Page 12 of 12

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:27 pm
by mooretrees
Glad to hear from you, been hoping for an update! I've checked out his other books and Green Wizardry looked interesting. I've bought a few books this month already, so likely going to wait for a little bit before I buy another book. Good to hear WFR is so useful and long term friends are always a great plus.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:07 pm
by Frita
The bus is looking great. I can’t wait to see how the interior comes together. (Our van needs a makeover. Big. Time. I am looking for inspiration.)

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:29 am
by theanimal
mooretrees wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:35 pm

Sub floor is finished! It's always shocking how long it takes to do things. DH has skills, but still is not journeyman level for building. So each project takes more time. Also, maybe I've mentioned how impatient I am :roll: ? So much for me to learn.
I've had the same exact thoughts. I feel like things should go faster, but then again I have essentially 0 building experience and not much to hang my hat on regarding expectations. That plus impatience makes a nice combination. :P

I defintely recommend taking the WFR course. I've taken the WFR once and have taken multiple WFAs. They are really fun, but can vary slightly based on the instructors. 2 of my instructors worked in the medical field and did outdoor activities, one only did outdoor activities. Those with actual medical experience were far better and did even more scenarios versus the other instructor. With the medical guys it was probably 80% scenarios. Anyways, bottomline I've really enjoyed them and would recommend it.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:19 am
by mooretrees
theanimal wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:29 am
I've had the same exact thoughts. I feel like things should go faster, but then again I have essentially 0 building experience and not much to hang my hat on regarding expectations. That plus impatience makes a nice combination. :P
It's funny to hear you say that because your build looks like it is progressing so fast! My jaw dropped when I read your last update, the walls are almost up and you just started like last week. Damn! Managing expectations is key and so difficult.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:03 pm
by AxelHeyst
^^ "It's easy to propose solutions to problems you don't know very much about."

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:42 pm
by mooretrees
Skoolie preparations:

DH taped out a possible floorplan a few days ago. We walked around and talked about it. I had a hard time falling asleep that night. I was excited and also anxious-primarily about getting rid of enough stuff to fit in the school bus. I haven't done much for getting rid of stuff since covid started, just wasn't the right time to be trying to sell things or donate them. The last few days I rounded up a bunch of stuff and put it on blankets on the front yard with a big free sign. Most of it is gone now, the rest we'll box up and take to the local goodwill in a few days. Looking at a video of our son from last year, it is clear that we have pared down our belongings significantly. Progress is happening. I realized that it was a good anxiety after stewing over it for a few days. It wasn't anxiety over 'what have we committed too?' More, gotta get rid of all of this crap!

Water will be a big deal for us once we move in and I'm thinking we won't have plumbed in water from an outside source. So conservation will be key. DH found a sub-Reddit forum (I think that's how you say it?) about rinsing dishes. Seems it might just be an American thing to rinse dishes in running water. We've been trying out handwashing with soaking dishes in soapy water, scrubbing them and then dipping them back into the soapy water. It works best if the soapy water isn't too soapy, or else the rinsed dishes are dripping with soap bubbles-which is off putting. I haven't tasted any soap on the dishes since we've started this so this might be here to stay.

We have two tentative places to park the skoolie. One is a ten acre farm with young farmers. I went and checked out their farm a few days ago. They just started farming the land last fall but seem to be doing well. They sell at the farmers market and have a big CSA. When I showed up I saw that they were line drying clothes, which I took as a good sign we might be compatible. She was really interested in the bus and was visibly excited when I said we'd have solar and our own water. After meeting with her, she texted me asking if we'd be interested in a work share to save expenses. Heck yes I am! The farm is just on the outskirts of town, about four miles to work. That's a totally doable bike ride weather permitting.

The other option is a coworker who has a big shop/parking area. It wouldn't be a nice as we'd be right behind the shop, but it is closer to town and right near access to hiking/wood cutting/mountain fun. Either place could be fine, and it's nice to have options.

