Vaikeasti to ERE - Family Journal

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Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Vaikeasti to ERE - Family Journal

Post by Vaikeasti » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:59 pm

I'm going to note down our journey towards (E)RE here. You are welcome come with us.

At the moment I feel like a potato in a ball pit; disarranged and confused.

My financial journey began when I started at my first real job in 2006. First I mostly ate all my income. I lived at my parents and had very modest fancies so I ended up still saving something. One day I mentioned at work that I still lived at my parents and a colleague of mine was quite displeasured to hear that. "You must be saving 1000 euros a month!" he shouted at me.
I am really grateful for his words because they got me thinking:
" No, I don't save that much. Why don't I save that much? Why should I save that much?"
I asked google and found personal finance blogs like I started saving something and thinking of what are my goals?

I kept on working, finished high school and started a new hobby where I met my future SO. I decided my first goal is to get married.
I guesstimated a budget for a reasonable wedding and opened a real savings account. Up to that point I had had two accounts: a typical everyday account and an emergency fund, that I also used for bigger purchases. (Kinda like a money buffer?)
Research says that the "honeymoon phase" during which you are not able to think critically of your partner lasts from two weeks to four years so after four years of dating and getting my wedding budget saved up I proposed we get married. And so we did. We are very reasonable but my budget was still a little low (4000e & 100 guests) but because our parents chipped in, we ended up not emptying the wedding account totally.
(Though We spent rest of it on honeymoon later.)
SO and I have had issues with our mental health that have also eaten some of my savings when we have not been able to work.

After we got married I moved out of my parents and we lived in a city rental apartment which was very affordable. Then I decided my second goal would be to buy a house in cash.
I opened an ASP account. It's a special state regulated account for young people with home buying dreams. When you save 10% of the apartments purchase price the bank loans you the rest with a lower-than-normal-margin and the state backs your loan. There are some other benefits too like the 1+2-4% interest paid on your saving for the first 6 years tax free. (I do not know if any other countries have something similar?)

I saved diligently the maximum amount of 1000 euros a month to that apartment account for many years. Life was life. I worked, saved and read I talked about ERE to my SO. We dreamed about ERE together. We dreamed about an off-the-grid house. SO changed careers. I kept saving to a house.

In 2015 we had had a kid and decided it was time to buy a home. We had some 50 000 euros saved in that apartment account. It was not enough for a house in our area. We took a loan of 100 000 euros and bought a fixer-upper apartment that we renovated mostly ourselves. We financed the renovations by saving nothing and using everything we could to pay for paint and plumbers. (In Finland only professional are allowed to do plumbing or electrical work in apartments. I understand that is not the case in USA? I wonder how is it elsewhere?)

I decided to switch careers too and got in to school to become an engineer. This made a dent in our income. Thankfully nothing serious because SOs new career was paying twice as much as before. I guess I was accustomed to the apathy of not saving anything during the renovations phase because we still weren't saving. Life was a bit busy. Worked part time jobs, studied and raised kids. (Yeah, we got another.)

Now we have two kids, more mental health issues than ever before and everything feels even more exhausting.
We feel like we have negative free time and it is starting to wear us out. I haven't found the time to play with FI excels in years (my favorite hobby in 2010-2015) and it is hard to even get the bills paid out on time.
Few weeks ago I found myself thinking: "We could enjoy and have some pleasures like a spa day, or a cruise or a trip over seas. We have money coming in. Why not spend on those?" (Scary right?) I told this to my SO, who just said that we wish to retire early. That short answer was like a search light to my face. I remembered why SO is so special to me and what is important in life (FI, ERE, environment etc.).

And so here I am. Writing in the middle of the night because I just have to get back on track. Just reading and the lovely journals was not enough for me. I had no-one to talk to. SOs more interested in off-grid living and day dreaming. I need to write this down. I realize I am so much a social animal that I even lose sight of my core values in order to belong.
This is my second first step towards ERE.

I plan on updating about once a week ( I don't think I can survive with more lack of sleep than that).
Some thoughts of what is to come:
Pondering on my/our goals. How, what and when?
Peeks at our allocations and savings plans for the family.
Brushing up on finance lingo and calculating my/our current net worth and savings rate etc.
Musings on Finnish taxation regulations and the student debt.
Small thoughts on the ethics of ERE with mental health issues and investing with your heart/idealism..
(Did I forget something interesting/important?)

(Note to self: remember to save drafts so you don't have to write things twice.)

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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:33 am

Re: Vaikeasti to ERE - Family Journal

Post by Zanka » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:56 am

What an honest and open and nice first post, I can relate to being stuck and not having many ways forward.

So what I have taken from a couple of years of digging myself out of a big hole is that it is very important to give yourself a break. If you are always in stress you can not think clearly bc your body believe that you are hunted by a big lion. And when you are hunted by a big lion the only thing on your mind is to get as far away from it as fast as possible.

Even tho this is a great way of getting away from something it is a incredible bad way of getting to where you want, esp if that place is somewhere new and unknown to you.

Put some effort into creating some free time for you and your SO so you can relax and enjoy life together. Set up a babysitter once a week or something and just do something you enjoy doing, Cook together, take a walk etc etc, no need for spas or expensive things, relaxation is inside you, not outside:)

What do you think about that?

/ z

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Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Re: Vaikeasti to ERE - Family Journal

Post by Vaikeasti » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:12 pm

@Zanka, hello and thank you for your thoughts! I believe you are right. We really need to realize there is no actual lion.

I will try to reconnect with my SO. I know that doesn't need to mean spending money because we've always been kind of frugal.
Feels weird that I been able to forget that. During these past years I have made myself so busy that I've started to throw money at problems which is really not typical of me. Before I was always trying to fix everything myself or trying to find out who could help me fix it. Mostly because I love learning new things but also because I hate spending money.
I got so used to the consumer culture that I did start thinking about rewarding myself/my family with consumer culture approved paid pleasures. I experienced the rush of exhilaration that spending money can give to a consumer. I'd like to think I can now understand a bit better how people end up addicted to something.
Pushing back the consumer culture now that it has gotten its feet through the door once, will certainly be a bigger struggle than without this experience.
I also have two friends that seem to be heavy consumerists influences on me. I need to really think about these relationships. I like them and their company naturally, but is spending time with them worth the risk of ending up spending money like them? (Thinking about it, most of our friend families have either one or zero full time workers in them, but these two are earning more than our household.)
I remember Jacob writing that it is easier to go from poor to wealthy than from middle-class to wealthy, and I think that applies to the mindset as well as the assets/liabilities ration.

Also I need to make space for breathing and relaxing just because it is healthy. And if I can't give myself free time now when I'm being a "productive citizen" how can I retire ever? This is a mental barrier I need to deal with. (I have a feeling that this was a topic of a post on I should look that up.)

And I really have to take the time to connect with my family and my own values. I feel there is no point in pushing forward with my goals if I'm leaving my family and my soul behind in the process.

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Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Vaikeasti to ERE - Family Journal

Post by Frita » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:49 pm

Having young children, working, and trying to save are exhausting. I remember bouncing between feeling as though I was running on a treadmill that kept speeding up and literally dropping from exhaustion. It’s okay to slow down and regroup.

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Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Re: Vaikeasti to ERE - Family Journal

Post by Vaikeasti » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:37 am

@Frita, thank you for you comment! Could you elaborate a little on how you managed to slow down and regroup?

Going to therapy has given me some ideas, but I still have a long way to go to get rid of the idea that my worth is equal to my achievements.

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