Internationalist

Where are you and where are you going?
halfmoon
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Re: Internationalist

Post by halfmoon » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:31 am

Your soot problem may not be the gas quality. Try adjusting the air intake valve until you have only a blue flame, no yellow/orange. I did read of someone who couldn't solve the issue by adjusting the air intake, so she put a flat pan (pizza pan or such) on the burner and the cooking pan on top of that. Of course, you'd still have to clean the pizza pan sometime. Better if you can fix the air intake.

JeanPaul
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Re: Internationalist

Post by JeanPaul » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:09 pm

Funny, we almost moved to AA in September - my girlfriend got an offer to teach at the university there. But in the end, after considering the housing costs, food shortages, state of emergency, and some reports of acquaintances, we decided not to (even though it's an opportunity that had seemed initially attractive enough to apply for). I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying it, though - definitely the weather and food were attractions, as well as just the beauty of the country.

Noedig
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Noedig » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:03 pm

Really appreciate the book reviews esp the Kapuściński, and running commentary on your re-uprooting.

I hope you solve the many inconveniences that come with moving. Not least of which, finding a house to live in.

I can recommend A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock (SF, dystopic) and Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Historical saga about logging. Don't let that put you off. Start with the very different Shipping News if somehow you didn't come across her before).

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:50 pm

July Update

Disaster strikes. I moved into, then out of, a house. Exactly one week after moving in, there was a tremendous hailstorm that the roof couldn’t withstand. Water coming through the ceiling throughout the house. This is despite the fact that I explicitly quizzed the previous tenants on the ceiling integrity, and whether there had been any leaks. They reported all fine (and I trust them), so it seems it was just that the roof had gotten a few years older, plus the hail was more intense than it’d been for a few years previously. The house diagonally opposite had the same problem.
The house is being re-roofed and I should be able to move back in before long. Thankfully my shipment still hasn’t cleared all the bureaucratic hurdles so it wasn’t ruined by the water ingress.

On to the regular update!

Still light on numbers. My relocation payment disappeared into the ether, but this is for two quite good reasons.

Firstly, I secured a lease on a (leaky) house, and it is apparently standard for landlords here to demand many months’ rent in advance. Thus, I’m paid up for a good while. The landlord can use all that money to replace the roof and ceiling, I guess.

Secondly, I bought a car. Generally I’d be predisposed to think of a car as almost a consumption item, particularly in a country with substandard roads and dangerous traffic. Still, due to the somewhat unusual taxation arrangements here, it seems that actually cars can be resold multiple years down the line with barely any depreciation in value. The reason is that I can buy a car duty free – and duty on cars makes them almost prohibitively expensive for regular people. Over time, the liability for duty on the car goes down. This means the attractiveness of the car on the open market will hold steady or climb over time as the amount of duty still owing on it (which I don’t have to pay) is reduced. Of course, developing countries are developing – there are no guarantees that there won’t be a change in taxation arrangements. But I have to play the cards as I see them, and public transport, walking, and taxis are all fairly unattractive options in this city.

Oh, and perhaps thirdly, I stayed in a serviced apartment for a month while looking for long term accommodation. In the scheme of things though this doesn’t make that much of a difference, because the cost differential between hotels and regular houses or apartments is actually pretty marginal. This seemed to be the case in Switzerland, too.

Books read – The Road (McCarthy), Fooled By Randomness (Taleb). I bought the Incerto set for my kindle. I didn’t enjoy Fooled by Randomness that much, perhaps because those ideas (which were probably fairly novel to a mainstream audience at the time) were all a bit old-hat to me. I have already read Black Swan, but I am going to re-read, and then progress on to Antifragile. Since I have been mostly staying in an apartment a mere two minutes walk from work, I’ve had no commute on which to read. Actually, I won’t have any time on the bus to read here, so I will have to come up with a different reading routine.

The house I’ve just moved into is walking distance from work, 30 minutes or so. That said, walking is pretty unpleasant because of the pollution (thick black smoke belching from every third car, thin grey smoke from the other two), dust from construction, and lack of footpaths (or footpaths repurposed for storage of construction material). The main appeal of the house is not its build quality (see above!) or attractiveness (it is a bit run down), but the location – close to a number of colleagues, plenty of restaurants, close to modern supermarkets, quite straightforward and fairly short route to work, and close to one of the city’s few public parks.

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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:55 pm

@halfmoon
Of course! Yes, it's probably the air intake rather than the gas. I was probably just preoccupied with the rest of the pollution in this city.

