mooretrees journal

Where are you and where are you going?
mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

Part Two:

Picking up where I left off, I'm realizing that while I spend a lot of time thinking about money and reading the forum, our lives have only changed marginally in the real world. I've worked on my web of goals and started some small projects to learn more about gardening and birds and so on. But, I've been sorta relying on moving to the school bus to blow open the way to living the ERE life to the fullest.

So here is my chance to move the needle forward and go big into learning how live more efficiently. I think the income at the reduced hours is still a significant amount of money and it shouldn't be such a stretch to live at the income. It will be a stretch to live well below it, and I think that's an acceptable trade off for increased freedom.

Non-financial reasons to reduce hours:
1. I know that I'm healthier with reduced time at work. When we had reduced hours a few months ago, I was working out almost daily for up to an hour without feeling like I was stealing time from my son or DH-that is a big issue with full time hours.
2. I like external boundaries. Reduced income means a new external, though still chosen by me, limit to our spending/saving. In other areas it's clear that I respond well to fewer choices and externally created boundaries. Marriage is one example. I love my man, but I also love that I made my choice and get to relax into that choice.
3. Better parent/spouse. More energy = more sex, more energy=more playful fun parent.

Downsides to part time work:
1. Uncertainty with where economy is going. I brought this up with my manager during our conversation today. While she isn't one to guarantee anything, seniority is taken into consideration if layoffs are considered. With five years under my belt, I have decent seniority so won't be the first on the chopping block should the economy tank.
2. Potential slow down for work on the school bus. I say potential because we have $5k saved so we'll be able to continue to fund work on it for the near future. Savings will slow down soon and that will impact us down the line. However, it also might push us to be more creative or just straight up settle for less than ideal but workable living conditions.
3. Initial increased stress due to money concerns. No way around this one, but still seems worth it for increased freedom.

Assumptions:
I'll work full time through the end of September. Might not be truly part time initially in October as that would create a shortage of microbiology techs until a new tech is hired and trained to work micro-usually at least six months. I'm not assuming DH makes any money when I look at our finances. Last week he did some painting for a buddy and made $240. He's turned down limited part time work this year as we've wanted him to focus on working on the school bus. With more free time, he could pick up the odd job and contribute money.

Hopes:
This upcoming reduction in pay spurs us to be more aggressive with alternatives to solving problems with money. We've already started coming up with some ideas to increase our coffee business and hopefully create more consistent sales during off market months.

I've written this all up in an attempt to calm myself down. I think it has helped. We'll see how I sleep. Thanks for reading.

horsewoman
Posts: 543
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by horsewoman »

For what its worth, I think you'll be fine. We were in a pretty similar situation a few years ago - my husband got offered a PT job with a significant pay cut (we are talking 30 hours to 10 hours a week!) and I was not working for a salary at all at that time. We had the boarding horses of course but this income was not much. It worked out perfectly in the end.
It has been mentioned in various journals, but one really can't correctly appreciate the effect FREE TIME has on finances without living it. We are all so caught up in the earn-spend-earn-spend-..... spiral of consumerism that it seems unfathomable how little money one actually needs as soon as one has mastery over large chunks of time. We are conditioned that every want/need/problem is answered by spending money, it is as natural as breathing. Having time to think (What do I really want? What do I really need? How can I get it without spending money?) and the energy to actually do something for yourself is invaluable. No salaryman can understand that they're selling them self short by putting a monetary value on everything.

Since I never worked full-time a lot in my life I did not notice any great revelations in myself, but it was so wonderful watching my husband transition from overstressed wage slave into a renaissance man. All around us couples are stressed, getting separated or at least are constantly complaining about their other halves. We have ample time to work out our issues, and since we are seldom stressed we are able to do so in a good frame of mind. This is also priceless - even more so considering that neither of us could live this golden live without the other one, so staying together is imperative to reap in old age what we are sowing now.

I think it highly likely that your husband will take up the odd job once you have more time to look after your son. He seems like a handy guy and there is always work to be found if one is open-minded and has time.
In any case, I'm rooting for you! :)

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

horsewoman wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:41 am

It has been mentioned in various journals, but one really can't correctly appreciate the effect FREE TIME has on finances without living it. We are all so caught up in the earn-spend-earn-spend-..... spiral of consumerism that it seems unfathomable how little money one actually needs as soon as one has mastery over large chunks of time. We are conditioned that every want/need/problem is answered by spending money, it is as natural as breathing. Having time to think (What do I really want? What do I really need? How can I get it without spending money?) and the energy to actually do something for yourself is invaluable. No salaryman can understand that they're selling them self short by putting a monetary value on everything.
Yes! I think we'll be fine too. Looking back over our expenses it's been clear we still use money as our first tool to solve problems. I think more time naturally lends itself to more creativity and more importantly, removes the tiredness of full time working. I did think of your situation of still being able to save money while working pretty part time. I think it will be exciting and wonderful to gain some of my freedom back.

