classical_Liberal's Semi-ERE

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classical_Liberal's Semi-ERE

Post by classical_Liberal »

I’ve derived much wisdom and entertainment from the journals on this forum, I think it’s about time I started my own. I write in hopes that something I write has some value to someone, which it may not. In the least, it will provide value to me in the form “feeling” more like a contributor to this forum. My goal is to update this journal at least quarterly in three segments; financial thoughts, relevant personal history (the story of why I am the way I am :D ), and a segment for current life/philosophical thoughts.

I’m going to use this first history segment as an introduction. I’m a 40 year old male who grew up mainly in the Minneapolis metro area, US. I’m an ENTJ and have tested this way consistently through my adult life, hence I’m a big picture type of person. This is relevant behind most if not all of my actions, behaviors and thought processes. Currently a travel RN working in the Midwest of the US. I move every 3-12 mos following the best opportunities for income vs COL.

I would like to think I have some degree of Multipotentiality, but it may well be that I simply bore easily. In my working life I have had the follow jobs for at least one year: Restaurant Manager, Retail Manager, Personal Banker, Business Banker, Mortgage Loan Sales, Loan Underwriting, Newspaper Distribution (paperboy as an adult), Assembly line worker, Chemical Dependency Tech, Case Manager, and currently I am an RN with experience in a variety of hospital specialties. I have attempted to maximize my earnings in this field by travel nursing for the past two years. I’ve had more than a passing interest in many more fields and topic of interest, however my knowledge base is limited to big picture ideas. Hence I am a good conversationalist. IOW, a specialist in a field “x” would be likely impressed on my conceptual grasp of his/her relatively inane specialty, but then quickly and clearly recognize I’m no expert, with the exception of the above listed items (the devil’s in the details?)

I was drawn to the idea of FIRE after spending nearly four years obtaining an RN bachelor’s degree (my second) and enthusiastically beginning this new career with vigor. The possibilities of different specialties seem endless; this would finally be the career which would hold my interest for the long haul. Nursing was unique in its diversification of knowledge base; organic chemistry, pharmacology, biology, sociology, psychology, interpersonal communications, opportunities for public peaking, and even bits of spirituality. On top of all it, I could actually have the chance to do some real good in this world, an important component to my new found ethics and values (Yes, there will be a future story).

Alas, only two years in, I began to feel the familiarity of boredom, disgust with the system, and administrative inefficiencies. I knew what was coming and I was at a loss to prevent it. Then, through happenstance, in the beginning of 2015 I came across the very active blog of MMM. I believe my transition from mainstream thought, to MMM, to ERE is an important tale in itself. For now, I’ll say the ERE blog and book provided me with a big picture that actually made sense. From systems theory, to web of goals, and Renaissance Man mentality; this was the real deal!

As I type this, I’m nearing the end of a month long break from the working man’s world, taking a time off between travel assignments. Although it has not been a significant amount of time, I already feel invigorated, with a zest for life returning. My mind is clearer and I’m sleeping well.

I recently moved to a studio apartment with a walk score of 93 in the heart of a small Midwestern college town. I can literally walk everywhere, including an eight mile long park alongside a local river. It’s magical! I’ve never had (or created) this this type of living arrangement before. All of this, coupled with long awaited Spring in the Midwest has helped put me in the best mood I’ve been in since reading the ERE book.

I also just ended a five month long relationship with a coworker at my last assignment. Frankly, it’s a relief because we were not compatible in any way other than physical attraction. She was too young, and both of us knew it would end when I moved away. It was almost like we were counting the days, because why end it before I leave? :?

The idea of returning to work next week is disappointing, but far from as depressing an idea it seemed just a few weeks ago. Besides, it’s a new unit, at a new hospital, maybe things will be great there?…but probably not.

