m741's ERE Journal

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

Post by Chris » Wed May 03, 2017 9:41 am

m741 wrote:
Tue May 02, 2017 10:56 pm
As I mentioned, I jumped straight back into the retirement/ERE space ... Other recommendations, of course, would be appreciated.
I recently finished reading the Quit Series at Living a FI. He's good at detailing the situation and his mental state realizing he can quit, the actual quitting, and the detox afterward. I quite liked the play-by-play of the "Quitters Never Win, Except When They Do" posts.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed May 03, 2017 10:46 pm

@Chris - thanks for the recommendation. I'm about 2/3 of the way through, it's good so far and many of the realizations mirror my own thought process.

I was also thinking more about your suggestion. I am pretty burnt out and disengaged, and I think it may make sense to request a one-month sabbatical (in, say, August). The big selling point for working until March is the bonus+stock (and various calendar-year based bonuses), which is a lot more than the regular paycheck. So, I could probably give up a month of paychecks, destress a bit, and not see any adverse effects. I'll ask in my next one-on-one. :)

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by giskard » Thu May 04, 2017 11:25 am

@m741 I have been reading your journal for a few years now. Actually, it has been since you first quit your job in New York. I pretty much expected you just to use the new job as a good way to get an all-expense paid move across the country and then you could work there for a bit and quit and do whatever, given that you were FI.

Programming can be really fun, that is what I do for a living as well. I actually like my job because of my co-workers, but otherwise I'm building some pretty boring / unchallenging business software. However, if you really are working on interesting and engaging stuff, I totally get why you would keep working. Solving problems is fun and getting paid to do it feels good.

I guess to me it sounds like you must like the work but not like the job all that much. Why don't you go independent and do some consulting? Maybe the autonomy will feel better to you, and you will probably end up working a lot fewer hours in total but you will still get to do a bit of work which I'm sure you must enjoy.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu May 04, 2017 10:52 pm

@giskard It sounds like you (maybe) have two questions: why am I still working, and what do I think of the work?

Simply put, I'm still working because I get a really high salary, my gf needs to work off some student debt, and I feel like it would be weird to quit before her; by continuing to work this year, I can also squirrel away a lot of money for either security, future indulgences, or to donate to charity. It's not more complicated than that.

As for the work... that's a more difficult question. I was programming BASIC when I was 6 or 7 years old, I did website design for a while when I was young, I took computer science courses in high school and did well in them. I've loved developing intuition for debugging and that little jolt when something complicated works right. So I enjoyed programming. On the other hand, I always had some internal resistance to it and was never as passionate as many of the people you see online. And honestly for 8 of the 10 years I've programmed professionally, I've basically been overpaid to write CRUD-type apps over long work hours. That meant no energy to program interesting stuff at home.

Collectively, a lot of this soured me to programming: lots of cross-team politics; lots of pointless office bureaucracy; lots of feeling like the apps I was developing were just flipping bits on some hard drive somewhere and doing little else; above all, programming 'challenges' that were simply trying to figure out how to abuse some library because I wasn't doing something it was designed for, or the "Do I put this in Class A or create a Manager for that class? Do I create an interface or just the concrete implementation?" I can't give a shit about this stuff anymore. It's all so arbitrary, too: become an expert in some library that's gonna be thrown out in 6 months; why both studying all the stupid quirks of something that's gonna be obsolete in 2 years?

I don't think I could stomach any project larger than a week or two, where I don't have 100% creative control. I think I'd scream if my entire day consisted of sitting in an open-floor office plan and writing HTML forms and servlets to process them.

So, right now I don't enjoy programming, but more than anything I need some distance. I could certainly love programming again. I know almost nothing, so there's always more to learn. I have a few hobby ideas and if I sat around for an afternoon I'd likely have more. I'd like work my way through SICP and the Art of Computer Programming, and write compilers in different languages. And 'consultant' does sound attractive, it's an option to keep in my back pocket.

But right now, I think if I was gonna do another job - and I'll likely return to work at some point - it would be something where I'm at least improving something in the physical world part of the time.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by giskard » Fri May 05, 2017 7:46 am

@m741 oh that makes sense with the gf situation. And yeah you definitely sound pretty burned out on programming at this point, so that is too bad. But, I bet you are right - if you got some distance for a while you could get interested again.

I wonder what the optimal job is that lets you produce physical output as a result of your efforts for a recovering programmer? That could be interesting to experiment with.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Wed May 10, 2017 8:44 am

Hi m741,

Glad you chose Spain as a destination. I am from the Basque Country of Spain.

