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.
*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