RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

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RoamingFrancis
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Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Introduction

I typed a beautiful detailed post, but accidentally logged out before posting. Here's a shorter version.

My name is RoamingFrancis. 19 year old white American male. In January I will be starting a nursing degree at my local community college. Took about a year and a half after high school to work, travel, do interesting things, etc. My main focus for the coming years will be my studies but I want to orient myself towards ERE while I'm still young.

I have high ethical standards when it comes to investing and refuse to invest in oil companies, fast food, sugary drink corporations, or anything else I view as damaging to the planet, human health, workers' rights, etc. As such, I'm interested in Self-Directed IRAs and Self 401Ks at the recommendation of another FI blogger. They allow more freedom in portfolio selection and will let me avoid unethical investments. Social and environmental justice is important to me and I want what I do with my money to reflect that.

Finances

I have about $6,000 saved up in a savings account. I have some stocks my grandma gave me when I was a kid, but I know nothing about the portfolio. I'll investigate this over the coming weeks. The financial aid department of the community college is also supposed to reimburse me $2,000 in January.

Planning to graduate without debt. Hopefully will be able to get my entire education paid for with scholarships. My expenses are near zero and I'm naturally frugal. I don't participate in expensive hobbies, drinking, etc. I ride my bike everywhere.

Currently interested in Self-Directed IRAs and Self 401K for reasons mentioned above. Any other recommendations based on my goals would be appreciated.

Don't have a steady stream of income right now. I have a couple side hustles teaching foreign languages and watching kids. During my studies I don't plan on getting a part-time job, but I would like to make my side hustles as profitable and efficient as possible. I've never liked authority, so I prefer to avoid "typical college jobs" at McDonald's or whatever.

Conclusion

Do any of you have advice regarding the following:

a) Socially conscious investing, Self Directed IRAs, Self 401Ks, etc
b) Fun side hustles
c) How to best integrate ERE into my life while still living with parents and having school and friends be my main focus

Thanks everyone!

Peaceably,
Jimmy

ertyu
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by ertyu »

Suggested side hustle: VIPkids. If you're already doing language teaching, that'll be an easy way to keep up with the teaching experience. This gives you optionality. Many with passports from English-speaking countries can find jobs teaching English abroad. You can travel and save. Good for a gap year, also good if you need a break from nursing. So I'd keep that stream of income. You might also look into getting a cheap TEFL/TESOL or whatever there certification. I am an expat and know many Americans, Australians, etc. who have taken this route to finance a life of travel.

wolf
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Location: Germany

Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by wolf »

regarding c) Read and study Jacob's book "ERE". And reread it every other year.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

wolf wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:44 am
regarding c) Read and study Jacob's book "ERE". And reread it every other year.
I've read the book! I got lucky; they had it at my local library. Planning to reread it over the holidays.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 3:02 am
Suggested side hustle: VIPkids. If you're already doing language teaching, that'll be an easy way to keep up with the teaching experience. This gives you optionality. Many with passports from English-speaking countries can find jobs teaching English abroad. You can travel and save. Good for a gap year, also good if you need a break from nursing. So I'd keep that stream of income. You might also look into getting a cheap TEFL/TESOL or whatever there certification. I am an expat and know many Americans, Australians, etc. who have taken this route to finance a life of travel.
Not a bad idea at all, especially because I like to travel. I looked into VIPKids once - don't you need a bachelor's dergee to get started?

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 296
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

December 2019

Currently living with parents, so cost of living is low. I have occasional side hustles, but no steady employment. I like the Your Money or Your Life approach of analyzing expenses in terms of life energy.

In December I made $120, mostly through babysitting. I was paid $10 an hour and it took maybe 40 minutes total commuting on bicycle. No other employment-related expenses. As such, I'd estimate 1 hour of life energy this month is equal to $9.48 an hour.

I spent a total of $57.23 this month, or 6 of life energy. The biggest expense was replacing my state ID, which cost $20. I spent $10 on Christmas gifts, $8.83 on melatonin, $6 on food, and $2.40 on a cup of tea.