Which city were you thinking? I recommend using Airbnb and then a website like idealista.com.

Shoot me a private if you need more help.

Cheers,

Frugal Chico

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed May 10, 2017 10:37 pm

@frugalchicos - We're visiting mostly Barcelona, but also a two days in Tarragona. We're staying in AirBnBs.

Any unusual destinations, or sites/restaurants/bars you think of as more classically Spanish/Catalan? (Stuff that's not Sagrada Familia and other big tourist sites).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu May 11, 2017 8:37 am

Morning m741,

Barcelona is a pretty cool city, Barrio Gotic and Borne are my favorite neighborhoods. Avoid Ramblas and all that touristic crap.

Places I highly recommend: - Canete (it is the exception in Ramblas) and Arume (Raval).
Canete might fall under the fancy/ more expensive kind of place. However, it is a classic and has pretty awesome tapas.

Arume was and is one of my favorite restaurants on Earth. It is a pretty cool family restaurant (two brothers, two restaurants) with homemade food, cheap and delish.

Have fun!!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat May 13, 2017 8:57 am

10.5 Months Out

Financial changes

I met with my tax advisor two weeks ago. It's always a productive meeting, and he's pretty supportive of my plans (though I haven't told him about not working, just taking a few years off). It's good to get professional confirmation that my thoughts, or what I read online, is a good idea.

I had some action items and notes which may be useful to (American) readers:

* I've been following the Mad Fientist HSA plan (basically, HSA is the best retirement account, so max it out if possible). He confirmed it as a good idea and had a great suggestion: create a new email account, and send all health expenses to that account: receipts, bills, etc. Even bandaid receipts :). So, I'm gonna be doing that. Then it's easy to withdraw and have evidence of the expenses.
* He confirmed that maxing out the IRA this year and next year make total sense, even though I'm not in a tax bracket where that's with pre-tax dollars.
* Since I'm also looking at doing some small freelance web development, possibly in combination with my gf, he suggested creating a separate bank account for write-offs, which makes sense. Just print the statements as a 'business' account and there's tax justification. I feel like there's probably more to be done here: I've never freelanced before, beyond 2-3 jobs for friends.

The rest was more particular to my situation. Besides that, I've been doing the following things:

* Continuing all spending on credit cards to hit spending bonuses.
* Actively listing and selling lending club loans. It takes a few minutes and I'd like to be in an easy position to close the account at the end of the year. Bit-by-bit I'm making progress.
* Continued selling off a lot of physical stuff. It's amazing how much I had in a little apartment. Mostly books, gifts I received but didn't want, and old electronics. I sell through a spreadsheet at work, which means I also track what I've sold. Over the past few months, that's 170 different items. Sure, the bookshelves are a little lighter, but it feels like there's still so much left to sell or donate.

Mindset

It's been pretty rough. Stressful at work, and that leads me to question why I'm staying. But abstractly it makes sense right now. There's some stuff coming up at work, if it goes really terribly (for my team, not for me personally), I may not be able to handle it anymore, which could throw off timings. I'd really prefer to have that extra cash in my pocket, though. Working for another 10 months would easily cover the trip (for two), relocation expenses, etc etc.

I've just got so much whiplash from enjoying and not enjoying work every two weeks. Likewise, I get whiplash finding hobbies and then not having time to pursue them; I don't know whether that will actually change once I don't have a job.

On the whole, right now it's mostly just coping with work, dreaming about not working, and making the most of the remaining time I have in NYC.

In the next two weeks
* Actually set up dental/vaccination appointments
* Donate a bag of stuff to Goodwill (start getting tax writeoffs for physical donations)
* Continue selling loans on Lending Club
* Travel to Barcelona for a week :)

---

@frugalchicos - Borne was not on my list, will make sure to check it out. I don't eat meat or fish, so Arume doesn't look like an option, but I'll put Canete on our list :). It's not expensive coming from NYC!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by halfmoon » Sat May 13, 2017 9:32 am

m741 wrote:
Sat May 13, 2017 8:57 am
Donate a bag of stuff to Goodwill (start getting tax writeoffs for physical donations)
Not that it's a big deal, but you can't write off donations unless you itemize deductions. I don't think you have a mortgage or property taxes, in which case it's usually hard to hit the itemization threshold unless you have significant charitable donations. If you do, be sure to keep a list of the items you donate and their fair market value. If you claim more than $500 in non-cash donations, you'll need to file a separate form documenting the details. Maybe you know this, in which case I apologize for the lecture. ;)

