Page 1 of 2

SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:50 pm
by SustainableHappiness
Hello ERE-ers (that is a lot of er)

Mid-20s Corporate Ladder Riser
Working in CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods), i.e. the anti-thesis to ERE and MMM. Yes, I am aware of this and it is partially the reason for my pursuit of ER.
ENFP...Energetic and I don't like people telling me what to do
Searching for and sometimes finding or glimpsing sustainable happiness (if it's sometimes is it sustainable? goooooood question).

Goal is to negotiate a better home-based work situation or go on a 8 month unpaid leave when DW and I have our first child. Depending on how that goes will decide whether or not to return to full-time work based on side hustle viability and how I feel after becoming a parent (will I want more buffer, or will I want more time reading the entire Redwall and Harry Potter series to the babes?)

Currently saving 60-75% of income, extra sidehustles include teaching part-time at a college and a couple rental properties (more detail on that in next post)

Keep on rockin'.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:53 pm
by SustainableHappiness
Writing about the situation below is, for some reason, what has finally spurred me to start a journal on here.
A Big Pitfall of Landlording + Flipping

A couple years ago DW and I purchased 2 duplexes (our first homes) that were in an interesting situation which therefore netted us a very intriguing positive cashflow situation.

The interesting situation was that the houses were illegal. That is, they had fallen prey to a stupid Ontarian bylaw that automatically merges adjacent properties together if the ownership of both properties falls under 1 persons name after the passing of another person. E.g. A kid lives in a home next to their Mom and Dad’s home, the mom and dad pass away and leave their house to the kid. The kid doesn’t know about this bylaw and has a shitty lawyer who doesn’t correct the situation before the properties merge together. The kid now has to perform a severance which has an upfront cost of $2000 just to submit the paperwork to the city.

We purchased from the kids who also happened to hate landlording, felt the severance would be too much work and cost, had privately mortgaged the property out to a buyer who proceeded to go bankrupt and default on their mortgage…Boom, we get 2 properties for the price of 1.25 properties with a large cash flow buffer after taxes!

Boom, we also embark on a 2 year 9-layer of hell journey through the severance process as well as some other interesting adventures including, removing bedbugs (bad), removing cockroaches (bad), removing 2000 lbs of garbage from 1 unit (bad), DIY plumbing (good), DIY furnace repair (good), evicting bad tenants and finding good tenants (both), dealing with 1 city and 1 county engineering, planning and land divisions, committees, departments, etc. (both).

This all leads to the worst thing that has happened yet. We’ve discovered our 1 duplex was not legally made a duplex (i.e. no permits were used) and therefore we have to remove the basement kitchen to make it uninhabitable costing us ~$800 per month lost rent…This isn’t even the bad thing.

We also have to evict our single best tenant who has been living there with her disabled son for 5 years who is unlikely to be able to afford a similar unit in the area without some luck on their side.

I always treat my tenants like clients; with the outlook their problems are not mine, unless they become my problems (i.e. not paying rent). The experience of making a tenant cry as an action I am taking in order to comply with the legal code in my area and enable us to sell the property has revealed that I am not cut out for landlording.

DW and I will be selling the houses as soon as the severances are sorted out and much to the confusion of our family and peers renting a basement apartment instead of purchasing another home. We’ve already moved into the basement and are happier already.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:42 am
by SustainableHappiness
Trying to determine my favourite way of capturing a monthly recap. I’ve decided to start with the basic numbers and if it feels like I want to include more in the future, will add on as desired.

9.33 Numbers of Years in Hopper
25 Ultimate FI Goal
0.39 Years accumulated per month on Average

As mentioned earlier we are unlikely to push hard to the FI finish line, and by push hard, I mean stay in a good paying role I find mundane >50% of the time.

I will likely stay until housing obligations are dealt with (or our baby pops out at the end of summer), as the current situation could result in unexpectedly large amounts of capital which I would rather pay with firehose cash flow than dipped into da bank. After that, the plan is to explore other avenues of income including, a typical millennial excursion into an online business, dog-walking, personal training, digital marketing contracts, etc.

Biggest Fear: Running away from my idea of running away from my comfortable (yet deeply unsatisfying) job.

Second Biggest Fear: Realizing that my deep dissatisfaction is a result of my own immaturity or personal failings rather than a corporate career structure.

And if all you ever do with your life
Is photosynthesize
Then you deserve every hour of these sleepless nights
That you waste wondering when you're gonna die

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:07 pm
by SustainableHappiness
I found ERE after finding MMM, I enjoyed it and then after a month or so of reading and discussing a couple articles with siblings/wife that the approach was a too extreme. That was a couple years ago and I stopped reading through every post, but for some reason it held on in the back of my mind. Damnit I am so glad it did, because I revisited it a number of months ago and got deeper into systems thinking, web of goals, etc.