Replacing my state ID was hard to avoid because I plan to live in society for a while, but I did a good job at keeping Christmas frugal. My friends and family know I'm not a huge fan of gift exchange, so I'm largely free from obligatory gift giving. I did knit my grandmother a scarf out of supplies I found in the attic, which was the first knitting adventure I'd ever undertaken. In the future, I'd like to spend less money in these categories.

Currently I'm uninvolved in grocery shopping, except for last month when I bought one can of tomatoes for a can of chili. It is great that I don't have to spend my own money for food, but there is a downside. I am much more serious about healthy eating than my family is, and I am a vegetarian. For the last couple days we were very low on food that I could eat, so I subsisted on Asian Trail Mix. In January, I am going to go to some cheap ethnic grocery stores and buy 10 pound bags of rice, lentils, quinoa, etc. so that I can have some of my own staples ready for when food is low.

My most surprising expense was the $2.40 cup of tea. I almost never buy tea or coffee from cafes because I know how quickly that can add up. However, there is a local coffeeshop I enjoy a lot. Whenever I go there, I inevitably run into people I know and stay and chat for a couple hours. I'm considering loosening up my restriction on cafes provided I go on a weekend and stay for a long time. The cup of tea was about 20 minutes of life energy but provided me with several hours of social interaction and community involvement. I would be okay with increasing spending in this category.

I bought the melatonin because my sleep schedule is fucked. I'm sleeping enough, but the winter break lack of responsibilities have caused me to get tired around 4 am and wake up around noon. I want to push this back so that I can wake up earlier when classes start. Hopefully I will not have to buy more for at least a year.

This has been my first month of actively tracking my expenses. I'm excited to be on the path to ERE! Planning to pick up more DIY skills as hobbies. Also considering searching for housing closer to school. This might increase my expenses, but I would be much closer to all the community events I participate in. Hoping to find a hippie in the administration that'll let me build a tiny house by the school prairie.

This has been the December 2019 ERE report.

Peaceably,
Roaming Francis

Mae
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Location: Belgium

Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by Mae »

Welcome, Francis, enjoy the ride

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 296
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I'd like to include some details about health and good habits in this journal. I find writing about it keeps me accountable.

I've been transitioning to a normal sleep schedule, and my melatonin arrived today.

I didn't go to the gym this week because I knew it would be overcrowded from New Years Resolution makers. We ran out of healthy food in my house and I responded by undereating. I can already notice a loss in muscle mass from previous weeks.

I need to go to the store and stockpile some healthy staples so I can have more control of my diet.

No expenses in the past week.

- Francis

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Today I read the introduction and first several chapters of Practical Permaculture by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein.

I was impressed to see how many similarities there are between permaculture and ERE philosophy. Both of these philosophies are essentially systems theory. Permaculture applies it to gardening, and ERE applies it to lifestyle and personal finance. Both are about getting the most of a desired yield from a system while using minimal resources and incurring no negative externalities.

I'm sure others have commented on the overlap between these thought systems. I believe understanding permaculture more deeply has many benefits, so I will make it my "main hobby" over the next 6 months to a year and I will aim to be a leader in my school's Horticulture Club.

- Francis

MidsizeLebowski
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by MidsizeLebowski »

I'd suggest David Holmgren's Permaculture Principles as well for future reading particularly for theory and application outside of agriculture. Cheers Francis, will be keeping up with your journal!

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Thank you for the recommendation; I will hunt down that book and check out your journal as well.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 296
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Moving Out

To sum up my situation for those who haven't read my posts: I am a 19 year old student attending community college. I have about $6,000 saved up in a savings account.

I am considering moving out of my parents house into a room near the school. My motivations for moving out are as follows:

More independence
More control of diet (I am much more serious about healthy eating than my family)
Dealing with less shit (I have five younger siblings. Most of the time, my house is filled with people yelling at each other.)
Better relationship with family (Usually when I travel or am not living at home, getting along with everyone is much easier.)
Reducing a 60-80 minute daily bike commute to a 5-10 minute walking commute

To summarize, I believe moving out will overall be very good for me. However, I hesitate to do it immediately because of rent costs. The cheapest rooms I have seen so far are $650-700 in rent per month. I am not sure if this includes groceries, utilities, etc.

