JoeNCA's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
JoeNCA
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

My name is "Joe", and I live in Northern California.
This will be my first entry in this journal, which I hope will accompany me down the path of an early retirement - so lets begin,
Background:

I've had a remarkably normal life, went to school, got a job and went to work. And, well... tho I'm supposed to, didn't live happily ever after. Reason? I had to get up every *morning* to go to work. day after day after day. You get the idea. I still do.
One day a mirage appears before you and you realize that you will be *that guy* - the guy that the building janitor discovers over the holiday weekend, hunched over a desk, croaked and smelling bad. And none of your co-workers even noticed that you were *dead* and went home anyway. Unlikely story you say? Well, it really happened right here, in the good ole' USA.
I felt like a lab rat on the stationary wheel, spinning faster and faster and getting nowhere real fast. To feel content, I got more. The more I got, the more I *had* to work and less time I got to spend with anything that I got - which made me feel less content. So in order to feel content... Capitalism is for sadists and this proves it.
I hope to break the cycle. I've realized that I'm no more than a slave so long as I follow the society's doctrine. Better late than never, right?


il-besa
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Post by il-besa »

Hi Joe,

welcome and great to read that you "awakened" :)

One question, what made you open your eyes (a book, a particular event, a person you met...)? And do you have already a plan to change this?
Ciao!

D


HSpencer
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Post by HSpencer »

@Joe
The good news is that your well on your way to fixing things. You have envisioned a better way. Many people have little passion for what they are currently doing. This is not uncommon.

We all need a situation where we pounce out of bed every morning, ready to jump back in and get things moving. Too many people look at their employment as a "Me against Them" scenario. It does not have to be this way at all.

I have seen so many of my friends get married, compete with each other on home size and quality, vehicles, boats, furnishings, and children going to private schools, and obligate themselves into a stupor. All they really wind up with is a look-a-like house on a very small lot, and one or two cars with "upside down loans" for life. Getting more is an exercise in loss. My cardinal rule is to "want what I have, and not worry about what I don't". Financial pressure takes a great toll on people.

Now, I am also a realistic person. Life costs money, that must be earned. It is how one earns it that matters. If you are not yet, I would strongly advise you to get totally debt free as quickly as possible, no matter what that involves you doing.

Once a person lives a year totally debt free, you find you would rather saw off a leg than go into debt of any kind. Living a debt free life is the most liberating thing one can experience.

Keep us up to date on your doings!!! Best Wishes


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

Hi D,
Thanks for your message and sorry for a late reply - I've been on much needed vacation from pretty much everything. (Tho now I need more time off to recoup from the vacation)
To answer your question, I noticed the slippage of time and lack of progress in my life. As much as I enjoy my job, I didn't want to do it when I was 50. So I started searching and found ERE.
While I do not know if ERE will provide the solution for my particular scenario, savings never hurt anyone and it seems a good idea, particularly in current economic climate.
I do have formulated a rudimentary plan and right now I'm trying to see if it's can be implemented.
1. Raise Cash
* Minimize my belongings and sell off all excess and convert to cash. (this includes vehicles, gadgets, sporting goods, etc.)

* Cut luxury (phone, eating out, vehicle related expense)

* Relocate close to work
2. Save More and budget (but keep it simple)

* Contribute maximum to retirement plan such as 401k and roth ira.

* Beef up Savings Account

* Set aside yearly expenditures early in the year
3. Formulate a plan toward retirement and a plan after retirement

* Invest - also seek methods of investing / maintain investing
4. Learn more hands on skills for survival during off times at college (even if it's at basic levels) or clubs

* learn to cook

* learn about soils, gardening / farming / fruit trees (enough to maintain a home garden)

* learn about water (how to find it, collect it, filtration)

* learn how to maintain and use hunting gear

* learn how to build a simple, small sized home or how to maintain an RV

* learn how to generate electricity and generator maintenance

* learn about first aid and home remedies

* carpentry (basic)

* learn about car repair, electrician, welding and other mechanical trades (enough to know what to do, basic levels)

* practice skills in volunteer organizations such as habitat for humanity

* spend more time outdoors in my area and familiarize myself with my surroundings
That's the plan anyway. I'm sure learning will keep me busy. I already possess some skills in many areas, but would definitely like to expand into other areas.
My post retirement plan will be mostly about world travel.


