m741's ERE Journal

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

Post by Fish » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:33 am

@m741 - I find it really interesting to follow along your live countdown to retirement. Thanks for documenting your mental state so well. The bit about not pursuing work opportunities due to being too focused and rigid on the ER goal resonates with me. For about 5 years now, I've used a planning horizon of about 2-3 years wrt my current career. This led to being somewhat lazy and unambitious at work relative to my peers. It has been a good lifestyle decision but not a good career decision. And now the original 5 year plan is going to stretch out another 5-10 years at least... and perhaps even all the way out to the age when I can take retirement benefits like iDave. It's a good warning that precisely matching the planning horizon to the expected duration is not a good idea. It's like designing a race car to fall apart when it reaches the finish line. But one never really knows where that finish line is going to be, so better to err on the side of caution. And who knows what rewards await those who make the most of the opportunities that are presented to them?

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by jacob » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:35 am

What's the saying: Live each day as if it was your last but behave as if you were going to live a thousand years.

Would perhaps suggest that this problem comes about more so if FI is seen as a goal on a one-dimensional trajectory instead of a side-effect of a web of goals. In the latter case, there wouldn't be a definite date for when the web collapses. Instead you'd just cut one job node out of the web and thus one's mental state and plans (as per the web) would remain more or less robust.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:52 pm

One month out

I see I've skipped an update. I've been pretty busy. As expected, with the month changing to March everything clicked into place: time to panic! And today I stared into the mirror, realizing I'd be in Portugal in a month.

Ironically, the big problem over the past week was that I got deeply into a video game. I think I played 60 hours in a week, which is clearly unhealthy and I knew in the back of my head that I was both (A) putting my yearly goals on hold and (B) procrastinating on moving tasks. I think I've mostly burnt out on it now, and just in time to start all the transition tasks in earnest.

I have a big list of things to do (change phone plan, more donations/selling of stuff, especially furniture soon, book some stuff in other countries, etc), as well as a lot of stuff to take care of before I leave work. I've also gotten a number of vaccinations, pills, etc.

Now I have 15 days of work left, just three workweeks. Eep!

Pretty much every day I'm going to be bringing in stuff that I plan to sell or donate. I've had a friend pick up a few pieces of furniture (free) and will have some more this week. I'll be putting other stuff on the street and soon listing some appliances on Ebay. My cat will be leaving to live with my father starting this weekend. So... that's a lot that I've done and a lot that I still have to do.

That's about it. I'll have a lot more to say soon, probably after I move out of the apartment on the 30th.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:52 am

It's time

I'm no longer working. It will likely be at least 10 months, maybe more, before I return to any kind of regular employment. I don't want to think that far out. I've been planning this for 4 years, at least.

The past two weeks have been crazy - trying to finish out a bunch of stuff at work, prepping for our trip, and also trying to move.

Work was a combination of boredom (seeing the end in sight and counting down the days), and panic (lots of stuff I had to do to help my team take over my work, or to prep for leaving the company). And in the end it really crept up. I'd say the last week just flew by. I could also feel the pressure lifting, bit by bit. I still feel it some - oh there's X and Y I have to do for project Z; it feels more like a sick day or a weekend today. But I won't have to go back. It's not my job any more. In the end, leaving the job was not what I expected, although it echoes my experience leaving finance. You build up leaving in your head, but it ends up being so quick. You have a going-away lunch or dinner, go out for drinks one last time, and then you walk out the door one last time.

To be honest, it's been far more stressful trying to organize the move. We moved about a half-minivan load of stuff upstate to where my father lives; we'll have one van worth of space on Friday morning. That means we're selling or putting all the furniture, appliances, etc on the street. Cancelling internet, power, etc. Forwarding mail to a new address. It's really tough moving without a car - lots of errands to run on foot. We're mostly done now, though. A dresser, 2 desks, 2 chairs, a microwave and a washing machine are the only large items that remain in the apartment.

Honestly, I'm shocked how flaky people are - I listed most of the furniture for free and people on Craigslist basically respond to messages once and then disappear. It's free stuff! Just commit to it! This is my first move in about 10 years; when my girlfriend moved in she was moving from one situation with roommates to another (ie, with little furniture, dishes, etc). So this has felt like a fresh experience for both of us. I hope this dissuades us from acquiring a lot of stuff in the future).

We also had to say goodbye to friends - we had a big going-away dinner last night and have been saying goodbye to people throughout. Of course, we'll be back in NYC soon enough, and it's easier than ever to keep in touch these days. But it is the end of one era in our lives.

Finally, the trip. We've got flights booked, some AirBnBs booked, some sights booked. I'm least worried about this; we've done a lot of logistical planning, gotten vaccinations, double-checked visas, and I think we'll manage to figure anything unsettled out on the road. I'll post some more updates about the details soon, but our first destination is a few days in Portugal, then a month in central/southern Spain.

