m741's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:49 am

On the other hand, traveling with contacts to poorer areas is at the very least a nuisance. Make sure that you always use clean water / clean solutions to rinse the contacts with. An eye infection in some tropical region is easy to get, hard to shake.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:01 pm

7.5 months out

Retirement prep
I've been making progress. On things from the last update, I've canceled out of LASIK, sold a ton of stuff at work, and decided to open a Capital One account.

I haven't been very good trying to "live out of a backpack," that one is more like "try out a few random small products". In that sense, it's been ok. But I've been much lazier there than I'd hoped.

Overall however I've been making very good progress on my goals. So far this year I've been happy with my goal progress. Each day I track what work I've done on my annual goals. A day where I make progress is a good day, a day where I slack off and do nothing is disappointing. As a result I've gotten in the habit of getting things done. But the past few weeks I've been particularly productive, setting aside a lot of time browsing the internet to get things done. And I feel a lot better about myself.

Mindset
Work has been so-so. I really feel like I'm running out the clock, but it's still over 7 months to go. I made the mistake of looking at working days left and it's something like 160 right now. That feels both like a lot and like frighteningly few. I think the next 2-3 months will be the slowest for me (as the last 2 months have been). Then I think things will really fly. Here's the breakdown, as far as I can anticipate.

* June/July - were slow at work, dispiriting. Quitting felt kinda far out.
* August - slow so far, but I'm gonna be traveling for three weekends. Including several Fridays off. I think that time will fly.
* September/October/November - Lots of travel and events through the first half of November (hiking w/Dad, 2 weddings, trip to Denver, trip to Connecticut). Trying to get in nice-weather NYC stuff.
* Second half of November/December - The usual holiday stuff. Plenty of time off. But, because things are unofficial, probably will drag a little.
* January - Tell the boss I'm leaving. Once I've 'locked it in', start to make moves in earnest, start getting rid of 'essential' stuff like pots and pans, furniture, etc. Start to figure out how to finish up stuff at work.
* February - Lots of post-FI trip planning, finishing up things in the city.
* March - Short/lazy days at work? Or struggling to finish stuff up? When at home, frantically prepping move, craigslisting, finances, etc, before quitting.

We'll see how that plays out. When I list it this way it doesn't seem like a whole lot!

In the next two weeks
* Close old credit card, open new one, since I hit another spending bonus.
* Lots of travel, but prep a list of additional stuff to sell. Put a price on all books that I intend to get rid of before moving.
* Move forward with asset re-allocation (more in VTSAX, less in other Vanguard stock funds, drop some individual stocks).

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:42 am

6.5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
It's funny how much my feelings or attitudes change in a short period of time. That's a recurring theme throughout this journal, I think.

I just got finished running the gauntlet of introvert-antagonistic weekends, combined with extremely stressful/busy work. It's just left me wanting a 2-week staycation. First it was 3 days traveling with the gf in a rental car for her birthday; then 2.5 days traveling with the gf's friends and others to a house in the woods for a weekend; then 5 days in Denver with the gf and her father. Little time alone throughout.

To top it off, my work is highly current-event dependent and there's been a ton of extra work with the repeated hurricanes in the Caribbean that's kept me at the office for 10-12 hours per day.

I'm exhausted and this weekend doesn't look like it'll be restful with Irma poised to strike Florida. On the other hand, the work has been rewarding and I feel like I'm making a real impact inside and outside the company, for the first time in a long time. So I appreciate that. I've been thinking a little ahead to the time *after* the trip. I want to end up on the west coast, and Washington is the top of my list for tax reasons (for at least a year). My company has offices in Seattle. If I could somehow work 3 days per week in Seattle that would be ideal for me (though personally I'd prefer to live in a smaller city). There is a rarely-used work-sharing program I might be able to take advantage of. And finally if I return to the same company within a year, all the stock that was pre-vest will be returned to me to continue vesting, which is a pretty good value. So I think this is what I will angle for if I leave. Two more years part-time as I settle in on the west coast sounds great. If that doesn't pan out... oh well. I can live without work :)

In the next 2 weeks
Do all the stuff I had planned to do...
* Open new credit card, since I hit another spending bonus.
* Prep a list of additional stuff to sell. Put a price on every book that I intend to get rid of before moving.
* Move forward with asset re-allocation (more in VTSAX, less in other Vanguard stock funds, drop some individual stocks).

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:52 pm

6 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
Time flies, and now it's just 6 months from when I get on a plane and fly to Spain to start the round-the-world trip. Hopefully things are a bit calmer there :).

