What I Spend

Where are you and where are you going?
Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Looking over spending for the first 6 months of the year, I saw:

1. $22,700 was spent
2. $8100 was to taxes and insurance items that don't recur in the 2nd half of the year
3. Accounting for those, yearly spend is trending to 37,300
4. This assumes continued indulgence (coping?), averaging $2433 spent per month
5. Highly optional expenses in the first six months were ~$3000 - switch setup, exercise equipment, whisky, foster cats
6. Barring planned exceptions, a reasonable monthly target is $1900.
7. This leaves a generous amount for grocery delivery, roughly $700 a month, for two people.

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

I've put in for a 12 week leave of absence, starting mid-September. I won't get paid, but my job and benefits are protected. It will help answer the question of what my personal balance looks like. My wife has been victim #1 of my career focus, and she is very supportive of this change.

Part of stepping away is documenting my job, so others can pick up the slack. It is laughably broad, like 4-5 distinct roles. There's a good chance I'm a 10x resource when it comes to computers. I should have asked for help (built a team) long before now. But, considering my weak interpersonal skills, the path of least resistance is always to just do the extra thing.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2147
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by classical_Liberal »

This is big news! Congrats!

mooretrees
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by mooretrees »

Wow, I guess I didn't see that coming! What a great idea. I can see why your wife is supportive. Hope you gain some valuable insight.

2Birds1Stone
Posts: 1280
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am
Location: Earth

Re: What I Spend

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I would like to second the congrats. 12 weeks might not be enough, as crazy as that sounds! Especially knowing you have to go back =P

How far do you have to go before assets = 33x+ trailing twelve months of spending?

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Thanks for the well wishes. I fully expect a return to work in December. Everyone will have a new perspective. Things will play out differently. My employer has been nothing but accommodating and kind. We've all made some mistakes, especially in balancing work expectations with my other life obligations. Hopefully the reset will have a positive impact.

@2Birds1Stone, Short answer - I don't want to publish net worth numbers on the internet. With 8 years of posts, I think it's a little too easy to tie my account back to me IRL. If you are dying to talk numbers PM me. Twelve weeks does already seem short, especially given there are good reasons for the protected leave.


Long answer

I don't have easy data for 12 months trailing expenses. We started tracking as a couple in October of last year. My estimate of $37k is probably close. I think applying a 33x multiplier (~1.2M) is far too conservative to influence any decision making. IMO once someone has even a few years of bare bones expenses, choices need to be made according to non-financial factors.

In the 20 years I've been working, outside of debt for big life events (school, mortgage), I've always been a saver. Even when I was earning 5.65/hr at the university gym, happily living in objective poverty, I managed to accumulate a few thousand dollars. It meant staying in a 250 sq. ft apartment and budgeting for taco bell, but I didn't know any different. I was thrilled to have my own space and the option to eat out at my discretion.

When I have looked at not working, in practice, I don't find a net worth score or multiplier particularly useful. I think in terms of time sensitive buckets of money, with life events moving the dollars between them. One dollar in some buckets is worth more than in others (ie my brokerage vs my 401k). My early financial planning did not recognize this, and I screwed it up. I over weighted my 401k and house, failing to account for the time delay on penalty free retirement funds. Despite a decent number, I had almost nothing accessible. I have since fixed that.

The right amount in each bucket is heavily influenced by my personal factors - social security, life expectancy, family, flexibility of expenses, human capital, healthcare, etc. The reality is, while I spent $1100 on exercise equipment this year, I could happily spend zero. I'm not sure how long living on rice and protein powder would be tolerable, but my budget has slack. If my natural behavior depletes a time sensitive bucket too quickly, I can tighten spending. My only real financial fear is the American healthcare system, but I don't think any realistic amount of money alleviates it.

During this leave of absence, my company requires burning all my vacation time, meaning I'll have just two months without a paycheck. I'd be surprised if I spend $4000 across the two zero income months. Ignoring market swings, it is likely I end the year with peak net worth. I am even adjusting my 401k contributions, to ensure I still hit the annual cap.

