Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:24 am

Surgery is always serious, especially with older people. I don't know the exact age of your Moms. My mother-in-law had heart surgery a few years back and she lived, albeit with issues. That's the best I can do on that front. Ok, I can do better. Your moms will be fine.

Now with regard to you Huckleberry Finn, let me tell you a story. Before I married my wife we were living together in sin. I had a friend. Lets call him John. Actually, his name was John. John and I were in a band together and John and I snorted cocaine together and John and I fought over fucking the bi-polar stripper who sang in our band (he won) and John and I had those stories you would expect to have with people in those conditions, like the time he sold his father's camera for an eight ball and a blow job from a hooker and lost his car in the process and upon asking me for help I said I couldn't but because I was snorting an eight ball with a hooker at the time. So, one day I said to my future wife, I am going to see John and she said, "Ok, I'm going." And I knew right there I would never see John again (I haven't) and I don't miss him one fucking bit.

Moral of the story: Don't tell your wife you are going to visit your friend. No. That's not it. Well, it kind of is. Let me think of a better moral. OK. Here we go: Commit as early as you can to the people who will be at your side when you are dying and fuck everyone else.

I don't know you, you seem like a good guy, a little tortured, a little neurotic, a little prone to feeling sorry for your Finnish ass. But I think if you just decided to commit to what is right in front of you every morning things would become simpler. And remember, simplicity is complex. Making simplicity look simple is the key and you can only do that by practice.

suomalainen
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:58 pm

I read part of Siddhartha on the flight to visit my parents and finished it on the flight back. A few observations from this trip, this book and the stream of my thoughts generally:

1. I like lists, apparently.
2. My parents' relationship drives me nuts. I generally see my dad as a self-centered bully-asshole and my mom as a weak, subservient enabler. And that may be fair from some limited viewpoint. There is also incredible pain and insecurity and weakness and mental health problems that go into my dad's behavior, some of which I know about and some of which I don't. There is also incredible strength and fortitude and selflessness that go into my mom's behavior. Perhaps all I can say is that I don't get to judge them or their relationship; all I can do is choose how to behave myself in my relating to them, in my part of the relationship I have with them individually and as a pair, and it is entirely fair for me to say that I don't like this or that or that this or that isn't healthy for me, so I choose to separate myself from it.
3. At the same time, their patterns set the relationship/life patterns for my life and I find myself spending the rest of my life trying to fix the results of their personal, marital and parental shortcomings, including that I am one co-dependent motherfucker. I find and fix one way and feel pretty damn good only to discover just how fucking insidious pattern imprinting during child development is and...just...the myriad ways my co-dependency expresses itself is...well, it's irritating is what it is.
4. My wife was 22.5 weeks pregnant when, on Christmas Day, her water broke. We rushed to the hospital, the looks on the faces of the doctors and nurses telling us all we needed to know. He was as good as dead. Somewhere in those first few hours, all the worry and fear and angst just evaporated (full disclosure, it happened during a prayer as this was during my somewhat religious period). The way it evaporated was just that I had to confront this most terrible of fears and to realize there was not a goddamn thing I could do and I just let go of it. In essence, I was the rawest, most vulnerable, most helpless I have ever been in my life, save for perhaps at my own birth, completely at the mercy of the universe (god, at the time) and there was nothing to be done but accept the raw, vulnerable helplessness (give it all to god). (Post-script - the boy survived after being born at 23.5 weeks, at 1.5 lbs. He is a special soul; mostly normal, but he is the purest, most genuine, least guarded person I have ever met. Watching him experience joy and sorrow is exquisitely beautiful.)
5. My mom is having heart surgery tomorrow and one could say I am blasé about it. As I was discussing my attitude today with my sister's boyfriend, I remembered my experience with my son's "death", and it suddenly made sense. Somehow, life and death are things that I have for 11 years been able to completely let go of, just accepting it, come what may.
6. At the same time, I can be incredibly tenacious in holding onto other thoughts - my regret at not experiencing a wild, sow-my-oats 20s; my current chagrin at being married to a very religious woman now in the height of my cold rationality about the universe and man's place in it; my desire to not work any more / be retired; and likely many other neurosis, but these three are primary.
7. All of the above swirling in my mind, I read about Siddhartha's journey and the idea that "Oh, were not all sufferings time? Were not all fear and self-torment time, were not all difficulty, all hostility in the world over and overcome as soon as time was overcome, as soon as time could be thought away?"
8. My mind is often in the past or in the future. When in the future, it is there to plan for and seek some future wonderful life. Perhaps I am "seeking too hard, that you seek so hard that you do not find... [because] when someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. Finding means: being free, being open, having no goal."
9. I too am a seeker - having even prided myself on being an eternal one. But what if the seeking is the problem? By focusing so much on this ERE journey, this "retirement" finish line, it tends to blind me to the great and wonderful and IMPORTANT! things happening right now in front of me. What if there is no finish line? (as halfmoon titled her intro). How can I be so accepting of life and death (things completely outside my control) while winding myself up so much on lesser things, things over which I have some control for fuck's sake!?

