Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust Prevails

Where are you and where are you going?
2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Western Red Cedar wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 10:22 pm
Sometimes I worry that I'm throwing gasoline on your wanderlust fire, but since you've started looking into dirtbagging...
Don't worry, I need all of the gasoline I can get. If I was more ballsy/creative than logical, I would be exploring the Southern Hemisphere instead of tied to my laptop (and wife).

Thank you for the recommendations, I've seen 180 Degrees South and really enjoyed it. Will definitely rent out the other two over the holiday weekend.

I'm definitely not a climber/mountaineer but the dirtbag lifestyle is also very prominent in other circles, namely hiking (hiker trash), bicycle touring, and MTB. Someone like Fred Beckey did it till his 90's.....I can see it getting a bit old when you're older.....but there's only one way to find out.

It would be an interesting experiment to attempt living off of less than I/we spent in 2020, but I don't see a great reason to, at least financially. We definitely plan on limiting our car use greatly (and have over the past 18 months), and avoid flying as much as possible. We even looked at a relocation cruise to cross the Atlantic, but Covid put an end to those thoughts.

Right now DW and I realized that we are working more for future employability than directly needing the $$. I need a creative way to bridge the gap between end of 2019 and my current position.
Last edited by 2Birds1Stone on Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by classical_Liberal »

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2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I think that's exactly where we are right now :)

classical_Liberal
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by classical_Liberal »

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2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 2:30 pm
This should be the new argument for the "4 percent rule" of 1JAFI round these parts. It's good, not because it doesn't fail, but because it can. :D
Yes, this is approximately DW's goal......and she's in no rush.

Found $$$

Not sure if I'm understanding US tax law 100%, but it appears that we will qualify for the Saver's Credit on our federal taxes. With an MFJ AGI <$39,000 we should receive 50% of the first $4,000 of contributions into a Roth/Traditional IRA, or 401k plan. Singles are capped at $19,500 income and 50% of first $2,000 in contributions.

Between all of our taxable income sources, I do believe we will be below the $39,000 threshold. Maybe not for the full $2,000, but a good chunk of it.

Yet another benefit of low spending/income. The tax code really is amazing in the USA if you're earning/living below the median household income.

If we end up with a second round of stimulus checks, that and our tax return are both going right into the travel fund, which is currently sitting $16k.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

2020 Spending Review

$1,143 Housing - we were very fortunate wrt accommodations in NY and Poland this year. The only time we paid rent was through AirBnB in Portugal for 3 months.
$1,457 Grocery - a bit higher than my average grocery spending over the past 5 years, but I chalk it off to more convenience foods and prepared foods due to Covid induced restaurant shutdowns.
$290 Transportation - this includes all local transportation (metro, bus, train) in Europe for 7 months, and gasoline during the 5 months we were in the USA
$1,960 Entertainment - a lot of outdoor dining in Poland, alcohol for home and out, aquarium tickets, depreciation of bicycle purchased/resold in Portugal, WoW subscription, Spotify premium, etc
$1,305 Travel - major flights to/from the EU, travel between Portugal and Poland, AirBnB for 16 nights in the Polish Tatras, 3 nights in Beskids, and overnight sailing trip.
$453 Insurance - Travel/Health insurance for 2 months in the USA and 7 months in EU.
$380 Health/Hygiene - gym memberships, toiletries, sunscreen, misc
$584 Misc - BT speaker, BT headphones, bicycle in Poland, bicycle accessories, cell phone plan in 3 countries
$778 Gifting - birthday gifts, charity, picking up the tab when going out with family in Poland, host/hostess gifts when seeing friends, etc.
$8,350 Total Spent - <1JAFI!

As a married couple our spending will come in right at $16,500....which is absolutely insane.

There was no "budgeting" at all this year. We spent based on our values, and didn't skimp whenever something brought us value/joy/comfort/etc, within reason.

The biggest contributors to this where 1) prepaid our Jan rent/utilities in December, used security deposit toward Feb 2) free housing in Poland 3) paying only utilities now that we are back in the states 4) travel/health insurance outside of the county costs 10-20% of what even employer health insurance costs us here.

I never imagined that spending so little for a year would be possible, but it was. If we wanted to recreate this year, it would be possible without relying on free/subsidized housing from family by doing WWOOFing, WorkAway, or housesitting.

My total income for 2020 from all sources will be right at $32,000, which includes tax deferred income from dividends.

Which means that even during a year where I will have worked 7 weeks, managed to pull a 74% savings rate out of my ass.

I don't have DW's exact income numbers, but she will definitely be in the green for 2020! And her spending was impressively lower than mine.

