Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Thanks for all the great feedback! That is why I am here.
This might not be a popular sentiment around here, but I think it's positive that you're loosening your belt a little. There's a psychological cost/toll that comes with being too frugal. Where that line falls is different for everyone -- for me, it was trying to sew my own underwear out of lace and old t-shirts.
Thanks! I'm not surprised that someone here tried to make underwear from old t shirts but I am surprised that you would bother with the lace. That is great. I've done some sewing and underwear would be a pain.
I dunno, it seems like you could fix your underwear/shoe problem for the next year or two using e.g. 10% of your monthly grocery spending or ~100% of the alcohol/bar category for one month; so maybe that [underwear] problem gets undue focus. Perhaps/likely this is due to priorities, but "holy" underwear/shoes are not at the margin of my priorities---I would have looked to reduce most of the/your other categories before the holes became an issue.
You are absolutely right. Making good choices is part of my problem. Shoes are probably going to cost me $110 for two pairs. Underwear probably $25. I could find that money somewhere easily, but I also feel like cutting too far in other places isn't really a sustainable solution given my partner's needs. If I push too hard on standard of living things I get pushback. It feels like any further cutting is going to cause damage I can't survive.
GdP, one of my lessons on this journey: the stash is there to serve me, not the other way around.
I do need to stop stressing about it so much no matter what happens.
Yeah, I've been in the mid-accumulation malaise for awhile. It's frustrating too, because I know if I just spent the time to truly incorporate an ERE systems approach, and get spending down to somewhere near 1K a month, I'd be FI. Yet I don't put in the effort. I even thought about instituting a strict budget, for more motivation, but that has the inherent problems you wrote of above. Besides, that type of thing is taking a step backwards.
I think we are on the same page. I'm not sure where to cut that isn't messing around at the edges. I know what I would need to do in order to get the numbers right, I just seem to be unable to make the leap. I guess I just want all this shit (car, phone, internet, interesting food and drink, etc.) more than I want to not go to work. It probably really is that simple.

The "mid-accumulation malaise" sure is real when the savings rate is too low. I'm jealous of the people who have managed to push past this plateau and get to the mountaintop quickly.
The other lever you can pull is "earn more income" when you're burned out on the saving lever.
That's kind of where I'm going with the marketing stuff. Maybe it's a last-ditch effort. My attempts at getting my career to the next level have not worked.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I bought some new shoes yesterday. They were the same pair I've had for a couple of years only in a different color. They were $70, up from $65 when I bought them last time. They seem to hold up well though.

I also bought a coffee maker ($23 with a reusable filter) and a five pack of boxers ($25). Both these items were nearly the cheapest available so I'm a little concerned they won't hold up. I should quit coffee and go commando.

I've got some more things to attend to but this has improved my day to day already.

cmonkey
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by cmonkey »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:23 am
I've got some more things to attend to but this has improved my day to day already.
That's awesome! Agree with the others, frugality should improve your life not the other way around. There's also the BIFL consideration here, many items that would last a long time of of great quality and would bring pleasure to your life. Spending a LOT of money on something that will last a long time and is of great utility is a great example of being frugal.

For example, back when I was gardening a TON more than I am now, I didn't have good footwear for the job and my feet would get wet. So I went and got a nice pair of muck boots that will last many many years and are super comfy. I got lucky in that they were $20 as well.

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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by jacob »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:31 am
I could find that money somewhere easily, but I also feel like cutting too far in other places isn't really a sustainable solution given my partner's needs. If I push too hard on standard of living things I get pushback. It feels like any further cutting is going to cause damage I can't survive.
Ahh, I think I see your problem then. I think dynamic is not entirely unusual when people have somewhat different ideas of what the optimal system is like, whether it's money, clutter, health, child rearing, ..., or saving the planet for that matter. Your partner (or other people in general) does something that in your view is suboptimal (punching a large hole in the hull of the ship), so you feel compelled to compensate by increasing efforts in your department (fixing a few tiny leaks in the ship) only rationally there's no way your low-ROI efforts will be enough to correct the high-ROI fix that's unavailable to you. Down this road leads burnout and the risk of resentment, ... but also acceptance or fatalism... and even some level of hope. It's a tricky path to navigate.