@JeanPaul
I'm not sure about the beauty of the country just yet. It'll be great to get out of the city some, but yeah the state of emergency makes it less appealing. From reports of local colleagues it also seems not the easiest place to travel with a baby/toddler.

@Noedig
Thanks for the recommendations and support.

Jason
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Jason » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:43 pm

I try to knock off the "greatest" works of literature list. I understand its subjective but there is usually a general consensus on most works.

I tried to get through McCarthy's Blood Meridian and I just couldn't do it. It was just too dense a forest. He's the type of person who's genius must be a great burden.

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onewayfamily
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Re: Internationalist

Post by onewayfamily » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:36 pm

I think you'll enjoy Antifragile the most.

With the walking-commute can you find a slightly/moderately longer route that passes mostly through parks and side-streets to avoid the car pollution - I always hated it as well and was able to find a route that went through mostly parks and a golf course when I was riding to work still.

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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:27 am

August/September 2017

Well, my life in Addis has turned into an unrelenting disaster. It's not ruined beyond comprehension yet, there is still room for things to turn around, but I've had a dreadful run of bad luck. This is not completely the city's fault, but it certainly plays its part.

Let's see, my house pretty much flooded, which was detailed earlier. As well as numerous bouts of food poisoning I also contracted typhoid. I've had three people/groups of people try to pickpocket me, fortunately none yet succeeded. One group was physical and this came close to being a violent situation. In September, we went a weekend without water supply to the house, that was fun. Around the same time we started getting pretty much daily blackouts. It does vary, but three or four days a week we seem to only get about four hours of power. Prior to living here I had never been involved in a car accident. Nevertheless, only a week after finally getting the paperwork sorted so that I could drive my car, I got into a minor scrape after a jerk minivan driver overtook me, swerved in front of me, and promptly parked (oh, it's common practice to park in the middle of the road here by the way) to let off passengers. It wasn't serious, but it was a bit intimidating the way a large crowd gathers around to enjoy the show and lean against your vehicle. Lastly and most seriously, my family experienced a medical emergency that I won't detail here. Due to the poor state of hospitals in Addis it was recommended that we temporarily evacuate to a nearby, more prosperous country, one with a better-equipped hospital, in case of complications. No complications have occurred yet and we're back in Ethiopia, but it was the most horrible week of my life.

It's a shitty situation all around.

I'm not selfish enough to think that living in a very poor country means that these calamities are a necessary occurrence for everyone. Plenty of other people seem to get on in this city just fine. But I'm not sure if I'm going to be one of them. The crap that's been happening to me makes it difficult to stay positive.

I did track expenditure for September. Savings rate was about 40%.

Books read: only one finished this month, I think. I've been distracted by life events. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Foer). Nowhere near as good as his debut, Everything is Illuminated. Still kind of interesting – it really made me want to go back to New York (I only spent a week there for work a few years back). Terribly sad, as was Everything is Illuminated, but I didn't feel like it taught me anything. Related – I watched the film version of Everything is Illuminated, and I felt like it was a pretty good effort at translating the book. Right up until the ending, which was nowhere near as powerful. I think the ending of the book should have been possible to translate to film, and I'm not sure why they altered it the way they did. Still worth a watch in my opinion.
onewayfamily wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:36 pm
With the walking-commute can you find a slightly/moderately longer route that passes mostly through parks and side-streets to avoid the car pollution - I always hated it as well and was able to find a route that went through mostly parks and a golf course when I was riding to work still.
I don't think this is possible in Addis. Parks aren't prevalent here. In addition, walking through sidestreets would be both highly circuitous and probably increase my risk of further attempted muggings.

slowtraveler
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Re: Internationalist

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:08 am

I have to ask, why are you staying somewhere so dangerous when there are many safe, low cost of living cities in the world?

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:43 am

@slowtraveler
Well it's only been a few months, I think it might be premature to write the place off just yet, although I'm certainly thinking about an exit strategy. There are many other reasons but I don't know if any are good. Perhaps I'm a bit of a masochist. I'm rebelling against the safe comfortable life the rest of my family has, and want to see if the big bad world really is so big and bad. I like exploring the novel and the exotic. This job pays well and has amazing benefits, although yeah the need to be internationally mobile, and mobile in the direction of very poor countries is something of a necessity.

I'm not necessarily sure the combination of my job skills and passport allows me to target a lot of LCOL areas, although I suppose there's always the option of heading back to my hometown. The economy there is not great and will probably get worse before it gets better. I may actually start a topic on this kind of subject in a little while.