Figuring out how to balance real life with a computer fixation is my "hard" problem. In the moment, I readily used last Friday night and most of Saturday doing extra work things in new ways. In reflection, that is not the life I want to have lived. If I can solve that riddle, money is completely irrelevant. I am not convinced I can, hence the FIRE backup plan.

Frita
Posts: 680
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Frita »

Congratulations, I am looking forward to reading about your 12 weeks!

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

July 2020 Total (Couple) - $1710
Groceries - $930.63
Home Maintenance - $260.00
Pets/Pet Care - $244.25
Utilities - $151.34
Entertainment - $94.89
Automotive - $29.08

Food spending includes ~$200 on overpriced treats, bought while exhausted from working through the night. Otherwise, a fairly efficient month. The first gas purchase since March. Running the air conditioner with impunity (72 at night!) resulted in a whopping $77 electric bill. Well worth the extra $1-2 a day.

We have an older cat who is slowing down. We took her in for annual upkeep - $244. She needs more blood work and further examination, so we'll pay again in August.

Looking over tracking - it's been 18 months since I last bought clothes, or a hair cut! That's pretty cool. When the time comes, I am sitting on a $100 Kohl's gift card. We also convinced my dad to do his own at home haircut. It looks good.


August spending will be influenced by upcoming work changes. I already cancelled my wait list for a ($1000) concept 2 rower. I may bring potatoes, oatmeal and cottage cheese back into my diet. They'd all been pushed out by lazier options. I casually threw around a return to grocery shopping, but we decided against it. The saved time and risk transfer is well worth a few hundred dollars per month.

Accounting for the planned vet appointment, I'll guess $1500 in August. While there is a chance of transitions costs, it is more likely anticipation will induce aggressive saving. That is not the most rational behavior. I'll need to watch quality of life factors.

Net worth is at an all time high, about 6% above the February peak and 16% above the March low. It is hard to believe the valuations.


My big challenge for this month is ramping down work and planning for the 12 week leave. It is irrational to keep running at ~120% utilization, but breaking the pattern and reconnecting with home life will be hard. I can 100% understand how someone ends up a rich old man, with nothing in their life but work. If not for pandemic concerns, this could have gone the other direction - hiring someone to take over everything but my career.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2147
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by classical_Liberal »

Scott 2 wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:27 am
If not for pandemic concerns, this could have gone the other direction - hiring someone to take over everything but my career.
Reminds me of this Futurama short. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSEo64cW3mc . Crappy quality but the only clip I could find.

I hope you chronicle the period here, I think the initial phases of trying to not work FT are almost as hard as the status quo. Good luck!

Cheepnis
Posts: 309
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:52 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by Cheepnis »

Yes this is very exciting, good for you!

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

The Futurama clip isn't too far off. I also think of the movie Click. I worked intensely from 11:30pm to 3:30am last night. Today is a wreck, the full Sunday effectively lost. I've been doing that 1-2x/month for years. It has an impact.


I was (am?) really close to going the other direction. I made the list of tasks to outsource, got a rough market rate ($20-25)/hr, and my wife even put feelers into a couple local facebook groups. The prospect of a stranger in my space was the biggest immediate deterrent, at least until the pandemic hit. Financially, hiring help is an unquestionable win. I truly believe with a career focused mindset, I could double to triple my current salary within 5 years.

I've been at the same employer, in a tier 3 market, for a decade. Especially with the tier 1 tech employers going 100% remote, there is a ton of opportunity for someone like me. The number of people in tech doubles every 5 years. I have 20 years of progressive experience to sell. However, even that path means a choice to grind out my current work problems is stupid. The leave makes sense in every context.


While I like the idea of being an "important" business man, it's in the sense that winning is fun. I don't value status or power. I hate being the center of attention. Money is only appealing as a proxy for security. All things being equal, I'd rather cook my beans and drink a cup of tea, than tell a dozen people what to do on a conference call.

From that perspective, I suspect my leave will look relatively boring. Enjoying the small moments in life, reconnecting with my wife. There will also be decompression (sleep, food, exercise) and catching up on (many) neglected chores. I'm not sure what comes after it all unwinds, or if I get there in 12 weeks. I expect a struggle getting work out of my head. If all goes well, the leave does not allow me to log in, or my employer to call. That is very intentional.

