ERE in Finland

Where are you and where are you going?
Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:26 pm

Two years, nine months on ERE: no debt, 30K in investments.
Progress: 14K since last year

I'm not very happy with my progress since last year, but the reasons are apparent. This was my first year ever being employed for 12 months straight, and I got lax with budgeting. Also, I've made few big purchases.

My work requires making house calls, and I don't have a car so I travel by bus/walk. In January, we had two weeks with uncommonly cold weather -30 celsius. I purchased a goretex down parka which cost ten times more than my previous coat (I paid 650 euros) and I love it. I have worn it every day since and every time I put the coat on I just feel so smug because I don't have to care about petty things like chilly wind or getting rained on...The difference is notable, and I'm spoiled for life.

I changed my phone into smart phone model and paid 450 for new one. I have a plan of switching all family calls and texts into WhatsApp messages, so this will likely save money in long run, but I could have paid much less for a smartphone. Cheapest Lumia models are 40 euros, like my work phone which I hate. My main reason for this purchase was that Marshall phone was pretty. Yes. I'm sucker for things I find pretty, and then I get mentally stuck on those, and can't make myself to switch for cheaper alternatives.

I also spent a lot of money on clothes last spring and summer to establish a professional wardrobe. It worked fine - until this spring when I noticed that my strength training has had obvious results. The dresses which had great fit last autumn now leave red marks on my shoulders because stupid armholes are too small, or can't fit over my forearms at all. My t-shirts, especially those with slightly longer sleeves (to hide saggy arms) are starting to look they're next. It's ridiculously funny, and I'm proud, but it means I have to take my whole wardrobe to seamstress for alternations and ask her to sew me two new dress shirts because ready-made ones don't have enough width in shoulders. It's not going to be cheap... And the part when wearing my work clothes actually hurts is not fun.

Like I wrote in my last update, I hired a personal trainer because I felt drained and unable to plan anything. It has worked very well. I went from zero pullups to three unassisted. I got six push ups on my knees and now I regularly do thirty, and it's easy. I can do pistol squats. My weight has remained the exact same number, but now I have visible muscles and sharp cheekbones. I'm still quite shocked at how hungry I feel all the time. I can eat normal breakfast and evening snack, a restaurant lunch and Subway sandwich in one day and not to gain any weight. I have no idea on how many calories I burn daily, and I like it! I knew that strength training increases metabolism, but knowing it theoretically and actually experiencing it are two different things.

My contract with personal trainer is ending, and I've decided to renew it. It's expensive, but three weeks without weekly meetings did not go well. It seems that as soon as something comes up - hard week at work, children having flu - my willpower wanes, and I just don't go. So I budgeted for another thirty sessions. I have also changed gyms. When I started, I could work out at my workplace gym, but it lasted only for two months because they didn't have weights heavy enough or a proper squat rack. Then I switched to municipal gym, which has great equipment and costs 2 euros/visit, but the opening hours don't work for me. I can mostly train in the morning before 8AM, and the municipal gym opened at 11AM. In February, a new commercial gym opened within a walking distance from my apartment, and it has opening hours from 5 AM to 11 PM. Cost is 30 euros/month. It's been a good choice.

My work is taking me to places nationally, and I'm still secretly wide-eyed at that. This spring, two of my science idols have offered to help if I wanted to write doctoral thesis on subject relating to my work, and I'm considering it. I have wanted to do that eventually (just to get sword, hat and title. Studies are free) but I don't know if I'm willing to do that right now. My career is going upwards very fast, and it is satisfying because things I can do with my clients are genuinely good and necessary for their well-being. I'm working on a small scale social reform which is growing bigger because it suits current political climate, and for my idealist INTJ nature is thrilling to watch the ripples when my idea spreads. I'm building a system, and it's beautiful. I'm cynical enough to know this won't last, but if I can take this far enough, something will remain. Right now, we can ride the waves, and crusading social work is enormously enjoyable even though it requires a lot of effort.

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun May 01, 2016 1:36 am

This month I have been thinking a lot about power.

I'm 33, and the organisation at my workplace is going through a major upheaval. It is likely to be positive for me, because I have good relationships with my bosses and I'm fullfilling a niche which answers to current political demands. I have been at my job for a year, and I've realized that I have moved into a position which seems to be the starting point for unwritten career advancement ladder. Snooping around LinkedIn and reading the cv's of my superiors has revealed a pattern. 3 years working in a project -> then moving away from client work to administrative position -> in five or six years, a position in executive group.

