C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
ExpatERE
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Post by ExpatERE » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:23 pm

First I want to say I love your charts!! Very nice.

Keep an eye on your fitness levels. It's very easy to take it for granted, but your health is something that will always be of value to you and I believe an investment in itself. Best of luck...


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Post by FreeUrChains » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:33 pm

Quite an Amazing journal with fun Chartls. I like your Style of summary Posting too for the month to month updates!. You've accomplished $100k, now can you get past a quarter of a Million?
Since your engineering, try a few more income streams, like App creations, XNA creators club/ Unity 3D, Your photography hobby made a bit of money randomly, but keep taking pictures. Youtube revenue is up for grabs if you have any cool videos. Also DIY Patents and written Instructions can make you some nice passive income on the side too! I'm in the same boat as you but just trying to clear out my student and car debt now by the end of the year. Over the last 6 months I have lowered my expense dramatically. Check out my Journal soon to come! Inpired by yours!


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C40
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Post by C40 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:07 am

Maybe I can just roll over some of my 401k into an IRA. I'll check on this with my plan...
http://gyroscopicinvesting.com/forum/in ... opic=564.0


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Post by C40 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:26 pm

So the first requests with my 401k provider (ING) have been unsuccessful. I sent an email and also called. Same response from both - that it is not allowed in the plan rules. I might keep calling them to see if I get different people and eventually a different answer. Not too likely, but I should at least be asking for what I want.
I find myself worrying about PRPFX. Particularly when I see news about Greece and think about how the Euro could fail from situations like this. Might need to consider other options.
If I do stay with PRPFX, I'll probably try to add more LT Bonds, as suggested at the PP forum. Since I can't use ETFs (the reason I have PRPFX in the first place) I'd need to find an acceptable mutual fund. I don't expect to find exactly what I want, but it looks like there are a number of bond funds made up entirely of medium to long term US T Bonds.


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Post by C40 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:43 am

---------------------------------------
NOVEMBER 2011
---------------------------------------
TOTALS:

Income, after tax: $3,086

Sales: $212

Spending: $1,208

Put in after-tax Savings: $2,000

401k Contributions: $1,644

Savings rate: 80%
INVESTMENT INCOME:

Interest on 401k: $-3,224

Interest on Savings: $149
SPENDING:

Home Expenses: $639

Food: $203

Entertainment: $163

Cycling: $0

Transportation: $133

Other: $71
It’s gonna take a fairly special month to break $1,000. I’ll get it one of these times. in 2012 I’ll keep all or most months under $1,500.
Transportation includes $95 for yearly auto registration. I forgot to renew it and got pulled over while driving back from the Chicago meetup. The ticket is $175. WHAT!? The Traffic Court Clerk that I got ahold of on the phone the next day (after renewing my registration) told me that in order to get the citation dropped, I have to go to court... no way to do it sooner. So I guess on February 8th, I’m be spending a few hours driving and going to court. I set up a yearly reminder in Outlook at work so I don’t forget it next time.
This month I finished reading How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World . I liked this book and learned a lot. It helps me to think through situations faster and more clearly. It took me a long time to read it because I was taking summary notes as I went. Now I have a 20 page summary I can read through quickly if I want a refresher other than reading the whole book.
Right now I’m re-reading How to Win Friends and Influence People . I read this book the first time when I was 21 or so, and it helped me more than anything else I’ve read about interacting with people successfully. Over the last few months, I’ve caught myself too many times snapping at people, speaking too negatively, or not handling situations as well as I’d like to. So I’m reviewing the book and trying to re instill the principles in my habits.
I’m also re-reading the ERE book. It’s been about a year since I read it the first time. I think this will help as I have free time previously used for bike race training - so I’m deciding on hobbies and on what to learn about. I’m going to make a big list of all the skills/knowledge/habits I’d like to acquire, and start working on some of them.
I've started lifting weights again. Deadlift is at 150lbs x 20 reps after a month or two of getting used to deadlifting again. Grip is my biggest limiter right now. I'll make 2012 lifting goals in December. They will probably include deadlifting 225x20.
--------------------------------------

CHICAGO MEETUP

--------------------------------------
Last weekend I went down to Chicago for the ERE meetup. Akratic hosted at his apartment. Jacob was in town. And we had a number of others (The Dude, Seabourne + GF, Lucky12, and ChicagoERE). So 7 people total. It was fun. I was there 5 hours and we spoke about all kinds of different stuff. Some of the things I learned included suggestions on books or blogs to read, advice on money making hobbies (including Akratic’s extremely well thought-out T-Shirt design strategies), methods of finding other like-minded people, and many others.
------------------------------

