cmonkey's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:58 am

July 2018 Update

July was an excellent month, probably one of the best I've had in a while! The weather has been fantastic for 2 weeks. 75-80 F during the day and 60 F at night with NO humidity. It's been amazing. The first half of August is looking to disappoint, however. :cry:

Gardens!

The garden has had it's good spots and bad spots. We have had about 2 inches of rain over the last 4-6 weeks, so things are suffering/stagnating at this point. I hate watering, so I do it maybe once a week or two. Despite this a number of things have gone well. Our beet crop has been fantastic, the best I've ever known. Beans were good, we canned about 15-20 pints. Corn is coming along and we're starting to eat fresh tomatoes. Almost everything else has been a disappointment, however. Potatoes were tiny, the peppers are not setting fruit yet, carrots were VERY tiny and just didn't grow.

I really hate the climate here! Looking at historical records, it's been like this for at least 10+ years too. Just very dry/hot summers here in the Quad Cities. Northern Iowa/Southern Minnesota is a bit cooler and much wetter. You wouldn't think it would be much different, only being 300 miles apart, but it is.

I'm starting to disconnect from our gardens a bit. I've realized that I don't want to spend 6+ hours tending gardens anymore. Something like 1-2 hours a day is enough for me and so we have starting pondering ways to shrink our garden space (flower and veg). We've started moving things closer to the house. As it is, our veg beds are about 150 feet behind our house, so it's a slight chore to walk out to them. We are also discussing ways to close down our fruit beds and move them closer/remove them since when we move we want to take a lot of stuff with us and make the place more "consumer friendly". This will help with selling the house.


We didn't look at any houses in July, but I did inquire about a foreclosure. Apparently the previous owners had issues with the sewer system in the house and didn't have the funds to fix it. Our realtor couldn't tell us more than that, as they don't have any details on it. I'm not sure where I could find out either, maybe county records? If it's still for sale next summer and has come down more in price, I might start digging. The house is currently priced about 40% under value according to numerous sites. Even if it required 15K for a sewer repair it would be a decent investment.

Chickens!

I sold half of my hens. :cry: Just too many eggs and they were ultimately a money sink as we were basically giving the eggs away. So now I have 5 hens and the rooster left. A good level!

Craigslist!

I've been selling a lot shit on craigslist in preparation for moving down the road. So far I'm over $600 in cash. :twisted:


Money!

We had a good month financially. It was one of my highest months for capital gains as growth stock money started flowing into my value holdings. FI funds ended the month at just shy of 226K, up 12K since last month. Our expenses were at a good level, despite needing to buy a lot of our staples for the month. FAI topped 8K, WHOOO HOOO!

We topped 15 years of expenses, and SWR is now under 7%.

I funded about half of my HSA for the year this month which is why FAI growth was lower than average. FI funds also would have been nearly 230K without the HSA contribution.

Also, TTM expenses dropped off significantly because Jul 2017 rolled off and we underspent by a wide margin. August will be pretty close to last year so we might have a small drop off next month.


Expenses/Savings

Total Spend - $880.88
Total Savings - $6,909.11 ; 89%

Years Saved - 15.07
SWR - 6.64%

TTM Expenses - $14,973.92 (- $485.87)
Total FAI - $8,080.82 (+ $193.32)

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jennypenny
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by jennypenny » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:08 am

I must have missed a post ... why do you want to move after doing so much work on the house you're in?

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:12 am

jennypenny wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:08 am
I must have missed a post ... why do you want to move after doing so much work on the house you're in?
See "Stuck in Limbo" section viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5803&start=660#p164077

I think it mostly comes down to us never really feeling like we were at home here, but tried to make the best of where we were in life.

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:41 pm

August 2018 Update

Just a boring financial update this month. Not much going on just the usual routine of reading, gardening, working and enjoying life. We are making great progress on our goals. FI Funds increased by just over 10K and sit just over 235K for month end.

FAI increased a little slower as I invested in lower yielding stocks.

Expenses/Savings


Remodel Spend - $168.51
Normal Spend - $1,204.48
Total Spend - $1,372.99
Total Savings - $6,416.99 ; 82%

Years Saved - 15.67
SWR - 6.38%

TTM Expenses - $15,010.83 (+ $36.91)
Total FAI - $8,231.66 (+ $168.23)


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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Wed Oct 03, 2018 4:12 pm

September 2018 Update


Things have changed a bit with regard to my work situation. The previous project has ended now (or rather my involvement with it) and I'm now a developer on a scrum team. I spent a week in Boston (last week) for 2 days of training and 2 days of planning for the next 10 weeks of dev work. They expect us to be in Boston every 10 weeks from here on out, but there are exceptions for personal situations you can't get out of. The next two events I won't be attending in person (more on that later). But next spring in April and then in June and Sept I will likely go out again unless something changes.

