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Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:32 pm
by Scott 2
That's great progress for six months training, especially given your work demands.

My current approach is casual. It's rare the intensity goes beyond a 7 of 10, and I shamelessly miss days when time is hard to find. Since sorting my work issues, the motivation to break new ground isn't there. My need for control is already satisfied.

I have a rough plan of upper or lower, but do whatever sounds fun. Weekdays have been some activation work and one or two big compound lifts. Weekends a variety of smaller compounds and isolation work, taking advantage of equipment I don't have at home. I keep meaning to include a speed day using my specialty bars, but taking this week as an example, I opted to visit the Indian buffet for lunch instead.

I'm sure I could find more intensity while lifting, but I cannot deliver on the out of gym support. Staying consistent on the food, sleep and active recovery is unappealing at the moment. Outside of having an outlet for control, I never enjoyed time spent on recovery.

I am curious to see if time at cheap gym changes my perspective. There was one guy pulling mid-fours yesterday, benching low threes today. Being around that can only help.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:41 pm
by Scott 2
Spending is back to normal. I paid the stupid backup vendor and let it go. I added a backup drive to my "to buy" list. Hopefully I get to it before the vendor fails.

I wrote up the shopping list of everything I could think of to buy, sort by ascending price, started looking for the first item, then got annoyed and gave up.

I am also currently running laundry because I have no clean shirts, underwear, socks or shorts to wear for the gym tomorrow morning.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:24 pm
by Scott 2
I let go of the idea that my purchases need to be perfect and checked off a bunch of the "to buy" items. I typically spend hours agonizing over every little detail, so this is a strong departure from normal. If I blow a couple hundred bucks on bad decisions, it's not the end of the world.

The only true face punch item is a $350 pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones. I don't know if I'll keep them, but I've wanted to try a pair for years. I am overly sensitive to noise and have been told they could be a life changing. I'll find out.

What I didn't buy, is any of the hard stuff. Pretty much everything else on the list requires time. I need hours to either:

1. Use the item
2. Educate myself enough to pick the right item
3. Find and hire the correct professional to do work

Life gets busy this week, so it'll be awhile before I knock anything else off.

The stupid backup vendor got so much blow back from their pricing change, that they rolled it back and gave me 3 months free service. They also claim to be financially stable. I don't fully believe them and have a 4 terabyte backup drive coming.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:01 pm
by Scott 2
I spent the week at a work conference. It was good, but a lot of people. In the immediate term, it is a wash financially. Long term, maybe the investment in my career will yield more dollars earned.

I have integrated most of the new purchases into my life.

I tried the expensive headphones in a hotel, walking down a city street, in a cab, in a train station, on a train, in an uber, walking in the suburbs and in my house. They absolutely work for noise cancelling. I was able to listen to a podcast, at low volume levels, in all environments. I even took a call with them. They are well designed and work as advertised. Price is the only thing to complain about.

It's nice to have headphones work in noisy environments. They also seemed socially acceptable to wear in my Uber and cab rides, which outside of the noise reduction, acted as a great barrier to forced small talk. I am unsure if they lead to a reduction in cumulative travel stress, which is key in justifying the price. I have another trip within the return window and will decide after that.

I believe based upon online articles, that if wireless noise cancelling headphones is the need, the Bose price premium is justified. I think for pure silence, I could get better results with noise blocking ear muffs over ear plugs. That solution would be much cheaper, but also more hassle and socially weird.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:23 pm
by Scott 2
I also considered the Sony headphones. There are supposed to be problems with Sony's touch controls in below freezing weather. That is a deal breaker for me. I can't imagine the noise cancelling working any better.

The conference was too exhausting for me to notice an impact on social cue processing. I will watch for it. I've been home for hours and am still wearing them, so I do think there's a calming effect.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:19 am
by Cheepnis
Those headphones sound like they're awesome! Always kind of dreamed of having a high end pair of headphones. I'm unsure if I'd use them enough to justify the cost. Ironically I'm listening to music on a second hand pair of Audio Technica's right now, but I pretty much only use them on the weekends if I'm wanting to listen to something in the morning. Are you finding the wireless aspect is adding to your use of them? Sometimes I think a wireless set would incline me to use a pair more and other times I think that's just bs I'm feeding myself to justify splurging haha.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:41 pm
by Scott 2
They're too new to say if the wireless means I'll use them more. It is easier, but the price makes me cautious. I wouldn't wear them to the gym or leave them laying around at work. I don't like worrying about my stuff, that's a big negative.

The wireless feature is is nothing like headphones from 10 years ago. Back then, I couldn't stand the constant low hum or screwing with batteries. The Bose are crystal quiet and only have to be recharged every 20 hours.

I bet the quality of the wireless is better attributed to Bluetooth progress than the specific pair of headphones. I have to believe good wireless is available at a much lower price point.

If not for my noise sensitivity and travel obligations, I'd definitely explore lower cost options. My standards for sound quality are very low. I'm coming from a 20 year old pair of $15 ear buds.

Are wireless headphones even a good option for listening to records? Wouldn't the analog to digital conversion be a negative?