The downside of it is the revelation about doors this choice closes.

I didn't have a teenage rebellion, because I couldn't afford it. I lost both my parents when I was child, and I was too occupied by trying to survive and take care of my younger sibling to have time for anything else. Then I got chronically ill when I was 16, and spent a lot of time in hospital until the issue was fixed with major surgery when I was twenty. And then I had to have kids, because the surgery made it likely I wouldn't have been able to get pregnant if I had waited too long. When it comes to relationships, I'm careful and extremely picky. I'm not very social, but when I find someone who suits my preferences, I'm certain and catch him. That's why I've ever kissed two people, and later I ended up marrying them. Terribly INTJ. I don't regret my choices, because if I was placed in same situation again, I would still make the same choices. But I acknowledge the cost.

The cost, this time, is somewhat different. It's like playing a role in theatre. Certain clothes, manners, make-up, being thin or at least normal weight, exercising. Thinking carefully what I say. Being careful. Calculating.

If I have to pick between having no power at work and having some power at work, I prefer the latter. It saves me from much frustration and boredom, because the work is more interesting. And I find the unwritten rules of workplace advancement fascinating in social sense. It's like moving into different, very unfamiliar group of people who all know each other but have little contact to outside. People who never bothered with me are suddenly interested in what I do, and I'm asked to hold lectures about my work. Three events this month. People whom I used to admire as a student are offering to assist. I'm climbing upwards socially, and it feels very strange. Sad, too.

I was the first member of my birth family to get higher education. When I was five years old, I remember my grandmother buying linen for "when you go to university". She called them dowry, and it wasn't joke for her. My family has a history of being working class poor, choosing the wrong side in civil war, and I was always supposed to do better. For years, I felt like I had failed the task, and now suddenly the situation changed and I didn't fail. But it's foreign, and I don't always want it, but I can't go back either because I've changed too much. My uncle called last week, drunk, and he was beaming because they had read from local magazine that I had applied for a job and he said that he didn't know I had so many (two) fancy titles. He was proud, and then he was sad, saying that now I can never go back to countryside because I've changed too much. Actually, I hated living in the country, but it feels sad that both of us feel the same thing. I was raised to become different, and now I am, and it means I don't think the same way anymore. Education does it to your brain, opens mind to things and ideas which exist outside the daily sphere. I could not be happy living in a small village and gossiping about missing dogs, planting new trees and neighbour's lost driver's licence. But sometimes it makes me lonely, too. And sad because my children don't really understand where I come from. They are hopelessly middle class creatures.

frihet
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:33 pm
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Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by frihet » Mon May 02, 2016 8:24 am

Thanks for sharing your story Rouva. I like your strategy to "enjoy" work place politics more. It's for sure à game . :D

Also touching to read about your drunk relative being sad that you can't come back to the countryside because you've changed. My mum is from northern Sweden and my uncle still runs the family farm up there. Sometimes I wonder how it would be to move up to the country side but I think like you that I would not stand the lack of privacy!?

As for the ERE just let the years work for you an you'll get there........

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:30 pm

The summer has been interesting, to say at least. My ERE plans were momentarily disrupted by one of the children becoming seriously ill. The child had to be hospitalized for two weeks, requiring an adult at home for whole summer, and a second hospital stay of two months is going to be required later in the autumn. At least this isn't USA; we got compensation of 60% for lost wages and the hospital bill was 150 euros.

The whole ordeal has been mentally exhausting for me, and I haven't had enough willpower left for saving. I have nothing to show for three months,and now I feel marginally better, I'm attempting to rein myself in again and stop doing retail therapy. The health problem is something I've anticipated for years - just didn't think it would happen so soon - and one of the reasons why I decided to do ERE. If we had two cars, nice house and debt, this would have been much bigger mess than now. I was able to float this financially despite the loss of wages, and didn't have to touch my savings.

I have a summer leave of two weeks coming up in September, and I'm waiting for it so much. The kids are at school, my husband returns to work, and I'm looking forward some alone time. Recharging is definitely needed.

vraxxos
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:36 am
Location: UK

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by vraxxos » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:26 am

Don't get too disheartened if you go off the rails. In our situation where you have a partner and children, it is inevitable you will have bad months. It's easier said than done, but I think you should just forget the two bad months (you can't change them anyway) and focus on the 3 years where you have made wonderful progress.

