A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

This Week's Exercise in Humility

No, I'm not talking about the stock market. :)

I've mentioned before about having to scramble at the end of last year to find a new job assignment after my prior 17.5-year-long gig wound down. I think I also mentioned somewhere that so far I haven't found this new opportunity particularly amusing. Nice people and all, it just a mismatch between skill set required and what I'm good at. Learning new things in principle is good, but this isn't stuff I'd invest energy learning if someone wasn't dangling a paycheck in front of me.

The biggest part of the job now is turning a recently emptied room into what you might call a "lab facility" (that term makes it sound sexier than it actually is). As often happens, the effort has not been smooth and the workload for me ebbs at times. This week is one of those times. Yesterday the only thing for me to do was to sweep the ~5,000 sq ft floor with an undersized broom in preparation for some VP that's supposed to walk through the area next week. I discovered there are many spiders lurking in the shadowy places, and a few looked like the variety of spiders one does not want to get bitten by. I did not hesitate to employ the broom a little more vigorously around those guys.

Part of me wanted to be indignant. When I joked about this to the manager of the group I was loaned from, she felt sorry for me. I have my annual performance review later this week, and I can just imagine telling my official boss that the highlights of my accomplishments in my new capacity have been tearing apart wooden shipping crates (only one small splinter!), carrying/pushing heavy things around the room, hauling a small mountain of trash and discarded packing materials from inside to outside for pick up, and sweeping the floor. Maybe I can lobby to get the company to train me on advanced modern vacuum cleaner operation (they have a Dyson in the custodial supply room) and so expand my opportunities in this new-found career.

That last paragraph was meant to be humorous. The sweeping was actually a reasonably pleasant experience. The first official job I ever had was as a janitor after school at the high school I attended during my freshman year. Being an introvert, that first year in so large a school (~1,500 students) was stressful, but being around the school after the cacophony died in a sense allowed me to make peace with the whole situation. If you let yourself, you can fall into a rhythm with any simple repetitive activity ("Wax on. Wax Off"). I learned that first shoveling snow as a kid, but I think sweeping classrooms and hallways, washing blackboards, and emptying trash after school is what really imprinted it on me.

There's a Zen saying: when you sweep, sweep. I suppose it's an exhortation to being completely mindful and present with what you are doing. When I got bored sweeping, which took about ten minutes, I began repeating that silently to myself. Sounds corny, but it did make the time pass with less internal resistance on my part. It also brought me back in time to a more carefree version of myself.

Reflecting on the day made me think I'll do pretty good as an early retiree. In the meantime I'll keep my fingers crossed that my spider body count will get me a bit sweeter of a raise, if not this time round, then next.

1taskaday
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by 1taskaday »

I can relate so much to your story from when I first switched my job.

I also fill in for absent lower level staff to keep the "ship sailing" and because nobody else will...and the ship may sink.
The curse of being an INTJ and needing to keep the system running smoothly at all costs..

But it is so good for my ego .... and ashamed though I am of it,I often get moments of deep satisfaction and a giggle when the high heeled amongst us (who would never do what I would) are shown up for their lack of team work or dare I say it "selfishness".

At the end of the day I keep thinking I am getting paid this much per hour for doing this...and more importantly getting nearer my goal.

saving-10-years
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by saving-10-years »

@IlliniDave it does sound sort of restful. Walking the isles of students writing exams is the same sort of mindless job (I sometimes compose poetry or do 'surveys' - how many students with glasses, long hair, etc.). I cannot imagine that after your performance meeting they keep on using you in these jobs - what are they thinking?? (not a sign of a healthy well-managed organisation).

When I read your post my mind zapped to a noted sweeper in The Thief of Time by Terry Prachett described thus on a Discworld wiki: 'Lu-Tze found out that nobody worries about a sweeper. Sweeping practically makes people invisible, and certainly anonymous. And a sweeper can get into the most restricted places, because even those places need to be cleaned. On occasion, however, he finds the anonymity undesirable .... While he claims the position of a sweeper, he is widely respected by many who know him, and feared by some. He is something of a legendary hero among the pupils and is the only known master of the art of Déjà Fu.' (That may be something to do with spider extermination?)