It was absolutely exhausting to say the least, but I think it was good for me to meet the team and get outside my comfort zone a bit. Boston is pretty awful as far as I'm concerned (way too many people, too much concrete, etc...) but now I've been there and can say I have. It made me appreciate my place in the midwest a lot more.

I am officially 12 months away from 4% which I regard as soft-FI. At that point I'll likely stop the traveling and let them respond how they will. They will likely not care at all*. If they have any problem with it, it's only about 10 months beyond 4% that I hit 3% so I'd likely be at like 3.5% WR by the time they notice and/or have an issue with it and I could just quit and likely be fine.

Our accounts have been doing very well over the past quarter. FI funds ended September at 246K, up 11K from last month. I still haven't had a month where my money worked harder than me, but the past 3 months have been creeping closer. We'll likely cross a quarter million in October. TTM expenses dropped a chunk as last September of 1800 in expenses rolled off. The next 3 months should see some more declines.

As I enter the final 12-18 months of this journey I need to decide what my end point is. I really think 3% is a good target, but I haven't totally decided yet. Sometimes I'd like to be done sooner, other times I want to stash away another half a point worth.

I'm also not sure if I like using my current TTM expense value or if I should use something else. Max TTM value? But max over how long? Maybe my average TTM over the past 4 years.


Expenses/Savings


Total Spend - $1,454.39
Total Savings - $6,337.46 ; 81%

Years Saved - 16.83
SWR - 5.94%

TTM Expenses - $14,616.45 (- $394.08)
Total FAI - $8,465.85 (+ $234.19)


* I've been given the OK to come once per year by the scrum master director, but that could always change.

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prognastat
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by prognastat » Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:05 pm

Congrats on getting within 12 month of hitting 4%, it's right around the corner now. Definitely understand looking forward to that point and the relief to know that you'll be so close and that no matter what happens getting to 3% then won't be hard. Even worst case scenario and they do have a problem with you not going sooner than expected you can easily coast to 3% even if you end up in a slightly less lucrative position temporarily.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Quantummy » Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:01 am

Great posts cmonkey and very motivating - thanks! Couple of questions: 1) I did not notice a response to prior inquiry on healthcare costs if there are any beyond HSA - are there other monthly expenses or are health insurance premiums covered by employer? 2) How do you expect monthly expenses to change with child(ren), and what does that do to your forecasts?

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:47 am

@prognastat, Thanks!
Quantummy wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:01 am
Great posts cmonkey and very motivating - thanks! Couple of questions: 1) I did not notice a response to prior inquiry on healthcare costs if there are any beyond HSA - are there other monthly expenses or are health insurance premiums covered by employer? 2) How do you expect monthly expenses to change with child(ren), and what does that do to your forecasts?
Thanks Quantummy - My premiums used to be fully covered but we switched insurance in June to a much better plan. Now they pay over 80% of the premiums leaving me with about $170/mo. It's still an HSA plan and so I'm able to fully fund it this year and going forward. The deductible is individual based at about 2700 each so if one person is having a lot of bills, it starts paying for that person once they reach that amount regardless of the other folks on the plan and their status. Beyond that it's 100% covered.

For children, I don't expect a drastic change but there will be additional expenses, mostly for some additional food and the cost of clothing since they will outgrow everything quickly. DW and I are in alignment on garage sales and clearance racks on this though. Those expenses should be offset by the income tax cut and moving to MN which doesn't tax clothing. A couple of years of dividend growth and I'll be all set on this. It doesn't change anything with forecasting.

Remember - children themselves don't actually spend any money, it's the parent making the decision to spend money on them, justifying it as "well children are expensive" because "that's they way it is". No they aren't and I will prove it. ;)

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by suomalainen » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:11 pm

Famous last words. I agree that babies aren't that expensive, but you've got to look past the honeymoon stage. Once they get past the age of needing you merely for survival, that's when the true costs of children come to light. And it ain't money. Money just makes some things easier.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:11 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:11 pm
that's when the true costs of children come to light. And it ain't money. Money just makes some things easier.
Care to give any examples? I'm not sure what you're implying.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by suomalainen » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:36 pm

In short, what I'm implying is that it's all about control.

When people think about having kids, they think about having healthy babies. Healthy babies are easy - the cost is a little bit of food or clothing, diapers and wipes, some toys, and a little bit of lost sleep. The lost sleep sucks, but it's short term. Ditto with diapers. I basically can't remember the suckage of those parts unless I focus on it. Anyway, the variables affecting a normal healthy baby* are few and therefore babies are easy to control - within a fairly narrow range, they are where you want them to be, they wear what you want them to wear, they eat what you want them to eat, they do what you want them to do. In other words, these costs are easy to identify and control and you feel in control.