Money stuff:
I've been totally lame as far as tracking money so my next day off will have me sleuthing around for June spending so I don't lose out on the data. It isn't natural for me to track money, but it's too valuable to have that knowledge to be half-assed. One of my weak excuses is that our expenses will change so much once we're in the school bus that is sorta doesn't matter what our norm is right now. But, I think that's not good enough in reality and I need to push myself harder on this.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:34 pm
by AxelHeyst
The farm spot sounds great if you get it!

Water conservation thoughts (the method you mentioned sounds fine, this is just some stuff I do as good for thought):
Don’t stack dirty dishes, so you keep the bottom of plates clean and only have to clean the top/food side.
Do dishes quickly after eating so stuff doesn’t cake on to it.
Put some water in a dirty bowl/dish. Swish it around, use fingers/hands to get 90% of food off. Pour this water in to next dirty dish, repeat etc. then go through and do a wash with soap pass at the rinsed dishes.

You might already have this sorted, but I have a foot pump for my sink. I love it, more than a normal faucet. If I inherited a van/anything that had an electric pump, I’d rip it out and put in a foot pump. Keeps both hands free, so you don’t leave it on longer than you need, is mechanical so even if electrical system is down your sink is good to go.

And I hear you on the expenses thing. I’m struggling with, every single month feels like a “non-standard one-off” in terms of expenses, lifestyle, etc. difficult to predict, difficult to draw conclusions from past months. I think there’s gotta be an “ERE For people with unstable lifestyles” set of guidelines/best practices, but so far I’m fumbling around in the dark it seems.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:55 am
by mooretrees
AxelHeyst wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:34 pm

And I hear you on the expenses thing. I’m struggling with, every single month feels like a “non-standard one-off” in terms of expenses, lifestyle, etc. difficult to predict, difficult to draw conclusions from past months. I think there’s gotta be an “ERE For people with unstable lifestyles” set of guidelines/best practices, but so far I’m fumbling around in the dark it seems.
Those are great water conservation suggestions, thanks!

I am hoping that in the looonnnngggg run, diligent tracking provides confidence that while those one-off's occur, we can get our spending to some decently low average. I want to get to that point where I can look backwards and see the decreasing expenses over years, regardless of where we live.

I also spent some time rereading your journal. Wow. So much progress in such a short time! Joined the forum in mid-Jan, down to 8 hrs/week early July. 6 JAFI in Jan down to less than 2 in June? Since you're in the fast lane of ERE, every month is new territory so the guidelines are scarce.

A few things, one silly and one not. I really appreciate that you've brought two new words to my vocabulary; dirtbag and moochdock. I had never used dirtbag before with the affection it seems like you have for it, and moochdock is just straight up fun!

The other serious: I reread most of your journal during work. Dammmmnnnn. Reading it in real time makes it hard to see how much work you've put it to internalize ERE. Rereading it has pushed me to work harder and be more aggressive, particularly with food and getting rid of stuff. Sigmoid curves and effort. I really appreciated anew the skill of living graph you created, especially as I think about forcing us to get more creative with food. My skill with cooking is fairly low, so this month might see some drop in quality of meals, but hopefully short lived it I put in enough effort. Anyway, should be putting this in your journal, but really appreciate your effort and openness since you've come to the forum.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:32 pm
by AxelHeyst
Hey, thanks for saying that. I'm in a little bit of a whirlwhind headspace at the moment (which I'll braindump more in my journal), but two things came to mind:

1. A lot of my rapid "progress" is attributable to having already done a ton of work over the past ~10 years, that got me to a place of being very ready to drop in to an ERE-aligned lifestyle. So from one perspective, I've been the foot-draggiest bastard there is on the forum. It's just that when I found the book and the forum, I think I already had most of the pieces laying around to get me to this point, I just had to snap them together and it came together without much effort. In the Yields and Flows thread, I think JnG made a comment that the discussion helped him understand why he might even want to get from a Wheaton 5 to a 6 or 7. My experience is the opposite; the minute I glanced at the Wheaton scale, it was like a shaft of golden light from heaven was shining on it with a blinking neon sign over it, saying "The Thing You've Been Vainly Struggling to Find for the past 15 Years".

