Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

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Frita
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Frita »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:03 pm
What would you do if you could do anything you wanted? If money is a solved problem, what's holding you back? What's your dream job and your dream way of doing it? Would you do things drastically differently if you focused more on what you wanted and less on money as the only means to get there?
These are questions that grow in complexity as one develops. A satisfactory answer at one level very well may be the wrong answer at another. Then throw in level 7 systems thinking of/when the previous answers only work in isolation and some the trade offs of yields and flows thinking seem unacceptable. “Crazy” options in level 8 start to seem quite appealing.

No quote of the upthread discussion of getting subsidized ACA, just an observation. If one spends very little with continued monetary accumulation, there is a point where one is beyond the financial cliff in passive earnings and only has access to full-priced ACA. The questions surrounding the topic change drastically. Perhaps that would be based on where one falls on the Wheaten levels too. Not sure.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal »

@J+G
I think you have some great thoughts, and you basically describe my current struggle. First off though, maybe the COVID isolation has you a bit on edge too. Like you, I need both social and alone time. I've found that time of day matters. Early in the morning and late night before bed is the best alone time for me, with social in between. If I go only a few days without that social time I start going stir crazy, and iy really impacts my thinking and behavior. So, maybe part of your symptoms have to do with this isolation. Take that into consideration before any massive changes.

Regarding Wheaton Level 5 to 6 transition. A story. My GF has recently decided she wants to lose weight and started weight watchers. Which, whatever, if it works for her. The whole system is based on "points". Each person gets a daily allotment of points. Healthy, low cal foods are low or no points and sugary, fatty, high cal foods are high points. It's working for her, and she knows I'm losing weight as well and asked if I wanted to try it with her to speed up my progress. My reaction was "no way, it'll never work for me". I explained to her that I would only eat zero calorie foods in the form of veggies and chicken breast, while saving all my points for as many cookies and doughnuts I could eat. I'd game the system, because it's so easy to game. Now, obviously, the goal of this system is to get someone to eat a more balanced, healthy diet. Whereas for me it would be a justification to binge because "I've got the points". She was perplexed. Like, it didn't occur to her to game the system, because what's the point, you're only hurting yourself. However, for me the thought was, I can still eat what I want and "win" by gaming the system. :lol: weird, right. Not really though, considering how deeply entrenched I am in WL 5 thinking.

I think at wheaton level 5 we are very, very good at gamifying the current "religion" (nice analogy BTW). In doing so we are kind-of mimicking ERE level stuff, but doing it to "win" at our denomination of the money religion. One that sees things like net worth or cashflow as the pinnacle of worship of a god, instead of purchased stuff or experiences like the lower levels. WL6 is a more like a polytheistic religion with a pantheon of gods. You pray to the right one to get the results you want. Often times that's not the money god.

Instead of further trying to gamify the money game (which is mostly optimized), we have to start ignoring it to large degrees. My progress has definitely been held up by trying to place dollar values on everything. I've over optimized each node in my system to reach peak financial functionality by gaming the system. Unfortunately this has the effect of decreasing the total systems functionality. IOW, financial flows will only diminish further if I can make the system work better as a whole, and this may require me to financially deoptimize some nodes.
Jin+Guice wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:03 pm
This may result in lower savings or even *gasp* higher spending....
Doing things takes time, time that isn't always spent remuneratively. Sometimes doing the thing you really want might compromise the perfect fortress of absolute fiscal safety.
Based on the above it might be obvious that I'm coming to the same conclusion. Recently, I was discussing the idea of "operating capital" in my journal, specifically designed to address this. Money that can be used for projects, or to purchase things I have an interest in adding value to at some point. Or maybe just to try a different lifestyle for awhile. I'm still not sure it's the best plan. Because one has to be solidly in WL6 land to make sure they understand the flows that may develop from such purchases, otherwise it's pretty easy for a WL 5 person to feel like a shitty consumer spending the money.

jacob
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by jacob »

It seems like there are two ways leading up to WL6.

One is via lower spending. During WL4 and WL5 spending is lowered and lowered until it is so low that one starts looking for other yields as a form of value. This begets WL6.

