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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:13 pm
by SavingWithBabies
I too actually care more about savings rate than validation. I just think part of how businesses do compensation is fundamentally flawed (perhaps once you get past a certain point of covering housing, food, etc). I suspect salespeople's compensation is more fundamentally aligned than most other types of compensation. When thinking about these arguments, I've found it harmful to argue both sides (the employee always rationalizes too much). A potential employee comes in at a disadvantage negotiation-wise in terms of not knowing the bottom line of the business and what it can actually afford to pay. While I understand your respecting the fiscally responsible business owner, I think people usually concede too much. The core question is just how much profit is reasonable. Obviously, a business owner/creator goes into business for a reason and some profit is reasonable (unless it's a cooperative) however not being aggressive about compensation leaves a lot of slack in the business owners hands. Some might chose to take that slack and increase their own income and some will run this businesses in a way that doesn't maximize income because they don't care about it (and no doubt a bunch of other variations).

From one angle, sales compensation is probably the least broken but only works because you can hit a business owner over the head with what a salesperson is bringing in versus what they are costing and the salesperson knows the figures too. If we want to be nice and consider the other side, yes, figuring out how much a software engineer delivers in value is hard. So you don't want to risk being out too much? Then start an aggressive profit sharing scheme.

I too job hopped to maximize income. I'm happy with that. I didn't really expect a perfect job to come along. And, I think due to my thoughts on compensation, a perfect job doesn't exist. I'm going to have to make it. And if I'm successful, I'm probably going to be arguing the other side of compensation (from the employers side). I do think most people value stability and reliable income and employment typically provides that.

I haven't quite figured out I'm trying to say I guess. Something just seems off. And I'm not going to even talk about the equity stakes given to employees in venture capital-backed businesses.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:23 pm
by suomalainen
Your value to your employer isn't necessarily tied to the value you bring to the employer. Your value as a value-producer could be X, but your value in the employment market is Y, and Y is always less than X (else you'll be fired) even if X is easier (sales) or harder (engineer) to determine.

Another way of saying that I wouldn't get too hung up on whether a business' profit is "reasonable". Profit is a function of many things, but your value in the employment market is simple - what is the cost of getting a reasonably equivalent replacement SWB? That's what you'll get paid. No different for sales people than engineers.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 7:10 pm
by SavingWithBabies
@suomalainen Yes, I realize that is the "deal" (or standard way of analyzing/rationalizing about this topic) but I think it's not really true to reality. But I say that willing to take the deal for now until I am FI enough to now longer wish to (or my side business makes enough to let me walk away).

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:27 pm
by SavingWithBabies
Progress: 34.2% ($410,200/1,200,000)
Weight: 225 pounds
Goal weight: 192 (33 pounds to go)
Side business goal: 1 out of 50 schools (2 potential/pending)

I stuck to the diet -- there were a lot of temptations but I resisted all of them. I did consume more than normal and I think my weight loss, while it is certainly tapering off to a slower rate, was even slower than I'd expect because of that (I ate a lot more cheese than normal instead of desserts/alcohol/carbs/etc). I'm completely fine with this as I am starting to think this is likely going to be a way of eating for the rest of my life. I will consume more carbs when I get to my goal weight but I think it would be good to avoid sugar/flour/starchy veggies long term.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:31 pm
by SavingWithBabies
This month, I splurged on some hobby things. I've always wanted to make a model railroad of a particular area. I bought a 3D printer, another interest, to make scale buildings for the future model railroad. I'll make a much smaller model railroad and maybe plan out a bigger layout and make buildings for that layout. The 3D printer arrived from China a couple days ago and I've been learning the ropes. It's fun learning something new. So far, I haven't tried a lot of design. I tried learning Blender in the past. I think this time, I'm going to try to learn Blender again for 3D printing design but will also try Fusion 360 with the free hobbyist license. One day, I might want to sell my designs and I like open source and I know Blender is powerful if hard to learn (it's also open source) so I'd like to learn it in and out but it has a difficult learning curve. Maybe I'll try it a couple of hours tonight and see if I can bang out a really simple building.