This is why this forum and others' experiences are so valuable to me - to be able to see that no one's life "fades into the sunset" upon achieving ERE (except maybe Spoonman. Where is he?!). Life goes on. The business of life will remain the same, and the question of how you fill the balance also remains the same. It's just that the volume changes.

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:18 am

I actually read this.

I am never going to Finland.

wolf
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Location: Germany

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by wolf » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:23 am

suomalainen wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:58 pm
8. My mind is often in the past or in the future. When in the future, it is there to plan for and seek some future wonderful life. Perhaps I am "seeking too hard, that you seek so hard that you do not find... [because] when someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. Finding means: being free, being open, having no goal."
9. I too am a seeker - having even prided myself on being an eternal one. But what if the seeking is the problem? By focusing so much on this ERE journey, this "retirement" finish line, it tends to blind me to the great and wonderful and IMPORTANT! things happening right now in front of me. What if there is no finish line? (as halfmoon titled her intro). How can I be so accepting of life and death (things completely outside my control) while winding myself up so much on lesser things, things over which I have some control for fuck's sake!?
regarding point 8 and 9, I understand, too. Sometimes I have similar thoughts. It is a challenge to stay in the presence when your mind is wandering between the past and future. I am constantly switching between the past (my experiences), the future (my goals), and my presence (just being). At some point I have accepted that and I think I have found something like a balance. Ignoring one or two times is not good, IMO. Well, I am very thankful for all experiences, therefore of the past. I am looking forward to set and achieve goals. And then I sometimes only want to live and be. Meditating has also helped me to be aware of my thoughts. It is very interesting how many thoughts there are on your mind, when you calm yourself and just observe them.
Recently I have tried to figure out what comes after FIRE/ERE? I understand now, that FIRE/ERE ist just a means and no absolute goal. It helps me to achieve others goals in life. There is no finish line. Life continues after FIRE/ERE and I want to be prepared. Therefore I try to imagine other aspects of my life than FIRE/ERE.

What do you want to achieve in your life besides FIRE/ERE? Do you think about "what comes after ERE"?

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:19 pm

Well @mdfire, that's just it, right? There is no "what comes after ERE". Thought experiment - you know nothing about me but these two facts: 1) I say I'm going to pick up fishing as a hobby starting tomorrow; and 2) I've never fished in my life. You'd be forgiven for having your doubts about my statement, right?

So, instead of focusing on what's after, I think the more rational answer is to focus on what's now. For me, that means I'm going to stop being so codependent, both in space and time. Meaning is not found "out there", it's made "in here". Other people can't make me happy. Marriage and kids can't make me happy. Past me, future me can't make me happy. Stuff can't make me happy. Achieving a fairly arbitrary level of assets that I label "financial independence" can't make me happy. Surely, there's a (limited) place for learning from the past and planning for the future, but that's not where life happens.

I don't know what happiness is, but I do know it can only be experienced now, and I guess I'm at the point where I want to increase my odds of "being happy" by doing more of the things I enjoy with the people I enjoy. The kids are getting old enough where I can take them with me on adventures I'd like to have. Maybe that will have beneficial effects on them too, but I do feel a sense of opportunity as I emerge from that period of life where it was nothing but work and young dependents. I even hope it'll be fun!

PS. My mom's open heart surgery went great. She's back home not 5.5 days after having her heart exposed to the air. Crazy.

PPS. My best friend is now driving across the country with his family. He described what happened as a mental/nervous breakdown. I hope to continue on the path of having fun / being alive that we started together. Would maybe be more fun with him, but I'm at least grateful that he gave me the push to get started.

wolf
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by wolf » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:40 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:19 pm
Well @mdfire, that's just it, right? There is no "what comes after ERE". Thought experiment - you know nothing about me but these two facts: 1) I say I'm going to pick up fishing as a hobby starting tomorrow; and 2) I've never fished in my life. You'd be forgiven for having your doubts about my statement, right?

So, instead of focusing on what's after, I think the more rational answer is to focus on what's now. For me, that means I'm going to stop being so codependent, both in space and time. Meaning is not found "out there", it's made "in here". Other people can't make me happy. Marriage and kids can't make me happy. Past me, future me can't make me happy. Stuff can't make me happy. Achieving a fairly arbitrary level of assets that I label "financial independence" can't make me happy. Surely, there's a (limited) place for learning from the past and planning for the future, but that's not where life happens.

