black_son_of_gray's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
black_son_of_gray
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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by black_son_of_gray » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:01 am

I'm on another Vonnegut kick, and came across this sentence, in Hocus Pocus:
Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
(The other flaws mentioned immediately before and after that statement: that it is human nature do disregard people you don't know as insignificant, and that people are just plain dumb.)

This line stuck with me, and I chewed on it today while doing my Sunday chores - yard work and sweeping. It occurred to me that "maintenance" is the final destination, in a sense, of many endeavors. As Vonnegut writes, no one seems satisfied with that destination, probably because the sparkling sense of accomplishment is usually duller for maintenance than building/creating, and the novelty of the thing being maintained is gone. And the uncertainty of the outcome, addictive as that is, is also gone.

Is this all, ultimately, about reward circuits?

Probably.

I briefly considered whether I'd enjoy pouring a new driveway more than I would the weekly sweeping of the one we've got. I probably would. And that's the challenge moving forward.

In ERE, this relates to the "chop wood, carry water" Wheaton level, although as I think about it, it might be clearer to describe it as "holistic system of previous level habituated into lifestyle". Certainly not as exciting as crafting the formulae in one's wealth accumulation spreadsheet or troubleshooting a preposterously high expense. Tangent: Many years ago, I read a book whose take-home point, at least as I remember it, was that because science was so effective at answering questions, it would eventually run out of important or practical ones to answer, and the costs would ramp up to answer the increasingly trivial questions that remained, and so on, until the public wouldn't stand for funding the science, because it would be answering questions that were too arcane for the public to understand or care about. Budget priorities, or something like that. Anyway, one could say similar things of ERE - at some point, there isn't much left to do but live your life.

Would that it were so simple.

Insight: Consider public discussions surrounding environmental sustainability, and how that quickly morphs into developing new products. Sustainability is ultimately just maintenance, and that isn't nearly as preferable as progress, which is just building more new things. Our best and brightest minds would much rather craft the solution than carry it through. And here we thought our brains were a survival advantage!

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by FBeyer » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:10 am

Well, what do YOU think chop wood carry water means? The buddhist origin of the phrase is highly relevant to its implementation in your daily life.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:49 am

Howdy, several of your posts in other threads bring me here.

I'm curious how the past 5 months have gone in your new(ish) lifestyle?

classical_Liberal
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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:43 pm

Yeah, It's been awhile since the road trip, whats going on?

When previously active journals go silent, I always assume it's because things are going really well. I hope that's the case.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by black_son_of_gray » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:28 pm

Life, One Year Later

It's been a year since I left full-time employment. Here's an update of my situation.

Finances

My net worth is a few percent higher than when I left my job, which wasn't exactly expected, but welcome.

I left my job with about 10 years of trailing expenses, but I knew I was entering a (temporary) living situation that would eliminate my biggest expense: housing. SO and I have been living with her elderly mother in a too-big house in the Bay Area of California while SO takes care of some investment/business-related projects. These projects will likely wrap up in 3-9 months, depending on many variables, and afterward we are batting around the idea of buying a house with a few acres of land—likely PNW, but we're keeping open minds. In the meantime, my expenses (basically, same as before except for rent and utilities) have been so low it isn't worth it to me to track them. I'm somewhere in the 30-40X range, which is arbitrarily good enough for me. [I’ve provided some value-add to the household with landscaping, maintenance, plumbing, and appliance-repair worth at least $X,000.]

Regarding investments, I exited the stock market (VTI) at its peak last autumn and am happy to sit on the sidelines for a while. So far I've collected more money on the proceeds sitting in an FDIC-insured money market account than I would with S&P 500 dividends with none of the excitement of the December-January roller coaster ride. I still have various treasuries, gold, and cash-equivalents in my portfolio which put me very defensively postured against recessions/market plunges. I can live with being wrong about that.

I don't expect my expenses will be this low forever. But read on…

Perspective on ERE/Finances

TL;DR: A kinda-sorta semi-ERE manifesto that unexpectedly turned into a cosmic hippie rant there at the end, but maybe that's just the Bay Area's influence.