Also thanks to @Tyler9000 and @suomalainen for taking the time to reply. I think you're both right but I also am frustrated with how working works. I think it can be better. But I also want to just retreat to my own business if I can. I think it's good to question the nature of work -- I just don't have clear thoughts/ideas about what exactly my issue is yet so I'll keep mulling that over long term.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:06 am
by Demosthenes
Hey SWB. Your ability to tinker with machines with internal combustion engines intrigues me. I've always wanted to be more handy but never got the balls to work with big scary engines.
SavingWithBabies wrote:
Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:05 am
I pulled it out and took a look. The paddles were riveted on with steel rivets. I have a rivet tool but only for aluminum (probably too weak for steel). So I decided to use bolts with nylon-insert lock nuts(*). I drilled out the rivets, got all the new paddles on and mixed up some 50:1 gas (2 stroke engine). It's been working fairly well. The whole machine is a lower end bottom of the line deal so the enclosure for the beater area is plastic and is starting to warp. The new paddles are much bigger and hitting some parts of it. Hopefully, the paddles will wear down a bit and everything will be a little smoother.
This whole paragraph makes me a bit uneasy. Especially the last part. Why not just grind down the paddles to be a bit smaller? You would think that they would wear down the enclosure before decreasing in size. The fact that the enclosure is plastic as well is pretty damning. You sound like you know what you're doing though so I'll defer to your expertise.

Have you thought of using some form of social capital to solve your snow problem? You could always sneak "you have to shovel the driveway" into the rental agreement contract :lol:

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:11 pm
by SavingWithBabies
Demosthenes wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:06 am
Why not just grind down the paddles to be a bit smaller?
I thought about it but the rubber is really thick with some thread/cotton fiber reinforcement in the middle. I also figured I'd risk it -- I had snow to clear on the ground. It has worked out well. The rubber is worn down by using the machine on the sidewalk which is very flat. So it did a good job of grinding it down (I helped it but holding the snow blower with the weight resting on the paddles more than the wheels). I do wonder how many seasons the plastic enclosure has left. It's a shame as the motor seems to work well. I'd probably take it to pieces and save the motor for some experiment/fun if it does die (or look for a good one with a dead motor on craigslist). The bigger problem is it's a very small snowblower. There is a much bigger and nicer one in the garage here but it has some sort of starting issue I haven't figured out (replaced the fuel shutoff valve as it was leaking, replaced the starter rope, checked start, went to check all the safety stuff and found it was all disabled already due to worn out ignition switch and who knows what else). I'm guessing it needs a coil as the spark is weak but I should try putting some gas in the cylinder (via spark plug hole) and trying to start it.

In terms of learning this stuff, I started on Volkswagens by buying the best manual (published by Bentley). Then the school of hard knocks propelled by having one vehicle and needing it working(*). I also had a "phone an engineer" as my dad is an electrical/mechanical engineer so he would help with queries sometimes. For the small engine stuff, I got really excited about it by watching this Youtube channel (I still watch it, he has a "will it run" regular feature that is fun -- plus he shares all his tips and tricks, really a wonderful and enjoyable channel -- he's the Bob Ross of small engine repair):


Oh, and now I only own Toyota vehicles and have sworn off Volkswagens. Well, except one day maybe a Karman Ghia. So many other cool cars though so not sure. But no more modern (watercooled) VWs for me. Toyotas have problems too but... less.

For the social capital -- I should be clear: I'm the renter. So *my* lease has that snuck in :). But if I do become a landlord in the future, I'll definitely put snow removal in the lease. That is pretty standard here I think for house rentals. We hope to buy a house in the next year or two so I'll probably keep my eyes open for a nice and free/cheap snow blower that needs some work after winter ends.

* It is miserable to learn with the pressure of needing the vehicle the next day or that day. I highly recommend learning on a spare vehicle. The lessons might not be as fast but you don't have to force things. You then have time to go to the forums to get help on how to work around that special tool or how to get unstuck/cut off a fastener that just won't come off.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:14 pm
by Demosthenes
Oops I misunderstood your rental situation. Sneaky landlords... I shoveled the driveway for my renters, but mostly because they didn't have cars and thus had no incentive to shovel.

Have you thought about the "web of goals" aspect of just doing the manual shoveling? You are looking to lose weight, and you also need to drive to work. The best way to combine these two goals would be to shovel the driveway manually.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:15 pm
by SavingWithBabies
I briefly considered it but the house we're renting is set back from the road quite a ways so there is a long driveway plus it's a huge driveway pad with a side extension for two cars at the end. The lots a bit tight on that side so it's handy to have it clear for getting in and out (particularly for when people visit us too). If it was just the sidewalk, I'd consider it.

