C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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C40
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Post by C40 » Tue May 01, 2012 1:32 pm

One other thing - I've started looking for a book about the history of money, particularly about using Silver and Gold for money or for storing wealth (ideally back to at least year 0) So far I haven't been able to find much. Any suggestions?


KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Wed May 02, 2012 12:27 am

That is a pet topic of Milton Friedman's so you could try one of his books. Free To Choose discusses the history of hard money briefly, but I imagine there's a more thorough treatment somewhere in his extensive bibliography.


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Post by Dragline » Wed May 02, 2012 1:21 am

@C40 You might find "The Ascent of Money" by Niall Ferguson interesting, although it does not focus so much on silver and gold. It was turned into an educational series that you can watch here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xx_5PuLIzc
Note part 6 is a separate video.
I found "The Science of Money" by Alexander Del Mar, published around 1870, to also be quite interesting and different from most discussions. Del Mar was in the US Treasury Department during the days of the Greenbacks. It's a freebie -- here's one version: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/dannyj ... %20Mar.pdf
"In Gold We Trust?: The Future of Money in an Age of Uncertainty" is a new book by a contributor to the Economist that came out a few weeks ago. Its an e-book and will cost you a couple bucks. It discusses the issues more in today's framework, although I think its deficient in some ways.


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Post by jacob » Wed May 02, 2012 1:44 am

@C40 - A History of Interest Rates (Homer & Co). And probably a lot of the books published by these guys: http://mises.org/


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Post by C40 » Wed May 02, 2012 4:20 am

Thanks for the suggestions guys.
@KevinW, I've put Free to Choose on my paperbackswap list.
@Dragline, I'm watching the youtube video. From a quick look on Amazon at the books Del Mar wrote, it seems his books might be exactly what I'm looking for. I'm converting that pdf to a file to read on my Kindle. After seeing some of his book titles, I found from this that using the word "Ancient" in search terms for books has uncovered a lot more than I could find previously. Many of them are pricey, though!
I did find that "In Gold we Trust" book before my posts and I'm through most of the book. It's not quite what I'm looking for, with most of focused on the last 200 years or so. (and the author seems quick to insult the 'gold bugs')
@Jabob that interest rates book sounds interesting from an investing perspective. I've also been meaning to dig around on the mises website sometime, so maybe I should do so sooner rather than later.


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Post by C40 » Wed May 02, 2012 6:14 pm

[You'll have to excuse me for including this non-financial stuff. I want to make a public declaration somewhere, and this is a good place.]
It's time for:

THE GREAT 2012 BODYFAT REDUCTION EXIBITION!
(I would call it a challenge but I know it will go well, so it's not much of a challenge)
I haven't been riding much at all since deciding not to race this year. I've been lifting weights regularly and have gained some strength and muscle size. I've also been eating what I consider a lot of bad food, and excessive food in general. So along with the muscle I've added a lot of fat. Now I'm going to get rid of it.
BASELINE:

Weight: 156.5 lbs
Waist measurement: 33 inches (snug, not tight)
Belly fat: 20mm (!!) (caliper measurement on side/oblique, 1" above front top corner of pelvis)


Back in the middle of racing season I was around 135-140lbs, ~30-31 inches(?), and 5mm caliper. I will get down to 145 or so - due to the extra muscle I now have, and I also don't care to get quite as lean as before.
What I'm going to eat:

Fruit
Vegetables (only ones that can be eaten raw)
Whey protein powder (in vitamix juice creations)
Some chicken and eggs
very little of anything else

I will exercise most days, including cycling, lifting, some running, some hiking.
I'll track those three measurements and post a graph of them at the end of May. I MIGHT post before and after pictures.


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Post by akratic » Thu May 03, 2012 12:56 am

Thanks for sharing this. Can I join your exibition? I've been slacking on my own fat loss recently, and maybe a little friendly competition is just what I need to get back on track.
How tall are you?
What calipers do you use?
Why do you take a loose waist measurement instead of a snug one? Snug seems like it'd be easier to get repeatable measurements on.


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Post by C40 » Thu May 03, 2012 2:20 am

Sure Akratic. It'd be great to have some friendly competition and someone to help drive accountability.
I am 5'9. I have pretty small (light) bones - 6" wrists, so I'm a bit lighter than most people around height with similar musculature.
I use these calipers . I don't think there's anything special about them.
I do take my waist measurement snug.. Just not pulled very tight. Since I am fat, when I measure my waist, when I pull the tape tighter, it compresses/squeezes out my fat and would give an unrealistic measure. Kind of like if you were measuring a Twinkie - if you pull it tight, it just goes in more and more. I pull it tight enough to feel that the tape is up against my torso all the way around, and that it is squeezing in a little bit, but only a minimal amount.


