akratic's ERE journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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akratic
Posts: 668
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Location: Cambridge, MA

Post by akratic » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:52 pm

Investing was my biggest ERE hurdle for a long time. Now that my investments are basically in place, here's where I'm at:
current favorite ERE blogs:

- Lacking Ambition

- ERE

- MMM

- SMBC comics, sometimes. example #1 (monotony / dreams), example #2 (work anger)
current post ERE dreams, in no particular order:

- hike the Appalachian Trail

- live on a sailboat in the Caribbean (to start)

- enroll in a PhD program

- start a family

- start a company

- become the best Starcraft 2 player in the world

- keep accumulating for enough passive income to support more people

- keep accumulating to drive the withdrawal rate I need to a lower and lower percent

- live in another country (ideally in Asia)

- live in a cabin in Maine with lots of books and no internet access
current ERE goals:

1) Get back into shape. My health has taken a back seat to other parts of my life for the last two years, and it shows. Optimally I would lose 20 lbs of fat, and turn 5 more lbs from fat into muscle. This should be my #1 priority now, and I plan to attack it from all angles: diet, compound lifts, and cardio (swimming + DDR)

2) Stabilize spending. I believe I've run up the spending S Curve to the top part where I'm asymptotically approaching about the best I can do in this city. In particular, the following categories are about as low as they're getting: Housing, Travel, Health, Transit, Grooming, Possessions, Fun, Social Life. The two spending categories where I'm still spending in a way that is inconsistent with my values are 1) Food (too many trips to Subway, etc) and 2) Gifts (wedding presents are a huge expense that I feel obligated to give, even though I know it's a complete fucking waste)

3) Excel at work.

4) Keep on top of the investments. Rebalance. Make sure the asset allocation is working as expected.

5) I recently read a quote that went something like "One of my life goals was to build a house for my wife that she would love. The hard part was finding the right wife." Things have been going well with my girlfriend. I need to make sure they continue to do so.


Marius
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Post by Marius » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:12 am

Hi Akratic!
You may already have said it elsewhere, but I was wondering how you have implemented the equity and the bond parts of the portfolio. Any specific funds/ETFs/etc.?
Like KevinW the PP also is the best solution I've been able to find. But so far I can't resist searching for something better and trying to time the market though.
I haven't implemented the PP yet. But I'm getting there, slowly.
I used to be 100% cash but worried about the economy and in late 2009 started gradually buying gold. I stopped buying when I reached 80% cash, 20% gold. At that point there was a balance between my fear of owning too much gold and my fear of not owning enough gold. Gold has since done well and now I'm roughly 75% cash, 25% gold.
Now I hope to be able to buy stocks when they come down a lot (like when Dow/gold or PE10 gets really low) or when gold reaches 35%.
Maybe I'll buy long term bonds when they pull a Volcker...
I know it's folly to try to buy each PP component at historically interesting prices... and I realize that meanwhile I'm exposed to serious risks because I only own half the PP and am not diversified.
Care to share how you own shares and LT bonds?


akratic
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Location: Cambridge, MA

Post by akratic » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:06 pm

Bonds: 100% TLT

Equities: 60% RWMEX, 20% VTI, 20% VEU

(Gold: 67% IAU, 33% physical)

(Cash: not set up yet)
For bonds, I was going to purchase individual 30Y bonds on treasury direct, but it was delaying my initial investing, so I decided to just go with TLT for now.
For equities, I chose RWMEX as the least bad of some terrible 401k choices. VEU is bucking PP gospel a bit, but I think it's okay. RWMEX will become VTI when I eventually roll my 401k into Vanguard.
I use Vanguard for everything (except the 401k).
The returns have been pretty interesting since I set it up.

Equities: -8.53%

Bonds: +8.41%

Gold: +8.90%

Cash: +0% (not set up)

VP: -4.06%

Total: +1.05%


jacob
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Post by jacob » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:34 pm

"enroll in a PhD program".
Why?


Dienekes
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Post by Dienekes » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:27 am

Jacob--I recall in the ERE book it mentions the need to break barriers and getting a PhD as an example. Granted, it has been a while since I read it. Of course, advice can change.
akratic--Enjoying this thread. I'm slowing getting over my gold reluctance and researching PP in depth.
Broadly, the information available on the ERE forums is truly amazing. I've gotten so many insights. Thanks again to all the contributors and Jacob for starting it all.


akratic
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Post by akratic » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:39 am

The PhD dream looks like this:

- work on an interesting problem

- surrounded by smart people

- get to try out teaching as a TA

- and get paid! ~$20k/yr

- until it gets frustrating or boring or uninteresting... then I can walk away without any consequences! (This is post ERE so I'd have FU money... and note that I want to enroll in the program but not necessarily finish it)
I lived for three months with a friend in the Economics PhD program at Harvard. Her life is basically: sleep in, work on interesting problems with little supervision, and hang out with ridiculously smart people that the school filters for her.
Unlike everyone around her, she's not racing for publications, or a tenure track position, or to graduate, or to please an advisor, or much of anything. She's already living the dream! I think she's on year eight of her PhD.


