Fish's Enlightenment

Where are you and where are you going?
Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

About me: Wife + 2 children. Dual-income household. High expenses.

Life was perfect, and then the kids showed up. I love them dearly but personally struggled with the lack of free time during the early years. Then a solution appeared: “The 4-Hour Workweek.” At the time I did not have the proper context and interpreted it literally, tried it out and failed. In the aftermath I learned about FIRE which provided a more concrete and achievable path to that goal. However, my wife would not get on board since we experienced considerable disruption and turmoil while following 4HWW.

Despite the unfavorable environment I was still determined and set a modest financial goal for ourselves. Saving as aggressively as the circumstances would allow, within a few years we paid off the mortgage and accumulated the goal amount of $X. Due to high expenses, we could not retire on $X. But instead of moving the goalposts, I held firm and a post-scarcity mindset emerged.

Epilogue: Around the time kid #2 started preschool, much of the free time had returned and the interest in FIRE sort of evaporated.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

elegant
Posts: 101
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:19 pm
Location: Land of Milk and Honey

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by elegant »

That was a great read. Thank you. Looking forward for more..

steveo73
Posts: 1432
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by steveo73 »

Interesting read. I can't relate to not looking forward to FIRE. I can't wait until FIRE. I work for the money. I also really struggle with worrying about side income. I don't see the point. This could be because I'm predominantly lazy.

FIRE though for myself like yourself will just happen. I'm not saving extra or pushing myself or anything like that. I just live in alignment to my beliefs. I really like MMM though. His idea of maximising happiness is exactly how I feel. I just try and make predominantly rational decisions.

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

For the first time in 3 months, I had a "numbers day" and spent half an hour to check how things were going financially. This was a break from past practice of being hyper-aware, and it has been rather nice not knowing or caring. I suspected that expenses might creep up without feedback, but as it turns out the frugal habits are ingrained and expenses did not increase when following our instincts and living according to our own nature.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Did
Posts: 667
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:50 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Did »

Funny we think not having children to be one of our most important assets, and our resolve and logic in not having them one of our greatest strengths. I think many men who live lives of quiet desperation do so in part due to following this age old routine.

Of course others live deliberately and find joy in little ones etc. Good luck to them.

cmonkey
Posts: 1791
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by cmonkey »

Fish wrote:
Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:58 am
For the first time in 3 months, I had a "numbers day" and spent half an hour to check how things were going financially. This was a break from past practice of being hyper-aware, and it has been rather nice not knowing or caring. I suspected that expenses might creep up without feedback, but as it turns out the frugal habits are ingrained and expenses did not increase when following our instincts and living according to our own nature.
This is great. I have wondered if it's possible to transition from hyper-aware to not caring as much anymore. Your statement gives me hope!

Jason

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Jason »

I'll give a big fucking Amen to that. I have found that hyper-awareness leads to burn out. It also leads to despair if you backslide on spending or your income decreases.

I am just trying to control myself. If I can do that, things will improve.

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

There was a part of Vicki Robin's interview which really resonated with me, where she redefined financial independence away from "set for life" to "freedom to spend life energy as desired". As time passes, I am finding her latter vision of FI increasingly relevant. Although not mathematically precise, it gets to the point of what FIRE is all about, and sidesteps the issue of whether X% SWR is safe enough to last a lifetime. This transforms FI from a problem of having enough capital, to one of constructing an agreeable lifestyle where inflows and outflows of value are matched.

Producing excess value while living in alignment with one's nature also has the interesting consequence that money is no longer a scarce resource. It just flows towards you, and there's always more than enough. Compare with previous mindset of "needing" 25-33x expenses to get away from job; more money was always needed and its safety was always a concern. That's no way to live.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TomBombadil
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:27 pm

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by TomBombadil »