I think a lot of it was having the Why sorted ahead of time. Most of the books that Jacob lets slip every once in a while as philosophically foundational to the genesis of ERE, I've considered foundational to my worldview for years. I just wasn't sharp enough to cross the gap from the Why to the How like he was.

2. The rest of the progress is actually probably attributable to my instability. "Agility" would be another word for it. I mean, in January I was #childfree, no debt, was able to exit my apartment within two months, I already had Serenity, and easy access to the family land. I didn't have to invent any of that stuff, I was able to sort of just fall in to it / let it happen.

I feel like I'm getting to the point where I'm actually going to have to start working for my gains, everything to this point has been fairly low-hanging fruit, and the shutdown was honestly a stepladder for even those because it discouraged going out, traveling, etc.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:51 pm
by classical_Liberal
@mooretrees
I don't think you should be so tough on yourself about the expense tracking.

Obviously the prefered route to ERE in this forum is "reach FI", then do more ERE. I'm mostly guilty in that respect as well. You and @AH are moving towards being ERE, without FI. I think this requires a bit of a different mindset.

Those trying to reach FI HAVE to be meticulous in tracking spending, net worth, investing performance, etc. For certain personality types it's actually fun ( :geek:). However, the other way to look at this is cashflow. As long as cash flow remains positive each month and year, do expenses and/or net worth really matter? Rather the focus can shift to, is my positive cashflow sustainable.

Now, I'm a huge fan of "do both", hence my set-up. But you don't really need to. Find a situation where you are happy, can generate cash flow that is higher than expenses, and make it relatively robust. Then the focus on closing the loop is only to generate higher levels of positive cashflow or add levels of antifragility. This can be done from both sides of the equation, but requires less specificity.

Focusing on cashflow also avoids the trouble of becoming addicted to constanting wanting to add that next few grand to net worth. It's a huge problem, one that's rarely discussed around here, mainly because of the second sentence in my response. Addicts rarely walk around talking about their addiction, rather they talk about their next "fix".

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:56 pm
by mooretrees
@classical_liberal
Maybe it’s too early in my journey to say, but I’m not overly worried about getting addicted to saving money. I also think I’m more open to risk than others here, likely a personality trait as well as having experience with living at the poverty line before. We’ll see if this holds true when I’m saving money in crazy mode.

I’m getting caught up in potential house/garden projects. I imagine that the things I’m thinking of doing will add value to either a sale or to potential renters. However, it’s also making me think more about whether we really need to hold onto this house. Our area is experiencing a tiny housing boom, houses are selling really quickly and for more than list price. Should we try and ‘time’ this little house bubble before everyone loses their jobs???

If we did try and sell the house this year, then it’s possible we’d be living in a partially finished school bus. That doesn’t sound like a great idea for our relationship. Mainly I’m brainstorming ways to get our housing costs lower while we’re still in the big house. Probably just gonna try and get another short term renter when a student does their externship here in a few months. Won’t be a huge amount of money, but it also won’t be a huge amount of sharing our space too.

My attitude about work is better these days. I think it was lots of extra time during our reduced hours period coupled with some exciting and important feeling weeks. Also, maybe now that we have a better vision for the near future my job seems more necessary? Like this job is part of the way OUT of this job. The other part of getting out of this job, or full time work, extremely low expenses. Anyway, I’m glad not to dread work every day, that was exhausting.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:38 am
by horsewoman
I disagree with not tracking finances, at least when it comes to expenses. One might say that we too aspire to ERE without FI, and have been doing so for over a decade. I've started tracking expenses mid 2018 and it was a game changer.

We have often discussed measuring certain parameters here, or ERE accounting, and the only thing one can reliably measure is money - everything else is very subjective (even money is subjective to some extent - depreciation comes to mind, or how to count a house in terms of NW).

Tracking expenses is a tool that is extremely easy to use and it will show you a lot about yourself and your habits.
Until I painstakingly (and painfully!) recorded every frivolous amazon order in my spreadsheet I was always able to justify it to myself in my mind. Stark numbers show that blowing 300 euros on unnecessary stuff each month, while your paycheck is 700 a month might not be very sustainable in the long run...