The Old Man
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Re: Internationalist

Post by The Old Man » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:48 am

Solvent wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:43 am
Perhaps I'm a bit of a masochist. I'm rebelling against the safe comfortable life the rest of my family has, and want to see if the big bad world really is so big and bad. I like exploring the novel and the exotic.
I have a great suggestion for you. Come to America! Settle in Compton, California. Then compare!

mxlr650
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Re: Internationalist

Post by mxlr650 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:01 pm

GS wrote:I have a great suggestion for you. Come to America! Settle in Compton, California. Then compare!

I would suggest taking it a bit slow so you can acquire required music/vocabulary/skills. As a first step, move to East palo alto whose crime legacy should easily get you in touch with veterans who, like hollywood monks helping journeymen by revealing secrets of the trade, can prepare you for your journey to Tenderloin, and couple months there should get you all ready to settle down in Compton, and welcome your neighbors with "open arms". After being a resident there for a while, you can then convince a major book pubisher (at gun point of course) for a major book deal, and release some pompous sounding book like "Glockwork orange: A yuuuge retrospective field study of california's bigly crimescape"

you might be able to sell 15M copies just on this forum considering how much folks here love reading books.

/s

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:16 am

Oops, late update! I had this written up, but it’s often inconvenient for me to try to get online with my personal laptop (as opposed to work laptop).

So I finally got around to putting together a comprehensive net wealth spreadsheet that contains our family’s finances. Prior to this, I kept good tabs on my ‘personal’ finances, but only limited information on DW’s. Now I have a single spreadsheet where I can actually calculate our net wealth, asset allocations, passive income and other details. This is great.

Something this allows me to do, which I’ve never bothered to do before, is calculate savings rate both inclusive of passive income and exclusive of passive income. In prior months, all my figures have just been exclusive of passive income but that is not actually the most sensible way to do it.

Anyway, savings rate for October (inclusive of passive income now): 32.3%

It’s low this month! That’s unsurprising. We’ve had visitors, so we’ve been eating out at nice places and doing some travelling. I seriously doubt we will get a lot of visitors from home while we live in Ethiopia, so this definitely qualifies as unusual expenditure. We are still paying a few ‘set-up’ costs for this city, like buying a few items of furniture. We have extensions of medical expenditures from last month’s disaster – these shouldn’t recur after this month, hopefully. Also, I will be reimbursed for many of these expenditures, but to avoid getting bogged down in the accounting, I will simply include it as income next month. So next month’s savings rate should be very high to offset this month’s low.

Books read: Burmese Days (Orwell). Orwell has that quote about cutting unnecessary words, but in this novel I feel his prose was unusually florid.

Weather here is great at the moment, so I must try to take heart in the few nice things about living here. I’ve always lived in largeish cities, but as I get older, the more I feel like I need to move to the country for some clean air and a more laid-back lifestyle. This feeling is intensified while I’m amongst the smog, exhaust, and thugs of Addis Ababa (I’ve now survived four attempted pickpocketings – fortunately the jerks targeting me don’t seem to be all that competent). As a member of a profession that is pretty much only employed in large cities, I feel like this causes me some problems unless I really save hard and FI. I plan to start a topic on this subject.

I mentioned a few months back in my journal that I was trying to learn some digital music production techniques. It’s been slow going, since with my situation and family I feel I don’t have a lot of energy to devote to side hustles, but this month I have been putting in a bit more time and it’s good fun. I don’t have a completed song yet, more a lot of very brief ideas, but I’m working on getting at least one or two ‘complete’ songs by year’s end. Then I will try to learn something about mixing them, and put them somewhere online for comments.

@General Snoopy;
Hmmm, Compton. Well I'm not hugely into hip hop, but I do like Ice Cube. The man has incredible delivery. Anyway, would that help me get along in the 'hood?

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:12 am

Savings rate for November: 48.0%
I had my parents visiting for much of this month, which was great. We travelled for a weekend to a city in the north of the country, and into one of the national parks. Having visitors also caused me to go out and see a few museums and tourist attractions which was a bit of a change of routine. No large dividends for this month, so passive income was negligible.

Books read: Black Swan (Taleb, a re-read). I’m going to take a break from Taleb for a moment, even though I thought I’d read his Incerto series all in a row. It’s not grabbing me the way Black Swan did when I read it the first time.