More importantly: congratulations on your impending retirement and travel! Doing this when you're young and adaptable is a wonderful plan.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Sat May 13, 2017 11:05 pm

halfmoon wrote:
Sat May 13, 2017 9:32 am
Not that it's a big deal, but you can't write off donations unless you itemize deductions. I don't think you have a mortgage or property taxes, in which case it's usually hard to hit the itemization threshold unless you have significant charitable donations.
True in a lot of the country, but not in the NYC area, we've got high state and local income tax /-:
Since those are itemized deductions, there are lots of renters who end up itemizing.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by halfmoon » Sun May 14, 2017 8:19 am

Wow. I'm used to complaints about our (WA) sales tax, but I just googled NYC taxes. You have a pretty high sales tax rate on top of the state and city income tax. I'm going to make a wild guess that property taxes aren't low either. Probably not a good place to live in retirement. ;)

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue May 30, 2017 6:26 pm

10 Months Out

Retirement prep
Nothing too much. As the market remains high I've seen pretty ridiculous gains. I've mostly continued the same trend as before, though was on vacation for one week:

* Selling Lending Club loans.
* Continued spending on credit cards.
* Maxed out the IRA for 2017.
* Haven't sold many more items, but have identified another round of stuff to sell. I've also found a Goodwill nearby, and will no longer be giving stuff away for free to coworkers, so I can get itemized charitable deductions.

Outside of the purely financial, I've scheduled dental checkups and a doctor's appointment, to get more vaccinations.

Mindset

It's been better. I'm still not happy at work, but this biweekly posting cadence on the journal makes everything seem to happen faster; I'm not sure why. So, it's starting to feel like the end is in sight, even at 10 months out. That's good. Beyond that, my new boss is a huuuge improvement (started in April) and has lots of good projects which target morale+team impact first. So, right now things are pretty decent, but it feels a bit fragile. Fingers crossed that the trend continues.

In the next two weeks

* Attend scheduled medical appointments.
* Continue selling Lending Club loans.
* Figure out whether I want to do LASIK this year, before my big trip, and if so, with what doctor.
* Donate to Goodwill.
* List more stuff on corporate network for sale.
* Finally list kitchen sink-attached dishwasher on Craigslist (too big to transport myself), to see if there are any buyers.
* Track all expenses for June (establish new expense baseline to start getting into actual retirement calculations, since my last one is a few years old!).
* Withdraw a little from stocks and move to bonds or gold.

---

@halfmoon - NY/NJ taxes are indeed quite high. I believe NJ has some of the highest property taxes in the country. Hence, looking to move to Washington right after retirement, at least to start with.

@frugalchicos - I had a great time in Barcelona, Borne and Gracia were my favorite neighborhoods. However, Tarragona was slightly more my speed. I find I like smaller cities more than larger ones, at least in Europe (since pretty much all cities are walkable or have decent public transit).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Shawndev » Wed May 31, 2017 7:43 am

m741 wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 10:52 pm
@giskard It sounds like you (maybe) have two questions: why am I still working, and what do I think of the work?

Simply put, I'm still working because I get a really high salary, my gf needs to work off some student debt, and I feel like it would be weird to quit before her; by continuing to work this year, I can also squirrel away a lot of money for either security, future indulgences, or to donate to charity. It's not more complicated than that.

As for the work... that's a more difficult question. I was programming BASIC when I was 6 or 7 years old, I did website design for a while when I was young, I took computer science courses in high school and did well in them. I've loved developing intuition for debugging and that little jolt when something complicated works right. So I enjoyed programming. On the other hand, I always had some internal resistance to it and was never as passionate as many of the people you see online. And honestly for 8 of the 10 years I've programmed professionally, I've basically been overpaid to write CRUD-type apps over long work hours. That meant no energy to program interesting stuff at home.

Collectively, a lot of this soured me to programming: lots of cross-team politics; lots of pointless office bureaucracy; lots of feeling like the apps I was developing were just flipping bits on some hard drive somewhere and doing little else; above all, programming 'challenges' that were simply trying to figure out how to abuse some library because I wasn't doing something it was designed for, or the "Do I put this in Class A or create a Manager for that class? Do I create an interface or just the concrete implementation?" I can't give a shit about this stuff anymore. It's all so arbitrary, too: become an expert in some library that's gonna be thrown out in 6 months; why both studying all the stupid quirks of something that's gonna be obsolete in 2 years?