Financial Thoughts

Anyone who had read my posts regarding financials may be aware, my goal is not actually total financial independence. My goal is a life free to make decisions regarding time and location without money being a primary motivator; rather it will be a distant echo only present for encouragement in providing some form of value to the world. This is important to me for many reasons. Here are a few biggies:
  • Homesis, I am a firm believer that without any stress at all I fail to thrive. I need enough to drive me to perform. I recall a post from the blog (can’t find it right now) where Jacob describes a hypothetical situation in which an ERE person is presented with a serendipitous opportunity. Of, course, I forget the specifics (ENTJ), but the big pictures was that an ERE’er wanted to start exercising and was offered a job at $10 an hour to lift boxes in a warehouse. Since the hypothetical ERE’er had no need for additional money, he passed and decided he would start exercising another time. I AM that person in the flesh. I need to need that occasional $10 hr for motivation.
  • I discussed this in greater detail here and the ever-fantastic 7WB5 expounds, but at the age of 40, there is a limit to the future benefit of money now. It’s already taken me too long to reach this point, I refuse to substantially over-save, die, and let my brother blow it in a Las Vegas casino. I tend to be a believer that if western civilization survives, SS will be around for me to collect. I have contributed to the point to which it is not an insignificant amount, even at 75% of current benefits. If western civilization fails, well, most of my liquid assets are in trouble anyway and I really should have a larger self-reliance skill set in their stead. Which means I need more time, sooner
  • From a psychological standpoint, too much isolation has never been good for me. I can get slightly depressed, this causes a feedback loop in which I spend even less time socializing. Given the choice, I tend to only spend time with a select few people (which can be good), but the social variance some employment would force is a very good thing, as long as I can limit exposure if it becomes too much. Being an ENTJ I do like to solve problems with other adults and enjoy the company of other adults. For the next 20 years or so of my life, most other adults are going to “hang out” at and solve problems through their respective employment.
  • Most importantly, I would like to be done with full-time work BEFORE I burn out as a nurse. With all it’s drawbacks it is a great diversified job market and working just enough to maintain my license and stay up to date is a very large straw in my antifragility hat. If I manage to quit full-time in brown out only, I’ll keep that straw. I can easily earn scalable income as a part time or intermittent traveling nurse to cover all of my expenses at about ¼ to ½ time (depending on specifics).
I do not budget, merely track spending. I look at spending and set goals to reduce certain areas if they seem ridiculous. Over the past few years I have managed to get two of the largest (housing and transportation) within realm of an ERE budget. I’m actively living this way without any sense of deprivation. Food, entertainment/travel, household items, personal care, and clothing are currently OUT OF CONTROL. I spend more on these items than housing, transportation and healthcare (currently cheap thanks to employment, but may be a future issues depending on politics) combined, this is where I intend to focus my energy in managing the outflows in the near term.

Given the above list of employment experience, most would agree that I have a plethora of varying and scalable income choices, even without learning any new skills (which I intend to do). Thanks to scalable income opportunities and the other information provided, I am intent on using a larger Variable withdrawal rate to determine my level of “enough”. I have considered many, including CAPE and age adjusted, but frankly, none seem to provide too much of an advantage over a simple % of remaining balance. In future posts I will likely discuss my thoughts on this subject going forward as I continue my research. Big shout out to @Tyler9000’s site and Cfiresim helping in this realm.

Wow, this post has already gotten long! In future posts I will talk about my investment strategy (currently mostly passive). I will conclude by saying that I have not yet decided how much specific financial information I am going to disclose. It makes me a bit uncomfortable to go too far, OTOH I have gleamed much insight from others who have, so I will consider full disclosure. At this point I will simply throw out some basics:
  • 73.5% post-tax savings rate in 2016, up from 42.2% in 2015 (still had some student loans)
  • End of 2016,4.8 years of expenses saved, resulting in just under 20% of expenses funded at a 4% WR. Four years ago my net worth was -$48,000.
  • 27% reduction in outflows year over year 2015 to 2016 and a 74% reduction in outflows (not inflation adjusted) from my peak spending years a decade ago. As stated above, there is still much room for improvement.
I would like interaction in the Journal, so please feel free to comment. Thx for reading!
Last edited by classical_Liberal on Thu May 17, 2018 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by JustAGuyReally »

From another new poster: Welcome!

I think I might know where are you are living/working. My brother went to school there, and loved his time in that area.

Congrats on building up your savings so quickly. If I was more of a hands-on person, I would certainly consider nursing for a few years, as much for the options for specialization that you mention as the ability to pick-up seemingly endless overtime opportunities.
Anyone who had read my posts regarding financials may be aware, my goal is not actually total financial independence. My goal is a life free to make decisions regarding time and location without money being a primary motivator; rather it will be a distant echo only present for encouragement in providing some form of value to the world.
From a psychological standpoint, too much isolation has never been good for me. I can get slightly depressed, this causes a feedback loop in which I spend even less time socializing.
Yeah, same here. I've spent plenty of time hanging around in developing parts over the world recently, and the difficulty I've found if you are trying to hang with locals (as opposed to other travelers, backpackers, etc.) is that you spend half the day just sort of waiting for your friends to get off work. You end up spending more time along than you'd like to admit, at least sometimes. Which is why, for me, using ERE as a tool to be able work where I want to work as opposed to just sort of completely dropping off the map is my current goal . . .

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Thanks for reading! Nursing is a good field, particular because of the available options working scalable, relatively high paid PT. Unfortunately, the time to brown out was quicker than I had anticipated, given the relatively time consuming & expensive training, I would probably make a different decision if I had it to do all over-again. Although I must admit, I have yet to attempt part time employment within the field. My guess is it will make it more attractive going forward.