I'm afraid it's not very exciting here. I keep chugging along and my mindset has been pretty stable. I really need a break, I feel burned out at work. The closer I get to retirement, the more grateful I am for this opportunity... and the more I feel spoiled by my work opportunities and ability to save. I guess it's the Protestant work ethic. Maybe reading other round-the-world travel accounts, where commenters jump on people and shout how impossible it is, and how lucky people are, is getting me down.

A few concrete steps I've taken in the past month:
1. I'm really plotting out my expected income for 2018. Here's what I'm looking at: normal salary (3 months), 2017 annual bonus (paid 2018), bonus for being oncall, 401k match, HSA match (my company incentivizes 401ks), payment for unused vacation (probably around 16 days), stock vesting. All of this adds up to something substantial enough that I don't think I'll regret staying until next April.
2. Substantial travel prep. Found pretty much all the physical things I want to buy prior to my trip, and added them to a camelcamelcamel watchlist, for when they go on sale.
3. Large asset reallocation. Over the next few months I'm going to move to a more conservative portfolio, to balance out sequence of return risk for the next year or two. I'm also revisiting some old fund decisions to see if I can move to comparable funds with lower fees.

In the next two weeks
1. Re-list and sell additional another round of stuff at work.
2. Box up a few shelves of books that I will be holding onto for sentimental value.
3. Read the entire 20-part "Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates" on Early Retirement Now.
4. Set up Google Voice account.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:03 pm

m741 wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:52 pm
I really need a break, I feel burned out at work.
...
payment for unused vacation (probably around 16 days)
Would you feel better actually spending the vacation days, instead of having them paid out?

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C40
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by C40 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:02 pm

I believe Google Voice has been changed entirely to Google Hangouts (and that it was mostly just a name change)

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:50 pm

@Chris - You make a good point. But... I made the mistake of calculating what each day would be worth if I cashed them out, and I can't really justify the cash value of an extra day off :). Especially given the short timeframe and upcoming holiday season. 16 days would be the total 6 months from now, including 3-4 days off for various activities/moving chores.

Of course I could just close my eyes and try to ignore it. But I think it would be there at the back of my mind.

@C40 - I just wanted the additional phone number/redirect/transcription. All of that still seems to be offered (I just signed up):
https://voice.google.com

Not sure about the Hangouts connection.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:28 pm

5.5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
Work's been... work. One thing I'll note - one of the things I've always been most bummed about with programming is how arbitrary it can be - learning arbitrary function names and the arbitrary mechanism that some internal application uses. And as I get closer and closer to the 'cutoff' date I care less and less about learning that stuff.

I'm also struck by how backwards a lot of my career has been. I would have been better served starting at my current company than the financial one I did before. And I'd have been better served starting on the tech stack I currently have the opportunity to learn than on what I started with, and especially what I worked on the past 2 years. It gives me a bit of the blues - on the other hand, I've been very well remunerated and overall work has been pretty kind to me.

On a more positive note, I am super psyched about some of the stuff I plan on doing while traveling - personal development and other projects that will occupy my spare time. In short (leaving out stuff like reading/meditation), I'm planning on focusing on fitness (running/hiking/bodyweight fitness); the arts (writing/sketching/gouache); language (Spanish mostly). I see this as an opportunity to refresh my interest in programming, and to explore stuff I've put off in other areas or where I've had less time while working. For example, I was doing a bit of drawing, but when work doesn't interfere, chores do - I'm looking forward to chunks of free time. Same with running - I just ran a half marathon, and I look forward to training and (maybe) running in some places around the world. Programming - I get so burned out after work, but I really want to do creative programming work again when I'm not thinking about it 50 hours/week.

Practical stuff
* I just (tonight) bought tickets to Madrid, for our trip!
* I sold another round of stuff at work (books mostly). Soon I will be getting into the stuff that's more difficult to sell - things that I use or that represent aspirations that I have to set aside.
* I've purchased a number of shirts and small travel gear that was on my list, as I found very good prices.
* I set up a Google Voice account.

Stuff I will do in the next 2 weeks:
* Open a separate bank account (for freelance work/taxes).
* Read the entire 20-part "Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates" on Early Retirement Now (forgot to do this last week).
* Pack up 3 boxes of books/knick-knacks to store in my father's house during our trip.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:35 pm

5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
It's pretty wild that I'm 5 months away from quitting and traveling around the world. I've been prepping more seriously - selling more stuff, packing up some of the keepsakes and stuff I want to hold onto. I'd like to have under a vanload of stuff by the time I'm through - selling basically all my furniture, 95% of my books, etc. Between myself and the gf that may be 2 vanloads.

I've basically listed every single book or DVD for sale, that doesn't have a sentimental attachment to a family member or my childhood. That's a great feeling. I still have to take care of some other stuff - trying to sell some old coins, etc. But the apartment is actually starting to feel emptier.