The other is via earning more. If this is taking place in the salaryman quadrant, the transition never happens. It might work in the businessman or workingman quadrants as one starts to add inflows other than money. The workingman starts trading work for work or supplies or supplies for work. The businessman starts accounting in other metrics than dollars. The salaryman just looks at their growing NW? :-P

7Wannabe5
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Unless you are hoarding cash under a mattress, you are spending MORE as you progress through the ERE Wheaton levels; it's just that you are spending MORE on productive assets AKA "tools" rather than personal consumption. Thinking in terms of yields and flows comes naturally any time you consider acquiring a "tool." Taking it up one level, instead of buying a certain tool, you might make it yourself.

If you are interested in developing expanding set of Renaissance skills, it is difficult to enter into entirely new-to-you field at level of least expense. For instance, let's say one of my current top lifestyle values is "Fun", and I think it might be fun to build a robot. I know that in theory, if I had more skills/experience/knowledge in this realm, I could maybe attempt to build a robot just from scraps found in local industrial dumpsters, but since I don't really know what I am doing, I will likely have to eat the expense of learning materials and multiple botched attempts. From the Business Man perspective, this is the equivalent of spending on R&D towards innovation. This applies equally to possible new activities or interests that are not so technological, such as tap dancing, puppet theater design, gold panning, coffee bean roasting, sports betting, hypnosis, and ferret breeding*.

*For an eNTP, just generating a list of possible new interests and activities like this is cheering. That's why in my ideal day design (which I don't always remember to follow), I include time/space for the generation of possible new interests/projects, and I also include the flow of "learning materials" in dynamic system design.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 9:33 am
If you are interested in developing expanding set of Renaissance skills, it is difficult to enter into entirely new-to-you field at level of least expense.
Bingo! Except that I'm always optimizing for financial, optimizing for fun isn't part of the FIRE game. A bit of a conundrum.
jacob wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:58 am
The salaryman just looks at their growing NW? :-P
Yeah, and how that equates into future cash flow concerns.

So, If I'm using the 3%WR rule, if I spend 10K on tools & equipment, maybe some human help to get a project up and running because I'm a newby, I see that as sacrificing $300/yr of income forever. That $300 would pay for a lot of "consumed" whatever. If the project does not have remuneration built into the plan, and any value added doesn't directly increase the market value of the expenditure, then i see it as a very risky proposition. Even if I see how it could do great things from my life overall, it would be something not optimized towards the financial. Hence I would feel like crap for doing it. I see it as spending, not a transfer of financial capital towards other capital.

So I think part of it is loosening up the purse strings, in the sense of trying new things even if they are not optimized for financial gain. This is similar to a newby investor who has some "faith" that they will earn compound returns, so they save and invest. The returns may be distant in time and space, but in ten years they'll likely be believers as the see it happening. WL5 salaryman needs the same kind of faith in other realms. It's just very hard when you're not even used to thinking of things in terms other than dollars. I can't even really measure these flows, plus they may have the most important impact in areas of life far away from the source, or distant into the future.

I'm not sure if J+G is seeing the same problems though. I feel like he's more in the workingman/hustle quadrant.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

@Frita: I agree that the answers change as one progresses in levels. I think these questions are specifically useful crossing from W5 to W6, which is wear a lot of people either get stuck or stop trying. I think the relevant questions also change as one progresses levels.

Re: ACA... I agree that having enough passive income to be beyond the financial cliff changes the equation. I don't have a comprehensive strategy for this because I haven't researched it and am not in this position, but here are some ideas:

If the tax sheltered strategy I describe in the post was used, the money earned could sheltered in non-taxable accounts. Taxes would need to be paid on the income when it was removed from the account, but this may be lower or no tax and would shelter one from going over the ACA cliff in the current period.

The current ACA cliff is ~40k/ year/ adult person (not sure how kids factor into this). In Louisiana high deductible plans are available for ~300/ month ($3600/ year) and better plans are available for $400-500/ month ($4800-$6000/ year). It's not exactly a brilliant tax strategy, but if already in the position of low expenses and high passive income (which is impossible or undesirable to shelter), it should be possible to pay for health insurance in full. I would also look into non-ACA plans as there is currently no penalty for having non-ACA compliant health insurance.



@c_L: Good point about COVID isolation and decision making. I'm monumentally bad at measuring my own reaction to low-level frog in boiling water type stress reactions. I need to be reminded often that this is effecting me even though others are suffering much more than I am and my day-to-day routines are running fine.