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

Hi HSpencer,
Thanks for your kind welcome and I am looking forward to contribution to and from the ERE community.
I do believe that this site is the next best thing since sliced bread with the gathering of similarly minded folks putting ideas together.
Let us all find our path to freedom. :)


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

What is going on with food prices?
I must admit I do eat out frequently, but not fast food.
A hunger struck me late night and I ended up at a drive-thru of a local fast food place. A meal and an additional sandwich ended up costing over $10!!!!!
The same stuff mere 4-5 years ago cost $5-$6. Why such a difference?
After giving it some thought, my hypothesis is that there is a middlemen imposing "tax" to the general population.
If you haven't seen "Food, Inc." go see it. According to the documentary, corporations are now changing the genetic blueprint of each agricultural produce in order to patent and "own" them.
They are levying farmers, each time they plant seeds. Any farmers caught saving seeds are met with lawsuits. Even if farmers stick with public seeds, a contamination by Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seed(s) results in a lawsuit because of the patent!
This is totally bass-ackwards. In my opinion, it is driving up food costs, because we are forced to pay off the middleman every time seeds are planted. And as if we're begging to kick us while we're down, we are forced to consume genetically altered man-made sh** that I wouldn't touch with a 10 ft. pole, let alone feed to a common house cockroach.
Clearly, the best solution is to by-pass the middleman and go straight to the source - buying directly from local farmers that stick with public seeds that are not genetically altered.
I've decided to research this for my area. There may already be websites listing farmers as well, I do not know.
But days of paying ridiculously high prices for sh** are over for me.


jacob
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Post by jacob »

A lot of it depends on corn/wheat prices. The world's food supply is stretched, so prices are volatile. Food is similar to oil now.

Food is, in fact, quite connected to oil since oil is involved is all the machinery and gas is involved in the fertilizer.


JoeNCA
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Post by JoeNCA »

You're quite right about that Jacob.
The fertilizer, actual production and transportation of food all depend on oil because our agriculture is mechanized.
This also means there will be food shortage without oil.
There have been many recent articles about smart money investing in farmlands. Do they know something that we don't? (who knows)
I've never really been the one into food-coops and such but perhaps now is the right time to find out what's available locally.
IMHO, it does not hurt one bit to examine alternatives to this national food system that is literally plagued with disease and ill-health effects - hitting the headlines every few months.
I feel that I will know what's going on better with a grower in my town, supplying a smaller group. And a smaller group can identify and deal with issues much faster and better than a gigantic food monopoly controlled by few corporations.
Simply put I hate paying more for lower quality.


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

Investing ideas and camera lenses
I love photography.
It is a newfound hobby that grew exponentially within a short time span of just two and a half years.
In that time I realized quickly that photography required deep pockets.
This was painfully realized when I sold a newly purchased camera at a 50% loss a year later. And when I purchased a brand new lens and lost 25% of the value immediately.
Since then, I drastically changed my approach to photography equipment purchases, which are, unfortunately needed to take photos.
It was sometimes possible to spot and purchase used lenses locally at exceptionally lower price than the going rate, due to various circumstances of the seller.
I was able to then use the lenses for a while, evaluate them, and if it wasn't a keeper for various reasons, sell them on ebay for profit.
With some luck and persistence, constantly monitoring nearby markets I was able to make enough profit to cover the purchase of another lens (used of course). Essentially, this lens was free.
I now own several lenses that were paid with profits earned this way.
Not only are they a joy for me to use, I don't worry about dropping them or scratching the lens, etc., which releases me and allows me artistic freedom.
I know that I will not be able to purchase the "three kings" immediately, (professional lenses that costs in the upwards of $8,000 as a set) but continuing the process, with some luck and persistence, I will be able to own them - for free. And for as long as I want.
Lately I've been thinking about the current (stock) market. And realized that the same principle can be applied in the (stock) market.
I knew from experience market sometimes offers good quality, high dividend paying stocks on the cheap because of market inefficiencies - whatever they maybe.
I realized that I could purchase them and profit. Normally I'd close out my position completely. But I realized now, that I should just leave the number of shares equaling the profit in the market.
I would be "collecting" high quality, dividend paying stocks the same way I collect camera lenses. I would essentially own them for free. And they will continue making money for me in terms of dividends.
The best part of this is that I don't have to lose sleep at night keeping track of their share prices, or worry about them meeting guidance, or worry about fed rate cuts, etc. The shares could go to zero and I could care less. What is there to worry?
I love photography.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

"Normally I'd close out my position completely. But I realized now, that I should just leave the number of shares equaling the profit in the market."
That's one of the approaches I use. I think it's highly effective. For dividend payers, I modified the plan slightly such that the shares kept equal the profit from trading plus what would be 2 years of future dividends.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

I think the cost to dine out has risen mostly from the increased labor costs in California, Oregon, & Washington. State minimum wages in these states are tied to inflation and are significantly above federal minimum wage.
Skipping dining out is the ERE answer :-)


JoeNCA
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

George, avoiding eating out - that sounds about right :)
Though I do believe that the house of cards are about ready to fall, probably within my life time.
So another approach maybe to enjoy it while it lasts.
http://thehousingtimebomb.blogspot.com/ ... -with.html
With almost 14 trillion dollars in federal debt alone, already exceeding our national GDP, I do believe that US will eventually default because creditor nations will no longer be willing to accept the dollar as a payment - since the faith and the credit of the dollar comes from the ability to tax the people of the United States and the "cow" (US tax payers) is running dry.
There are many assumptions made in kicking the can further down the road to avoid paying the piper. But the real kicker, IMHO is this - what makes the current idiots in power to think that the future generation would even be willing to assume the debt that is not of their own making? Why should the future generation honor the debt? And what happens, when they don't?
But before any of this happens, I think California default is most likely, probably within the next few years. Already the California Munis have been falling off the cliff. Of course Kalifornia is one of world's top 10 economies, so does that mean it's too big to fail?
Where have I heard that one before?