CHARTS

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(with links to bigger versions)






























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DECEMBER PLANS

-----------------------------------------------
--- Going down to my Mom’s for Christmas. Plane tickets were too expensive ($450), so I’m driving the 14 hours each way. St Louis is about halfway, and I have some friends there. So I think I’ll see if I can crash at their place overnight on the way out and the way back to break up the driving.
--- Map out plans and goals for 2012. These will include goals for money, health/fitness, skills/knowledge, and relationships.
--- Update or revamp my budget file for next year. If I don't change it much I won't need to make the changes until the end of January.
--- Finish reading the How to Win Friends book and the ERE book... I might start reading Meditations over X-mas holiday.
--- Need to figure out if I want to put money into an IRA or Roth IRA. I know for at least one of them I can still do so for 2011 up until I do my taxes. But the sooner the better. I need to just dive into this stuff and get a good understanding of certain laws and rules. I read a small book on it but it was basically just an introduction.


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Post by akratic » Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:47 pm

Hey C40,
It was nice meeting you last week! I skimmed your journal this morning, so here's comments on various things:
I view 401k as savings and add it to my savings rate. I actually contribute ~75% of my salary into the 401k until it gets capped out at the start of the year. I think more ERE people should do this. You're basically trading dollar cost averaging and cash in hand in exchange for an extra year of tax protected earnings, and also if you quit your job or get fired before the end of the year, at least you capped that year. I only look at savings rate yearly though, not monthly.
If you go down the photography hobby path, you should upload your best photos to istockphoto.com. I get the impression making it on that website is fairly competitive, but there are definitely some people getting rich. If you do a search for a generic word like "woman", sort by downloads, and at the bottom of the page go Display Settings => Downloads, you'll see that some photographs are being bought 10,000+ times, with the photographer making a few dollars per download... When I develop websites I buy almost all the art on the website from istockphoto.com; it's a great business model both for the photographers and for art-challenged engineers.
In my opinion Roth IRA > Traditional IRA, because you can withdraw Roth IRA contributions without hassle at any age, because you can contribute more to Roths than Traditional, and because I speculate that income taxes are going up.
If you change the x-axis every month on your charts to only include january until the current month, you won't have that phantom drop off at the end.
Anyway, nice progress, enjoying the journal!


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Post by Surio » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:02 pm

Here's another perspective on your 14 hour trip. :-)
As they say, money isn't everything. But health and time; those two are definitely something... ;-)
http://skillsfire.wordpress.com/2011/12 ... the-hours/


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Post by C40 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:25 am

That's a good point Surio (and M741). Here is the math I did to decide to drive:
Miles: 1600

Hours driving: 25

Gas Cost: $170

Maintenance Cost: $7

Depreciation: $32

Extra Food: $15
Plane Ticket: $450 !!

Parking: $48

Flying Trip time: 14 hours
DRIVING COST: $230

FLYING COST: $500
$ Saved: 270

Extra Hours: 10.6

$ Saved Per hour by driving: $25
So I thought sure, it'd be worth it. After reading the blog post I'll make some adjustments, considering the useful time of the two activities.
When driving, all I can do is listen to something. I'm going to bring podcasts and audiobooks to listen to, so I'll call that time 50% worthwhile. So driving requires 12.3 unproductive hours.
When flying, I can sleep maybe half the flight time. 3.5 hours. I'll call that 100% worthwhile. I'll read during the other 3.5 hours of flight - 75% useful. And the balance is driving or similar - 50%. So the flying trip totals up to 9.6 hours of useful and 4.4 hours not.
DRIVING:

- 24.6 total hours

- 12.3 unproductive hours

- $230 total cost
FLYING:

- 14 total hours

- 4.4 unproductive hours

- $500 total cost
Difference:

- 8 hours of unproductive time

- $270

- $33.75 per unproductive hour
So now I'm even more sure about driving! If I would've considere the driving time 0% productive, the rate comes to $13 per hour. I'd drive even for that amount. Now I need to make sure I bring useful stuff to listen to. (I have a bunch of podcasts to bring... Now I also have a Meditations recording that Surio posted in another thread. I'm not certain I'll be able to keep up with the reading of Meditations, so I'll look for some other recorded books as backups.)
Other than the numbers, the main difference for me between flying and driving is that driving gets boring, while flying has a higher risk of other types of stress. I dislike flight delays a lot because I have very little control over the situation once they occur.


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Post by George the original one » Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:25 am

The driving costs get much better when there are more than one of you taking the trip.


