m741's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
saving-10-years
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by saving-10-years » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:58 pm

@m741 Just a recommendation for Tokyo if you like Studio Ghibli anime films. The Studio Ghibli museum http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/

Something that we did which was really enjoyable and not our usual thing was the a walking Ghost Tour of Tokyo. We are not a superstitious family and you don't have to believe in ghosts at all to enjoy this. It was interesting to see some hidden parts of the city and hear explanations of shrines and such you would not have noticed or understood. We found our tour advertised as a Meet-up.

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:14 am

July-September 2018

I figured it's time for another update. Since the last update we've visited Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Japan, Singapore, Sydney, and New Zealand. It's been a blast - particularly Japan, Singapore and New Zealand. It's also been awfully hectic. Aside from 2 days in NZ, and 1 in Osaka and Sydney, we've basically camped, hiked and gone sightseeing every day for the past two months. We've got a quiet weekend in Auckland before the madness resumes and we fly to India for the last month of the trip.

Japan was a blast - over two weeks we went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Osaka, and Okayama. As well as a small beach town. It was very hot but also the friendliest country we went to, with a completely different culture. I loved it and would have spent a month or two if we had time - maybe in the future. We went to the monkey park, deer park, ate tons of new food, did the sushi conveyor, and so on. It was actually surprisingly cheap (though we stayed with a friend in Tokyo for free).

New Zealand we did the campervan thing - a first for my girlfriend - and it went well. The country is so well set up for hiking and the ecology is so diverse. Really the most picturesque country we went to, and I think a better "outdoor experience" than the US... and I love it in the US.

I'm looking forward to India, but I'm also a little nervous about it. I'm also at a point on this trip where I think it's just a little too much travel. I think 6 months would have been ideal, at least for the way we decided to travel on this trip. In the future I think I'd set a limit of 6 months at a time and go slower, but I said that before this trip and we just wanted to see so much. I don't regret any of it, but at this point I think I'd rather be at home than traveling. But still: India!

As for finances. I'm mostly keeping things simple, besides finally being able to close out my Lending Club account (easier to manage things and simpler taxes). I had a good run to start but eventually things began to get less reliable and it was too much effort for the returns. Overall, my savings have increased on this trip. And total expenses are looking to finish close to $30k for two people during the 7-month trip.

I have a ton of plans for stuff I want to do when I get back - starting with moving to the Seattle area. So many deferred hobbies since I knew eventually I wanted to make the move and didn't want to accumulate stuff. Here are a few things I'm hoping to experiment with or do more of when I get back (in roughly descending order of interest): woodworking (furniture construction or refinishing), painting/drawing, running/orienteering, guitar, geocaching/birdwatching, modelmaking/dioramas, martial arts (boxing/jiu jitsu), homebrewing/bulk cooking, astrophotography, whittling/assorted crafts. There's other stuff but these are the basics.

But... I'm also planning on going back to work (a few months after moving to allocate time for hobbies). I think I want a little *more* buffer before I hang things up for good. But I think I'll only be saving about 30% of my income this time around, with the rest going to: getting hobby equipment, local travel, donations, "paying off" trip expenses and making it carbon-neutral, possibly some family stuff, and maybe prepping to buy a house in 2-3 years. That's the plan as it stands: work for 3-4 more years, learn a bunch, and then finish for good.

DutchGirl
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:11 am

Good to get an update from you. And to hear that you are having a good time, although it's also a bit hectic.

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:16 am

October 2018 Update

It's early November and the 7-month trip is almost at an end. We flew out of Auckland October 7 and arrived in India on October 9th after an extended layover in Singapore. India has been... eye-opening. It's a lot to take in - at times filthy or incredibly smelly, loud, etc. At times I love it and at times it's incredibly stressful. It doesn't help that it's the end of the trip and I was already a bit tired of travel in NZ... and now I'm already looking ahead a bit.

Unfortunately, this isn't the end of things. Throughout November we will be traveling - back to the US, then to two weddings, then crossing the country to move to the Seattle area. It's a lot to take in. We will have had only one consecutive four-night period in the same bed between August 20 and December 1. I certainly didn't plan it that way. At least, it wasn't intentional.

I'm doing some job-hunting now, with the goal of finding some educational work that can help me allocate money to a number of different goals without disrupting my savings. I may return to the same company I worked at, or I may try working at a startup. I'm actually kinda excited to work again. And to do some more programming once I'm home.