JoeNCA
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Post by JoeNCA »

Here's an article that reflects my sentiment about the current market exactly (disclaimer: this is my OPINION of the current market and is NOT an investment advice.):
http://thehousingtimebomb.blogspot.com/ ... broke.html


JoeNCA
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

I was going through a stack of un-opened mail pile the other day and noticed an old mail from the Social Security Administration:
In a nutshell, SSA stated that I was eligible to receive future monthly payments of xxx amount per month because I had paid yyy amount in the past years working.
The xxx amount wasn't particularly impressive as quick calculation revealed that it would have barely kept me above poverty level, so what's new? But when I glanced at the yyy amount, I couldn't help but chuckle. The tax paid was well beyond six digits and as a matter of fact, it would have allowed me to exceed my target ERE amount by a significant margin.
#$%@!! :)


JoeNCA
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:58 am

Post by JoeNCA »

*Moving Closer to work*
My current situation is that I live in a suburb 25 miles away from work. I commute by a commuter bus to downtown everyday. It makes for an 11 hour workday. Trade off is that I live in a safe, newer neighborhood.
The monthly cost breakdown for rent and transportation is as follows:
Rent+fees+utilities - $1,000

Commuter Monthly - $150

Truck Monthly - $500

Insurance - $170 ($2000 yr / 12)

Gas - $250 per month average
Total: $1,900 / mo.
Total without truck payment: $1,400 / mo.
Total cost for next 5 years: $1,400 x 60 = $84,000
It's a lot. And a lot of waste.
I have been able to find an RV Park about 1.5 miles from work. As luck would have it, RV park is located within a walking distance to a grocery store (around the block) and my work (1.5 miles away). And there's even a bowling alley right next to it. I guess it's a trifecta. But it's an older neighborhood with much property crime. The monthly costs are as follows:
Monthly space lease - $380

Utilities (water+sewer+garbage) - $35

Electricity - estimated $20 (?)

Propane (10 gal.) - estimated (45/mo. winter, 15/mo. summer) $30/mo. avg.

Commuter Monthly - $0

Truck Monthly - $500

Insurance - $170

gas - estimated $160/mo.

Travel Trailer - estimated $6,000
Total: est. $1295 / mo. + cost of travel trailer $6,000
Total without truck payment: $795 / mo. + cost of travel trailer $6,000
Total cost for the next 5 years: $795 x 60 mos. = $47,700 + $6000 = $53,700.
A second option is to rent an apartment. There is an apartment rental with utilities included for $760 / mo., 4 blocks away from my work. But grocery stores are further away and will require some driving. It's also an older neighborhood with both property crime and increased violent crime, being that it's downtown.
Monthly Rental: $760

Commuter Monthly - $0

Truck Monthly - $500

Insurance - $170

gas - estimated $160/mo.
Total: est. $1590 / mo.
Total without truck payment: $1090 / mo.
Total cost for the next 5 years: $1090 / mo. x 60 mos. = $65,400
Hmm.
This is quite a shift in paradigm.
Move closer to work and eliminate transportation - thereby eliminating cost for insurance and gas. Savings realized is... extreme.
Of course, not having a car is unrealistic in our city.

A moped? A rental car? Hmm.


George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

> Of course, not having a car is unrealistic in our city.
Why is it unrealistic if work and groceries are within walking distance? What else is needed (rather than wanted)? Is there a taxi service that could be utilized for the occasional need?


S
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:02 pm

Post by S »

Not having a car should be possible in almost any city once you are that close to work and grocery. For the rare occasion you need to go somewhere too far to walk or bike, could you take some sort of transit? Rent a car? Take a taxi? Ride with a friend? Try this while you're still figuring it out at first: park your car a mile or two from your home. It's still available if you really need it, but you'll be encouraging yourself to learn the alternatives. After a month or so perhaps you won't feel like you need it anymore.
Currently I'm living in a tiny town with no car and tons of snow. I walk 1.5 miles to the grocery and take (free!) bus anywhere farther since I haven't mastered snow biking yet. When I lived in a major city, I biked anywhere within 15 miles, took the train to the burbs, and rented a car for long trips or heavy loads. You can do it! :)


Ralphy
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Post by Ralphy »

I'll second S's idea of parking far from home - it's been a good tactic for me. I get paid mileage compensation for using my car at work, so I've just been leaving it there and walking the mile back and forth from home. When it's time to get groceries or run other errands, it's usually less of a hassle to just jump on the bus or ride my bike (less so in the winter).


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