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Post by C40 » Thu May 03, 2012 2:29 am

Good lord, I am at 20% bodyfat by the conversion chart from the caliper company. Using only one skinfold doesn't get very accurate conversion to bodyfat, but it's definitely in the neighborhood.



I'm going to get down to 10mm or less.


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Post by akratic » Thu May 03, 2012 3:14 am

Okay cool, I just ordered the calipers and a heart rate monitor on Amazon. 5-8 day shipping though.
Your measurement explanation makes sense, that's how I do it too. And I measure the fattest part of my waist that I can find, about an inch below my belly button.
This weight loss website is interesting: http://www.fit2fat2fit.com/

a personal trainer who decided to gain 60 lbs over the course of 6 months, and then spend the next 6 months losing it all. Five days until the success or failure of the second part of this is revealed!


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Post by karim » Fri May 18, 2012 1:52 am

C40: Great journal. Impressive how much you've achieved in so little time. Love the charts too. I've done caliper measurements myself, but found them difficult to keep a track off.
I wouldn't necessarily trust the chart form the caliper company, but good luck with the weight loss goals.


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Post by C40 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:38 pm

---------------------------------------
MAY 2012
--------------------------------------
INCOME: $4,619

Take home pay: $2,925

Extra Income: $37 (shirt sales)

401k Contribution: $1,694
SPENDING: $782

Home Expenses: $532

Food: $248

Entertainment: $1,445

Transportation: $0

Cycling/Hiking: $1

Other: $156

Sales: $ -1,600
INVESTMENT INCOME: $ -7,187 (Ouch!)

Interest on 401k: $ -4,390

Interest on Savings: $ -2,797
FI PROGRESS:

Savings rate: 83%

Net worth increase: $ -3,256

Years of expenses: 15 years

Years of expenses at 3%APR: 17 years

FI Ratio: 40%
------------------------------

NOTES

------------------------------
Lots of action this month....
Income:
The IRS screwed up my federal tax... Long story short:
1 - Last year I forgot to use the Making Work Pay tax credit. They noticed, adjusted my tax information, sent me a letter, and added the $400 to my return

2 - This year I made sure to do everything correctly. I mailed in my taxed and my return was to be $4.

3 - I get a check from them for $741. What? Figuring maybe I made another mistake and I would be getting a letter explaining. Nothing else ever came

4 - A month later I get a nasty letter from them saying I have $737 of unpaid 2011 tax. (magically, the amount of extra money that THEY SENT ME)

5 - I call the IRS to talk about it. They were nice. The lady says that I messed up my 1040 form by not using the deduction amount from my schedule A. This caused the difference. She didn’t know why the adjustment somehow got taken back out later or something. She would fix it again. I won’t owe anything. I’ll get a letter saying so.

6 - I didn’t send a schedule A. So I ask her about more details of the schedule A. There is mortgage interest and points on it. I rent. It’s clearly not my schedule A. When I ask if she can see the name or SS# on the Schedule A, she says it is not visible.

7 - It appears they put someone else’s schedule A into my tax documents and mistook it for mine. So I would have to send the money back. There was about $5 of interest and late fee on it which I told them to take off.
So I reduced my income for this month by the $737.
--------------------------------------

SPENDING

---------------------------------------
TRAVEL:
My step grandfather died at the start of the month. So I made an 8 hour drive each way out and stayed for the funeral and a few extra days. My dad, siblings, etc. came out so it was very nice to see them. Step Grandpa had bad alzeihmer’s (sp?) and it was pretty much time to go, so no surprises or anything. Often when I drive I use it as an excuse to buy fast food on the way. This time I did a good job of taking food with me and eating that. The total cost of this trip was $156.
Computer
A new video game came out this month. Diablo 3. I had played the first and second Diablo games, and also World of Warcraft, and a whole bunch of other role playing games. I wasn’t thinking I would play this game as I was pretty sure my computer couldn’t handle it. There’s a guy at work who I saw was taking vacation on the Tuesday that the game got released. He’d taken vacation on a Tuesday last fall to play a different game that came out, so I asked him if this was the case again and yes, he was going to play Diablo 3. He said it doesn’t have very high system requirements. I got a bug and started thinking about playing it. I checked the system requirements and my computer met them. (an iMac). I bought the game on the first or second day, on a whim. It didn’t really work on my computer. They have some specific problem with the game and the video card that I have that makes it even worse than it should be - so it was pretty much unplayable. So I was thinking I had completely wasted $60 on the game.
Instead, I decided to waste even more money on a new computer..... !!
I started thinking a little bit about getting a different computer. (the start of a big downward spiral!!). I checked craigslist and ebay for sales prices on my current computer and found they were surprisingly high. It looks like I could get or build a very nice gaming computer for only a little bit more than I could sell the iMac for. So I found a computer geek on Craigslist who builds and sells computers and bought one of his. $1,000. It looked like I’d be able to sell the iMac for $800 or so, so only $200 for a major computer upgrade.
I’ve been using Apples for the last 10 years and I’ve liked the OS much much better than Windows. The last few years though, OSX has started getting problems. Programs crash now. Things slow down now. So I didn’t have big OS loyalty.
I also had to get software for the new PC.. Here’s what I spent in total:
Computer and monitor: $1,000