I was hoping not to have to work this semester and focus entirely on my studies. However, I would not be opposed to having a part time job if I could move out sustainably and not have to work too many hours.

I'd love to hear all your thoughts on this. Please let me know what you think. Am I in too much of a hurry to move out, or would it be worth it to do it now?

Thanks,
Roaming Francis

chenda
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by chenda »

Go for it!

You're doing nursing, right ? That short commute will be worth every penny.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by ZAFCorrection »

I lived at home for most of my undergrad. It was partially cost savings but mostly inertia. When I did move out, it was amazing how much of an improvement it was in terms of eating better and overall mental well-being. Not knowing anything else, it was not possible for me to evaluate how much of an improvement it would be. If you have always lived with your folks but have different values and lifestyle expectations, it can be nothing short of miraculous when you move out.

Definitely move out. Even if it turns out to have not been an amazing improvement, at least you added a huge data point.

basuragomi
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by basuragomi »

I wouldn't do it, though I'm making a lot of assumptions about the situation. You don't have stable income and haven't had any experience trying to balance work and study. It seems like you'd trade a bunch of headaches for a more expensive bunch of headaches.

Control of diet: Do you cook for yourself at the moment or does your family cook for you? What's stopping you from buying your own groceries and making your own meals? You could stick a minifridge in your room if stopping thieves is the issue.

Dealing with less shit: If you're not renting your own place, sharing a house with a bunch of newly-independent students may be much more chaotic than your family situation. They're yelling at each other, but at least nobody is leaving piss bottles around everywhere (I hope).

Relationship with family: Maybe you could be physically out of the house more. You're going to college and can hang out at the gym, library or local haunts. Or even get a part time job to keep you away!

Commuting time: If public transit is an option, taking that would be much cheaper than a room. Even getting a little scooter or e-bike would be cheaper. A transit pass would open up other opportunities too.

Figure out how good you are at studying before adding large monetary and lifestyle demands on top.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Control of diet: My diet is a mix of what I cook for myself and whatever is lying around from what my family makes. I am vegetarian, so I do not eat many of our family meals. The main issue is that I seem to have some deeply rooted location-dependent habits. I am in the habit of only buying and cooking healthy food, but when I am at home there is junk food lying around and I eat it. When I travel I seem to be free of this problem.

Dealing with less shit: It's a room with an older lady, not student housing. Although you have a point.

Relationship with family: I definitely plan to be out of the house more. This might be enough by itself, but I'm not sure. The semester starts next week; I'll see how it is over the first week or so and continue updates in the journal.

Commuting: Have considered getting an electronic bike. Haven't made any solid decisions yet.

All good points. Given the differences in values and desired lifestyle between me and my parents, I definitely want to move out, sooner rather than later. That said, I want to move out sustainably. I'd like to avoid running out of money and having to move back in.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

That's the new plan.

Thanks everyone; I'll keep the journal updated.

AxelHeyst
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by AxelHeyst »

Just throwing it out there: have you considered more radical options, like van or car dwelling, living in a tent, that sort of thing? There's lots of reasons that might not work for you (harsh winter, hard-core urban setting, zero interest on your part), and it could be a terrible idea if you find the radical living situation harder to deal with than a part-time job. But if your circumstance and personality suit, it could be good.

I lived in a tent in the hills behind campus, then my truck, for a quarter during school. I showered at the gym, and studied and hung out at the library and computer labs. I mostly ate peanut butter and honey on bagels I carried around in my pack, in retrospect I can't recommend that part of it. And this was my fourth year in school, so I'd already figured out the 'how to pass classes' thing. But my grades were excellent that quarter because I had no distractions (no computer, no tv, no roommates), and basically just hung out at the library. When I got bored of doing schoolwork, I wandered into the stacks and read interesting books. I just went back to my tent or truck to sleep, the rest of the time I was out and about.

