Smelly Swiss Dilettante

Where are you and where are you going?
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Smelly Swiss Dilettante

Post by Jean » Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:18 am

Hello everyone,
I've been reading for a long time, and as I grew frustrated of not participating i created an account.
I think I could be FI right now trough landlording, but I want to finish my PhD.
And maybe also pay my mortgage first, because assuming that it will stay at 1.4% forever could be too optimistic.
I ride a 46/17 fixed gear, I like hiking, playing music and cross-country skiing, I mostly lose time on old videogames, sleeping, cooking and drinking
My goal is to be happy with some woolen cloth, a supply of canola oil (or any other fat) and fresh water.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by 1taskaday » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:10 am

“My goal is to be happy with some woolen cloth, a supply of canola oil (or any other fat) and fresh water.”

I love your goal - how far away are you from achieving that?

On a scale of 1 to 10 on a happiness index,(on average over time),where are you?

I think ultimately my ERE goal is tied in to the idea "and then I'll be happy ... ".

I now realise this is a fallacy, there is only the "present" and why can't I just be happy right now.

Why wait? If I don't change in the "inside" and achieve happiness/contentedness in my present circumstances, there will be other things preventing happiness when I retire.

There will ALWAYS be things to upset our "happiness/contentedness" if we allow them ,I think the trick is a state of constant "happiness/contentedness" whether working or retired.

So I really do admire your goal and wish you luck achieving it, as I have realised, that this is also my goal and ERE or the acquisition of money to reach ERE is just a side issue.

Maybe the wesite name should be changed from "ERE"to "EHE"-Earlyhappinessextreme ...

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by GandK » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:21 pm


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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:53 am

I'm happy most of the times, but sometimes, I feel desperate for no reason. Well start to think it's corelated with a lack of sleep.
But overall, I think happyness is just what evolution found to make you do things correctly.
Discovering that you can hack your brain with chemical to be happy convinced me about this.
So I mean having enough skills to be confortable with some woolen cloth and fat.
But I don't try to be able to stay happy without having friends, or to stop wanting a huge family.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:59 pm

I will use this as a journal because I don't want to creat an other topic. If an admin wants to move it, I'll appreciate.

I came back from holliday and figured out that I probably wasn't going to derive a lot more value from travelling. At least, permatravel is no longer something I may want for retirement. This means that if I ever want to travel again, I'll simply find a way to earn the extra money needed before leaving.

It considerably reduce the capital I need to retire.

Right now, I own a small old house. I have a 85'000.- Chf @ 1.4% mortgage on it. I think the house is worth beetween 2 and 300'000.-, but I may be wrong. I bought it for 115'000.-

I now work as a research assistant, and am 1 year away from Phd. My supervisor just figured out that I was very reluctant to write anything in a publishable form (I'm glad he did, because I knew it for a long time but wasn't able to say it myself for any reason), and told me that I could simply not write anything and keep working there. This would mean giving up the Phd. Then, my only motivation to keep going to work would be the money (not so needed but still usefull), the satisfaction of finishing the project (I care to some extent), and my awesome bike commute (I still could bike anyway).

My passive income right now is 400.- per month (I lend one part of the house)
Monthly expenses are:
100.- Interest on the mortgage
200.- Health insurance
60.- Utility (20 of electricity and 40 of fixed cost for the water and trash managment)

It leaves 40.- for food, entertainement and unplaned expenses. It isn't enough.

My plan is to give up the Phd, and cut my occupation rate in two, down to 40%, in order to finish the project I'm involved in, or if this extra free time makes me satisfied again, keep working there, but no latter than when I could sell the house without paying huge taxes on the profit.

If they don't let me cut my occupation rate, I'll just quit and start doing random job when I want to (this should be more than when I need to).

I have some idea about what to do with my time, and the house costed me so little, that I'm not its prisoner: it is still a good investment, even if I only lend half of it and live somewhere else. (It should yield betweem 1500 and 3000 a year and it took 30'000 to buy it)
I would like to do some physical work (cutting trees or bike messenger), and maybe live abroad (I have Norway in mind), or in the wood for a while.

I think I'm in a good situation, I'm quite conviced after writing this. If anyone here think I'm wrong, please warn me before I make a woman believe this and get her pregnant.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Dautsen » Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:31 pm

Jean wrote:If anyone here think I'm wrong, please warn me before I make a woman believe this and get her pregnant.
Haha sounds like you're going to run for a random lady in the street and knock her up with the help of some ERE hypnosis, for the sake of having some legacy in this world :D

You should definitely quit your PhD if it makes you unhappy and doesn't offer any positive prospects or added value for your future. New opportunities will come along your way. The less attachments you have, the easier you can get around life. Were you able to cut back on the work?

