A few things about me/my situation
- I am a male in my late 30s
- I live in Germany
- I am self employed and work in IT
- I have a chronic condition which means I can not get off health insurance or get cheap health insurance while working
- I love running, hiking, cycling/cyclotouring and the outdoors in general
- Some mental health issues I am currently working through. Went through a depression a while back and still dealing with the fallout
- Currently recovering from a breakup
- Started working 4 days a week this year which was a long standing plan of mine. Feels like my first step towards semi-ERE.
- I come from a working class background. My family has basically no assets. My education and introduction into the workplace was a long and winding road full of detours and mishaps.
- I’ve never given money a lot of thought until a few years back when I realized that I should plan for the future. I made a spreadsheet and started putting money aside. I slowly started thinking about it more. A friend of mine put me up to MMM and while the blog made sense to me, FIRE/FatFIRE just seemed unattainable/undesirable (see below). I discovered this forum through the leanFIRE reddit a few months back and got hooked.
- I am interested in sustainability from a rational standpoint (I think it is necessary for survival in a bigger sense) but also from an moral/philosophical standpoint
- I don’t think fatFIRE or normal FIRE is attainable for me in a time frame that interests me unless I sacrifice quite a bit of life energy over an extended period of time. Because of health issues I’d rather live now.
- I’m pretty much stuck in the middle-class trap right now. While I don’t own a car, have mortgage or something I do have electronics gadgets, bikes, sports equipment.
My expenses are roughly divided the following way (I ignored 1 big ticket item (a shed in the woods) because it ruins the averages and I don’t get those regularly ):
- Housing: 28%
- Insurance (Health is 95% here + Others): 34%
- Groceries and Phone: 9%
- Subscriptions and Memberships: 9%
- Eating out / Vacations / Hobbies: 10%
- Family Trips / Clothing / Life Expenses: 5%
- Fulfilled Wishes (I have a wishlist of things I want to have/do): 1,5%
- Other: 3,5%
The plan for semi-ERE
I don’t have an exact plan but hope to gain some clarity by going through the process. I don’t know where this will lead but I feel like I need to create space in my life so something new can come into existence. I am excited and also afraid at the same time. It’s hard for me to take control of my life and believe that I can change things. I value stability and predictability because it makes me feel safe. This make me resistant to change. I want to put myself in control and build up my self-esteem, believe that I can handle things and move forward.
At the moment I am aiming for semi-ERE ideally working for 1-2 days a week on average. Not because it necessarily is the best option but because it seems like a good enough goal for now and still attainable in a relatively short timeframe. I know that full ERE is also attainable in a short time (which is the whole point) but I think I am still too low in my Wheaton level to see it as a realistic possibility. Hopefully that will change over time.
My goal is to build up my net worth but more as a safety net and plan B but I want to mainly focus on skill of living, reducing dependence on money and being able to live off less income while still building up modest savings.
My current average savings rate of 30% is not great. I’d like to reach 40% on average this year. I know that is pretty low for this forum but it would be half way to 80% . I think I can implement this with very few lifestyle changes and optimizations. Mainly cutting unnecessary expenses, reducing consumption and the like. The goal of this phase is to start reducing, build some self confidence, start learning and getting rid of some low hanging fruits. I also plan to reduce my belongings to prepare myself for a phase II.
My goal for the next phase is a 50%+ savings rate. This could be achieved relatively straightforward by moving into a cheaper flat/getting a roommate. If I can cut my rent in half that would basically get me there. I’m not super excited about roommates so I think a smaller flat would be the better choice for me. I already plan on cutting down on stuff in phase I so sizing down/moving will be easier. I want to get rid of stuff in sustainable way (both from a life energy standpoint for me and also environmental standpoint - e.g. finding the right home for things). The current plan is to keep my current flat and sublet it furnished. That could provide some extra income and absorb moving costs and allow me to build up some savings for the next phase. Also I live in a nice area but my renting contract is quite old so I am paying relatively little rent compared to the average. If I want to quit the experiment or move in with a partner then I’d kick myself for getting rid of this flat. I’d also like to get down to 3,5 working days per week meaning I will have a 50:50 split between working days and non working days. I’ll have to figure out how to deal with loss of income here. The other options of getting to SR 50% is by implementing parts of phase III.
This is getting more hand-wavy and unclear to me (I think I am missing Wheaton levels here). Assuming I can reach a 50% savings rate my next big milestone will be 70%. This is partly because I think 70% would get me to almost be able to semi-ERE (assuming I figure all the logistics re work out) and partly because once I drastically reduce work, my income will also fall which will reduce health insurance costs (18% of post tax income). So in a sense once I get to a 60% savings rate I could just work less and get the missing 10% for free. My hope is that Phase I and II will give me tools and information to close the gap of the last 10%. Keywords for Phase III/Post Phase III are: Tinyhouse, Living in a trailer, slowtravel, permaculture, …. I hope to build respective skills in the earlier phases. Astute readers will have noticed that I also got a cabin which helps me being in nature more and experiment with alternative living situations.
I know that compared to ERE standards I am still in a pretty much on the low end but I hope that it will improve. Any feedback or questions are welcome