the dude's diary

Where are you and where are you going?
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El Duderino
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November '15 Update

Post by El Duderino » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:39 am

Because the pound to dollar exchange rate isn't so great right now, there hasn't been any investment over the past month. Good thing is that I can wait it out pretty much indefinitely and cherry pick a rate I like. It's fluctuated quite a bit over the past couple months and I check it almost daily when it's close to my threshold, as it is now.

November '15:
--last months' contribution to investment assets: Zip, zero, zilch
--current investment assets: 614,780
--last months spending (annualized) as % of assets: 7.14%
--12 month rolling average WR: 6.15%

steveo73
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by steveo73 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:09 pm

Dude - how long till you think you get this happening ?
El Duderino wrote:Biggest task in front of me now is building up my emergency fund and also having a nice chunk of change for year 1 expenses.
The big question is if you get that cash pile stashed away will you RE ?

I also have a target to have a cash pile sitting there for the start of RE. I personally prefer that to immediately drawing down on assets.

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El Duderino
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q&a

Post by El Duderino » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:48 am

steveo73 wrote:Dude - how long till you think you get this happening ?
Right now, I'm forecasting that by end of next year, everything will come together. Being completely debt free, the snowball will start to really accumulate quickly as I build up reserves and investments. Obviously, ERE types don't save for long enough that the compounding effect really benefits us. There just isn't enough time in the market to experience that compounding benefit.
steveo73 wrote:The big question is if you get that cash pile stashed away will you RE ?
HELL YES! Having a healthy reserve should really ease anxieties of letting go of a paycheck, even in a down market, should that situation occur. I’ll probably apply a modified form of the 95% rule to regulate disbursements, using 3.5 as the SWR rather than 4 just to play it extra-safe.

steveo73
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by steveo73 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:51 pm

Sounds good.

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El Duderino
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Mid-Nov '15 Update

Post by El Duderino » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:39 pm

Beating the latte factor.
My employer has a subsidized cafeteria that is convenient and good value. A latte is £1.10 ($1.65) whereas the same drink at a cafe just meters away would be around £3 ($4.50). Way back when, I'd only get a latte as a special treat, though that slipped to the point where I was getting about one per day, with the 10th being free with a stamp card. Other times, I would use the coffee and tea dispenser machines spread throughout the building to stay caffeinated, though the taste was something between cut-rate freeze dried drip coffee and boiled shoe leather—not the sort of thing you want to wake up in the morning to. Recently, those machines, which were using these little sachets for tea and coffee, have been replaced with a better version that actually grinds the beans fresh as you get each cup. Problem solved. Thank you, Corporation.

Confession for buying overly expensive shit.
October was yet another month of expenses over 4K and November will also be a high spending month. October got messed up when I decided to take a friend up on an offer and take a city weekend trip to Paris. This was a last minute invite, so you know those Eurostar train tickets were running a premium. We Airbnb'd it so the accommodations weren't too bad, and food and entertainment was also pretty reasonable, considering. It went off the rails for me when I purchased some jeans I had been coveting for a while. It has now been two weeks and I'm still processing my decision, but in the spirit of honesty, (this is the dude's diary, is it not?) it needed to be recorded.

How I feel about my progress over the past couple of months.
Expenses have gone up substantially since I moved out of the flatshare and got a single dude domicile—totally expected and completely avoidable. Spending has also gone up on things that are actually counter to FIRE stuff, like tinsel and glitter for the car, designer jeans and I’ve even pre-committed to some heavy discretionary costs next year (holiday ski trips, kart racing series) that could manifest in a spend of around $4,500/month throughout 2016. Investment accounts are largely stagnating as the markets do their thing and I’ve been building up sterling rather than adding stocks due to the exchange rate. On the other hand, I’ve cleared the mortgage and despite all the evidence to the contrary, I know in my heart that I could unplug from it all right now and be fine because when it comes down to it, the dude is a simple man and it really doesn’t take that much money to abide, after all. To conclude a paragraph without a point, if I was dissatisfied with my work situation I’d be more concerned about all this.