Regarding socialization, I find it odd that so many fail to recognize (or at least don't post about) the impact of peers who spent most of their time slaving away at work. Perhaps it's related to a more introverted crowd in the early retirement communities and/or that fact that many have families/children which would occupy much free time if fully retired. I can only spend so much time working on projects alone before I require interaction. In any event, being retired in 40's would not resemble the days of college or high school in which all of my friends have large amounts of free time as well. Limited employment is the best solution I have come up with to get the best of both worlds. My experience with volunteering and "meetups" are limited. The experience I do have tends to show a a lack of challenge (ie they want help with low-level duties) on the volunteering front and a general lack of organization on the adult meet-up front. I have come to the conclusion people only truly value your time and skills if they are paying for it.

I read your journal as well and must say it's quite impressive. Most non-medical folks, particularly those lucky enough to have had relatively healthy lives, fail to understand the size of the obstacle you have overcome in pursuing ERE with a transplant. It's one thing to fail at ERE, it's another to fail and not have enough money to afford life sustaining medications and check-ups. I look forward to reading how your story progresses.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »


An unscheduled update, story time.

As part of my recent time off I had taken a small road trip which, somewhat randomly, found me spending a couple days in Louisville KY, then Nashville TN. As a side note, I had never visited before and they are beautiful places in the Spring! Heading back towards the Midwest from Nashville I detoured to Land Between the Lakes, a state park I believe, in Western Kentucky, far from any large cities. I decided to stop and take a six mile hike late morning. Upon completing the hike while driving out of the park I stopped for gas and realized my wallet was missing. Without going into too many details, I’ll just say that my absent mindedness for such things is legendary. I believe I left the wallet on the top of my car when I changed into long pants for the hike.

Finding myself in rural Kentucky, without cash, credit cards, or ID and 2000 miles from home was an interesting experience. Let’s just say that the utility of a six figure ERE savings in stocks, mutual funds, electronic cash, and gold is exactly zero in said circumstance. Even social capital was worthless as I couldn’t even pick up wired funds from friends/family without an ID. My skills, however, particularly those on the social side, proved very valuable. The generosity of strangers, combined with some sincere promises, long term drafting of semi-trucks for fuel efficiency, and road-side camping got me home with a quarter tank of gas to spare.

An adventure, no doubt, well worth the $300 or so of lost cash in my wallet. This experience has changed my behavior a bit going forward. I plan to significantly increase mattress money/metal holdings on hand, along with increasing my food supply at home. It’s amazing how little paper assets are worth in even minor crisis situations.

Why tell this story today? Well, I just received a phone call from a gentleman in KY who had spent the last week tracking down my phone number. He found my wallet, with all the cash still in it! He offered to mail it to me, after purchasing a visa gift card with the cash as he was concerned about mailing cash :lol: . I essentially had to beg him to keep at least some of the cash as a reward. As stated above, this is not the first time I have lost things of relative value, which have later been found by those who are less economically advantaged (once a homeless man tracked me down to return brand new cell phone I had left at the post office). Moral of the story, if there is one; most people, despite differences, are good to each other.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Fish »

Great story! I found it thought-provoking. If in a place outside the reach of the market (aka "nature"), survival depends on you, your skills, your stuff, and the environment. Even more dangerous is being in a place where the market dominates, but being unable to transact with it, because much of that environment has either been trashed or subjected to private ownership.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Mon May 15, 2017 11:01 am
I plan to significantly increase mattress money/metal holdings on hand, along with increasing my food supply at home.
Did you realize this plan? My initial thought is that it seems like an over-reaction to an exceptional situation, not unlike the characterization of depression-era people remaining excessively frugal for the rest of their lives following their experiences. Or is it a practical response to realizing the true nature of wealth? I can't quite decide.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Hello @Fish, thanks for reading. I think this is a very good point.
Fish wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:33 am
Even more dangerous is being in a place where the market dominates, but being unable to transact with it, because much of that environment has either been trashed or subjected to private ownership.
Certainly one which becomes more apparent to those on the outskirts of society who try to live a low impact life.
Fish wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:33 am
Did you realize this plan? My initial thought is that it seems like an over-reaction to an exceptional situation, not unlike the characterization of depression-era people remaining excessively frugal for the rest of their lives following their experiences. Or is it a practical response to realizing the true nature of wealth? I can't quite decide.
I did in fact make some pragmatic changes. As far as reasoning, I believe it was the latter. The former implies more of an emotional response to a perceived traumatic event. I actually enjoyed the situation, it was the most fun part of my trip!

I purchased some (about 3 mos worth) compact, long term food stores which are compatible with my mobile lifestyle. I had to pay about 3X price per calorie, but If it truly does have a 20+ year shelf life, I can replace it in a couple of decades if it goes unused and literally eat my investment error. At that time inflation will probably make it's initial cost per calories look more competitive, so losses will be reduced.

