Rocky's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Post Reply
Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:38 am

I just read the book. What an eye-opener! I wish I had read it years ago. It's a whole different outlook on life. I will be re-reading and digesting but here are a few things I picked out:

I am already doing a version of ERE. I own very little and weigh most purchases carefully. However, this is by necessity rather than choice. I don't have a full-time job with benefits so watching the pennies has been a way of life. My biggest departure from the ERE philosophy is that I do not mind working. I like my job and co-workers. I have some health issues that make it difficult to work more hours. I am less concerned with stopping work than with being able to save enough for when I am no longer able to work. I hope that does not put me at too much of odds with goals of this community. I would like to be able to stop worrying and obsessing about money.

I am a late-40's female. ISTJ. Live in the Midwestern United States.

Here is August's income and expenses (numbers rounded). This is a slow time of year for work. Sometimes my income is double this. Expenses are pretty stable, but some months I have large annual costs (June is a killer). On the plus side, I can usually predict these quite well (that is, few emergencies).

Income $1,700
Healthcare $750
Transportation $250
Groceries $280
Miscellaneous $50
Savings $380 or 22%

You will note that rent and utilities are not included. I live with an elderly relative who provides housing in exchange for household tasks.

My healthcare costs are pretty fixed. I have one expensive prescription with no generic option. I could get a less expensive insurance plan, but I have one physician who takes a limited number of plans, and I am pretty committed to seeing him. I purchase insurance through the ACA Marketplace, so I will see if there is a less expensive plan when open enrollment begins in November. There are lower cost plans out there but last year the problem was finding one that would cover both my doctors and my prescriptions. I spent about 12 hours researching the options. I think if I had spent longer I could have found a better choice. I got frustrated and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information so I took the easiest and most expensive option. This is a bad habit of mine and one that I hope I will be able to break. I joined this community in part to find other people who have overcome situations like this.

There might be a way to reduce transportation. I use Uber and cabs. There is a bus which I used to take but I can't walk to and from the bus stop now. I have some ideas on this but not fully formed yet.

Groceries seem to be a pretty big area for improvement. I went to the grocery store yesterday and spent $66. Part of the trouble with not driving is that I have to choose one store, because a round trip to a store is about $20 (Uber) so it is not worthwhile for me to drive around town looking for the lowest prices.

Well, this is getting long, so more in another post.

MDFIRE2024
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:50 am

Welcome Rocky! Glad to have hear and that you found ERE.

Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:55 am

Thank you MDFIRE2024 -- I am glad to be here.

So one spending goal I would like is to get my grocery bill to $160/mo instead of $280. That is $40/wk. That means that yesterday, I should have spent $26 less. So I am looking at my bill and I see a $5 item I purchased for a friend and will be reimbursed for. I also see $4 for sparkling water, an indulgence of mine. Cut those out and I am at $57 instead of $66. Now I need to eliminate $17 to get to $40.

Next week I will try:
Instead of sliced and grated cheese, buy a block of cheese.
Instead of frozen Boca crumbles (ground beef substitute) see if store has dried soy protein that I can reconstitute
Instead of loose apples, see if bag of apples is better value
Instead of loose onions, buy bag of onions
Instead of bunch organic carrots (with green tops) buy bag organic carrots
Instead of two small boxes organic lettuce buy one large box

I spend about $10-$12 on Siggi's brand Skyr (a very concentrated yogurt) every week. If I am going to get serious about cutting costs, I will either have to find a different breakfast, or learn to make my own.

I am already seeing some changes to my consumption habits. For example, I would normally have a couple of cans of sparkling water a day. The carbonation gives me a boost of energy. Now I drink a glass of tap water and wait to see if i still need the sparkling kind. Yesterday i did not have any at all. i am doing the same with breath mints. I know these are small things, but it's all part of the less consumption-driven lifestyle and my hope is that these habits will carry over to bigger things.

Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:06 am

My biggest problem is investing. I have managed to save a fair amount, but it is mainly in cash. I know I need a return if I am going to retire.

An example of an investing mistake I made was buying Caterpillar. I saw a good article on it, so I checked recommendations with morningstar and edward jones. Both said BUY. So I did. Turns out I bought at a high and it has never recovered. Teva is another I bought on professional recommendations and it has tanked. Other equities I have bought without much if any research are Nestle and Peugeot, and they are doing best of my portfolio.