As you can gather, my schedule isn't exactly clear right now, but plan on reading a huge update in early December as I recap the trip, look forward to 3 months without work or (much) travel, and cover some other interesting topics.

wolf
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by wolf » Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:54 am

Good to hear that your trip worked fine so far. Having "eye-opening" moments while traveling something really worth it. I had similiar experiences too when I was traveling for 5 months through SEA and Australia. What especially was so "ey-opening"?
m741 wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:16 am
I'm doing some job-hunting now, with the goal of finding some educational work that can help me allocate money to a number of different goals without disrupting my savings. I may return to the same company I worked at, or I may try working at a startup. I'm actually kinda excited to work again. And to do some more programming once I'm home.
Why? If I remember correctly, you don't have to work regarding the money. Do you miss some special aspects of work? Like the structure, challenges, social connections? It's not a bad thing in my opinion to go back to work after FI(RE), if working improves your quality / contentment of life. Maybe you could talk a little about the thoughts behind it.

Well, take care on the journey/travel ahead of you. Have fun and enjoy!

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:16 am

Why return to work? I'm not planning on working long-term unless I enjoy it, more like 3-4 years. It's no fundamental need, more just for comfort. It's not fully rational. Here are the reasons in roughly descending order of importance to me:

* Pay for short-term upcoming expenses such as moving (car, gas, apartment deposit/search), buying hobby equipment, etc. This is probably about $10k-20k of expenses depending upon how extravagant I am. I can afford it without working, but it feels weird to dip into savings like that.
* Be able to make fairly substantial donations that I felt less able to, when FI was a goal.
* Jump back into software engineering after time re-assessing what it means to me, with stronger focus and more diligence, looking past the job to self-employment, hobby projects, and charitable work.
* Possible assistance of gf as she pays off student loans, since I want us as a unit to be on firmer financial footing.
* Ease of settling into new city (company support, healthcare, connections/networking, etc).
* Societal expectations.
* Save money for possible purchase of a house (for living or to rent out).
* Add a few more fully-employed years to ensure I qualify for Social Security benefits.
* Recoup trip expenses. Although my savings have stayed fairly flat (with market movements, dividend income, etc), I feel strange having spent so much especially with above upcoming expenses.

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:19 pm

2018 in review

It's been a while since I had a comprehensive update, and with the end of the year approaching, I think it's an appropriate time to review 2018. It was one of the two most eventful years of my adult life.

In March my girlfriend and I quit our jobs for a trip around the world I'd been thinking about for 4-5 years, which we began in April. We also sold or donated most of our possessions in Jersey City and moved what remained into my father's house in upstate NY. We then traveled for 7 months around the world (more on that later), and after returning, drove across the country and relocated to Seattle. Finally, I interviewed and accepted an offer to return to my former company, albeit on a more challenging team and a different office (Seattle).

So: I moved, got a new job, and visited ~16 new countries. In spite of these big changes, it was also a pretty productive year overall.

2018 Goals in Review
This past year was the first year that I really kept on top of my goals (for the most part), and only slid a little over the last month, when I drove across the country, looked for a job, house, etc. The end of 2017 was also very strong for me and I feel like I've developed a system that works for me.

Basically I have a spreadsheet that tracks how I'm doing for the year to date. I enter all the work I did towards goals each day, and the totals are automatically tabulated and compared to linear progress towards goals from the start of the year, so I can see where I'm falling behind. Almost all of my goals are in terms of hours spent, which makes them very easy to quantify. I had the following goals:
  • Meditate 50 hours. I meditated 41, or 81% of my goal. I don't think it was high quality meditation and I'm still thinking how I want to approach this in 2019.
  • Run 520 miles. I ended up running 152, or 29% of my goal. This was my worst performance. To explain - I found it was very difficult to easily run while traveling (either it didn't feel safe, there wasn't a clear running path, or I had a lot of scheduled flights/buses/trains that interfered with natural running hours). With a stable place to live and a more regular schedule I'm optimistic, and I've signed up for a number of races this year.
  • Complete 300 pieces of art (speaking generously). I created 228, or 76% of my goal. I expanded this quite a bit, to include "creative endeavors." It's a bit loosely defined, but I include things like working on furniture, cooking a new recipe, or practicing guitar, and so on.
  • Study Spanish for 300 hours. I studied for 243 hours, or 81% of my goal. This was pretty successful, but also (along with running) can be the most exhausting of them. It's easy to sit down and paint for half an hour, but a lot harder to sit down and focus on flashcards or listening to Spanish. Nonetheless, I'm proud of my performance here.
  • Read 52 books, or one per week. I ended up reading 58, or 116% of my goal. There's not a lot to say here. I read a lot, because it's easy and because it's well suited to travel. I started 72 books and finished 58, which is a pretty good completion rate for me.
  • Complete 2,000 tasks which correspond to goals. I completed 1,887, or 94% of my goal. That's about 5.5 tasks per day. Generally, these are tasks which take about half an hour, although I'm a little flexible. Some are very simple, but I don't do regularly, and which only tangentially correspond to the goal tasks, like taking vitamins or drinking enough water.
Overall, I was very happy with my results, even though I technically only "met" one goal.