For 2021 our housing and insurance costs should be astronomically higher, giving and travel modestly higher (as we work on building up points/miles for future travel), and the rest of the categories should stay fairly flat.
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2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 2:30 pm
PS
The GF is looking at a contract in Miami now... The "plans" keep evolving for us too. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Exciting! Let me know if it pans out. FL is still our #1 pick for getting outta NY this winter.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Very cool to see your numbers with the breakdown by category. Thanks for sharing! If there is ever a case to make for Semi ERE, I think you've made it successfully this year.

I think one of the benefits to slow-travel as a transition into a FI lifestyle is that it hedges agains sequence of returns risk, at least for those spending and budgeting closer to MMM levels. A nomadic lifestyle can hit on a lot of personal goals while giving your stache time to grow, and your numbers prove this. Obviously one doesn't always have access to free accommodation, but as you mention, there are plenty of other workarounds to address that. Some of those will likely add more value to your experiences as well.

Keep on truckin'

llorona
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by llorona »

Wow! Great job! Looking at your annual budget is making me laugh at myself. It's incredible how little you paid for housing and what a big difference that makes.

mooretrees
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by mooretrees »

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 9:46 am
2020 Spending Review

There was no "budgeting" at all this year. We spent based on our values, and didn't skimp whenever something brought us value/joy/comfort/etc, within reason.
Boy, is that the heart of the matter. Really nailed it! One of the things I've appreciated about you is how positive you are and how steady your focus is on health. It's really great to see how deeply absorbing the fundamentals of ERE have played out in your situation. Really inspiring!

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@WRC, yea.....we haven't even been able to REALLY use geo-arbitrage to get to most of our goal location due to Covid. There is a journal here by physdude - viewtopic.php?t=9467 detailing COL in Malaysia for example. Wonder what ever happened to him.....

Excited to see what 2021 brings!

@IIorona, housing has and likely will continue to be our largest expense moving forward. The dreaded "head tax" most of us can't get away from. Going to attempt to find creative ways to minimize this in the future.

@mooretrees, thank you, but I feel there is still a LOOOOONG way to go on the ERE front. Still stuck on the lower end of Wheaton level 6 -_-

Speaking of health...

My goal was to slow/reverse the weight gain that's been going on since returning to the USA in mid October, and I finally succeeded toward the end of this month.

Goal 7 day average weight by 12/31 - <210 lb
Actual 7 day average weight today - 209.4 lb

My lowest 7 day average in 2020 was consistent 201-202 lb in July, and highest mid December 212-213 lb peak.

For the year I walked 2,200+ miles, cycled ~900 miles (mostly trail MTB riding), and ran 75 miles, weightlifted 130 times.

Wrt mental health, given how crazy of a rollercoaster this year was, I am happy that I was able to avoid a deep depressive state and/or other issues.

Relationship with DW definitely strengthened, as did several friendships and extended family.....on the other hand, I think relationship with immediate family suffered, and I continue to distance myself emotionally.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Happy New Year!
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ertyu
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by ertyu »

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:01 am

A flash crash does feel like it's right around the corner, but what will be the catalyst now?
have the same feeling but think it's recency bias. in december 2019, i was worried because a part of me expected a repeat of december 18. time will tell.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by Jin+Guice »

Congrats on the low spending!

Something that I've noticed as I've transitioned from Wheaton 5 to 6 is a shift in mindset on spending. I think around the Wheaton 4/5 border it becomes important to begin to embrace the idea that not spending money is not a sacrifice. Around the 5/6 border, I've found it important to embrace the idea that not spending money has a lot of benefits. One way I do this is to consider the attributes of the product/ experience I'm looking for and then ask if spending money will actually enhance that experience. A lot of times I'm looking for intrigue, novelty or adventure and these things are decreased by spending money to gain access to something. Seeking these things in areas where I traditionally spent money has lead me to spend even less, even if the time/ money tradeoff is not optimized from a $$ standpoint initially. I also spend more money on certain things when I need a very specific, technologically advanced or quick experience/ item. Explaining this mindset has proved difficult to my close friends and GFs who I'd previously placated by being like "ya, I'm just a cheapskate."

One thing to consider when thinking of the job vs. wanderlust tradeoff is that adventure can be had through employment. It's really hard to decouple dollar remuneration from employment, but if you can accept that you don't need to earn money anymore, adventure awaits. There's no shame in admitting that you enjoy your high-dollar job and that the thrill of executing a skill you have honed and being well compensated for it is exciting, provided you're not creating another excuse to keep your handcuffs golden. I think it can be more exciting once you realize that you don't need it because it frees you to take more risks.