Thanks for rooting for me!

AxelHeyst
Posts: 433
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I was just wondering what you’re up to and hoping for an update. This sounds great! I’m only barely in to reduced time/pay and have a pretty different life so I can’t offer any meaningful thoughts besides, I think you’re going to like it on the other side.

I’ll just echo horsewomans point about time to work on relationship with SO, I’ve already felt more time and space to put in not just “fix things as they break” work in, but “preventative maintenance and outright improvement from baseline” work.

+1 to the rooting for mooretrees fan base!

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2134
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Congrats! Welcome to semi-ERE?

Anyway, I agree with your thought process. Necessity is the mother of invention, and as long as you don't take on debt and live within your new means, you'll learn to make the most of what you have.

Coming from the other side of this, ie spending 5 years building up a significant financial buffer, I think you are saving a lot of headaches trying to focus on ERE and a healthy, sustainable lifestyle vs more money. They are very different ways to think and not easily transitionable.

NewBlood
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:45 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by NewBlood »

Hi @mooretrees,
I finished reading your entire journal, that bus rebuild looks really cool, I can't wait to see how it evolves!
I hope the move to part-time works out!

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

Thanks NewBlood! Progress is happening.

School bus:
DH made serious progress on our 'caboose raise." He spent a long time planning the raise and that paid off. He built some props to keep it secure in place while he cut it, then used a car jack to smoothly raise one side. He had had it propped with short 2x4's and when the first side was lifted, he put longer 2x4's in to hold it into place. Same process with the second side. Then he added tie downs to both sides to keep the raised roof from moving too much. Everything went off without a hitch. I barely helped, but I watched as I was pretty concerned with his safety. He added braces to both sets of 2x4's to add extra, um, bracing. I'll post pictures soon.

We LOVE the higher roof. It's only over our kitchen/living room as we felt we didn't need it for the bedrooms and bathroom. Right now it's very bright in the raised section, which is not surprising as there's blue sky on all four sides. When he builds the frame to connect the raised portion to the main roof, he's going to add a bunch of windows so that area will be flooded with light. Before we could stand on our tippy-toes and touch the roof. It wasn't the worst thing ever, but now that it is higher, I realize it did feel oppressive before. Plus, now anyone over 5'10'' can stand upright.

New, possibly more realistic, expectations are to hopefully have the roof raise finished, the insulation in the walls and ceilings and the paneling on the walls and ceiling in before the weather gets really cold. We have a wood stove for the bus already, though DH says it needs an overhaul-but he said that's likely a weekend project. So, once the weather is cold, the bus will maybe have heat and be decently insulated and he can work on the interior build stuff: kitchen, bathroom, interior framing, bedroom etc.

We're thinking of forgoing a shower for now, this is not a hardship for me, I've always had to be prompted to shower. My mom loves to tell the story of me as a kid, about how when she was complaining to her MIL about the expensive water bill, I pipped up and said "don't blame me, I haven't bathed in a week." She, of course, hauled me right off to the bathtub after that comment. Anyway, I'm still the same. I like a good shower, but it doesn't seem like a big deal to not have one. We'll see if that's true when the rubber hits the road. Though, there is the possibility of an outdoor shower, which sounds freakin' amazing.

Work:
The part-time gig is starting to seem like a reality. I have had a few conversations with my manager about the logistics and while everything isn't ironed out, it's my job to refuse. Which I will not. Another benefit of this reduced schedule is that I won't have to work a section that I don't like. So, while it does mean I'm a little less of a generalist, I'm happy to drop that section. I've done micro for five years and I'm good moving on. So, is this semi-ERE? Does it matter what it is called if I'm happier?

Money:
Last week I realized how inadequate my tracking sheet is, freaked out and asked a buddy to show me his. He's been a buddy for awhile who is interested in ERE, but isn't really going full bore into it. But he can talk about it with me and gets my enthusiasm. He came over and we uploaded a spreadsheet he tailored for me, and talked for some time about parts of it, how it calculates savings rate, all things nerderific. DH wandered off when we started talking money. I've been entering in expenses and it's already so much better for an overall view. It's actually modeled after one of Jacob's blog posts.

