Farm life and Semi-ER

Where are you and where are you going?
horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Sun Jun 23, 2019 2:06 pm

So, my journal... I'm not sure if it is a good idea to start one. So far I have never managed to keep a journal longer than a few entries. But I really see the benefit of writing down ones thoughts so maybe this will be THE journal I stick with!

I really enjoy reading the journal section, it is a very good way to keep ERE-principles fresh in my thoughts all the time. Next on my reading list is “The Book” but it seems that I have misplaced my kindle. Which is really annoying. And a side effect of our way too big farm house, so much room to store trash... But I digress. Read more about said farm house and our current situation in my introduction: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10700

How will I structure this journal? Good question. At the moment I don't have a lot of data for any financial overviews. I have been recording our expenses for about 18 months in a spread sheet, but the data is not super accurate. The first few months were spent finding my feet about what categories and how to gather amounts. I feel I'm on a good way, but of course my spread sheet is kept in German, so I need to translate it for posting.

A bigger “problem” are our assets and investments. We have a few different saving plans for retirement, but I have to admit I have no idea to what they amount in total. Maths is not my strong suit unfortunately, and my personality is such – if I don't understand something really fast I'll avoid dealing with it at any cost. Probably because I understand most things really fast, so I lack the tools for digging into a topic I'm not particularity interested in, staying power if you like. I'm super chuffed about myself that I managed to record our spending consistently for over a year! YAY me! Maybe there is hope for me yet.

Anyway, my idea is to post the info of our different saving plans to this forum with the hope that someone can tell me what it means. I tried to do this with the adviser at our bank, but he confused me even more – and tried to sell me a building savings contract – ha! Even a noob like me knows that the bank is the only winner with such a contract. Hence my not trusting the bank, same goes with the provider of my “Riester” - contract (this is a state-subsidized pension plan for self-employed people, called after the Minister for finances at that time). But like my spread sheet those statements are in German, so I have to do some translating first. And look for recent statements. You start to see the scope of the mess I made in terms of finances... OTOH we are pretty frugal most of the time, so that end of the operation is running moderately smoothly. (As smoothly as maintaining a farm with lots of buildings, animals and agricultural machines can be)

So I guess this journal is a way for me to get some accountability – to get me moving even if dealing with finances gives me the heebee jeebees. My husband is largely uninterested in money as long as there is enough to fund his candy addiction after all bills are paid. No accountability to be had in that quarter... Wish me luck (in unearthing my darn Kindle and the missing bank statements!)

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

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:00 am

Welcome! I look forward to reading more about your life on the farm. Don't fret about math skills or lack of them. Just throw some numbers up and the peanut gallery will be happy to help you sort it out.

Gilberto de Piento
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Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Fri Jun 28, 2019 11:25 am

Thanks for starting a journal. I hope your farm is doing better than the farms in the upper midwest United States are. Here they are all either expanding rapidly or going bankrupt. Only the largest farms survive. Is that happening in Germany too?

cimorene12
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Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by cimorene12 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:03 pm

Yeah, this year specifically is pretty bad with all the flooding in the American Midwest. I hope Germany is having a better year.

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:54 am

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 11:25 am
Thanks for starting a journal. I hope your farm is doing better than the farms in the upper midwest United States are. Here they are all either expanding rapidly or going bankrupt. Only the largest farms survive. Is that happening in Germany too?
Unfortunately yes - although a "large farm" in Germany would probably a "small farm" in the midwest of the US. The largest dairy farm I know of in our neck of the woods has around 300 milk cows. Our farm is actually a victim of this process. It used to be the largest one in the area in the 1950s, but none of the children had any interest in succession, or even in living there. So it sat unused until the old farmer died and the heirs sold it to us. Most of the land was sold to said dairy farmer. since we keep only a few horses it is enough land for us.


On the investment front - I started a monthly savings plan with my house bank. I did some research and it seems that I can not make a grave mistake with a ETF savings plan. At the moment I'm saving 200 EURO a month. The ETF is called "XTR.MSCI WORLD SWAP 1C" - I picked it more or less on random, or rather the website of my bank asked me some questions regarding my tolerance for risk ect. This was one of the suggestions.
The 200 EUROs are more or less "disposable income" that I'm not missing at the moment. If anyone has a opinion to this I'd be happy to hear it!