This only worked because I went to school in coastal california. The coldest it ever got there was low 40'sF/4'sC.

PS I like your intro, and am interested in your ethical investing priorities. I'll be following with interest.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Have definitely considered radical options. Winter here is pretty rough though. I've slept in hammocks on the side of the road on hitchhiking trips and I love it. Only thing to consider is that I don't want to have to lie about my living situation. Ken Ilgunas has a good book called Walden on Wheels, a memoir that includes his experiences living a van while going to grad school at Duke. He lied about where he was living, which made it very difficult for him to make friends and he suffered quite a bit. I don't want to make the same mistake.

My plan is to sit tight for now, maybe make some more money, get good grades, etc before I make any decisions.

Yeah, investing is the part of ERE which doesn't sit super well with me. I'm a middle class white dude but grew up with and have been deeply impacted by a local working class Mexican community. I've seen a lot of friends being brutally exploited by capitalism, and am skeptical of the ethics of investing in the first place.

That said, I'm pretty illiterate on investing matters, so I don't want to make any blanket condemnations. Again, the plan is to sit tight and learn before making any decisions.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Hello everyone, I think it's time for an update.

School Starts

School started this week for me. I am aiming to do a nursing degree, a choice which surprised myself because I was much more interested in history, foreign languages, music, English, etc. in high school. Didn't have much interest in science or math. I chose nursing because of the affordability and quality of a community college program, a desire to step outside of my comfort zone, and because of the flexibility and ERE compatibility the career path affords.

I've decided not to move out of the house for now. As someone wisely put it in a comment, it seems like I'd be trading one mess of headaches for a more expensive mess of headaches. I am spending most of my time at school now, and the separation seems to have solved most of the reasons for wanting to move out in the first place.

My professors all seem to be good, with the exception of the Anatomy teacher, who is Filipino and whose English I have difficulty understanding. If this problem persists beyond a week or so I will try to switch classes. I intend to attend some club meetings, make friends, and expand my social network.

Karl Marx and the Ethics of Investing

I have been struggling with one key component of ERE philosophy: investing. This is because of my lefty political background and my understanding of economics. (I will be talking quite a bit about Marx in the next couple paragraphs. Let it be known I do not consider myself a Marxist, but I do think some of his ideas are insightful.)

Economists from Marx to Ricardo seem to agree on what (at least in Marxist terms) is called the Labor Theory of Value; i.e., the idea that value is added to a commodity when labor is performed on said commodity. The reason that a shoe is more expensive than a pile of rubber, cloth, and shoelaces is because labor was performed on those raw materials in order to make them into a shoe. The same logic can be applied to any commodity or service.

Here come two other Marxist buzzwords: surplus value and exploitation. In any workplace, profit is made from surplus value. A worker works x hours, generates x amount of value for the company, and a boss or board of directors will decide how to allocate the value generated by the worker. Some is paid back as a wage, some pays for materials and overhead, some might go to an annual staff Halloween party, and the rest is kept as profit. Thus, in any given capitalist workplace, a worker receives less value as a wage than they are producing for the company. The word exploitation is used in a technical way here; it doesn't just mean "treating people badly." It means that specific process of a capitalist siphoning off surplus value and keeping it as profit.

This brings me to investing. I am someone who is fairly convinced that the process described above is an accurate summary of how an industrial capitalist economy works. Of course, there are exceptions, self-employed people, co-ops, and all sorts of places that don't fit that description, but it seems to be accurate in regards to a typical workplace. (I'd be happy for people to point out flaws in the model though.)

This brings me to investing. My ethical dilemma with investing comes in because of the model described above. From the way I see it, living off investment money is living off of value created by other people, which was then siphoned off and given to you so that you may enjoy early retirement. I find this exploitative.

I'd love to hear all your thoughts on this. Maybe I'm full of shit. Let me know what you think. I'm particularly interested in hearing about investment ideas that involve zero ethical pondering. I found the site http://www.triplebottomlinefi.com/ and think they might have some interesting things to say on the topic.

Wishing you all long and happy lives.

Peaceably,
Roaming Francis

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