YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Where are you and where are you going?
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TheWanderingScholar
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YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:25 pm

Eeresti? (ERE in Estonia?)

What is this attempt three at writing this post to start my new journal? Anyone I decided to restart my journal as my old one was getting long in the teeth and honestly i have changed as a person, and so have my end goals.

The situation at is most basic form is that I turned down the contractor job in Austin, as honestly I didn’t want it and did not want to spend my year as contractor a Sword of Damocles on my head with a rent of $1,100 a month, and I got the full ride scholarship alongside living stipend for the first academic for the university I applied to. Alongside with the internship in which I will save about 4,000 USD alongside 1,000 from my awesome neighbor, I think we have wiggle room in my budget if things go fubar. As for specific tactics on saving money and staying under 350 EUR per month from the scholarship? Another journal post or another time

As for specifics reason for not wanting it and taking the Estonian graduate is something I can go into a latter post, but not right now as I want to keep this short and not a thousand words long. Besides this post is just a reboot and going over all general changes in my ERE plan (or more appropriately RE).

So here is how it has changed:

1. Location (aka Settling Down In Place is Much Better Than Dealing With Visas, Permits, and other bullshit every other year)
I am not a seer or a mystic so I can't see into the future, but I honestly don’t see myself moving as much as I imagined I would. I honestly care more about being around a trusted circle of friends, even if they are spread across the continent. Which means yes, there is a high probability of me staying in Estonia after my degree is over on a more or less permanent basis, or at least in the Baltic Sea Region. Because of the Work Placement part of the degree and the general skillset I will gain from the program (Basics of Programming, Project Management, etc.) I believe I can easily be hired after finishing. I am already researching and seeing what companies for future employment so unless a Recession happens between now and then I believe I will be alright. If not, I can get employment in the US or just say fuck it and join the Peace Corp or Americorp because fuck it I will only 24 then so I have a year or two left to spare before I really need to start a career and having compound savings work in my favor.

2. Homesteading Instead of a Digital Nomad (Or how Estonia is really good for ERE in the long run and please keep this a secret.)
Funny thing about Estonia? The Land Value Tax is based on value of land and not on improvements, so I can possibly buy land and improve the cost of it without a rise in Land Value Tax. So the option of pulling a Three Acres and Liberty is much cheaper here than say U.S., especially places where health care won't bankrupt me in a situation, in exchange for higher taxes

3. Length (Or End Date)
For me financial independence end date has been pushed back because of my student loans and lower income levels of Estonia alongside a higher tax rate. So an end date around late 40s to early 50s is realistic. And when I mean "end date" I mean probably just go into maintenance mode and just coast with some consultant work on the side to supplement my income.

Am I saying I am not going to save aggressively? No I am; I am just being realistic because of the situation I will be going and also I am beginning know what I want and willing to spend money on. Which is having a decent desktop computer instead of a shitty laptop.

And also the work I am planning on going into, Urban/Regonal/Rural Planning, is something I might enjoy as career in the long-run as currently I am contacting a guy who does planning for a village that is essentially only a thousand or so people, and I enjoy it somewhat to be honest. Not exactly a lot of money but I rather enjoy an actual work and life balance instead of going through hell while on the road of FI. Less Stress = Better Mental and Physical Health in the long run.

That is three major changes going on with my long-term ERE plan, which seems different from the usual things written by my people around my age who are pursuing FI or RE, mosty wanting to travel the world and the like. However being in Eurasia, travelling the world will be much easier, and cheaper.

Next post I will covering how the hell I am going to be saving money and staying the $350 number while improving my health at the same time, because of Web of Goals and shit.

henrik
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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by henrik » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:23 am

Please carry on and make this my favourite journal.

You are right about the land tax. It is only based on the assessed value of the land multiplied by the rate set by the municipality. Furthermore, the values have not been reassessed since 2001 (they're talking about it now). You also get a break for a portion of the land where it's your primary (registered) residence. AFAIK it's up to 1500 sq m in towns and up to 2 ha in the countryside. My total land tax bill this year was 25€ for three different locations.
As for other taxes, there are various ways of optimising and/or deferring especially if you're working independently and not planning on spending all your income. Yet you'll still pay proportionally more than probably anywhere in the US.