Surio
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Post by Surio » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:53 am

Thanks for taking the time and explaining your thought process.
Like george said, the costs get better as the headcount in the vehicle goes up :-)
Glad I could be of some help with the tapes. Also, don't forget the free Wade Davis audio lectures link I gave on that podcasts thread later on along with the meditations. The Massey lectures covers lots of interesting areas on History, Geography, trivia, tolerance, cultures.... and Wade's speech. You won't be disappointed.


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Post by C40 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:00 pm

Akratic and Surio - thanks for the insights.
on the stock photos - I've got that on my hobby list for 2012. I'm planning on going through my photos and sorting/organizing/reprocessing them all. And while I do this, I think I will set aside many of them to try to sell on stock photo websites.
Surio - thanks for the link to the Meditations book. I hadn't ever used Librivox before, and thugh it I found a whole bunch of other audiobooks that I plan to listen to. I haven't listened to Meditations yet - once I started while driving, I thought it would be too hard to comprehend while driving. But I found others that worked well while driving.


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Post by C40 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:21 pm

---------------------------------------
DECEMBER 2011
---------------------------------------


TOTALS:
Income, after tax: $3,086
Sales: $40
Spending: $1,705
Put in after-tax Savings: $2,000
401k Contributions: $1,644
Savings rate: 62%

INVESTMENT INCOME:
Interest on 401k: -$573
Interest on Savings: -$241

SPENDING:
Home Expenses: $1,142
Food: $167
Entertainment: $120
Cycling: $0
Transportation: $73
Other/Travel: $203

Special spending:
Vitamix - $475 (in home expenses)
X-Mas Travel - $209
Drivers License - $34
A lot of quarters for laundry - $100

Travel for Christmas was good. I drove down to visit my family. It was a long drive - about 900 miles each way. My Grandma lives about halfway there so I split the drive up into 2 days each way and spent some time with her. I’m glad I drove. The driving wasn’t so bad. I took some podcasts and audiobooks. I listened to all of Alexander the Great (Librivox) (What an interesting story), and parts of some other books. I had a hard time listening to Walden and Meditations while driving (too deep).

Family time was nice. I was down at Mom’s for only 3.5 days, but they were very family intense. My Mom has a very nice house, with an incredible theatre room, nice yard, and a very serious bar setup in their garage (8 beers on tap that Stepdad brewed, tables & chairs, shuffleboard, darts, etc.), so once we get there we never leave and just do stuff together 100% of the time. So by the end it was kind of nice to come home.

Total spending was high in December because I ordered a Vitamix blender and because of gas for the drive down to see my family. I’ve been wanting to eat healthier - more vegetables and fruit. I tend not to eat a lot of vegetables because I don’t care much for the texture or taste of many of them. I love fruit but where I live it is a bit hard or expensive to get nice fresh fruit. I can, though, get frozen fruit for pretty reasonable prices. I’ve been using the blender I have to make drinks of fruit and veggies and enjoying it. I think a Vitamix will be able to blend better so the drinks won’t have as much solid material (particularly for vegetables). With the high price of this blender, I kind of feel like I’m trying to buy a solution instead of figuring out a better way. We’ll see how it goes (I haven’t received it yet). If it works well, it should last a long time. If I don’t like or use it, I should be able to sell it without taking a huge loss.

One of my big efforts for right now and 2012 is to change my hobbies from ones that are expensive to ones that I can make money from (or at least are cheap). If you look at the graphs of my expenses, my big spending was during the first half of the year, which was when I was spending big money on cycling/racing. So I want some hobbies that instead have the opposite effect - when I put a lot of time into them, my expenses should go down.

My first effort was an idea from Akratic - to sell shirt designs on Cafepress. This seems like a good hobby for me because I like design - when I was an 8th grader I used to think I wanted to become a graphic artist (though I’m very glad now that I didn’t). So I dipped my toes into shirt designing in December. I started figuring out how to do it, made some simple designs, and uploaded them. I made some shirts for a videogame I play (Skyrim), and some with a stupid Rap song slogans. I found Redbubble.com through a recommendation I received when asking for feedback on a design. So far all of my sales have been on Redbubble. I set my prices at 20% markup, so for each shirt I get about $4. For December (3 weeks of sales I believe) I sold 15 or so shirts, for $90 profit. This is not shown in my December numbers because I haven’t gotten the money yet. As Akratic explained at the Chicago meetup, making designs for subjects that people will be buying is critical. So far, out of my Rap song, Skyrim, and Ron Paul designs, the only sales I’ve made were the Skyrim ones. So I’ll need to put more effort into finding subjects that sell and then making good designs. Right now I’m planning to try to make some better Skyrim designs as those seem to be selling very well.

