Seppia's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
wolf
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by wolf » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:41 am

Seppia wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:26 pm
MDFIRE2024 wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:27 am
I am an EURO-investor.
*cut*
I invest mainly in non-EURO-investments.
The above is why I believe for us Europeans it is important to have a bit of home bias.
Too much of the world economy is tied to the dollar (not only the USA which is 50% of the planet's market cap, but think Emerging, plus anything that is attached to the dollar such as oil, commodities etc).
First, thanks for reading and commenting my journal. :)
...talking about home bias. What is your asset allocation? How do you tackle that challenge as an EURO-Investor? I am not sure at the moment, if I should raise my EURO-allocation, or not? Long-term I think, that EUROpa's share of the world economy will reduce over the next decades. Therefore I only hold a small portion of EURO-investments in my portfolio. I am really interested what you know and have to say about that "dilema" as an EURO-investor in a USD-based world.

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:17 am

This is my asset allocation as of a couple months ago:
Image

As you can see it is heavily tilted towards Europe.
I have added some GE and some Suez Environnement since, and sold Pfizer.
My purchasing prices start on January 2016, because for tax reasons it was much easier to sell everything in the USA, then re-buy in Italy. There's a few exceptions.
When I sell and then buy with the proceeds, I keep track of the gains or losses.
So ie I buy PFE for $1000, sell it for $1300 (net of taxes) and buy $1300 worth if GE, I will account as if I bought the GE shares for a total of $1000 (my original investment).
I do this because I want to track my performance VS the indexed part (on semi-autopilot).

The reasons for the Europe tilt are a mix of situational reasons and long term reasons.
Let's say world market cap is (gross oversimplification)
50% USA
25% Europe
15% japan
10% rest
A big chunk of the european part is non-euro (CHF and GBP)
Regardless what I believe is going to happen in the very long term, my life is measured in euros, and it likely will be for a long time.
So in general I want to overweight Europe at least a bit.
My baseline would be 50% Europe give or take (even when I was living in the USA I had 35-40% in euro stocks)

Then there is the situational part
When I got back to Italy from the USA in late 2015, you only needed 1.06 usd to buy a euro, the strongest the usd had been since the creation of the euro, PLUS all valuation measures indicated that the USA stock market was more expensive than any other.
So it didn't make sense to own much USA, because of the double headwind of the strong dollar plus expensive market.
Now the dollar is weaker, but the USA stock market is even higher. Not going in.

In the last couple years it would have been better to have some USA, but I base my allocations on long term gain probabilities, I'm not really concerned by the short or mid term.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:10 am

You make a good case for even US based investors to make a bet on Europe.

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:53 am

Life since we got back to Italy: work.
(I'm not writing in an organized way, but this is what I feel so eff it :) )

DW and I got back to Italy in January 2016, because after many (14) years abroad I received a Job Offer that made sense both financially, career wise and logistically.
We were doing great in the big apple, but the offer that came in was impossible to pass up: Great company, VP position, almost same salary as in manhattan, but in italy where rent is literally 1/3rd and other expenses are also much lower, plus the calculation was made with the dollar near its all time high (1,07 usd for 1 euro).

Now that I had a bump in salary after having good results in the first two years, and with the euro being higher (1,23 usd for 1 euro as of today), I make more (gross) in italy than I made in NYC two years ago.
PLUS, there is a law here in italy that allows skilled workers having lived 5 or more years abroad some nice tax savings: I get taxed only on 50% of my income for the first 5 years back in italy, so i end up paying about 22% taxes.

Last year I saved 68% of my net earnings while living a typical middle class lifestyle with only minor hacks:
i have a fully-paid-by-my-employer car, so zero transportation costs, and we just avoided the typical idiotic mistakes of renting a bigger house than needed (well, we live in 800sqf so we are still living large), buying a second car or overspending on unneeded toys (except i bought a vintage omega watch that accounted for an indefensible 10% of yearly expenses).
We also decided to live in Monza as opposed to Milan, saving around 30-35% on rent

Currently sitting on approx 19 years of current expenses in stocks.

At this pace, with the impossibly safe assumptions that:
1- my wife never works again and owns zero money (she is currently working and has about 5 years of current family expenses saved)
2- stock market brings in a 0% real return
3- my salary stays the same
4- In addition to our stock portfolio, I have about 5 years worth of expenses in cash or equivalent that i do not count
5- I will need to spend two of the above mentioned years of expenses in cash to finish paying a small (550sqf) apartment we purchased on the mountainside in Como, plus a bit more to furnish it, that will be worth aorund 4 years of expenses at VERY conservative market value

We should be able to cover our current expenses with dividends only in about 7 years.

