Fish's Enlightenment

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

Post by Finn »

I agree that everyone will have to find their own path into and through ER(E). I'm highly motivated by things like freedom, FU money and the ability to tinker away at my own little projects all day every day. For my SO, positive and memorable life experiences, like special moments and special places (and looking forward to these experiences) is absolutely key. It could be a fancy luxury trip, slow travel through Europe, or a walk to the library with me. That's her "essence", and she's been like this since she was a kid. *

I find it always important to ask her what her dreams in life are. Then it's pretty easy for me to see how these dreams could be supported by frugality and RE. Not that I've had much luck in selling the concept yet, but I think I've made some progress. Our problem is that we're both very Prospecting, so long-term planning is hard for us both. That's why I focus on building automatic and forced systems.

Compromise is also key. If Fish hates working and DW wants to be a SAHM, could DW not start a small online business at home? Then you could save that money and accelerate freedom for both.

*When I was a kid, I was constantly working on my own little projects, often alone! Starting from building all kinds of things with my Lego to building a downhill/gravity racer with my friend from scratch over a summer. I'm still proud of how we went to the dump with my dad to find some tires for it. The rest of it we sourced from a neighboring construction site. It cost nothing to build.

suomalainen
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by suomalainen »

@c_L I don't disagree with you that it sounds great in theory and it's definitely a thing to try, but I think the reality is a bit more complex/messy than that, so my reaction is more along the lines of "temper the expectations" rather than "don't do it". The reason I say that in @fish's case is because he seems willing to support his wife quitting at will without insisting on anything in return. In other words, there's probably something else going on, something that he would already get from her not working. To wit:
Fish wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:49 am
Fish wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:18 am
We're somewhat traditional. Our finances are combined and if there is ER for anyone, DW goes first. She is free to leave anytime, and I don't get to pull the plug while she's working. That's our deal.
An update: DW's stress at work is up ... DW dreams about being a stay-at-home mom, and I've given her my blessing to quit if desired (resisting the urge to insist on reducing expenses).

Although I'm only posting about it now, I've been living under this "DW doesn't like her job"-cloud for at least a year...
...
Previously I've told her to make the work and spending decisions purely based on personal happiness
If my supposition is accurate, then it is the same situation as me. My SAHwife can work if she wants, but I'd prefer her not to (irrespective of the financial implications) because the broader impact on our family would be negative. I don't like when she's stressed, when she has "clouds" and we are somewhat traditional as well.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

At this point I kind-of feel like we are talking behind Fish's back since he hasn't joined the conversation. I realize it's an internet forum, but it makes me feel like a jerk for some reason. So This will be my last comment on the subject until we hear back from Fish.

@suomalainen
The quoted portion above is indeed telling. If Fish DW is very unhappy at work, would prefer to SAHP, and Fish has agreed to this; then why is Fish DW still working?

There are many potential reasons. Maybe Fish DW wants to feel like a contributor to household income. If this is the case my suggestion could be effective as it provides her the ability to do so, let her feel like she has "earned her way out" so to speak.

OTOH maybe, subconsciously even, Fish DW enjoys being away from the kids and doesn't want to admit that to herself. Or the whole "I have to work" thing could be some type of martyrdom tool used in imperfect relationship dynamics. I just don't know. If the heart problem lies in the relationship dynamics or Fish DW internal psychology, obviously the root issue needs to be addressed. My suggestions are merely surface level tactics and assume all else is relatively well.

Fish
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

@cL - I appreciate the constructive suggestions. I'm at a loss where to start, because @suo was right about me not having any preconditions for DW quitting her job.