I don't know what happiness is, but I do know it can only be experienced now, and I guess I'm at the point where I want to increase my odds of "being happy" by doing more of the things I enjoy with the people I enjoy. The kids are getting old enough where I can take them with me on adventures I'd like to have. Maybe that will have beneficial effects on them too, but I do feel a sense of opportunity as I emerge from that period of life where it was nothing but work and young dependents. I even hope it'll be fun!
Your answer makes me thinking. "...focus on what's now" that is important, I understand. Being independent is important. Meaning is made from within. Absolutely. I too understand, that things, people, ... outside of yourself doesn't make you happy. I am also in this process. But, sometimes it is difficult to make myself happy, because if I subtract everything outside of myself, what is left? Sometimes I feel emptiness and sometimes I feel fulfilling. I have read "The power of now" from Eckhard Tolle and he explains this very good. However, who are we, when there is no outside. That leads to some hypothesis, that we are only, because of the outside. We define ourselves, by the outer world. At least in some aspects of life. I absolutely sure about self believes, subconsiousness, ... What we belief, we become, get, do.... What is for sure, that life happens in the presence. Thank you for your insights, maybe I gotta think about that another time.

suomalainen
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Financial Update

Post by suomalainen » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:00 pm

I really liked @spoonman's approach of dividend investing and the graphs. Super cool to follow along and watch the growth. I'm sure it's not the best (US) tax strategy, but I view dividends as first (tax free) dollars in, with wages coming second, effectively making my working more expensive. A bit of additional motivation, as it were.

Anyway, I hope this works, but here's my dividend graph:

<IMG height="680" width="400" src="http://i.imgur.com/0hitC15.jpg"></IMG>

Here's the address if it doesn't work. I'll figure it out later. http://i.imgur.com/0hitC15.jpg

It may be that the image is too big but I don't know how to resize images on just my phone and that's what I'm using (I have a separate "financials" laptop for accessing and tracking my accounts; call me paranoid, but I won't access other websites from my special red laptop and I won't access my accounts other than from Red).

Anyway, I just also wanted to address my asset allocation. I moved my 401k and HSA assets into stable value / bonds in August 2016, nervous about the election. I've missed the market gains since then, but am nonetheless pleased at the "floor" such an allocation gives me. New money has gone and will continue to go into index equity funds. If there's a substantial correction, I'll move out of stable value / bonds back into equities. I also started a backdoor Roth IRA this year, invested in a dividend index fund at Vanguard if memory serves.

I also liquidated my personal account last August (which is what the graph represents). I did it because I was nervous about the election and because I thought I might need the cash to buy / build a new house and couldn't handle volatility in that amount. I think I've been cured of the build bug, but we still might move. In any event, I moved that cash (plus some more) back into individual equities. It's dumb, I know, but I like being invested regardless of current valuations. On the plus side, I have more cash to buy down my basis should there be a correction. Sidenote: net worth seems to be a fairly arbitrary/useless metric due to volatility, so I don't really care about it even though I do track it (greater than zero now!). What I do care about is what income my assets throw off, so that I know when I no longer NEED to work. Anyway, that shift to cash is reflected in the tailong off of dividends in the graph and it should go back up in the coming quarters as dividends are declared/made in my new positions (unless I picked real dogs, which is about a 50/50 probability!).

Peace out.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:07 pm

I'm just gonna piss and moan for a second (not like all my other posts :roll: ). My best friend was my only "fun" friend. It's hard to be self-motivated to go have fun by myself. I'm much better as a follower than as a leader (or as a solo, at least with trying new things). I managed a few things this week even if it ended with a $320 trip to Cabela's to buy a bow and some arrows and a target to shoot with the kids in the backyard. Anyway, I'm watching the Mayweather McGregor fight at home (another $100) tonight because I tried 4 guys to go to a sports bar with me and they are all lame. And the kicker is that boxing is BORING. Damnit.

Edit: I'm not complaining about the family/kids - it was actually a great week with some walks/hikes, some swimming, frisbee golf, laser tag, bows n arrows, listening to a book, etc. all good stuff. But I miss my fun friend. :(

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:21 pm

Funny, I was just on Floyd Mayweather's Instagram account looking at pictures of him wiping his ass with Finnish currency.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:08 pm

You mean the euro?