Also worth noting: I never plan on "not working".
My idea for "after ERE" is to engage in activities* that will ultimately pay a small salary, but still able to cover about 75% of our current expenses (and most probably 100%+ of our future ones)

In essence, I could most probably ERE now.
There is a TON of margin of safety built in, but with money I have always been overly cautious; it has generally been a blessing so i'm not complaing.

Two things are making us / me wait:

1- We don't have kids yet unfortunately, but having one or more would probably tilt us even more towards safety.
2- The current combo ofhigh salary + tax benefits is akin to winning the lottery. Tax benefit will last another three years (will expire december 2020), it would feel super stupid to pass on this bonanza.

my wife is more adventurous, but I am not.

The downside of all this is that my job is extremely demanding and taxing: i travel around 66% of my time, often internationally (100+ hotel nights in 2017), so i don't see my beloved wife often (luckily i have many friends around the globe so i see them while i travel).
the hours are kinda bad (11-12 per day) and it's also phisically taxing for both direct (jet lag: i was in japan last week, in italy this week, will be in the usa in two weeks etc) and indirect reasons (little time to exercise, always exhausted so i'm overweight and underfit. I'm 184cm / 6'1" tall and weigh 92kgs / 202lbs).

The plus side is i like my job (in the way one can "like" a job), but i don't want to be doing this much longer.

We'll see

*I want to be a teacher for unlucky kids (bad parent situation/drugs/young mothers etc), which will pay zero, but will probably bring in for-profit teaching to rich kids who need help (I've done this already, so I know it's a real possibility)
I'll also do some part time probably in restaurants as I love cooking and being around food

J_
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by J_ » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:05 pm

Of course you will have weighted your decision to go on....and on....
But If I were you, I should quit. Health detoriates quicker than you may suppose. And you have so many other skills already. It seams that you succumb under your big save margins. And as you write that you have a wish to get children, then, go to stay in Como.

More than 20 years ago, I made the decision to stop working for income, and have never regretted it. As you have an adventurous spouse, go for it. You can always start working again. And let (freedom of) taxes not influence you decision.

Your public journal, is also to invite comment, as I do now. But it is only my two cent.

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:31 pm

All feedback is very welcome.
If I didn't want the forum to give me their opinion, I would not have started a journal.

Positive feedback is what keeps me going emotionally, negative feedback (ie others pointing out what I'm doing wrong) is what makes me better.

I am super lucky and get enough positive feedback, so please never hold back expressing your opinions.
I know I will suffer from chronic One More Year Syndrome, so pointing that out will help me stop. Not going to happen for the next three years though, those tax savings are just too juicy.

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FBeyer
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by FBeyer » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:02 am

19 years expenses. Two more years tax exemption. At 67% SR That should amount to 4 more years invested once those two years are up. Given your current cash stash you should be 4% WR FI at that point. With an intention to find interesting work of any kind, you're way beyond free to do what you want.

67% SR means that 4 months of work covers all your living expenses. Or 1/4 year per month of work.

One month's equivalent of pay (per year) willl bump you from 4% WR to a 3% WR portfolio.
Two month's equivalent of pay is a 2% portfolio.

If you can find something that makes you happy, pays you two months worth of wages, and gives you more time to feel up your GF some more: YOU'RE FREE!

Frugality enables freedom, not strictly financial independence.

Hell, if you can find a job that makes you happy, but only pays one third of your current job, your current portfolio easily takes care of your pension's savings.

What part of the Freedom-Equation(TM) and I missing here?

phil
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by phil » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:06 pm

Seppia wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:53 am
We don't have kids yet unfortunately
Seppia wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:53 am
The downside of all this is that my job is extremely demanding and taxing: i travel around 66% of my time, often internationally (100+ hotel nights in 2017), so i don't see my beloved wife often
Should I state the obvious? If you really want children you should at least maximize the odds. That, plus your being in bad shape and your excellent financial state, makes me say: quit, now.
Frugality enables freedom, not strictly financial independence.
This.