Frita
Posts: 680
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Frita »

Scott 2 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:08 pm
I'm not sure what comes after it all unwinds, or if I get there in 12 weeks. I expect a struggle getting work out of my head. If all goes well, the leave does not allow me to log in, or my employer to call. That is very intentional.
You never know; there may be no learning curve for you. My spouse adapted almost instantly. In grad school, he did only the necessary and recreated during his downtime. This seem to be foreshadowing. What were you like in uni?

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Instant adaption would be fantastic.

My uni experience does not leave high hopes. I did a BS in computer science, at a highly competitive engineering school, in 3 years. Part time work on top of it, along with internships every summer. My last summer, I was working for 2 gyms and full time for a professor. We were a big sports school, I never made it to a single game.

Frita
Posts: 680
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Frita »

It sounds like you were very busy in the uni. I am unsure if being more “driven” is correlated with a slow decompression. (My spouse always planned to ER. While he was working, he hit it hard and was quite successful.)

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2147
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by classical_Liberal »

I have high hopes you'll be a quick study.

What I have found during my off times is I do many of the same activities, just in different ratios and at different times. I sleep, exercise, camp more; however I work (my work now consists of household duties because the GF is working FT, managing investments, and personal projects) less.

The bigger difference here is when I do these things. For instance, as I type to you I'm doing laundry, something that used to be a chore. Now I don't mind sitting around for three hours doing a couple of loads because it gives me time on the ERE forum. I've never been a morning person, but now I am because morning comes much later with a full night's sleep. I could go on and on with myself. Let's look at you though. You've mentioned time and again how you'll stay up late working on some project, then end up with a wasted day the next day because you're so tired. It doesn't have to be that way. Maybe you're the type of person who thrives working on mental problems late into the night... if that's the case, adjust your schedule so the next day is still great. There is no fence :D

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Going to bed earlier, so I can be awake for more of the daylight hours, is one of my goals. My job requires working from midnight to 2-3am, at least once a month, often 2-3 times. It is pointless to chase an early schedule with that recurring disruption. As a result, I often stay up past midnight, sleeping until 8-9am.

I hope you are right about adjusting. I screwed up on Monday, working unbroken from wake to 3pm. I got frustrated with someone who fell short, and so tried what I've been asking for them to do (for months). When I finally stopped for my first meal of the day, I felt bad. It cascaded through the remainder of the evening.

But today and yesterday, I've kept things in check. I need to let stuff like that go. It is not my problem in the immediate term, especially when failures broach into the process improvement arena. I learned this week, the big projects I knew would struggle, are worse than I ever imagined. We are talking delays of 3 months, that could easily stretch to 6+. When a project starts going that far south, there's a good chance it never finishes. I feel relief in knowing as that peaks, I will not be around. I always jump into the middle of the problem.

An interesting aspect of the scheduled leave, is an uptick in responsibility. All of the sudden a direct report position I'd been promised, is a top priority. That means cranking out consensus on the job description, getting our recruiters up to speed, approval from the executives, opening hiring etc. It means I'm doing new things, even as I'm trying to slow down and take a break. For context, there's another report I'd been promised, that has been languishing since last August.


The hiring discussion makes my expertise obvious. I am good (great?) at my work. I don't know if it is an important part of my identity, or just a means to an end. That is something I hope to learn on leave.

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

The final approvals are completed for my leave. I'll be off starting just after labor day, with my employer legally prohibited from contacting me for 12 weeks. The fact that I value this, is a good indicator of where my mind is at regarding work.

The big failing projects are spiraling downwards. I started the year pessimistic, but am shocked how poorly they are doing. My boss has responded by letting new projects start anyways, so they are all running in parallel. This is a text book pattern for making late projects even later. I was shut down when challenging it.

Just prior to my time off, I am on track to earn an internal certification. It is not something I personally value, but I'd been going through the motions, because it is valued at the company. The upcoming leave doesn't appear to impact that process. The direct report position also got formally approved and is open for hiring.