Looking forward: 2019 Goals

I've put some thought into these, but haven't fully formulated them.
  • Total actions: 2,000. I felt this was a good incentive to work on things that didn't directly correspond to a goal.
  • I'm redefining "artwork" to be "Creativity," and I'd like to complete 300 hours on "Creative stuff". I may add a goal that I finish the year with eg 100 actual creative works, whether they be a piece of furniture, digital art, watercolor, etc. Furniture/woodworking and practicing guitar will be big focuses for me this year.
  • Spanish: studying 300 hours. I felt this was a good goal last year and want to continue this year. I would also like to pass the B2 DELE Spanish exam in fall 2019. I feel this will help structure my study. If I pass I think I may diversify my language study in 2020, but that's some time off.
  • Run 400 miles. A small step back from my goal in 2018, but necessary since I want to encourage doing speedwork to improve my times.
  • Run a 45:00 10k. I feel like this is a respectable time. I don't mind 10ks (ie, done in ~1 hour or less) and enjoy the ceremony and cool people at races. I was very happy with my last 10k, on 12/22, where I ran a bit over 55 minutes, or about 8:55 pace; I'd have to bring my average pace down to 7:15, but I think this is doable within a year. The course where I ran 55 minutes was just around the corner from me; they do a race every month, so I can really get clean comparisons of progress.
  • Lose ~30 pounds. I'm at around 190, and though I think I carry it pretty well overall, I think I'd feel way more energetic if I got down to 160 or so. It's an ambitious goal, but I'm ready to work on it and have eliminated almost all my excuses.
  • Do 13,000 pushups. That's about 50 per day. I'd like to do more but I think this is a good way to work on a weakness of mine, without equipment.
  • Read 20 of what I'd consider "canonical" graphic novels that I haven't gotten to yet. I have a good library system and a library with reasonable hours, about 20 minutes walk to my house. I love graphic novels but they're very expensive. I compiled a list of 30 graphic novels I constantly see recommended and found I'd read 10 of them. Some are one book (Watchmen), others are a few books long (Saga of the Swamp Thing). Generally these are "slice of life" (Essex County, Persepolis) or SF/F (Saga, Y: The Last Man, The Incal).
  • Watch 50 important movies I haven't seen. Similar to the graphic novels - I listed out 90 movies that seem culturally relevant with a high quality bar. I'd seen 40 of them. Generally these are movies that seem at least slightly of interest to me, and it includes many of the usual suspects (Hitchcock, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, On the Waterfront, Gone with the Wind, Star Wars), and so on. My girlfriend is really into film and TV, so I'm pretty sure I'll hit this goal. Many are available online via my library card.
  • Finish 13 highly-regarded video games. These are generally shortish games (2-10 hours), and all have narratives or campaigns. Some examples are To The Moon, Limbo, Bioshock, Black Mesa (Halflife remake), Dear Esther. I have a huge backlog of unplayed games that I'd like to play but generally I just spin up Age of Empires or Unreal Tournament, ie, the same games I've basically played since 1999. I could add a lot more here, but I'd prefer to focus on movies and graphic novels in this class of goals.
I may add a goal for meditation, I'm not sure how to proceed there. I didn't feel like it was very useful and overall thought I regressed this year from previous meditation efforts.

This is definitely an ambitious set of goals, but if I break it down I can keep on top of it with maybe ~3 hours per day. Spanish and creative stuff would average 50 minutes per day each, losing weight is mostly a passive goal. The pushups would literally take 3 minutes to complete. I want to read all the graphic novels (ight now!) and am excited to watch at least half the movies and play half the games. Running would average about 8 miles per week, or less than 2 hours per week (plus some time for speedwork).