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Viktor K
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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by Viktor K » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:59 am

Being realistic about your ERE date will probably benefit you psychologically. I tend to be quite romantic about when I can ERE.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:10 am

henrik wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:23 am
Please carry on and make this my favourite journal.

You are right about the land tax. It is only based on the assessed value of the land multiplied by the rate set by the municipality. Furthermore, the values have not been reassessed since 2001 (they're talking about it now). You also get a break for a portion of the land where it's your primary (registered) residence. AFAIK it's up to 1500 sq m in towns and up to 2 ha in the countryside. My total land tax bill this year was 25€ for three different locations.
As for other taxes, there are various ways of optimising and/or deferring especially if you're working independently and not planning on spending all your income. Yet you'll still pay proportionally more than probably anywhere in the US.

Holy shit that is a large amount of land tax payment wise.
And probably during the first few years I will working with a company then going independent consultant. And I imagine between the income tax and social tax, I will probably only take only 6/10 or 1/2 my pay home with me. Worth it for having major health catastrophe not bankrupting me, especially when I get older imo. Also from what I heard Estonian schools are getting comparable to Finnish schools in rankings.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by henrik » Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:37 am

YoungAndWise wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:10 am
I imagine between the income tax and social tax, I will probably only take only 6/10 or 1/2 my pay home with me.
6/10 is about right. Depends, but not too much (taxes are mostly flat). There is a difference between the gross pay in your contract and total expense for the employer, since most of the social stuff is technically paid by the employer and not by you. For practical purposes though, with a monthly gross salary of 1500€, your net would be ca 1200€ and total expense to the employer is ca 2000€ - so 6/10.

What do you get for that? Pension schemes I and II (assuming you'll pay in at least 15 years, cross EU transfers of "time served" apply in certain conditions, currently accessible at 65 for someone your age); tax payer funded education at all levels (does not apply to foreign language programmes); tax payer funded health care (ex-dental) that mostly works (those who complain probably haven't been around much); heavily subsidised public transportation; Trump umbrella :)

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by SnailMeister4000 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:31 pm

YoungAndWise wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:25 pm
(...) Estonia is really good for ERE in the long run and please keep this a secret (...)
I totally believe you, but the local language is probably filtering out a lot of otherwise potentially interested foreigners, no? I mean, unless you are Finnish, it's probably quite a killer to learn, isn't it?

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:58 pm

SnailMeister4000 wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:31 pm
YoungAndWise wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:25 pm
(...) Estonia is really good for ERE in the long run and please keep this a secret (...)
I totally believe you, but the local language is probably filtering out a lot of otherwise potentially interested foreigners, no? I mean, unless you are Finnish, it's probably quite a killer to learn, isn't it?
Yes Estonian is a killer language to learn, and while majority of the younger population knows Estonian and you can probably go through life without learning it, you will win the hearts of Estonians in general by even learning several simple phrases let alone the language. Also in the the countryside, where it is cheaper to live, you will probably need to learn Estonian.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:45 pm

The First Month

Life is good.

My budget is slowly getting into a steady state.

Travelled to Tallinn a little bit with a friend.

Working on my abstract proposal already

Waistline is shrinking, slowly.

And for the first in a long time

I feel alive.

P.S. I am bottle of Alexander in when I wrote this. But it feels right, none the less.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by henrik » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:07 am

How does it feel at the two month mark now that the light is mostly gone and the novelty worn off?
Are you getting your Alexanders from across the border yet?

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:39 am

@henrik:
This will probably answer your question. DId not see your post.

As for Alexanders from across the border? Sadly not. Not enough room in fridge to make the trip to Valka and back worth it price wise. Sadly. :/

Also fucking hell I forgot how fast it dark gets up here. Not an issue per say, just caught off guard.


What the hell is going?

I am half-way through my semester and I have decided to post something more meet to it than a shitty half-assed post with a few lines of text. So, here we go.

