disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Where are you and where are you going?
disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

I think it’s time for me to start a journal. I’ve been mulling this over and my introverted self is objecting while I am writing this but I want to get out of my comfort zone.

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.

Expenses

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.

Phase I


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.

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.

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.



Final words

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 :)

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

September Update

Post by disk_poet »

Review from last month
  • N/A
Financials
  • September had no major expenses or gains
  • Savings Rate: 40,2%
  • Cancelled 2 subscriptions
  • Switched electricity provider to a cheaper one (but still sustainable)
  • Sold a few household items
Reduction
  • Got rid of two bookshelves but not most of the content. Mainly used existing storage more efficiently
Health & Fitness
  • Spent a lot of the weekends in the woods around my cabin
  • Running: 50km
  • Cycling: 200km
  • Did a Zen-Meditation course and started meditating a few times
  • Had some health issues and had to see doctor a few times
ERE Skills
  • Started using library for books/audiobooks
  • Baking bread
  • Created tracking spreadsheet for financials and volume of stuff in apartment
Goals for next month
  • Empty out my cellar
  • Empty out cabin
  • Switch buying pattern to mostly used items (double down on current effort)
  • Cancel 2 subscriptions
  • Increase running
  • Increase cycling
  • Come up with stretching/mobility routine (less pain)
  • Bake another type of bread
Last edited by disk_poet on Fri Oct 02, 2020 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2147
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

Zanka
Posts: 152
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by Zanka »

Solid introduction! Looking forward to following your journey:)

Forskaren
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by Forskaren »

Welcome!

When you mentions both baking and getting used items, it reminds me of baking machines. Baking machines are a prime example of what people buy and stop using. If you want, you can probably get a used one for free or for a very low price.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@c_L Thanks. I read your journal and found it super inspiring. You're making a good point. I have been taking the wish list approach where I park my purchases on a list and then re-visit them after a few days instead of just pressing the buy-button. I found that super helpful. This is the logical next step. I also found that I meet interesting people (with similar interests) if buying used which is a nice added bonus. I don't have a big network (I am more of a few-close-friends-person) so buying used could be a nice way to make some progress in that regard.

@Zanka Thanks. I've just started reading your journal but have not caught up. I hope you're doing well. I try to limit forum time to once a day
Last edited by disk_poet on Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@Forskaren Thanks so much for the welcome and the suggestion. There's probably a lot of specialized equipment that can be gotten used. I really wonder how the used market will look like once COVID is over. I bet there are some items that will flood on the market :) I have been thinking about a baking machine. A friend has one and was telling me how much he likes it. I keep going back and forth on specialized kitchen equipment. On the one hand it needs maintenance, space and replacement (but as you point out some can probably be acquired for free) on the other hand it might be more efficient. Another point is that I don't want to be too dependent on tools but realistically I will not insource every skill at once. I also have no idea how baking machines work so maybe I should do some research first :D.

NuncFluens
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:25 am
Location: Bavaria, Germany

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by NuncFluens »

Hi disk_poet! Nice to see that you've started a journal :)
disk_poet wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:06 am
I keep going back and forth on specialized kitchen equipment. On the one hand it needs maintenance, space and replacement (but as you point out some can probably be acquired for free) on the other hand it might be more efficient. Another point is that I don't want to be too dependent on tools but realistically I will not insource every skill at once. I also have no idea how baking machines work so maybe I should do some research first :D.
I also (re)started baking a few months ago and have found that I enjoy the process just as much as the outcome. It's a kind of mindfulness exercise and I get the satisfaction of working with my hands (I'm also in IT, so that's rare). Getting a machine would definitely take all that away for me, but YMMV.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@NuncFluens That is a really good point. I also do enjoy the process. Funny. What kind of stuff are you baking?

NuncFluens
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:25 am
Location: Bavaria, Germany

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by NuncFluens »

I'm only ever baking breadrolls from white flour, though I like to add in spices (thyme, gyros mix) or seeds (sunflower, flaxseed, chia). Right now every batch I bake is at least edible and some are really good, but I try to perfect this one recipe before I try anything new.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@NuncFluens: I'm not doing breadrolls but a loaf of bread but basically the same. Next week I will try to make a low carb bread. I've found some online and will give one recipe a try.

In other news: I've already made some progress on my goals for the month:

Cancel 2 subscriptions: I got rid of two small subscriptions (3 EUR/month each). I have some subscriptions that are more costly but I am grandfathered into a cheap plan because I got on board early. I still have to get over the mental hurdle to accept that I will probably not use them enough to warrant keeping them around. Anyway.. I plan to repeat this goal and see when I run into a wall. At some point I will have gotten rid of all the low hanging fruit and have to face the facts ;).