My next update will cover travel, events, and mindset, and finally on Monday I'll do a financial recap for 2018 (and goals overall for 2019 and beyond), after the markets close.

wheatstate
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by wheatstate » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:15 pm

Congrats on a great year. You did great quantifying your goals and performance.

I am catching up on your journal from above and saw your mention of orienteering. I agree that orienteering is great. Orienteering is traveling by foot to find controls/flags placed out using a detailed topographical map and compass. Events are affordable in the $10 range, and can be done solo or in teams. The winner is whoever gets all the controls and finishes fastest, though plenty go out with family and friends to hike a new park. The challenge of orienteering is how fast can you push yourself physically while still being cognitive of exactly where you need to go; i.e. walking slowly in the right direction is better than running fast in a slightly wrong direction.

I didn't mean to ramble. I appreciate you sharing your success and like hearing that you orienteer.

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:20 pm

@wheatstate: Yeah, I did a little orienteering when I was in boy scouts as a kid, and I enjoyed it, but I haven't tried since. I'll need to see what sort of options there are for orienteering in the Seattle area - probably in the spring.

If you have suggestions for events or event classes for beginners I'd be interested to know more.

prognastat
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by prognastat » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:35 am

Good job on achieving one and getting close to a few of your goals. Good luck with your 2019 goals.

What are you playing video games on? Based on the titles mentioned I'm assuming PC.

wheatstate
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by wheatstate » Thu Dec 27, 2018 5:16 pm

m741, it looks like you have a great club in the Seattle area. In the midwest, we run events in the forest in the winter when vegetation and insects are reduced. Then in the summer, we have events in urban, mowed parks. I don't know what the Seattle orienteering season's are. You do have good events coming up. http://cascadeoc.org/events/

Regarding starting out, there is a two hour open start window. Show up early in that window and a regular will give you all the pointers needed for your first event. Often there are three or more courses set. The entry courses are shorter distances with larger feature controls that are easier to find. Start easy, and work your way up. If you clear the first course early, you can do a second course. Wear what you would comfortable run or hike in, and bring a compass. Long pants are nice.

There are also permanent courses out. A permanent course is one where you print the map on your own and then go and find small controls/signs places out. Frequently, these are about the size of a trail marker. Doing this doesn't have a fee. http://cascadeoc.org/permanent-courses/

Since our fearless leader is in Chicago, I will throw a shout out to the club that got me started orienteering many moons ago to compliment cross country HS running; The Chicago Area Orienteering Club. https://www.chicago-orienteering.org/

I have similar 10k running goals to yours. I do the running training, so I can orienteer faster. I find them complimentary.
Last edited by wheatstate on Thu Dec 27, 2018 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

herp
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by herp » Thu Dec 27, 2018 5:22 pm

Impressive work on the goals, m741! Visiting 16 new countries in a year is just mind-blowing to me.

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:22 am

2018, Travel and Mindset

As I alluded to in the previous post, this was a big year for me personally, with a lot going on. I'll break down a few things.

Travel

We traveled during 7 months, to 20 countries and 44 cities (with some additional side trips). There were 26 flights. It was very busy and this was not the method of travel that I thought I'd follow when I was initially planning on the trip, but it became apparent that it's what we'd be doing maybe 6 months out. The simple fact is that there were SO MANY places to go that weren't at all similar to where we'd been before, and we wanted to see an awful lot while in each of them. For example - Japan, New Zealand, and Peru were all very high on both my girlfriend and my lists of places to go. They were all very tough to reach from NYC, especially on the typical short work trips. If you're visiting Japan for two weeks, are you really gonna sit around all day or spend all your time in one place? Probably not. In New Zealand for a month, besides two short breaks in Auckland and Dunedin, we traveled every single day and camped somewhere new each night.

Briefly, we spent a month in Spain, with a weeklong side-trip to Morocco, then hopped from Brussels to Prague before spending three weeks in Vienna/Budapest/Slovenia, and a week in Paris/Rheims. We then flew to Peru and spent a week each in Lima, Huaraz, and Cusco, with additional time getting to Machu Picchu. We spent a week in Montevideo and two in Buenos Aires, and then a week in Tokyo and a week in Nara/Kyoto/Osaka/Okayama. We flew through Singapore and Australia (a week between the two) before spending a month in New Zealand. We finished in India, doing 4 cities in Rajasthan and then Mumbai and Bengaluru. Overall, I enjoyed New Zealand, Japan, Peru and Southern Spain the most, and my gf had roughly similar feelings. I didn't enjoy Morocco at all and found India rewarding but stressful to travel in. Overall I was "Europed out" (two months in a row, and it was the only place outside of North America I'd visited before) - I didn't really want to see the tourist sights at the end, but I think it would actually be great to return and just relax some in old places without pressure (ie, the plan before we set out).