Maybe it's inevitable that when you've thought about a topic long enough, you start to come full circle back to the beginning. A few things have clicked together in my brain with a peculiar result: I've come back to the same kind of beliefs that many people in the FIRE community revile as simple-minded ignorance. Namely, that FIRE is impossible. Not only that, it reflects a fundamentally flawed, magical, "wouldn't that be nice but the world doesn't work like that" way of thinking.

Maybe I'm just setting up a straw man (you tell me), but most FIRE discussions I see are rooted in near-term or long-term time frames.
  • Near-term (~1 year): e.g. what's your yearly budget? Do you have a 6 month emergency fund? One time events like: I did X and saved Y dollars
  • Long-term (20+ years): e.g. tax/social security/pension strategies when elderly, perpetual withdrawal rates (25x vs. 33x)
In ERE as Chess terms, these are conversations about Openings and Endgames, which are typically either formulaic or foregone conclusions. Which is all well and good to keep studying and rehashing, but how you think about the impenetrable fog of the Middlegame matters way more. Near as I can tell, the medium-term (~5-10 years) is by far the most important time frame with respect to planning.

What do I mean that the medium-term matters more? And why do I call it an "impenetrable fog"?

The argument goes something like this: there is a steep drop-off in the "certainty" of most systems I care about beyond maybe 5-10 years—this is the fog—due to the interaction of two concepts which I'll steal (and butcher) from physics: the three-body problem and inertia.

The Three-body Problem
Everything is, after all, inescapably embedded in hierarchical systems of some sort. It doesn't matter how "advanced" humanity gets, it still can't escape interacting with Earth's nutrient/mineral/energy cycles, the food web, etc. Obviously, these systems are complex, and it's a fair bet that any time humans have made something look simple (read: convenient), they've just opened a local loop—at one level of system hierarchy, but not all of them!—by using a bunch of fossil fuels.

Complexity of a system means that in the long run it is completely unpredictable, even if you (think you) know all the rules that govern the system (this is the three-body problem). There just is no formula or algorithm that can spit out "the answer". [Interesting related podcast with Ben Hunt—one of the guys behind Epsilon Theory—that is well worth your time: http://investorfieldguide.com/hunt/ He considers how you might construct an investment portfolio to deal with this "Profound Agnosticism" (spoiler alert: similar principles to Permanent Portfolio, but with more sophisticated risk-parity-ish implementation). The longer a system of even moderate complexity is let to run, the more unlikely you are to have any clue what will happen.

Inertia
And yet, even though the destination is unknown, many systems move relatively slowly—they have some predictable near-term inertia to them. For example, we may not be able to say with much certainty where Pluto's moon Charon might be a few billion years after the sun exits its main sequence (I know, risky example on a forum with an astrophysicist webmaster), but the near-term orbits are much better predicted. Or we might consider sovereign bonds: a number of governments have now issued 100 year(!) bonds, and while it's far from certain that these countries or their currencies will even exist in 100 years (much less that they will have continually paid coupons over that time), they will almost certainly exist as political entities next week, next month, next year. The sheer inertia/momentum/institutionality—whatever you want to call it—of many big systems acts like a flywheel that keeps humming along for a while—nearly the same as before—after inputs are removed or even changed.

So within that context, my mind has been kicking back against the implicit assumptions embedded in FIRE. There is no "financial independence" because I can't remove myself from any system (finance, humanity, nature, etc.—however those terms are defined). Independence implies that you've "solved" the problem of money, but because money is completely embedded within societal and cultural and natural systems, there is no "answer". It's only a mirage. It's thinking something is there when it isn't. It's a fundamentally flawed way of thinking.

Thinking I have the "answer" would also lull me into a false sense of security. It would be easy for me to stop paying attention to changing circumstances. To think of this in evolutionary terms, for example, it's worth remembering that there is no optimal evolutionary destination. There is only survival, and what it takes to survive is always changing as the environment changes. The master process here, underlying natural selection, writing, the science method, "kaizen" etc., is something like "iterative refinement"—always fitting the curves, which themselves are always changing. This curve fitting takes work in one form or another. It takes interaction and reaction with the various systems you inhabit, and that is the very opposite of "independence" (Archdruid piece on the hubris of humans trying to impose "the answer" on natural systems). This constant work is just the overhead of what it means to be alive, the inevitable work that remains at ERE Wheaton Level 8, whether monetary or not. I can complain about having to do this "overhead" work, but I've started to see such complaints as being a failure of amor fati: rejecting the mandatory overhead work that comes with being a human embedded in the various systems of the universe is, in a way, rejecting what it means to be alive as a human in the first place. Life is a package deal. To think that I can completely avoid all work is as ridiculous as thinking that I can stop being human (and somehow not die in the process).