I don't think I could stomach any project larger than a week or two, where I don't have 100% creative control. I think I'd scream if my entire day consisted of sitting in an open-floor office plan and writing HTML forms and servlets to process them.

So, right now I don't enjoy programming, but more than anything I need some distance. I could certainly love programming again. I know almost nothing, so there's always more to learn. I have a few hobby ideas and if I sat around for an afternoon I'd likely have more. I'd like work my way through SICP and the Art of Computer Programming, and write compilers in different languages. And 'consultant' does sound attractive, it's an option to keep in my back pocket.

But right now, I think if I was gonna do another job - and I'll likely return to work at some point - it would be something where I'm at least improving something in the physical world part of the time.
I am also software engineer sometimes i fed up about the life the way its going. So i decided to leave all things but i found your post on google search and quite happy now.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Shawndev » Wed May 31, 2017 7:46 am

m741 wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 10:52 pm
@giskard It sounds like you (maybe) have two questions: why am I still working, and what do I think of the work?

Simply put, I'm still working because I get a really high salary, my gf needs to work off some student debt, and I feel like it would be weird to quit before her; by continuing to work this year, I can also squirrel away a lot of money for either security, future indulgences, or to donate to charity. It's not more complicated than that.

As for the work... that's a more difficult question. I was programming BASIC when I was 6 or 7 years old, I did website design for a while when I was young, I took computer science courses in high school and did well in them. I've loved developing intuition for debugging and that little jolt when something complicated works right. So I enjoyed programming. On the other hand, I always had some internal resistance to it and was never as passionate as many of the people you see online. And honestly for 8 of the 10 years I've programmed professionally, I've basically been overpaid to write CRUD-type apps over long work hours. That meant no energy to program interesting stuff at home.

Collectively, a lot of this soured me to programming: lots of cross-team politics; lots of pointless office bureaucracy; lots of feeling like the apps I was developing were just flipping bits on some hard drive somewhere and doing little else; above all, programming 'challenges' that were simply trying to figure out how to abuse some library because I wasn't doing something it was designed for, or the "Do I put this in Class A or create a Manager for that class? Do I create an interface or just the concrete implementation?" I can't give a shit about this stuff anymore. It's all so arbitrary, too: become an expert in some library that's gonna be thrown out in 6 months; why both studying all the stupid quirks of something that's gonna be obsolete in 2 years?

I don't think I could stomach any project larger than a week or two, where I don't have 100% creative control. I think I'd scream if my entire day consisted of sitting in an open-floor office plan and writing HTML forms and servlets to process them.

So, right now I don't enjoy programming, but more than anything I need some distance. I could certainly love programming again. I know almost nothing, so there's always more to learn. I have a few hobby ideas and if I sat around for an afternoon I'd likely have more. I'd like work my way through SICP and the Art of Computer Programming, and write compilers in different languages. And 'consultant' does sound attractive, it's an option to keep in my back pocket.

But right now, I think if I was gonna do another job - and I'll likely return to work at some point - it would be something where I'm at least improving something in the physical world part of the time.

I am also a software engineer sometimes i fed up about the life the way its going. So, i decided to leave the things but i found you post on google search which redirected to this page. I read all the story and now i am quite happy.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 31, 2017 8:09 am

m741 wrote:
Tue May 30, 2017 6:26 pm
@halfmoon - NY/NJ taxes are indeed quite high. I believe NJ has some of the highest property taxes in the country. Hence, looking to move to Washington right after retirement, at least to start with.
Washington DC or state (locally called The Other Washington)? I live outside of Seattle and love it. Real estate and rent are pretty high, though probably better than NYC. I thought you were planning to travel for an extended period, though. Do you plan to maintain an apartment somewhere while you travel? My apologies if you already covered this in a previous post; I can't seem to find it.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 31, 2017 10:33 am

m741 wrote:
Sat May 13, 2017 8:57 am
On the whole, right now it's mostly just coping with work, dreaming about not working, and making the most of the remaining time I have in NYC.
I forgot that I wanted to comment on this in my previous post. Instead of just surviving the next 10 months until you can travel, how about pretending (on your time off) that you and your GF already are traveling? You could be tourists in both NYC and rural areas, stepping outside your comfort zone in ways that you plan to do when you're on the road. Examples: eat strange ethnic food, use only what you can fit into a knapsack, explore the countryside, camp in a park, walk/bike around neighborhoods you don't normally frequent, go into local bars and start conversations. If you really get into it, you might learn some things about yourselves and each other that will help in planning the extended travel.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed May 31, 2017 8:37 pm

@Shawndev - Thanks! Hope you come back!