--Mid-Nov '15 Assets: $ 813,360
Breakdown:
Image

--October Spending: $ 4,866
Breakdown:
Image

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El Duderino
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money thoughts

Post by El Duderino » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:37 pm

I came across someone saying 'there's an infinity of money out there' and it really struck a chord somewhere. I guess when considering it from a fiat currency and immeasurable sum perspective, it's true. Like, who could sum up all the worth and value and equity and then would you subtract the debt or who knows what the equation is. So, it probably could be a true statement. Since I think it's true, it helps me think about money more in the YMOYL life-energy sense. Probably more so than their exercise to work out your real $/hour, though that is depressingly effective as well.

Also, I was listening to this excellent podcast (free, whee!) and this guy, James Otteson, was going on about socialism/capitalism and it was a pretty interesting take on the subject in a new book he's written and all the sudden, the host, Russ Roberts, an economist, and James, who's probably also professor and economist, since it's one of those kind of podcasts, start talking about how perhaps one of the traps -- I'll call it a trap since it kind of reminds me of the dark ecology tech trap that was intriguing -- of capitalism is that perhaps it fools people into thinking that money is the goal when in fact, that's not really what Adam Smith had intended or really should be concluded, it's a thought trap that needs to be overcome and they agreed that education is a solution. Fuckin' a man, educate people about how to use capital wisely, what a concept!

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El Duderino
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December '15 Update

Post by El Duderino » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:31 pm

Being in a slump.
Since paying off my mortgage, maybe some of the intensity and focus that I previously had in eliminating debt has faded. There just isn't that same big, near term goal ahead. It was kind of anti-climactic in that there was no fanfare, and I never really celebrated at all, mostly because I couldn't really think of an appropriate thing to do. Also, dealing with this mortgage servicing company has left me frustrated and drained. I think they're still holding on to over 1K of my money that they erroneously required me to pay and I can't get a meaningful response from them -- I keep getting passive-aggressive customer service reps at their call center who insist they know nothing and I must deal with their corporate office via mail requests which are never acknowledged or responded to.

The overriding issue is probably the lack of a s.m.a.r.t. goal for the near future. I read this book last year and one of the parts I really liked was how people will plateau for a period and the ones who ultimately achieve mastery are the ones who find something enjoyable about the journey and persist, even when it feels like they’re not making progress. Maybe that time is now for the dude, so I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Spending more.
November expenses were quite high, however, most of it was due to a number of things just timing to all occur in November, December flights and car tires being the two biggest, and those jeans from Paris...well that was entirely avoidable.

Looking ahead.
Lots of fun stuff ahead the next few months, from ski trips to time with friends and family, so I'm very excited for all that. Especially getting into 2016 because it's my promised year to cut loose and start the Neverending Trip. Just knowing that I'm just around a year away from it is thrilling and a little scary because it represents significant, lasting change. In preparation for the good things to come I'm going to keep up on my guitar practice and have also started to work through some French lessons as learning another language has always been one of my bucket list items. Since visiting Paris, it's rekindled my desire and since I'll visit in February for skiing, it's a great chance to prep and maybe even use a few words to get around like a real local yokel.

December '15:
--last months' contribution to investment assets: again, nada
--current investment assets: 613,863
--last month’s spending (annualized) as % of assets: 9.16% :shock:
--12 month rolling average WR: 6.50% :(

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El Duderino
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Mid-Dec '15 Update

Post by El Duderino » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:22 am

Bitcoin
For some reason, bitcoins are going up in price quite a bit. I haven't been paying any attention to the prices of these things, which kinda suggests to me that I should just sell now and get out of it.

On being home for the holidays.
A book about being zen said that spending time with your parents can be a great test of yourself. I'd add siblings to that list. Tough to break out of those deep-seated relationship dynamics.