We spent a pretty penny on beans, rolled oats and flour, all 25 pound bags. I went organic for most or all of them, so it could have been cheaper. I think we finally have a decent food stash should those scary fall shortages actually happen. I do plan on using the food, making granola, bread and beans for us. We've been adding beans to multiple meals a week, not really trying to cut meat out, but eating less of it. The boys like boxed cereal, but if I can make granola, they'll eat that instead. I know we'll spend less on food once I'm part time as I'm a better planner. But now we have a ton of stored food, so that will help too.

Garden:
I've canned or frozen all of our green beans. Mostly I pickled and then canned them. I think I have 13 pint jars. Pretty great for my first year growing beans. I've pulled most of the summer stuff besides my anemic squash. I really can't believe my squash. I think I planted at least 30 seeds. And I have four plants in the backyard with only the crookneck seriously producing. I roasted a couple of crookneck squash and the last of the green beans last night, delicious. I have three spaghetti squash growing in the front yard from eight plants. Not a good average. Maybe I'll just buy starts next year?

Winter greens are starting to pop up. I've planted a broccoli rabe, a braising mixture (chard, kale, and other greens), three types of kale, a few beets, carrots and am getting another 10'x 3' put together for tat soi-a tough winter green, sorta like a tiny bok choy. We'll see how they all do, I really can't tell if I'm planting too early, or not early enough.

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:46 pm
Congrats! Welcome to semi-ERE?

Anyway, I agree with your thought process. Necessity is the mother of invention, and as long as you don't take on debt and live within your new means, you'll learn to make the most of what you have.

Coming from the other side of this, ie spending 5 years building up a significant financial buffer, I think you are saving a lot of headaches trying to focus on ERE and a healthy, sustainable lifestyle vs more money. They are very different ways to think and not easily transitionable.
I hope to prove you right, sir. I could feel the salaryman mindset creeping over me this last year, and this shift to part time is shaking some of that off. It'll be interesting to see how things actually change. Cash flow is king now. And tracking has taking on a whole new level of importance. It's good to have some urgency again.

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

I've realized that food is our large area to make progress on being more efficient. Housing is the highest, but we're tackling that the slow way. When I was crunching my new and super fancy spreadsheet yesterday, I realized that I need to change how I've been acting with food. I made the change some time ago to a cheaper grocery store and just, kinda, called that good enough. I thought that since I was flexible about what I ate, basically anything cooked anyway, that I was done with food. Now I'm realizing that I misconstrued low standards for some skill with cooking. Since I'd like to save money while on a reduced income, food is the area I have the most play with.

What I'm going to try to learn is how to cook much, much better. A friend loaned me the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I'm loving it so far. I think I've been worried that if I try to be a better cook, then that would translate to wanting to buy fancier ingredients. Like when I started drinking fancy beer instead of PBR, I was then locked in with a higher (tastier) and more expensive alcohol habit. I rarely drink now, but that's my experience with seeking taste over cheap. But, perhaps the more likely event is that I'll enjoy cooking more, cook peasant food and eschew restaurants because I'll prefer my food more. I've a friend who routinely tackles new food projects with gusto. She actually enjoys the whole process of baking/cooking etc. I've been mystified by her. But now I'm getting a glimmer of what she's been enjoying.

I've learned, only through part of the Salt section, that it really makes a difference WHEN you salt something. I had no idea. Pretty neat. I'm going to try some of the suggestions she makes for how to learn how important salt and timing of salt are.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 433
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I'm very interested in this, as I've a similar story about making a couple shallow passes at food and calling it good. Looking forward to your updates on that.

In JnG's journal (?) they were talking about "spending more to push up in Wheatons to ultimately lower expenses", and your post made me think:
pbr($) > good beer ($$) > homebrew equipment ($$$, but it's a capital cost) > homebrew (<$). Also:
shitty coffee ($) > good coffee ($$) > the best coffee ($$$) > roast your own from decent green beans ($)

Maybe there's going to be a little spike for the cooking journey? I don't know, interested to find out.

UrbanHomesteader
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:02 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by UrbanHomesteader »

I also am interested in updates on your cooking journey and any tips you pick up!

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:41 pm

shitty coffee ($) > good coffee ($$) > the best coffee ($$$) > roast your own from decent green beans ($)

Maybe there's going to be a little spike for the cooking journey? I don't know, interested to find out.
That is too funny that you used coffee as an example! We roast our own now as we like good coffee and sorta out of that 'necessity' started our small coffee roasting business.

I'll definitely pass on anything I find relevant.

JollyScot
Posts: 178
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by JollyScot »

I made a start on the food thing during lockdown, picked a few of the standard food items that we would get from takaway and made a start at trying to make them. Then proceeded to go down a rabbit hole of ingredients and things as you suggest might happen. However Once you realise you are doing that it is easier to put the breaks on it. I have found it less of worry relative to something like whisky where I will only buy expensive choices. As everything else tastes shit. I went down a tea rabbit hole for a bit, however in general I end up sticking with earl grey 90% of the time.