If I'd summarize the trip, it was "Awesome, but too much." It was a little too long, a little too fast, a little too much stuff, and as the second long trip for me (after my cross-country drive in 2013), I can see a pattern now. So I would not repeat such a trip in the future. My gf, I think, feels a bit differently, but I was overwhelmed by the weight of handling all the logistics. I'd have to wake her up (heavy sleeper + night owl), navigate, figure out what trains/buses to take (and there were a lot), and drive. She helped with some stuff, but would go overboard on things that appealed to her which I didn't find practical (list out 20 restaurants in a city we'd see for 3 days, find sights that were across the city from where we were staying, with no convenient way to get there). In reality this was my only complaint for the journey, and I'm sure I wasn't always a great companion, so take that with a grain of salt. It simply pressed down on me over the length of the trip.

In the future I think I'd alternate going slow in places we've been and want to see more of, with places that are new and where we'd want to travel faster. I'd like to do one more long-term trip, maybe even longer, before really settling in, but it would have to be balanced out. Maybe even include something like a return home for a few months in the middle. I'd also like to do more camping in the US, with the girlfriend.

Mindset & current activities

I was really done traveling at the end of the trip and wanted to set up a little nest, which I now have in Seattle. It's very cozy, was pretty cheap to set up (Craigslist and stuff on the side of the road), but I wanted to live in a house, so the rent is actually substantially higher than in Jersey City. We'll live here for 18 months and afterward we'll figure out whether we want to continue at this price, or want to move into an apartment. Or maybe buy something.

My reasons for wanting to live in a house are: no immediate neighbors, meaning no late-night noise and we can be noisy in our own space (run blender or tools late at night, turn TV volume up loud). Obviously within reason, but I was always super paranoid, respectful neighbor, and it's nice to relax a bit. Also we have a basement (I can do woodworking with tools), and small private yard (can spend time outside in privacy). I'd lived in railroad apartments for about 9 years, and they suck for company, so it's nice to be able to have people over here.

As I mentioned, I'm returning to work in mid-February. I'd really planned on this for quite some time. I found a good, interesting team, the office is within walking distance (or running distance), and the pay is good. There are lots of nice techy perks. I plan on working for 4 years and then thinking more deeply, possibly "retiring," or traveling for ~1 year, and then starting a family. My financial goals while working are basically to continue saving, with funds earmarked for buying a house, and to learn as much as I can.

If I take a step back and look at how I'm feeling, I think I'd describe it as "unmoored." I focused very heavily on leaving work, selling stuff, traveling, moving, getting a new job, and now I've more-or-less checked all the boxes on these things. I have some nebulous plans defined above, and two months or so to relax before work begins (in reality there are plenty of chores and things to keep me busy). As I mentioned, I have a number of goals for 2018, but what I don't have is a sense of mission - so many of them feel disconnected to me. For many years, pursuing financial independence was a big goal for me and I didn't look beyond "I want to move to the west coast"; I've fulfilled these goals, hit that limit of my thinking, and I'm enjoying life, but I also feel a little bit of a midlife crisis. Can I find a project that ties together my interests, and makes the world a better place? Aren't many of these goals more in line with vanity projects? I don't have an answer and maybe I won't find one. It's probably my biggest concern right now. I'm checking all these little boxes but what do they add up to? I think that's a question everyone faces at some point, and I think most people don't have answers.

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:29 am

@prognastat - I game basically exclusively on PC. I have a DS but only use it to play Pokemon (guilty pleasure) or Mario Kart. PC games are cheaper, I love mouse+keyboard, and I have a good PC that can play any recent games (plus game requirements have been pretty stable). I rarely have friends over to game (may change in Seattle, who knows) and my gf is not at all a gamer. I also have an enormous backlog of games from humble bundles, steam sales, etc. Really more than I could ever play if I engaged with them all. Many of the strategy games I own are ones that people sink 1000, 2000, 3000 hours into. I find that my gaming is pretty limited overall, on average 4 or 5 hours per week, but irregular.