The other factor is I had a herniated disc surgery about 6 years ago and I'm loathe to risk herniating it again. It was by far the worst pain I've had in my life and it was a 2-3 week experience until I had surgery. So one of my goals is to not injure my back. That is why I'm losing all the weight almost purely by diet instead of adding lots of exercise. I do need to strengthen my core but I'd prefer to do that with pilates and similar exercises.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:23 pm
by SavingWithBabies
We had some light snow a while ago so I tried shoveling manually. It was heavy wet snow due to warm day but my back was fine the next day. We should have more snow tomorrow so I'm going to try doing it manually with the snow blower as backup. So thanks @Demosthenes -- you did provoke me to think it over more and while keeping my back safe is a top goal, so is getting more physical exercise so it makes sense.

Oddest thing with losing weight has been my wedding rings being too large. When I got married, I bought a handful of simple metal ~$5 rings online and picked the one I liked the best. Well that one was sliding off my finger a couple months ago. So I switched to a smaller one but today that just slid off -- maybe while I was outside. It is weird to think our fingers store fat too. I wouldn't have noticed them shrinking if it wasn't for the ring.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:38 pm
by SavingWithBabies
Progress: 35.8% ($429,915/1,200,000)
Weight: 220 pounds
Goal weight: 192 (28 pounds to go)
Side business goal: 1 out of 50 schools (3 potential/pending of which 1 looks definite but nothing signed yet)

Contributed 1/2 of the 2017 allowances to Roth IRAs for both my wife and myself. Going to do the rest over another two monthly or so chunks.

As expected, weight loss is slowing as my calorie deficit has decreased as I continue to eat roughly the same amount of food but my body needs less energy so weight loss slows. I'm happy with this pace though and I actually enjoy eating this way now. Never really hungry. Today, skipping dinner because I had a big lunch and breakfast and not really hungry (I ate a snack of some cheese and salami). Having stable blood sugar has made my moods much more stable. I've also realized I'm incompatible with fully caffeinated coffee. I like to drink it too fast and it is clear it shortens my temper. It basically makes me a grouch. I've begun to drink roughly 40-50% caffeinated and rest decaf. I was surprised decaf beans taste good. One more thing I thought was ridiculous at one age but now have come to appreciate.

Investigating possibility of moving to Mexico for a year while continuing to work remote for my current employer. It looks viable from the employer side so far. We are planning on taking a short trip to a couple of places to check it out. We wouldn't move until our lease is up which is a ways away.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:38 am
by SavingWithBabies
We're thinking about moving to Mexico for a year sometime after our lease is up here. We're going to do an exploratory trip first. Ideally, a sleepy town outside of Puerto Vallarta with wired internet or at least LTE (mobile) data within walking distance of the beach. If we went for it, we'd want to cull our belongings including our second vehicle. In terms of saving money, I wouldn't want to bet we would however I wouldn't be surprised if we do. It's hard to predict but I don't think it would be more expensive (and that second car money would be invested and hopefully growing instead of depreciating).

We would be doing it for these reasons:

* wife can brush up on her Spanish
* experience living coastal near the beaches and ocean (kind of did that in SF Bay Area but, let's be real, not really AT ALL)
* experience another culture in more depth than vacationing
* older son loves being outside and while we do go out in the snow here in Michigan, we don't got out as much as he would like so he would love it (and while we don't hate Winter at all we wouldn't miss it for a while)
* I'd like to learn Spanish
* reset needs versus wants (I don't think we're doing horrible with this -- it's just nice to shake things up every now and then)

We debated Costa Rica in the past but I like the idea of Mexico first because we can bring our older SUV (would put some time/money into extra maintenance including perhaps replacing tires slightly sooner than needed) without unreasonable expenses, flights are less expensive/shorter and it's interesting to both of us.

It seems like a good thing to do roughly now because:

* kids aren't in school yet
* local real estate market is too hot -- don't really want to buy in at these prices
* wife needs to practice Spanish to keep her skills up (she is a Spanish teacher but staying home with the kids for now)
* I already have a remote job
* our parents are all in fairly good health

That is all kind of short term in a way but long term, it would also help these goals along:

* Living more how/where we want to live in terms of our connection to family. This is a nebulous goal but it basically boils down to not feeling guilty we aren't living near our parents. Part of me wants them to see our kids often but I also recognize the two sets of parents are far enough part that this is somewhat unequal. Another part of me doesn't want to arrange my life around our parents lives as I fear regretting putting their needs potentially above our own (after all, at a certain point, they can move too). So this move would help in feeling that out from all sides.
* Learning more about the world.
* Traveling with kids.
* Potentially living in another country long term.
* Not getting stuck.
* I've mulled over building a very large sailing catamaran (~38 feet or 11.5 meters) one day that we could move onto and live aboard (perhaps while sailing around the world or at least some island chains). Perhaps it would make more sense to do this in say Mexico where I might be able to hire some people to help me instead of trying to do it alone and/or have a better place to build (that is close to water)? So I could get a feel for if this might be a realistic potential path. This is a complicated goal as it depends on other goals (like reaching FI and having enough extra to build a boat and deciding to homeschool our kids and becoming proficient at sailing and ...).