Initial I was going to go through the list of items in 4 hour chef. His ingredients were very specific though and I ended up having to go to the shops for everything in the list so I gave up on that. Since the starting though I have got a pretty good rendition of the following.

Pizzas
Curry with home made Naan Bread
Perfect cooked steaks
Steak pies
Sushi
Ramen with home made noodles (bones for free from butcher)
Shortbread
Macaroons
Ice-Cream and Sorbet

The last couple weeks have been mini cast iron egg type thingys (pour egg in pan and go away for a bit)

ImageImage

Cast Iron pans are the best once you get them seasoned. That little one used there was £4!

Now all the items listed above are being refined each time it is made. Ramen is still a hard one to figure out how they get the really strong broth. Also I can't figure out how to do the stretch noodles, so they are still a faff to make at this point.

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@JollyScot, I think it's a good suggestion to start with what you know you like. I'm reading the recipes in the book that's getting me excited to cook and everyone has some special ingredient that I don't normally keep on hand. I'm trying to focus on basics of making the food I already make better.

Last night I made refried beans and roasted squash. For the first time, I salted the squash before roasting with the idea of pulling some of the water out before I put them in the over. I let them sit with the salt for 20-30 min and then patted them dry. Much less water came out during the roasting process, which is good as they can a wet soggy mess to eat. I will definitely do that with the eggplant I have to cook too, whenever I figure out what to use them with. Also, I salted the heck out of the beans, early and often until they tasted much better.

While I'm focusing on food, an obvious gain is in wasting less. I've thought of putting a weekly "must eat" on the front of the fridge, but that seems too laborious. Maybe I'll do it anyway as I'm trying new things.

JollyScot
Posts: 178
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by JollyScot »

In France we had a pretty decent system in place for managing our food waste and costs.

For breakfast/lunch we had eggs, some bacon pieces and grated cheese.

main meal had in the house 5-6 staples. Beans, lentils, pasta, rice, cous cous, quinoa, potatoes. Then once a week we would decide what our meals would be for the next week along the lines of.

1 staple
1 sauce
1 meat
3 vegetables

Cook the various recipes with one day being fresh. Next day being leftovers. On the 7th day have some random "extra" thing to eat we wanted to try.

Then have an extra oat pot with dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Sometimes the odd extra snack.

During the 3 months we did this, lost nearly 10kgs and felt great. The additional time saved on deciding what to eat was an extra benefit I miss. Cooking properly once a day versus 3 attempts means it didn't seem like wasted effort (eggs didn't count took 2 mins). Appreciate the intermittent fasting isn't for everyone though.

Considering food is expensive in France we had our weekly cost for both of us at about €100 a month. This was based on getting pretty good quality meat and cheese too.

I keep wanting to go back to it with the expanded menu choice I've worked on. However its been a harder sell this time round. Most of the house still want to just turn up at supermarket and buy what takes their fancy.

ertyu
Posts: 1511
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by ertyu »

Here on the balkans you always salt eggplant and let it sit. The water that comes out is black and bitter, and the process of pre-salting changes not just the texture but also the taste. We pre-salt and drain zucchini also, though I think in that case it's to prevent them from getting too mushy, or if you fry them, to prevent them from dripping water in hot oil and spraying hot oil all over the place

basuragomi
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by basuragomi »

A great alternative eggplant preparation is sous vide - basically cooking the eggplant enough to get substantially more compact/less spongy, without cooking so much as to fall apart. The texture is smooth and dense, almost meaty, like liver. Makes a great base to broil, add sauces, etc.

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@basuragomi I'll have to look up what to do with eggplant like you suggested. I roasted a few big ones the other day as they were approaching compost stage. But now I don't know what to do with them, and while I love baba ganoush, I don't have any tahini and don't feel like going to the store for it.

@ertyu black and bitter!! What kind of eggplant is that? That's interesting.

I ate a home made peasant meal today. Home baked bread smothered with leftover roasted squash and olive oil. Delicious.

mooretrees
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@JollyScot, I see the attraction of the simple rotating meal plan. I'm up for it, though I think DH would rebel after a little bit. He seems to need novelty more than I do. But, he'll also eat whatever I put in front of him.....

ertyu
Posts: 1511
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by ertyu »

mooretrees wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:47 pm

@ertyu black and bitter!! What kind of eggplant is that? That's interesting.
buy your regular purple grocery store eggplant, salt it, let it sit 2 hours, see what comes out of it ;)

Post Reply