The final pressure will be off our back on Friday when we complete the transfer of stuff to my father's house. At that point, I think the biggest challenge for me will be trying to make the psychological adjustment, to take my foot off the accelerator and slow down to enjoy this new period in my life. I want to savor travel and a move to the west coast, not to blink and miss it.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by McTrex » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:53 am

Congratulations!

Be sure to take your time to decompress and enjoy your new life :)

Oh, and please keep us posted :)
Last edited by McTrex on Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by herp » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:44 pm

Congratulations on pulling the trigger, m741!

I can absolutely relate to the flakiness when selling stuff online. Patience is probably the most important thing to have in this regard.

I also fully agree with moving being stressful. I last had to move a few years ago while starting a new job at the same time and it was a couple of hellish months. I've promised myself to not move anymore than necessary in the future ;)

Looking forward to your next update when you've cleaned out the apartment and are on your way to an awesome trip.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:08 pm

Congratulations! I've been following this journal for years now and it's amazing to see a plan like this come together. This is one of the few corners of the internet where one can study a subject such as yourself over the course of 5+ years before they ERE/LeanFIRE.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:16 pm

Hurray! Good to read this. Good luck & enjoy.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by George the original one » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:30 am

Congratulations on achieving your goal!
m741 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:52 am
Honestly, I'm shocked how flaky people are - I listed most of the furniture for free and people on Craigslist basically respond to messages once and then disappear.
It is amazing! I had the same experience. It's one thing for them to show up and decide it's not for them, but totally absurd that they'll say they'll show up and never arrive.

Fortunately we were bailed out by one lady who wanted to bribe us to move to the head of the callback list. SHE was determined! And bailed out by another guy who came for one free item and decided a couple others were worthwhile, too.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:47 am

Yes, we had a similar experience. One person came for a free bedframe and grabbed a free dresser; another came for a couch and his friend wanted to buy bookshelves.

On the other hand, people even bargain down and then never respond...

However, this has given me more insight into the Craigslist ecosystem and I think I can write a pretty compelling email when I'm buying/picking stuff up after the trip.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:16 am

+3 weeks

My last day working was 3/27. I moved out of my apartment on 3/30, and flew to Europe on 4/3. In retrospect, this was awfully compressed. It would have been nice to have quit, say, on 3/20. But the vesting schedule and apartment rental didn't work like that. What I didn't realize was that leaving work would impose on my schedule (drinks, events while leaving), that moving would impose on my schedule (lots of goodbyes to friends or just spending more time with them before leaving), and so on. My girlfriend worked a little longer than me so I ended up doing more cleaning, arranging for furniture to be sold/given away, and so on. All that left me pretty exhausted. So - space it out more.

Then I thought I'd be able to recover staying with my father in upstate NY prior to leaving, but I simply don't feel comfortable at home. I mean, it's nice to see everyone but it's not exactly restful. It was convenient though :).

Then we flew to Europe and it's been a very fast two weeks - starting in Porto, then to Madrid, Toledo, Granada, and now we're in Seville. It just ended up being like our regular vacations in the past, heavily booked, lots to see, lots of planes/cars/buses/trains/subways, etc. But now we have just started a week in Seville and a week in Jerez, at just the right time, when I want to slow down. In some sense, it's felt like 3 weeks straight of 'work' as we did all the above, with only one day off (a rainy day in Madrid). It's also been 3 weeks of time, mostly straight, with my girlfriend, which is a little intense for an introvert like me. I suspect we're transitioning into a new phase of the trip now, though, and I feel less guilty about doing/seeing less or spending more time in one city.

I'll have some more updates soon, now that things have slowed down.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:00 am

Good to see an update. Take it easy, m741. Remember, the two of you are doing this for fun!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed May 23, 2018 2:29 am

Time for another update - this time from Budapest.

We've been traveling for one and a half months, out of 7 planned. In many ways it's turned out like I expected - in others it's very different. I have some experience with longer-term travel from my van trip (3 months camping) five years ago, and it's interesting to see the contrasts.

We've visited something like 12 cities now, in Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Belgium (for a day), Czechia, Austria and Hungary. We're also starting to adjust the trip to slow things down. Two days in a city is not that interesting to me on a trip this long - too much headache getting oriented, finding lodging, finding transport, changing money, etc. We've moved to eliminate a long layover in Colombia, and to drop Ecuador from the trip, in favor of more time in Peru.