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

It's been a long time since I read anything by Terry Pratchett!

My review went pretty well. Luckily the focus was on last year, haha. Many of us well up the ladder position wise were fully expecting no raises thins year. But I got enough of one to fully fund my new HSA at the family plan level with some left, so I'm pretty pleased. Much better than what happened to people on SS year over last.

1taskaday, I have the same satisfaction. It's a point of pride being the most humble guy on the team! :)

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

How about we trade? I'll come sweep your workspace, and you can come exert authority over inner-city 6th grade boys intent on acting out a scene from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" rather than learning how to multiply fractions.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

Financial Self-Deceit

I've come upon a couple of unanticipated expenses this month of the "expected unexpected" variety. The first was my aunt, who enjoys bargain hunting and who has been helping with the chore of getting all the odds and ends I'll need for housekeeping at the cabin. She found a bunch of items on my "nice to have but not required list", mostly bedclothes for the spare beds, better quality pots/pans, towels for the kitchen and bath, etc., during the post-holiday fire sales. So much for my shrine to Thoreau! The total there is $268. Then the other morning I ran over a tire that was laying on the highway (black rubber on blacktop road with oncoming traffic does not stand out). I wound up with a little damage to my bumper cover and both fender flares on the passenger side. It left some jagged/sharp edges so I am pursuing repairs. The estimate there is about $280-$300.

So really, no big deal with either one. The strange thing is the financial behavior I catch myself engaging in. I unconsciously think through things like paying for them out of my sinking fund for real estate taxes and putting the money back when I get my tax refund. Some facet of my brain sees that as, "Well, I didn't actually spend the money, I just got a little less of a tax refund." When you think about that, it's kind of dumb for someone who's trying to get a realistic estimate for what they'll need to spend in retirement. Granted, I probably have all the sheets, pillow cases, and blankets I'll ever want for the cabin, and likely I'll never run over another tire on the way to work, but there's always something that will come up. I should read up on behavior error in finance because there is probably a name for that thought process. And it's not the first time. Another one I always catch myself doing is if I spend some money for night out of dinner and entertainment I always wind up redeeming cash back from my credit card as though that negates some of the spending. People are weird about money, I guess.

peerifloori
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by peerifloori »

IlliniDave wrote:People are weird about money, I guess.
To sum up this entire forum, ^. :lol:

Igotgoals
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Igotgoals »

IlliniDave wrote:Mulling Over Life in Front of a Fire

Last night I built a fire and spread a comforter on the carpet in front of the hearth and wrapped up in it while I split time between reading, dumbing out in front of Netflix, and eating. It was a very soothing experience—I've long believed I hold some ancient genetic memories in my DNA passed down from ancestors of high latitudes that huddled around fires to stay alive. It's an image I frequently associate with my vision of ER, symbolic I suppose of having made adequate provision against a harsh and unfriendly environment. In past days when I had more worries that would sometimes keep me up at night, I often used a trick to help myself fall asleep: I'd imagine myself snowed in a tiny cabin somewhere absolutely remote with a full pantry and a superabundance of wood for the stove. Nowhere I needed to be, no one to bother me, the only requirement being to stay warm, dry, and fed.

That mentality explains my approach to ER. At times I entertain other thoughts but when it comes right down to it I don't see myself going voluntarily until I reach a robust once-and-for-all FI. I continue to spend a lot of time with the numbers, but once you have them essentially correct the rate of change is slow.

Unfortunately the sense of urgency to pass on the the next phase of life is more dynamic, and amplified by my work situation degrading from generally positive to simply passable. I am a strong introvert and it takes me a while to get beyond the stressful aspect of being forced to interact with a completely new group of people on a day-to-day basis. I'm also not very well qualified for performing my new primary tasks. In time Ill learn the job and the people and things will settle out. But it is frustrating to know I could move on ow with a high probability of success, yet not have it in me to assume the risk. I have a former colleague I still communicate with regularly who is also trying to work out his ER date. We joke with each other that we both need to “grow a pair”. It's a crude way of putting it, but apt.