Same with groceries - if my spreadsheet tells me that I have already spent 75% of my regular amount in week 2, I'll let the superfluous stuff in the shop more easily. Or stay home and cook with what's in my pantry!

I feel like my spreadsheet acts like something of neurofeedback machine for me when it comes to spending. Maybe you need to enjoy analysing stuff to get the full benefit of it, but I think if you want to work less (and earn less) it us a good idea to know exactly where your money is going. Obviously at some point this will become second nature, but for most people frugality is a learned behaviour (considering that we all have been raised consumers), and needs some training.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:38 pm
by classical_Liberal
horsewoman wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:38 am
I disagree with not tracking finances, at least when it comes to expenses. One might say that we too aspire to ERE without FI, and have been doing so for over a decade. I've started tracking expenses mid 2018 and it was a game changer....
I feel like my spreadsheet acts like something of neurofeedback machine for me when it comes to spending.
hahah Neurofeedback machine, I Like it. Yeah, there's no doubt that tracking spending changes behavior. Some people may need behavior change. I also think sometimes this behavior change can be bad when viewed in totality with a personal system. I guess it's just a tool and it depends how you use it, and whether or not you abuse it.

I also think a less precise tool is needed in semi-ERE, if cash flow remains positive, vs having to live within a SWR. I guess a general way to put this, IMO, if you know how much you spend in a year and are happy with it, have more than enough cashflow to offset it, then there's no need to get all type-A energied into budgeting month to month or category to category. Because this can actually cause harm to the system. When one is not willing to spend on something that will actually, eventually, create more value than the cheaper alternative. Or at least take a few risks in that direction. Last spring I didn't want to spend the money to buy my cheap ass bike, but the GF convinced me and now I've gotten literally hundreds of hour of entertainment and transportation out of it. It was an unbelievable deal in hindsight, one that my type-A "budget" minded brain of the time almost didn't allow me to experiment with.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:39 am
by horsewoman
@c_l this is really puzzling to me - you are so keen on measuring things but not into recording expenses (→ collecting data for measuring)! Maybe it is too easy for you? :)

Anyway, I stand firm that at least in the beginning tracking expenses is very helpful. Once the systems are running, it loses importance, obviously. When I started, I religiously filled out my spreadsheet on a weekly basis, and had to pay attention to collecting all receipts etc. By now, this is all running on autopilot, and I don't fret if I lost a receipt. Once a month (or twice, if my internal overspending warning system, which has been trained by my spreadsheet neurofeedback machine, starts to nudge me) I sit down and quickly enter my data. 15-20 minutes tops and I know exactly how we have been doing.
Before I did this we never went into debt or anything, but especially with as many different income streams we have it is difficult to stay on top of finances, and to decide if something is a money drain or a gain. I suppose it is different when one is single with a single income stream or maybe two, in that case keeping track of the cash flow is not so difficult.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:36 am
by mooretrees
I do agree with you @horsewoman, and partly why I wrote about not tracking was to get some more encouragement to try harder. If I had had a deep set pattern of tracking, then it would have been easier to do it with the overtime and stress I had for a few weeks last month.
@CL the whole cash flow importance is a good point for semi-ere. Since my weak areas are patience and discipline I think I do need to get better with tracking. Somehow make it enjoyable?

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:39 am
by horsewoman
You need to make it as painless as possible to make it stick. Personally I have a compartment in my wallet where every receipt goes, since I prefer to pay with cash. Next to my computer there is a pouch to transfer the receipts from my wallet, and when I'm in the mood I enter them into the spreadsheet. Bank statements get entered at the start of the new month.
DH is not to be relied on to remember taking the receipts and is prone to waste money on junk food - I encourage him to stay out of shops, and if that is not possible to use his credit card for shopping. This way, all his purchases are in the bank statements for me to transfer into Excel, and he knows that I will know what he spent :lol: this sounds sinister, but I don't scold him, so he is fine with it (while still exercising some restraint). It works for us.