But let's back away from the furious but abstract hand waving I've been doing and come back to consider concrete, important systems as examples of predictability across medium- to long-term time frames. The business/credit cycle fits approximately within ~5-10 years. I can make a pretty good guess about where I am in the current business cycle (medium-term), but it's essentially random odds to guess where in the cycle I'll be in 20-30 years (long-term). Useful political predictability drops off for time frames longer than 5-10 years (1-2 presidential elections). From where the US is now, the range of near-term outcomes is reasonably predictable. But more than 2 elections away is completely dark—was anyone predicting Trump when Obama was first sworn in (2008)? The near-term action on climate change in the next 5-10 years is quite predictable: 1) it'll keep getting worse (but not yet be a catastrophe), and 2) nothing will be done about it politically. But after 5-10 years, who knows how the world will react to the first blue ocean event, a weak and loopy jet stream causing a multi-breadbasket famine and massive social/migratory upheaval? And who knows, maybe a string of relatively calm, fortunate years will postpone these high-impact effects a while longer. The iPhone first came out in 2007, and within 10 years smart phones had become an overwhelming, mind-altering influence on society. Think about that—within 10 years it became weird not to see someone starting at a tiny screen all the time. Within about a decade, ETFs have dramatically changed the investment space in a way that influences how just about everyone structures or executes their investment portfolio holdings. Where will general AI or self-driving cars or fusion (ok, this one has an answer: "it's only 20 years away!") or monetary policy/central banks/interest rates be in 5-10 years? And on and on...same thing.

And in a way I'm back where I started, trying to think about what is economical when considering everything from the point of view of systems—which have certain properties like complexity, long-term unpredictability, and inertia (and many other things I'm leaving out, which probably matter a great deal!). And the view through my systems lens is showing me a surprising landscape. What is the point in saving 30 years worth of money when 1) I'm going to have to keep participating (i.e. work, in some sense or other) in various inescapable systems anyway, and 2) there's a very good chance I will be dramatically influenced or impaired by any number of completely unforeseeable situations beyond the 5-10 years of reasonably predictable system inertia? But you may argue: "Well what's the harm in saving up 30 years of expenses anyway?" To which I think Seneca would answer, reasonably: "Nothing, as long as you are ok with potentially wasting an awful lot of your limited time on Earth working for something of unknowable value." [This argument is more compelling for people saving 4x+ expenses annually because the time commitment is so much less, which is to say, not most of us.]

So beyond maybe 5-10x expenses, which essentially provides a buffer for the relatively predictable inertia of the near-term, I'm not sure having more money is particularly useful (or rather, its utility drops off with predictability, which is to say rapidly after about 10 years). More useful, rather, seems to be getting involved—actually participating—in the systems that are important (e.g. gardening, developing a community, creating something of value that others might find value in as well), rather than repeating some mantra of "financial independence" as being an end goal, an "answer". That way, when things veer off in unpredictable ways, you'll see it in the system immediately—because you're part of it—and will be able to refit your curve and keep on going. But what do I know, anyway? The view from where I'm sitting is pretty foggy.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:21 pm

bsog, this is one of the best and most thought provoking posts I've read on these boards. I'm almost intimidated to comment, because being able to put thought to paper (or keyboard) so well, simply escapes me.

This is a concern I've struggled with for the past year or so. Many things can happen to someone who saves 30x expenses.......governments can redistribute wealth, retirement/health benefits in old age become means tested, WWIII happens, etc.....and then what? Someone who spends 20 years accumulating 33.33x trailing expenses suddenly loses everything and wastes X years of their life.