Peanut
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Peanut » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:21 pm

phil wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:06 pm

Should I state the obvious? If you really want children you should at least maximize the odds. That, plus your being in bad shape and your excellent financial state, makes me say: quit, now.
Frugality enables freedom, not strictly financial independence.
This.
I thought the same. Since there are only roughly five days a month that a couple can play the baby lottery, if your work travel takes you away a lot you're bound to be missing that time completely some months. Studies show after six months over 80% of couples conceive, but that assumes consistent gambling. Why put off something that you are ready for now?

I'm very conservative financially too so I wouldn't recommend quitting work full stop, especially since you may have kids. But maybe a different job that doesn't require constant travel might be worth pursuing. That or your wife quitting hers and traveling with you.


P.S. Hope I didn't 'get all up in your business' too much.
P.P.S. In case you didn't see it I posted a fish question in your recipe thread ;)

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:11 am

No problem on the comments gents, again I would not write something I don’t want to be advised on.

The heir situation is a bit more complicated than “let’s try harder” unfortunately, we’re already past that point since a few years.

I know I could pull the plug now if I wanted but as I said the remaining almost three years of tax savings are just impossible to pass up. Alone they account for 1/3 if my savings and actually I checked, with my bonus net savings for 2017 were 75%, 68% was 2016.
This year I forecast SR to be lower due to one off expenses (furnishing of new apartment, most importantly the kitchen which is always expensive), but still, just by working only till my tax breaks expire will add a very comfortable 6-8 years of expenses.
At that point the margin of safety will be enough for me.
Two things worth mentioning:

1- here in Italy dividends are taxed 26% as opposed to 15% like in the USA.
2- you also get an annual 0.2% tax on any financial holding.

With around 3% of europenan stocks yield coming from dividends, a total of around 1% per year is just taxes.

Our Italian equivalent of a 4% SWR is really 3%.
Considering the very poor returns prospects at current stock valuations, I really feel we should add some extra safety, even if I own only 4ish% of my NW in American stocks.

This said, the numbers part is kinda boring, so I’ll write about something else later today

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:36 am

What I want to do when I'm ERE

Well, first of all, it won't exactly be ERE for DW and I, more like NSERE (Not So ERE), firstly because we will be around 40 yo, secondly because we plan on living fairly large by ERE standards (similar to a MMM style FIRE).

Secondly, these are just plans, and plans tend to change often. In my life I always had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to do in the mid and long term, but I always kept a very open mind to be able to adjust to what life threw at me.
So basically the below is what we would do if we were to ERE today.

First, we would take a year off to travel.
I know it sounds super cliche' but we really love visiting the planet and discovering different cultures, foods, habits.
Being able to see it without a tight schedule would be awesome.

I have always dreamed to take a sabbatical to backpack around the world (a very common practice in some countries ie Holland), but I am just so boringly conservative that I've never done it for fear of jeopardizing my career.
It would then make perfect sense to do it when I will not need a career any more :)

I would love to do a massive tour of areas I haven't visited yet. mainly south america (chile, peru and argentina would be high on the list), and some parts of SE asia (laos, cambodia etc), trying to avoid the very touristic areas that we generally don't like.
We would have the money aside beforehand, and excluded from the calculation of assets, and we would partially offset the costs by AirBnBing the small apartment we are buying in our hometown of Como.

When back, we will be obliged to be italian residents, as the tax break I'm enjoying comes with the caveat that if i go live and work abroad before 5 years after the tax breaks have ended, i have to retroactively pay all taxes due, which would be extremely idiotic.
So it's italy till 2025 for us, and the plan as I mentioned before is to mainly do some volunteering.

When I was finishing my Master's degree I used to teach math, statistics, history and english to kids.
It had started as a for-profit, then I added some volunteering helping disadvantaged kids coming from rough situations, then the volunteering led me to more for-profit (mainly through word of mouth of people who were volunteering with me and saw the kids progress well - it seems i'm reasonably good at teaching).

I got so much from life: a fantastic family, friends, fairly good health, a safe and secure environment, a good career, a beautiful wife I do not deserve (I'm still confused as to why she accepted to marry me). It will be great to give something back to those who are less fortunate than me.
It will only take the time I want to dedicate to it, so before it starts again to hopefully bring in some for profit teaching, I'll probably work any part time job just to pay the bills.
Since I'm fairly good interacting with people and speak 4 languages, I think any job related to tourism/hospitality/retail sales would do. I know these are usually shit paid jobs, but those are jobs i kinda enjoy and money will not be a big deciding factor so...