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:17 am
by ThisDinosaur
Puerto Vallarta is right by a blue whale breeding ground, so the scenery will be about as epic as it gets in winter.

How much do you expect it to cost to build a seaworthy 38 foot catamaran? How long would that take?

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:39 am
by SavingWithBabies
@ThisDinosaur It would be awesome to see whales!

For the catamaran, costs vary a lot. I think building the hull is very roughly about $20,000 USD. Outfitting it with a mast and rigging it and buying sails and such is probably another $15,000-25,000. Then there is still finishing out the inside (can really vary) and things like propulsion (also can vary, cheap is two small gas outboards), navigation equipment, electrical, generator/solar, watermaker, dinghy, toilet/plumbing, stove, header (if needed), etc. So like building a house, it can really vary and get quite expensive but for many of these things, there are less expensive ways to go (that often take more time).

So let's say very roughly $90,000 USD in the end fully outfitted. It's tempting to look for someone selling an already made boat unless you really want to build a boat or want a new one that you know by heart. The difficult part is while $90,000 is a lot, it might include all the things you need for long distance sailing while a used boat might be missing some/all things (the rough estimate to prepare a normal boat for long distance cruising is 50% of the purchase price). These would include things like larger water tanks and/or a watermaker, appropriate storage, good cooking equipment, etc. And on a purchased boat, if it has these things, some might not work while on a built boat almost all of it should be operational and hopefully working for at least a couple of years (things can wear out faster in saltwater environment particularly without maintenance and care).

In terms of time, it really varies as some people never finish, some are working in difficult climates where the need to stop working 1/2 the year or heat the space (so the epoxy cures), etc. I think if you could focus on it full time and had enough drive to work on it long term, it might take 1.5-2 years for a new builder that is fairly handy and isn't aiming for perfect fit and finish. That would assume doing most of the work yourself but perhaps paying someone to do some of the more complex bits like rigging.

The hardest part of all of this is you build a big hull and it looks like you have a boat. However, it's a bare slate inside. Building out the inside takes as much if not longer than building the whole structure. There are ways to cut that down. For example, if you learn vacuum molding with fiberglass, you can use the same complex shape multiple times in the interior cutting down a lot of weight and time. I suspect with careful planning and maybe 3D printing to help make molds, you could use that vacuum molding approach quite a bit. If you combine that with a willingness to keep things simple and only do say 80% of the interior and leave some for the future, it would get you in the water sooner.

So if we work backwards, it would be good to make a chart of the skills (goals?) to learn and get good or better at. I think it would include:

* working with epoxy and fiberglass
* vacuum molding
* building jigs to use with molding
* making complex shapes out of fiberglass with an inner core of plywood or fancy foam core
* proper hull fastener techniques (don't want holes drilled into core that are not sealed -- else water gets into core)
* repair of damaged structure
* reading plans

It definitely feels like a really big and expensive project to me. But I'm interested in the above things and should probably start trying to learn things as I can and then apply them to a smaller project. Perhaps a dinghy after going through some smaller things.

What I haven't mentioned yet is the designer and plans. I've spent some time reading about options and I'm nearly certain I would go with Richard Woods and one of his designs: ... -over-40ft

The other part I haven't mentioned is, after reading about this quite a bit, I'm fairly certain a well built Woods catamaran is quite good. Both in strength and in performance (speed) for comfort. So building gets you something better than what you might be able to buy if you're shopping on the lower end of 38-40 foot catamarans.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:52 am
by SavingWithBabies
I forgot one more important detail: apparently, building a boat often leads to divorce. So after reading all these things and mulling them over, my approach is much more tentative. If it looks like it works for me, great. If not, then I'll go another route. I won't force it. If it seems to be working out, I will commit at some point. But it'll have to be in a way that works for my family too and my wife will need to know all the costs and the rough timeline and be optimistic about it.

