Fish's Enlightenment

Where are you and where are you going?
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jennypenny
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by jennypenny »

@S--Sorry if I misunderstood, it's just that you guys always sound so cranky when you talk about your kids. ;) I love having kids even though they drive me crazy half of the time. I thought that roller coaster metaphor in the movie 'Parenthood' was spot on. Guess I'm lucky I like roller coasters. :lol:

Synthesize
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Synthesize »

Hey Fish, I finished reading your journal, and I appreciate the insights you have shared on your journey. I realize you are enjoying your work, which is a great spot to be in. I think many seeking FI, unfortunately, stick with jobs that are not a good fit (FIRE fuel) instead of seeking better opportunities. One question that came to mind is: are you location restricted? You mentioned that you have 5 – 10 years left to reach FIRE, but changing the variable of location (housing) could definitely reduce the time to FI. Most non-costal US cities would allow you to buy a McMansion for the price of 4 Fish in a great school district for your kids. You could then free up 6.7 Fish currently locked up as home equity. Your housing expenses would then be minimal. Will the childcare expenses of 25% of budget go away when the kids hit school age?

Fish
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

@Synthesize - Thanks for the suggestion. Living close to family is important for my wife and myself, and our current location enables that. Relocating might be financially optimal but it creates other problems, such as needing to find 2 jobs to replace the ones we have. I think it's worth considering if moving = instant FI/RE, but at our current spending and NW moving doesn't solve any problems. Since the house is paid off, the expenses are not too burdensome. If our hand were forced, I would rather cut expenses 50% than move, and I think DW would be inclined to do the same. There's plenty of fat in the budget.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Stahlmann
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Stahlmann »

in light of
viewtopic.php?t=9963
how do you find energy to do something mentally demanding while working in mentally intensive field?

Fish
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

DW has wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for a while, but for some reason she never considers financial independence as a way of achieving that dream. Until last week, there was finally a breakthrough and we had our first ever productive conversation about FIRE. All of a sudden, a curiosity about savings rates, 4% rule, and FI. Mind you, her interest-level is not high enough to start reading FIRE blogs and make a tracking spreadsheet, but she's finally open to the idea of actively taking some steps toward FI instead of being along for the ride.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 4:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Smashter
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Smashter »

Fish wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:39 pm

Subsequent to reading the ERE book, I felt enough abundance to take on the side project of creating a website which solved one very specific non-financial problem of mine which was previously unsolved anywhere on the internet. I spent about 100 hours on this project + about 400 more hours of virtual assistant time (thanks Tim Ferriss). This is tricky to monetize so I just give away all the content for free. Despite zero effort in promotion, a lot of people are still finding it.
This is very impressive. I'd love to check out the website you built. If you linked to it would you be doxxing yourself?

suomalainen
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by suomalainen »

Necessity is the mother of invention. Progress toward alignment is always so nice, psychologically.

Tangential aside: Re: stay-at-home momhood, my wife is a stay-at-home mom, so I wonder whether our incentives (vis-a-vis the budget) are aligned. Convenience and ease to grease the wheels when primarily dealing with the little ones is totally understandable, but since it doesn't otherwise impact her (i.e., increased expenses != she works longer), I sometimes end up feeling used. Since her convenience can only come at the expense of my convenience, it's hard to find the right balance where everyone is happy. I think that's been the phrasing that has finally gotten through for her to see my side, and so our uneasy truce continues. Maybe it's different if your wife has more recent exposure to the rat race and she can be more empathetic. It's been 12:ish years for mine.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

Good idea in simplifying situation for your wife! Since you have peaked her interest a bit, make sure you follow up occasionally, so it stays in the back of her mind. Try to do this without harping on the obvious (ie spending). I have no great ideas on how to do this in your exact situation since I don't know your wife, but I'll give you my anecdote.