Random thought:

Sometimes, and I don't mean to be offensive to any religious types here, I think back to my religious days and remember the comfort of having some "sure strong man" tell me what's what. "Just do x, y and z and you'll be saved/happy/whathaveyou." I don't think the particular x, y or z really mattered all that much; the real trick was the sureness. It was AN ANSWER.

Now, it's freeing, yes, to make my own decisions as to what my x, y and z are gonna be, but it's lonely. Not because I'm necessarily doing x, y and z by myself, but because I'm exposed. Vulnerable. It's just me making these decisions and I know I don't know what the fuck I'm doing.

So I sometimes miss religion and its authority figures (edit: and its moral absolutes/certainty). Not that I can ever go back. They don't know what the fuck they're doing either. The emporer has no clothes.

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:45 pm

So you are absolutely sure there is no absolute surety. That is not only a worldview as totalitarian as one that claims there is absolute surety, but is in fact a default epistemological position i.e. that which my net cannot catch is not fish.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:40 pm

Nope, didn't say that. It's not really an epistemological statement. And I really didn't even say anything about theology. It was merely an observation that among humans, I can choose to trust a guy I've never met (i.e., any number of religious leaders), or I can choose to trust me (if/when there's a difference of opinion). After a lifetime of trusting other people and not trusting myself, I learned that everybody is making it up as they go along, so I may as well trust myself.

I am not suggesting that I know more than "experts" in various subject matter areas, but rather I am only addressing the issue of what I should think, what I should do and what I should be. There is no "right answer", regardless of what any number of people have told me; I think/do/am what I choose to think/do/be. Some will agree that I'm doing it right and others will disagree.

halfmoon
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by halfmoon » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:32 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:07 pm
I'm just gonna piss and moan for a second (not like all my other posts :roll: ). My best friend was my only "fun" friend. It's hard to be self-motivated to go have fun by myself. I'm much better as a follower than as a leader (or as a solo, at least with trying new things). I managed a few things this week even if it ended with a $320 trip to Cabela's to buy a bow and some arrows and a target to shoot with the kids in the backyard. Anyway, I'm watching the Mayweather McGregor fight at home (another $100) tonight because I tried 4 guys to go to a sports bar with me and they are all lame. And the kicker is that boxing is BORING. Damnit.

Edit: I'm not complaining about the family/kids - it was actually a great week with some walks/hikes, some swimming, frisbee golf, laser tag, bows n arrows, listening to a book, etc. all good stuff. But I miss my fun friend. :(
Soumalainen, I'm going to express a very personal, lecture-y opinion here. Please feel free to skip it completely since I've chosen not to have children of my own and am therefore suspect.

You have a wife and three kids of impressionable ages. You entered into each of these relationships voluntarily, and they come with obligations. The obligation to your children is non-negotiable because you chose to give them life. You don't need a fun friend; you don't have the time or emotional energy for a fun friend. The fun friend is a way of avoiding the other choices you've made and pretending that you can magically be someone else without obligations. You have X amount to give to the choices you've made in life. X is not infinitely expandable. Those kids and wife need every bit of your fun side and every other damn side you have. If you commit yourself wholly to that mission, you may even find new sources of fun and meaning.

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:24 am

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:40 pm
Nope, didn't say that. It's not really an epistemological statement. And I really didn't even say anything about theology. It was merely an observation that among humans, I can choose to trust a guy I've never met (i.e., any number of religious leaders), or I can choose to trust me (if/when there's a difference of opinion). After a lifetime of trusting other people and not trusting myself, I learned that everybody is making it up as they go along, so I may as well trust myself.

I am not suggesting that I know more than "experts" in various subject matter areas, but rather I am only addressing the issue of what I should think, what I should do and what I should be. There is no "right answer", regardless of what any number of people have told me; I think/do/am what I choose to think/do/be. Some will agree that I'm doing it right and others will disagree.
Ultimate commitment's are by nature a "religious" commitment and my point is that your assumption that all religious matters are merely subjective (this guy vs that guy) removes the possibility of a totalitarian, transcendent being outside the universe imposing a heteronomous power over the created order i.e. a creator-creature distinction. You refuse the possibility that your intellectual committment to viewing man as autonomous and man's mind as the determinate of reality could be the result of non-belief of said heteronomous being.

Nothing personal, but do you really trust yourself and your mind that much that you would believe its ultimate truth claims i.e. truth is just a marketplace of competing ideas (specifically Marx's view of religion as an opiate of the masses which was really just a watered down Christianity itself but that's a whole other matter)?