I’ve been producing some music that I’m quite happy with, relatively simple stuff. I know nothing about applying EQ or mixing though so getting a good clear sound is something I’m struggling with, even though I’m happy with the actual songs. I'd be happy if anyone wanted to listen and provide feedback, you can check them out here: https://soundcloud.com/user-345740270.

I’m still uninspired at work for the moment. I am seeing some of the bad aspects of my work in Geneva arising here as well. Like in Geneva, at times I feel the culture is one where information is just not shared – I don’t feel like I’m equipped with the tools necessary to do a good job here, and asking questions doesn't get me far.

Why am I still here? Well, of course, the pay is great and I’m sure it’s more than I’d get elsewhere. Further to that, there are some indications that DW will get a contract soon as well, marking her reintroduction to the workforce after the birth of TH. This is something we’re really excited about – if DW can get some international work experience on her resume that will likely be a real benefit to us in the long run. Since salaries for household staff here are so low, the costs for childcare will be almost insignificant if she goes back to work, something which is certainly not the case in a place like Switzerland or Australia.

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Viktor K
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Viktor K » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:35 am

Solvent wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:12 am
I’ve been producing some music that I’m quite happy with, relatively simple stuff. I know nothing about applying EQ or mixing though so getting a good clear sound is something I’m struggling with, even though I’m happy with the actual songs. I'd be happy if anyone wanted to listen and provide feedback, you can check them out here: https://soundcloud.com/user-345740270.
Hey dude, I like those two songs, the first one is really cool. I've run into a bit of some game developer's block since the community is real critical of non-original assets wrt to music, artwork, etc so i can definitely respect the effort that must have gone into those two songs. Would be happy to hear however briefly about your experience/background making music.

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:32 am

@Viktor K

I played a woodwind instrument for many years as a child. Being more interested in alt rock, I taught myself some guitar and bass guitar, playing both those in a few bands in high school. On leaving high school I decided to study music at university and got into a jazz performance stream for a Bachelor of Music (woodwind, not guitar or bass, I’m still not a good guitarist). Nearly completed it actually, but I just grew to dislike playing and didn’t have the desire to spend enough hours practicing to become a professional performer. Lots of competition, hard work, low pay. Still, I was great at music theory and I remember quite a lot of what I learnt in that domain.
Since there are very few degree courses in weird/experimental/rock music, those people who were interested in those genres seem to end up studying in the jazz stream (as opposed to classical streams). Therefore at uni I was exposed to a lot of great people creating weird and wonderful experimental music.

So I have a pretty solid base of jazz theory gained from higher education that I can tap into to write music. The kind of music I like to listen to is often kind of repetitive, experimental stuff with a lot of guitar distortion and effects, and I try to write material in a similar vein.

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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:49 am

Savings rate for December: 37.1%.

Books read: Confederacy of Dunces (Toole, definitely a funny book. Described in the blurb as laugh-out-loud funny, but I wouldn’t say that, for me I just really liked the cleverness of it and the absurdity of its protagonist), The Honorary Consul (Greene, ending a bit unsatisfying, but otherwise I really liked this one – struck me as a bit of a male fantasy book though, with lack of meaningful female characters and its preoccupation with whoring, mistresses, and ‘possessing’ women).

“It took him more than a few years of life in Buenos Aires before he began to realize that the existence of an exile did not make for simplicity – so many documents, so many visits to government offices. Simplicity belonged by right to those who were native-born, those who could take the conditions of life, however bizarre, for granted.”

I was in Dakar for a week, working. One of the benefits of work travel is the per diem, of which I managed to save a considerable amount.

We managed to keep spending largely in check for the month, until the final week. I won’t go into it here, but let’s just say some of our money will help someone out and will probably return to us medium term. Looks likely that DW will be returning to work, although the pay will be low and there will be some startup costs (visas). I made a neat little profit (realized profit, not hypothetical value profit) by making a good judgement on bitcoin, but that effectively just paid for the Christmas presents I ordered to be delivered to family back home.

One of the things that is perhaps good and bad about being an expat is the experience of the holiday season. It tends not to be stressful, there’s no build-up, there’s no expectation, at least here in Ethiopia I’m not bombarded with advertising. At the same time, though, spending Christmas with family is nice, so missing out on that is a downer. It’s easy to let Christmas turn into just another day – regular breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash dishes, read a book. I think this is not a good development – it’s nice to have rituals and festivals to give shape to the year, even as an atheist I recognize this.