If I were in your position I would try to get rid of the mortgage as fast as I can. That seems to be your only concern for now. How long would this take with your uni job? This timeframe would also mean you can be ERE by then. What a bright future :) I would keep the house if renting out offers enough money to life ERE abroad or deep in the woods and maintenance/landlording isn't too much hassle. It also offers income in your currency, which is interesting for investing.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:31 am

Well, things changed a little bit.
I'm still on my PhD, I still own the house.
About the house, the situation looks great.
I didn't get anyone pregnant, but I met a very intersting woman.
She moved in so I don't rent any part of the house anymore. She pays for grocery.
So, she isn't enthusiastic about living at 6°C in a house with 50 years old inside stuff (i mean the fake floor, roof and wall) (the house is 180 years old). Which mean that I'll do a lot of work on the house this summer.
Since I bought the house last fall, i saved 13'000 CHF in a tax deductible account (you can deduce everything you put in from your taxable income up to 6500 a year). and about 10'000 in cash.
I plan to use the cash to renovate the kitchen and living room (with an heating floor), build a new bathroom, and insulate the house.
This should put the value of the house up to 500'000 CHF and it could rent for 1500 CHF a month.
Neither me nor DGF intend to live there forever.
My only concern is to reimburse or sell the house before interest rate skyrocket (don't know if this is possible).
So financially, everything is great. I should be free to do anything I want soon.
If we stay together, I'll live in relative luxury, but affording it won't be a problem because she likes working. And that's enough money for two person to go traveling by bike anyway.
If we don't, I'll have too much money.

I'm more concerned about my PhD.
I still don't enjoy it, even if I'm only working 50% now. I wrote a publication which got refused (i'm writing a publication Phd). I am still really reluctant to work on those pubilcation
I really don't need it. Odd jobs are very well payed, and I have the house anyway
Not finishing it will just close the door to working in a real company. Everybody tells me it's a bad idea.
On the other side, I don't know what to do with my life. I did a lot of music recently and would like to do more. And I like traveling and gardening.
I just fear that retiring before even starting a career would leave me bitter. Bitter about the fact that I wasn't able to suceed profesionnaly.
Even If I get to play music all the time and get recognitions from doing some concerts.
I'm an INTP (about 0,100,40,70, were 0 is close to the middle and 100 completly clear). I don't know if this "never had a real job" situation is going to be an issue for me.
But I can't imagine a job situation (as an engineer) where I'm happy. Even if I'm good at conceiving and modeling things or system and enjoy doing it.
Right now, I'm trynig to stay on both the house and the PhD, but the house clearly has the priority.

I would just like somone to clarify for me what it will bring me to finish this PhD, because I personally don't know.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by DrSweden » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:10 pm

To finish or not to finish the PhD, that is the question. The main question is can you get a job without finishing your PhD, or is your education just for doing research? What do you love to do? Could you for example work as a teacher instead?

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:32 am

It is very easy to find a job in switzerland.
The PhD is mostly for academic research. But not finishing it may stay on my record and hinder me in finding and engineering job. It's just that I can't imagine a job in a company where I'm happy about it.
I don't like teaching because I don't see the point of what is taught at school.
I just don't know how much quitting my Phd is goig to haunt me in the future, and that's what I consider finishing it, even if I don't see the point of it.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by ashe » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:42 am

Overall it sounds like a really good situation! It sounds like you are hitting a hump in your PhD work, considering you might have 1-2 years left it might be a good idea to do what you have to do to finish it like you are reluctantly doing.

There must have been a reason you originally wanted the PhD? Consider completing it an exercise in endurance and ability to overcome a personal obstacle, much like surviving in the wild, and other challenges.

In my experience it also takes a while to move onto the next thing, so while finishing it you could plan for what to do next ..