I like that story about dieting and weight watchers. I've struggled to maintain a healthy weight for my whole life, alternating between periods of winning that and losing that struggle, often for years at a time. I too would game the system. What's worked for me in my current diet is paying attention to energy levels and how eating effects them. Unfortunately I don't have the same control over eating that I do over spending so I still need to use lower level "tricks" like intermittent fasting and allowing myself to binge eat when I'm very tired/ stressed/ as a reward for eating really well for a long period.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:50 pm
Instead of further trying to gamify the money game (which is mostly optimized), we have to start ignoring it to large degrees.
I think this is important for everyone but doubly important for semi-ERE. One of the advantages of early retirement is benefitting from serendipity of having time to pursue things and being uncommonly available/ in uncommon spaces while everyone is at work. Semi-ERE allows you to take advantage of this early, with the added incentive of needing to earn some money. Sometimes you need to "buy the ticket" to do the thing to get access to the serendipity. I think it can be harder for semi-ERE people to stop thinking about the money game, because we are in the accrual phase for a longer period, with less focus.

I think that having the confidence that serendipity/ non-paid-labor will pay off, that one possesses the skills/ tenacity to meet all basic needs under most probable future economic circumstances and that one will not backslide into old consumer habits are all important in changing the focus from optimizing the money dimension to yields and flows.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:11 pm
WL5 salaryman needs the same kind of faith in other realms. It's just very hard when you're not even used to thinking of things in terms other than dollars. I can't even really measure these flows, plus they may have the most important impact in areas of life far away from the source, or distant into the future.
I wasn't attracted to FIRE because I wanted to have a large bank account. I wanted to live life on my own terms. FIRE gave me a fiscally viable methodology to do this and ERE gave me a framework to explore what "life on my own terms" actually meant and how it integrated into the larger world. I have faith in other realms because I have a decade long history of earning and saving money as well as accruing assets. I've had less success figuring out what I actually want and then doing it, so this is the realm that needs work, even if it comes at the expense of the financial realm. Easier said than done, but I think attempting to move from W5 to W6 thinking is as good a start to this journey as any.


@jacob: Does earning more in the businessman/ workingman quadrants tend towards increasing Wheaton Level? It sounds like you described a shift in thinking, which is easier for businessmen and workingmen than salarymen, that's not dependent on earning more.

Frita
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Frita »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:39 am
Re: ACA... I agree that having enough passive income to be beyond the financial cliff changes the equation. I don't have a comprehensive strategy for this because I haven't researched it and am not in this position, but here are some ideas:

If the tax sheltered strategy I describe in the post was used, the money earned could sheltered in non-taxable accounts. Taxes would need to be paid on the income when it was removed from the account, but this may be lower or no tax and would shelter one from going over the ACA cliff in the current period.

The current ACA cliff is ~40k/ year/ adult person (not sure how kids factor into this). In Louisiana high deductible plans are available for ~300/ month ($3600/ year) and better plans are available for $400-500/ month ($4800-$6000/ year). It's not exactly a brilliant tax strategy, but if already in the position of low expenses and high passive income (which is impossible or undesirable to shelter), it should be possible to pay for health insurance in full. I would also look into non-ACA plans as there is currently no penalty for having non-ACA compliant health insurance.
Thank you for sharing. The ACA is based on modified adjusted gross income so non-taxed interest is included. One can literally pay very little income tax and be over the ACA cliff. Once the penalty was removed, being self-insured seemed like the best alternative.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:39 am
FIRE gave me a fiscally viable methodology to do this and ERE gave me a framework to explore what "life on my own terms" actually meant and how it integrated into the larger world.... I've had less success figuring out what I actually want and then doing it, so this is the realm that needs work, even if it comes at the expense of the financial realm.
Totally agree. Again though, I harken back to we become what we measure. In the hard-core accumulation phase I was in for almost five years, I began to measure my level of freedom in networth and the potential life long cash flow that provides. Freedom can only be measured in freedom, not net worth or cash flow. Life on my terms is more than my WR. Interestingly, in my off time I have learned a shit-ton about my personal preferences and how I best operate. However, now that I know this stuff, I still don't really know what to do with it. So, I think we may be in the same boat, but from different paths.