I don't trust myself that much and I'm not the one who paid $100 to watch the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:19 pm

@halfmoon: I respectfully disagree. I give and have given more of myself to my wife and kids than you could know. It may not come across in my posts, but I'm a great dad. Sure, my kids will have things to discuss with their therapists when the time comes much like I have plenty to discuss with mine, but for the most part, I'm doing the best I can to love and teach and guide my children. That said, kids don't deserve or need my everything, and in fact, I think that that kind of approach is suffocating to them. I am no helicopter parent and I deliberately and knowingly refuse to be. I believe in my children. I believe that they can figure things out on their own and that they SHOULD figure things out on their own. Failure is definitely an option and one that should be embraced and learned how to be dealt with. And I am there to provide as much assistance as is developmentally appropriate (given my worldview of teaching them independence). But I also have my own needs and it is not appropriate for me to ask my children to fill my needs for me. It is my responsibility to meet my own needs. And one of my needs is for adult friendship. There is nothing inappropriate about that. For context, the "fun" we would have together would be weekly racquetball, weekly disc golf (usually bringing the kids with us) and dinner/drinks every so often. This isn't like hookers and blow fun.

By the way, I'm catching up on your journal (about halfway through) and am enjoying it. Maybe it's discussed later, but I'm curious what happened to DS and how he's come to view your lifestyle choices as he's gotten older.

@Jason: Maybe we're talking past each other here. As to myself, I think it is correct to say that "man's mind [is] the determinate of [HIS] reality". I (for some value of "I") can perceive "reality" in no other way than through my own senses and my own mind. In other words, my experience of reality is, in fact, entirely subjective for it can be nothing else. It is impossible for me to perceive reality through your senses and through your mind unless you communicate to me and I adopt the substance of your communication. Given the choice between you and me, why should I choose you? Why choose the Prophet? Why choose the Pope? Why choose Buddha? What do these guys have that I don't, and more importantly, how can I be sure that their SUBJECTIVE perception of reality is better or more accurate than mine?

I have said nothing about a heteronomous power or of ultimate truth. I take no position on those issues - I am fully agnostic. But the problem is that those things are "out there". Certain things that are "out there" can be discovered, understood, explained and backed up with evidence and methods by experts that allow other people to follow along and arrive at the same conclusions. We can all agree on gravity, on electricity, on indoor plumbing and how they work. When it comes to other things "out there" that can't be backed up with evidence (i.e., the nature of god), why should I just trust what some guy (prophet, pope, etc.) says? Is it not the case that he is merely broadcasting his own personal, subjective perception?

Maybe this is an epistemological argument. My original post on the subject perhaps could have been more clear if I had used "organized religion" instead of "religion". I hope you can see the distinction I'm trying to draw, but if not, that's ok too.

halfmoon
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by halfmoon » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:31 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:19 pm
@halfmoon: I respectfully disagree.
Respectful disagreement permitted. :P Obviously, we all have our own opinions. As mentioned above, I've never brought a child into the world.
suomalainen wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:19 pm
By the way, I'm catching up on your journal (about halfway through) and am enjoying it. Maybe it's discussed later, but I'm curious what happened to DS and how he's come to view your lifestyle choices as he's gotten older.
I don't really go into the subject of my stepson very deeply in my journal, but I discussed some of it here:

https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.co ... =16&t=8773

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:40 pm

Quick update on my mindfulness project: When it comes to everything outside of work, I think it's going well. In fact, I can look back at the last few years and see that I've slowly built up habits of doing things I enjoy with the people I enjoy (biking, frisbee, archery, hiking, movies) or by myself (guitar - I picked this up in February and can hack at a number of songs now. I'm not good, but I really thoroughly enjoy this). The net result being a persistent sense of satisfaction.

Where I'm struggling is work. An exchange with @brute reminded me of this saying: "you can choose what you do, but you can't choose what you like to do." @brute's way of putting it was that you can't choose what you want. So, I'm doing everything I want outside of work. But work is really just a paycheck for me at this point. It's not really challenging for me any more as a full-fledged "expert" and it's not really meaningful to me. Anecdote: I was talking to a client/friend the other day and I was arguing that you could fire all the lawyers in the department save one (whose job would be to train people to deal with outside counsel directly and to be there for minimal supervision and support). He disagreed with me and said that in-house counsel is highly valued and he would keep every last one of us. Maybe I should stop judging my perceived value by my own standards (i.e., a competent business person should be able to make do without me) and accept the fact that this competent business person (i.e., the customer/consumer/client) values the services I provide. Perhaps that is the place I can find meaning? That my work is valued by others/consumers, even if I can't see it?