I think that this is yet another fantastic reason to consider semi-ER, because at the end of the day, you can't completely decouple from the system. (or if you can, it's very difficult and you end up in solitary life, off grid). Having 5-10x to give you courage, and then keeping one toe in the system on a part time basis, ensures situational awareness, and future adaptation. If you were smart and resourceful enough to get 5-10x ahead, then chances are good that you will adapt when circumstances change, and end up on the right side of the curve vs. your peer group.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:10 pm

Welcome back! I've been long anticipating an update, looks like it was worth the wait.

Pretty sure you just made an excellent argument for semi-retirement. Even more so on the limitation of one form of capital, financial. Given that "it" has become, by far, the most used & understood form, having the ability to utilize other forms (something normal two generations ago in the US) makes them potentially even more valuable due to scarcity if/when financial capital becomes less reliably the universal solution.

I gotta tell you though, this is why I'm ERE and not "FIRE". It seems like what you've stated above is just another way of describing the superiority of the former over the later. I think there may be a bit of a disconnect in the minds of many people. ERE is ERE, not FIRE. Living an ERE lifestyle will probably result in FI (given inertia of the system), but rarely results in most peoples conception of RE.

I recently jumped on my soapbox about absolutely hating SMART goals. In general, this is because the focus of attention ends up being the end goal, not the process of reaching it. As a result, the process is abused in every way, shape, and form to reach the coveted end goal. Our thinking literally changes. Life is lived in the process of achieving things, not in the moment of achievement. So in this context, the end goal of FI becomes the primary focus, when in fact, we should be looking at the journey of ERE.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by jacob » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:07 am

classical_Liberal wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:10 pm
I gotta tell you though, this is why I'm ERE and not "FIRE". It seems like what you've stated above is just another way of describing the superiority of the former over the later. I think there may be a bit of a disconnect in the minds of many people. ERE is ERE, not FIRE. Living an ERE lifestyle will probably result in FI (given inertia of the system), but rarely results in most peoples conception of RE.
Thank you for seeing that. I think the difference is a discussion we've had many times on the forum, but I still don't think it's universally groked. Not even on these forums. Somehow/somewhere I've failed to communicate it ... or the message is just drowned out by the voices of conventional FIRE.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by rube » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:58 am

Or the concept of FIRE is simply much easier to understand and execute then ERE?

@Bsog thank you for the update.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by black_son_of_gray » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:03 am

@2Birds1Stone: Well, if I'm good at anything, it's turning other people's ideas into chop suey with a little bit of my own seasoning. Thank you for the kind words, but please don't hesitate to comment so I can appropriate your ideas too!

@classical_Liberal and @Jacob: I'm totally in agreement that ERE is not FIRE, and also Jacob's point that the explicit distinction is often missed on these forums. As I tried to lay out above, even if you stay entirely within the realm of personal finance, really embracing the systems approach (ERE) leads to irreconcilable differences in long-term planning. FIRE is seeking "answers" which the systems approach says doesn't exist. But "systems thinking" tends to be explained in eye-rolling, abstract jargon, so it makes sense that the initial draw—the thing that gets most people to first discover ERE—is the idea that "simple math" shows that extremely early retirement is possible. [And it certainly isn't a useless idea—historically, it clearly has worked for some people, or so far for many people] Jacob has talked about lessons in martial arts where the instructor reveals that they had previously lied to the student to get them ready for the greater truth. Sounds like the same thing with ERE and the rest on the personal finance space. I'm reminded of a catchy book title: "What got you here won't get you there."

Also, and maybe this is true for others, I find myself a little reluctant to pound the tables about what I think ERE is because a nagging thought in the back of my mind says "ERE is Jacob's thing, and I don't want to put words in his mouth." I feel like FIRE is a general enough movement that I can do that (although perhaps still risking straw man arguments). But with ERE, I always feel like there is another layer to the onion that maybe I'm missing or haven't understood yet—so who am I to tell others what it is and is not. ERE imposter syndrome!

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by Lemur » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:14 am

black_son_of_gray wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:03 am
Also, and maybe this is true for others, I find myself a little reluctant to pound the tables about what I think ERE is because a nagging thought in the back of my mind says "ERE is Jacob's thing, and I don't want to put words in his mouth."
OTOH .....Socrates --> Plato --> Aristotle
I'm sure they drew many of the same conclusions about life (all cooked Chicken at 400 degrees for 25 minutes) but argued over the seasonings. So I think in that context, debating the philosophy of ERE should be okay....but re-writing a chapter might not be [well unless you had some really compelling reasons and evidence?]