I guess if it were simple, we would all be millionaires, but I wish I could lay down some guiding principles. Questions I would like to answer: When researching an investment, what sources are best? Once you have bought, when do you sell (I am a buy and hold and hold and hold. It is hard for me to cut my losses.) How many investments should you own at one time?

I lost a lot of weight some years ago. One thing that really helped was joining an online community and starting a journal. That's a big part of why i am here. Another thing that helped was getting smart. I read a number of books and I also went to google news every day, entered the search term "obesity" and read two or three articles a day on weight loss. It really hammered weight loss principles into my head.

I would like to go to google news every day and enter a search term for investing. But there is just so much noise. I wonder if there is a narrow enough search term that would be useful.

George the original one
Posts: 4282
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by George the original one » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:30 am

You have a broker, so check what the broker has available in their research library. Ameritrade, for instance, gives you subscriptions to research reports by Morningstar, The Street, Market Edge, Ford Equity, Credit Suisse, Vickers, Research Team, CFRA, etc.

Jason
Posts: 417
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Jason » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:19 am

Welcome and good luck, Rocky.

I imagine this will be the first of your many blogs, all proceeding ones failing to recapture the glory and greatness of this one.

Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:52 pm

Hello, George the original one. Thank you for stopping by my journal. My problem is not so much that I don't have any investment research sources, it's that I have too many. For example, on my end table right now I have: Dow Theory Forecasts, Morningstar Stock Investor, Edward Jones Perspective, Morningstar Fund Investor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and Charles Schwab On Investing. Barron's is in the next room. I can probably access a dozen more through my workplace. Not to mention the public library.

How does one decide what to read (limitation of time) and what to trust (see my example above about Caterpillar)?

Anyway, these are mostly rhetorical questions. Just writing this down makes me realize that I have to stop dithering. Better to read something than nothing. Can I commit to reading one article a day? And perhaps I can make a list of terms I don't understand and look up the definitions.

Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:55 pm

Hello, Jason. Thank you for the kind words. I am inspired to keep going, even though it's hard.

Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:10 pm

I didn't spend anything this week outside of food/transportation/healthcare except for renewing my passport. There are some new books on amazon that I want, but I am resisting the pull. I put my name down for one at the public library. The others are not yet owned by the library. I will keep checking.

Bad choices in spending/consumption this week:

1. I opted for expedited service and overnight mailing of the passport. Added an extra USD 75 to the cost. I kept going back and forth, back and forth, but in the end I felt insecure with having it out of my hands for longer than necessary.

2. I threw out a bag of raw almonds. I had some dental work done and the dentist says they are hard on the teeth. I tried softening them up in yogurt, but it didn't work. If I had truly been ERE, I would have ground them and used them as almond flour. I also threw out half a bag of dried black beans past their sell-by date. In past experience, old beans don't cook when you boil them. They remain tough and inedible. Again, as an adherent of ERE, I should have soaked and boiled a small handful too see if they were edible instead of assuming they were not.

I will say that I very rarely throw out food. It's something I hate to do. Right now there is a box of fish fillets in the freezer that partially thawed when our freezer broke. Not sure if they are safe to eat.

Jason
Posts: 417
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Jason » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:53 pm

Fish sticks are essentially the hot dog of the sea. So I guess that makes fish fillets the hamburger patties of the sea.

You should be fine.

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1295
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:15 pm

Rocky wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:06 am
(I am a buy and hold and hold and hold. It is hard for me to cut my losses.)
Not everybody has the interest and skill to succeed at individual company research, but there are other ways to approach the problem. Have you considered simple asset allocation with index funds? I made PortfolioCharts.com to help out buy and hold types, so maybe you'll also find that helpful.

Rocky
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:57 pm

Re: Rocky's Journal

Post by Rocky » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:03 pm

Hello, Tyler9000. Thank you for the suggestion. I just took a quick look at PortfolioCharts.com (will examine it more in depth later) and am amazed. What a great resource! I read your recent post on cash which put a different spin on things. Thank you again!

Post Reply