@wheatstate - Thanks so much for the intro! I will definitely do the permanent courses in my area, and then maybe try out a live event. I'm excited, I think orienteering is a good intersection of several of my interests.

@herp - It was a long trip and many of the countries are in Europe and consequently very small (and I'd visited very few countries beforehand in the big scheme of things, so it was easy to see new ones).

henrik
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by henrik » Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:34 am

Good luck with the 45:00 10K goal. I share this one with you, been "almost there" for six years now:) It hasn't been for lack of ability, I just haven't been consistent enough with speed training. Endomondo is a great app/site to keep track of progress if you need one.

I also think running and orienteering compliment each other nicely. An even more interesting option is what is usually referred to as rogaining, where you have a choice of your own course. It has the added dimension of having to tactically plan your route and potential max score from checkpoints you can reach within the time limit.

prognastat
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by prognastat » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:07 pm

Gaming is probably my one remaining ERE vice and I've tried to make it more frugal at least over time. I actually game predominantly on console/handhelds though I grew up primarily with PC gaming. Combination of consoles being easier/plug and play(though this has abated some with the last generations and all the install requirements and day one patch/update business) along with the fact that my wife was almost exclusively a console gamer).

At first we were buying every console as soon as it released and buying almost all games at full price, however after trying to become more frugal I started buying things almost only while on sale(most when they are down to $20, though from what I've heard deals on PC can get much better even) and holding off on buying all but 1 console at launch for a new generation. This slowed down my purchases and spending at first but over time has lead to a much larger backlog(just like you mentioned). My gaming has definitely become more sporadic. Some weeks I don't play games at all due to lack of time and at other times I binge a giant RPG over a weekend and end up spending 30+ hours on one Fri-Mon.

What games are you looking to finish this upcoming year?

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:09 pm

@henrik - I'll check out Endomondo (and rogaining, but taking things one step at a time...). I don't use any apps right now but I think it would make sense to and it seems pretty feature-rich.

@prognastat - If you have a decent PC right now is a good time to pick up some cheap games (Steam sale through 1/3, and similar sale on GOG). On average I think I wait at least 2 years to buy games after they come out and can get them for ~$5 or so each, sometimes down to $2. When I see prices on used 5-year-old DS games (which I'd like to get more of) at $10-20 it just feels obscene.

I generally prefer strategy, FPS games, and walking simulators, but I do like some narrative platformers and RPGs. My list for this year is: To The Moon, Limbo, Bioshock, Dear Esther, Brothers, Oxenfree, Pyre, Sniper Elite 4, Tooth and Tail, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The Beginner's Guide and Black Mesa. All of these are reasonably short and I constantly see them mentioned, but it's a pretty arbitrary list based on what I own already and my peronal interests (far more arbitrary than my movie or graphic novel lists). I actually finished Sniper Elite 4 already (I "start" the new year on 12/26 for goal purposes) - it's part of the most fun FPS series I've played.

Besides these games, I will probably play a reasonable amount of Civ 5, Age of Empires II, Age of Mythology, and some grand strategy games - I just bought Stellaris and would like to get into EU4 again (played through once before). I also bought Emperor (early 00s citybuilding game, sequal to Pharoah and Caesar), and SWAT 4 (early 00s tactical shooter). I keep wanting to create another city in Cities: Skylines, but I want to do so with some of the expansions and they have a sale floor of 50% or 33% depending on age, so I never quite pull the trigger.

The problem with Civ/Stellaris/EU4 is that I can easily see 3 days just disappear in smoke, they're so addictive. Luckily after that I get satiated and step back, but it feels very wasteful.

prognastat
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by prognastat » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:06 pm

I don't have a PC at this time and given the stuff going on in my life at the moment probably won't for at least another year though I do eventually plan on setting up a decent gaming/working rig to allow me to game on PC. I probably won't give up on console gaming completely even at that time since there are some good exclusives on Nintendo and Playstation, but will probably shift most cross platform titles to PC and probably delay my purchase of next generation consoles and games even further to get even better pricing on them.

And yeah the pricing on Nintendo items can be crazy, it's still hard to get 3DS titles new for under $30 on sale despite having been out for years and even used they rarely go under $20 because they know the new price won't drop.