Increase cycling: I went on a 150km ride last weekend and then did some pickups during the week for used items I bought. So all in all I'm almost at last months distance (180km at the moment) but I will do some cycling this weekend. Assuming I don't slack off the rest of the month this should be happening. Running is not doing so well though... I'm at 0km so far.

Come up with stretching/mobility routine (less pain): I cycled to the library and picked up two books: "Becoming a supple leopard" (https://www.amazon.de/dp/B079KXPN9X/ref ... TF8&btkr=1) and "Pain Free Living" (https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Pete-Egoscue ... ext&sr=1-2). I've started reading the first one and made some notes. His point that "sitting is a disease" reminded me that I have a standing desk that I am basically not using. I will try to be more on point in standing up during the day. The other point he made is that pain is a lagging indicator and I need to be more proactive from now on (esp as I am getting older). It feels I am moving forward but it's all quite nebulous for me still.

Switch buying pattern to mostly used items (double down on current effort): Haven't bought anything new so far. Getting stuff used (esp. cheap stuff) still sometimes feels like a timewaste for me but I've been combining it with cycling so I am getting two for one. It's actually quite nice. I've got to see some new parts of the city I haven't gone through. Some items seem to be hard to get though. I've set up some searches. I think I need to switch my buying pattern from buying based on projects to projects based on buying. Basically have a list of projects that require materials. Have searches for the materials active and then act when materials become available. I did a similar thing with library books and it took a while but now basically every few days something I want to read/listen to becomes available because I have such a big backlog. I feel good about this one.

I've also done a bit more analysis on financials: I'm at 5,1 JAFI on average this year :shock: (including health insurance - 3,6 excl) and at 4,1 JAFI last month (including health insurance - 2,85 excl). Last month was my "best" month this year. My biggest other expense is rent. I really like my flat and my area so I have started looking around for rental companies in the area and set up a website watcher on their adverts. They seem to be going quite quickly and so far nothing has turned up that would suit me but I am getting more data points (because I am saving the old adverts) so it feels I am at least making some progress. I'm not in a huge rush in getting this done but I also don't want to let this sit without making progress. I think I'll try to keep an eye open for potential buildings/areas and start making a spreadsheet with potential companies/landlords to contact directly.

I've also started reading the read re loosing work motivation (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5964) since that is something I am also experiencing. I am not quite sure what to do about it yet...

Thanks for reading :)

ertyu
Posts: 1682
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by ertyu »

disk_poet wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:06 am
I think I need to switch my buying pattern from buying based on projects to projects based on buying. Basically have a list of projects that require materials. Have searches for the materials active and then act when materials become available.
I am working on my own diy skill development and have found myself arriving at the same place. I am moving from, "I need a Y, I have to get X for it" to "I need a Y, what is available in the materials I already own that I can use to make it? What is available at second hand stores/at curbside that I can use to make it?" There's a level of DIY that's not really DIY but consumerism once removed: instead of purchasing the final good, you purchase the component materials and perform assembly. A next level is, "let's go for a walk and survey my environment. What is there to be found which can either be useful to my existing needs, or which makes a good material for future use/a good future project?"

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@ertyu:
"let's go for a walk and survey my environment. What is there to be found which can either be useful to my existing needs, or which makes a good material for future use/a good future project?"
Yes, I hope to be there some time. I had a wake-up call in that regard at some point when I purchased something used and then saw the same item just put out onto the curb two days later. There is really a lot of stuff that can be gotten for free if you keep your eyes open.

I have some more thoughts on this but I had a wonderful but also exhausting weekend. I'm ready for a lazy evening before work starts again.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

I'm putting this quote from @mooretrees here for my own reference because I ruled out roommates to reduce housing costs:
As a side note, our roommate situation could not be better. We hit the jackpot with him. He's very clean and we often share meals together. He is sweet to my son and our animals. He's a very serious student and mostly keeps to his room or school. I wanted to put it out there that these good roommates exist and it has been an easy way to reduce our housing costs.
viewtopic.php?p=202603#p202603

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

This week I have been kind of down and low energy. Not much progress with reaching goals. I bought ingredients for a bread but they were all things I didn't use before and I didn't know how to source economically so I already blew my monthly food budget. I felt like moving forward in "just" buying these but I am not sure that was a smart choice. It's also not the end of the world though. I also analyzed my cooking skills and realized that "snacks" is the biggest category I am missing. I made some oat-cookies which only lasted 2 days but I think that's because I just ate all that was there (so yummy). I think next month I'll try to make a big batch of dough and then freeze it since the baking is pretty quick and easy once you have the dough. Hopefully rationing will help.