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:43 pm
by Cheepnis
Records aren't my only means of listening to music. Lots of great music that wasn't/isn't pressed.

That aside I try to keep my head far enough out of my ass to not fall into the "pretentious sound quality snob" trope. People can't reliably tell the difference between vinyl and digitised vinyl in blind tests anyway.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:40 am
by prognastat
I used to have Beats Studio Pros. Don't castigate me on either the cost or quality as I won them in a performance based raffle at work. They were noise cancelling and wireless. My first set broke in just under a year the housing on the band cracked and fell apart. They replaced it free of charge. On the second set the wireless broke just over a year in, but at least the wired connection worked for another 2 years before the hinge snapped on them making them useless.

I now got a pair of these:

They're so cheap I don't worry about leaving them unattended or feeling too concerned if they were to break. After my experience with the wireless failing on my last set of headphones I opted for the non wireless version which was a little cheaper. The lack of noise cancellation is a little noticeable, but due to the over ear cups a lot of noise is cancelled out already doing a large portion of the work noise cancellation does. The only thing I did notice is that the sound quality isn't quite as good, but at least it still far outperforms any in ear headphone even those that cost far more.

For me I end up being happier with the cheaper pair as most of the more expensive features weren't much of an improvement for my experience and those that were just weren't worth the added cost. If you are an audiophile and care about accurate sound production you will probably want to splurge though.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:59 pm
by Scott 2
I am surprised how much I enjoy the expensive headphones. I wore them most of the work day today. Taking my calls hands free, with no mic in front of my face, was great. I also found myself more immersed in the work. I think this is going to be a "can I have nice things?" scenario. If they don't break and I don't lose them, they are worth the money. I'm likely to use them for 1000 hours over the next year.

If they fail, the replacement will require a search for "good enough" at a more reasonable price point. I think comfort, wireless, noise cancelling and hands free calls are all valuable features. I have a pair of $50 Sony over the ear headphones, similar to the cheap model prognastat linked. I don't use them.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:19 pm
by prognastat
My main recommendation is if sound quality is worth the extra price then go for it, but I would make sure before splurging(though if you do I wouldn't go with beats XD you can get a much better headset for the same price as those)

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:03 pm
by Scott 2
All the new purchases are fully integrated and my accounts have recovered. I am keeping the expensive headphones.

I am enjoying quality of life improvements from the spending and might be motivated enough to knock a couple more items off the buy list this weekend.

I made a change at work that puts my professional development in front of my peers every week. It means they are helping me both stay motivated and to learn. I am enjoying the change.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:18 pm
by Scott 2
Been awhile since my last update.

The biggest financial shift, is trying to remove money from consideration. Objectively, I know it is not a primary constraint, but frugal habits are hard to break. If I want a drink, some food delivery, an electronic device, or whatever, I need to grab a good enough item and move on. Worrying about sales, lowest available price, optimizing value, etc. is a waste of my life.

I also took some time to adjust my insurance relative to my tolerance for financial risk. This involved raising deductibles. My home insurance is at $10k, car at something like $2k. My insurance is only for catastrophes.

Investment performance remains underwhelming. Salary is causing steady growth in net worth anyways. I am sitting on a lot of cash in CDs / money markets (roughly 20% of non-housing assets), with no near term plans for it. Other than maxing my 401k and Roth savings are going into cash accounts. Not great, but I don't have a better idea in the near term.

I finally ordered more things off the internet this morning, only around $100 this time. I don't like shopping. I continue avoiding home investments, reflecting uncertainty about optimal living location.

Putting my professional development in front of my coworkers has been particularly motivating. I've been doing a lot of extra hours, using our systems to educate myself on build and release automation. I find the learning both interesting and compelling. I have significant progress over the course of a month, but it eats into my other priorities. It is effort I get to "keep" though. Each milestone changes my work day.

Making the extra time has meant more food delivery, both instacart and door dash. I'd roughly estimate $150 dollars spent over the course of the month. It is efficient to ignore eating, other than tapping on my phone for 30 seconds to get a burrito delivered.

Video games are out, due to a lack of available time.

I had a work trip with the noise cancelling headphones. They were a big help. Assuming they last at least a couple years, they were definitely worth the money. My fear remains losing or breaking them.

I under estimated the drain that constant low level noise has on me. I did learn that my tolerance for wearing them in a loud environment is lower than a quiet one. The sound pressure makes my ears hurt, and it happens faster in a loud place.

I took the time to pack food for my work trip. That also caused a big improvement in the experience, but is a sizable time investment. Eating in every meal makes recovery from travel a lot easier.

Lifting remains casual. Accounting for my work impaired sleep, it's rare to take my effort over 8 of 10. I am averaging 3-5 sessions a week, ranging from 1-2h. My full plan is:

Tues - Lower Heavy, 2-3 big exercises, sets of 5
Wed - Upper Heavy, 2-3 big exercises, sets of 5
Fri - Speed work - 2-3 big exercises at 60% for 5-6 triples. Grip work.
Sat - Lower Reps - 6-8 so exercises for 3-4 sets of 8-12
Sun - Upper Reps - 8-10 or so exercises for 3-4 sets of 8-12

Got some warm up / cool down around those. Speed day is most likely to get skipped. Sometimes my upper/lower sessions during the week are combined for a full body workout. I walk around the neighborhood most days too.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 9:21 am
by Scott 2
Finances remain about the same. Focus remains on a tranquil life. Notable events:

I stopped trying to get the best deal on pet supplies and setup an auto-ship. Two cats are about $940 a year. The senior one gets a premium wet food that is half the cost.