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Aug 19, 2016 1:10 pm

vraxxos, thank you for commenting! It's so easy to become blind to journey behind me when I'm staring forwards and panicking like a deer facing car lights.


Poverty sucks, and I find myself afraid.

I originally learned to budget after my divorce. I was 26, still in university with income less than 800 euros monthly and two toddlers to feed. Because they had health issues, I couldn't work. Now, I could do much better with that income, but back then I didn't have any hardcore thrifty tricks in my sleeve. I remember days when I cried, because the kids were potty-training and I ran out of cleaning solution for the unavoidable messes, and I couldn't get rid of the damned smell. There were several days at the end of each month when I ate nothing but homemade bread because I had just enough money to feed the kids if I didn't feed myself. I lost ten kilos that autumn. All the crying I did for divorce helped to keep the appetite in check.

It got marginally better next year when I got carer's allowance, but for next five years, I lived with a budget where I could not pay a reservation fee for library books I needed for my studies and pay the postage for my friend's birthday gift during the same month. My monthly income was around 1200 euros. 500 euros for mortgage, 500 euros for household costs and groceries and 200 euros for everything else. Getting the second master's degree was pain to budget, even though the fees were nominal compared to other countries.

Fast forward eight years. I have been working for last 18 months. I have no debt and 36K in savings.

This month, my ex announced that he can't pay the child support, and must lower the amount for 100 euros because he broke up with his partner and the mortgage is too expensive.
A disability benefit of 200 euros monthly ended, because we couldn't schedule a meeting with doctor soon enough. We'll get the money back later, but it will likely be in December.
Then one of kids broke his glasses. Luckily, only the frames needed to be replaced, lenses were intact.
Then the same kid got sick again, and I had to take 4 days off work without pay.

With unexpected loss of 800 euros, my budget went off rails, and I panicked. It's ridiculous and sad, but I actually could not sleep because I felt frightened and anxious. I cancelled everything from my weekend holiday to haircut, and when my budget showed I could save 700 euros this month after the cuts, I slept like a baby.

Now I won't have a holiday, and I feel annoyed about it, but if I have to choose between sleep and holiday, I prefer my sleep.

My husband is much more laid back about his budget. But he hasn't experienced what it feels like to be poor. I think that having children in that situation made it much worse for me. My oldest was three at the time, and it took four years before he stopped worrying about money. It was not nice, or fun, or particularly glamorous. Honestly, it sucked.
My child's health issues are frightening me, because I don't want to stop working again. I don't want to go back to living like that. I want security. Ironically, the way to get that security is to go back to strict budgeting, which highlights the issue, reminds me of how terrible it was and makes me afraid.

vraxxos
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:36 am
Location: UK

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by vraxxos » Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:12 pm

You absolutely do not need to be afraid. From what I can see since you started your log, you have control of money in your life, the money does not control you. You have 36k in savings, you are an educated woman, you have your head screwed on.It sounds to me like you have had many obstacles in life, but you have always overcome them. You can an will continue to do this in the future.

Noedig
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:15 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Noedig » Sun Aug 21, 2016 6:28 pm

Rouva,

A moving journal entry there about your life and its trade-offs.

You have put considerable thought into your posts, the language is clear and well chosen.

I hope that your life and budget both gain more slack, so that you can relax a little, and choose to save or not. Discipline is good, but so is leading a good life.

Best wishes.

BTW there is an outside chance I will have to work in Helsinki: I might then have to check with you the truth of Internet statements like "The Finns are uncomfortable with and do not respect smalltalk - it is mere chatter". "If a colleague Finn likes you, they will invite you to get drunk, and/or go to a Sauna". These seem far fetched to me: Time may tell!

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: Rouva's journal / Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:07 am

vraxxos and Noedig, thank you for your kind words.
Noedig, both those statements are true!