Because my salary alone easily covers combined expenses, and plenty of accumulated capital, I don't have any carrots to offer. From her perspective, reducing expenses only accelerates my retirement. She also takes my happiness into consideration---but as long as FI/RE is not my #1 issue (it isn't), and cutting expenses = sacrifice for her (it is), then nothing will change.
Finn wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:16 am
If Fish hates working and DW wants to be a SAHM, could DW not start a small online business at home?
I don't hate working, though I reserve the right to change my mind in the future. :) We've considered rental real estate as an income-generating activity for DW. We have landlord experience.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

As was my suspicion from previous threads, I'm offering suggestions to solve a problem that is very low on your priority list.
Fish wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:59 pm
She also takes my happiness into consideration---but as long as FI/RE is not my #1 issue (it isn't), and cutting expenses = sacrifice for her (it is), then nothing will change.
This is the crux of the situation. If it became more important to you, it'd likely become more important to her as well. Since the real crappy work situation is new for DW, it might take some time for her to iron out her feelings on the subject.

If FI/RE ever does get bumped on your priority list, using strong emotional situations (ex I feel like work sucks!), or positive ones (ex I really want to do this) are the only way emotional thinkers can be reached, IMHO. Logic, statistics, investment strategies, will all take a back seat(and be counter productive) to strong emotional desires and anecdotes (preferably real-world living ones which can interacted with on an emotional level).

My GF will sometimes listen to me talk about FI, investment strategies and the like, but only when I demonstrate strong emotions associated with these things. I always avoid specifics and always related it to our mutual goals for which she has strong emotions. Since I live somewhere between pure logic and pure emotion in most of my decisions, it may be easier for me to pick up on and related to what's really motivates her. OTOH my lack of Vulcan heritage puts me waaay behind the 8-ball from an asset accumulation perspective based on my lifetime earnings and preferred spending levels. It also makes me a less than stellar investor. :oops: So pick your poison.

suomalainen
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by suomalainen »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:30 pm
At this point I kind-of feel like we are talking behind Fish's back since he hasn't joined the conversation. I realize it's an internet forum, but it makes me feel like a jerk for some reason. So This will be my last comment on the subject until we hear back from Fish.
FWIW, I always find these types of side-conversations helpful whether in my journal or not, so I don't feel bad about contributing them to others' journals. Seeing the back and forth among others about a problem I'm also working on exposes other viewpoints which may uncover my hidden assumptions, spark ideas about other ways to approach things, etc. If it's not helpful, it's easy to ignore; so I see it as no-harm-no-foul.

I do think that some of this boils down to the way couples are set up; changing course midstream when you've been full life partners presents its own challenges, whereas some of these things are easier if you weren't as tangled (no kids or not married or separate accounts/finances).

@fish [insert wife swapping joke here - something about we could do it without skipping a beat; it's uncanny]

Fish
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

@CL - A few years back, FI/RE was my #1 issue. I was inspired by reading 4HWW, but somehow DW had no interest in extreme early retirement. Although I failed to get her on board, she didn't get in the way either, and I was determined to develop my "muse" (passive income stream) over the next 6-12 months. I'd set a "modest" passive income target of $60k/year (50% of household spending), and upon attainment I would quit my job, develop a 2nd stream of $60k/year to liberate DW, and it would be happily ever after. 8-)

Never mind my lack of business knowledge and experience. I was going to make it work! I read dozens of books about starting online businesses, and enthusiastically showed up at the internet gold rush... 10 years too late. Day and night, whenever I wasn't at work or sleeping, I would be working on idiotic websites like birthdaygiftideas.com, just hoping that something would stick. I did this 4-7am, 8-11pm for months on end. Being inexperienced and fueled by optimism, you should already know how this is going to end.

Fast forward 6 months. This is going nowhere, I still haven't made my first dollar, I'm completely miserable and more desperate than ever to quit my day job. I attribute my lack of success to the 9-5 job stealing precious time and energy away from my projects. Late one night, I do some binge reading of a personal growth blog written by a Mr. Pavlina and become convinced that I need to take some risks to get the change that I want. The next day at work:

Fish: Hey boss, we need to talk.
Boss: What's going on Fish?
F: I'm unhappy. I don't think my life's purpose is to work at Megacorp. I might be wrong though. Can you give me some time off from work to figure things out?
B: How much time do you need?
F: Three months.(*)
B: Okay, that's fine. Go talk to HR and we'll make it happen.