My GF's main motivation towards ERE level savings rate is our two year travel sabbatical. When working overnights at the hospital, I'll sometimes look up Arbnb monthly rentals similar to our current housing payment, but in various exotic locales. I email them to her with a caption like "meanwhile for the same price in Istanbul". She says she loves waking up to "the dream" in her email. Maybe I'm just an evil psychological trickster, but it helps keeping her more focused when, all too often, daily life pulls her towards convenience spending and pedicures.

I'm also interested in this project and would like to check it out. Did you post a link anywhere in the forums?

Fish
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

@Stahlmann - Due to specialization, I typically solve a somewhat specific class of problem at work (one that has economic value) and with practice the cognitive load is low. So plenty of mental energy leftover to tackle other things.

@classical_Liberal - Thanks for sharing your motivational technique. I'm trying to think of how to apply it to our situation. Would DW enjoy being a SAHM? Does she want me to have more time and energy to share housework and increase the quality of our parenting? These things sound great, but she seems unwilling to make the required changes. I need to do a bit of marketing and explain that cutting expenses in half doesn't mean you only get half the stuff. You can live just as well but have to be more creative, proactive, and flexible than the typical consumer. However, I can empathize that someone who is already overwhelmed with the volume of activities in daily life, likely does not want to take the "ERE challenge" and have to come up with new, more time-intensive substitutes to solved problems. Step 1 is definitely freeing up DW's time and energy so she has the capacity to make lifestyle changes.

@suomalainen - There's a tragedy of the commons with joint accounts.

You're absolutely right that in single-earner situations the stay-at-home spouse does not experience the disutility of income generation, while still gets utility from spending money and is therefore incentivized to do so. I like the idea of mandatory expense tracking and budgeting, but from past experience I'd probably make a bunch of low-EQ mistakes forcing its implementation. For a passive solution, maybe lower CC limits to the target spend level and use cash envelope budgeting to control overruns. It's being considered.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by ThisDinosaur »

Fish wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:32 am
low-EQ mistakes forcing its implementation. For a passive solution, maybe lower CC limits to the target spend level and use cash envelope budgeting to control overruns. It's being considered.
This has not worked for me. She consistently goes over budget and resents having an "allowance." Even tho I call it "household discretionary spending."

7Wannabe5
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

You're absolutely right that in single-earner situations the stay-at-home spouse does not experience the disutility of income generation, while still gets utility from spending money and is therefore incentivized to do so.
Varies. If the income of the single-earner is only barely adequate to cover minimal expenses, then the stay-at-home-spouse will be highly motivated to reduce spending. Too bad for you guys that you totally missed the era when women were homemakers rather than SAHM.

jacob
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by jacob »

We keep our savings separate for historical reasons as our NW's were very different when we met. When we got married, we decided to split all income (earned and taxable capital) 50/50. Expenses that are shared come out of the joint account, but personal expenses come out of personal savings. This solves the zero-sum working-spending problem. As such we've had to earn FI individually. Historically we've always felt an implied pressure to contribute equally though and not being the one taking advantage of the other. I'm sure both of us have some sense of how much our total historical contribution to the pot has been. Neither of us feel good about being way behind. FWIW I've always been ahead and my personal NW has suffered under the 50/50 deal, but it's okay.

IIRC, you guys have decided on a joint everything strategy. In that case, it's best to be on the same page. DW and I have eventually converged towards being on the same page, so we could probably go 100% joint without resentment at this point, but it has been a long process. Clarice implemented a solution going in the opposite direction to resolve the spending disagreement affably.

suomalainen
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by suomalainen »

@fish @jacob - Those just seem like accounting tricks to me. If you're not on the same page and she will never be in a position to "carry her weight", then you either have to make up the difference or cut bait. Can't cut bait when there are kids involved. As @TD points out, money/budgeting just devolves into a simulacrum of the relationship and the psychologies involved. And as @7 points out, when money isn't a scarce resource, the psychologies are totally different than a scarcity mindset.