At the same time my somewhat deliberate and cautious nature has served me well. Among other things it left me in a position to readily change course to ER before I ever consciously thought about it. So there's another part of me that urges me to listen to my instincts and stay the course until 100% of me agrees it is time.

The thing about sitting in front of a fire is that if I allow yourself not to think and just experience it, I begin to have simultaneous awareness of both the warmth on my face and the cold at my back, and that gradient somehow makes me feel a bit more alive. It leaves me wondering whether it's better to leave a little doubt in my plan, whether I've been misinterpreting that image of the warm, provisioned cabin by only being aware of half the picture. I am beginning to consider whether waiting until I have achieved a robust once-and-for-all FI might not actually rob me of much of the "life" I'm hoping gain. Whenever the next time I wade into the numbers comes, I'll have to search to see if I can find a balance point rather than a clear indication of a finish line.
I found your thoughts about the fire providing warmth on your face while your back remained cold quite beautiful to read.
And a bit interesting to ponder as far as its comparison to financial readiness to retire.
I've been reading the site for a while - needed to register finally just so I could comment on your post.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

Igotgoals wrote:
I found your thoughts about the fire providing warmth on your face while your back remained cold quite beautiful to read.
And a bit interesting to ponder as far as its comparison to financial readiness to retire.
I've been reading the site for a while - needed to register finally just so I could comment on your post.
Thanks, Igotgoals. It's comforting to know my odd thoughts make sense to someone and inspire thoughts. Good luck to you!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

February 2016 Summary

In February total invested assets increased by $3,300 after contributions, putting me down $12,900 quarter-to-date.

Net worth is down $10,600 quarter-to-date

Regarding the things I can control:

Savings and Spending.

YTD savings as a % of gross income: 52.0%, up from 51.4% as of end of Jan.
YTD savings as a % of after-tax income: 73.6%, up from 73.4% as of end of Jan.

February spending was $1,508 (versus target average of $2,416 and $1,990 actual in January) which is my lowest monthly spending total since I've been keeping record (viva burritos!)

YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 14.3%, down from 16.2% as of end of Jan.
YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 20.2%, down from 23.1% as of end of Jan.

Had 29 February been my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 32.3% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 34.8% at the end of January.

Although I'm down for the year in terms of invested assets and net worth, during the month of February I managed to claw back a little.

For the first time my estimated invested assets net of downsizing my primary residense would support a monthly withdrawal rate that would exceed spending for the current month ($1,620 versus $1,508). In the immediate future this will not be the case far more often than it will, but it is a nice thing to see.

On to March.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

Q1 2016 Summary

On a Personal Note

During March the doctors at the Cancer Center declared my mom's cancer to be in remission. To me this was a stunning development because she was told, in so many words, that this was an impossible accomplishment. My sister has completed her treatments and all of her outward symptoms are cleared. The expectation is that after whatever follow-up examinations/scans/tests they'll do, she'll be upgraded to "in remission" as well. Because she had not progressed to Stage 4 there was a decent chance going in that she could achieve remission.

My employment situation is still suboptimal. In the big picture sense the good still outweighs the bad (I choose to emphasize the good), but I more frequently find myself counting down the days, as it were.

I've reached a state of torpor regarding the long list of to-do's to get my house in better shape to sell. I like to pretend I'm a tough and resilient manly man, but I've been flagging under a lot of emotional weight. Hopefully with my mother's and sister's health being more stable, my employment situation settling out, and winter giving way to spring, I can rekindle the fire in that realm.

The Drier Stuff

Invested Assets and Net Worth

In March total invested assets increased by $54,600 after contributions, putting me up $41,700 for the quarter. Investment gains in March undid January losses and I am back at an all-time high, topping where I was in the summer of 2014 before making a large withdrawal to purchase the cabin.

Net worth is up $43,800 for the quarter, which is a little above average for quarterly net worth growth. Contributions were higher than normal and returns were slightly positive. Over the last 4 quarters net worth has increased by $109,200, which is a little lower than I'd like, but investment returns have been uninspiring over the period.

Savings and Spending

YTD savings as a % of gross income: 62.2%, up from 52.0% as of end of Feb.
YTD savings as a % of after-tax income: 81.0%, up from 73.4% as of end of Feb.