The frugalwoods pay everything with their credit cards and use a software for their expense tracking, which also works if one likes credit cards. This saves you transferring all in a spreadsheet. Personally I'm afraid that "they" will do away with cash for good if everyone stops using it, so I will use it even tough it often cards would be easier.

So I would encourage you to work out a system that is easy enough to stick. It took me a few months of tweaking, but it was worth it.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:38 pm
I also think a less precise tool is needed in semi-ERE, if cash flow remains positive, vs having to live within a SWR. I guess a general way to put this, IMO, if you know how much you spend in a year and are happy with it, have more than enough cashflow to offset it, then there's no need to get all type-A energied into budgeting month to month or category to category. Because this can actually cause harm to the system. When one is not willing to spend on something that will actually, eventually, create more value than the cheaper alternative. Or at least take a few risks in that direction. Last spring I didn't want to spend the money to buy my cheap ass bike, but the GF convinced me and now I've gotten literally hundreds of hour of entertainment and transportation out of it. It was an unbelievable deal in hindsight, one that my type-A "budget" minded brain of the time almost didn't allow me to experiment with.
This is entirely a matter of perspective. My husband has ordered some studio monitors for his music production hobby yesterday, at €400, not a small sum, considering that this is half his PT salary in a month. But one look at my trusted spreadsheet told me that we can easily afford them, and he will get much enjoyment out of them, so we bought them. He did not need to convince me at all. I'm pretty sure that I would have fretted about this purchase a lot more without knowing exactly if we could afford it or not, since this was what I did in the past.
Like I said, we never run into red numbers before my spreadsheet and I knew that we had a positive balance but I still worried a lot. We also got into more disagreements about how to spend our money because we were both guessing. Now there is no guessing involved. There is probably no "one size fits all" approach to this, but I think in @moretrees situation it would be helpful. I feel in her family it is very much like in my own (combined finances with one person who is interested in saving and money and the other one is not very interested in money at all, as long as there is some available), and those situations are easier navigated when everything is written down and clearly understandable. DH used to make fun of my spreadsheet in the beginning but recently he told me that he thinks it a valuable resource.

Another thing - I think it is important to make a distinction between tracking expenses and setting budgets. The former is empowering because it gives you data to make better decisions, while the latter feels (at least to me) very restrictive. I will not deprive my family of good food when we go over our regular amount but I will try to find out why I have done so - mostly it will be due to much junk food and sweets, which are unhealthy. So paying more attention to what I buy has multiple benefits.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:06 pm
by classical_Liberal
@horsewoman
:lol: yeah. I'm definitely mildly OCD.

I'm the opposite of your husband. I'd look at the spreadsheet, see I can easily afford them and still not buy them. Because lower spending is always better.

This is why I loosened up in my tracking. Money spent today, really shouldn't be the only factor in decisions. To start thinking longer term and in mixed terms, I needed to do away with the ultra-specific, categorical tracking. To stop feeling like money is scarce, I needed to stop obsessing over every last drop of it's usage. Don't get me wrong, with the click of a button I can tell you how much I've spent in 2020, just not exactly on what or when. My spending seems to continue to drop year-over-year anyway.

But to your point, specific tracking did serve me well as behavior modification as I was doing it. It's just that, eventually, it was modifying my behavior counterproductively to my overarching goals.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:10 pm
by mooretrees
I feel worn out with money thinking these days. Likely it is really due to being too lax about tracking and scrambling around trying to figure what we spent late in the month. And being a little stressed that I was ignoring tracking. Our son broke out Chromebook beyond repair and we hadn't fixed our old computers. So we dropped some money to fix two computers. I'm glad to have a real computer again and less broken stuff hanging around. DH will use our really old Mac book to roast with and I can use it as a DVD player for workout videos.