A final word on motivations. I'm not really writing this journal for myself. All are welcome to comment but I'm not writing to seek comment. The purpose of sharing my story is to provide a voice to a minority view (perhaps even previously unstated?) that some other state besides retirement can be a satisfactory destination for the FIRE journey. If there were more/louder voices along this line, I would have been content to leave this unwritten and unpublished. But given how much I silently struggled with these thoughts and issues over the past three years, I wish to share this story with everyone, including the lurkers, in case it might be of the slightest help for even one of you find your way.
Isn't that kind of the "ERE as philosophy" in contrast to ERE just a "shortcut" to FI point of view?
From what I have seen and read over the past year it seems to occur sooner or later to a lot of the major advocates for FIRE. E.g. MMM sometimes writes that his blog is only about living a good life and the financial part is only there to attract readers. It just seemed to me that ERE is as you mentioned a bit more explicit about that. Maybe because FI is reached faster and the focus can thus also be shifted faster. All in all the aspects you mentioned seem to be the same for myself to be reading (and starting to get involved) here.
Looking forward for more of your thoughts.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6231
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am
Location: Clinton River Watershed

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Just wanted to chime in that I appreciate your occasional musings on theory. Probably because I represent a different minority voice, and I also believe myself to be stuck (or, perhaps, more like "crashed" at the moment) somewhere below systems-level. Interesting that you've gone back and read the book 7 or 8 times. Based on prior success in such realms as cooking and calculus, I was thinking that I might do an exercise in which I apply "beginner's eyes" to personal finance. Maybe start by skimming something written by Dave Ramsey (boring as that seems), and then do the initial exercises in YMOYL, and/or the 21 Day Makeover, etc, etc,

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1923
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

@ Fish
Excellent post and insight. Per usual, I seem to have progressed my thinking in a similar fashion as you. Since reaching a point of knowing that my "traditional" (60ish+) retirement is very secure, my thoughts have shifted more towards how I will fill the gap over the next couple of decades. Certainly working very for the next few years to save until FI is an option, but only one of a great many. I look forward to seeing how this new found balance impacts your decisions going forward.

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

I'm going to introduce a new unit of measuring expenses called the "Fish". I don't expect it to gain widespread use because it's the wrong order of magnitude for most of you. The conversion factor is 1 Fish = 10 Jacobs. I understand that most here are capable of arithmetic, but for reasons of politeness please use units of "Fish" or "Jacobs" if you choose to discuss my income/expenses/NW. Thanks. 8-)
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12670
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by jacob »

Since you're playing the game on easy-mode, your 12 years is a choice. For example, if you spent 0.2Fish=2jacob instead, your savings rate would be ((1.62+1.36)-0.2)/(1.62+1.36)=93.3%. Then FIRE takes about ~2 years.

Your household networth of 20Fish-years converts into 100jacob-years or a SWR of 1%.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1923
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

Fish wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:56 am
Quickly losing enthusiasm for the financial optimization side of things. Has this been the case for anyone else?
I never cared about financial optimization as a goal in itself. Rather, I view it as means to an end so that other things I do really care about can be improved upon. Namely freedom of time, location, activities, and, to a lesser degree, anti-fragility and freedom in personal relationships. Over time my thoughts have evolved and I have come to realize the less I spend to satisfy my needs, the more free I become. It's a feeling similar to what I had when I began to shed personal possessions I never use. A quick wince of pain and regret, then the realization of how much time and hassle I can save without. Now I view spending money as a problem to be solved, it becomes really quite entertaining attempting to solve it differently; it certainly doesn't seem like sacrifice, more of a hobby.

I also have legitimate, but fleeting concerns about humanities survival as a species with regards to resource depletion. I say fleeting because every time I get honked at by a mom driving an SUV full of kids because I'm exercising my right-of-way as a pedestrian on a crosswalk (this morning on my way back from an overnight shift!), I think "hey, lady, I'm doing this for YOUR firigg'en grandkids!" and I become less altruist, more "let it burn". So this isn't really a primary motivation, more of a personal "feel good" or maybe even "holier -than thou-" side-effect.

I would agree that ERE wont fix personal problems (unless the problems are financial/security in nature). Instead it's a tool of increased flexibility which makes solving problems easier. I also understand the daunting nature of a initially having decade or more of commitment at a less than young age to achieve this goal. I have managed to decrease my core living expense by about 50% (2.5-3 jacobs); its amazing how much even this had made a difference. At this point, so many interesting and enjoyable avenues of earning for my reduced needs have opened, the savings rate really doesn't matter too much anymore, but its reached nearly 75%. I can't imagine how free I will feel/hoe many opportunities will open if I half it again!