I’m currently trialing fasting. I decided that for two days a week I will fast until the evening meal (the 5:2 kind of idea). During the fasting days, I haven’t been eating nothing, but restricted myself to say, some olives, a boiled egg, maybe a small piece of cheese. I have been surprised by how little the sensation of ‘hunger’ appears (that is, a growly stomach). Still, for the first four days of fasting I did feel pretty weird. Most noticeable was a slight feeling of clumsiness in my extremities – not severe, but a bit of an odd feeling. I also feel like maybe I had more difficulty concentrating, but my work is not particularly engaging, so when I’m fasting at work it’s difficult to say if I’m really concentrating less effectively than usual… Anyway, I seem to be mostly getting over these negative effects now, I think, but I’ll continue to evaluate the plan. Why fast? Well, I don’t need to lose weight, if anything I would like to regain some of the muscle I once had (yeah right, when TH settles down enough for me to consider an exercise plan again). It’s just something I figured I’d try after I’ve read numerous people advocating it – a ‘go with the crowd’ kind of thing. The warrior diet is in the ERE book, after all.

Net worth has been rising rapidly for the last few months. Part of this must be illusory though – when we moved into our current place we paid six months’ rent in advance. Absent rental payments, much of the paycheck has been socked into savings. I need to make another payment this month, although it’ll now be three months’ in advance. So absent market moves, NW will likely not increase in January. With my new and improved wealth-tracking spreadsheet, in a few months’ time I might be able to tack some pretty graphs into this journal.

Meanwhile, in Australia: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ol-sandpit

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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:53 am

Savings rate for January: 42.6%.

Major events this month were a trip to Zanzibar. This served dual purposes – as holiday, and also for the change in visa status of DW so that she can work. It wasn’t a cheap holiday, but it was nice. DW needed to at least fly out of the country and back, so the additional cost to turn it into a vacation was nothing to lose sleep over. Being by the beach and eating some fresh seafood was nice.

Actually, being there seemed to clear up my throat a bit. The pollution and dust here is really getting to me, I feel like I’ve been struggling with a sore and phlegmy throat for a few months now. Now that DW is on a work contract, though, I doubt there will be any travel abroad, unless I have a work event, for the next six months or so.

Assuming DW gets paid on time, hopefully the savings rate can be boosted 6% or so for the next few months. Yeah, the pay is terrible but after a substantial career break it’s all about getting back into the workforce.

After seven months in this country I finally feel as though we’re pretty much through with the ‘setting up’ expenditures, so hopefully next month I can post a more impressive savings rate. That said, February is one of the two leanest dividend months for the year for my holdings, but I still don’t think that’ll affect anything much. My net worth (not including retirement accounts) did actually decay a little, having to pay three months’ rent in advance. Another significant factor is also that I track my NW in AUD – since the AUD has risen remarkably against the USD at the start of this year, my totals look worse overall (my international investments all went down in AUD terms).

I’ve been thinking about a few ERE, FI-type things this month, complicated issues I won’t discuss at length right now. The first is franking credits. Being abroad, I don’t get the advantage of these, and it’s something I’ve not considered in my analysis of the required amount invested in order to produce a retirement income in Australia. Basically, with franking credits (dividend imputation), my FI number (for an Australian retirement) should be lower than I have been considering to date, because of the significant tax advantages.

The second is tradable versus non-tradable inflation (https://www.rba.gov.au/chart-pack/aus-inflation.html). Sure, headline inflation has been low for some time in Aus – it looks like around 2% at the moment. But when you decompose this into tradables vs non-tradables it tells a more detailed story. Basically, tradables have been deflating considerably but non-tradables have experienced an inflation rate worthy of consideration. This makes me wonder – as an EREer, does one typically consume more goods that are tradable, or more non-tradable? I’d be inclined to say non-tradables…* Meaning inflation is a more serious concern.

*Basically, tradables are those things that go out to and come in from the world market, and as such prices are set in a fairly global manner. Non-tradables are things that are domestic in nature, perhaps think of many aspects of healthcare, housing, etc. A big story of the past perhaps twenty years is that electronics and technological things have been massively dropping in price for a variety of reasons. These are all tradables. But as an EREer, I think many of these things would make up only a little of your consumption basket.

Meanwhile, in Australia: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... tures-rise

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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:00 am

February Update

Savings rate for February: 57.2%.

First time since arriving in Addis that my savings rate has breached the 50% barrier! Awesome! Payments started rolling in from DW’s contract, so that contributes to the push. I hope that in the next four months, in which I don’t foresee any major expenditures, I can continue to stay above the 50% mark.