Close call.
Took the car, which I've decided to dub 'the Dreadnought' because of this wide-hipped body kit that I was obliged to put on it, on a trip this past week, and not surprisingly, a problem surfaced. After a five hour drive, the alternator had almost managed to liberate itself from the engine and was being held on by just the serpentine belt and a single bolt. It was actually worse than that because the main post had also broken off, so there was no connection between the alternator and the battery. Luckily, I was able to use a friend's garage, to do the work and the weather wasn't horrible. After removal, the alternator was tested and it checked out just fine so all it cost me was about 5 hours of wrench time and a couple bucks in fasteners.

--Mid-Dec '15 Assets: $ 811,372
Breakdown:
Image

--November Spending: $ 6,460
Breakdown:
Image

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:02 pm

I don't think you've said what kind of car it is. I'm guessing a Supra based on the details you've provided. No need to confirm/deny, just wanted to throw it out there. :)

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El Duderino
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by El Duderino » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:05 pm

Gilberto de Piento wrote:I don't think you've said what kind of car it is. I'm guessing a Supra based on the details you've provided. No need to confirm/deny, just wanted to throw it out there. :)
Good guess Gilberto. I do love me some sexy Supras. A sleek mk IV, along with a RX-7 (FD naturally) and a cherished NSX would certainly find their way into my dream garage.

This particular pile of parts happens to be an Evo, so I'm down on displacement to the cars above, but who cares when you've got traction.

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El Duderino
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January '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:41 pm

December doings.
I pretty much spent the entire month of December on the road, bouncing between one city or another for work and play. When I was travelling for work or at the family homestead, everything was copacetic, but the rest of the time was highly irregular. When I do my mid-Jan update, I'm sure I'll have more words for this, but I was doing pretty good up until I left on boxing day for a ski trip.

Job offer.
Shortly after my last journal entry, my boss' boss wanted to gauge my interest in a more senior position. I met with some of the people I'd be working with and we hit it off great, but I'm doubtful if much will happen as these sort of things seem to happen about once a year and they rarely happen. If it does materialize, this could have a substantial impact on my FIRE date as I'd want to be in that role for at least a full calendar year to make a meaningful impact. On the plus side, it would greatly facilitate my moving locations to a more ERE conducive environment.

2015 goals.
My savings rate for 2015 was 75%. I'm still 10K shy of my non-retirement investment goal of 30K for last year, but that's mainly because I'm waiting for the forex rates to improve. All my other goals for 2015 were more or less accomplished as I took lots of fun trips, was relatively smart with my money and amazingly, was able to hook my parents up with a new vehicle _and_ pay off my mortgage.

January '15:
--last months' contribution to investment assets: 15,377 (I'm counting my year-end dividends here as re-investing is investing)
--current investment assets: 600,943
--last month’s spending (annualized) as % of assets: 6.67%
--12 month rolling average WR: 6.52% up up and away :(

steveo73
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by steveo73 » Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:20 pm

Dude - you are doing great. You can't be far off FIRE assuming you choose to do it as soon as you get your WR down a little further.

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El Duderino
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by El Duderino » Mon Jan 18, 2016 1:11 pm

steveo73 wrote:Dude - you are doing great. You can't be far off FIRE assuming you choose to do it as soon as you get your WR down a little further.
Cheers buddy! I'm working on that WR in January, big time.

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El Duderino
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Mid-Jan '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:13 pm

This year, last year
2016, which will be a year of tremendous change, is going to zoom by. I'm already two weeks in and I haven't even had a chance to set any resolutions let alone break them. ;) I will travel a fair amount for work in Q1. That will help to speed the time by and the pace of things on the job should also guarantee that I'm really ready to leave when I push the button. No further word on the job offer, though it's still floating out there, somewhere. I did find out that someone I confided in at work about my considering taking an extended leave of absence, aka FIRE, mentioned it to my boss, so it's kind of awkward that she hasn't asked me about it yet. With the amount of gossip and deceit that courses through these corridors, I'm not that bothered about it.

Asset Fluctuations
All of the assets in the portfolio declined yet again this cycle, as the markets did a dip. What gets my knickers in a twist is that the pound to dollar exchange rate is 1.42 just today so I can't take advantage of the prices in securities, and furthermore, I'm 10K behind my savings goal for 2015 still. You can actually see this in my charts where current account balance, the most liquid of my assets, is fairly fat. The dude's got some dry powder, should the opportunity arise.