I also added some mattress money in the form of metal coinage and US dollar cash. Both fit within my current preferred passive allocation, I just take a little hit in ROI having it in the most liquid form. Over time, small mattress money withdrawals have the added benefit of getting lost in day-to-day accounting of personal expenses. In the unlikely event of future legal or medical issues, if creditors come after assets, I'll have a small, off grid, buried treasure.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Augustus wrote:
Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:05 pm
Just FYI heat degrades long term food
Thanks for the heads up! I did know that cool & dry will extend the shelf life to max and have/will avoid keeping it overly hot and humid places to the best of my ability. Currently its in the closet of my studio apartment. Do you know "worst case" for storage time? IOW, with some occasional exposure to heat due to lack of basement, how long would I likely reduce shelf life?

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@ Augustus and anyone else who is curious about this.

Well, technically there are three ways (or two depending on state) to obtain an RN license. A "two year" associate RN, a "three year" diploma RN (some states no longer recognize this, but established nurses are grandfathered), and a "four year" bachelors BSN, RN. The years are in quotes because it can actually take much longer to get the degrees due to a high level of prerequisite requirements. I had a Business administration bachelors and it still took me seven semesters to get my BSN. Time to degree is very situational and many nursing programs are so overwhelmed with applicants they will only take the top few, it's not uncommon for a near 4.0 nursing specific prerequisite GPA to be a requirement for admission. Frankly, I was very surprised how time consuming the schooling was for nursing. At least twice as much as for my previous degree. Lot's of hands on clinical time, lots of wasted busy work required (although the latter is true for many degrees). Easily done though if ERE or working PT, very difficult if currently working a career job.

Theoretically all three have equal standing and all pass the same boards, but in practice it's a little different. Employers always prefer BSN's. Depending on region, it could cost you a job or gain you negotiating advantages (like for a better schedule/pay). Once 2-5 years of experience is obtained in shortage regions BSN becomes unimportant, in regions without shortage it can remain a height requirement for many positions, so it's really variable.

There are also advanced practice nurses which have prescriptive authority. Advanced practice usually requires the BSN plus 2-3 years of grad school and scope of practice (level of autonomy) really varies based on state. Most states have an LPN or LVN nurse as well with reduced scope of practice. This is generally a "one year" degree plus different boards. LPN's are usually working in lower acuity situations, although some hospitals systems use them as part of teams, or for lower acuity units. I have met many LPN's with experience who are better nurses than many BSN's hands down; its just scope of practice issues regarding patient acuity.

Wages for PT are very good, only slightly scaled back from FT. My experience is all in hospital nursing which is the highest acuity patients and generally the highest pay. HCOL states can be in the $30-$50 hr range for PT, more for intermittent-full time (contract travel nurses with good experience, usually 13 week FT contracts). LCOL states (south and nonunion Midwest) PT more like mid $20s/hr. Like any other profession there are some "sweet spots" geographically with high nurse pay and LCOL. This can be actualized very easily with the previously mentioned travel nurse contracts. The Nurse Licensure Compact comes in very handy for travel nurses as it reduces regulatory issues in many states and expands yearly. Pay increase is generally in line with years of/type of experience. In union states PT at .4 or .5 FTE often get benefits as well.

Is it worth it? Well, I do make a big difference in peoples lives. Not every day, but many days. Some days I literally save a life. I have had people stop me in public places who I don't even remember and thank me/hug me. Truly priceless. If you become a nurse with the intention of helping people, you will experience the same. If you are in it to count hours and get some good PT pay, you likely will not. The skills I have learned navigating the healthcare system (what tests are needed, risks vs rewards of procedures, what symptoms are worrying, treatments, outcomes, ect) will be invaluable for me as I age and are already invaluable to my aging family. Also, the above mentioned wages and non full time options are huge bonuses for ERE types.

OTOH, Entry barriers are rather high (education plus boards). The B.S. bureaucracy factor is high if you let it get to you or suffer from careerism. Some of the work can suck. You will clean up some poop (and other bodily fluids), although that is primarily the function of support staff. Lack of resources/staff is real and you must overcome on a daily basis with what you have (sounds almost ERE?). It's hard physical work, my back and feet hurt, all-of-the-time. The hours suck, you will have to work some nights, especially without experience. It's mentally taxing; the very fast pace decision making along with stress of having lives in your hands can overwhelm some, make sure you have the right personality. Often times your patients will move from the hospital to other facilities and you will not get to see the end outcomes or they can die; this can be tough for those more emotionally inclined. There are nursing options with less stress, but more bureaucracy if that's your thing... Oh, and I have become a bit of a hypochondriac.