(*)As I'm saying this, I am exceedingly confident that my online businesses will take off by the end of the 3 months and I will never need to go back to work again. ;)

Then the next thing I do is go home and tell my wife the great news.

Fish: Guess what? I got approved for a 3 month leave of absence to work on my businesses.
DW: You did WHAT? Why didn't you talk to me first!? How are we going to pay the bills?
Fish: Don't flip out. I was going to straight up quit but I figured you would like this option better because I can keep my job if things don't work out.

:oops: :( :shock: :? :o :|

Not my finest move. Now, keep in mind that in the background this whole time, we had a baby at home and DW was working full time and picking up the slack due to me pursuing get-rich-quick schemes. Looking back on it, she was much more supportive than I gave her credit for at the time. At the time of the above conversation she was also 1 month pregnant. We had just announced it to family and close friends.

The next day, DW had a miscarriage. :cry:

It was a very emotional event, particularly for DW. Without a doubt, it was the darkest day of my adult life. To this day, she blames it on my enthusiastic pursuit of early retirement and all the emotional stress it caused her. From that point on, she would scowl at me whenever she caught me reading 4HWW, or any talk of early retirement really. :x

I did not take the leave of absence. From that point I quit working so aggressively on my business ideas (I was burned out) and although I continued to want early retirement, I no longer believed it was possible. After hitting rock bottom, I discovered YMOYL which led me to MMM and his shockingly simple math. Excited, I rush off to tell DW about how we can both retire early with absolute certainty, just by applying some "badassity" to our lives:

Fish: Great news! This money mustache guy says we can retire early if---
DW: Not interested. :roll:
Fish: But---
DW: Look, Fish. Everyone we know works. And they don't have a problem with it; they're happy. Why can't you learn to be happy like them?
Fish: :cry:

This whole frugal-FIRE pursuit has been a lonely journey. At my initiative, we cut the gym membership and some other subscriptions, switched to cheaper internet and Republic Wireless. Cut all of my discretionary spending. Made a habit of buying stuff used. Lots of me fixing stuff to avoid repairmen or replacements. DIY gardening and car maintenance. Bus to work. I wanted to move to a LCOL area but was vetoed by DW. She doesn't have any problem with FI, but won't sacrifice for it.

As for early retirement... it's still a bit of a touchy subject and while it's important to me, I'm not going to make it my #1 issue until I sense that the environment has changed, in terms of 1) being able to talk about it without triggering emotional landmines, and 2) DW having some willingness to accept lifestyle changes and take action. After several years, we're FINALLY there on 1) though there is no movement on 2). In the meantime, I did learn to find happiness in spite of working full-time, and ERE (the philosophy) was a big part of that. Arguably more valuable than achieving FI/RE.

Anyway @CL, this is a very long-winded way of me trying to explain that you are NOT wasting your time by providing suggestions. If I don't act on them immediately, it's because I'm waiting for the environment to be favorable before doing so. For normal people, FI/ERE is an idea ahead of its time. It's fine in principle but there's nothing compelling its implementation, so they proceed to do nothing with it because the do-nothing alternative is more comfortable. It's possible that DW's work situation creates an opening for us to become "more ERE." Or maybe not. We shall see.

I appreciate the time you and others have spent reflecting on my situation and providing constructive input on how to help navigate these interpersonal challenges. Thank you.

Also, everything that @suo said in the above post. I find the discussion helpful.

slowtraveler
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by slowtraveler »

That was heart wrenching. I'm sorry you went through that.

It sounds like some healing has happened for her but I better understand and appreciate your gentle approach to FI with your wife and life plans.

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jennypenny
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by jennypenny »

@Fish — I’m truly sorry about what happened. That kind of stuff cuts deep. Your story makes so much more sense now. DW sounds a lot like my DH (who’s still working btw) so I’ll share our situation to see if it helps you.