The Notorious Spreadsheet
I keep track of everything financial and a few other non-financial things in a spreadsheet that I've maintained since the early naughties, aka the dawning of my financial awareness. It's development has been a big part of my learning and it's increasingly sophisticated features, though still quite crude from what pro-users of Excel can do, is closely correlated to the complexity of my thinking about how I manage my money. Late last year I sort of broke the spreadsheet by doing something I still don't understand completely with groups. The size was increased by a hundred Mb or so which made it really clunky. This year I've ported over most of the data and am going to continue my kaizen approach to micromanaging the numbers, but the graphs will have a slightly different look, starting from now.

--Mid-Jan '16 Assets: $ 771,681
Breakdown:
Image

--December Spending: $ 4,811
Breakdown:
Image

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El Duderino
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Mid-Feb '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:30 am

It's been a wild ride this past month. For reasons of pure busy-ness, I skipped the update at the start of this month, despite being excited about completing my fiscal diet in January, which netted me my lowest SWR since I started tracking it. Kind of a Pyrrhic victory though because it just highlighted the fact that I spend way too much on housing versus other expenses and get rather grumpy when asked to limit spending, even when adhering to my own diet. Turns out, cinching the belt a bit makes me a very un-cool dude. Completely expected results from the permanent income hypothesis, but interesting to witness even so.

Work has picked up the pace quite a bit--to much to be honest. I'm slated to travel quite a lot over the next month; not something I really enjoying doing, but hey, if it gets me out of the office for a while, that's not all bad then. Still very much committed to kicking ass on the job this year as part of my swan song as I want to look back on this last year with no regrets.

--Mid-Feb '16 Assets: $ 761K; down another 10K over the past month
Breakdown:
Image

--January Spending: $ 2,865, 4.1% of assets
Breakdown:
Image

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El Duderino
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Mid-March '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:14 pm

Another month, another skipped update. The past four weeks have gone by fast.

During my annual performance review a few weeks ago, I told my boss that I would leave at the end of this year. He and another boss have decided that rather than have me leave, they'll create a different, but similar job that I can do from a location yet to be decided, starting in July. This is nice because it will greatly facilitate my relocation back to the US. It does mean working for a bit longer, since I would want to be in that role for no less than a year, but I'm cool with the additional safety net it will provide. Seems like a good trade-off at this point and hey, the whole thing could fall apart tomorrow so why sweat it?

--Mid-March '16 Assets: $ 821K; up 60K (thanks Mr. Market 8-) )
Breakdown:
Image

--February Spending: $ 3,765 or 5.8% of 01-Feb's invested assets
Breakdown:
Image

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El Duderino
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Mid-Apr '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:40 pm

A few weeks ago, I rescued an abused and abandoned mountain bike and quickly set about putting it back into service. It's been very educational as I know next to nothing (Jon Snow) about bicycles. So far, the replacement parts list includes a rear wheel, two tires and tubes, rear cassette, chainset, chain, saddle, grips, brake pads, cable inners and outers, and bottom bracket. I definitely need new front forks and may require derailleurs and hanger too. In the end, it may have been easier to purchase a new bike to start with, but where's the fun in that?

Finished reading A Random Walk Down Wall Street recently and started in on The Millionaire Next Door. Malkiel's Random Walk book was interesting in how he presented so many theories of playing the market in a basic, understandable way, but ultimately the takeaway was bland. Stanley's Millionaire Next Door was a real page-turner, filled with interesting stats and focus group findings that further reinforced that the primary difference between rich and poor is how they view money, but unfortunately there was a problem with my digital copy so I couldn't follow very far into the book and doubt I'll pick it up unless I get a copy at a bargain. I got about as far as comparisons in behaviour between what they call PAWs and UAWs (stands for prodigious and under- accumulators of wealth). I think this type of book would appeal to people who are interested in how 'the rich set lives' and the shocking truth is that they tend to live just like the rest of the planet, spending nearly all they earn regularly without a lot to show for it. The truly wealthy few are those who are frugal to the bone (probably not a good Thorogood cover song) and conserve their earnings. Both groups spend a lot of time thinking about how to spend their money, but the PAWs chose to spend it in ways that make that money an asset and the UAWs spend it accumulating liabilities.