Awesome, Awesome, AWESOME!

Following a plan set out a couple years ago (which happened to jive well with systems), we've moved within 5k of my work and dropped down to one car (DW still drives 10 minutes for the time being), I now am in the fortunate situation where people at my work think I am crazy for biking and walking in the dead of winter both to work, and then to my gym at lunch a couple blocks away. They think I am crazy, yet it only takes me 1.5x-3x longer and I am becoming fitter and more durable in one fell swoop...I also sometimes show up a little later for work and still get sympathy and approval simply because I am doing something 'hard' and cold. What was I going to use that extra 15 minutes for? Hammering out an extra spreadsheet of POS data about Sku X at Banner Y? Fuck no.

Reviewing some of the other journals on this forum is interesting. It helps me understand alternative living arrangements that I could not see from my old perspective. It also makes me except I am relatively boring in taking a well-traveled road to where I am (well, the savings focus is a little rarer, but the undergrad -> MBA -> 9-5 route is not). Thank you in advance for your typed out life experience.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:47 am
by SustainableHappiness
Here is something sweet and skill-inducing, although I feel some here may bawk at the fact we will be paying for this, but hey, you do you, I'll do me. I am organizing a friends bachelor party and have decided on a relatively cheap skill-based drunken excursion into the woods with real zombies!

Itinerary includes:

Archery lessons
Tactical Yoga
Survival Gear 101
Making Shelters

Then on the Sunday they do a zombie outbreak where you have to survive with your friends. Even if I don't end up using the skills, at the very least many bags of wine and various other liquors and beers will be consumed and a fantastic time will be had by all.

Now, from my frugality metric, is it worth working a few extra hours to pay for this weekend on my journey to FI? Yes, since creating something of similar quality/value for 15 guys for a weekend would likely cost way more time and effort than paying someone who has already achieved economies of scale in this department.

On this note, it is also a good idea of ERE-ers who have pre-existing applicable skills and a good space for a business like this (i.e. forests, campgrounds, a couple log cabins to fit 15-30 people). for 15 people it will be $5k for the weekend + meal costs for the group for 1 meal (split between 2-3 people) and your alchohol intake. After overhead (paying the zombies, assuming they aren't volunteers) and paying the other instructors (I think there are 3-4) I would assume the owners take home a couple grand at least per weekend. I assume the business model is akin to owning a prized wedding location with less capital costs (maybe).

Bad ass.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:14 pm
by Eureka
Tactical Yoga?

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:22 am
by SustainableHappiness
Tactical Yoga?
No bet is on gimmicky title, because just saying Yoga at a Zombie survival camp doesn't sound cool enough.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:44 am
by Jason
Tactical Yoga is where you situate yourself in proximity to the person you're trying to impress without fear of farting in their face.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:11 am
by Eureka
Ha! The tactical yoga sidetracked me. What I wanted to say was: nice start of a journal and really sad to read about your landlord adventures. Hope you get rid of the houses without further hindrances.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:27 pm
by Jason
I couldn't even follow those laws. Upon first blush, they seem like a remnant of primogeniture.

But holy crap, that landlord experience broke the seventh seal of suck. Evicting a lady with a disabled son? Damn. I can see it now. Poor, weeping woman walking little, innocent Tiny Tim down the dangerous streets of Ontario after SustainableHappiness evicts her out of their apartment. She, forced to sell herself to sailors in alleyways while poor Tim begs for stale bread every morning. I'm thinking there is going to be a shitload of supernatural visitations on Christmas Eve in that basement apartment this year.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:02 pm
by Eureka
Eh, you could by another apartment and rent it out to her?

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:03 pm
by Jason
Nice thought, but I'm guessing she's dead by now and her disabled kid is lost at sea, futilely bailing water out of a sinking Somalian pirate ship.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:49 pm
by SustainableHappiness
Jason wrote:
Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:27 pm
I couldn't even follow those laws. Upon first blush, they seem like a remnant of primogeniture.
Thank you for a new word. You know, I was looking for possible reasons why the laws exist and you are the first person who's given a reasonable answer with $100 word to boot.
Eureka wrote:
Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:11 am
nice start of a journal and really sad to read about your landlord adventures
Thank you Eureka. 120 days from now they will be out (as per the Ontario N13 Eviction Form) and we will tear out the kitchen (actually, we'll probably put the kitchen up on kijiji for some cash and say "you tear it out"), get them up for sale and move on with our lives.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:13 pm
by SustainableHappiness
9.70 Numbers of Years in Hopper
25 Ultimate FI Goal
0.39 Years accumulated per month on average
0.38 Years accumulated this month