Adobe Photoshop elements: $100

Microsoft Office: $150

Mechanical Keyboard: $118
Computer works great so far. Got the keyboard today and typing on it is very nice. Supposedly this should last 10 times as many keystrokes as the normal keyboards. I will be very happy to use Excel at home now since I use it for hours everyday at work and it will be much better to use the same spreadsheet program at home. It’s also significantly better than Apple Numbers. Next month my graphs will look different. I do have some problems with my current tracking file/calculations and need to fix them. (my savings rates are a little suspect at times.. though they are close)
The bad: computer does not have wireless hardware. So I currently have it connected through my iMac, which is on the wireless. My apartment has only ONE phone jack and it’s in the bedroom. So I will either get a phone jack installed in the living room, or move the computer into the bedroom. It will also use a lot more power than the iMac. I’ll see how much this increases my electric bill.
I’ve been playing the game a lot and it is pretty nice. This computer will allow me to play any game out now, plus new games for probably a few years. I feel guilty about spending time playing the game when I could be doing productive things. I guess that’s how life goes though and I still keep a pretty good balance.
My total spending for the month was still very low - because of a bike I sold.
------------------------------

OTHER

------------------------------
Gold:

I bought a little bit of gold and silver. Pretty sweet to have it in your hand rather than an ETF. I wonder some if a guy can go around to garage sales and flea markets and find people selling old silver stuff, which you can then either keep for the silver or sell at a shop. There are videos on youtube by guys who do this. I’m not so confident though. When I go by garage sales around here, it looks like they are all just selling children’s clothes and toys.
Bike sale

How about a little negative spending? I sold my backup race bike. $1,600. Way less than what I spent on it but oh well. I still had three bikes and it might have taken me 10+ years to wear out two of them. I didn’t want to keep so many bikes around. I did need to buy a new rear wheel for the main race bike since I only had one rear wheel for the two bikes. Rear wheel was $183, so that’s $1,400 back from selling the bike. (The $183 wheel cost will show up in June numbers). So the net effect of selling the bike and upgrading the computer will be around $700 positive.
Garden:

The city finally tilled and assigned the community garden plots. I planted spinach and lettuce in mine so far. It appears someone else planted some tomatoes and peppers in my garden on accident. Not sure what will happen with that.
Work:
I’ve been getting too much dumped on me at work. As I’ve been seeing my net worth in years increase - up to ten, and now to 15, I’m getting closer to having ‘Fuck you money’, and I’m starting to be a little more assertive about certain things. So I’ve been telling my boss that he’s asking me to do too many things, and that my quality of work will suffer significantly (thus implying that I will not be working a lot of extra time). In some ways I now have an excuse or cop-out -- Something is going bad? Well, that’s how it goes when you have me lead so many things. Now he’s finally agreed that we need to add someone to give a bunch of my duties to. There’s a good chance this would not have happened if I’d been less assertive, like the mass of people who would be broke within months of not having income.
Also, we're starting to get into a pattern of people coming from headquarters to "Coach" us on some major work we're doing. Most of them are horrible coaches. They are assholes. They've came twice so far this year. The first time was horrible. We told them to straighten up. They were here again recently and weren't quite as bad, but one guy reverted and was offensive while coaching my team. During both of the visits I was pretty assertive and stood my ground so it got tense and awkward for a while. These kind of visits are intended to be motivating and to increase our knowledge of what to do. Both times they've been demotivating and have pissed me off.
I’ve been surprised about how much it pisses me off when people slight me at work. I go through periods of dealing with this better and worse. I’ve been reading stoic material lately and there is advice about this. One thing I’ve noticed is that in Meditations, Aurelius notes this problem right off the bat. He says that every day people will slight him, they will be rude to him, etc. and that he should not get mad at them, not hold grudges, etc.. As I’ve been reading philosophy from 2,000 years ago, it strikes me how little life has changed. People still have the same problems they had then. There are still vices just like before. People still have money problems just like before. People still have the same social concerns, the same quarrels, the same everything. All that’s different is some of the details - mainly technology. Another striking thing is that Aurelius was leading one of the powerful governments in the world (or the most?). They surely had great people running it. Yet there were still assholes. So these kinds of problems with people being jerks, or being underhanded or political (ha) at work will go on at every level in any large organization. Since I have a number of years left at work, and since the same thing happens outside of work - I might as well get very good at dealing with it. I have made pretty nice progress in not caring what people think... but I still get pissed off about it anyways.
That’s plenty for this month. Sorry for writing so much. I guess at least I have titles so folks can read the parts they want.
Oh yeah - my weight loss plans.. That went well... the bad thing was right after I decided to do that and said how perfect I would be - the travel for funeral. It was tough to eat well in that situation so I gained some weight from it, but I still did well. I lost 10 lbs in the first 15 days of the month, and then just maintained after that. I was happy with the decrease. I thought that much would result in being leaner than I actually am. So I still have some fat left to lost at some point. Not certain whether I will lose the rest now or go back to aiming for strength gains.
Before:

157lbs

33” waist

20mm skinfold
Now:

147lbs

31.5” waist

16mm skinfold
I can never remember exactly how I should measure my waist, so my numbers are not all that consistent. The skinfold number is consistent though, and it shows I’m not at ideal yet. I’m happy with the quick 10 lb drop though.

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

CHARTS

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






My first month of net worth decrease in a long time.






Years of living expenses still went up because for the living expenses it used my last 6 months of spending, and this number decreased.
Year to Date numbers:
Income: 31,900

Spent: 4,400

Saved: 27,300

Savings rate: 85%
I have some errors in these numbers though... we’ll see where it comes to when I eventually fix the file.


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Post by C40 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:37 am

I have a plot in a community garden that is very close to where I work. I generally go out and water the garden a couple days a week around lunch time. It only takes about 15 minutes total. While doing this today I thought of two things:
1 - I believe I mentioned before that my coworkers spend a lot of time checking their phones. The current app fad is one where they (well, basically the overweight ones) post pictures of everything they eat. Everyone else who is their friend on the app can see. While they're doing this, I was checking my emails to see if / how many shirts of my designs sold that day and how much money I made from it..
While out watering the garden on a beautiful summer day, It made me smile to think that while my co-workers were getting in their cars to drive somewhere and pay someone else to prepare them unhealthy food, I was going on a nice walk, enjoying the weather, and growing healthy food at a very low cost.
2 - It sure is nice to live close to places you go often. Here are the distances from my apartment to places I commonly go:
1 - Work - 500 meters

2 - Garden - 500 meters, 100 meters from work

3 - Grocery store - 1,000 meters.

4 - Library - 300 meters

5 - Park that has nice equipment for pull ups, dips, etc: 2,000 meters

6 - Five other parks / areas that are nice for reading or relaxing in the sun - all within a 1,000 meter radius.
The farthest distance I travel with regularity is about 4 miles to a gym that's in another town. I don't think I'll renew my membership as the only reason I go there is to dead-lift 2-4 times per month.


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Post by GPMagnus » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:36 am

LOL C40 - if the use of metric distances in the Midwest doesn't give you away as an engineer, I don't know what will! Years ago I was car-less in a big city, but my flat was 400m from work, 100m from a supermarket/open air market (different sides), and best ... 400m from the beach with a 5km boardwalk ... I'd be out there walking for a few hours in the morning or the evening wondering why people paid millions to get beach-front property when they never used the beach ... as for the gym - I'd drop the membership, unless you have a bike and ride in as a warm-up :)


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Post by bigato » Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:05 am

Cool! Congratulations! Nice setup.