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CHARTS
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(The grey is the OTHER category)
I’ll be posting again soon with a summary of the year and with plans for 2012. It’s going to be a very good year for me.
Last edited by C40 on Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by C40 » Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:50 am

-------------------------------------------------------------
2011 SUMMARY & 2012 GOALS
-------------------------------------------------------------
Here were my 2011 financial goals:
1 - Lower monthly rent/gas cost from $1,000 to $600

-- DONE

2 - Save $10,000 by end of July (“Emergency Fund”)

-- DONE IN MARCH

3 - Save another $10,000 by end of year (“House fund”)

-- DONE IN JULY, $21k saved





(links to a readable version)
My main improvements this year were: (and resulting yearly savings)

1 - Reduced spending in general (~$2k)

2 - Moved closer to work to reduce rent and transportation costs (~$7k)

3 - Spent less on cycling. Funded this year’s costs by selling extra equipment (~$6k)
I also had some executional Goals:

1 - Focus on Frugality / Minimalism / Home 5S (organization) -- DONE FAIRLY WELL

2 - Make a living will and asset list -- NOT DONE
While I didn’t get my living will / asset list done, I did learn a fair amount about investing and made some decisions. I’ll be able to do the will and stuff this year.
Here’s a comparison of my average monthly spending during the first and second half of the year. I moved and stopped spending on cycling stuff by the end of the first half of the year.





-----------------------------------------------

2012 GOALS - FINANCIAL

-----------------------------------------------
1 - Save over 75% of income. This would increase my net worth from $130k to $180k (
My 2012 spending expectation is just under $14,000. If I can stick to that, I’ll save something like 77%. I believe this is a reasonable goal. A big stretch goal might be to break $12,000 spending, which would put my savings over 80%. I don’t expect this to happen though.
These calculations are done assuming that I will not get a bonus from work for 2011 (which comes in spring 2012). We’ve gotten a bonus the last three years but this time we didn’t meet our company-wide goals, and so we’re not supposed to get much or any bonus.
Expected Capital at end of 2012:

After Tax Savings: $60,000

401k: $97,000

Pension: ~$22,000

TOTAL: $180,000
I made big spending reductions in 2011. For 2012 I will work on making smaller improvements - things like Food, entertainment, etc. This chart shows my average monthly spending during the last half of 2011, and the black lines are my expected spending for 2012 in each category.





So it won’t be a cakewalk. The biggest challenge might be the entertainment category. Most of the decrease is because I took cell phone cost out of most of the year because I’m expecting to get an iPhone from work.
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2012 GOALS - OTHER

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1 - Transition to hobbies that are cheap or profitable

2 - Make significant progress on skill development

3 - Further home organization / minimalism

4 - Good execution on fitness/health (exercise, rest, nutrition)

5 - Create a will and asset list (carryover from last year)
More details to come soon on some of these (#1,2, and 4).
I've really liked doing this journal. Writing things out helps me to reflect more and plan better than I would otherwise.


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Post by C40 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:08 am

Whoops - a couple notes about the totals shown:
- The GROSS INCOME is after 401k deductions. (which were around $10k, plus another $4-5k employer match.)
- The NET INCOME does not include 401k money either.


ExpatERE
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Post by ExpatERE » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:02 pm

First: You've got mad skills when it comes to those charts.

Second: Nice progress on your savings and networth from 2010-2011

Third: Wish you the best in 2012

Fourth: Thanks for writing such a detailed account. I enjoyed reading it.


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Post by C40 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:30 pm

Thanks Expat.
Today I repaired 2 pairs of high-end headphones. They've both been sitting in my closet broken for a few years. I figured out that they were probably shorted at the jacks and ordered a couple from Radioshack ($4 each).
One hour worth of time and $10 worth of jacks and I made $300 worth of broken headphones as good as new. Yeah!! They're so much better than the $20 crap headphones I've been using since they broke.
This was all very easy. The troubleshooting, parts ordering, and repair took me MUCH less time than I would've spent researching which pair of new high-end headphones to buy. And then there's the money... I WIN!







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Post by bigato » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:50 pm

Congratulations, friend. One step closer to freedom.