TLDR - the answer to the unstoppable force meets immovable object question is that a happy wife is a happy life. How's that for mixing metaphors? Anyway, point being that likely a reframing has to come first - if you can help reframe her perspective you are a god; if not, then you have to reframe your own. Alas, I am no god. Adonis yes; god no.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

While I see the general implications re incentives of saving time over money, when one isn't earning the money, it would seem in genuine cooperative relationships the nonworking spouse should understand the sacrifices being made by the income earner. In fact, the SAHP would probably hope for the sake of the family/relationship that both parties are happy with the situation. IOW, I find it hard to believe a SAHP would be unsympathetic to the plight of the working spouse. Of course, this operates on the assumption the nonworking spouse has experienced the time crunch, corporate BS, etc, related to the working world and the working spouse has communicated this displeasure.

Operating under the assumption Fish and DW have a healthy relationship, my suggestion would be to get DW out of the working world ASAP. This is what she really wants, no? (If it's something else she wants, this obviously will not work).

Sit down and create a mutual goal. Start off by telling her you want her to be able to stay at home with kids. Tell her once spending reaches X for Y number of months DW can quit. Fish can sit down with his spreadsheets before this conversation and create the baseline from a numbers standpoint. Fish DW will now have significant incentive to make this happen. An actionable way to reach her dream in a reasonable time frame. While working towards the agreed upon goal, use c_L-like psychological tricks to keep her motivated. (ie look at grocery spending, at this rate your done in 6 mos!) When issues arise during process (they will), it's very important you take her side (ie that something's not working), but propose solutions because "I really want you to have your dream of staying home with kids". Do NOT focus on the numbers, focus on the end result of somehow making the numbers work and her feelings about why a certain part of the process is a problem.

Make sure Fish DW understands you want the same thing, but are willing to sacrifice in the short term, but would like try make continuous improvement on spending to reach your dream sooner as well. Obviously, she will have an active say in what is working and what is not, but you would like to continue to experiment until symbiosis is met. I would guess if Fish DW gets what she wants, she will feel more willing to help Fish reach his goal as well.

Again, I don't know the exact situation, but I have a relatively high EQ and think a plan such as this is your best bet at keeping the snowball rolling.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@classical_Liberal:

But, you have to remember that being at home with a couple young children isn't exactly a walk in the park either. Some forms of paid employment are actually more relaxing. Also, these-a-days it can be a pretty socially isolating experience, because you might be the only adult at home during the day, wandering down the streets of an affluent subdivision pushing a stroller to an empty park. Since most adults in our culture gain identity through profession, there is also a push towards purchasing proof of professionalism by providing all the same experiences your children might have in an expensive nursery school environment.

For instance, my recent experience of working 65 hours/week with a reasonably supportive affluent BF, was easier than working 40 hours/week when I also had to pull Mom-duty in the evening with a not very supportive husband and a very tight budget. Both sucked, but the second was more difficult because parenting is always 24/7, and the frugal piece meant that I was still packing lunches, loading the crock-pot, trying very hard not to have to pay full price for a pair of lost soccer shoes at the last minute, etc. Whereas, my BF would pick me up and take me out to dinner after my second shift. OTOH, I also had the experience of being supported as an affluent housewife by my second "husband", in a household that included two teenage girls every other week, and even though I did virtually all of the housework and cooking, that was a piece of cake.

suomalainen
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by suomalainen »

@c_L I have to agree with @7 here mostly. While your theoretical BFSkinner approach seems like it should work, in reality, people aren't rational all the time, especially parents. The psychology, the emotions, are WAY more powerful than the reason and the logic for most people even if there are a few who can plow through any problem without the least deviation. I think @jacob made a similar point in another thread somewhere recently.