Those numbers are artificially high because of some irregular income that hit during the month of which 100% is saved after tax. I expect those numbers to decrease over time.

March spending was $2,809 (versus $1,508 in February) which is above the target average of $2,416/mo. A confluence of irregular and annual expenses occurred in the month to drive most of the overrun.

Average monthly spending for the quarter was $2,103 which is below the $2,416 target.

YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 12.8%, down from 14.3% as of end of Feb.
YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 16.6%, down from 20.2% as of end of Feb.

ER Status

Had 31 March been my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 22.7% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 32.3% at the end of February.

Net of expected proceeds from downsizing my house I might anticipate around $1,750/mo of spending over several decades to be supported by my assets alone, which is getting close to my personal austere survival threshold. I do not have a recently updated estimate for that threshold. That's a good project for the weekend.

Conclusion

The first quarter of 2016 started off very dark and dismal for me, but ended pretty well. I took some time yesterday to review older entries in this journal and realized that I've lost sight of my inner journey through this process. That inner journey was at one time my priority/focus, but I've backslid into putting all my attention on the material/external aspects. I think it would be a good thing to reground myself in the goals I started with. Counting money is fun, but it doesn't do much for happiness.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Great news about your Mom and sister! Time to go have some fun : )

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

2 Years Here

I noticed I passed the 2 year mark participating here on ERE. That seemed like reason enough to think aloud for a while.

It’s tough to summarize what has happened over the course of the two years in a way that relates to ERE specifically. In most respects it’s just been a matter of sticking with the plan I’ve outlined for myself. Since I sort of cut across the grain of standard expectations, that is not a trivial feat.

One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. As my date approaches it gets more difficult to hide or obfuscate my intentions. And since it is something I am excited about and have put a lot of effort into, it’s naturally something I like to talk about among my closer circle even when it is not necessary. I don’t mind that other people sometimes have no interest in following a similar course, but it bugs me when they repeatedly harp on me about my being “wrong”. So day-by-day I drift further away from them.

And all that’s before I even begin to consider what I see going on in terms of news/media and politics. I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.

leeholsen
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by leeholsen »

IlliniDave wrote:2 Years Here

I noticed I passed the 2 year mark participating here on ERE. That seemed like reason enough to think aloud for a while.

It’s tough to summarize what has happened over the course of the two years in a way that relates to ERE specifically. In most respects it’s just been a matter of sticking with the plan I’ve outlined for myself. Since I sort of cut across the grain of standard expectations, that is not a trivial feat.

One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. As my date approaches it gets more difficult to hide or obfuscate my intentions. And since it is something I am excited about and have put a lot of effort into, it’s naturally something I like to talk about among my closer circle even when it is not necessary. I don’t mind that other people sometimes have no interest in following a similar course, but it bugs me when they repeatedly harp on me about my being “wrong”. So day-by-day I drift further away from them.

And all that’s before I even begin to consider what I see going on in terms of news/media and politics. I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.
most people just cant live where they are satisfied with just enough to maintain your existence, but thats just what western civilization thinks; most of the world lives their entire life with just enough to get by. if you went to some third world country and told them you were throwing 50% of your cars value out the window every 4 years to have the latest car out there; they'd think you were nuts because most of the world doesnt make more than it needs to live on.

you will continue to be an outcast unless you cave and go back to the consumer life and i dont consider giving up my time worth trying to fit in. i actually consider those people buying new cars, new phones, etc; suckers and i definitely look down upon them.

inchicago
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by inchicago »

Three things that I have learned:
1. Keep my plans and lifestyle to myself. I don't fit the definition of a consumer. Yes, I spend money, but not to the extent that most do. Eating out lunch every day at work, going shopping on their lunch breaks, new car, new phone, new outfit every day, hair and make-up, etc.
2. Find people who have a similar mindset that you do and try and hang out/talk with them. If you must be around people, it's easier to be around those who have similar goals that you do. They say that you copy what those closest around you do.
3. Don't watch/read mainstream news. It's mostly sensationalism, anyway. And garbage.