Going ahead with the job/location change and still lacking a lot of details, but the date has been fixed for start of Q3. We'll see if that sticks since I still haven't received a terms sheet for my new job yet, although I am currently in the process of recruiting a replacement for my current role. It's really an exercise in managing my own anxiety around losing control of working methods that I've been carefully setting up over the past 8 years.

--March Spending: $4,227 or 6.2% (of 01-Mar's invested assets on an annualized basis)
Breakdown:
Image

--Mid-April'16 Assets: $863K; up another 40K thanks to rising stock prices
Breakdown:
Image

I've tweaked the assets chart this month. Bedrock real estate at the bottom and then two layers of tax-deferred sludge covered by an ocean of investment assets that rise and fall with the tide. At the top layer is a warm, blue topcoat of liquid (ha, get it?) cash reserves. SMH, I probably need to get out more.

Finally, I'm a little discouraged that the £/$ exchange rate has persisted in staying low for as long as it has. I'm really hopeful that it picks up after the Brexit vote in June and then I'll convert everything around then.

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singvestor
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by singvestor » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:07 pm

Very creative way to layout the stacked graph! Like it!

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theanimal
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by theanimal » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:50 pm

Now if you want a fun read that tears apart what you just read in A Random Walk.. Check out The Misbehavior of Markets

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El Duderino
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by El Duderino » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:58 am

singvestor wrote:Very creative way to layout the stacked graph! Like it!
Thanks, I'm going to add some ocean creatures to fill out the landscape eventually and an octopus will certainly be in the midst. They're my favorite animal.

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El Duderino
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by El Duderino » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:58 am

theanimal wrote:Now if you want a fun read that tears apart what you just read in A Random Walk.. Check out The Misbehavior of Markets
Cheers, I'll check it out!

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El Duderino
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Mid-May '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Thu May 19, 2016 7:50 am

Wheels
The bike repair is finally complete. Still some tuning to do as I learn how to adjust the tension and placement of things like derailleurs and brake pads but I successfully took it out for a ride on Monday to get some coconut bites and milk. The hardest part of that whole project was getting the chainset off the bottom bracket so I could replace it with a new one. The puller tool didn't do the job at all so I had to cut the damn thing off which gave me a taste of what it might be like to jailbreak by sawing through bars with a file.
Image

I ended up putting splash guards on it, a new saddle and some other bits like flashers and a chime plus a helmet of course. Total cost was around £280 which is silly because I could've bought a passable bike for less than that, but again, it was mostly for the learning experience.
Image


Nutrition
After hearing for months from various acquaintances about how great they feel after going on a high-protein, low carb diet, I decided to try it out for myself. It's only been about a week and a half so far, so my dietary superiority complex has a long way to go, though I've come up with two working ideas so far. The first is that being careful with what you eat has a lot of parallels with being cost conscious and managing your money well. Both require an overall strategy and take discipline to ensure that the day to day choices are consistent and in line with the goal. The other is that regardless of the outcome or how long I stay on this diet, paying closer attention to the food one eats can't be such a bad thing, right? I'm definitely eating 'cleaner' than I normally would do, and it's not as if I was awful to begin with. The hardest things to give up so far are pastries and beer and I haven't had any of the downsides I've heard of with this diet so far like headaches or fatigue or digestion issues.

US Relocation
Flights are purchased and arrangements made with movers so it's pretty much official. 5 weeks from today will be my leaving drinks with work colleagues. The next day my possessions will be packed up and put in sea freight and the following day I'll get on a plane at Heathrow and that'll be it for my near 10 year residence in the UK.