Books read: Adapt (Harford – very readable. I like Harford as a journalist. This book is not amazing, but certainly interesting throughout and gave me recommendations for more books to add to my reading list), Metamorphosis (Kafka).

I have decided to be less strict with myself on bringing packed lunch to work. Dining costs here are so cheap that I’ve begun to resent the extra effort of grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up on the weekends. I’ve still wound up bringing leftovers for about three days of the week, but the other two I can eat at work for around $2-3 per lunch. Now that DW and I are both working, it’s more important for us to spend more time with TH on weekends rather than cooking up the week’s lunches. So we just try to increase weeknight cooking slightly more to ensure there are some leftovers around. We’re bumping up against the constraint of pot size now, so I think we may shop for a bigger soup pot.

Pretty calm month, no extraordinary expenditures. The jumps up and down in the market didn’t faze me too much, which was reassuring – but equities seem to have returned to their upward progress. This has been a long bull market, for sure, and I’m starting to wonder how long it can possibly continue. Whenever I daydream and project out what my net worth could be in two, three, or five years, I need to remind myself that we’re probably ‘due’ for a pretty significant correction, and perhaps a few years of negative returns, soonish.

I’ve just calculated my rolling 6-month average monthly passive income for the first time – this is solely dividends and interest payments: $691. Hey, this is not money I can live on just yet* but it’s certainly a noticeable chunk each month. Nice!

Meanwhile, in Australia: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/sout ... 59839cf864


*Although, annually, that is about 1 jacob, isn’t it?

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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:52 am

March Update

Savings rate for March: 58.3%.

That’s as high a savings rate as I can remember ever having. I foresee April being fairly high as well, maybe not quite as high. After that, I think I’ll be running into some more expenses, but the first half of this year has been good for savings.

I’d felt a little unwell through January and February, so I ceased fasting. I tried again in March. Generally, on Mondays and Thursdays I would fast for roughly 24 hours, from the evening meal of the previous night through to the evening meal on Monday/Thursday. I don’t think I will continue with it. I was feeling totally spacy, I really couldn’t concentrate well. I hoped the feeling would go away after several fasts as my body adapted but it didn’t seem to improve.

I haven’t previously discussed my asset allocation in my journal. I haven’t commented in any other threads on this topic because I feel pretty comfortable with it myself, and I’m not necessarily looking for advice. Nevertheless, in case anyone is curious, or in case anyone wants to comment on it, I will present it now.

Target allocation:

75% equities, of which:
- 35% Australian equities (25% in a LIC, broad market, and 10% in Vanguard ASX300 index fund)
- 10% in international ex-USA (Vanguard)
- 30% in US total market (Vanguard)
10% in bonds (Vanguard, Australian Bonds)
5% in gold (ETF, not physical)
10% in cash.

My current allocation is not quite in alignment with this, but it’s getting there over time. I currently have no gold – my next remittance of salary will probably go largely to buying into a gold fund. I currently am heavier on cash than this target allocation, and lighter on bonds. Also, while this target allocation has only 6 financial products (not including cash), my current allocation has a few more products/stocks. This is due to gradually building my position over time, and I didn’t necessarily start with a goal as clear as what I outline above. I will gradually rebalance. The international/commodity products are unhedged to the Australian dollar. Oh, and this doesn’t include my retirement account – rules around superannuation in Australia are very strict, and retirement money can’t be withdrawn until you’re at least 60 yrs old. I still pay attention to my retirement account, but I think treatment of this money is different enough to be considered separately, given the timeframes involved.

Taking into account the actual products I can access through my broker, this allocation has a weighted expense ratio of 0.12%.

Other ways of looking at this split:
75% growth, 25% defensive.
55% Australian (home country), 45% international.

Perhaps the one thing I feel like I might tweak, at the moment, is an allocation to emerging markets. I am wondering if the demographic headwinds facing developed markets mean I should place some funds in emerging markets. In the allocation above, the Vanguard international ex-USA product only includes developed markets. What holds be back is that while I think there’s definitely good arguments to be made about how Asia (not just China, but SE and S Asia) will be the more dynamic markets across the next 50 years there’s also plenty of arguments against. In terms of demographics, many Asian countries are also seeing the same decline in fertility rates that Western countries have seen, and in fact, before they’ve reached the same level of economic development.

Edit: I've been reading less news this past month so didn't stumble on any good 'meanwhile in Australia' bits until just now... so ninja edit: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -operation

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