Feb 2017. Current savings: 47k

The situation with my child's health issues is stable, now. The condition is chronic, but the medication is working, and things are calmer now at home. Ironically, now that everything is "normal" (our new normal, I mean), I've been feeling very tired lately. I know it's normal reaction to prolonged stress, but I'm unhappy because I don't have energy to do things which I normally enjoy, like music or writing fanfiction. I'll get there back eventually. I developed a nasty tension headache which flared up every single day when I got tired, and had to start treating it with Azzalure (a botulinum toxin). It's 300 euros every three months, but I'm willing to pay it for painless existence since it works very well for me. As an added bonus, I got rid of my forehead wrinkles. Ha!

With my child's illness, reaching FIRE has gone from priority to pure necessity. Now I need to support two of my children throughout their lives, and my ability to work will be always compromised. It sounds harsh, but I prefer not to sugar-coat the facts. At work, I've met so many families with similar problems that I know how things are likely to go for us.

I've found new hobby, makeup. I never really got it before, and only started to get interested after I finished my capsule wardrobe project. After some hits and misses, I've figured out which products work for me and what I like. I have two foundations, eight lipsticks, three eyeshadow palettes, one blush and so on. It's enough to give variations to play with and learn new things, but not too much. I think the limit for me is that when I look at the mirror in the morning, I can tell which shade of my lipsticks would work with the outift I've put on.

When I first started saving money towards FIRE, I was happy with my appearance as it was. But now I would not feel content with the way I looked before, because I like my current appearance better. I like having a nice hair and getting complements from people I don't know, and I find makeup a relaxing hobby. Amusingly, there is a very ERE-like learning curve here, too. For first four months, I went to cosmetologist to tint my lashes and eyebrows. Then she had a baby and stopped working, and the new cosmetologist wasn't as good. So I taught myself to do it myself, and now I've gotten so good at tinting my lashes and brows that I would never pay anyone else to do it. Same thing with makeup, or facials, or manicures. I've enjoyed the learning curve very much. It's nice feeling to become skilled something, especially when I never thought myself any good at drawing or painting.

It's surprising to see ERE mindset in a hobby which centers around buying things and using them up. The brushes, for example. I have some good brushes and some less good. But I would not buy more, because then washing them would get annoying. Eventually, they will start performing badly and then I can replace them. I don't like buying new products, because I'm particular about colours and how the products feel on my skin, so I tend to stick with something I've liked. That keeps the value of my makeup bag in reasonable sums.

I keep an Excel file of products I have, what I have used up, and my opinions on the products. It's very interesting to see how long they last. A lipliner, used 5-6 days a week, will last 9 months. A 30ml moisturizer costing 5 euros lasted me a month used once a day, while a nicer moisturizer costing 38 euros lasted six months with twice a day applications. I'm currently panning an eyeshadow I like the least, and it takes ages. Seeing how long it takes to use up a product certainly turns me a picky buyer. It's no use buying something I don't love if I'm going to be stuck with it forever. The stores here do not accept returns like in USA.

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:15 am

March 2017: no debt, 50k in investments

I reached 1/4 milestone of my goal yesterday. My original plan was to save up 200 000 before 2022, when I can no longer work full-time, and then just to sit on the money and let it grow while I support myself with my caregiver's allowance and part-time work. I'm a year behind of my original schedule, but it's still achievable.

Children continue to throw curveballs at my budget. The child I'm a caregiver for, got sick and I had to take a day off from work, unpaid (-100 euros). Now it looks likely he has an ear infection, and our local health clinic didn't have any available appointments. They never do. I swear, we have the crappiest local clinic in whole city because we live in a poor area with lot of immigrants, elderly and alcoholics -> they have hard time finding doctors willing to work here, and getting acute appointment is hopeless. I have to take him to private clinic, which is easily -80 euros, plus antibiotics, so today's total is 220 euros for missing work and getting him treated. My son's disabilities make it very hard to tell if he is in pain, since he can't speak, and he's terribly afraid of having his ears checked, so I'll need to hold him still for the doctor. This is a reminder that I really should take up my strength training again.

wolf
Posts: 588
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by wolf » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:00 am

Keep on going. Don't let anybody or anything distract you from your goal. Stay on track and you'll reach your goal. Today I have first read your journal and I like it because it's also a bit about Finland, which is a beautiful country in my opinion.

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:56 pm

MDFIRE2024: Thank you for your encouragement!