Solvent
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Solvent »

Fish wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:32 am
However, I can empathize that someone who is already overwhelmed with the volume of activities in daily life, likely does not want to take the "ERE challenge" and have to come up with new, more time-intensive substitutes to solved problems.
Wow. Can I just just say that this strikes me as a great way of describing this particular challenge. I can absolutely relate. I love the ERE-way of thinking, but between my full time job, parenting a toddler, the never-ending bureaucracy of being an expat and the myriad small difficulties of living in a very poor country, I generally find it a huge struggle to "come up with new, more time-intensive substitutes to solved problems." That is exactly how I feel. I have the money. So many things I face are 'solved problems'. Yes, there are other, less resource-intensive ways of solving any given problem other than by throwing money at it, but the time, the motivation, the need for creativity...

DW and I have joint accounts, and she's spent significant time as a SAHP, although now she's back at work on a contract. She has confided to me the difficulties of spending from a joint account when not earning, and of feeling some kind of guilt. This is tough to address, but I felt glad she could communicate about that, since I would like to counteract those feelings where I'm able. At least one positive side effect of moving to Ethiopia is that if you decide you want to have lunch with a friend it doesn't require a three-figure outlay :lol: .

Also, I completely agree that my job, while I'd not say it's enjoyable, is far more relaxing and easier than staying at home with the baby (now toddler). I'm optimistic that I could be a SAHP when my time comes, if DW can successfully re-start her career. But probably not with toddlers/babies... I'm hoping things ease up a little when they get past, say 5 years... Hopefully less screaming for any and every reason, at any time at all...

7Wannabe5
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Solvent:

Different strokes. I prefer the running naked with finger-paint and marshmallows baby/toddler stage to the stage where you have to listen to the same knock-knock joke 10 times in a row, keep track of school papers,step on the tiny set Legos in the middle of the night when somebody is vomiting, and chit-chat with the brittle-nice Stepford mom crew in the ballet class waiting room.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by SustainableHappiness »

Haven't tried the toddler thing yet, but I would not like to stay-at-home with the baby each day every day without DW here (presuming I could breast feed and the baby was as attached to me in this hypothetical word) primarily because of the isolation/boredom factor. However, maybe if I was at home by myself (with baby) all the time I'd go to more activities to make the days go faster (which we do now anyways)...

As for the getting DW on board thing. Fish, have you tried discussing/showing other perspectives on the money=freedom thing. DW still drives rather than bikes 5k (as an example), but she's has stuck with and held on to the F-U Money idea since we talked about it and she read the JLCollins article on it (she doesn't read FIRE stuff, but the idea piqued her interest). I also think the phrase "f**k you" still holds power.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

I'll be the first to admit I don't personally understand the challenges of raising kids. My comments were in no way meant to assume a SAHP does't work their ass off. Nor does it mean this is the most preferable thing to do for most people. Rather my whole suggestion was predicated on the fact this is what Fish DW really wants. If this is not what she wants, why whould it even be a goal?

It seems Fish himself really wants to adopt a more ERE-esque lifestyle. These desires are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact they are mutually reinforcing. The problem is Fish DW doesn't see it that way. Probably because she is driven more by emotion than logic. This is actually the more "normal" human state, so it's not a failure or flaw, it just is. What I'm suggesting is that Fish tap into the emotional desires of Fish DW, helping her feel the result of Fish logic. This, as opposed to showing her charts, budgets, cross over points, etc, will help her see his logic, without him using his logic.

Call it a Skinner approach if you like, but it's worked with my very impulsive, emotionally driven GF (she flat out admits this). Stimulating my GF's feelings motivates her. About a month ago my GF read YMOYL, which I thought would resonate with her given the more "touchy/feely" tone of the book. It was a bad idea suggesting it, because now she sees how I actively use some of the ideas in it. Frankly, she became less receptive for a period. It wasn't until I started using emotion again that she started to come back around (thank you beauty of Yellowstone and Grand Teton).

My suggestion broken down to it's most simple form: Connect actions (frugality or whatever) with strong positive emotions (SAHPing or whatever) when dealing with emotionally driven personalities.

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