It has been enlightening to see how others react to taking some of my responsibility. The odd hours are a huge problem to staff, and nobody is willing to take full accountability. I knew I'd been doing the work of a team, but this makes it obvious. Over the past year, I made multiple requests for help, but they were all denied.

Faced with my leave, everything is changing. The company is even considering a consultant for some of my more technical work. This is just a portion of my job. Ostensibly he is superior at it, but the bill rate implies I could be earning a lot more. I've read it is common for someone with Aspergers to be poor at negotiating for their full value. I guess that's another data point supporting my self-diagnosed autism.

I am successfully ramping down, mostly by saying no and dropping all process improvement. It has taken some will power, since the new stuff is the fun stuff. Along with this, I've backed off on work related podcasts and learning. I don't know if I'll do any professional development during my leave. I am interested in some of it, but the full mental break could be constructive.

Work will look very different when I return in December.


Last week, during a late night walk, I picked an exercise bike out of my neighbor's garbage. Today I cleaned it off and oiled it. It's a 35 year old airdyne, so not quite the new concept 2 rower I'd been wishing for, but a nice consolation prize. I think I'll do alright with no paycheck.

ertyu
Posts: 1733
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by ertyu »

Simply reading this post brings a sense of peace. You are taking off work at a good time, at least when it comes to corona.This leave is shaping up to be a very positive experience. You realizing your value as an employee and realizing you have real opportunities to be a well-paid consultant are certainly very valuable.

JollyScot
Posts: 182
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by JollyScot »

We were looking at the bikeErg, I remember using the rowing machine using my sport days and they were always good. It was one of those items where in my head I think the upfront cost might be worth it. I might be justifying that to myself though. We wanted to buy in Feb and still want to buy now. So at least its not a impulse buy at this point.

Enjoy the time off, you are going through a situation the ultimately led me to retire earlier than expected. You seemingly do most of the work. All of the actual required critical things you need to push forward. Then the reward side you get the "but you are in this band" talk.

Hopefully the break will give you a chance to figure out if consulting is what you want. It will give your company a chance to realise how much you complete for them too. In terms of negotiations, as an employee HR stack the deck against you. When it moves to consulting to business its a different kind of negotiating. Then again when its business to business it becomes different again.

Scott 2
Posts: 1830
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

I am experiencing a lot of relief as the bad project news continues to roll in. It is much better than my prior overwhelming need to act, narrowly avoiding the impending failure, only to have another wave come crashing in.

Corona makes the leave a weird thing. From the perspective of my employer, not only are the doors still open, but business is thriving. We have multiple new hires every month. Senior management is convinced anyone would be crazy to look elsewhere, let alone jump into unemployment during these uncertain times. I think it will limit negotiating leverage.

I've found a lot of the conversation regarding unpaid leave relates to - "how will you support yourself with no income for 3 months???". I was surprised, because that had never crossed my mind as a concern. I was given information on taking a loan from my 401k, coaching for how to obtain a doctor certification that allows part time work, details on what to do if I cannot afford a health insurance payment, etc. Yeah, not working forever is tricky, but 3 months?

I have gotten the banding talk. While I understand why, it sucks corporations work that way. I do not think consulting is something I want to do.


I've never tried the bikeErg. It looks cool. An assault bike has been on my "nice to have" list for awhile now, though the airdyne scratches that itch. I am specifically interested in the concept 2 rower because of their 2000m v02 test:

https://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/ ... calculator

I have found chasing a high score to be motivating, especially after years of favoring lifting over any cardio. I had broken into fair territory towards the early part of the year, but think with my sled work, it could be substantially better now. I've tried other testing options, like the ymca step test, but they just don't motivate me in the same way. Approaching 40, my joints also prefer the low impact cardio options.

Around 2010, I did own a high end precor elliptical. It was enormous. I bought through a refurbished equipment reseller. They needed a team of people to get it into my basement. The novelty of grinding away down there, even with netflix, wore off after about 6 months. Steady state cardio sucks. I ended up reselling for most of what I paid, but another team was required to move it.

As a result of that experience, I favor simplicity and ease of transport with any new equipment.

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