I enjoyed the reading the last couple of posts; there were some nuggets in there that actually were not apparent to me.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:16 pm

black_son_of_gray wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:03 am
But "systems thinking" tends to be explained in eye-rolling, abstract jargon, so it makes sense that the initial draw—the thing that gets most people to first discover ERE—is the idea that "simple math" shows that extremely early retirement is possible.
The nice thing about the current popularity of the FIRE movement (for us, here), is that nowadays the simple concepts are available, in more simple forms, all over. I think the likelihood of ERE forum or book being a persons first experience with the Idea of FIRE is pretty low. The fact that numbers (spending wise) are readily shared here by Jacob and others is actually pretty off-putting to low Wheaton level FIRE aspirees. At least they were for me initially, and this seems to be pretty common place in the more mainstream FIRE circles.

The draw to ERE, for me, was the resilience of a multipronged strategy. Even if I conceptually didn't understand most of it at the time. I knew that I would never be satisfied living off a sum of money forever. It was simply too risky, and sounded rather boring. Who wants to learn to be frugal, then walk around aimlessly for decades finding the most efficient way to consume? It's like eating delicious pizza everyday. Sure it's great for awhile, but eventually you want to switch things up. Though, I think my opinion is in the minority of mainstream FIRE. If the rate of type II Diabetes is any proxy (for pizza eating and general consuming :P ), then I think it's even lower in the general population.

All of this means that more deep analysis of what is done by people here, can be discussed here. Only the most interested will continue down the rabbit hole and begin to see the differences. Personally, I'm maybe only 30% of the way down. Hence, I have the same problem as BSOG, I don't really feel I'm qualified to discuss the philosophical nuances of ERE. However, I do understand, from a broad conceptual standpoint, the differences. Which is why I love posts like @BSOG above. It's an attempt to hash out intellectually things that just seem like "feelings" or "intuition" otherwise.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by jacob » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:46 pm

I think informed critique or perspectives are always welcome. Don't count on me for that. It's been 10 years since I last thought about this stuff on an intellectual level. Now I just live it w/o having to think about it consciously and not having done that for so long also makes it tougher for me to say something useful about it. @bsog's description above was definitely better than anything I can put out about it these days, so I'd hate for people to hold back thinking I should be the only one to talk about ERE with authority.

Plato or Socrates-style comments like these are, therefore, fine. What would be annoying would be comments from the peanut gallery. In Wheaton terms, the best/most interesting/valuable insights come from the same Wheaton level +/- 0.5, that is, from someone is just about to "see the light"/unlock their previous sticking point or have recently done so.

I think such a process is also better than freezing the canon in terms of what I said back in 2010. ERE isn't exactly meant to be scripture. However, it was intended to be rather solid and so I think a "better understanding" should at least incorporate the "present understanding" in the limit.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:04 pm

c_L wrote:Which is why I love posts like @BSOG above. It's an attempt to hash out intellectually things that just seem like "feelings" or "intuition" otherwise.
I very much agree. Also made me remember that I came to "ERE" via node of "The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One." which is kind of halfway up the spectrum towards the opposite of SMART goals which would be some variation on the theme of making a collage to represent your ideal life. You can't do systems level analysis without considering qualities as well as quantities.

@BSOG:

I think maybe you should add the concept of black holes to your 3 body/inertia model. A black hole would be a problem that you clearly recognize within the system but you can't get too close to or fix by yourself without having all of your life energy sucked in. For instance, the hazardous waste facility located near my garden.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by wolf » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:24 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:04 pm
"The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One."
Did you also read the book 7Wannabe5? If yes, how would you rate it?

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by Ego » Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:37 am

Great post!
black_son_of_gray wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:28 pm
What is the point in saving 30 years worth of money when 1) I'm going to have to keep participating (i.e. work, in some sense or other) in various inescapable systems anyway, and 2) there's a very good chance I will be dramatically influenced or impaired by any number of completely unforeseeable situations beyond the 5-10 years of reasonably predictable system inertia?
A small amount of money can buy the freedom to gain the skills that make #1 a non-negative and #2 an adventure.