Jacob and 7WB5 have helped me realize that operating under the false constraint of monthly income at "x" withdrawal rate severely limits my freedom. In the same way a consumer is limited by monthly payments and salary. I really think this is an important point. Switching from accumulation to (semi)ERE requires a difference in kind thought process that doesn't necessarily naturally happen. Particularly when someone was achieving high savings rates on "easy-mode". Even though I logically understand their points, I still don't "feel" them. This leads to...
Jin+Guice wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:39 am
Sometimes you need to "buy the ticket" to do the thing to get access to the serendipity.
Right! It's important though to distinguish the types of tickets you're buying. Is it consumptive based, or is it productive (or at least neutral). For a newbie like me I have to think in terms of how will this provide value to whatever it is I want to accomplish. Is it a tool or the base needs to achieve something, or not. If the answer is yes, then I need to take a leap of faith and start trying. I need to disassociated WR and networth with freedom, because this association is severely limiting my options. My hope is by doing this I will start to find what to do with all of my productive energy. Something other than cycling in and out of burn out from a job that I perceive as increasing my freedom through increased net worth.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Hristo Botev »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:17 pm
I harken back to we become what we measure.
I'd never thought about it that way before, but that makes total sense. If you're a salaryman, like me, it's really too easy (relative) to focus your ERE efforts on building up your NW; as opposed to actually training yourself to be self-sufficient, resilient, and adaptable, in a way that NW doesn't really even matter that much. And if you focus on NW and only NW, then naturally that's where you focus all your energies.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:17 pm
Jacob and 7WB5 have helped me realize that operating under the false constraint of monthly income at "x" withdrawal rate severely limits my freedom. In the same way a consumer is limited by monthly payments and salary. I really think this is an important point. Switching from accumulation to (semi)ERE requires a difference in kind thought process that doesn't necessarily naturally happen. Particularly when someone was achieving high savings rates on "easy-mode". Even though I logically understand their points, I still don't "feel" them.

I'm surprised that others agreed with my assertion that moving from level 5 to 6 would cause more spending. I thought there would be a lot of pushback on that, but the reality was the opposite. Thanks to @c_L and everyone else who commented about this.

I stopped budgeting a while ago, but I've still been paying attention to my networth and trying to earn a certain dollar amount annually. Though I make less than most still accumulating on this forum, I make much more than I need. It's become increasingly clear that assuming present expenses are a proxy for future expenses is untrue. Though my spending is low, it would be feasible for me to nearly halve expenses if necessary. My confidence in my ability to do this is based on my experience living in cheap/ weird spaces for several years and having been "homeless" for more than a year. I don't have a definite plan for how this would work, but I'm confident that it could work if it needed to.
Hristo Botev wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:24 pm
If you're a salaryman, like me, it's really too easy (relative) to focus your ERE efforts on building up your NW; as opposed to actually training yourself to be self-sufficient, resilient, and adaptable, in a way that NW doesn't really even matter that much. And if you focus on NW and only NW, then naturally that's where you focus all your energies.
With the amount I have saved and my lack of experience earning passive income, I still don't feel comfortable depleting my savings. I need to figure out what the minimum amount I want to grow my savings by every year is. It's probably in the mid to low 4 digits because I plan on working in some capacity for the next 30 years and I have about half of my minimum (needs not wants) "number" saved. I also need to get more serious about earning passive income. Right now I'm not earning any and the more I get in the bank the higher the opportunity cost. I need to get used to taking risks other than inflation risk. Thinking of the money in the bank as my escape fund is no longer serving me. I need to come up with a plan for analyzing investments and not rely solely on paper assets, which I am not extremely interested in and will take me a long time to learn about (though I do plan to continue learning).