In practical terms, I'd recommend replacing the shoes and the underwear. It makes it easier to be patient. Also nice socks :mrgreen:

In particular, it's possible that by walking around in broken shoes you're sending the wrong signal about frugality. People will see and use your smaller efficiencies like the shoes---or in my case the lentils and the DIY detergent---as an example/excuse to avoid looking at some/most of their own much larger inefficiencies.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

There's also the BIFL consideration here, many items that would last a long time of of great quality and would bring pleasure to your life.
I agree, and there have been times when I've taken that approach (tools are a good example). In this case I've tried expensive running shoes and they wear out faster because they are made to be light for performance reasons. I don't run much so I try to use the shoes for running and when they start to be a bit used up switch to wearing them around casually. That way I get as much use out of them as possible.

I tried to go BIFL with the coffee maker by buying one of those pour over coffee makers that has a permanent filter built in. It became clogged with minerals within a few weeks of buying it. Vinegar wasn't able to make it work again. I've considered buying some CLR but I'm not sure if that is food safe.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Your partner (or other people in general) does something that in your view is suboptimal (punching a large hole in the hull of the ship), so you feel compelled to compensate by increasing efforts in your department (fixing a few tiny leaks in the ship) only rationally there's no way your low-ROI efforts will be enough to correct the high-ROI fix that's unavailable to you. Down this road leads burnout and the risk of resentment, ... but also acceptance or fatalism... and even some level of hope. It's a tricky path to navigate.
You are absolutely correct, and I do like the ship analogy. In this case my partner at least wants to get to the same port but is just less concerned with when that happens. For me it is a top priority, for them it is more something that is happening in the background without much thought as to how it's going. Also, (I'm having trouble keeping the ship analogy going here) their bilge pump (income) works about 10% faster so a bigger hole is not so much of a problem. I maybe have been going through burnout and resentment you mention and am moving on to fatalism. :|

One thing I've been neglecting in this discussion is that I've been doing an average of $125 per month of house remodeling for awhile now. Eventually the repairs should stop and I should start getting months where the house doesn't require any money. There may be some worse months coming up but eventually the house expenses should stop which will help me get back to where I need to be. It's at least a good investment that is likely to pay off later.
Last edited by Gilberto de Piento on Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

March 2019

I spent more than I would have liked to due to a plane ticket, car insurance, and house repairs.

Just for fun I categorized my expenses below by "Fixed" and "Not Fixed." Obviously fixed and not fixed are different to different people but I thought this might help me think about what I realistically can control and how low my expenses are likely to get without me changing the fundamentals (unlikely).

I know I said earlier that I would take my business expenses and income out but I haven't had time to work on the spreadsheet yet.

Expenses
Fixed (Expenses that I am probably not going to be able to change)
Auto & Transport 200.7 (Six months car insurance)
Bills & Utilities 114.3 (Electricity, natural gas, water, high due to cold weather)
Business Services 27.98
Gym 39.04
Internet 23.73
Mobile Phone 23.61
Mortgage & Rent 790.73
Not Fixed (Expenses I have more influence over)
Charity 45
Groceries 299.54 (Always around $300 now, still need to look into this)
Home Improvement 143.24 (Still doing repairs)
Pharmacy 21.28
Sports 53.73 (Replaced worn out shoes and shirt)
Travel 307.76 (Plane ticket and housing for a future vacation)
Total -FI 2090.63

Income
Paycheck 2684.09
Amazon 48.66
CafePress 27.06
Checking 8.52
457b 1430.06
Total +FI 4198.39

Savings 2107.77

% Spent 49.8%
% Saved 50.2%

SWR 9.6%
SWR with Internet Income 9.3%

Years Remaining 9.6
Years Remaining with Interest 5


The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.
Antony Jay

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Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

It's getting more and more difficult to go to work. It's also getting more difficult for me to accomplish anything while I am there. Unfortunately no one is going to pay me as much to do anything else and I am nowhere near retirement so I am stuck for now. :x

I recently reread and took notes on the book "The ONE Thing" about prioritizing. I've made progress but I need to work more on prioritizing the actions that have compounding results rather than doing things that might be useful but not really important. I also need to work on doing the tasks that I think are important, not always thinking of everyone else first. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_ONE_Thing_(book)

Pamela Landy: The objectives and targets always came from us. Who's giving them to him now?
Nicki: Scary version? He is.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

April 2019

A weird month. I made a lot of money on internet ads which should have made for a great savings rate. Instead I spent so much that things were just passable. That said, technically this month I was FI again, at 4.0% SWR, if you count both estimated stock market earnings and real internet earnings. My net worth is higher than it has ever been at $271,000 in FI assets and $358,000 in total assets (thanks stock market). I again have about $10,000 in cash that I need to invest soon.