* leaving aside special needs, like my preemie, who came home with all kinds of boxes with wires and tubes, etc., let alone a child with permanent special needs like downs or something. My wife's uncle is apparently unique in that he has survived well past his life expectancy as a person with downs. I think he's approaching 60. His mother took care of him until her death and now his sister cares for him.

But babies grow up. They become more complex creatures. Their needs multiply and become more complex. Therefore responding to those needs becomes more costly, in terms of time, energy and money. They still need food and clothes, but now kids will need socialization and education too. Kids will also have unique personalities and desires. They will have unique (from you) social pressures. All of these needs can be ignored or addressed. If you choose to ignore them, there will eventually be a (very heavy) cost. If you choose to address them, it's like any other life problem -- if you have the time, skills and energy to address them yourself (like painting your own living room or whatever), then good for you, but it's not costless. If you don't, you'll have to use money to pay for a solution. Sample questions that you will have to address (note that even asking the question bears a cost in having to come up with your preferred answer):
  • Neighborhood considerations - where to live considering the kids
  • Play dates
  • Public vs private vs home school
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Friends, especially if they're "bad influences"
  • Technology/screen time
  • Etc
Each choice you make to address these and other issues will have a cost, in some combination of time, money and energy. And also in blowback from the kid. Blowback from a baby is whatever - easy to ignore. Fighting with a sentient being for weeks on end over what to you is some dumb shit but to them is like their whole fucking life like screen or phone time is something completely different...even when you've already "won" by being the "best" parent in the school district because your child is literally the last child in the district to get his own phone. You can see where we came out on the screen time question.

These latter costs are much harder to identify and control and you won't feel in control. Can you choose for your child not to be a violin prodigy? If they are, what will you do? What if they're a drug addict? What will you do? These are not easy questions and they certainly go beyond
I don't expect a drastic change but there will be additional expenses, mostly for some additional food and the cost of clothing since they will outgrow everything quickly. DW and I are in alignment on garage sales and clearance racks on this though
Anyway, I was just responding to the statement of naive confidence. I used to be naively confident too. And then I actually had kids. And it's way harder than it looks. Maybe you'll get lucky and have an easily controlled variable (kid). But I doubt it. Even less likely if you have more than one.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:50 pm

Great points and I definitely agree. My vision probably is a bit short sighted and honeymoon phased at the moment (largely controlled by "I need a baby" hormones I'm sure). I think my hope is that living by example will be the trump card in the long run and that ERE gives more flexibility with our living arrangements and will help with producing a better child (and later adult).

Peer influence is a huge variable and definitely out of total control but is still influenceable through where you live and what schooling options you choose. Again, living by example helps out a ton.

My statement about the expenses comes from the fact that I will be the one holding the bank card at least until they learn where it is. :lol:

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by suomalainen » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:59 pm

Living by example is great. But they'll eventually wear you down when they care more about a thing than you do. You can't fight when you're exhausted. And kids don't exhaust. They just keep going. But if you're FI and don't have a full-time job, maybe you'll have more energy to fight the good fight for longer. Although...anyone notice that MMM was super gung-ho about home schooling his one kid and going on outings to the local creek to see the bugs in the water and stuff? Anyone subsequently notice a less-than-prominent mention that the kid was back in public schools? :lol: :twisted: Even Mr. Kent apparently has his limits.

Anyway, I don't want to burst anyone's baby bubble. Babies are awesome. Kids are pretty cool too. It's just...it's work. And sometimes you'd rather pay someone else to do it.

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:32 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:59 pm
anyone notice that MMM was super gung-ho about home schooling his one kid and going on outings to the local creek to see the bugs in the water and stuff? Anyone subsequently notice a less-than-prominent mention that the kid was back in public schools? :lol: :twisted: Even Mr. Kent apparently has his limits.
This was probably two pronged - having the kids properly socialized and the kids out-growing his ability to properly teach high school subjects.

I was homeschooled until middle school precisely because my parents didn't have the time to dive into the specifics of higher level education. It's probably doable, but as you said, requires a lot more energy and time.

There's also a lot more benefit in having your children properly socialized than raising them in bubbles. Even an extreme introvert like me benefits from some interaction with the world.

We are going to face both of these tests when we move to MN because the plan is to embrace MN's online (free) public school system. My sister-in-law went through it and it's a great program but it presents challenges on the social front. You need to go out and find social groups for your child because they are otherwise just at home all the time. Unfortunately at this time the only option is a local church which DW will probably insist on being a part of (ugh). If I can rise above my instincts and just live and let live, it'll probably be ok. We also have a friend in the area with a 6 months old, so ages will be similar.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Fish » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:07 pm

cmonkey wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:32 pm
We also have a friend in the area with a 6 months old, so ages will be similar.
Did I miss an announcement? Or is this “funding secured”-type talk?