I need to work on is running my life in "retirement." I see @c_L and @AxelHeyst struggling with this problem. I over assign myself daily activities. I want to play drums and exercise all days where work and social activities don't take up most of my time/ energy (4/5 days a week for me, usually). Otherwise I want to leave the remainder of the time free to pursue whatever activity I want to work on in the moment. I like to work/ exercise until 5-8 PM and then make/ eat dinner and socialize. My concern is that I won't focus enough to make any progress on the activities I'm pursuing. I do also have some activities involving outside people which have time dependent components. I'm not sure how to manage these yet. I als over commit here, though I have improved since starting therapy at the beginning of this year. In general, I keep my responsibilities on projects with others, though often I don't feel like doing the work. I'm usually glad I did the project/ proud of it when it's completed, so I'm not sure what the solution is here yet. It's important to improve here because the quarantine has made me realize that I have too many solo projects and not enough collaborative projects.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Hristo Botev »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:12 pm
It's important to improve here because the quarantine has made me realize that I have too many solo projects and not enough collaborative projects.
To question the whole FIRE mindset for a second (not ERE, which I view very differently), isn't "collaborative projects" otherwise known as "having a job"? I mean, we've got to do something; the FI in FIRE just gives you the freedom to be a little more (or a lot more) selective about what the something is. Maybe my vision is just skewed by the fact that I'm a middle-aged man with elementary school age kids, and in a million years I can't imagine a scenario where my kids spend the day in school while Dad putzes around the house building model airplanes, or coming up with DIY projects that don't really need to be done, or playing video games, or engaging in an online forum,* or whatever.

*To be radically self-honest for a second, I suppose I'm much more comfortable with my current scenario, where I walk off to work for 8-9 hours, ~6 of which I spend doing actual work, with the remaining ~2 devoted to engaging in an online forum :lol: .

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:48 pm
To question the whole FIRE mindset for a second (not ERE, which I view very differently), isn't "collaborative projects" otherwise known as "having a job"?
I'm not sure I'm qualified to say this since I'm not Jacob, but I *think* that for a salaryman collaborative projects mean having a job. For a businessman, I think it means running/ collaborating on a business. For a workingman, I think it means providing labor on a jobsite with others (o.k., this is kind of also having a job). For a rennisanceman it means ????

I'm a lazy mid-thirties hipster with no dependents or wife, so our perspectives are different. I spend most of my time puttering around working on hobbies and projects that may or may not lead to cash flow. It'd be nice if these projects involved other people. When I think "job" I think of having very little flexibility in terms of what I'm going to do, when I'm going to do it, how I'm going to do it and when I get to stop doing the thing. Adding people to a self directed project does introduce some of these constraints, but rarely all at once or to the same degree.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:48 pm
in a million years I can't imagine a scenario where my kids spend the day in school while Dad putzes around the house building model airplanes, or coming up with DIY projects that don't really need to be done, or playing video games, or engaging in an online forum,* or whatever.
Two things here. One, you probably can't imagine this because it's just not what our current society is like. Part of ERE is recognizing that today's socio-economic reality is an oddity in history. Families used to (and still do in many places, see your eastern European experience) spend most of the day working/educating together, not separated by institutions. It seems "out there" only in the context of norms. With ERE we question the validity of norms and prepare for a day in which there is a forced change in them. IOW, create a lifestyle that's both advantageous inside and outside the current system.

Which leads to the second point. I very much think some of this is personality based. Some people really thrive in the way societal norms and hierarchies have been established. This isn't a bad thing, it just is. I do, however, think that the above mentioned institutions have forced most people into thinking this way, whether or not it is actually the way they thrive. The only way to know for sure is to take a pause, dive into the rabiithole, and decide for yourself.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Hristo Botev »

I agree with both of you on this. The most renaissance man I've ever met was a Bulgarian car and motorcycle mechanic/engineer/philosopher/grillmaster/winemaker/farmer/woodworker/handyman/restorer of guns/husband/father/town drunk/etc.; his society could have completely caved all around him and he'd still be fine and thriving, because he (a) had a vast array of skills and (b) had a fantastic outlook on life, in that he thrived from both being around people and from working on his various projects. But he didn't really do anything for money; he just worked on whatever he wanted to work on, and sometimes people paid him in cash, but often they paid him in trade or in favors down the line, or not at all. He couldn't have cared less. I don't mean to suggest that what he was doing all day was putzing around his house; far from it. But he definitely was a do-er; he never stopped moving. And he definitely had a "job"; lots of them, actually. He just didn't have a boss (apart from his wife, of course), or a schedule that he didn't impose on himself. And he also had meaning in his life, in the Viktor Frankl since of the word; which is what motivated him. For me, personally, I have a "job" in the sense that I have a chosen profession that I enjoy doing (mostly), through which I can help people (if I'm doing it right), and money (or lack of it) doesn't really dictate whether or not I practice that profession. That said, money does dictate how much I practice the profession, and how and for whom I practice. To @c_l's point (sort of), I'd like to practice my profession a little more like John Adams did--dividing my time depending on the season between town, where I'd practice law, and the country homestead, where I'd farm in the New England country farmer sense. And maybe I'll eventually get to something similar to that lifestyle. But I can't ever imaging not doing something, whether or not I stay rooted in salaryman land or eventually graduate up to renaissance man.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

The last few months have been pretty wild for me.