Financial Front:
Because of my previous year in the same region, I have not really taken many trips at all during my time here, with most of my money going out and socializing whenever me and the gang. Which means a lot of financial expenses are from eating out. While it is sustainable to do this, to eat out a couple times a week as we go to cheap places which give a lot of food, I could fairly easily chop down the price by eating out less and storing food at my dorm which can frozen; like pork dumplings which I got for a one euros for 1 lb/400 G each. Now I need to find vegetables which can be stored for a while, as honestly I do not each that much.

Beyond food, my main major expenses are rent...and well that is it. This weekend I am taking a trip to the city for a conference but the transportation prices are reimbursed by Uni (which is really fucking awesome), and next month I am taking a trip to Berlin to visit friends, but beyond I am operating at fairly low expenses. Because of that I am kind of sort of kind of hitting a baseline of around 300 euros a month currently. The reason that numbers exist is because money I have left from my stipend from the previous month is about twice my rent and I am going to say I spend around one hundred euros a month on food(?), which is low mainly because I don’t eat as much as the normal person.

Still I could cut out the soda and opt for store-brand fizzy drinks which are about a forth-of-a-cost in comparison to brand name drinks. Also going out and buying breakfast in the form of a couple pastries, while enjoyable, I might consider cutting out or reducing as that habit about one to two euros for about three pastries. At the same time? I really like the food they cook and it is literally down the stairs and next door.

Transportation is mostly foot for around the city. Living in a dorm so close to the city center really helps, for out of city trips public transportation. I kind of want to get a car after I graduate so I can visit local national parks and more off the beaten track destination.

Education:
It feels really fucking awkward being the expert for GIS, with everyone asking me for help. I mean seriously, me? Am I truly the best for ArcGIS among my classmates o_0.

Thought seriously, I enjoy the diverse educational backgrounds everyone has, with some working on their second masters, half the group having already worked a few years and being six years older year me. And with me being the ArcGIS guy who seems to be willing to help, I get called upon to help more often than not with my classmates work.

Python is great and I am glad I am getting to use more often. I am probably going to try and expanded my portfolio of languages from just Python to R, SQL, and other programs a data scientist would use as while being a region planner/urban modeling expert would be awesome, I do have data scientist in Tallinn as a backup plan just in case I can’t find a job within regional planning. As for PhD work? I don’t know. The idea of being tied up in a place for four years, even with the ability to visit other countries for research, kind of scares the shits out of me. Damn you nomadic spirit! Damn you!

Social Life:
Eh? Honestly most of my social life is invested within the small “ka-tet” that has born from our group of ten. It is unwise in a way, because once the program is over the “kat-tet” will probably break-up with each of us going our separate ways, something we all know and acknowledged.


Long-Term Future:
Originally I wanted to stay in Estonia after I graduate, pick up a career and stay. And while I do want to stay here long-term as the potential for improving society is, emotionally I don’t if I can. There is a side of me that still cares about the US, and talking to other people from say Ukraine and other people about the topic, kind of shows my true colors. I don’t know where I will stand on the topic of the USA two years from name.

On Estonia, I like the country, they are competent, probably one of the most competently led countries in Eastern Europe from IMF reports I have read during my spare-time (Yep I am that nerdy.) with some of their issues something they are not alone in facing (population decline). The past couple years have shown people are coming back to Estonia, which has lead to immigrants than emigrants (positive population migration). The major question is immigration which coming from

Conclusion
Life is good. Need to fix some stuff financially. Putting together a portfolio and diversifying my skill set. Don’t travel as much, with my main reasons being to see friends instead of seeing sites. Long-term stay in Estonia is up for debate, as my emotions on US are in a complicated status.

Fuck I am an adult now.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:51 pm

11.12.2017

Lull in the Madness

For the last month or so my life has been hectic, with me running around trying to finish tasks on time, dealing with bullshit class requirements for 3 ECTS, and in general trying to keep my sanity. Beyond that however I have found time to actually relax to write down my post and feeligns again.

Darkness has arrived, and thankfully does not really mess with me emotionally. If anything, it is an annoyance where I go outside and think “This is kind of annoying.” However I do wish there was more snow, certainly lightens the place up at night.