My wife took her yoga retreat to Mexico, which I bought for her at the end of last year. She experienced an international, tropical vacation for the first time. I got to stay in my quiet, climate controlled home. I am very happy with the outcome.

My credit card number was stolen. Since I've been through this before, I had a backup credit card ready to go. Thanks to a password manager and financial monitoring, I only lost an hour to the issue. I'm pretty happy with that level of resilience.

The fancy gym opens their outdoor pool later this month. I am looking forward to re-activating membership. The swimming, hot tub and sauna are all much cleaner than my cheap lifting gym.

We fostered a dog from the animal shelter for a few days. I confirmed once again, while I enjoy other people's dogs, I don't want to take care of one.

I booked hotels for my work travel through September, to avoid summer price hikes. Instead of suffering through a day trip, I'm dropping $200 to stay 2 nights in a hotel and travel mid-day. Staying employed feels much easier this year than it did last.

Build and release automation is gaining traction at work. One of my most common manual tasks is now with the team that depends on it. About 1/3 of the time they would have needed me, they click a button instead. The over time has been rough, but changes will snowball and transform my role.

The goal is to replace simple urgent tasks with complicated low pressure projects. I am specializing in a high demand skill well suited to my personality. It lets me get further from my prior specialization, in project management. While I excelled at it, the relationships were draining. I want to work with less people.

One of my least favorite coworkers got a new job and is gone at the end of this week. His favorite phrases were "I agree" and "I forgot", so I am thrilled about the change.

New house?
My wife and I scoped out some smaller ranch homes in a less affluent neighborhood.

Our current townhouse is two stories (1600 square feet), plus an unfinished basement. It values at roughly $260k. These houses are 900 square feet, single story, no basement. They value around $160-180k.

A move would free up $160k of net worth for other things, in a FIRE scenario. We'd free up capital, end association dues, and have less to maintain. Living in a smaller space is simpler, which is a lot of the appeal to me. We'd gain a yard, which has pros and cons.

Break even on a move would be around 3 years. The dramatic space reduction would mean lifestyle compromises. We could dislike the younger, more diverse, working class neighborhood. We might lose some privacy. Despite being a townhouse, our current home backs up to a forest preserve.

No immediate action plan, but it's good to understand the option.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 1:57 pm
by Cheepnis
Depending on the climate you live in I would hazard that a reduction of maintainable building w/ addition of yard would yield a net positive in maintenance effort required.

My philosophy in regards to yard type work is it's worthless unless I can eventually eat it. So maybe turn the whole thing into a garden!

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 5:46 pm
by Scott 2
If I were to do the yard work or exterior maintenance, it'd definitely be an uptick in effort. It's likely I'd hire it out, especially while working.

I am accounting for that in my estimates. Town home living is surprisingly cost inefficient. Association dues are $3k a year. The board spends like our neighborhood is a botanical garden.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 7:12 am
by Cheepnis
Wow, $3k/y is intense. Can't really imagine yard care for a small yard being now than that.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 11:29 am
by Frita
Scott 2 wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 5:46 pm
If I were to do the yard work or exterior maintenance, it'd definitely be an uptick in effort. It's likely I'd hire it out, especially while working.

I am accounting for that in my estimates. Town home living is surprisingly cost inefficient. Association dues are $3k a year. The board spends like our neighborhood is a botanical garden.
Having lived in two places with HOAs and now being back in a home without one, yes, HOAs are inefficient at best. When you make your own decisions, you can analyze and plan. You are not subject to others’ poor decisions and lack of money management skills.

You can save a ton of money losing the HOA. If you decide to go the DIY route, painting on rotation (a side per year, trim on the fifth) is manageable. Choosing plants and landscaping wisely, along with an automated watering system, also helps. Last summer while we were gone a friend’s 16 year old son cared for our place for $8.50/hour (The local wage for that work that would have cost $30/hour if we went through a company. Our young man didn’t have to pay tax so he netted more. Win-win!).

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 1:26 pm
by Scott 2
I'm sure my home owner's association is paying more than $30/hr for lawn care. We pay a management company with a team of property managers. They pay a lawn company with a team of workers. The lawn company is constantly fighting nature, so the homes have "uniform" landscaping. Some trees are replaced annually.

So. much. overhead.

The arrangement with your friend's son sounds great.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 5:03 pm
by Frita
Oh, my, your HOA sounds like they are bleeding money. That bureaucracy tends to drive monthly fees up, so getting out sooner will save you premiums in the long run.

The other thing is that my friend made sure that her son did a good job because that’s the kind of person she is. When he had basketball camp for a week, he found his own replacement (his brother). It was a total win-win.