Since you enjoy FPS games I think you'll really like Bioshock and it definitely stands above Bioshock 2 and Infinite which were both still good, but nothing that stands out like the original Bioshock did. I have played Pyre and can definitely recommend it though it's pretty heavily focused on the gameplay so if you end up not enjoying that part that makes up most of the game. Oxenfree was interesting and I still need to go back and finish that at some point, but it definitely had me intrigued for the part I did play so far. I haven't played any Age of games in forever, might try some out again when I have a PC as I used to love those growing up, building your little settlement and expanding.

If you enjoy classic western RPGs Divinity Original Sin and the sequel are pretty good. The original Mass Effect trilogy if you haven't played it yet is a lot of fun. Same for all of the Deus Ex games.

henrik
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by henrik » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:15 am

m741 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:09 pm
I don't use any apps right now but I think it would make sense to and it seems pretty feature-rich.
TBH I don't use the app either. I wouldn't carry a phone running even if I had a smart one. Some people carry phones for listening to stuff anyway, it might be convenient in that case. I have a simple Garmin GPS wristwatch and I simply upload the workouts using the regular web interface once a week or so to keep track and get statistics. You can also enter times and distances by hand, then it will just assume constant average pace. Using actual tracks is more interesting though, for example you can see how your pace and pulse respond to varying levels of ascent or desent (or simply to having overdone with the pace) on the trail. Recently I broke my 5K personal best within a failed attempt at a 45:00 10K. Wouldn't even have noticed if the site hadn't told me:)

m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:09 pm

2018 and 2019 Finances

I didn't pay too much attention to finances in 2018 - I only checked in a few times while traveling for most of the year. The trip itself was quite cheap, 7 months for two people, including every single expense & carbon offsets, for under $30k. I was actually up about 7% in net worth, which came partly from bonuses and work early in the year, but even after quitting I saw new worth rise about 5%... until October. Now I'm down about 8.5%, but the S&P is down about 15%, so I guess that's not so bad.

This is the first serious dip I've seen, really since I started seriously investing, and I'm curious both to see what happens and to adapt. I'm realizing that I haven't diversified my assets as much as I maybe should have, but now is not the time to change. In the next few days I intend to rebalance my portfolio a bit, because I not have the opportunity to sell off some stocks at a loss, and I'll by transferring funds into ETFs.

I also spent quite a bit over the past few months - hardly profligate, but there were a lot of expenses involved in moving across the country, buying a car, and the like. I would estimate these at $10,000 total, including the car for $5,500 (a 10-year-old minivan). As I don't like spending money I basically had to grin and bear it. But I think all the big expenses (furniture, household goods) have been made at this point, so I expect expenses to be pretty even from here on out. I will be tracking expenses very closely from February on, to get a better fix on what my spending is - something I haven't tracked in "normal" circumstances for quite some time.

Besides this, in 2018 I was able to close out a few accounts that should simplify matters in the future. First, I finally was able to sell and liquidate loans I had made through Lending Club. My LC experiences started out very positive, but eventually grew stale and seemed to level out around the same returns as the stock market over the past couple years, and it was more effort than I felt it was worth. It also complicated taxes - but it took quite a while to sell all the positions I had.

Second, I had two inherited accounts that I needed to close out, and I was waiting until I lived in Washington to do so (no state income tax). I've closed one and will be closing the other in the next few days. This will finish the process of closing out my mother's estate, something that took about 5 years in part due to waiting to move to Washington. But I'm glad to have that out of the way.

Finally, I will be resume making donations (up to the maximum corporate match which doubles my donations, as well as continuing with Kiva). I also donate to the ACLU, about $80 per month (it's a different type of nonprofit and cannot be matched by my company). I've loaned out a total of $110k through Kiva but was not diligent about re-lending promptly while traveling, something I will be more careful about. I have $21k loaned out right now and my average loan duration is 8-12 months. Of this I consider $13k "donated" and will never try to recoup it, while $8k is "parked" in Kiva and I'll eventually withdraw. I'll add funds to Kiva through a combination of parking and donating throughout the year.

As for my 2019 financial goals:

* Max out all retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, HSA)
* Save 75% of my after-tax income (based on some back of the envelope calculations, this may be adjusted up or down a little)
* Get in sync on finances with the gf (something I should have done long ago)
* Track expenses for at least 8 months of the year
* Consolidate and rebalance portfolio
* Close out all inherited accounts as well as a few scattered accounts that have not been worth the effort (notably a $2k CD with HSBC)
* Hit $140k of loans on Kiva

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