Also, there is this timeline for knowing if this would even work for us:

- learn to sail
- learn to sail in bad weather
- learn to sail a big boat
- learn if wife is compatible with motion of a boat on ocean for multiple hours/days/weeks (my wife gets motion sickness in some situations)

So there might be a deal breaker right there (motion sickness) that I need to check on before going too far.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:31 pm
by Jason
I think the only time a boat is beneficial in a marriage is if you are looking to get rid of your wife, which doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:36 pm
by SavingWithBabies
Jason wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:31 pm
I think the only time a boat is beneficial in a marriage is if you are looking to get rid of your wife, which doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Well the dream is living on the boat while traveling around the world very slowly. I think my wife is sold on this. By slow, I mean potentially staying 6 months in one location (or longer if we can). We'd only be going around the world because in general, it seems to be easier to go in one direction with weather and why not see the world? It would likely require:

* homeschooling our kids
* being financially independent and/or having own business (with partner) working well enough that I can disconnect and reconnect (not be online 24x7)
* taking the bad with the good

That's the goal after the "build a boat goal" but we could skip the whole "build a boat" by doing "buy and outfit an existing boat". I'd only do the build if it made sense in the timeline (ie I wanted to, situation made sense, timeline made sense, had enough money and I was willing to commit to it). To me, it's a bit crazy but it's doable. With software, you know things will really take 2-3x as long as you pessimistically expect them to take. I suspect it's the same with a big project like building a boat.

So this is something I might see doing in 5-7 years when we are financially independent and we have enough extra that it makes sense. It's really an "if the stars align" kind of thing.

The lower budget way to just get out on the water is definitely to go with a very depreciated respected bluewater monohull sailboat. There are some trade offs though that some are probably fine with. The trade offs I see are:

* different motion that likely makes those with existing motion sickness more prone to experiencing it at sea
* feels tighter/less space/darker
* cannot go as shallow as have a deeper keel
* maintenance -- going around the world, fair chance you're going to find out some important aspect of the boat, like perhaps the deck hull connection, has worn out and needs extensive retrofit -- it's not unusual to just replace all of the rigging but there are a lot of wear points and areas that are hard to inspect (although these are typically well known if you buy a boat with a following)

It would be ideal to buy the boat well ahead (as in years) of the anticipated departure so you can use it and get to know what needs fixing. Then you replace all the rigging, outfit it for living aboard, get spare parts, etc.

So the thing to do sooner would be get better at sailing while figuring out if my wife is compatible with a monohull. If not, find out if she is compatible with a catamaran. If not, abandon plans :).

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:42 pm
by Jason
I took a sailing course when I was a kid. I failed it after I rammed some rich asshole's catamaran. And it was around the time I was taking the training wheels off my shit talking so the instructor was constantly beaching me which kind of trained me for the internet. That being said, the only thing worse than sailing is sitting on the beach watching other people sailing. I guess that's kind of why I hate boats and boating authorities.

But enough me. The plan sounds very exciting. And to be honest, a little dangerous. I'm not really sure how one sail's around the world. I know there are sharks and pirates and icebergs and submarines and enemy territories and storms and drunk assholes and fiery space capsules. Plus, watching your spouse hurl her breakfast all over all the place every morning kind of takes the romance out of it. At least for me.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:16 pm
by SavingWithBabies
Yeah, that hurling would be a downer. I mean, when I say sail around the world, I really do mean because it's generally easier that way -- to follow the trade winds (and avoid hurricane seasons). But I'm not out for any records or anything. It's not a race. Totally happy to take a lifetime doing it although I'd expect roughly 8 years at most.

I think the nicest spot to start is Florida because you can hop down the island chains with only, I think, two overnight sails. Putting some thought into that start to really get a good start without a lot of hurling would be worth it. Even if I had to sail the boat to Florida so that we could come back down.

But I'm writing all this as a guy with a small 17 foot sailboat in his driveway that still has a lot to learn. Thinking about the web of goals has me writing about it now instead of later though just because there are a lot of connections between everything and it is one of the bigger looming goals that requires completing a fair number of other goals and making choices to end up at the beginning of it.

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:57 am
by Jason
Well it sounds exciting and quite adventurous/demanding - physically, psychologically, intellectually, spiritually. I figure your web of goals could make room for a little hurling. When I was in college, I witnessed someone power boot across a room into a bucket held by another individual without the slightest chunk hitting the floor during a raucous kegger. It was like something out of The Matrix. So I'm sure with the brain trust here someone will come up with a "Sailing and Vomiting" algorithm factoring in relevant nautical conditions.