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

@jacob - Thanks for the reminder that the 12 years is a choice.

It highlights the asymmetry between increasing income and decreasing expenses which gets more pronounced the more is saved up. When starting out, only the savings rate matters so doubling income and halving expenses have an identical effect on time-to-FIRE. But as soon as there is any savings, reducing expenses becomes the more powerful lever. Observe that someone halfway to FI cuts their remaining accumulation time in half by doubling income, but instantly attains FI with a 50% reduction in expenses.

Although I like to think that I'm beyond the naive FIRE-dream, it disappoints me that I don't really see a path to making paid employment an optional or irrelevant part of my life.(*) I envy the freedom that so many here have attained, but I have sacrificed nothing of signficance so I can't expect miracles. I can finally cut my own hair :P and that's worth something, but not the right to not-work because it's just a drop in the bucket as far as my economic inefficiencies go.

(*) I guess the solution is obvious to everyone here (spend less) but the tricky part is having combined finances and 2-3 Wheaton levels of difference with DW when it comes to lifestyle and spending goals. It will take time.

Anyway, the part of my life that I'm finding objectionable is not work, but commuting to work. That's 10 hours of my week on an activity that is completely unnecessary with good lifestyle design. Without changing jobs or moving house, I think the best that can be managed is a de-facto work-from-home situation about 2x a week. This weighs heavily on me and I will continue to look for solutions.
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 3:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1923
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by classical_Liberal »

@fish
It's great news your wife has found a part of ERE exciting! It's more than a small change, IMO, when someone gets excited about any aspect of ERE, empires were built on less :D

The only a "drop in the bucket" thought process is an issue for me as well. Perhaps it's human nature to grossly exaggerate what we can do in a short period of time, but severely underestimate what small things can do over longer periods of time. Maybe focus on the direct nonmonetary benefits of such changes? You didn't have to sit at a salon for 30 minutes and make awkward conversation with a borderline personality disorder hairstylist!

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Fish »

@CL - Thanks for the encouragement. Thoughts are percolating and I should have a substantive response in the coming days or weeks...
Last edited by Fish on Sat May 30, 2020 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

saving-10-years
Posts: 555
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:37 am
Location: Warwickshire, UK

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by saving-10-years »

Anyway, the part of my life that I'm finding objectionable is not work, but commuting to work. That's 10 hours of my week on an activity that is completely unnecessary with good lifestyle design. Without changing jobs or moving house, I think the best that can be managed is a de-facto work-from-home situation about 2x a week. This weighs heavily on me and I will continue to look for solutions.
I don't know whether this is appropriate for you but I managed to collaborate with a couple of colleagues to lift share. In fact I found people who would be driving past my house on their way to work and managed to synchronise my travel so I was collected by them at least 2-3 times during the week. I did this for past 5+ years of work before retiring. It relieved me of stress of driving and as we spent quite a bit of time talking I learned more about my colleagues (not my closest friends but good to learn about people who were outside my usual circle, encouraged me to challenge some beliefs). One of the unexpected consequences was that if bad stuff was happening at work that day we would thrash this out on the journey - we noticed we were less likely to be complaining about work to our partners when we got home. We were all three introverts.

wolf
Posts: 1085
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by wolf »

Hi Fish. Are you looking for a new workplace or home, in order to reduce commuting to work? I guess it also depends how you commute? Although I commute 1,5h everyday it is not deenergizing, because I bike to work. When it is rainy, I try to work from home. That could also be a good option. Could you work from home more?

User avatar
Lillailler
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:09 am

Re: Fish's Enlightenment

Post by Lillailler »

Thank you for posting this very profound thread.
the part of my life that I'm finding objectionable is not work, but commuting to work. That's 10 hours of my week on an activity that is completely unnecessary with good lifestyle design. Without changing jobs or moving house, I think the best that can be managed is a de-facto work-from-home situation about 2x a week.
Can you make your commuting time useful? I have used time spent commuting by bus for reading and listening in order to further my language studies. If you're driving you can't read, but maybe you could use audiobooks, perhaps even combined with carpooling to allow you to do some reading or writing.

Post Reply