The office power games continue, and I'm moving to new position in August. One of the projects I'm working at is tanking (frankly, it was obvious from the beginning and progressed to alarming stage two months ago) and I don't want to be there when it happens. So I called up favours and pushed things in motion, and now I'm leaving to another unit to focus on my specialist subject. More work, more difficult work, and no immediate raise, but staying would have been worse. Unfortunately, I feel quite drained now. Scheming requires lot of planning and effort, making me exhausted in a long run, and I'm not fully comfortable with the consequences of my career ladder progress. Impostor syndrome, anyone? That's what you get from growing up in working class and doing extremely well on white-collar job.

Yesterday I visited the ministry first time. They wanted to interview me on my specialist subject. The building had a shiny marble toilet, but the towel roll had ran out. I found it quite ironical. The peak of my career, and the bathroom of my 70s Soviet-Style apartment has better facilities although no marble. This is a prime example of why I'm having hard time adjusting. I was raised to believe that institutions such as ministry or parliament are something especially fine and unreachable, and only Very Important People ever even see the building from outside. And when I get there, what's the message I'm passing to my children? Well, children, the ministry has really crappy toilet and they don't even offer you a drink of water even if they expect you to speak for two hours. If you have to go there, bring a bottle with you. :roll:

I have one week left at work and then a summer vacation for a month. I originally planned to have my vacation in late summer, but it was a choice between having it now or not having any, thanks to job move. I feel a pressure to relax and unwind, because returning to work means getting to know new people and navigating more office politics and more visits to new places with shiny marble bathrooms. A pressure to relax is contradictive, but I fear that if I don't plan something, I end up vegging in front of my computer for four weeks and come back as tired as I'm now. The new vacation date doesn't work with childcare or any other arrangements I had planned, and that probably adds to my stress.

wolf
Posts: 588
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by wolf » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:53 pm

I am also going to have vacation soon. I try to simulate my FIRE lifestyle when I don't work. Usually I travel, but this time I want to try how it feels if I stay at home and do things in my surrounding during my vacation. Maybe if you think about some activities in order to have structure, purpose and community you will enjoy a great vacation and relax. Don't stress yourself though. It is your vacation. It is your time.

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:40 am

MDFIRE2024: I usually have staycations. I hope you enjoy yours :)



Vacation has made me much more aware about material costs of my job. I went through my wardrobe and decided that I have to put away my favourite dress after two years of use because it's starting to look worn. The fabric is noticeably paler around the seams, and it's something which can't be fixed without dye. Even that would be only a temporary solution, and the end result could still be horrible. When I started the journal here and did not work yet, we had "three holes in a garment-> trash"-rule in the house. But now I went to department store and paid 150 euros for a new red sheat dress to replace the worn dress in my capsule wardrobe.

I read "Your money or your life" few years ago, and even though I found their system tiresomely detailed, I agree about hidden costs of choices. I make marginally more money now than when I was a social worker, but the salary increase is easily eaten by the increased grooming costs . My department is led by women, and they are the best-dressed people in the whole organisation. (There is interesting correlation between different departments, actual power and clothes at my workplace. I find it fascinating.) I've found "looking the part" extremely useful in my career climbing endeavours, and I'm not going to switch back to thrift-store t-shirts even if it would be cheaper. Instead, I attempt to keep my wardrobe and makeup costs in reasonable sums by buying intelligently, looking for sales and following the capsule wardrobe principles. I had my colours done professionally two years ago, and I've found it extremely useful tool. All my clothes match, I don't own lipsticks which make me look like a corpse (had one as a free sample yesterday, and I was surprised to see how bad it looked. Gifted it to my daughter, who has cool colouring and it was lovely on her) or make bad purchases.

One practical example of chain reaction costs is skincare. I use over-the-counter retinol serum, since it kills all zits and gives me a luminous skin. After the initial purge period, it's been great. On the downside, retinol makes my skin more prone to burning than usually. (Which is quite a lot, since I'm NC10-15. Hurrah.) I have to use sunscreen, and I recently tried to switch sunscreens because my old one was too expensive and I got sunburn despite it. I picked Biore sunscreen which is widely acclaimed and cheap, and got painful acne. Then I had to buy more sunscreen since Biore obviously did not work, buy a new jar of more-expensive-but-definitely-safe moisturizing cream, and a bottle of BHA to clear my skin. Without retinol, I would not have needed any of that.