The dream would be to find a proper job as a teacher.
In italy the pay is low, but it's almost a part time job (8am-1pm 5 days a week), plus you get three months vacation during the summer, which would leave plenty of time for travel and other projects.

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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by J_ » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:18 pm

Thank you for sharing your future plan/ideas. So that we readers get insight in and perhaps inspiration from, how you want to shape the coming years. It was interesting to hear how the caveat works for lurking you back to Italy.
Using your Como- appartment for income looks good and can be a great asset in the long run. (if the maintenance and other (condominium ?) costs and taxes are not too high).

In winter we live not so far from Monza (I live near Innsbruck in a mountain village). If you like cross-country skiing I can show you some beautiful "loipen".

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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:18 pm

Seppia wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:53 am
The downside of all this is that my job is extremely demanding and taxing: i travel around 66% of my time, often internationally (100+ hotel nights in 2017), so i don't see my beloved wife often (luckily i have many friends around the globe so i see them while i travel).
the hours are kinda bad (11-12 per day) and it's also phisically taxing for both direct (jet lag: i was in japan last week, in italy this week, will be in the usa in two weeks etc) and indirect reasons (little time to exercise, always exhausted so i'm overweight and underfit. I'm 184cm / 6'1" tall and weigh 92kgs / 202lbs).

The plus side is i like my job (in the way one can "like" a job), but i don't want to be doing this much longer.

We'll see
That level of travel is brutal. I used to do that myself, spending at least a third of the year halfway around the globe. It was fun and exciting for the first few months until the cumulative effects started to add up and I figured out it was completely unsustainable no matter how much I liked the company. For me, getting out of that lifestyle was one of the best choices I've made. It wasn't without some adversity, but it was definitely the right decision. But obviously everyone is different and YMMV.

BTW, the first major red flag I experienced was when DW told me after picking me up from the airport that she had become so accustomed to me being gone that I was cramping her new routine when I was home. Travel doesn't just affect you -- it also impacts your loved ones. Word of advice: be careful not to allow it to affect your relationship.

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:27 pm

@J_
we think of the apartment as a cost, not really an asset, except for the fact that owning it reduces costs.
Since it is not an "investment", renting it out while traveling always accounts as a plus.

By nature, I always try to plan first and foremost to avoid the worst possible outcomes.
In general I am not one that likes to own an apartment, I much prefer renting because of the freedom it gives me (to be noted: I changed more than 10 apartments in the last 15 years).

Still, I decided to purchase a very small, newly built apartment as some form of "worst case scenario" insurance.
In italy the average person is much poorer compared to most other developed countries, but the quality of life of the lowest earning people is much better than elsewhere.
Very few are doing great, but no one is really miserable.

Even in expensive areas as Milan, Rome etc, if you own a place to live you can easily get by very decently with 600-800 euros per month, a salary that is attainable with even the lowest paying job.
So the purchase of the apartment was aimed at minimizing worst case scenario misery rather than increasing wealth.

regarding skiing: usually when we go it is in Engadin around St Mortiz or Celerina, normally it is a day trip (the area is insanely expensive) or we stay in Samedan.
I'd love to meet any ERE members though, so pleaselet me know if you happen to be around Milan, I'll definitely hit you up if my job brings me around Innsbruck :)
Last edited by Seppia on Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:38 pm

@Tyler

I hear you.
"Luckily" for DW and I, my job has always been this way, so we are used to it.

I know it is unsustainable in the long term, but it has been my life for approx 15 years and I am probably more equipped than most to bear with it by now.
Kinda like those working for BCG or McKinsey are more equipped to deal with the incessant 13 hour days and working weekends: if I tried to do that I would burn out in three months, but I have friends in those companies that have been doing it for years and it is just their "normal" life.
They also know it's unsustainable but they can bear with it.

The moment I start feeling my job is affecting my relationship, or if my wife gives me a hint that she's having a too hard time, I'm OUT in one millisecond.

I am in the early stages of "padding the stash": i could easily survive with what i have now.
If I can accumulate more effortlessly for a couple years I'll do it, but I have very clear in my mind that what I'm doing is not strictly necessary, especially considering I still plan on working some in the future

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:54 am

Changes?