Probably more than you wanted! :lol:

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Glad you finally started a journal =)

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@ Augustus
I wish I could give you an activity to try, but it's very varied so hard to tell. In a given 12 hours shift (actually about 13 hrs), I spend maybe 75% on my feet. Much of that is standing or over a patient bed, but I've worn a pedometer before and its seems about 5-7 miles of walking a shift is normal for me. That will really depend on the setting though. There is intermittent lifting of people (dead weight humans are heavier than you think) and equipment. If you take the time to do lifting safely, using the right equipment and number of people it's fine for most. You should probably have the strength to lift at least 50lbs in awkward stances/situations.

Personally, I find that it's an accumulation of working many shifts that taxes my body. PT it would not be nearly as bad. Investment in very good shoes/orthotics and chiropractors seems to be the norm for hospital nurses. I had lower back pain before becoming a nurse, honestly, if anything, its better now when I'm not working. Maybe exercising the muscles at work has strengthened it?

@2B1S Thanks!

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Time for an update 8/9/2017

I tend to be a very fickle person, not necessarily philosophically, or ideologically, rather my personality lends me to “need” change. Unfortunately, what type of change I need, and how to live in accordance with my relatively stable value system changes with the wind.

I have been considering versions of ERE from C40-type van life, nomadic life in an RV or TT were I continue to travel nurse with less frequency, slow international travel in LCOL counties, all the way to a more traditional FIRE of saving to full FI of my rather expensive median middle class lifestyle. Over the past year I’ve gone through these lifestyles in my head, mentally placing myself in those situations and thinking through the difficulties/benefits and solutions to problems. All of this has lead me nowhere near a decision; instead I simply vacillate between options on a monthly basis.

The bottom line, I am one who needs to experience the realities of daily life before knowing if my decisions were right. This has historically lead to experimentation, generally small in scale, but sometime grandiose life-changing makeovers. The problem with large scale life changes is they require lots of effort and capital of some kind, which means if I make the wrong choices, there are a lot of sunk costs. I‘m at a point, which I have only twice before reached. At a later time maybe I’ll describe the previous two instances, but sufficed to say, all the signals are there, I need substantial change. It must happen soon or depression will ensue.

Let’s just get to the nitty gritty here because I have much to say in my life musings section. Full disclosure.

Total liquid assets as of 8/1:
$153,703 + stuff and car, maybe 5K (irrelevant)

Total liabilities:
$2400 Perkins loan, at 0% interest, all of which will be forgiven June of 2018 if I remain at my current job full time. I always maintain enough earned PTO at my job to pay this off 3X over if I were to walk away tomorrow. As a result, I consider this debt irrelevant as well.

Here’s how it’s currently allocated, this is a work in progress:
Here’s how it’s distributed:

Net 12 month trailing income: $81,822 or $6800mo (includes 5% 401K match which is not post tax)

Trailing 12 month spending: $22115 or $1850mo.

I’m about 27% FI with a 4%WR, and a 72% SR.

Here’s how monthly costs break down; due to frequent moves, variation on car use based on location, varying food costs based on location, etc. This is a rough estimate:

Housing $600 (usually a studio apartment, no roommate)
Medical $200
Transportation $200
Utilities/internet/cell $140
UPS mailbox $20
Misc work related travel/relocation costs $100
Food/personal care items $300
Luxuries/Entertainment $500 (many are pure convenience costs related to extra money/lack of time and energy)

I just relocated to my new hospital assignment. Due to many factors, it’s highly likely my employer will want me to stay here until next spring. I am not a fan of this place (suburban hell) or hospital (very poor management) and already used career capital and FU money status to negotiate a slightly more manageable situation. Additional requests (or demands) will not be viewed well given the concessions I’ve already been offered, so I’m stuck.

It’s time to shit or get of the pot related to some form of an actual ERE plan. Since I’m incapable of making decisions without experience first and I prefer variety; here’s what I’m going to do…

I will cut spending to $1500 a month max over the next 12 mos. With this level of cash outflows, I can at least pretend I’m in the same ball park as the rest of you from a consumption/system flows standpoint.

I’m going to tolerate this assignment to the best of my ability, negotiate a transfer to one of my two favorite previously assigned hospitals/locations at the end of April 2018, which is the longest they can keep me here. I will have a guaranteed three months at the new location. Either of these locations will be fabulous in the summer/fall months and have cheap studios with 90+ walk scores. I will sign a 6-12 mo lease. About 1 month into the contract I will speak to manager and local HR and begin negotiating a “PRN” nursing position, then provide the month notice to my current department with the intent to transfer roles.

PRN work in nursing is essentially defined as “pick up shifts whenever you want, as long as we have needs””, with some caveats. The largest being an hourly pay reduction from full time and elimination of benefits. More minor being a minimum of a certain number of hours worked (at either of the facilities its about 200 hours every six months). In the medium (1-3 years) term, both of my preferred facilities will have plenty of needs, my work will be easily scalable to whatever I desire. This will allow a shift between working part time and enjoying a semi-FIRE standard lifestyle, or bunch work together for a month or two and take several months off for slow international travel or life on the road. I intend to try all three over a couple of years and see if any of them “fit”.