What I'm saying is that working in my current position is pushing me towards the less perfect choices in many things. I don't have enough time to do things in most efficient way, or other circumstances prevent making the best choice. I have to accept it, and redefine some of my expectations to get through this work project and have some kind of life outside work, too.

I love fanfiction writing, but it requires at least eight hours for a new chapter. If I'm feeling stressed or drained, I can't write, and the stories are my most important source of relaxation. This spring, I spent many evenings just sitting at computer and feeling stressed for feeling too stressed to make anything. I don't want to leave unfinished work, because it adds to stress. I decided to set a goal of finishing my current stories during this vacation and focus on something else. I'm loath to give up a hobby I enjoy, but it's not feasible to continue this with my current workload. I will come back to writing stories after I'm done with the project (and FIRE). It's better than feeling upset about something which should bring pleasure.

Another thing I've decided to redefine is exercise and diet. I've gained weight this spring (reading my previous journal entries, it seems to happen whenever I'm stressed at work) and I want to get it off. But I don't want to start counting calories, because it would be one thing more I have to focus on. I decided to try a different approach.

Starting from May, I've practiced Lean Habits by Georgie Fear. She's a registered dietician and the book is available at Amazon. So far, I've nailed two habits. The basic idea is to start from first habit and practice it until it feels natural and doesn't require conscious effort. One should work on a habit at least two weeks before adding a second one.

Eating 3 meals in a day and waiting until I'm hungry for 30-60 minutes have not changed my weight, but I have noticed changes in my appetite. I'm feeling much more calm, and my hunger isn't so sharp. I'm losing my sweet tooth and my craving for caffeine has lessened. I used to eat 100 grams of candy every day, but now I can go several days without, and for last two weeks, I've been unable to eat my usual portion on Fridays when we buy sweets for everyone at home. I pick few candies and then give the bag to someone else. This morning, I was unable to finish a slice of cake because I simply didn't want to eat it. Also, my caffeine intake has gone down for 50%. I drink two cups of black tea in a day and that's it. I seem to require less sleep.

Another thing I've changed is my exercise. I like strength training, and I've had good results from working out at gym. Training 4 times in a week would be ideal, but it is not something I'm willing to commit to right now. I've tried, but this spring I've been unable to keep a constant schedule. I terminated my gym membership, and started training at home, but it didn't help. 10 000 swings challenge wiped me out and after two weeks, I had no energy for anything else. Pavel Tsatsouline's Simple & Sinister gave me great progress results like ability to do Turkish getups with 16kg bell, but even that turned me into a zombie for the rest of the evening. If I trained, I didn't have energy left for anything else.

I think I've found a compromise with Zgym. It's online streaming service with different progressive programs and several new workouts every week. Mostly HIIT/bodyweight training, and the workouts range from 5 - 30 minutes daily. Subscription costs 10 euros in a month. I've enjoyed the workouts more than I expected, and most importantly, I've been consistent for over two weeks. Doing something new every day keeps my interest fresh, and the workouts are hard enough to make endorphins flow despite the short time. I've developed odd hate/love relationship with burpees and the insane amount of squats I'm doing, and the madness has spread to my six-year-old who insists on "training" with me every single day.

This type of training is not ideal for my goals, but it's something I can commit to. Even if I had an exhausting day, it's hard to say no for ten minutes, and ten minutes are better than doing nothing. I'm not the type to enjoy light exercise like walking a dog. I want to lie in the pool of my own sweat and be happy I didn't die. Zgym delivers that. There are free videos with HIIT training, but I don't want to spend time looking through Youtube and trying to decide if the workout is too easy/hard/long/the instructor annoys me/whatever. So I've judged 10 euros a reasonable cost for establishing a daily exercise routine. When I'm done with FIRE saving, I can start to think about gym and my goals, but right now they are not a priority.

I hope that by streamlining all these things I could achieve a reasonable work/life-balance. Last month, I succeeded to meet my minimum savings goal of 2000 euros to stay on the ERE schedule. It would be easier if I could switch jobs, but my project is tremendously important for me because it will cause a major change in disability services and my disabled son's future. If I do this right, he and all others like him will have a real chance to make their own choices and actually meet their needs like they should be met. So I simply will have to push through, and put my other interests on hold until it's done.