But thirty years worth of cash? I believe that safety nets can be too big. Big safety nets kill skills.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by Jin+Guice » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:36 pm

@BSOG:

I've had similar thoughts and have come to similar conclusions. I think it's an important message to spread because so many people, even here, suffer needlessly to save money to eventually retire early. Doing this for even 5 years is actually a pretty fucking long time!

I'm guilty of this myself, even though I know it's true. I grew up learning that "getting a good job" was pretty much the ultimate goal of life and it's hard to let that idea go. I know that I have so much money and so few expenses that it's basically impossible for me to run out but, it's still hard to walk away from a high paying job.

There is another problem with saving all of the money before taking any of the freedom. You're living your life entirely one way (working stiff) with the hopes of living it an entirely different way (FIRE freedomite). How do you know that you'll actually like being retired? Will you have the guts to change your life completely after 5, 10, 15 or 20 years? Mad FIentist has some material on how he struggled with this after he hit his number. IIRC he actually got fired (hah) by his employer for working remotely from another country after he was FI.

I've found that it's actually kind of difficult to run your life when you are responsible for all or most of your time. I've also struggled with finding the right part-time employment. I'm grappling with the idea that I should still be saving money in the hopes of one day FIREing or maybe just regular retiring. If I just need to cover my very low expenses, I can work basically any job part-time. But if I want to save ~50% of my income, then I have to be a bit more selective, which has thus far meant I take a job where I suffer a bit more. Have you struggled with either of these in your semi-early-retirement?

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by JollyScot » Sun Aug 04, 2019 8:09 am

I discovered that after stopping work that the 25-30 year expense number ended up being unnecessary.

The sufficiently out there goal resulted in me changing the way I lived my life. Eventually this caused the goal to be a bit pointless.

So I guess the goal is important until it is not.

However the singularity of a goal like this tended to make me ignore the side things that would make transitioning to the new post needing to work life easier.

I am not sure where the line sits with respect to the two side of skills vs savings. I think the goal is a suitable kick start for people to get on a new path in life and sufficiently difficult to get them to make real changes. If you had some blend of savings rate and lifestyle change message I am not sure if that will set as many people off on the path as stating "here is how you retire".

The various blogs and sites covering it are starting to point people in that direction. The core is still stop wasting your money on stuff. I still think the big number is a good starting point to get a change in people though. As more examples start to build up and you can see different path choices more it may become less necessary to invoke a change.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by steveo73 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:53 pm

I read through this and it was really good.

After doing the research in relation to savings/investing/withdrawal rates myself I figure a goal of 20 times expenses (with some buffer for replacement costs such as replacing the roof or painting the house) is enough for me personally. I also think that skills are a little overrated unless you are talking about going back to work which I don't want to have to rely on. I think that extra money (assuming invested in index funds) will tend to trump having skills and your skills are probably baked into your spending so this could actually be a risk that spending will increase over time. I think having really low expenses and thinking your skills will get you through gives you less wriggle room and the failure option of returning to work will have a higher probability of occurring.

At the same time I think the idea of not living a good life today due to saving for retirement isn't a good way to live. The problem here is that work is such a huge part of our lives that I can understand thinking life post retirement will be significantly better. I can't wait to retire.

For some context I'm 46 with 3 kids to support. I'm in the lock-in. It's hard to pivot my life significantly at this point. This will change in 10-15 years time but I will be retired by that point. The ability to pivot at that point though gives me confidence in hitting a figure of 20 times spending. It's buffer.

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Re: black_son_of_gray's Journal

Post by steveo73 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:57 pm

Ego wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:37 am
But thirty years worth of cash? I believe that safety nets can be too big. Big safety nets kill skills.
I think the more accurate comment is big safety nets make skills irrelevant. It might kill skills but I don't think so. Say person A earns a massive income and saves but tends to like DIY. She/he works because they like it. So they end up with a portfolio way to big too fail and the skills are completely irrelevant but they continue to utilise those skills just because it's something that they do.

Person B earns less but still ends up with a portfolio too big too fail. They always outsourced and continue to do so. It doesn't matter though because of the portfolio size.

A massive safety net means you don't have to have those skills.

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