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Post by C40 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:44 am

------------------------------------------------------------------------
DETAILS ON 2012 GOALS
------------------------------------------------------------------------
My financial goal is to save 75% of income. My other goals are:

Transition to hobbies that are cheap or profitable
Make significant progress on skill development
Further home organization / minimalism
Good execution on fitness/health (exercise, nutrition, rest)
Create a will and asset list (carryover from last year)

Here are some details on some of them...
1 - HOBBIES - Cheap or profitable
Want to explore these:

Making shirt designs and selling on Cafepress & Redbubble (in progress)
Read more
Work at a local CSA farm in exchange for food (because I have no hard for garden)
Sell stock photos ?
Create Apps (either Android or iOS)

2 - SKILLS / KNOWLEDGE - Develop skills and knowledge
more on this in another post - I made up a long list of things I want to learn
3 - HOME ORGANIZATION / MINIMALISM
Pretty simple. I have extra stuff that I don’t need so I’m going through and getting rid of stuff. Sometimes it comes to deciding whether it’s worth keeping an extra item around to wait until the primary fails (to prevent buying another), or to get rid of it. I’d like to be able to fit my stuff into an efficiency/studio apartment, so I need to get rid of more stuff. I also work to make everything easier to find/clean/use.
4 - FITNESS / HEALTH
After becoming what most consider scrawny from bike racing the last few years, I’m going to strength train a significant amount and get stronger and a bit bigger.
GOALS:

Bent Leg Deadlift - 225# x 20 reps
20 chin ups
Less than 10% bodyfat. (150-155lbs bodyweight)

I probably won’t be able to get the deadlifts that far in 2012, but I should be able to pass 200x20. Once I do get to 225#x20 I'll probably weigh around 160.
I’m working to improve my diet. I’ve been reading a bit on what people call the Paleo Diet: eating only fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. (no grains, beans, legumes, sugar, dairy, etc...) I also want to learn more about “Raw” diets..
5 - WILL / ASSET LIST
I’ve been figuring I need to do this to make sure the capital I’m building up will get distributed in the way I want if I die soon, and to make sure my family could easily find out about where I have my assets. I’ll also want to include wishes about what to do with my body - I don’t want my remains sealed up and buried in an expensive casket. After seeing the “How Doctors Die” thread, I realize now that I should consider those kind of potential situations and record my wishes or take the legal steps needed to ensure they happen.
-----------------------------
I think I may start keeping some time of daily execution journal. I remember reading about Benjamin Franklin doing something like this using his list of his Thirteen Vitues . To sort of test this out I jotted down a few important things and have been keeping track each day whether I accomplish them. Right now they are:

Sleep enough
Read (~60 minutes)
Exercise (30-60+ minutes)
Eat well
No spending / live frugally
Do something productive
Treat people well
Interact with people outside of work

For each day I count every item as one point, and add up the points for that day.. so far 4 is a poor/lazy day and 5-6 is probably a pretty good day. There are others I might want to add (such as “home is clean”). This isn’t too far from some of the normal stuff I recorded while training for bike racing (hours of sleep, lying and standing heart rate, weight, diet quality)
Has anyone else tried something like this? Any use?


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Post by C40 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:18 am

And last one of these cheesy yearly posts...
Here’s a quick list of things I want to learn more about. Aimed mostly at skills but also includes general knowledge items. Obviously I cannot learn about all of these things in one year...
GARDENING / FARMING / PERMACULTURE

Growing produce
Composting
Rainwater capture/use
Chicken care (+ Other animals)

HOME MAINTENANCE / CONSTRUCTION

Basic construction
Plumbing
Electrical
Increase car maintenance knowledge
Motorcycle maintenance / restoration

OUTDOORS

Survival
Fishing
Hunting, trapping
Navigation

COMPUTER

Photo editing (improve)
Graphic Design on software (improve)
Basic programming (for things like mobile app’s)

HOME

Cooking (Improve)
Various efficiency improvements
Organizational improvements

FINANCIAL

Retirement account laws ( 72(t), IRA, Roth IRA, 401k)
Taxes and avoidance
Investing
Stocks
Bonds
Metals
Real Estate
Other (Currency, commodities, ???)

HISTORY

Successful civilizations (Roman, Greek, etc...)
South American History
General history

OTHERS

Improve English (vocabulary, grammar)
Learn spanish
Learn more about central & south American culture (would I like to live there?)
Become more familiar with other cultures/ethnicities
Become more familiar with laws and how to look up laws, codes, etc.
Learn more about various technologies
Learn more about body language / reading people (particularly females.. I seem to be better at forming quick and accurate gut feelings about males than females)
Learn more about sustainability and green living
Better understanding of chemistry - application in everyday life situations
Think more seriously about whether I want to have children or not
Learn more about the ecological differences of various regions. (get a better idea of where I’d like to live)

SOCIAL

Get more used to forming adult friendships
Get more used to being in serious relationships
Get better at building social capital relationships


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Post by George the original one » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:41 am

> Get more used to being in serious relationships
I had a fear of being hurt when it came to relationships, so I had to learn to give love freely and not worry about whether it was reciprocated, avoiding the selfish possessiveness. This went hand-in-hand with overcoming shyness.


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