Rouva
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:27 am

July 2017: 55K

I met a work buddy yesterday. We celebrated her leaving one of my former offices, and now I have a slight hangover, meaning I'm sluggish. My alcohol tolerance has really gone downhill with age. I can notice the effects of even one alcohol dose on the next day - I'm more tired than usually despite sleeping well, and exercise feels harder - and now I had five. I think last time when I had more than two drinks was in January (outing with another friend). Note to self: stick to two doses at maximum if drinking can't be completely avoided.

It looks like I'm just able to meet my saving goal for this month. I'm not pleased, because I've racked up a credit card bill which is much higher than I'd want. In March, I set a goal to reach 70 000 this year, and after three months of careless spending, I have to bump my savings rate up to get there. Currently my savings rate is 58%, but I need to get it to 72%. I'm confident it will work out, because I've done this before. Having a clear goal number motivates me, and channeling my work stress towards saving instead of clothes and cosmetics is much better solution in long term. So I aim to get 70 000 this year, and 100 000 in 2018.

Drawing from investments is not viable way to live because Finnish taxation is very harsh. The tax rate for investment income is 30%, and 34% if investment income is over 30 000 in a year. The taxes for earned income are progressive, and a better deal until one reaches the median income. The median income for private sector is 3 193 euros / month, but 2707 euros for a municipality employee like me.

My salary is 3000 euros in a month, 2100 after taxes. Taxes include compulsory pension contribution, unemployment insurance and health insurance. For those not familiar with Finnish pension system, here is a short description. Since I also work as a carer, I get 285 euros from that. The rest of my income comes from child benefit (everyone who has kids gets this from government, and it scales up with the number of kids), disability benefits (meant to compensate for extra costs of long-time disabilities and conditions) and child support.

My goal isn't retirement when I reach 200 000. I will just stop the active saving then, and look for a part-time job, or start a business so I could manage my own schedule better, but I will continue working in some manner because I like it. Three or four days in a week would be ideal. I see my savings more like a backup stash. I could live on my current income even without work, but the balance is precarious. Any large bill, like a hospital stay or unexpected delay in payments could cause a mess, and small income also limits the available choices. When I was full-time carer, we had to pass opportunities we would have taken if the money wasn't an issue. I want to be able to pay reasonable, beneficial costs for my disabled son since he won't be able to earn the money on his own. For example, there is a boarding school for disabled people which is very nice place. We've spent several weeks there in previous years, and it has always felt the kind of place my son might enjoy a lot when he grows up. The school has their own stables, and a swimming hall, and the village around the school is very accepting to different people. The fee is 500 euros a month, including studies and boarding. I'd happily dig into my stash for something like that, but it means I need to have a stash to begin with!

My ERE plan is save money now, when I can work full-time, so I could draw money from the stash for life quality costs if my ability to earn money becomes compromised later due to carer duties. ERE money is not meant for daily living costs, but for things I really, really want to have/give, I'm unable to finance otherwise and which would make a great difference. I'm not going to pay for anyone's wedding, or guarantee a loan since I firmly think the kids should save towards their own goals, so 200 000 is likely more than enough. If nothing like that school idea comes up, or I can pay the costs from regular income, I'll just sit on my savings and let them grow. I think it is the most likely scenario. I'll probably end up with a million when I reach the official retirement age of 68. Considering I'm not going to stop investing the extra money after I reach my goal, it might happen sooner.

Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Jason » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:03 pm

Good luck on getting to your Finnish line.

Rouva
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Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:13 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Rouva » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:04 am

Jason: Thanks!


Revelations and a quitting date

My summer vacation is over. I went back to work this week. On first day, I was sitting in a meeting with my new boss and another person, and two things she said really resonated with me. We were discussing whether I should continue being responsible for a certain task even though it no longer relates to my current focus. When I pointed out that my schedule is already quite packed for next two months, she looked at me and said snappishly "One just has to adapt!". And then, few sentences later, she bragged how she has already promised to work on one weekend next month because she is so busy with work. We are not paid for working on weekends, so she's doing it for free.

Something switched in my mind. I would understand this, if we were working for some big company and she was on CEO track, or trying to become a shareholder, but this is a municipality which pays crappy salaries even compared to other municipalities. She is not going to get anything tangible from her extra work. No money, no raise, probably not even a manager position since she's only substituting for another person on maternity leave and there aren't so many manager positions available.