For DH, it’s not about the money, it’s about security, and having kids intensified his need for it/for providing it. He derives a lot of satisfaction from being a provider. He isn’t interested in pushing the kids ahead in a showy way and making life as comfortable as possible for them … it is a sincere desire (and heartfelt obligation) to do right by them. The miscarriage shows how deeply your DW feels that same need and how much she worries when she thinks the family's security is in jeopardy. DH is the same. That’s an admirable trait that deserves our respect.

When I’ve tried to show DH we have enough money, he tosses out all the issues that might come up. Even when I show him that we’d have enough money to deal with those things, he scoffs. No amount of commas in the kitty will ever take away that fear. For him, it’s also about the security that comes from having a job, being like everyone else, doing what everyone else is doing, making sure the kids fit in socially, etc. We (on the forum) mock people for their hive minds and desire to be like everyone else, but for some people that’s what brings them contentment. Forumites tend to find that contentment in freedom but ‘freedom’ scares many people (like our spouses) and they see it as quitting the game instead of winning it.

I had to learn to accept that our approaches were different … and equally valid. There have been some rough patches, but working both ends, as it were, made each of us happy. At one end, I had to accept that we’d need a lot more in the kitty than I thought was necessary. And I accepted he wasn’t going to quit until the kids were launched. At the other end, I worked the ERE angle and he was onboard with it (he seemed more willing to do it when I was selling it as a lifestyle and not a survival tactic for when we were living off our savings). He also compromises because he realizes that for me, skills and preps and engagement are my security blanket. I had to learn to approach all ERE-related conversations as an attempt to find a compromise, not an opportunity to show DH the ERE light.

We still have occasional battles about where we live. I’ve tried several times to get him to move out of Stepford but he refuses. We argued again last year to the point of doing some real damage to our relationship. He wants to live here for all the reasons mentioned in the 9.9% thread. Plus, he loves the house. I do, too, so I’m focusing on all the good aspects of living in this house and letting the discussion about moving go for now.

It’s different when the kids get older, too. (It feels like) suddenly they have lives that don’t necessarily include you, and you (you and DW) will have to make the effort to be a part of their lives. At that point, she’ll be a lot more willing to discuss dialing it back. Trust me on that. DH is still working but is finally talking seriously about quitting. He’s actually away this weekend visiting our oldest at college … which is exactly the kind of thing that is convincing him that (1) our kids don’t need us to provide anymore, and (2) more time to see them would be nice.

So my advice is to stop talking about it, especially while your kids are very young. You’re butting up against some deep-rooted instincts in your wife. Work on the lifestyle part and build your kitty as fast as possible. When you’re close and the kids are a little older, it will be a less contentious conversation. Maybe she’ll go back to work and you’ll quit. Or maybe she’ll agree to set a tentative goal (goals, not dates, work better IMO). Find a way to do it while satisfying both of your needs … you’ll be happier for it. I’m confident you’ll get there faster than we did.

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jennypenny
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by jennypenny »

I feel like I should mention that I'm not lecturing* ... I truly feel for you and hope you'll find a way to work things out so that you and your wife each get what's most important to you.

*sometimes I think what I write comes off as too direct, or more direct than I intend, and I end up offending people ... occupational hazard from being an editor, I guess

suomalainen
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by suomalainen »

@fish Wow. Intense. That is some really, really heavy shit. I feel for you both.

EDIT: and also a thanks for sharing to @jp. Although deeply personal, these types of stories about people's lives puts a real-life perspective around what I sometimes start to view as an impersonal math problem. My thanks to you both for your openness.

wolf
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by wolf »

@fish @jp Thank you both for sharing your stories. I hope for both of you that you work (ERE) things out with your spouses. I think that I have learned some important lessons in life about empathy in a partnership after reading your stories. Wow. I gotta think about it. If I am ever in a relationship again I will think of you to see things through the eyes of my GF. You two take care of you and your DW/DH!

7Wannabe5
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Fish: I was "hearing" anxiety from your DW, but I thought it was just garden variety. I feel very sorry for both of you, and I really hope you can work your way through this.

@jennypenny:

I've always pictured your DH as a big bearded guy in camo, so I was like "Duh, somebody has to be the one who wants to live in Stepford."