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:17 pm

A few inputs:

- I've been thinking of buying land that's somewhat wild and building a cabin on it. I blame this in equal parts on my Finnish ancestry and reading @halfmoom's and @illinidave's journals.
- I looked at some Finnish cabin designs online, feeling a yearning for Finland, its language and people and foods and culture, particularly its forest/lake/sauna culture.
- I've been reading other journals here and the "different from the rest" theme stands out.
- My wife and I discussed our oldest son's lack of desire for friends and how to strike the balance between making sure he is "healthy" even if different. We also discussed the difference between pushing him to learn skills (like how to talk to people) vs pushing him to be different from how he is (like liking to talk to people). The former is good, the latter is not.

My dad once told me that he finally learned that "America teaches you how to succeed, but Americans don't know how to live. Europeans do." (He emigrated from Finland in the 70s). Ultimately, I must agree with my dad, given my approach to work and other societal constructs. And I worry sometimes as a father whether I should teach my kids how to survive in the society into which they were born (by such society's rules) or how to survive by doing your own thing. There's probably a balance there, but like many things, finding the right balance is a permanent challenge. It's tough feeling a personal pull for the latter while feeling a "responsibility" to teach my children the former and/or worrying that I'd be damaging my children by pursuing the latter to the detriment of the former. It's almost like a cross-generational cognitive dissonance.

suomalainen
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

September Update

Post by suomalainen » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:11 pm

I run financials mid-month. Don't ask me why, I forget.

Anyhoo, here are a few charts:

Assets/Net Worth/Liquid Net Worth

Image

Notes:
- The step function appearance of net worth stems from bonuses, except the big step was my personal injury settlement. 80% of cash bonuses and 100% of equity bonuses are saved/invested.
- I exercised some of my stock options from an account that doesn't show up on this chart, so technically I do have more assets, but that account also has unvested equity, so I kind of ignore that account until I liquidate shares. I put a little less than half of my recent exercise back into the market in my personal account. Regardless of the ROI, I get a psychological boost when I save/invest, so I plan on putting a little more in each month and/or whenever I'm feeling down. I like to spend money! But on stocks! I also don't trade much - that's a fool's (or expert's) game and I am only a little of the former (and none of the latter!).
- I removed the numbers from the y-axis because it doesn't really matter (and volatility makes it matter less); it's the progress bar, so to speak, that matters, but as of today it's roughly 10x current expenses (excluding the house).
- I don't track expenses very closely anymore. I save a set amount first (in 401k, HSA, Personal Account) and then spend the rest. That spending amount is set at "what I could convince my wife to accept". :lol: We spend about $60,000 per year or $12,500 per person.

Dividends (PA only)

Image

The Future, a/k/a ERE with children

- It's difficult if not impossible to plan for the future with the 5 people that I'm planning for. The oldest child needed $5000 worth of dental surgery/braces. The next one will definitely need that as well. Bad dental genes. Who knows what else will come? And how much risk am I willing/able to bear? That leads me to believe that I will work for 10 more years, until the youngest is out of high school so that I have the financial flexibility to address any issues that come up. At that point, some of the future spending will be more clear also (Obamacare and future needs of the kids being the two biggest).
- I am already at the point that I believe I could be FI (with wife) if I look past the tax rules, moved to a low-cost area and lived a truly ERE lifestyle, and ignored the kids. So at this point, I'm working to be FI with kids included, but...I don't really know how to calculate the unknowns associated with 3 boys (crossing fingers no drugs, no arrests and no pregnancies :!: ). If I assume our 5-person-family expenses stay flat, it'll take ~6 more years to have a net worth (excluding house) 25x that. At that point, boy #1 will be out of high school and boy #3 will be starting high school. I guess I'll reassess then.
- As to college expenses, I've told them I won't be paying for it. In reality, I'll probably offer to pay half. In real reality, if they want to major in something that won't have an ROI, they can pay for it 100% themselves and go to the lowest cost possible school to do it. If they want to major in something that has an ROI (STEM? Anything else?), then I'll pay 50% even if it's to an expensive school. I've already begun teaching them ERE principles and I have come up with a game to reinforce it. If it works well, I will report back.