I've also experienced a real sense of loss on the journey from 5/6. I used to really love "getting a good deal" or optimizing a budget or being highly paid for something I didn't enjoy. Squashing material/ monetary desire, internalizing optimization so there is no need to budget and accepting that you own all of your own time comes with a true sense of loss from former modes of thinking and alienation from friends/ family and our culture.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Non Financial EOY Thoughts & Musings

This might turn into an unorganized brain dump, so reader beware.

2020, despite it's many struggles and challenges, turned out to be a relatively great year for us. While our initial itinerary was completely disrupted between Covid and DW's work injury shortly before we left, there was a tremendous silver lining. When planning the trip, we thought that spending 3 months traveling from Portugal to Poland would be "slow" and had a dozen locations on our list. In hindsight, that would have been entirely too much, and are grateful that we had to hunker down and live in one foreign place for 3 months. It changes our plans on future trips, and we believe it's a much more sustainable and authentic way to experience places we are interested in living.

One thing that we both really want to try when the world normalizes again, is WorkAway/WOOFing. The arrangement seems almost perfect from an ERE standpoint, and from reading more about it over the past year, looks like many of the hosts/opportunities provide a unique insight into local culture/economy/society that an outsider typically would have a hard time getting on their own. Not to mention the different skills one can learn by working on various projects. It also keeps the $$ out of the hands of hotels/AirBnB, and in the hands of the local people.

Over the past month or so, I've shared my struggle with direction and purpose. Especially after rereading a post by Ego from several months ago where he outlines some important thoughts/advice on returning back to "home base" after an extended period of travel. And due to circumstance and the gravity of our previous lifestyle, like we had fallen into a similar pattern as before we left. I felt a sense of defeat due to the lack of creativity to create a new life upon return. Our situation right now is "comfortable" and "safe", but that's not how I want to remember my life. The timing could not have been better yesterday, when WRC posted the links to Mountain of Storms and a video remembering Doug Tompkins, in the ERE Adventure thread. DW and I watched them together, in that respective order. It revived an extreme sense of adventure and compassion for our planet, and made me realize that I need to determine a path forward as soon as logistically possible, to get back to what's important to us.
Jin+Guice wrote:
Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:36 pm
One thing to consider when thinking of the job vs. wanderlust tradeoff is that adventure can be had through employment. It's really hard to decouple dollar remuneration from employment, but if you can accept that you don't need to earn money anymore, adventure awaits.........

I've also experienced a real sense of loss on the journey from 5/6.....
Wanted to address your thoughts on these points.

1) You're certainly right, but my job is not a very adventurous one right now. I'm past the point of not needing the $$, and experienced the benefits of taking big risks and using FU$ to strengthen my backbone. There are aspects of the work that a certainly enjoy, the salesmanship, negotiation, and learning about how different business and industries I am selling into operate and grow.......but what's that led me to? A disdain for corporate America and most aspects of modern society. I've become an indirect part of the problem, by making it easier for companies to squeeze more profit at the expense of the planet/people. In the future, I would like to find work that is part of the solution, those have to exist, and I'm sure could equally leverage my skillset and abilities. Around September, after 11 months off work there was an itch to do something again. Rather than jumping back into a corporate W-2 position, I wish I had taken some more time to figure out something that aligned more with my values.

2) The sense of loss is very real. About 4-5 years ago, I started feeling a bit like an outsider at work primarily. Everyone talked about what car they're going to lease next, the extra addition to their house, and what activities their kids need to succeed at outside of academics to have a good shot at top schools. I observed, as these people were VERY high income earners, but turns out complained about lack of money like you wouldn't believe. Still, I made a few friends, and did pretend to be more like them to fit in. It was still awkward at lunch or company happy hours when pop-culture references were made and I was clueless (don't watch TV for decades). More recently though, I have a much harder time relating to "normal" people. Watching the way even close friends and family live their lives to simply consume, is nauseating.

I don't think I could spend money how I used to, even if I tried. Even looking back on when my spending was relatively low, I would still create sooooo much waste. Back then I was an optimizer and deal-getter like yourself. It felt good, but it was driven by my understanding of FIRE, not so much ERE.

There is no going back. The future needs to be built based on true values, and I hope it attracts the right people.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by AxelHeyst »

A colleague and I had a catch up conversation about our holidays, and all they talked about was gifts, shopping and getting deals for gifts, receiving gifts, giving gifts...

Your thoughts and feelings are encouraging, they feel like the final swell of energy and realization being gathered before being unleashed on the world/your lives in a real way. I think the two threads your talking about, wanting something adventurous/meaningful and that sense of loss related to becoming an outsider, are indeed intertwined. And insofar as you solve one, the other will follow.