GandK
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by GandK »

IlliniDave wrote:One thing that’s clear is that I feel increasingly alienated from the social world around me. ... I don’t seem to have a lot in common with the prevailing culture any more.

Luckily I’m an accomplished introvert and waning social interaction is not devastating. But it’s not something I expected to happen until after I pull the plug and fly away. It’s odd that aside from some improved numbers on my balance sheet, it’s the change during this final run up that stands out most vividly.
I love your self-awareness, Dave. Your posts are some of my favorites because you not only question others' baselines, judgment, goals and motivations, you equally question your own. Few people are willing to do that.

I think this will get worse before it gets better. However, once your time is 100% your own, you will interact with a different set of people when you feel like venturing into public. Once you get to that point, you'll be able to find (or build) a better tribe, I think. And then you won't feel so out of step.

Thanks for your honesty.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

GandK, thanks for the kind words--I like the idea of building a better tribe!

leeholsen, Augustus, and inchicago, yes those are all distinct facets of it, no doubt. But there's also a facet that has to do with simply having decided to pursue a different course, rather than any of the specific differences. It's hard to express precisely.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

Random Stuff to Warm Up My Pen Ahead of the End of April Summary.

Thought I'd get all the angsty contemplative stuff out there separate from the numbers this time.

My work situation seems to be dishing up curve balls at an increasing frequency. It is not all that bad in an absolute sense, but I have a twinge of melancholy now while I drive over the mountain in the predawn every day. Despite the turmoil of the last 12 months I'd still hoped to wrangle some way to go out on a proverbial high note, but that dream was dashed this week. As a consolation prize I've been deemed an SME (subject matter expert) and will be probably be allowed to do some occasional SME-ing in my old capacity. For the most part though I have been assigned irrevocably to something I know little about and so far have developed little interest in. Often the SME label is used for someone who is viewed as too old to run with the pack any longer, but is still worth listening too on occasion. That's not exactly the case for me--in the changing world my pack was disbanded by the powers that be. Nevertheless, the "honor" is a clear sign that I'm approaching the segue into the next major phase of my life.

I feel the need to emphasize that this is a first world problem and things are not all that bad on an absolute scale. I still work for a good employer and get paid what to me is a lot of money relative to my needs. But if I'd made a list of the different ways I'd have wanted these last 3ish years to go, it would not have encompassed the present situation.

I've been having a dialogue/correspondence with an "online friend" over the last few weeks. She's a friend of a friend I met on another website forum with whom I'd wound up connecting on FB.

Aside #1: I still find it fascinating how a person can strike up a conversation and friendship of sorts with someone they've never met in person, through a mutual connection with someone neither of them has ever met in person. Although these people feel like friends to me, I get tripped up using the word "friend" because there's no tangible connection, and for all I know they could be the made up alter ego of some adept prankster half a world away. Yet, reality to me is what my brain believes it to be. I don't really have another choice.

Anyway, this friend shares an amount of my attachment to the Northwoods. In her youth she spent a lot of time on some of the remote parts of the Canadian portion of Lake of the Woods (another Minnesota/Ontario border lake further west from my destination). Although she truly understands my yearnings, she's been challenging me a lot on the "practicality" of my plan in that I intend spend a lot of time alone in remote places during late midlife and early later life. Before starting a business she was a nurse so her emphasis leans towards the medical side of the continuum, but her points can be applied beyond that realm. There really are some downsides to being a loner (there's a reason most people at minimum pair up), and she efficiently pokes holes in most of the mental hand waving I've done in convincing myself my vision is a viable one. It mildly chafes my introvert nature and solitary vision, but I have to admit it might be prudent to join up with a like-minded companion for some of my longer wanderings in the wilderness, which of course is what she is trying to convince me of. It's also mildly aggravating to gradually have to concede that the conclusion someone has been goading you towards against your will has merit. It certainly could complicate things. The dog I had planned to get does not meet her definition of companion.

Aside #2: Anyone reading this with the devious heart of a matchmaker might be thinking, "Geez, dummy, it's not complicated, the solution is right there poking you in the forehead!!!" Indeed, assuming the pictures she shares are really of her she is rather solidly on the attractive side of the continuum and of the appropriate age range for me. However, she is married, so that has been off the table from the outset.