An average of one 12 hours shift per week would be about 600 hours per year at a minimum estimated rate of $25hr. This will net a baseline of around $1100 a month after payroll taxes. The remainder of my budget is luxury based, it’s time to see if I need those luxuries with much more free time and energy. If I fail, I will simply have to scale up income either through nursing or some other part-time role that gives variety and helps my social life (bartender? Part time blackjack dealer?). My tertiary backup is to draw down the nonretirement financial capital at reasonable rates until plan failure is evident (blowing through 40 of 80K without reaching a balance).

At the time of this transition I will be 42, barring any major market events I will have at least 200k, essentially distributed in the same percentages (a major market event would only delay plan 6 mos tops and make it more robust). 120+K in IRA and Roth, 80+K post tax(plus probably 5K+ of accrued PTO). I also currently qualify for $1500 a month in SS benefits at age 67 if I never contribute to payroll taxes again. In a bad case scenario: I spend all post tax capital by 67, I see only $1000/mo of those SS benefits and my $120K earns CAGR of only 2% over 25 years resulting in 12K/yr SS + 8K/yr (200K @ 4%WR)= 20K yr for my golden years…a raise. In a more average scenario I would be able to easily double an 18K annual spend rate.

The potential outcomes as I see it are:
1) I like this lifestyle. I will keep the variety, scale nursing and/or other part time work appropriately to meet my perceived needs. FU money now and old age retirement later are taken care of. If I chose to change locations, PRN nursing is generally available anywhere in the US.
2) I decide I love life on the road or international travel and want to do one full-time. The low costs of these lifestyles will make it much easier for me to ERE on less. I can used post tax capital for buy-in costs or scale up employment to do so, then go.
3) I decide I dislike paid work in all forms, even one day a week average is too much. In this case, I’m in a perfect situation; a lot of extra time and energy to design better system flows to maximize my situation. Once completed, if additional financial capital is required, I will short-term rescale nursing to full-time with the renewed vigor that rest has provided until the required financial capital is obtained.
4) I hate and/or fail at ERE and decide I need more traditional income levels. I will scale up nursing or pursue another career.
5) Black swan, but this is a possibility no matter what choices I make. With a little more ERE skill I will weather the situation better.

Am I missing anything? Please readers, let me know what you think.

PS I have a girlfriend now (no she did not influence this plan, she doesn’t even know…yet ), more on that next time :D

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by jennypenny »

How many hours would you have to work to maintain health insurance? Is that a perk of this kind of job?

Don't count on SSI any more than you would count on an inheritance.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@JP thanks for reading and the response.

Regarding SS. I believe its very fool hearty to just “not count” a source of income that will likely cover all of my basic expenses for 20+ years. Should I “not count” my income now because I might get fired? I get that it might not be around, I might not be around either (I think the latter is more likely than the former). However, the confluence of events required to completely eliminate SS, hence putting 50% or more of all US senior citizens on the street, would likely also spell doom for most of my other investments as well. So, I could ignore SS, save way more money than needed, money which will be just as at risk as SS in society altering event(s). Or l could lump the risk of western society failure together with failure of traditional assets and income streams, realize it’s probably only about 10% chance in my lifetime and have a small hedge for that eventuality. I believe the second is better than the first.

Also of note I have taken an extremely conservative benefit amount into consideration. It assumes 2/3rd of my current benefit if I never contribute to payroll taxes again. It’s more likely I will receive double that estimate than none at all.
Heath insurance is another beast in its entirety. One that someone with an ERE level of spending has already tamed. Subsidies for poverty or near poverty level income were available before ACA, they will be available when ACA fails. If they are not available, move to a region in which they are. Simple.

I do keep $200 mo in my budget for healthcare ins coverage. In the event of an acute diagnosis requiring immediate treatment which is not covered (or covered with a high deductible), I’ll happily negotiate and pay the bill knowing that lifesaving technology and human expertise was worth the price of a new car. I’ll probably have to scale up paid work for a while. I have back up plans if a chronic, life altering disease takes hold before Medicare or a systemic change in healthcare delivery does. My expertise in navigating the healthcare system will pay off in spades.

I also whole-heartedly believe the overwhelming sentiment of millennials will be a driving factor towards some form of single payer or at least universal coverage availability in the next decade. Agree with it or not, I don’t try and swim against the current.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »


Sometimes I count myself very lucky. Being born in a rich Western nation in the wealthiest time in recorded human history. Living standards so high, even “poverty” means a room over-head and a full belly. The library of Alexandria literally at my fingertips at all times.