Meaning, the more you put your life ‘out there’, in adventurous conditions on the fringes of society where you are part of the solution, that’s where you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded by people who made the same leap you did and you won’t feel like an outsider anymore. You have to lose something (the old now nauseating culture; the traditional sources of security) in order to gain something (the deep bonds you’ll forge once you find the people who, when you’ve only started trying to explain your struggles and path to find meaning, start smiling and nodding and say “glad you made it”).

Jin+Guice
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by Jin+Guice »

+1 for the more of a weirdo you become you more weirdos you attract. Some of it is getting good at developing rapport and just talking to people outside your comfort zone, but for long lasting friendships some stuff can't be faked. Setting up your world to filter out people you don't want to interact with helps too (though you want to allow some differentiation or you get trapped in a bubble/ echo chamber). I always say I don't like most people, but I like most people I meet.

I've found a true appreciation for people and being able to find the one good thing in someone you don't like, coupled with a not so subtle sense of -superiority is a winning combo... The trajectory is envy -> disdain -> pity.

The weirder culture your accessing the more strict boundaries/ social sorting mechanisms you need. A serious problem of not being able to call the cops is keeping the weird + bad people out.

@2B1S: Aligning actions with values by changing your habits is fucking hard! It's important to celebrate the success of getting 8% of the way there rather than beat yourself up for missing the other 92%. There's always next time. Mistakes are the price of admission. As one of my sound mixing mentors used to say whenever we started mixing a song "Let's fuck it up."

Rags2Freedom
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by Rags2Freedom »

Wow.... I found this forum 3 days ago and I can’t believe I’ve missed out on such a amazing community for so long.

I won’t go into detail here being it’s @2b1s journal but this finding has come at the RIGHT time to kick me back into gear.

I’ve read this thread from start to finish in 2 days (literally every word!) and am so impressed with your results but mainly your positive attitude.

@2b1s regarding item (2) above, I’ve felt this for years. I live in SE Asia (Hong Kong) and I’m the only fugal type person I know, appreciate that isn’t too strange however HK is the extreme of over consumerism due to FAT expat salaries and middle class people “living there best life” by over spending at a dangerous rate. Hearing them gloat, watching them advertise top top end clothing lines during social events is sickening as it just doesn’t align with my values and I see the damage and pressure it creates for sum. Given I’m a family man, I now seen this being passed onto their children and it pains me. Frugality in HK , from what Ive seen in 8’years is nonexistent. Over consumerism is rife.

Now I’m no saint, you’ll find out that fairly shortly, (mistakes have and are being made!) however I’ll always try and leave this world and friends in a better place then when I got here. My way of coping with the above friends and colleagues is to bathe in the HK natural environment, plenty of mountain trail running and biking. It’s my zen away from the glitz and pretentious chat and images.

Point I make - depending on where you live you’ll either find a lot of people over consuming or see people struggling to make ends meet (SE Asia travel will show you a lot of this) either way it can be hard to handle personally (at least I struggle at times). Finding a zen way of dealing with it has always helped me, but I must say as time goes on I find it harder and harder not to b**** slap some sense into some people! Haha

classical_Liberal
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by classical_Liberal »

,,,
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Ego
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Re: Semi-ERE Year 3 - Wanderlust vs. W-O-R-K

Post by Ego »

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 7:55 am
2020, despite it's many struggles and challenges, turned out to be a relatively great year for us. While our initial itinerary was completely disrupted between Covid and DW's work injury shortly before we left, there was a tremendous silver lining.

.........

DW and I watched them together, in that respective order. It revived an extreme sense of adventure and compassion for our planet, and made me realize that I need to determine a path forward as soon as logistically possible, to get back to what's important to us.
I grabbed two snippets because I think they are the key.

Your day-to-day life right now is spent in a world where the people around you at work NEED plans. The difficulties of their day-to-day requires that they convince themselves that they are on a journey moving toward something big.

That compulsion can be contagious. Everyone around you is rushing to build and accumulate and move to the next stage. It is an almost natural to wake up one morning and find yourself unknowingly rushing along with them without really know why or where you are going.

But take a look above at your first sentence in the quote. You said 2020 turned out to be great. It didn't "turn out" to be great. The two of you made it great. Click back four of five pages in this journal if you need to be convinced of that fact. You dropped yourselves down in a foreign country where you did not speak the language and you lived and learned and were engaged with the world. There was so much "new" that you were reacting and adapting and changing and figuring out how to provide the most basic elements of life. A very different sort of building and accumulating.

When I read that first sentence above it occurred to me that you are two people who generate silver linings regardless of the obstacles in their path. Silver lining generation is a learnable, improvable skill. Sometimes it is a skill that gets practice when things don't go as planned. Maybe the next Wheaton level up involves practicing the skill when the plans are vague. Not to get too meta, but the one above that might be where the plan itself is to purposely seek out situations where you must generate silver linings.

ht to JP

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