Since MMM and kids are on topic in this thread right now, check out https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016 ... rugal-guru
[MMM] often says that one of the reasons he retired was to be present and fully engaged as a father: “I idolized the idea of being a good dad.” An underreported element of Mustachianism might be helicopter parenting. He seems uncommonly attentive to his son’s whims and moods, but he freely admits that it is a burden to have a child. This is not a value judgment but a statement of fact with regard to money, energy, and time.
(In that article, there is also an amusing anecdote about his kid's foray into Magic:TG and a brief mention of ERE that Jacob would dispute.)

The intent of sharing this is not to discourage having a child, but trying to help set expectations appropriately. Apparently FIRE isn’t transformative for the parenting experience, it just affords more options and opportunities.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by suomalainen » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:25 pm

yes, agreed, @ you both. If you have all the skills, time and energy in the world, kids won't be "expensive" in money terms. But they will be "expensive" in terms of getting the necessary skills (homeschool teacher through high-school, for example) and expending the time and/or energy. Kids are just an extension (and I would argue complication) of the normal ERE approach to other life problems. Doing your own plumbing is easy; raising humans is hard.

In any event, @cmonkey, if this was a non-announcement announcement, congrats and good luck. Hold on to your butts.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by jacob » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:19 am

@Fish - Yeah, the New Yorker got that ERE mention backwards. Their editor missed it too despite MMM pointing it out to them during the fact-checking phase that it was the other way around.

@cmonkey/suomalainen - When it comes to children (and why we choose not to have any) I'm usually asked whether it's a) because we can't afford them on the ERE budget; b) because of climate change; or c) other.

The answer is 0% to the budget question, 10% to the climate question, and 90% to "other". I was the oldest child in the family including the extended family (the part we interacted with---I have a couple of cousins ~7 years younger than me). My mother worked in daycare and would sometimes babysit. I've experienced baby's first words, taught toddlers to walk and talk, and helped younglings with homework. My XGF had two gradeschoolers. I've seen enough to know that parenting is something I could do but also something I would not want to do because I have little interest in it. I suspect I would do the minimum and otherwise ignore the kids or hope they would stop bothering me. Being a distant-parent is (psychologists have studied this) worse than being a incompetent-parent, so I would make for a terrible parent and generate some screwed up kids. I usually tell other parents that I'm "too selfish" to have kids. That sounds sufficiently self-depreciating and makes other parents feel better about themselves. So, I've made a very deliberate choice.

As far as I've understood, the majority of people have children because someone accidentally got pregnant. Most of the rest have them because babies are cute or they want a family. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say they want children because they love parenting/being a parent. That apparently is the price to be paid. Most people just don't know how high it is. I had a good idea though.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:52 am

I had kids because why wouldn't you want to use the extra parts that come with the Visible Woman model? The fact that I got knocked up earlier than plan was incidental.

It's interesting how mileage can vary based on personality type, because I was also an oldest child who cared for other children from a very young age, but I enjoyed it, or at least felt like it was one of my "purposes." Also, since I did start young with such responsibilities, I was never very anxious about them as an adult (kind of like swimming or reading or anything else in which you gain competence before age 10?) However, I prefer the infancy stage-up to about age 6- and the young adult stage-over the middle years, which are relatively boring and social-obligation filled. The early years are fascinating to me, because you are witnessing and participating in the steep upward S-curve phase for that individual outside of the womb. IOW, same reason why I am excited to see bean sprouts popping out of the ground year after year.

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cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:01 am

No one missed an announcement, but I guess I've sorta been implying we are having a child. So here ya go.

Our daughter is due in late January. :)


I'm probably one of the few that actually wants to be a parent, actually looking forward to the challenge of it. I'm sure I'll get sick of it from time to time like anyone but I'm going to try to hold on to the initial joy and fascination with this new little creature.

It's funny jacob would link to that climate article because this is something I'm struggling with now that I know she's on the way. Not really that I'm burdening the planet anymore (we're only plannng on one child), but more for her own well being later in life. I've found myself wondering what I can do to make her life easier in a world that's going to be falling apart.

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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by jennypenny » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:01 pm

Congratulations!

FYI ... some of us like being parents. ;)

To paraphrase something I once said ... I've noticed on the forum that the DIY-types are into having babies and the FI-types avoid parenting or constantly calculate the costs of the ones they have. *I'm not criticizing anyone.* I'm only pointing out that different mindsets can produce completely different views of parenting.

You definitely seem like a DIY-type cmonkey, so I think you'll love it.

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