@halfmoon - Washington State. And I guess I wasn't clear. So the plan is: 6-7 months travel; move to WA state; stay for some length of time (1 to X years); consider moving elsewhere. I said "immediate" because longer-term (3-5 years, we may not end up in WA state). There are very good tax reasons for the move to WA state for 1-2 years, which maybe I'll get into.

As for the travel idea - great minds think alike. I'm treating this last 10 months sort of like "traveling" in NYC to see stuff I haven't yet, which is a lot of the city, given its size. But what I look forward to most travel-wise post-retirement is the opportunity to experience things at my own pace, which is kinda the opposite of work as the "travel" is cramming that experience into weekends. Stepping outside my comfort zone is a separate thing entirely and a bit orthogonal, but I agree it would only be good for me :).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:12 am

9.5 Months Out

Retirement prep
I've been keeping busy. I've been selling my Lending Club loans aggressively. The note-trading platform is pretty sophisticated - due to state rules I've only ever been able to use the trading platform, never buying new notes (NJ laws), but I hadn't used it to sell. You can sell in bulk and select discount/premium in bulk. Now I'm down to $1400 invested, from a high of $10k. I can take my foot off the gas and see where things shake out in October; some loans should be complete by then. I've also been tracking all my expenses for the first time in two years, with the goal of re-establishing my spending baseline. I think I'd like to continue with that over the next few months.

I went to the dentist and doctor. I've now gotten my Hep A/B vaccinations. I had no pressing reason to, but why not while I've got top-of-the-line insurance? I'll be getting Typhoid vaccinations at the end of the year, (I think that's the one), and malaria pills. I'm also pretty sure I'll be doing LASIK. I found two options through references at work, in the next month or so I'm hoping to schedule appointments.

I've also started to collect a round of stuff for donations to Goodwill, and also have listed my biggest unused appliance on Craigslist. No interest yet, but I can just keep dropping the price now that I have the photos and it's written up.

I've been using Vanguard's SpecID to sell the few stocks where I've taken losses. It's very difficult for me to find any down stocks for tax-loss harvesting, given the market situation. I guess I shouldn't be complaining! The good news is that the most appreciated stocks will be going into a Vanguard Charitable Trust. I've done some research and this seems like the best solution for the near-retiree looking to make substantial donations in a tax-efficient way. Hoping to do all the research and stock selection this weekend and then set it up early next week.

Beyond those specific items, I've started using a tracking to-do list. I've tried a few that immediately sputtered out (Google Keep, notepad, Gmail tracking). Now I'm using Todoist. It's pretty slick, particularly the Android app and widget. So far (about a week in), I'm pretty engaged. If I continue to use it for a month I'll get the subscription.

Mindset

Work has been very stressful. I do feel like I'm making some difference overall, which is better than before, when I felt like I was just punching the clock. I'm still looking forward to quitting, but I'm in this weird trough. The nine months I have left, roughly, is very little time in the big scheme of things. On the other hand, it's not like I'm leaving tomorrow. Looking ahead, I expect to enter a different phase when I have 3 months remaining: in January. Maybe then I'll have more urgent plans and it'll feel real. Currently, I feel like a cat lining up to pounce. Settling in for a big jump, making sure everything is lined up right, but not yet ready to strike.

In the next two weeks

* Set up Vanguard Charitable Trust
* Close old credit card before fee time, and hit spending target on one new card
* Set up one appointment with an optometrist to discuss LASIK
* Bring donations to Goodwill
* Continue tracking expenses
* Continue developing Todoist tracking habit

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:37 am

m741 wrote:
Tue May 30, 2017 6:26 pm
10 Months Out



@frugalchicos - I had a great time in Barcelona, Borne and Gracia were my favorite neighborhoods. However, Tarragona was slightly more my speed. I find I like smaller cities more than larger ones, at least in Europe (since pretty much all cities are walkable or have decent public transit).
I am glad you like it! I bet you had pretty amazing food too. I agree with smaller cities, that's what I am thinking in doing whe I move there. They have all you need and everything is walking distance. Besides, they are usually cheaper!!

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