Psych Update

- Visiting my parents, my mom's heart surgery, losing my friend across the country and having the kids at home during the summer made for a challenging August. Anxiety and its presentation (codependency) spiked (as you may have surmised if you read any of my posts last month. It's oh so subtle, but it's there :mrgreen: ). I've been trying very hard in September to stay focused on the present, on what I can control. For the most part, it is going well; although I have been chasing/researching woodsy things from archery/bowhunting (cheap) to a house in a forest on a lake (expensive). Only spent money on the cheap stuff so far. Fingers crossed we stay in this house (e.g., what I'm really worried about is that we don't have a massive fight next spring over whether to stay or move. Moving is VERY important to the wife :? :( One option may be to have a conversation that goes like this: I'll roll the equity of this house and I'll contribute $7000/yr equivalent to current taxes and insurance, but you have to get a job and pay the mortgage and the difference in taxes (keeping in mind the marginal income tax rate is...a good problem to have?...but terrible in a calculation of a second income's ROI) if you want to move to a bigger house). That ought to go well...
- I have enjoyed most of my evenings and weekends: some walks with wife, archery by myself or with the kids, ropes course with the whole family on labor day, playing the guitar, my running is progressing well (still fat tho).
- I don't particularly enjoy work. But my new focus is this: "I may not value my services very highly, but I value my company's money highly. In a free market, I trade something I value less (my services) for something I value more (money) if the converse is also true. My company values my services more than a certain amount of money, so a trade is made. My purpose at work is to get money and I'm getting it. If I enjoy a day, great! If not, I should focus on what I'm there for - not meaning, not purpose, not happiness, not personal challenge -- money. I can always choose to not make the trade, but every day that I'm there, I am consciously, deliberately making that trade, so at the very least I'm getting what I paid for." This has worked for me when I've done it. I hope it continues. It also feels a little...stark...when I write it like that. Something something nihilism, probably. Anyway. Meaning, purpose, happiness and challenge will need to be found elsewhere.
- And finally, as I type this, my cat is 6 inches from me incessantly licking his belly. I'ma gonna rub it and screw up all his grooming.

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Fish
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Fish » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:40 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:11 pm
I am already at the point that I believe I could be FI (with wife) if I look past the tax rules, moved to a low-cost area and lived a truly ERE lifestyle, and ignored the kids. So at this point, I'm working to be FI with kids included, but...
I used to think along these lines all the time. It gave me hope. But I've come to realize that "ERE lifestyle" was MY dream, not my wife's. So I've had to modify the vision to something that we could both find agreeable. But having options is certainly nice.

Seth Godin's quote on money was for me one of the best things to come out of Tim Ferriss' latest book. I discussed it in another thread but I'll also repeat it here:
Seth Godin wrote:Once you have enough for beans and rice and taking care of your family and a few other things, money is a story. You can tell yourself any story you want about money, and it's better to tell yourself a story about money that you can happily live with.
What I interpret this to mean is that past your needs point, money really has no impact on your physical reality. Only if you run out of money are you ever forced into a behavioral change; otherwise everything is voluntary. Suppose you have 5 years of expenses saved up in liquid assets, do you really need to go to work today to pay your bills in the present? If you truly want to do something different, why not just do it? Is 25x expenses a necessary prerequisite? There is no need to hold your present self hostage just because your (imagined) future self is needy and incapable and wants you to prepay his bills. Don't get me wrong, saving is a really nice gift to your future self, as one day that person will be you. But with a true ERE attitude you might elect to pursue your dreams even if they might carry some risk, and let your future self deal with the uncertainties, because future self is capable.

You control the narrative and if building your FIRE wall brick by $100 brick motivates you, go for it. But at some point you have to wonder whether work is truly your enemy, and if a wall of 25x expenses is really needed to insulate yourself from... what?
suomalainen wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:11 pm
college expenses
Jacob doesn't want to be known as leader of a band of parasites, but have you ever considered how FIRE might affect college costs, particularly tuition at need-based (or "ability to pay") schools or scholarships/grants where FAFSA is used? I think the "formula" is forgiving if you have low earned income (not investment income) and if NW is mostly tied up in home equity and retirement funds.
suomalainen wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:11 pm
house
Have you considered renting? This would allow your wife and family to enjoy a larger house during the years where it offers utility, without you committing to living in the larger house indefinitely. Then rent your current one out (with the possibility of moving back later), or sell it and buy your cabin in the woods. Although moving sucks, each move is always an opportunity to improve size and location.

suomalainen
Posts: 218
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:32 pm

Fish wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:40 pm
If you truly want to do something different, why not just do it? Is 25x expenses a necessary prerequisite?
....
let your future self deal with the uncertainties, because future self is capable.
When it comes to making money, no, there's nothing I want to do differently. Mostly because there's nothing that can pay me as well as what I'm currently doing. Is 25x necessary? I dunno. Is it? Only the future can tell. And it's hard to walk away from a "safe, secure paycheck" to adopt the risk of the shit hitting the fan for 5 people. That's 5 times the risk. I've often thought: "who cares about the cost of health care when you're old? You can always just die." Easy enough to think that for myself. Harder if a child gets leukemia.

As to outside of work...I'm working on getting most of what I need out of life from my non-work hours. It's a...work in progress. Maybe it's the culture, but there's certainly a tug towards the "work is life" paradigm. I don't subscribe to that. People who don't know how to retire either get their identity from their jobs and/or hate their families and/or lack imagination. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but none of those things fit me.

