldn't have known what those were, he was shown a "dumbed-down" vision, so to speak. I tend to be a simple man and thank the future army that comes against Israel will actually be on horses with swords. Which means oil will be fairly scarce at that time period and people will have reverted to a simpler time. Something to think about.

Not to highjack your thread. Just wanted to say I'm glad you shared your thoughts publicly here over the last few years and I got value out of reading them and will refer back to different topics.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks @Pilgrim; I hope you'll post how your own DIY endeavors as you go.

Regarding the collapse/climate change stuff, I certainly think it helps to have a long view of history combined with a Judaeo-Christian understanding of the Fall. For me that combination means (a) my expectations as to what to expect from others and myself is pretty low to begin with, (b) the idea of infinite progress seems absurd, and (c) against that background, I can't help but be immensely grateful for all the gifts I've been given. That said, grief creeps in when I start thinking of the world I'm leaving my kids and their kids and grandkids; but that grief in turn motivates me toward action, to try and prepare them as best as I can for whatever's coming.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

As always, I appreciate how patient you all are with how slow I am to grasp the ERE thing.

With that said, a couple weekends ago I figured I'd finally get around to clearing out some slow-draining sink and shower drains at the house, which I'd been avoiding because I hate how expensive liquid plumbers are. Well, a little googling told me vinegar and baking soda might be a better (and much cheaper) solution; and what do you know, it worked like a charm. So, with that in mind, I started wondering what other consumer hygiene and cleaning products are out there that are in fact entirely replaceable with a well-stocked pantry of "ingredients" that can be used for a variety of different applications. And from what I can gather, I could avoid ever needing to give another dime to Clorox, Unilever, SC Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, etc. if I kept my pantry stocked with the following:

- Baking Soda (and washing soda)
- Vinegar
- Coconut Oil
- Fresh lemon
- Lye
- Lard
- Cornstarch
- Borax
- Rubbing alcohol
- Essential oils (whatever that is; is that what our office manager is always going on about?)

Apparently, from just these ingredients, and with a little bit of time and knowledge, I can make soap, deodorant, toothpaste, laundry "detergent" (ok, laundry soap), and any number of spray cleaners, including general multipurpose cleaners to glass cleaners to carpet/fabric cleaners.

I had no idea.

I know @Jacob used early retirement (and money savings, financial independents, and so forth) as the "hook" for his program for avoiding individual wastefulness and building up self-resiliency. But honestly, for me, the "hook" might be simply giving me an excuse to NOT have to go shopping. If you're telling me I can avoid having to go to Wal-Mart or Target or wherever, except for once or twice a year to stock up on baking soda, vinegar, etc., I'm in.

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