Investing on something and not getting any return is just bad investing. And I'm not going to do it. Next day at work, I set my project to end in December 2020, and decided that date is my last day at working for my current employer. I'm not going to play in a sandbox where good work is rewarded with more work, simply because they know I can do more than others and the people who should do the task don't want to. Or where my superiors are openly bragging about acting like idiots. Because that means they expect the same kind of idiotism from me, and with my family situation, I'll never measure up to their standard. And I happen to think their standard is dumb. I'm never going to work for free.

Earlier this year, I was approached by two people from work about starting a company. We held a initial meeting in May, and spoke about our goals and ideas a bit. The guys are good at hands-on work, and they want me to join because they are lousy at managerial stuff and playing the office game. Basically, they want someone who "speaks government" and would enable the company to succeed in competitive tendering. I've had a sole propietorship before, and I was also a part of a start-up but withdrew when I decided it was not going to work. I liked working for myself, mostly because I hate being stuck in a office from 8 - 16 even if I finish all my tasks by midday. This new business idea is in social services field. It ties very closely to new system I'm building in my project, and if the pending legislation goes through, the earning potential is good. If we established a company, it would never going to become something which would earn millions, but I expect the profits would be enough for three people to earn comfortable salaries.

So I've decided to continue negotiations with these two people. We're taking it slow, since hurrying does no good at these things and we can't start before 2020 anyway (waiting for legal changes). If it doesn't work out, I'll set out on my own, but I've decided I'm done with civil servant career.

So dear new boss, thanks for this revelation. It feels very good. It's Sunday afternoon, when I usually get the Sunday Dread (weekend is gone! I'm not relaxed yet! I didn't have enough time to do fun things!), but I'm feeling quite serene. I guess that having a quitting date is good for one's anxiety levels :D

After the project funding goes through, I get my raise and a work contract until 2020, I fully plan leaving my phone at work every afternoon when I go home. Just because I can.

wolf
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Location: Germany

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by wolf » Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:02 am

Rouva wrote:
Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:04 am
My summer vacation is over. I went back to work this week. On first day, I was sitting in a meeting with my new boss and another person, and two things she said really resonated with me. We were discussing whether I should continue being responsible for a certain task even though it no longer relates to my current focus. When I pointed out that my schedule is already quite packed for next two months, she looked at me and said snappishly "One just has to adapt!". And then, few sentences later, she bragged how she has already promised to work on one weekend next month because she is so busy with work. We are not paid for working on weekends, so she's doing it for free.

Something switched in my mind. I would understand this, if we were working for some big company and she was on CEO track, or trying to become a shareholder, but this is a municipality which pays crappy salaries even compared to other municipalities. She is not going to get anything tangible from her extra work. No money, no raise, probably not even a manager position since she's only substituting for another person on maternity leave and there aren't so many manager positions available.
Great story and experience, I guess! Thank you Rouva for sharing it. It makes me think of my job as well. Sometimes in life I think there are others who can teach you a lesson, although they didn't intend to, like your boss. And I think there are many lessons everybody can learn just by observing, watching and thinking.

I hope your vacation was also great. Mine also is over. Keep on saving for your independence year 2020. :-)

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: ERE in Finland

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:13 am

Awesome Rouva! It is funny how a lot of people in startups and the private ventures really want people from the Public Service. :D

Best of luck and hopefully the next three years go by quickly.

Noedig
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:15 pm

Re: ERE in Finland

Post by Noedig » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:38 pm

The nuances of politics at work can be involving, or tedious, or both at once.

You described a classic "signalling" manoeuvre by your new boss: "I am very busy. You can't be as busy as me because I am already busier. And more important! But you should try!"

I guess that the task you are wanting to shed belongs to the old doomed project. Good luck with cutting that link.

This new business idea sounds interesting. I hope your prospective partnership, in public-private social care or whatever it is, materializes and gives you freedom and a better match of your talents to the workload and your family responsibility-pleasures.

When I last read your journal it seemed possible I would get a contract in Helsinki. That did not work out due to timing, another offer crystallized first and I have been working only 4 miles from home in London. A shame. I have a sudden desire, to sit in a sauna, and get drunk! I will have to see if a hot bath followed by a stiff gin&tonic is a sufficiently good substitute.

Good luck with your evolving work situation, and finding an antidote to "Sunday Dread", of which, close to 9pm on a Sunday, I am definitely in the clutches. Off to have that bath!

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