Image
(Monat = month; Jahre = years)

Furthermore, here in Germany we have something similar to a 401(k) (at least as far as I understand it). It is called "VWL" and DH has been availing himself on this for many years. The contributions go into a deposit (UniEuroAktien).

Image


Since my husband works only very few hours the matched contribution is naturally not very much at this point. At the moment we have 104 shares which amounts to 7.605,18 EURO. I suppose we built most of that up when DH was still working full time. The pay slip says "yearly contribution 22,22 EURO"! Thats nothing! I wonder if it would make sense to invest some more in this deposit.

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:42 am

This week I started to list things on (the German equivalent) of Craigslist. So far I have sold a pair of riding boots and a pair of kids shoes.
I'm having a hard time finding things to sell. This stems from a) not being able to letting go of things; b) having way to much space on the farm and c) having mostly stuff that falls into the old/broken category.

I have pondered this topic a lot the last few days. If I'm honest with myself - I'd probably be called a hoarder if we lived in a regular house. On the farm we have so much space to store things that it is not so noticeable. But still, we have way too much stuff. OTOH, I use a lot of this stuff in creative ways. We do complete house/farm remodeling projects without hitting a hardware store once. My kitchen is outfitted with my MIL cast-offs, and I have one store-bought shelf in my house, everything else is free second-hand furniture.
I seldom need to buy clothes because I take in clothes that other people want to get rid of. But I struggle to put the stuff I don't need into a old clothes container, or toss it. Hence, I really need to be more careful of what I let into my life, considering the fact that I cannot let go of stuff easily.
_________________________
In other news, I started with "the book". Heavy stuff! I very much like the division of types into Salary man, Business man, Working man and Renaissance man. We are largely in the working man/business man category, but since I always thought of myself as kind of a "jack of all trades" (with pride!) I think becoming a true Renaissance woman will be possible with some dedication. More to ponder, and to do eventually.

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:46 am

Yesterday I talked to a friend, she and her husband have bought/built a house last year. Cookie cutter, pre-fabricated standard suburbia box with a small patch of lawn. Mortgaged to the hilt because lots are very expensive in a densely populated country like Germany. Furthermore, building costs are on the rise due to a lack of skilled people in the building industry and insanely complicated building regulations.
My friend told me that they almost lost their house recently because their landscaping firm miscalculated in the offer and the cost was significantly higher than planned. They had to scramble to scrape together the money for the mortgage payments and the bill.

This made me appreciate my crumbling old farmhouse with a "pretty wilderness" around it even more. A landscaping firm? I would never spend a penny for something like that. Our garden reflects our skills as landscaping architects, and we like it that way. But of course in a newly developed suburb area you "have to" meet certain standards.
I tried to reign in my "Aspergerness" and did heroically not point out that maybe it would have been better to buy an older house one could actually afford. I pitied her but inside I was rolling my eyes a lot. Moments like this show me how little our way of life has in common with "normal people".

bigato
Posts: 2126
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:54 pm

I tried to reign in my "Aspergerness" and did heroically not point out that maybe it would have been better to buy an older house one could actually afford.
hahahahahahah and how come people get offended by the truth, right?

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:59 am

Oh yes, the truth hurts! But in the almost 40 years on this planet I've learned (the hard way) that the thruth is not always conductive to having friends. Of course I tried to reason her out of this crazy plan before hand, but they are grown people, it's their life. It would be useless and harmful to our relationship to start with "I told you so" now. To each their own!

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:07 am

This month we paid off our last loan. We are officially debt free! What a feeling :)
The loan was a substantial one, it financed our 30 kwh photovoltaic unit. While this debt did not stress us at all on a psychological level (it paid itself off only by collecting sunshine after all), it is sure nice to be done with monthly payments. This will free up some 650 € a month, which is earmarked for converting part of our house into a separate rental unit.