Aside #3: Yes, she is the one I referred to in another thread who insists I am "lucky". It is ironic because I get the distinct sense that although she values simplicity, their combined income is much higher than mine.

So I am reluctantly starting to think through how I will approach some of the longer soujourns into the parks, allowing for the possibility of a companion. I will do at least one 30-day solo trip--it's the measure of badassity in canoe country, and a virtual prerequisite if I ever want to do any guiding in the future. It's good to have a plan and pursue it; it's even better if you let the plan evolve along the way. There might be some room for compromise in this area without messing everything up.

I've also begun my magnum opus (no, not this endless post). I don't know what it is going to turn into yet--I expect that it will develop a life of it's own if I keep giving it attention and lead me where it will. It will mostly be written, although some other things might find their way in. As best I can tell now it will be part travelogue, part memoir-journal hybrid, and part an aging father's desperate attempt to pass on what life teaches him to his children and grandchildren. It will be done over many years. I might do some of it via blog--the parts more concerned with the outer journey and specifics of traveling around in the BWCA and Quetico. That's probably a fairly saturated blog space so I don't anticipate much opportunity for monetization. I hope to find a way to do that without too much out of pocket expense. It seems like a convenient format to share my adventures with family, friends, and acquaintances who are interested, but in a passive way that won't disturb the disinterested. The inner journey stuff might wind up looking like a book or collection of quasi-haibun style pieces.

It's pretty fuzzy right now, but having a project above the day-to-day mundane stuff has given me a lift and offset some of the other challenges inherent to a midlifer.

George the original one
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by George the original one »

> The dog I had planned to get does not meet her definition of companion.

ROFLOL

On the practical side, I have a couple of friends reserved for certain exploratory escapades. Because we have a small habit of wanting to take chances to try satisfying curiousity, we find it advantageous to do so together so that one of us is available to help get us out of a jam (or be a witness as to what went wrong). Typically, after the exploration is done, we then feel comfortable knowing our limits and will return for solo trips.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave »

April 2016 Summary

I'm jumping the gun here and assuming I can make it through the day today without spending any money.

Invested Assets and Net Worth

In April total invested assets increased by $15,800 after contributions.

Net worth is also up ~$15,800 for the quarter. That assumes cash balances in my bank accounts didn't change much. Typically I only bother to factor those in during quarterly summaries.

Savings and Spending

YTD savings as a % of gross income: 60.4%, down from 62.2% as of end of Mar.
YTD savings as a % of after-tax income: 80.0%, down from 81.0% as of end of Mar.

March spending was $1,674 (versus $2,809 in February) which is below the target average of $2,416/mo. It is the third-lowest monthly spending total I've achieved since keeping accurate records starting in 2012.

Average monthly spending YTD is $1,996 which is also below the $2,416 target.

YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 12.7%, down from 12.8% as of end of Mar.
YTD spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 16.8%, up from 16.6% as of end of Mar.

ER Status

With 30 April as my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 19.5% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday, compared to 22.7% at the end of March.

April spending represents an equivalent withdrawal rate of 3.22%; YTD the equivalent rate is 3.94%.

Net of expected proceeds from downsizing my house I might anticipate around $1,796/mo of spending over several decades to be supported by my financial assets alone. Last update I mentioned it's about time to reexamine my personal austerity threshold (how low I think I could go before it hurts). However, I have not done that yet.

Conclusion

April 2016 was an adequate month in terms of retirement preparation. I'm most pleased with having maintained somewhat lower spending for the first third of the year ($1,996 versus $2,530 for the same period last year). I felt like I'd hit a plateau at around $2,550/mo on average and I'm encouraged to see some evidence that I might be able to break below that without feeling monastic about it.

I also have that convoluted metric looking at what percent of my assets would be depleted under nominal conditions between a hypothetical ER date and age 70. 20% was the upper bound I established for that as a signal of ER viability, and I crossed below that in April. It's a fairly volatile metric being dependent on invested asset balance on the start day, meaning that in isolation, barely creeping inside the upper limit is not cause for wild celebration. Still, it's a nice sign that I'm progressing.

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