I divided last year's property taxes by 12 to get estimated property taxes for this year and will be including that cost every month from now on to smooth it out. It distorts my numbers when the whole bill hits in one month. It will make it that much harder to have a "good" month though.

Expenses
Auto Insurance 198.56 (six months)
Bills & Utilities 93.19 (going down since winter is over)
Business Services 46.15 (sites renewed)
Charity 5
Clothing 152.83 (replaced some seriously worn out shoes and clothes)
Doctor 15
Gas & Fuel 38.47
Gift 4.48
Groceries 283.1 (for May I am saving all my grocery receipts to see what is going on here)
Gym 39.04
Home Improvement 207.77 (still working on the house. It is a good investment at least.)
Hotel 31.16
Internet 23.73
Mobile Phone 23.53
Mortgage & Rent 790.73
Pharmacy 32.69
Restaurants 38.47
Sports 25.65
Taxes 358.31 (This includes both annual income tax as well as the estimated monthly property taxes mentioned above)
Total -FI 2407.86

Income

Paycheck 2684.09
Amazon 21.11
Internet Ads 1491.72 (Great, though likely a one-time thing.)
Checking 8.90
457b 1430.06
Total +FI 5635.88

Savings 3228.02

% Spent 42.7%
% Saved 57.3%

SWR 10.7%
SWR with Internet Income 4.0%

Years Remaining 13.7
Years Remaining with Interest 7


Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.
Irma Kurtz

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classical_Liberal
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Isn't amazing how just a little extra income tilts the SWR! Great work with the side gig, even if it is an outlying month.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

May 2019

Holes are still being punched in my financial ship faster than I can repair them. The ship isn't sinking but it is now moving very slowly.

Expenses
Alcohol & Bars 10.76
Bills & Utilities 85.76
Business Services 66.32
Doctor 350
Fast Food 16.51
Gas & Fuel 7.05
Groceries 312.72
Gym 39.04
Home Improvement 585.06 (repairs, furniture)
Home Insurance 306 (six months)
Hotel 73.1
Internet 23.73
Mobile Phone 23.53
Mortgage & Rent 790.73
Restaurants 5
Taxes 182.33 (estimated monthly property taxes)
Travel 295.45
Total -FI 3173.08

Income
Paycheck 2684.08
Amazon 54.6
Internet Ads 203
Checking 0.14
457b 1430.06
Total +FI 4371.88

Savings 1198.81

% Spent 73%
% Saved 27%

SWR 15%
SWR with Internet Income 13%
Years Remaining 32.6
Years Remaining with Interest 11

If you stand with one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat you are most likely to get wet.
Anonymous

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Gilberto de Piento
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Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I don't take it too seriously since it looks like a bump in the market but I'm happy to announce that I am now above $200,000 in my tax advantaged account and above $60,000 in my Vanguard account.

I'm also sitting on a lot of cash. I hate to do it but I'd like to get a better car. My current car is OK but it's getting up in miles and I don't really trust it for long distance travel anymore. I might as well sell it while it is still worth something and get something better. I'd like to get a Toyota or Honda but they are very expensive.

I'd also like to start depositing cash monthly into Vanguard. Unfortunately I'm not sure what I want to do with it. I used to be on the Bogleheads/MMM bandwagon and went with VTSAX (all US stock index). Then I bought into a US dividend fund index based on discussions here. Now I'm looking at the general trends and thinking I want something exposed to the whole world rather than just the US, maybe VTWAX. I would probably roll my other Vanguard funds into that too but I need to look into the implications of doing that. Thoughts on this?

My personal life is horseshit, though I don't want to get into more details here. I bring it up only because it is nice to be able to mention it to someone. Working on getting help but blocked so far. No pity needed. Anyone ever tried a "life coach" or similar?

bigato
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by bigato »

If it's something related to emotions, trauma or relationships, i'd go for a good psychologist instead

classical_Liberal
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:36 am
Anyone ever tried a "life coach" or similar?
@FBeyer is doing something along those lines, maybe shoot a PM?

I've also found letting my dirty laundry air out in my journal to be extremely helpful. It's therapeutic to write it out and then read it later when my mood changes, plus a ton of good advice from people on here. Although this assumes general life woes, not clinical depression or the like. If that's the case, I would agree with @Bigato.