I still have some reservations about investing too much in stocks, simply because I have very little knowledge about it. The point Jacob made in his book about only investing in things one understands very much reinforced my preference for renting out living space. I might remedy my lacking education with stocks, but I am already a landlady and it works fine so far. Furthermore, while we will need to do some serious remodeling of our house, I can fall back on the experience of my brother and my father who built 3 houses between them - mostly without outside help. So I feel confident about that.
This plan also solves a (minor) psychological problem for me - I feel a little bit bad about occupying so much room, and there is only 3 of us. When we bought the farm we planned on more children but this did not work out, so we have a ridiculous amount of space that sits unused. Affordable living space is very scant in Germany and this problem is getting worse than better. So this would solve more than one problem (web of goals!).

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:40 am

Yesterday at band practice it occurred to my that I've written an ER-song. I wrote the lyrics a few months before finding this site/forum and did somehow not make the connection until now. Obviously I can not share the song/lyrics for privacy reasons.... It asks the listener if 9-5 is the only way to live, and if there shouldn't be more. Plus a few small action steps to take :)
We performed it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I have noticed some thoughtful expressions in the audience as well as some nodding heads. There is hope yet!

bigato
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:15 pm

Now you are killing us of curiosity!

horsewoman
Posts: 120
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:39 am

My musical shenanigans are way too much documented on youtube and co. so that's a big no-no :)
I just found it funny that it took me so long to realize that it is in fact a ER song.

The joys of working part time
After 10 years of being a WAHM (work at home mom) I have now worked in an office 3 mornings a week for 8 months. Time for some reflection.
It is really nice to have a paycheck again. It is not overly much but is dependable and it does wonders for my anxieties regarding money. While I'm very happy with our chosen lifestyle and feel no deprivation (our lifestyle has been described as "rustic" by a few people in the past!) I do worry about having enough in old age. My husband is more fatalistically inclined, since he suffers from a chronic illness that might reduce his life span. MIGHT is the operative word, so I'm optimistic that we'll have many more years together (which we will need to finance somehow).

My paternal grandmother, who I'm resembling to an astonishing degree, made it to 88, so that's what I'm calculating with (unscientific I know, but works for me). I've mentioned before that we skipped the accumulation phase, so there is not much capital around besides our paid-off farm. I'll hope to turn that ship around but I'm a novice at the moment with all things investing and have not much confidence in my abilities yet.

So I'm feeling really good about the fact that I seem to enjoy working part-time. It gives me structure (which is a very important thing for my Aspergers brain!) and security. It is a serious time commitment, but OTOH I value my time at home way more than I did before.

My current job is really great for me. It's a relatively new company and I was able to set up all administrative processes and my office exactly as I liked. There is also no one to tell me how I have to do things, or the dreaded "Because we have been doing it this way for ages". This is a great benefit to someone who is a) used to call the shots and b) mildly autistic.
I was even free to choose my working hours, so I always have more days off in a row than days I'm working. It seldom feels like work at all, and so far I had not a single day where I did not like to go to work. That might change with time but so far so good.

My bosses have hinted that they would like me to add a few hours a week, because the business is taking off like a rocket at the moment. I'm hesitant, and I feel that I'm able to do all my work in the allotted time. So I put them off, promising to go up to 20 hours a week should I see the need. And hinted strongly that we would have to talk about my salary, because it needs to be worth my time if I'm away from home so many hours. We'll see how that turns out.

So in conclusion, part-time work is (for me at least) having the best of both worlds. Steady pay but enough free time to live a slow and mindful life. Win-Win!

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

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by mooretrees » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:25 am

That sounds ideal! Glad you were able to have the structure and independence you need. I'm glad you started a journal, looking forward to hearing more about your farm and life.

chenda
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by chenda » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:31 pm

I do part time too and agree it's the best of both worlds. Maybe you could work from home as well ? I love the sound of your farm life! I'm a single women and feel more secure in a flat but if I was married or had babies I would want to be in an old farmhouse with land, tranquility and rustication :)

bigato
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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:08 pm

Sounds like the dream part-time job arrangement for me too. Specially not having to stay after your job is done.

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:56 am

chenda wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:31 pm
I do part time too and agree it's the best of both worlds. Maybe you could work from home as well ? I love the sound of your farm life! I'm a single women and feel more secure in a flat but if I was married or had babies I would want to be in an old farmhouse with land, tranquility and rustication :)
There is a part I do at home, like graphic design and web site stuff. The rest I need to to at work because we deal with pretty sensitive client data and have contracts with government agencies. I'd not feel comfortable to have this kind of data on my home computer.