I work in the food business, managing export markets (meaning: the whole planet except for Italy) for a mid size italian company (approx 250M turnover).
My current work situation is hard, with way too much travel (see prior posts), stress and general bad stuff that is impacting on my health, both phisically and psychologically.

Only once in my life I have been in worse physical shape than I am today at 6'05" for 205lbs (that's 185cm for 93kg).
I drink too much to alleviate the stress (a glass a day), I never exercise, and sometimes don't sleep too well (never had any issue before).
At 37 years of age, this is not good.

I have been handling this situation well mainly because I like what I do, I have a phenomenal wife, a great family environment and a general high resistance to stress/overworking.
There's also the carrot of a relatively high salary, that allows me to save 75% of my net income without any particular effort.

Still, this situation is not sustainable, and I have started looking at some potential changes.

First, I have been looking around for another job, with a smaller geographical area of responsibility.
There may be something happening, but it would most likely require us to again move abroad. 
It may be a great opportunity to experience the world with someone else paying for most of it (both my wife and I are very curios travelers and we love to experience new and different cultures).

The downside would be some more short term stress (changing jobs, moving, parting again with family, etc).

Should the above not work, I will probably demand my current company to hire a couple junior key accounts to help me with some of the markets, but I know this will take some time as we always try to keep headcount as low as possible.

The good news is that we had very nice growth since I joined, and it is accelerating in this third year, so I would have a justification for my demand.
As always, this growth came part because of luck, part because of skill, and part because of simply working harder than my predecessors.

The philosophy of the company is: pay people well, but don't pay too many people.
I subscribe to this philosophy, but I just cannot take this kind of punishment for much longer.

We'll see

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:59 am

Best of luck in your situation!

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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:09 pm

Watch your health, paesan.

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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:38 pm

Seppia, I admire you for your continued endurance through the travel and work. You’re racking up compounding effects on your health. I’m not a health expert, but you need a lot more exercise, and I highly recommend you do this by making lots of sexy time with the wife.

Deferred gratification is a major virtue in this domain, but I think you and your wife need focus on your happiness a little bit.

Maybe you can get a little bit creative with your current employment. A remote position managing new recruits or something. If your company’s operations have been doing well because of your work efforts, and this is visible, maybe you have the gravitas to make some kind of suggestion.

And given you are clearly.....less than satisfied with your current situation, even if your wife has been patient, maybe you tell your employers to stuff it anyway if they don’t cooperate.

Or even just say “I need to take an indefinite leave of absence to get it on with my wife repeatedly and sire a child.”

You say that’s she beautiful and you’re lucky to have her. Well, if you know you’re lucky, you know that other people are unlucky. Some people often don’t find love until much later, some too late, and some not at all.

I understand also that you are conservative and you are doing what you think is best for the long-term. Just don’t take for granted the years you have now. Don’t make for a less happy life for you and your own beloved wife for the sake of an abstract “safe withdrawal rate.” You will work again. You’ve already said this. Don’t forget, we only have so many days. You miss your wife, and I’m sure she misses you more than she says.

But it doesn’t matter what I *think*, it matters how you *feel*.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vH6v9JS26xc

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AnWWj6xOleY

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Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:34 am

Thanks all for the encouragement, I really value your inputs!

I think though that I may be painting an incorrect picture of my situation.
I may have been giving the impression that I'm somewhat miserable, but this is not at all the case, overall I consider myself insanely lucky and would not trade places with anybody :)

I must get better at this journal thing.
Or maybe I should just stop whining and be thankful for all the amazing things ("things" not used strictly in the material sense) I have.

BTW I have implemented a few changes already:

- set a hard cap on wine consumption of one very small glass (about one inch in a narrow glass) per day. So far I have drunk zero in the last 5 days, let's see if this sticks.

- started a diet: goal is to lose a couple kgs per month. Will weigh in tomorow for the first time (my fancy scale bought in my pre-frugal yeas needs a battery change) and report regularly.

- in a textbook display of wasteful consumerism, I have purchased a fitbit flex 2 to track my unacceptably low activity level.
Someone smarter than me could suggest to just move my sorry ass instead of purchasing fancy overpriced gadgets, but I am banking on the fact that I am not too smart.
Basically the plan is to shame myslef into moving more because "I have purchased this useless thing and already feel stupid, better lose weight now or it will be worse". Plus my pathological competitiveness will be triggered by the gamification ("earn this stupid badge if you just walk another 26728737678386397386 steps")

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