All in all, a decent month from an accumulation perspective. Quite a shitty month from a career happiness perspective, but a positive month from a career growth perspective -> was told I am in the early stages of the executive track as long as I continue the way I am going. This gave me a predictable ego boost (who doesn't like a pat on the back??), however I know that in practice this means:

In 1 year I move into a new functional role and a pay bump
~2 years after that I get another promotion into a likely less enjoyable role (with more responsibility and time commitment)
~2 years after that maybe a cross-functional placement into Marketing and a pay bump
~1 year after that another promotion to Director level (with more responsibility and time commitment)
After this it becomes a right time, right place situation to jump to a higher executive role

This scenario is of course predicated on me staying with my current employer for 6+ years selling products that make people fat. It also implies I WANT more responsibility and time commitment, which is not the plan, although it clearly would be a comfortable career path with lots of $$ raked in. I believe my situation is aptly described as dis-engaged worker who is good at faking it.

Anyways, enough 1st world problems!

Today, I had to figure out how to get my bike unlocked from a bike rack after my lock failed and could not be unlocked!! It was a fun problem solving experience after the initial frustration passed. I ended up walking over to a couple workers that were working on a street sign and asking if they had bolt cutters, they did not, but they did have a hacksaw and some WD40. So first I tried the WD40 (although I was fairly sure it was the magnet in the lock that failed or something like that so didn't get my hopes up), when that failed I cut through the lock with the hacksaw and biked to Walmart where I bought it a couple months ago and played the angry customer card (I should've know the quality would suck) to get a lock with a simpler lock and key mechanism (hopefully with a lower risk of failure).

Tossing around the idea of becoming adept at Social Media Marketing and freelancing for remote work as needed after leaving the current grind in t-minus 5 months. I know I could be good at it, I just am thinking of ways to get free experience/training that would be engaging. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut,
Not everyone was born to be a king,
Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury,
But everyone can raise their glass and sing.

Well I haven't always been a perfect person,
Well I haven't done what mum and dad had dreamed,
But on the day I die, I'll say at least I fucking tried.
That's the only eulogy I need,
That's the only eulogy I need.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:18 pm
by Jason
In order for the modern bureaucratic state to develop, it needed to destroy the dynastic wealth that was the basis of feudalism. Being that land holdings were the main source of the Feudal Lord's wealth and power, the ruling class created the primogeniture laws to ensure their estates and land holdings stayed within the families. It was not an easy task to eradicate them (obviously), but it was essential to the creation of the modern European nation states that they be abolished.

But enough of that historical bullshit. That's a nice song.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:58 pm
by SustainableHappiness
A Few Updates:

Zombie Survival Camp
Friggin’ amazing idea for a bachelor or bachelorette party if you need an idea. The survival workshops were cool, including realizing that learning to lockpick would have saved me ~$200 over the past few years in various circumstances and is not even that hard if you have a real lockpicking set (although I would feel bad for anyone who happened to get searched for some reason by the police while have a lockpicking set on their persons).

The live action role play outbreak was also great and although a piece of me was worried it would be corny it played out in an amazing fashion with everyone having a fantastic time and only 3 of our 15 members dieing and succumbing to the plague, with plenty of bow and arrow headshots and foam machete take downs.

It also revealed an entire previously unknown to me community of ‘preppers’ which was a term I hadn’t heard of before and I find that it has an ERE flavour to it, i.e. building useful skills which may or may not lead to monetary benefit.

Business Travel
While currently sitting in an airport waiting for a stupid red-eye since my original flight was cancelled and after a long week of travelling for work, yet again my 4 year-ago self’s vision that business travel was glamorous has been shattered into even tinier pieces. I expect this shattering to continue especially with the addition of kids on the home front. However it also raised a good question which I will pose in a separate thread on whether or not free luxury should be indulged in the form of business expenses.

My wife and I yet again are falling back into dreaming of a long-term travel adventure which may combine RV-ing with WOOFing in order to both see new places, live a very low cost lifestyle and learn skills to apply to a future garden or small homestead lifestyle (not to mention to see if we get enjoyment from this life that neither of us have come close to living). It is an exciting idea and a viable option to begin next summer with 15x current expenses and a locked down alternative source or two of long-distance income. This of course all hinges on an issue free birth of our first child this summer and a strong desire to do explore via RV remaining in 1 years’ time. I wanted to place this in this journal because it will be interesting to see how our (or my) perspective changes on this decision over the next year and hopefully this will keep a better record than the 1-2 sentence gratitude journal I write in each night.