Security is not so much a problem, at least in our neck of the woods. There are not many break ins, I think this is more a problem in urban areas. Most farms have at least one dog (I have two), any half-way reasonable burglar would pass on after listening to my two barkers for half a day. But there is simply to much maintenance to do for one person, it is sometime a struggle to get it all done even with two of us!
bigato wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:08 pm
Sounds like the dream part-time job arrangement for me too. Specially not having to stay after your job is done.
Absolutely! I stressed this point in the interview and luckily my bosses feel like me, no use in chaining a productive person to a chair twiddling thumbs. That's what a time account is for!

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:40 am

A day in the life of semi-ER

What I love so much about our lifestyle is that I can put some serious amount of time into my passions. Next to horses music is super important for me. I dabble with several instruments but my first love is singing. My band mates are (even though most of them work full-time) really a motivated bunch so we get up to lot of shenanigans.

A local TV station wants to do a feature on us so yesterday I got up at 6, primped and preened in front of the mirror for an hour and drove to the video location. The light was best this early, but all of us where pretty grumpy at first. Still, show must go on so we rocked out as well as we could at 8 o clock on a Saturday morning. Video shoot completed I got home, scraped off the make-up and got into my work clothes. DH had borrowed the heavy-duty telescope hedge trimmer from his place of work, because our thuja hedge was soon coming up to 20 feet (6m) in height.
I lifted him up with our front-loading tractor. A few years ago my husband transformed an iron-barred box into a basket which attaches to the front loader of our tractor. This thing is extremely useful for picking fruit, trimming trees and simulating amusement park rides. Plus is was more or less free made from salvaged materials.

The hedge trimming was not a easy thing, my husband had to do some hard physical work and I'm not overly comfortable with driving our large tractor. I always worry about using wrong levers and dropping DH out of the basket or flattening something with this huge thing. My own tractor is a cute little Ford old timer. Way easier to operate, but it has of course no powerful lifting attachments. We managed to trim the hedge to a more reasonable height and even had some left-over energy to repair and check the fencing on one large pasture. How I love this long summer days!

horsewoman
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:36 am

Life lessons my chicken taught me

This journaling thing is really therapeutic. I'm in a very reflective mood since I started, but in a positive way!

This morning I was scooping up horse poop (a daily occurrence here) and the chicken trailed along, this is also a daily thing now. They were staring at me, trying to hypnotize me with "FEED US HUMAN! FEED US!" You see, they are used to being fed a grain mix every morning. This spring I suddenly realized that our chicken are free-range, meaning they have a few acres with meadows, a brook, 2 manure heaps and a huge compost heap bursting with worms at their disposal, plus they get kitchen scraps - so why do I still buy food at the store for them? They have not yet fully realized that there will be no grain until winter, poor birds!

This made me think about how I'm still stuck in a consumer mindset in so many areas of our life. Just because of habit or conditioning.

We used to keep a large flock of chicken, to have eggs and to eat the birds. My husband killed them and my MIL and I did the rest. Nobody of us liked to do it, it is not a pleasant task. But if you want eggs you need to add young birds to the flock, because older chicken do not lay so often. So either you have way too many birds very fast, or you need to kill them.

This circumstance really played a large part in our family becoming vegetarian. We decided to let our chicken die naturally, and somehow it felt hypocritic to eat meat when you are too much of whimp to kill and process animals. Since we did not add more chicken the eggs came less consistent, so I had to learn to cook without eggs (buying eggs is not an option if you used to having them from your backyard. Positive conditioning, I suppose!).

This in turn made me learn a lot about veganism, and while we'll not go that road 100% I'm buying very little dairy products at this point. I'm more mindful of using animal products, having learned that you can replace most animal fat with vegetable oils very easily.

The last three survivors of our flock are reaping the benefits of this insights. A few months ago a hen died at the biblical age of 14! All this organic free-ranging seems to keep them fit :)

bigato
Posts: 2126
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:00 pm

It's not bad to have them around, they hunt spiders, scorpions and even small snakes. Did you know that they are more inteligent than dogs? They have a very elaborate social life when compared to other animals. Also, they love having the back of their heads scratched. If they learn how good it is, they will come ask you for more :)

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