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Post by C40 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:57 pm

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

JUNE 2012

------------------------------------
TOTAL MONEY IN: $5,724

Work income: $3,216
401 Contribution: $1,636
Sales: $800
Shirt sales: $72

SPENDING: $1,037

Home expenses: $521
Food: $288
Entertainment: $183
Transportation: $45

SAVED: $4,502

401k: $1,636
Post tax: $2,866

The entire entertainment category is the bicycle wheel I mentioned last month. No internet service because my rate went up so I called and asked them to lower it and to adjust the bill they sent me. The $800 sales category is selling off the old iMac.
I wanted to feel like I was making progress every day. Generally I will think about how much money I’m making at work that day and how I’ll be saving nearly all of that. In addition to this, I created a countdown of days to when I’ll be FI. I picked three years, as I expect that will get me to FI. I have the number on a dry erase whiteboard on the refrigerator (along with my savings progress YTD). Today it is at 1,055.
I switched my finance spreadsheet to Excel and have not reproduced all the graphs. I’ll make more as I go.





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Post by jacob » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:06 pm

One issue with counting days is that as your [unrealized] monthly capital income begins to be comparable to your monthly savings, the day-number will begin to whip up and down with the market.
I will frequently gain or loose more in a day than I otherwise save in a month.
One way to create a stable metric is to count realized income like dividends (unless you're invested for total return in which case this is moot, at least for practical purposes) which are more stable.


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Post by C40 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:24 pm

The day counting is just a way to see (or imagine) daily progress. I don't recalculate the number - I just picked it once and I don't think I'll change it more than yearly or so. I just reduce the number by one every day after work or before going to bed.
As I get really close to and past FI, I'll switch to something like calculating the % SWR I need, or a countdown to expected retirement.


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Post by FreeUrChains » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:14 pm

With all that company matching in your 401k, you will probably be able to make your grandchildren FI once beyond age 65. But make sure to survive long enough, else death Tax takes 25% instantly, then inheritance tax, and anything else the greedy gov takes.


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Post by C40 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:40 am

FreeUrChains - I'm expecting to use 72(t)
------------------------------------

JULY 2012

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


TOTAL MONEY IN: $4,848

Work income: $3,216
401 Contribution: $1,632
Sales: $0
Shirt sales: $0

SPENDING: $1,800

Home expenses: $618
Food: $288
Entertainment: $711
Transportation: $182

SAVED: $3,490

401k: $1,632
Post tax: $1,858


Savings rate for July was 72%. YTD Savings rate is 91%. It’s 84% if I count money from selling stuff as income.
Lots of spending this month! The extra stuff was:

Computer monitor - $500
Car insurance (6 mo.) - $141
3 computer games - $45
Headset (headphones and mic. for chatting with other gamers) - $35
2 Books (About retiring abroad)

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

CHARTS

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




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

NOTES

----------------------------
The monitor I got with the computer I purchased last month was pretty bad so I wanted to upgrade. The computer monitor is a very nice one. It’s a Crossover 27Q-LED-P. It’s a 27” barebones IPS monitor that was mostly intended for sale in Korea. It uses the same screens as the 27” iMac , just the panel is one grade lower – but still very good. It works exceptionally well for photo editing and for the kind of gaming I’m doing. It has nothing but one video input, one button for power, and 2 brightness buttons -- no kind of on screen display for modifications, no extra input ports, no bs of any kind. Just exactly what I wanted. I hope it lasts me a very long time. (more details here. There are other cheaper models using the same screen panels – prices generally range from $300 to $550 – differences are basically the quality of the stand and case, and whether you pay extra to get one with no dead pixels.)
My food spending is too high. I had been eating a very steady diet of very boring food, and got tired of it. So I would buy other food from the vending machines at work, and I would buy fast food – mostly cheeseburgers (Man, Culvers makes a damn good cheeseburger). So I’m going to start eating more of a variety at home. I’m also going to try harder and harder to eat all of the vegetables I get from the CSA. I just get a box of what they send everyone each week, so it’s not things I would go to the store and pick out. Some of it I am not used to eating or don’t like, and some of it I just don’t know how to or what part of it to eat. I’m getting better – and the veggies coming now are more traditional. Out in the garden, spinach has not grown well (too hot I think). I’ve been getting a fair amount of and eating a lot of salads.
I’ve been playing games too much on the computer. I’ve went through phases where I play a lot (and feel guilty at times), and others where I stop playing at all for a week or so. I suppose it’s not so bad, there are much worse things I could be doing. I’ll get my fill of it after a while. I’ve still been spending a fair amount of time outside. Sometimes going for long bike rides (all day), going to tend the garden, reading books out in a park or at a baseball game. There are local teams here of 18 year olds and up that are nice to watch. So I go to watch the games most weekends.
I’ve been thinking more about life after retirement. While I like it here in the US, I’m thinking I also might like to live in another country for some time. So I’ve started looking more at South and central American countries, reading blogs and books and such.


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