I think in Prague, I really started to realize how long 7 months is. It was a little scary - wow, this trip is gonna be way more intense than I expected! After all, I do feel a little homesick, it can be uncomfortable, even in comfortable cities. It was also eye-opening. We've been traveling for 1.5 months now and it's just about more time than I've spent in Europe over 5 previous trips. We've been pretty active, too: so we've seen, tried and experienced an awful lot. And that's Europe, which is (relatively) familiar to me, and culturally relatively similar to US cities. Still, it feels like a year since we left, and I guess in terms of 'interesting experiences' we've packed in a year or two's worth in this time. We'd have heaps to discuss if we talked to someone in NYC, but when we lived there, 1.5 months was a common amount of time between getting drinks with one set of friends or the other - and little would happen in the interim.

I've traveled with the gf the whole time. We spent a day apart doing our own thing in Vienna, but otherwise have basically been together 24/7 except for up to an hour or two per day due to our different sleep schedules (she's a night owl). That's been a challenge for an introvert like me - but less than I expected. I think we will do more 'day trips' on our own, in the future, but I don't feel like it's a pressing need and I think we'd be fine, at least in circumstances like this (staying in apartments in cities). Camping will be very different, particularly for the gf.

Finally, I'd like to discuss some tension which I didn't accurately anticipate. I'd pictured this trip as being mostly a chance to study a lot (in the hobbies I want to focus on) and to have some time for introspection. But it's been pretty bad for that. Every city has so much to see and experience, and I'm constantly torn between wanting to have a quiet day in reading, writing, drawing, studying - and the feeling that such a day is a 'waste'. It makes no rational sense - why would I want to experience so much, without any breaks, for *7 months*? But in quiet moments focusing on these pedestrian things, I also think "Really? Five years from now, will you want to look back and realize you wasted 2 days in Budapest reading a book you could have read anywhere?!" Obviously, I should do what I want on a vacation, but I don't fully know what that is.

I have more to say, but I think that's enough for this update. We'll be traveling through Slovenia and to Paris soon, then flying to Lima, and seeing Lima, Cusco, Huaraz, etc.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Wed May 23, 2018 3:23 am

Aha, that paragraph about wasting vacation time ... yes, one can feel really guilty that way, right?

For me it helps to remember that it is me who is paying for all of this, I don't owe anyone an explanation on how I spend my time. So I get to decide, how I spend my days. Even when on holiday in a beautiful city, I grant myself the freedom to stay in bed all day long if that's what I want.

(NB for me my guilt comes from spending family holidays with my folks, who insisted on doing at least one cultural/nature/hiking thing per day when on holiday. Throw in a few churches and monuments, and ... really, really tiring for a mere mortal human like me. But that's what my frame of reference was when I started holidaying by myself. Now I have grown to the realisation that I like a mix of fun / active days and just lazy days, too).

On the other hand ... beforehand you might have been a little bit unrealistic about alllll the things that you can do in an hour, a week, a month. Expecting too much of yourself. So perhaps consider setting your targets a little bit lower for all of this; both the travel/sightseeing ánd the philosophical pondering...

I wish you good luck as well; may the gods of travel and currency exchanges be with you two.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:09 pm

It's been a few months since I last updated. Honestly I've completely disconnected from financial stuff, besides day-to-day expenses. I only today did a little catching up. I'll confess, in part this was due to hearing about problems in the market and not wanting to see what my losses were. Imagine my surprise to see that markets were up since I last checked (in March).

I have tracked expenses religiously for the whole trip (for both myself and my girlfriend). I think together we are spending just barely more than we spent in NYC (I don't know what all here expenses were :)). Food has mostly been cheaper, "rent" has been cheaper - but there's more transport and sight expenses like museums.

What's funny is that the market (and some final job payments) has gone up enough to cover 5x our expenses so far. I may make some minor tweaks to holdings for now (going a little more cash-heavy), but overall, this is pretty remarkable to me.

We've been in Peru now for a bit under a month and have a few days left before heading to Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. It's been great - our first time in South America and has refreshed my love of travel (after feeling a bit worn out with Europe). To be fair, Europe was basically the only place I'd been outside of North America. So lots of interesting fresh things here, and an opportunity to compare with Mexico. Plus the prices are very low if you stay sensible (restaurants outside busy areas can be $3 for a full meal; $.30-$1 for a kilo of oranges; $2 for a tax ride across town; $7 for a full-day bus tour of ruins; etc). We also made some more concrete decisions and I'm now even more excited for the rest of the trip (about 4 months). We'll be making stops in Santiago, Valparaiso, Singapore and Sydney, none of which were on the original itinerary. These are all cheaper than direct flights (eg cheaper than Lima - Buenos Aires).

And, to be honest, I'm also excited about the trip ending, and moving across the country and maybe setting up some woodworking tools or something. That's pretty amazing because I don't have to worry about a "vacation hangover" where you dread returning to work. So overall things are going pretty well. Taking a cue from the last post we've been moving slower and relaxing more. Let me know if you have any recommendations in any of the locations mentioned above, or in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Tokyo, or New Zealand!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:26 pm

Hi, glad to hear that you're doing okay. And that you're enjoying the trip so far. And great to hear that you're also looking forward to creating a new home at some point.