I look back at my life over the past three or four years since first coming across the idea of FI and ERE and am astounded by the progress in such a short time. While it’s easy (and now a bit ubiquitous) to see the net worth gains on a spread sheet, I think it’s the monthly cash flow and added level of security (anti-fragility?) which is most dramatic.
After finishing my second BS degree and starting another new career, my core monthly spending needs were sitting at around $2500 (not including any debt service payments or special circumstances, I always had some). This base amount had not changed much over the past 15 years. Added to that was $500 mo debt service to student loans for 10 years. I was also contemplating a car purchase as my 1998 corolla had reached 200k miles. That would have added another $500 a month in debt service/increased transportation costs.

I was earning mid-50Ks, after taxes netting only about $3500 a month. Although I had some small 401K savings and a couple month Efund, that was about it. It didn’t seem to bother me though, as my new career was still rather exciting with much to learn. I thought I’d be happy with it for decades. Luckily (seemed unlucky at the time), a management restructure at my then hospital showed me how health care was changing for the worse. The tinge of dissatisfaction with employment was renewed and I absolutely understood I couldn’t continue to simply change specialty careers constantly in a search for long term happiness through my contributions at work.

Fast forward to today and my monthly net earnings are around $6800 with less than $1800 a mo in baseline expenses and no debt to service. This is quite the change! I can now safely focus on closing the gaps in cash outflows as a primary concern vs “getting by” each month. As my financial section clearly shows; I’m very near true FU money. In 12 months from now I hope to have reduced my total spending to under $1500mo. With current work-related expenses likely to eat $100-200 a month, this means my core expenses will have to be around $1300. It shouldn't be overly difficult as I have enough ideas to cut the core expenses to $1000, it’s just a matter of finding the time and motivation to implement.

If I were to summarize in a table of contents, it would look like this:

2014: Pareto optimize spending and eliminate debt
2015: Maximize income in current specialty field
2016-mid 2017: Learn how to/how I want to invest a now large cash flow surplus
Mid 2017+: Why am I still spending money to satisfy perceived needs? Time to learn skills and flows

My relationship with the GF is not going well at the moment. She is a traveling surgical tech and lives in a city about 2 hours away via car for her current assignment. She has become very needy of my time and gets upset if we don’t see each other for multiple days each week. Obviously that is not realistic, particularly considering our jobs often have us working weekends and night-time variable schedules. Her time demands are exhausting me, leaving little room for any other personal activities. I told her as much last weekend when I didn’t go to visit her as planned and she is not happy. I guess we shall see how this shakes out. I care for her, she’s a good woman, but she’s also much younger than me and this may account for what I perceive as her “neediness”.

I think this short, six month long relationship may be doomed. I just need more space than she is willing to give and she needs more together time than I am able to provide. So the next couple of months is the last chance dance to see if we can come to a compromise that works for us both.

Employment remains difficult, but is a little more tolerable than my last update. I have reached 5 months at my current assignment with a max of 12 months. They are in 3 month increments and I have decided to take two weeks off at the end of October to mark my half-way point in this difficult placement. If I can make through next April, I will get reassigned to an easier job in a better location. From there it’s gravy and I will be able to look at my financial picture with the potential of a downshift to part-time/lower wage more enjoyable employment.

The experience of travel nursing the past few years has provided me with an understanding the type of location I would like to make "home" later in life. I definitely prefer smaller, “college towns” of 250K or less. Preferably within reach of a larger urban center of 2 million or so for the occasional visit. A 2 hours or less mass transit or drive to said urban center would be Ideal. I'm open to suggestions from readers of places like this to visit. I do have several specific places in mind, but I foresee a several more years of slow travel before finding a location to call home, even if I ERE-type II* . There is much of the US yet to see, and of course much of the world. .

[*]ERE Type II is my term for the alternative option presented in the ERE book of earning only enough money to support a greatly cost-reduced lifestyle. This is in contrast to the “Earn to FI” type I ERE. Personally, I see Type II as equally (or even more) robust, as long as FU money status is added to the equation as another leg to the stool helping to maintain a high level of antifragility.

Onward to financials…

A special note; my trailing 12 month expenses and my YTD expenses look a bit inflated at the moment for three reasons.
  • I have had to move three times in the past 12 months, this is more than the average of about one move every 6-9 months. Although most costs are reimbursed by employer, there are non-tangible costs which are not.
  • I still have not been reimbursed for my last move, nor have I received my security deposit from my last apartment. This is about $1200 of expenses that will be removed once the money hits my accounts. For accounting purposes, I count these as expenses until received, so this accounting issue alone is increasing current spend rate by $100 month.
  • The past several months have seen added travel costs due to my long distance relationship. As mentioned in the personal section, this will not be ongoing, one way or another

Last year my 12 mo calendar year spending was $22115 or $1850 mo with core living expenses coming in at just over $1700. The remainder were work related.