I broke up with my longtime girlfriend at the end of August (as always, the gory details are in the polyamory thread).

We lived together so I had to move. I moved into a trailer on my friend's urban garden that I had been staying on part-time since the start of corona. I pay rent by doing some light garden work for 10 hours a week.

Garden life is pretty sweet. My friend and I have similar mentalities, basically trying to live the good life on the fringes of society while lazily trying to do our small part in improving the world/ being as environmentally friendly as possible.

We were having some conflict around the workshare agreement. At 10 hours a week I'm making between $6-9/ hour depending on what the valuation of rent/ utilities I'm saving is. The main problems I was having was 1) He wasn't providing me with enough work, which resulted in me scheduling time to work but being unable to; and 2) He wanted to be able to schedule me when he wanted, but there is no way I can do this with my current life/ other projects/ job. I tried to renegotiate for lower hours with more focus, but he made it clear that he thinks 10 hours if fair, so I instead got him to agree that I set the time when I work and I can make up projects/ find work to do if he doesn't provide me with enough tasks for 10 hours at the beginning of each week. We'll see how this new arrangement goes. The upside of the work share is that I'm learning tasks in alignment with my web of goals, my friend is a really relaxed boss and the work is usually easy and relatively fun.

My friend lives in a shipping container on the property and we've been discussing me buying a shipping container and building it out to live out there more permanently. I'm not sure if this will happen, but if it did it would effectively drop my housing/ utilities costs to somewhere between 0 and $500 (half of the property taxes) a year for as long as I wanted. I'd probably have to keep up some small portion of the workshare agreement as well. Even if I buy the shipping container, build it out and my friend and I have a falling out, I have the funds recreate what he's done in a better location with the experience of having helped him run his urban garden and after figuring out all the zoning/ build out stuff for a shipping container once.

I've been dating my other (now only) girlfriend for 7 months now and things are going well. We successfully navigated breaking up with both of our former primary (live in) partners in the span of a month and both of us going back to work. I am a little disappointed that I didn't spend any time single and our relationship escalated quickly since both of us were used to living with a romantic partner for years when we started dating. We already share a car (hers) and I'm at her apartment a lot because I live on the other side of the river and occasionally enjoy amenities such as heat and hot water (it's been unseasonably cold so far this winter down here). When we were on mushrooms, I accidently let it slip that I have an "informal blog that is a response to another financial independence blog" and she now refers to me as a "secret millionaire" and made me swear that dating her isn't part of my early retirement scheme.

In terms of EREness I'd say she's around a Wheaton 4, which is about where my last girlfriend was, though the challenges with her are different. My last gf had careers that formed a large part of her identity (journalist/ writer/ stripper), so she didn't see the point in saving a bunch to early retire. She did own a house which she's been paying off quickly and have a decent amount saved and thought doing free/ cheap shit was just as fun as expensive shit. The new gf doesn't have much saved, mostly because her ex-husband who she was financially tied to was really irresponsible with money (which lead to the ultimate ERE romantic compliment from her "it's really sexy how responsible you are with your finances"). She's also 10 years younger than my last gf. She is more interested in retiring early/ semi-retiring than my last gf, but she also more strongly associates spending money with having fun. Both of them are very much in the deal getting/ budgeting mindset. I don't plan on combining finances with a romantic partner, so I don't think this will be a long-term problem. I do think it'd be difficult for me to be primary partners with someone who didn't consider themselves somewhat frugal and wasn't at least a Wheaton 4.

I've had a bit of a personal health breakthrough. I've lost > 40lbs since getting kicked out of PhD school in 2016, most of which has been in the last year. I'm below my goal weight, which is lighter than I've ever been since high school, and far more muscular than I've ever been.... so close to having abs.