By entire budget for November was blown to hell by unexpected trips to Tallinn which means eating out more often, a lot of us eating out because time was not on our side, and a farewell party to one of the PhD students. Also buying tickets to Berlin which I can longer do because of stupid fucking timetables change.

Yeaaa! /s

Overall my time here has been alright, just going through a rough patch with school, and suffering the downside of being a guinea pig of a new program; the moments where the faculty realize it might be rough for students.

Finally getting to socialize with Estonians...at least to best of my ability of socializing with Estonians.

And lastly, next semester’s work placement is one month and unpaid. Because of this, I am going to try and find part time work, which with the recent rise in minimum wage, means I can maybe earn an extra 200 Euros per month alongside 100 Achievement Stipend, which I hope I get but not counting on.

This month, cutting back on food...And alcohol. Yeah I probably spent as much money on food as on alcohol last month. Bite me, I needed it. Thankfully gone a couple weeks going back to normal intake.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:04 am

End of the Year

End of the year has arrived, so might as well start a year in review, with an overview of a plan for next year. So let me cut to the chase:

Last Year in a Phrase: “First Hand Out of the Grave.”

Two and a half years ago, I was suffering suicidal depression. And while I was able to pull myself out of it, the effects of still lingered. Suffering massive weight gain, inability to focus on school, and in general just shitty. Student loans were growing as well.

However, this year, after traveling to Utah working for a month or so, than moving back home to work in a local internship, then finally moving back to Estonia, I feel like I have been able to drag myself out of the hole I have been in. My finances are getting to point where I might be able to start chipping away at the student loan I have starting spring semester, depending on the future. My physical health has been getting better, already going down a pants size since coming back to Europe.

Next Year in a Phrase: Another Hand Out of the Grave
Next year I am going to apply for another scholarship, reduce the amount of money I spend on on food and going on, and in general try to be healthier. If I get to the scholarship, I am going to forward that money towards my student loans because I am getting sick and tired of them and rather get rid of it now versus later. During the summer, I plan on traveling somewhat so cutting down on my budget anyways.

If I keep this up, keeping my savings rate from scholarships around 100 to 150 per month, I will save around 1800 to 2700 Euros in total by the time I graduate, not including a job. The amount I pay using the scholarship is around 120 per month, based on a ratio of 1 EURO to 1.2 USD, for 10 months, leads to around ten percent of my student loan debt being paid off by the time I graduate. That is not including a job, so if I can get one, that will definitely help me in the long-run and help start pushing down the student loan.

The reason why I want to tackle it down now? I really don’t want to deal with the paperwork involved with getting a student deferrement with an international university, and dealing with it now means I can slowly chip away at it.

As for my health? Continue on my path, eat more vegetables in my diet, switch from low-calorie carbonated drinks to tea, and continue on my current course. Losing weight is like ERE; it is a march forward not a marathon.

Post-Graduation: Options and Back-up Plans

So my third semester is my specialization semester, meaning I will be focused on two specialization: data, and getting accumulated to Estonian Language. Last semester is just putting together my thesis; next semester I will be beginning on it in earnest and plan on pushing through it steadily. Because I am starting my second semester in February, I will be looking to what I will do after finishing my Master’s thesis. And I have several avenues to pursue I won’t go into detail because that would be a special blog post for some other time

Option One: The PhD
Option Two: Public Sector?
Option Three: Consulting Group

Back-Up One: Script Monkey
Back-Up Two: Moving to Another Baltic Country for Work
Back-Up “NEVER FUCKING WILL DO THIS”: Move back home.

As you can see, the title is pretty self-explanatory however I can and will go into more details about it later as time goes on.

Conclusion
Another year down, another comes up, and everything is looking up in long-term for once.

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:07 am

January 2018

First monthly update of the New Year and it is a massive one. Because of that I am going to going multiple post focused on my more specifics. This one will be an overview of what happened, and in general.