Good luck & have some more fun!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by jacob » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:42 pm

Tokyo: Conveyor belt sushi bars---best invention ever! The Imperial Palace just so you can say you've been there. Ditto Shibuya crossing. Maybe Shinjuku. More importantly, there are express buses going from Tokyo to Mt Fuji's 5th station. You can hike to the top (3800m) and down again in half a day, so pick an early bus and a day where it's not raining/stormy. If you've never been on a high speed train before, like in Europe, take the Shinkansen to Kyoto. If you have, it's not worth it unless you like history and temples in which case it's practically mandatory.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by JollyScot » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:07 pm

Further to what Jacob wrote about Tokyo I can say if you do get the train pass and travel to Kyoto then you could vist Nara park. This is the one that has the deer that bow to you for some crackers. Although I will be honest and they are not as polite as the videos suggest if you don't give them their cracker immediatly they will bite a bit. If it is quiet too you can get surrounded, a lot of fun though. Also in Kyoto is Monkey Park Iwatayama, a big hill where you can feed some monkeys at the top, cool but not worth a trip south just for that only if you plan going anyway. Agree with Jacob though it is a very temple heavy area.


For Tokyo the one thing I would recommend are a couple of the awesome food choices we went to.

Ramen: Fu-unji
It does the dipping noodles and they were the best ones we had (we had a lot). Can be a bit stressful as the locals eat fast and it is pretty busy. So good idea to practice those chop stick skills before going otherwise it might decend into panic.

Sushi: Fish Market
The best sushi we had was the morning we went down to the Tokyo Fish market. The places there get the fish from the market that day and then open up and serve. It was a noticably better than the other sushi we had on the trip, I can't remember the name of the specific place but there was a few to choose from (maybe we had a lucky pick).
Although I heard the market was closing and I am not sure if thsi has happened yet. If it has then this recommendation is no good.

Yakiniku (korean bbq): Rokkasen
This place is in Shinjuku and we almost didn't go as it is not cheap. A few options on what kind of meat you can get, most expensive including unlimited wagyu beef (crazy price, we didn't get that) we got the cheapest menu which is still $70 per person.
Very expensive and certainly not in the ERE way of thinking, but it was by far the best meal we had in Japan. Possibly one of the best meals I have ever had. So if you did want to try something special when there take a look. Do a mini fast before making the trip and don't make the same mistake as me and try the soup. Schoolboy error.

There are a few others we enjoyed but not enough to say they are worth specifically seeking out. If do get there and want some more recommendations then give me a shout and I will rack my brains a bit more.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:00 pm

m741 wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 2:29 am
Every city has so much to see and experience, and I'm constantly torn between wanting to have a quiet day in reading, writing, drawing, studying - and the feeling that such a day is a 'waste'. It makes no rational sense - why would I want to experience so much, without any breaks, for *7 months*? But in quiet moments focusing on these pedestrian things, I also think "Really? Five years from now, will you want to look back and realize you wasted 2 days in Budapest reading a book you could have read anywhere?!"
Sunk cost fallacy. You know what you can't do in NYC? Read a book in a cafe or park in Budapest. Know what you can do in NYC? Go to a museum. Five years from now, will you want to look back and realize you wasted the entire trip doing not what you really wanted, but doing what you had previously scripted even though you didn't want to follow the script in the moment?

Really enjoyed speed-reading your journal these last couple of days. If I might offer an observation reading 7 years of your life in a few days - you seem to always be in planning mode. It's okay to stop planning or writing and acting out a script, and just live for a while.

Anyway, I'm jealous! Enjoy the trip / life!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:52 am

@jacob, jollyscott - Thanks for the recommendations! I'm definitely hoping to do Nara or one of the rabbit islands, and all the food looks like it'll be amazing.

I hadn't realized you could just hike the top of Fuji. I think I still need to see how the weather will be; I've heard while we're there that it will be brutally hot (in August).

---

@suomalainen - You're right, of course. Scripting stuff and then following through even if you don't want to is no way to live. But I think this is a little more complicated, because *after* I've done whatever it is (museum, seeing a new neighborhood, etc), I'm generally pretty happy that I did it. So it's more akin to procrastination than blindly following a script I hate. It's basically trying to resist my homebody tendencies.

As for planning, yeah - I'm definitely a planner. Though, perhaps the journal skews things - after all, it's tended to be one of the few places where I discuss my plans, so they may be overrepresented compared to everyday life. However, I find it difficult not to plan. I can't really imagine just going out aimlessly into a city without a few sights or goals in mind - though usually I try not to be too detailed so we can pursue interesting things during the day.

That said, any tips for being more spontaneous would be appreciated... so I can plan for it in the future ;).

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