I started dumpster diving and have reduced my food budget by 50-75%. Between the garden and the dumpster it'd be entirely possible to not pay for food at all, particularly if I could increase my food storage capacity (a bunch of the same food is often thrown out at once). If I gave up on vegetarianism and ate more sweets, it'd be entirely possible to never cook again as well (not doing this because I love cooking and it would impact my health). In order to keep this up, I dumpster dive everyday, but I still think it's a net savings on grocery shopping time (I've gotten a bit lucky with where the good dumpsters are and where I normally am). There is probably room for an efficiency improvement here by figuring out when dumpsters are most likely to be unguarded and when they are most likely to have the food that I want, but right now I'm really enjoying this so I'll probably keep going every day.

With dumpster diving/ gardening and free rent it'd be possible for me to reduce my outgoing dollar expenditures to $0. If I break up with my girlfriend or she goes on a long trip I might try to do this for a month.

I got the opportunity to open a recording studio in Mobile, AL in an art museum. I moved my equipment there and we got board approval for our project last month. This is exciting because we have very cheap rent, which we should be able to cover with grant funding and we will be able to access not-for-profit funds for projects through the museum (which includes buying equipment for ourselves and paying ourselves) and can still run our studio/ record label as a for profit business. The worst case scenario is we have cheap rent and release a few cool records for free, best case is this turns into a very profitable business. I partnered with two people in Mobile, so I'm a bit nervous about those relationships and the relationship with my friend who is the museum director, but everything is going well so far.

I've been doing a bad job learning how to invest and am really unmotivated to earn more money or learn about investing. Currently my plan is to keep my hospital job (which has gotten much more tolerable since my boss found out I was trying to quit about a year ago and due to the 5 month government sponsored paid vacation I got from coronavirus), see how the studio thing pans out and keep working on the garden. I'd like to use future jobs to learn new skills and I'd like to spend 3-5 years of my life doing a prestigious job that pays decently (goal would be north of $60k/ year) that teaches me some useful skill and that I don't hate or need a car for. I also need to figure out my investment strategy and make some moves at some point in the next 5-7 years.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2133
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal »

Hey, congrats on the studio situation! I know you've been looking for a way to make that work for awhile. Glad you found another relationship to keep a bit of stability in your life, it's nice to have sometimes.

I don't envy you with investing. So much seems over priced. Since you've been dragging your feet so long, I think the best thing you can do is just about anything to get a little skin in the game. Maybe, just mentally make a decision that you will not accumulate any more cash. So any new excess inflow go into... well, something.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 162
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I wanted to pop in and say that I really enjoy your writing and perspectives. I lurked around here for years and I think you added a really valuable, vocal alternative to the work, save, retire trajectory. Your thoughts on SemiERE and and balancing work with other pursuits were really impactful on me. I've changed my plans as a result.

Also a big fan of New Orleans and happy to see you repping the dirty south. Best of luck on all of your plans and projects!

Jin+Guice
Posts: 755
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:15 am

Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

@c_L: Thanks, I'm pretty excited, I couldn't have asked for a better situation. Re: Investing... In some ways I think you're right. I did index investing for 3.5 years and made a bunch of money from that, then became convinced by those here that everything was overpriced and cashed out. To keep some "skin in the game" I keep track of how much higher VTSAX is than when I sold it...

I'm also of the opinion that everything is overpriced so I don't mind waiting. Having the war chest is useful. I've got a couple of pie in the sky investment opportunities I'm going to dump a couple grand into (which I anticipate losing) and I'm also looking at some local opportunities either buying a house with a few other people or buying shipping container homes and renting/ air bnbing them. These are all dependent on other people so, not sure they will pan out. I'm hoping to think of some out of the box investment opportunities that are more in line with what I'm trying to do, but I do also want to have a foot in other more "traditional" (paper) assets as well. Anyway, thanks for the advice, I'm trying to get better about making actual moves while keeping the "hunter" mentality.

@WRC: Thanks so much, I really seek to provide an alternative method to the work, save, retire model. I'm really pleased that what I've written has impacted someone in a positive.

New Orleans is the motherfucking best. HMU if you ever come through, I love to hang out and meet people from the forum.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2133
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal »

I think more "outside the box" active investing opportunities would suit you well. It just seems to fit with your lifestyle and interests. I mean, if semi-ERE, why not some semi-active capital investments as well?

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6825
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

You are pretty much living my dream life. Current barriers to admittance being that I am old, female, weak-lunged, and cowardly, but not necessarily in that order.

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