We've also started booking some stuff. Two flights, two airbnbs. The gf has dramatically improved her credit rating by paying off privately held student loans and qualified for a card with good airline miles. I'm hoping to get another card with miles, and maybe we can squeeze in a third (another one in her name). That would cover essentially all of our flights for this trip. AirBnB basically allows you to rent and pay with a credit card, which means that spending goals are eminently achievable.

Financially, I have two big open questions: first, what to do about health insurance? I'll likely need a year of insurance, then at least one of us will probably be working again. I really need to research this; health insurance likely overlaps with travel insurance, too. Second - how should I invest? I've been moving away from stocks. The market is making me a little nervous. And there's some indication that a higher bond/gold ratio would reduce sequence of return risk early in retirement. On the other hand, I already have more saved than I need... so the sequence of returns should matter less. I need to do some more reading. I'm beginning to suspect that index investing is somehow overrated. I just hear it hyped *everywhere*, always a worrisome sign.

Outside of the explicit retirement prep, I'm also starting to look forward into retirement itself. Or, beyond work. For example, I'd like to do some painting, so I've started looking at that. And I had a minor scare with back pain a few weeks back, so I'm trying to be more active and responsive to aches and pains. The last thing I want is to ruin my back in the last 5 months before I retire, right before a trip I've been planning for years. As a result, I've been taking a boxing class 2x/week, for the past 3 weeks.

I'm planning on taking Thanksgiving week off. I feel overall like I'm limping into the finish line, I need the time to recover and I think that week off will let me finish strong.

Oh yeah - it's also 96 business days until I quit. That feels a lot shorter than 5 months.

Stuff I will do in the next 2 weeks

* Look to book a few more AirBnBs.
* Continue working out, painting.
* Plan for and meet with tax consultant, implement any required changes afterwards.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:11 am

m741 wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:35 pm
Financially, I have two big open questions: first, what to do about health insurance? I'll likely need a year of insurance, then at least one of us will probably be working again. I really need to research this; health insurance likely overlaps with travel insurance, too.
Yeah... it kind of sucks to pay for expensive health insurance in the US when you'll be spending so much time outside the US.

US health insurance will probably run you $400/mo. That will vary based on your location, so moving out of NJ before your globetrotting year will have an impact on price.

As a US citizen, you're required to have qualifying health insurance or pay a penalty at tax time, unless you have an exception. One exception that might be applicable to you is Exception C: US citizens physically present in a foreign country for at least 330 days of a consecutive 12-month period. If you fall into that bucket, I would forego the US insurance and just get travel insurance.

Before signing up for travel insurance, you should also consider the medical benefits you are already covered by with a credit card (CSR, for example). And depending on the country, also consider if it is even worth it to have insurance, or if self-insuring is more practical.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by taemoo » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:13 am

I'm also planning to quit next year and travel outside of the US. My plans for insurance is Cobra(450/mo) up to 10/1, then 3 months temp insurance until 1/1. When ACA open enrollment comes around in nov, I will get a silver plan. If premium subsidies are still in place, cost will be zero if my projected income is 100-150% fpl.

I will also get travel insurance for the countries I visit minus US. I think you save 50% if you don't include US.

I'm ill prepared on my exit since it's coming sooner than I planned. It's great reading your journal, gives me things to think about

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by 5to9 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:51 am

m741 wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:28 pm
* I've purchased a number of shirts and small travel gear that was on my list, as I found very good prices.
I may have missed this, but I'm always on the look out for better travel gear, what shirts did you go with?

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:53 pm

@Chris/taemoo - thanks for the primer. I was looking at COBRA, and it's very expensive for me. Good to know that $400/month is a reasonable baseline for health insurance, though. Unfortunately, I will not be out of country for 330 days.

@5to9 - Here's my go-to stuff: I've found that ex officio underwear is most comfortable and dries quickly. It's not flattering but I don't mind that as much. Darn tough socks are high quality, lifetime warranty, comfortable and fit well. On the pricey side but worth it (and American-made). For pants, I've been very impressed with a pair of outlier shorts I ordered (again pricey, but seem durable, are stylish, dry quickly, etc). I don't have a pair of long pants I like. For shirts, I found that Woolly have a good cut for me (slightly broad average-sized dude) and are very comfortable. Also pricey, but I found some half-off on ebay. Unfortunately, I have some moths in my apartment that have taken a liking to them and they've developed holes. I'm also not sure how durable they are. Cedar doesn't seem to be helping, but I'm trying to store in plastic bags. This has been the only drawback to wool that I've seen.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:50 am

Hi m741. I have read your journal yesterday from the beginning up to now. It is very inspiring seeing the changes during those last 6-7 years and how you managed them. Thank you for sharing so many stories and details. I always wondered about your backbround, but now I understand it all a lot better.