Lot's of adventure for us lately, DH tested out his new mountain bike when we went camping recently. We all went on a four mile ride together, I didn't realize I liked mtn biking. Our son was in heaven riding his little balance bike downhill. Thankfully he seems to have some native caution as he'd get off and push with gnarly downhills-without prompting. He only rode two miles, mostly downhill. We went too far for him to ride back but we were having such a great time I didn't mind pushing/carrying him back. He fell asleep in my arms on the hike back, that hasn't happened in a LONG time. I need more practice sleeping better while camping, I think we're going to do a few more overnight trips to work out the camping kinks before a week long trip in Sept. I worked really hard to make a bunch of the food for our trip: made rice, granola, bread and hard boiled eggs so we could use what we had. It was a lot of work but so worth it to be out alone with my family in the woods.

I've gotten a little obsessed (as much as I can) about making herbal oils. I was idly searching for things to do to get ready for peak oil-being lazy, I know. But it was useful as I saw some suggestions about making your own herbal medicines. So far I've got lavender and oregano oil steeping. Sage, calendula and more lavender are drying. Oregano oil is supposed to be useful for pain. All of the herbs I've looked up seem potentially useful for little scraps/sunburns etc. I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with them, but I have a few weeks to research uses. So far, this is a new hobby that doesn't cost anything. The herbs I had already growing and plenty of olive oil. Well, I forgot that I bought some small mason jars. This is a new area that fits in with my web o'goals, a continuation of gardening and learning. Don't know if I'll do much more than make some salve and lip balm, but I'm learning and it's fun.

One last success story before I check out and stop this likely boring brain dump. DS is still wearing diapers at night and it doesn't seem like that's changing anytime soon. Early this year I bought a wool diaper cover and cotton diapers. They were not cheap. But every time I used them on him he'd get a diaper rash after a night or two. I tried rinsing them twice as many times as the seller recommended to no avail. DH made us some laundry detergent and I tried washing them with the new detergent. No diaper rash! So now we're back to washing diapers which is not a big deal. It's great to have that small reduction in disposables and cost associated. I felt like a bad mom for trying so many times, his poor little bottom suffered! But now it's fine. That's it folks.

Re: mooretrees journal

Posted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:04 pm
by mooretrees
July

Expenses

Food $461
electronics $727
Health/med $105
Home $905
Transportation $62
Personal $13
Pets $35
Utilities $300
Fuel $135
Garden $86
Son $144
clothes $40
food out $106
adventure $3,202
Totals $6,320

Income

Savings $1,000
Paycheck $3,888
401k $718
HSA $644
Other $954
Totals $7,204

We spent a lot of money this month. I think it resulted from a few months of externally derived frugality and some built up deferred maintenance/expenses. We fixed two computers and an old iphone for DH. His cheap android was starting to fail. He switched to my carrier, mint mobile, and if he likes the data (he uses more than me), then our phone bill will be smaller. Time will tell.

We also bought DH an entry level bike. He stresses the entry level. The used market was non-existent and he mostly funded the bike purchase (thanks Trump and our father in law). However, there were some secondary expenses due to the bike. I always forget that can happen. He bought a trailer hitch, pedals, grips and a new water bladder. I don't regret this at all. I think him getting the bike is helping us get out to the woods more.

We also had a higher grocery bill this month. I got tired and DH did more food shopping. I just threw him under the bus! I'm not really sure why we spent more, but I think we can do better.

I think I'm not there with thinking that any money spent is a failure. Sometimes I just spend money to get something and I don't agonize over it. I bought some expensive toys for my son this month. Wooden magnets that are beautiful and I like seeing them around. He plays quietly with them and is getting more creative with building a horse, buzz lightyear, a human, etc. I'm not going to build them in this life and it was money well spent.

Anyway, take out the adventure and electronics column and it doesn't look too crazy. One ongoing reality for us is that part of getting ready for leaving this house is taking care of deferred maintenance. In the next couple of months we'll be installing a gas stove/range that's been under the carport waiting for a part. We'll also be replacing the dishwasher which barely works. These are expenses that we could avoid, but I think they will help either sell the place in the future or make it easier to rent. So, while we're saving money each month, we won't be saving a ton for some time.