This year I anticipate a slight increase to about $24000 or $2000 mo, mostly work related expenses, a couple one-off lifestyle change expenses (related to saving money and time in future moves), and girlfriend related travel. I'll evaluate at the end of year, but I think my actual core living expenses have decreased in 2017.

As of today my assets are valued at $162,839. This is 6.06 years of spending based on a trailing 12 mo average monthly spend rate of $2240. Again, this is slightly elevated from what the end of year reality will be, but I stick with the numbers in front of me for consistency and to avoid personal biases regarding my spending. It looks like I’ve gained about 9K since my last update just under two months ago. YTD SR is 72.8%.

Here’s my current allocation: A bit more cash as I’ve been uncomfortable investing post tax savings due to asset valuations. I continue to DCA my 401K new money; split about 40% Total US, 40% Total international and 20% Vanguard intermediate bond. All other new savings continue to be allocated 100% cash.

Here’s the distribution between account types, no real change here. The Roth only sees contributions in Jan of the year.


A different chart for your viewing pleasure. I’ve used this since I began tracking financials. It shows annual spending. The spread of a 4% and 5% WR. Inflation adjusted gains/earnings. The inflationary cost for the latter is front-loaded based on beginning of year asset balance and I update it with the monthly CPI numbers. Essentially, the real gains line shows how much I could withdraw and maintain my inflation adjusted beginning year capital and any contributions (earnings surplus?) throughout the year. This will be nice to know if I take the planned ERE type II path, how much do I REALLY need to earn the following year to maintain my wealth. It also shows my mentality from a ERE Wheaton scale perspective. I currently tend to think in terms somewhere between “capital for life” and “income for life”.


All numbers for 2017 are YTD. It pleases me to watch the lines close together over time.

I would consider myself FI at a 4-5% WR depending on factors such as; my age, asset valuations, the current status of Social Security, the current state of healthcare costs, ect.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Have you considered Ann Arbor?
I am pondering whether younger women being more needy depends on actual age or relative age. Likely a bit of both.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by wolf »

Well done. You have a great momentum! I hope everything will be ok with your GF. I like to follow your journal, because you are a few years ahead of me.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

I just realized i never responded to your comment before, sorry! I did in my head, :lol:

The idea of a corp has crossed my mind. I'm not sure about the housing though, as I wouldn't technically have a primary residence, so I;m not due I could write-off my personal housing expenses (housing would be the big one) as a corporate expense?

In any event, if I begin to broaden my earnings horizon in an ERE Type II situation, it would probably be smart to have liabilities limited on any "side" project income that flows. I may look into this further, how long have you had your corp? Whats your experience with it regarding tax savings vs hassle of accounting ect?

I has not considered Ann Arbor! Probably because of all the negative press re Detroit. How is the cultural aspect of Detroit these days? Do you know how much a studio apmt in a walk-able area of Ann Arbor would cost? I can check out CL and a COL calculator, but since I don't know the area it would be hard to tell.

Thanks! I'm probably many years behind though, since I'm getting old an all!

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by Kriegsspiel »

I live in Detroit also, I like it. I rent a studio for $730 right by downtown, and don't own a car (Detroit has the most expensive car insurance in the country).

A lot goes on downtown in Campus Martius, lots of free outdoor concerts, beach sand, an ice rink, etc. There are also nice outdoor basketball courts, sand volleyball court, outdoor chess boards around Campus Martius. Detroit's hockey, baseball, and football teams play around downtown, and a new stadium is being built in Midtown for the basketball team. Fowling is a local sport that is kinda like bowling with a football, it's fun.

There are lots of bike lanes going everywhere from downtown, and the new streetcar that goes from the river up through Midtown and New Center. The Amtrak station is in the city and there is a bike-share station near it which you can use to get anywhere you'd want to go. Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo are both college towns on the Wolverine line, which goes from Detroit to Chicago. Toledo is the first Greyhound stop to the south and there is a university there too.

Wayne State is the main university in Detroit, it's the best gym near downtown; you can buy a gym membership for about $30/mo. Campus is right across the street from the main library. I'm writing from campus right now after a workout.

Belle Isle is a nature preserve island on the river within biking distance of downtown, a good place to go fishing or grilling or to lay on the grass and look at clouds. It also has an aquarium where you can look at fish and a big greenhouse where you can look at plants.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@ Kreigsspiel

Thanks for the low-down! I'm going to visit my brother in Milwaukee early November, maybe I'll take a couple days to head over to Detroit and check out the area.

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Re: classical_Liberal's Journal

Post by SustainableHappiness »

Classical Liberal! I hadn’t read your journal much before, I didn’t realize you were a nurse. Fun Fact my DW is a nurse as well, albeit in a Canadian context which is probably different from an operational perspective than an American nursing context.

Anyways, sounds like you are kicking ass and taking names. Hope your side project ideas are growing and becoming reality. It’s good to see another ERE Type 2-er on here.

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