No exercise this week and no progress on health. I was pretty lazy. This feels like a bigger one. "Use it or loose it" is stuck in my mind these days.

I also did some analysis on how to make progress on my savings rate this year and realized how little wiggle room I have. I think patience and baby steps are what I need. I also watched a few Rob Greenfield videos and he always stresses the point that it will be a process sizing down. Analyzing my emotions more: I am realizing that I am just being impatient. We'll see at the end of the month/year on how much progress I made and then I'll re-adjust. Right now my mind is focusing on getting the next 10%. I just need to focus on getting to the next 1% and do that 10 times. Much easier...

Work is stressful these days. Downsizing's & lay-offs in companies I work with so the future seems less certain at the moment.I think that causes some stress atm. I am in the process in getting a part time (4 days a month) job in research at the university though to diversify a little. This will also be a good step because I think teaching/part time research could be a nice way to semi-ERE and being employed in education comes with access to papers, libraries, etc. Potentially even health insurance...

They were also some deaths in the extended family & friends circle which got me thinking...

On a positive end: I got a sizeable tax refund which will skew my savings rate this month but will bring my average SR back in line. Will crunch the numbers at the end of the month. I also made some progress on emptying the shed out. Still a lot to do but at least progress has been made. None on the cellar yet (I haven't event found the key :D - I think that will be my task for the weekend). I also haven't bought anything new this month.

Thanks for reading.

ertyu
Posts: 1682
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by ertyu »

disk_poet wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:57 am
they were all things I didn't use before and I didn't know how to source economically so I already blew my monthly food budget.
Call this "tuition fees" and don't be too hard on yourself. It's the cooking equivalent of "make one to throw away." When you first start developing a new skill, there will be inefficiency and waste, and whatever you're making will not turn out perfect right off the bat. As you improve, you will get better at doing things efficiently.

Congrats on the no-buy. Hope university job lines up :D.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@ertyu: Thanks for saying that. I know it's the right way to look at it but I still beat myself up about those things. I hope things are going well on your end. Looking forward to your next journal update.

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

Still haven't bought anything new this month. That feels good. I think I can also do the last week.

I also picked up a shelf from the street. I wanted to replace a standing shelf with a wall mounted one for quite some time and found one on the street yesterday. I first walked past it and then thought "The ERE way would be to take this resource and start that project". So I went back and took it home. I will give it a good clean and then hopefully put it up soon. I am also noticing stuff being given away much more now. It's like a switch has been flipped. :shock:

The goals are slowly moving forward: Finally started cleaning out the shed and the basement. It's a lot of stuff but I actually found some things down there that were on my to-buy list. I just forgot that I already had them.. :oops:

I also made a big batch of cookie-dough and put it in the freezer. I hope that slows down the munching and will prevent me from just randomly buying sweets. We'll see how that goes.

Also good news: I found a different shop which sells the bread ingredients for much cheaper than I originally bought them for. I think I can make it more sustainable.

I feel like I am slowly working on my skills but progress seems really slow. I catch myself just wanting to fast forward... I don't like that attitude in myself and I think I want to look for ways to get myself out of that mindset.

Will do a full end of month review next weekend. Until then...

Thanks for reading!

Mae
Posts: 105
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by Mae »

Welcome neighbour!

Sounds like you already have the right mindset and are taking action to reach your goals. Don't forget to enjoy the journey and be happy with the things you have changed/reached.

Greetings from gray-clouded Belgium

disk_poet
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:33 am

Re: disk_poets road towards semi-ERE

Post by disk_poet »

@Mae: Thanks for leaving a comment :) "Enjoy the journey" is a very good point and something I struggle with. I think it is one of the skills/traits that I want to develop but I am stumped on how to go about it. I think the meditation course I did was a good start but I fell off the wagon. Not because I didn't like it but because I didn't manage to habituate meditating. Looking at my September update I think I am missing a category for this, so I can set-up dedicated goals. I put the meditation in "Health & Fitness" but the goals that I am setting for this category are mainly in the realm of physical exercise. I'll try to implement something for next month so I keep my eye on it while moving forward. Hopefully I can develop some habits. Do you have any insights here? Is that something that comes easy to you? Thanks again for the nudge.

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