Congrats on the financial stuff.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Thanks for your replies. I think maybe I need help from more than one source given the varying nature of my problems. I don't think one person is going to do it.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by SavingWithBabies »

For the mineral clogging problem (coffee filter), get some citric acid. Unfortunately, it seems most financial prudent to buy a near lifetime supply however it is excellent for descaling hot water heaters and the like. I was even able to use it to get a mineral stain off of our toilet bowl. It's food grade and I've tried to find actual food uses for it but haven't so far. I purchased it on Amazon in a 1 pound bag -- it comes in a dried form similar to sugar in consistency.

FBeyer
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by FBeyer »

bigato wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:37 pm
If it's something related to emotions, trauma or relationships, i'd go for a good psychologist instead
Emotions and relationships are the working tools of a good coach. Trauma, not so much.
I've worked with traumatized clients with very good results. One client literally told me she got more out of two hours with me, than 7 years with her psychologist. Some of that most likely boils down to personality issues -the client needed a kickass coach not a cuddly coach- but there was also an aspect of not rummaging around in a bloodied past, as opposed to working on getting in a good mental state, and harnessing that to move forwards.

The difference between what a good coach can do, and what a psychologist can do, boils down to whether the client INSISTS on keeping up a destructive pattern of behavior. You can be is a shitty-as-fuck spot, but if there is even a slight spark of willingness to change, a coach can help you.

You don't need to work through your past to improve your future, but if that's what you'd like to do, then consult a psychologist. A coach doesn't care how you got where you are, only where you want to go, and what resources you have available to get you there.

I understand the coaching profession is riddled with snakeoil salesmen, and I can tell I have this weird need to use the term A Good Coach, every time I just want to write the word coach. But honestly; those fuckers aren't coaches at all, so there is no need for the prefix really, we have a different word for those people :D

Aaaaaaand I'm done ranting in other people's journals. :lol:

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

SavingWithBabies wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:48 am
For the mineral clogging problem (coffee filter), get some citric acid.
Thanks for the tip! In the spirit of not throwing good money (and time) after bad I decided to just get rid of the pour over device.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

FBeyer wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:10 am
Aaaaaaand I'm done ranting in other people's journals. :lol:
Thanks for the rant, I appreciate it! I'm going to work out what I really need help with and go from there.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

June 2019

I brought in some extra money but due to extra spending on home repairs and an increased phone bill my spending was high so my monthly numbers are not good.

Paying the phone bill early was the right thing to do even though it makes this month look bad. I got two months free by paying for a year in advance. I could spread out the costs for the purpose of the journal but that's not my style.

I'm still working on the house. I'm doing it all myself so I'm not spending that much and it will definitely make the house worth more (it already is worth a lot more if you believe Redfin, Zillow, etc.) but it has been taking up all my time and energy. I still have a lot of work to do but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

I'm not too happy overall though. I can't stand my job any more but I am not really seeing any other jobs that make sense. I feel like I work all the time but I'm not making progress fast enough and I'm not really going in a direction that I'm very excited about.

I've got some more spending planned for July. I need to take a look at my car and maybe get someone else to check but I think it needs new struts and some other maintenance items. Last night I saw a brand new, big, black Mercedes with the plate "52 wk hi." Hmm.

I still need to set up a recurring monthly purchase with Vanguard to invest my cash.

Expenses
Alcohol & Bars 10.62
Bills & Utilities 103.79
Business Services 27.98
Cash & ATM 40
Clothing 49.51
Doctor 85
Fast Food 23.39
Gas & Fuel 93.91 (not sure why this is so high)
Groceries 105.08 (didn't have to pay for much of my groceries this month, not repeatable though)
Gym 39.04
Home Improvement 509.12 (still working on the house)
Internet 23.73
Mobile Phone 236.8 (12 months)
Mortgage & Rent 790.73
Restaurants 6.21
Sports 28
Taxes 182.33 (estimated monthly property taxes)
Total -FI 2355.23

Income
Paycheck 2684.09
Amazon 39.15
Internet Ads 493.04 (a good month for internet ads)
Checking 10.54
457b 1430.06
Total +FI 4656.88

Savings 2301.65

% Spent 50.6%
% Saved 49.4%

SWR 10.2%
SWR with Internet Income 7.9%

Years Remaining 12.6
Years Remaining with Interest 6


On either end of the social spectrum there is a leisure class.
Eric Beck

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