Keep on rockin’.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:18 am
by distracted_at_work
I came here to say congrats on the sex ;)
...and of course congrats on expecting the child. I really hope all goes well.

We are indeed on similar wavelengths. Except I expect I'm a tad younger and 100% more single. Thanks for sharing that song, it's one I own but haven't listened to since my last Frank Turner kick.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:25 am
by SustainableHappiness
distracted_at_work wrote:
Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:18 am
We are indeed on similar wavelengths. Except I expect I'm a tad younger and 100% more single.
Haha, yes, I meant wavelengths regarding our thoughts on ERE and the concept of work. I'd also guess you are a couple years younger and 100% more single. It was more when you said something along the lines of "I don't know if the next 4 years of working towards ERE in a good job that I find unsatisfying is sustainable". I had the exact same thought when I started working full-time 4 years ago and realized either I had picked the wrong industry, wrong job, wrong company or simply did not like the corporate world.

Well I've now had 3 different jobs (2 different companies as well, known for their good cultures in CPG) and believe I have ruled out the wrong job and wrong company hypothesis. I have potential plans on taking 1 more crack at a new industry Tech vs my current CPG career to rule out the wrong industry hypothesis. If that is a bust and we're still not FI then trying a hands-on field will be my next course of action or becoming an online bajillionaire. My DW also plans on starting a small business, so if that takes off, maybe I'll just bum around more and teach at soccer camps or something equally fun in the summer.

Regardless, my attitude both from experience and reading things like ERE and MMM is that because there are so many ways to make the amount of money we require to live off of and I am both physically and mentally capable of lots of those options, sticking in one that I find dissatisfying longer than necessary feels like a silly idea. Back that idea up with a good amount of capital accumulated, compound interest math, a decent alternative income source and a partner on the same page, and I have moved from "leaving my job is a risky proposition" to "FU Money" thinking over the course of the past year.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:23 am
by distracted_at_work
SustainableHappiness wrote:
Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:25 am
I had the exact same thought when I started working full-time 4 years ago and realized either I had picked the wrong industry, wrong job, wrong company or simply did not like the corporate world.

Well I've now had 3 different jobs (2 different companies as well, known for their good cultures in CPG) and believe I have ruled out the wrong job and wrong company hypothesis.
Interesting. I've had 1 corporate job (2 if you can count summer student work) and your experience makes me suspect I would have similar results should I change.

Glad to hear you have changed into the FU mindset. I'm getting there myself but without the partner, alternative income or even a large amount of capital :lol: I feel like the only thing stopping me from FI is time and my own whims towards work. It's an inevitability at this point. I don't think I could slip below a 60% saving rate if I tried.

Random question for you. Was DW part of the equation before or after setting down the FI path? I ask as someone searching for a partner. Both for the obvious personal reasons and as it would be the next logical step to save money :D Not sure if frugality should be a screening quality.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:01 pm
by SustainableHappiness
distracted_at_work wrote:
Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:23 am
Random question for you. Was DW part of the equation before or after setting down the FI path? I ask as someone searching for a partner. Both for the obvious personal reasons and as it would be the next logical step to save money :D Not sure if frugality should be a screening quality.
We were together long before FI even came into the picture and there was no conscious "my significant other needs to be frugal" however I would not have lasted in a relationship with a non-frugal partner simply because it is a strong value of mine and clashing core values would eventually lead to break-up (eventually...for some this may be divorce). Also, I think for some people they don't feel a burning desire to spend their money, they just haven't thought about money in the way that ERE presents it, i.e. equivalent to freedom. When this concept is introduced it may take years move along the Wheaton Scale, but as long as the reaction is interest vs eeewwww then I firmly believe there is hope.

However, I am the numbers side of our equation and she still focuses more on FU money than full financial independence. She also likely pushes our expenses up through some of her preferences (e.g. desired living space, expensive fruit sometimes, oh and a strong desire for lots of little 'uns), but in the long run these are either not worth fighting over, or I appreciate them too even though I may not have spent $$ on them.

Also, since we are talking finance, if I was to put an ROI on the extra ~$5K spent each year because of this, the return is incalculable because it's emotional, but ridiculously high, so the extra years spent saving 25x worth for 5k ($125k) or working part-time to make up for it, or however the gap is made up, is well worth it.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:39 pm
by distracted_at_work
Thank you for the insight. For some more context, my last relationship ended when I wouldn't spend all my money on weekends in B.C or on expensive vacations abroad.....She also couldn't (or chose not to?) spell properly, which silently infuriated me. There's a fun, forum-only, tidbit about my life.