--April Spending: $1,892 or 2.8% (of 01-Apr's invested assets on an annualized basis)
Breakdown:
Image

--Mid-May '16 Assets: $862K, virtually no change from last month
Breakdown:
Image

Shire_Living
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Re: the dude's diary

Post by Shire_Living » Wed May 25, 2016 3:25 pm

Very much enjoying your journal, el dude. Keep us updated.

A couple of nutrition sources worth looking into: Dr McDougall, author of the 'Starch Solution' and Michael Gregor, whom runs NutritionFacts.org. Both highly recommend a plant-based, high carb diet for long-term sustained health & longevity.

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El Duderino
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Jun ’16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:18 pm

Food and Nutrition
Thanks to Shire and others, I've come to decision that maybe going ultra-low carb is not so great after all. Upon reading this article on PaleoLeap.com I’ve pretty much decided to put beans and rice back on the menu for good starches and maybe even potatoes too. Still going to cut out all processed foods, breads and stuff like refined sugars but I’ll relax a bit on trying to get to a ketogenic metabolic state because I’m not really convinced that it is all that healthy after all and this little self-experiment wasn’t really about fixing something that was broken, more about improving my usual ingredients a bit and trying something new.

Mea Culpa
Just today I realized my monthly spend has been under-reported since January of this year due to not applying an exchange rate adjustment to money spent in pounds versus dollars. It’s kind of amazing it’s taken me this long to discover as it was staring me in the face the whole time. The result is that my numbers have been a fair bit worse than I’ve been thinking. Nothing to get upset about of course. I’m a big believer that, although it’s great to have good numbers to report on the old ledger, the real value is in carefully measuring and recording the figures because of the magical improvement thing that happens when you pay attention to something very closely in a non-judgmental, helpful way.

--Last month’s spending: $6,686 or 9.2% (of 01-May's invested assets on an annualized basis)
NB: Rental property expense spike was from a bi-annual property tax payment of $2700
Image

-- Assets: $883K
Image

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El Duderino
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Mid-Jul '16 Update

Post by El Duderino » Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:58 pm

6 weeks on...
Holy shit folks, it's been over 6 weeks since I've updated my journal! Lots of stuff has been done -- an international move, a holiday vacation, and lots more is in progress, most notably, the purchase of a new primary residence. More on that later. In terms of my own personal Brexit, the leaving party from work was on the 23rd, the day of the vote and, man oh man, I should have converted my UK cash over then, because now I need to wait until it recovers and who knows how long that will take.

Health and Nutrition
Still on this paleo diet and finding it a lot easier in some ways since moving to the US. You can go into any grocery store here and while there is a lot more stuff to sift through, still 98% of stuff is inedible, the availability of good ingredients is definitely improved. About the same prices on stuff, all things considered which might be surprising to some that midwest food prices are about spot on with ye old London. Need to find a place to train BJJ around here but that might just wait until I do the next move in Sep. Did a couple of crossfit days with a friend and that was nice so I may pick that up a bit more.

Mi Casa
The week of the 4th, I went to Chicagoland to look at a home that seemed like a great opportunity. Ended up making an offer on it which was accepted. Closing date is 05-Sep and I'm bringing plenty of coffee, because COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS! It's going to be a great situation. The place is a bit of a dump but it's got two huge draws for me. First, a massive 3-car garage plus workshop for The Dreadnought to live in along with all the life support systems needed to keep it running. The second thing, and I'm sure this is going to be of more interest to the ERE types, is that it's a big old house that's been divided into 4 units, 2 of which are currently rented out that I'll inherit. So basically, I'll have finally accomplished Jacob's day 1 activity after years of being on this board -- getting a place where my effective rent is a couple hundred a month. Sure, I'm carrying a mortgage, but that's just because I don't want to liquidate other assets and hey, with the mortgage rates currently being offered, it seems kinda silly not to take advantage of that bubble. I'm really looking forward to working on the house too -- even as a kid I loved This Old House. Going to be a great challenge to keep me occupied for years to come.

--Last month’s spending: $4,187 or 5.7% (of 01-Jun's invested assets on an annualized basis)
Image

-- Assets: $920K
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