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:26 am

Things got even better.
I have 6 week to write a first draft. Otherwise, I have to leave.
I see it as a training in "sit down and write something".
I think it is the most usefull ability I don't have.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:13 pm

I decided to quit.
Apparently, I'm not able to sit down and write something. At least not about this subject.
Failling on something I was expected to suceed is not such a bad virginity to lose.
Same goes for going against every ones advice.
I'm glad I found my limit in one direction I can now explore some others.
I will try to work in tree falling whis winter.
Before this, I will be full time on renovating my house.
It doesn't look so bad.
I just fear that this decision may turn out to be wrong. I haven't announced it yet to supervisor, boss and family.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:54 am

I did quit.
I have the house to keep me busy for a while. I should have enough cash for this year.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:03 am

Quiting was an excellent idea, I felt much bether during this last month than I used to while writing my thesis.
I just applied for a real job, because it seemed extremelly interesting and it should make 6 figures.
So it seems worth waking up at 6 for a few year.
I'm not dependant on getting this job, this is probably a good basis to get it.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by George the original one » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:54 pm

So far, so good!

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:19 pm

Job application didn't suceed.
Back to the original plan of renovating the house, doing oddjobs (lumberjack?) to pay for the construction materials and the beer, living it easy for a while doing music(I'll start singing classes tomorow !!) and design project (I think we're better suited for working together than being a couple with my GF), then sell or rent the house for FI.

Saving as much as possible and buying an undevalued house when opportunity arise is really a good way to freedom. At least in a low interest rate country. It probably requires some luck too.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:53 am

As I'll get my last paycheck at the end of the month, it's a good time to put down the numbers.

1 house
13000 Chf on a 3rd pillar(swiss equivalent of a 401k, sort of)
6000 cash
about 100g of gold
1 other person living in the house paying the food for both of us for free housing

85000 chf mortgage at 1.4% (97.5 a month of interest, already payed for until the end of 2015)
I'm supposed to pay utility bills and maintain the house in a state sufficient for the other person to live in it (100.- a month)
When i go in town, I lack the will to don't buy an occasional beer or sandwich (200.- a month)
Singing classes: 240.- a month
Health insurance at about 180.- a month
further house renovation (still 2000.- to go for this year)

which mean that I need about 10'000.- CHF until the end of 2015. Without selling my gold, I have about 5000.- available. In addition, it would be nice to max out my 3rd pillar (6700.-)
this would require 3-4 month of full time work if I want to keep the same lifestyle.

I have two other options:
Sell the house, stash the profit (between 0 and 300'000 CHF), move to iceland or Norway and camp.
Rent the house, this should net between 500.- and 1500.- CHF, and stay in switzerland, to do mountaineering and work on my voice.

Which leads me to the other subject.
I started taking singing classes. This is really awesome, I never felt this about anything before. Usually, working to get good at something seemed pretty pointless to me. Even for activity I really enjoy like rockclimbing, training specifically seemed to be a silly idea. Climbing is fun, but to be the best climber around is not something I can be enthousiastic about.
Objectively, it's the same about singing. But mastering complete control over my voice is something i wish to put all my energy in.
So to sum up:
Financially, I'm good, despite I'm not completely free, my options are more than acceptable to me.
I found something I really want to do, not just a time killer, like traveling.
Health is fine.
I'm just having troubles about the person living with me. It used to be a love relationship. It isn't anymore. She is now a good friend, we still have some plan together (leisure travel + design and sell a few products), but we don't really agree about how a house should be kept. I don't have feeling about her, but it seems impossible to me that I'll ever have a relationship that end up working out to the point where I have a happy family. I feel sad about it.

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:50 am

This sucks,
I under estimated the cost of building a regualtion-abiding stove pipe, which means I'm 3000.- short.
I'll have to ask more money on the mortgage. If I can have it at the same rate, 3000.- should be about 3.- a month.
That's not a catastroph, but I definitely need to find an other job.
Just quitting at 28 and hoping never to work again was a little ambitious.
The problem is that I have no idea how to get a job.
I don't see why anyone would hire me. I reasonably think it's just a bs self depreciating tought, but it doesn't change the fact that I don't see why anyone would hire me.
Any advice?

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by RD » Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:57 am

My 2cents, is a bit general/abstract. (I'm INTP too)

Get more data, inputs from the real world by DOING things, not (just) THINKing about things.
DOING things mitigates a lot of the sense of powerlessness which is a common trap of INTP thinking (in my experience). Reality often turn out differently for things I really fret a lot about.

I also recommend reading this which I've found helpful and gives a certain clarity and different perspective:

Being a retired/FI INTP (in fact any type too) with no clear or strong life goals/passions will not really go well. Dabbling about things and not really 'accomplishing something' and then getting hit with bouts of 'WTF am I doing with my life' will suck. Basically highs and lows...

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Re: Swiss PhD student

Post by Jean » Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:07 pm

Thanks, I read it.
I found it very insightfull.

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