Glad to know the money is worth it. If I found the right person, I'm sure I would think the same.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:11 pm
by Jason
I think that's the first time I ever heard of a relationship breaking up over spelling issues, at least in couples who have made it beyond the second grade. I could see how that could be annoying though.

But I'm genuinely interested. How was her grammar? Was she possibly dyslexic? Was there a specific word that broke the camel's back? Do you think it relates to the culture of texting? Did she speak well? Did you discuss it? Did you try to help her?

I'm not trivializing it but I'm thinking it has to be relative to the other person. I mean, just thinking out loud, if its Serena Williams, I frankly couldn't care less if she could read or recite her home address without consulting the phone book, let alone spell.

Also, once your married, like me, you become painfully aware of things you can't do or understand. For instance, for 18 years my wife has been trying to explain to me how light and darkness work, specifically with regard to curtain status. I just can't grasp the concept and I'm pretty certain from the looks I get that all our neighbors have seen my ass. Her frustration level has gotten to defcon levels but I think she knows it would be hard to legally equate it with spousal abuse although I'm sure it feels like it to her.

So my point is its kind of a value thing. You value spelling. My wife values someone who can understand how light and shadows work. I don't know if she would have dumped me had she known this about me before she said yes but I'm guessing she would have.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:20 pm
by distracted_at_work
Without derailing SustainableHappiness' journal too much... (sorry by the way)

@Jason. Never discussed. There were bigger issues. It was something that nagged at me with every text exchange though.

You gotta close the curtains when you walk around naked man :lol:

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 3:38 pm
by SustainableHappiness
April Update
10.26 Numbers of Years in Hopper
25 Ultimate FI Goal
0.40 Years accumulated per month on average
0.56 Years accumulated this month

A good month overall, financials in particular went well due to some offset rental income from previous months finally catching up. It also marks the first time DW and I have broken the 10 years in investments mark (that is not including any growth over those 10 years, just a straight Net Worth/Expenses per year for simplicity). This is exciting for us as that was our original FU Money target. Although we aren’t changing careers and lifestyles immediately due to the timing of our child, it feels like the psychological OMY barrier has been broken down significantly.

We’ve been listening to a wicked podcast while cooking dinners called “The Bright Sessions” about a psychiatrist who takes on patients with super powers and helps them deal with being different, highly recommended if you think that idea sounds cool. I’ve also been reading the ERE book for the first time, out loud to DW as we are both interested in it and it is fun to both explore the concepts and have immediate feedback from each other to discuss them. Reading to each other means the process is slow, but it is enjoyable so who cares?

My mountain bikes pedal has broken (the metal portion has busted through the plastic portion) and I now in need of a replacement pedal. Besides my initial repairs and a few little things over the past couple years since I started biking a lot, this is the first time I have really been confronted with the fact my bike will decay and need to be rebuilt and that the harder I treat it the faster it will decay. It’s funny, because that sounds so obvious, but it didn’t really click until it manifested physically versus just being a “nothing lasts forever” abstraction.
Keep on rockin’.

Re: SustainableHappiness Journal

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:32 pm
by SustainableHappiness
May Update
10.54 Numbers of Years in Hopper
25 Ultimate FI Goal
0.39 Years accumulated per month on average
0.28 Years accumulated this month

Weakest month from an ERE perspective in a while, with a hefty tax bill, due to a miscalculation on my part for RRSP deductions for DW and I, as well as a hefty taxable benefits portion of my pay from a company car (not as free as people like to believe). RRSP transfers now rectified, however it'll take a whole year for it to come out in the wash, DAMN!

Work has been a little painful this month and I've informed my employer that I will be taking a 37 week paternity leave in the fall. Fuck yeah! It was a confusing (for them) conversation on how it all works and the HR team couldn't remember the last time someone took a pat leave, but I am so excited for the time off to spend both with DW and the newborn, as well as exploring new skills that may be useful or interesting.

I have held the feeling that my work is meaningless to me for over 2 years now, and therefore I am continuing to take steps to give myself freedom from that single income stream and skill set. Staying at my job is a conscious decision primarily for the financial benefits, but I am already unlocked mentally and I will be taking a break from cubicle dwelling days. A "break", meaning I could see myself taking short-term high pay contracts with a high savings rate just to give a cash boost after leaving cubicle city.

DW asked me whether or not it was the end goal of the work I found meaningless, or the work itself. I had never really thought in this context before, assuming that if I was doing the same work for an organization that I believed in that this need would be solved, but after reflecting on that, I think I may need to try entirely different work.

Keep on rockin'.