Pros:
  • Save 150 EUROS, so slightly better than last month.
  • Got my student loans repayments to zero, which is nice.
  • Getting 500 USD from tax refund at least. WOOT!
  • Grades are going to be good so there is a high probability to increase income an extra 100 via another stipend.
Cons
  • Still eat out more than I wanted to admit. It is mostly because of the fact that I am really not used to just having a stove top only cooking hardware. Most of my recipes I have experience with are oven based. This has been a thorn and makes me think of moving to the dorm which has an oven actually, but it farther from school (like an extra 10 minutes to walk)
  • I had to drop PostgresSQL, PostGIS, and WMS class as learning that over four weeks was impossible, especially when my syntax knowledge of SQL syntax is lacking. Good news is that I already know a lot of what we were working on from a previous course.

Special Topic for This Month: Creating a Future-Resistant Skillset
Currently I am taking courses from free areas, such as Dataquest’s free options, and will be looking at things such as Machine Learning course from Coursera and the like to improve my skill set so I can advertise myself as a “Spatial Data Scientist” and shit like that. :P

But seriously, I am honestly going to go private career because unless the PhD projects/positions offered next year are interesting, I can probably do something more interesting and pay betters for the same amount of work. However to increase my income I need to create a skill-set that is future resistant for at least twenty to thirty years, so that means languages, both linguistics and programming, are going to be at the top of “shit I need to learn” list. Learning languages like Latvian and Estonian will help me carve out a field for myself, and learning Python, R, and SQL (bleh!) for staying ahead of automation field long enough for me to have my savings and compound interest to become enough to sustain me.

And hopefully with me GIS skillset I can carve a niche out to increase my income level. If not? Well, that is another post (which I already have written, I just need to edit it and read through it!)

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Re: YAW Journal (Vol. 2: Er-eesti Boogaloo)

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Mon May 21, 2018 4:18 pm

Tired

This past few months have been brutal. Between beginning work on my thesis, completing my course work, fulfilling letters of motivation for scholarships, my work placement, trying to maintain a social life, and in general trying to get my shit together for the next stage of my life, it has been hard to pull myself together every morning by 9:00 and going to sleep at 12:00.

And while most of the shit is out of the way now, and I am on the home stretch for this semester, there is still the underlying sense of going through a mental marathon. And while I will finish this semester strong, and I am ahead of my classmates in getting my thesis done, the underlying current makes it hard to actually do what I feel like doing.

Which brings me to my current point is that: my work-life balance is shit at the moment, and seeking this relative balance in comparison to now is going to be something I am going to look at going forward.

Currently, I am setting up a list of potential companies in regions that I am interested in, as that is generally a wise idea.

However, now I am on my third wind, finishing the semester strong in comparison to my classmates (hip, hip, hooray for front-loading bullshit courses!). And now I am having more free-time, I am beginning to pick up on writing and reading again. Currently, I am going through Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin, reading up on astrobiology for hard-science fiction I am working on, and reading up on Centauri Dreams blog.

I have a half-month to go, waiting hopeful to get a scholarship to pay for my living expenses next semester (I have enough to survive through next year with current stash, alongside potential odd jobs for the university I could do. It is just having a steady income alongside it will be really nice as well, and keeps stress off my mind.), and getting accepted to the summer school I applied (EDIT: Which I did!)

So currently, I am focused on finishing strong, getting my shit together for next year, and in general hoping I don’t get fucked over by probability of not getting a scholarship (so far not yet), and unable to get work next year (which I don’t have)

As for the job front I am chatting up from acquaintances in the region, seeing where I could find work for something the like in the long term. I am asking around about doing my PhD here, however whether or not I want to do it depend on how I feel that day. Which does not bode well. Hopefully I will figure out by next semester.

Anyways that is the update for now. Cheers to the semester ending, and beginning of a summer of marginally less bullshit!

Finance Shit:
Have about 1K euros saved up; which is nice considering how my income is less minimum wage. Overall I saved 33% of my income I will receive this semester, and I still have two months to go to save money. Honestly, I can bump up how much I save, however I want to enjoy life, so moments where I can spend time with my friends as many are leaving for their semester abroad.


Student Loans:
Not worrying about it as my Master’s is still ongoing and I don’t have the money to spare at the moment. However if I do get the scholarship next semester and work, I will start hitting away at the student loans with what I can spare, however if not, I am waiting until I get an actual job, so I can start attacking it more heavily.

Also, now I am 23.

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