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jennypenny
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by jennypenny »

@7--He was that guy before, and still is sometimes. But after we had kids, Mr. Traditional emerged as the dominant personality. That's one thing you can't predict when neither partner has had kids before ... what kind of parents you'll be. I couldn't have predicted my own instincts with any accuracy and I certainly didn't expect his, nor did I expect the intensity of some of them. It's just something you have to work around when you become parents.

Jason

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Jason »

I believe most marriages falter when either one or both refuse to move into the empathy stage. Youth, attraction, hopes, dreams that shit ends fast. Empathy is a prerequisite for real understanding. And there can be no real kindness if there is no empathy. Empathy also discloses why the other person decided to marry someone as fucked up as you are in the first place, so its kind of double edge sword. In any event, hope you and DH find your way through this because there is a deeper realm awaiting.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

Yeah Fish that's a tough story. I'm very sorry everything played out that way... bad things to good people.

In any event, I have a more complete understanding of the emotional and dynamics at this point. Sorry, I don't have time to make a more detailed post at the moment, but I will in the near future.

George the original one
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by George the original one »

Despite all the deflection away from money-saving, there is another lever that can be pulled: increasing earnings by focusing on career path.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by ThisDinosaur »

Fish wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 am
To this day, she blames it on my enthusiastic pursuit of early retirement and all the emotional stress it caused her. From that point on, she would scowl at me whenever she caught me reading 4HWW, or any talk of early retirement really. :x
Holy. Shit. This is like an origin story for an arch nemesis. The FIRE Fighter. Her mind has connected your life aspirations to one of the worst things I can possibly imagining happening to anyone. And yet somehow you are still partners. I'm impressed that you took a very stoic approach to the situation. You couldn't change the world, so you changed yourself. You eliminated FI as a priority. I see now that this was out of necessity.
jennypenny wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:16 am
For DH, it’s not about the money, it’s about security, and having kids intensified his need for it/for providing it. He derives a lot of satisfaction from being a provider.
Ditto. I think all of this talk about emotional vs. logical thinkers misses another point. Short term vs. long term thinking. My wife wants me to a)work less and b) loosen up about money. She doesn't see the point in thinking about tomorrow because it will take care of itself. Her father worked in the same place for 30+ years and loved his job. Whereas I grew up in a house where my parents took turns being laid off followed by prolonged unemployment. Its hard to find a language to bridge those different experiences.

wolf
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by wolf »

Fish wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:02 am
As for early retirement... it's still a bit of a touchy subject and while it's important to me, I'm not going to make it my #1 issue until I sense that the environment has changed, in terms of 1) being able to talk about it without triggering emotional landmines, and 2) DW having some willingness to accept lifestyle changes and take action. After several years, we're FINALLY there on 1) though there is no movement on 2). In the meantime, I did learn to find happiness in spite of working full-time, and ERE (the philosophy) was a big part of that. Arguably more valuable than achieving FI/RE.
Hi fish! How are you? I thought about asking you, because I haven't heard anything from you and your profile shows that you weren't active. I hope that is only a forum error. I hope that you are still with us in this forum.

How is it going with your SO?

I like that you have found happiness despite the challenging situation. I think the same, that overall life happiness and contentment is more valueable than achieving FI/RE.

Fish
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Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

Thanks to those that contributed stories, advice, and well-wishes above. Apologies for not responding to it, for several months was completely swamped with work and family and the topic was no longer fresh as those challenges subsided. @jenny - Your story did help me appreciate my wife's provider instinct instead of resenting it, so thanks for sharing it.