Dienekes
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Post by Dienekes » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:59 am


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:03 am

I have the same dream! PhD opposers (survivors?) should tell us why this is bad... AFTER we've accomplished FI.


akratic
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Post by akratic » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:02 am

August 2011

== EXPENSES ==
I spent $389.65 this month on weddings. I don't even like weddings, so this is a travesty.
Otherwise things were good. Without the weddings, this would have been the best month ever.
Over the past two years, my fourth highest spending category after Housing, Food, and Travel has been Gifts. Grrrrr.
== INVESTING ==
I finally pulled the trigger this month and invested. Good timing on my part too, as my investments did great this month.
target monthly expenses: 0.33% of assets

actual expenses this month: 0.45% of assets

actual investment income this month: 2.61% of assets
In other words, my investing income this month was like five months of living expenses. I don't expect that to continue.
But now that I'm finally invested, I can finally start to taste FI/FIRE/FUME/ERE. Wheee.
== NEXT STEPS ==
I have a new addiction, which is to constantly check the google doc tab with live investing results and net worth numbers. I should stop this.
I also need to finish moving around the cash allocation of my portfolio.
And I need to get serious about getting back into shape. I've been making progress, but too slowly.


jacob
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Post by jacob » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:11 am

The real fun starts when your assets decline one year's worth of living expenses in a single day 8)


JohnnyH
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Post by JohnnyH » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:39 am

That is fun, but I much prefer when your assets increase more in a month than you'll save from an entire year of employment.


Ralphy
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Post by Ralphy » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:42 pm

@ Jacob/JohnnyH
Isn't one of the PP's selling points that it dampens that type of volatility?


akratic
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Post by akratic » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:40 pm


I think I've run up the ERE logistic curve to the part where returns on increased effort start to diminish.
I've cut the expenses that I want to cut. I've figured out the investment plan and executed it. Things are essentially on autopilot now, although it will still take me over a year to hit my numbers.
Time for a new obsession?


m741
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Post by m741 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:04 am

I know the feeling, although I'm a little further down the curve. There's only so many ways you can play with the numbers, cut expenses, and supplement income before you need to wait for time to do its magic.
Wasn't one of your obsessions going to be Starcraft?


bigato
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Post by bigato » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:31 am

I'm also starting to wonder if I should stop trying to squeeze the numbers and just let the autopilot on. Maybe it's time to focus on improving fundamental skills?


akratic
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Post by akratic » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:49 pm

I see two paths before me.
Path one is hedonistic indulgence. It is maximizing short term pleasure. It is living in the moment in a way that will provide fleeting happiness, and that's it. For normal people short sighted pleasure is maximized with things like bars, restaurants, and shopping, but for me it happens to be maximized by competitive gaming, and Starcraft II is the most competitive video game in the world.
Path two is investing in the future. It is going from decent shape to terrific shape. It is prioritizing activities and hobbies that will help me connect with interesting people, and also make me a more interesting person. It is fostering and building existing relationships. It is focusing on future rewards, ideally while doing things that are also enjoyable now.
I sometimes flip flop between these two paths. My natural inclination is to focus on the future with path two, but sometimes I seem to take it too far, and find myself on hedonistic path one binges.
Most people recommend a "balance" between these two paths, but balance is not really an option for me.


JohnnyH
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Post by JohnnyH » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:42 pm

akratic, wow, sounds exactly like me... I focus on the future so much my hobbies make often make me feel guilty. Which leads to periodic binges of magnificent proportion.
Been searching for this balance point since I was a kid, and have yet to find it.


jacob
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Post by jacob » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:23 am

I just watched a couple of tournament videos of starcraft2 on youtube. I can see the attraction. I used to enjoy Warcraft1&2 and especially Dune2. I guess I'm showing my age.


akratic
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Post by akratic » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:42 am

The top tier of starcraft players make six figures, and the second tier make five figures. Source: http://sc2earnings.com
I just started messing around with the game, so I'm not that good right now, but I believe I could be one of the top US born player if I dedicated myself to it after ERE. All of my strengths and all of my weaknesses come together to make me better at gaming than pretty much anything else in life. And the field for top US player is wide open. Too bad I would have to give up effectively everything else to do this.
I played quake 2 competitively in high school and was *very* good at it, although this came at the expense of most other aspects of my life.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:55 am

I'm pretty sure akratic is a bot. His posts are a little TOO good, if you know what I mean.


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