Traveling is also one of my favoured goals when I am FI. But I am thinking more about keeping a homebase and do 4-6 weeks of travel. You on the other hand plan for a big trip. You don't keep your appartement, do you? How do you want to travel? By car, airplane or van, like C40?

On October 2nd you wrote "Large asset reallocation." What asset allocation do you have in mind? I think, I have read something about the PP.

Ok, not too many questions. :-) Wish you a good travel preparation phase!

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:58 pm

@MDFIRE2024 - Well, I'm flattered! Glad you enjoyed the journal. Frequently it feels like I'm writing the same thing over and over - but right now I don't want to go back and read it all :).

As for travel - the long trip is something I wanted to do for a while now. As you probably read, I did a 3 month trip, 4 years ago. I enjoyed that, but it was purely in the US. Honestly, I'm not sure I'll enjoy it. I learned a lot during those 3 months and I know I'll have to make changes for a longer trip (to have some kind of projects so I don't feel like I'm wasting time). Plus it'll be me and my girlfriend.

I'd love to travel for 4-6 weeks at a time, but there are two problems: my girlfriend will likely return to some kind of job after this trip - she's gonna do some freelancing during some travel, and she might like it, but if not, she'll be unable to travelmore than ~2 weeks at a time. Second, many of my post-FI interests are those that require some level of maintenance: gardening, terrariums, houseplants, maybe aquaculture/permaculture. I haven't bought supplies for many of these things, but I have a cat. I'd also like to own chickens and maybe other productive animals eventually. While it's certainly still possible to travel with these limitations, it's also a lot tougher. These are reasons I didn't plan for annual or twice-yearly month-long trips.

As for asset allocation. I've withdrawn from the stock market a bit, moving more towards bonds. I have also moved into gold (though only a small % of savings) and hold a little more cash now. I've also moved decisively away from individual stocks, and am more interested in 5-6 funds, gold and cash. I will re-evaluate my positions during December to see if I can do any more tax harvesting as I sell off individual stocks.

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jennypenny
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by jennypenny » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:12 pm

Was your trip really 4 years ago?! Time flies ...

Maybe you should stop thinking of this trip as a 'trip' like your other one? It seems fundamentally different to me, more like a gap year of sorts. I know I tend to get hung up on language, but you might adjust better if you looked at it as simply 'traveling' or some other word not so tied to the concept of vacationing.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 12:11 am

@jennypenny - Yeah! As I did the math I was shocked. That cross-country trip still feels so recent. And today I got an email that said it was my 4-year anniversary at my current job. It still feels like I just started, as though I spent 3x longer in finance and I'm just starting out here. I'm also approaching my 10-year anniversary of college graduation. Yikes!

I guess 'trip' is the wrong word for what I'm planning. I feel like this is halfway between gap year and a trip... which makes sense since I'm looking at 7 months of travel. On the other hand... it may not even be a 'gap' between two things if I decide not to return to work.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:45 pm

4.5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset

I went through a super-busy 2 weeks, including travel to visit the gf and her family. Finally, no more travel or big events are scheduled, and I'm looking forward to a very quiet 1-2 months (with probably one trip during Christmas to visit my father).

I'm also taking Thanksgiving week off (I get 2 days holiday, taking 3 days vacation). I don't know if I've ever taken a week off to spend at home. I think I might have had a few days before I started the present job. I'm looking forward to it - like holiday vacations from school when I was a kid! I have a lot of big plans (making several trips to Goodwill and donating a bunch of stuff; studying Spanish and painting a little more rigorously), but I also want to sleep for days.

I guess my takeaway here is that the stressful parts of work, and the long hours, are something I should remember and "appreciate," such as it is, to try to maintain a contrast with hopefully more relaxing times in the future.

I also talked to my accountant, planning out the next year or two of transition. The big thing is that I can do a mega-backdoor Roth... and this is something DIFFERENT from a regular backdoor Roth. I just thought it was a marketing name for the same thing! There's not a lot of big changes. But maybe I'm planning on making notes somewhere public about things I'm aware of when switching jobs.

Stuff to do in the next 2 weeks

* Donate 4 bags of assorted stuff to Goodwill
* Try to hit spending goals for gf's credit card
* Finally determine asset allocation for first year of retirement and move in the right direction
* Figure out mechanics of Mega-Backdoor Roth and what needs to be done over the next 4 months
* Cancel 2-3 recurring expenses (Amazon, Children International)

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