DW almost quit her job, but decided to stick it out and things seem ok now. She ended up changing workgroups which is a better fit for her skillset. Her stress levels are down now that I'm also helping out more with the house and kids. It seems that work, while time- and energy-consuming, is not really the source of our problems. Rather, the issue is the life that we choose to build around it. Speaking of this, we had a good chuckle when reading Aaron Clarey's description of the insanity that is modern life with kids in "Poor Richard's Retirement." That hit close to home! Then we put the book down and proceeded with business as usual. :lol:

In addition, DW also has a budding interest in frugality. She stumbled on the FunCheapOrFree blog looking for parenting lifehacks and incidentally picked up the budgeting advice. To provide more context: when DW was contemplating a career exit, she sought a promise from me that I would be "responsible" and never quit my job. When I declined this, with the well-intentioned but too-honest response that "I can't provide you with an absolute sense of security," she was initially upset, but eventually accepted it and moved on to figuring out how we could make ends meet on one income.

This exercise made her very receptive to messages about budgeting and frugality. One of the useful rules of thumb that DW picked up from FCF is the idea that groceries should cost no more than $100/week for our family of 4. We go over that amount every week, but it's a useful mental anchor. Before we were routinely spending $200-300/week and not thinking twice about it, and now I notice a lot less wasted food and the disappearance of heat-and-serve meals and random new products that are half-eaten and then discarded.

As this is remedial (doesn't even count as entry-level frugality) considering the audience here, I'll spare the rest of the easy-mode details, which can be inferred by the following:
jacob wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:08 pm
There's certainly a material segment of the FIRE community which can be described as "having a high income while having proudly discovered how to spend and live like regular people".

Same thing now with some of the high-income crowd who think they're the kings of frugality because they've discovered shopping at Costco, painting their own walls, buying stuff at Goodwill, and driving older cars instead of new ones while not realizing that this is normality in the US middle class.
Basically, we're now in a spot where spending is in alignment with our values, and I no longer feel any resentment toward the joint-finances arrangement. It also helps that FIRE is more mainstream and more people are talking about it. Shockingly simple math is not the crazy talk it was in 2014 when I first brought it up to DW. In just the past six months, the environment changed drastically and my wife has colleagues who discuss MMM at work and are very open about their FI/RE plans. It makes it a lot easier to have these conversations having real-life examples. Since so-and-so is going to FI/RE in 3 years, I can now seem extremely reasonable in talking about FI-only over a period of 5-10 years... whereas before these concepts were entirely "novel" which meant I had to explain the math and 4% rule and was met with the kind of skepticism and disdain that's usually directed at those distributing unsolicited religious literature.

Although the environment is more favorable now, I seem to have lost interest in FI/RE. With 600k+ in index funds and a paid off house, MMM provides us with a template which offers the FU-freedom for either/both of us to stop working if we so desire. The capital is there. But as noted above, work is not the problem.

Some thoughts I wanted to discuss but couldn't complete before deadline:
  1. Now that I'm not as obsessed with FI/RE as earlier, I'm trying to "enjoy life" which means spending time doing non-productive things. Also reading more, including fiction which I had cut out completely for several years (this was a mistake).
  2. My kids are old enough now where I can't use them as an excuse for my life not meeting expectations.
  3. Emboldened by something that @suo wrote about "not needing permission", I started a secret food and water stockpile at home. This was quickly found out, but fortunately my wife is on board with it.
  4. ERE serendipity: acquiring DIY skills as things break, acquiring knowledge based on book availability at the library or thrift store.
  5. Enjoyed reading WSP for a while. There is a certain kind of wisdom in their approach to life, still reconciling it with what I've learned.
  6. I'll admit to tl;dring the IPCC report (with the exception of a pre-release appendix that was linked on the forum) but it marks a mental shift in my personal perception of the urgency of the climate change problem.(*)
(*)To expand slightly: I've yet to make meaningful changes, but I've started doing little stuff like not driving to work whenever possible and skipping a relative's wedding that would have required air travel. As I'm writing this I'm using natgas to heat my entire house to 70F, so hypocritical of me to signal concern, but energy usage is constantly on my mind now. I sometimes consider finding a new job, but only because they're trending towards everyone being in the office all the time, and I don't want to relocate to an area that's more practical for commuting. At the same time, the combination of being "established" and specialized means I don't want to throw my current job away either. So that's uncomfortable but at least I'm aware that I am the problem and looking for solutions (albeit comfortable ones).

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