If money were no object, I'd probably build shit and sell it or burn it. I like building stuff. I don't like having stuff.
Fish wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:40 pm
have you ever considered how FIRE might affect college costs
Never once. That's some advanced shit.
Fish wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:40 pm
Have you considered renting?
No. But at first blush, the wife would never go for it. Interesting thought tho. I guess buying is roughly the same calculus, minus transaction costs.

suomalainen
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Sunday morning musings

Post by suomalainen » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:07 pm

Pondering expectations, Emmy Rossum's "Slow Me Down" and ERE, I think what ERE truly is is the ability to see what life actually is and to avoid modern civilization's expectations of life. A few examples:

- The "go-go" 80s
- Conspicuous consumption
- Keeping up with the Joneses
- Buying experiences rather than things
- Goal setting
- Efficiency
- Maximizing

ERE is really about none of these. Satisficing is what ERE is about. Do you have a satisfactory food, water, shelter and clothing? Do you have satisfactory health, relationships and leisure time?

This is what life really is. Life is slow. Humans used to be slow. Every other species is slow. Achievement and success really mean failing at life, with depression and anxiety as modern markers for this failure.

Anecdotally, I recently took up backyard archery. My kids came back from scout camp and they really enjoyed archery. On impulse, I tried to set up time at a local range for us to enjoy some boy-time together, but the range required the young ones to take a private lesson before they could get on the range and lessons were fully booked. So I said fuck it, let's go to Cabela's and see what's there. The salesman let the four of us shoot around on their 10-yard range and talked me into a $220 real bow set from the $15 toy set I was considering. Now the kids shoot around a bit at home, but I shoot pretty much every day. Surprise - I love it. I talk to my boss about it and he mentions bowhunting. On impulse, I call a guy hosting the next certification course the day before it's being held. It's full, but he says fuck it, bring a chair. So now I have a bowhunting license. I have almost no intention of hunting - it seems like it's very involved and takes a ton of time and equipment to be successful, but no matter, I was curious, so I took the free class and gained a new skill and maybe I'll get nothing out of it but walking around in the woods for a few hours with a bow. I have no idea where archery will take me. And I don't care. I don't have a goal. I'm just going to do what I feel like doing in the moment and see where it takes me.

This anecdote is so different from my usual MO. Usually the end (goal) comes first, then the planning, then the actions according to plan. This is a very human characteristic and quite useful, but it's not living. And as a Harvard professor wrote (can't remember the title of the book), humans are terrible at knowing what they want, particularly in the future, so future goals guiding present actions is putting the cart before the horse. As I've been able to be more present, the satisfaction I derive from life has grown, especially as it has become easier to not compare what I have against some fantasy life plan that I have in my head. My expectations were all out of whack, and by turning things around, it seems my expectations are no longer running wild.

Tällaista sunnuntai aamuna.

wolf
Posts: 451
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Location: Germany

Re: Sunday morning musings

Post by wolf » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:35 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:07 pm
A few examples:
...
- Goal setting
- Efficiency
- Maximizing

ERE is really about none of these. Satisficing is what ERE is about. Do you have a satisfactory food, water, shelter and clothing? Do you have satisfactory health, relationships and leisure time?
Thank you for these insights. Inspiring! I totally agree with your way of thinking about ERE nowadays. Although I have to say it was a process for myself. When I started ERE I had some of the above mentioned examples in mind. I do also like efficiency, but I do know the part it does/doesn't play in ERE. In the beginning I set goals, which I do still have out of motivational reasons. Anyway, I appreciate a slow life. When you travel slower you can see more!

Jason
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Re: Sunday morning musings

Post by Jason » Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:50 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:07 pm
I have no idea where archery will take me. And I don't care. I don't have a goal. I'm just going to do what I feel like doing in the moment and see where it takes me.
How do you say Robin Hood in Finnish?

suomalainen
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Sun Sep 17, 2017 2:24 pm

Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness is the book I mentioned.

@md, it's all about the process; best of luck in yours! To clarify, when I mentioned "efficiency", I meant it more in the sense of "doing more in the same amount of time". Sort of how they measure "productivity" in the various economic surveys/reports. Efficiency is great...so long as you're not doing it so you can "do more". Fuck that. I want to efficiently satisfice so I can do LESS.

@Jace, names don't really translate. They stay the same. Finglish can be pretty rampant too. My mom says "greippejä" to mean "grapes" even though it actually means "grapefruits". Grapes properly is viinirypäleitä. Hot tubi is another of her favorites.

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