An American Millennial

Where are you and where are you going?
prognastat
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by prognastat »

These are retro, but I used to love the old Front Mission games. At least the tactical/strategy rpg ones.

I definitely put a decent amount of time into Dead Cells, has a great gameplay loop.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

June 2019

I've been playing football, progressing on web development, and finishing the school year. I've found some local fields where I can play for 3 hours, 30 yuan on a daily basis. We are in the finals for our faculty tournament, but it's rained out the last 4 weeks. Next week is my last week here. I fly back to the US on June 24th.

I've cancelled D&D since a couple weeks ago to focus. I'm in something called Chingu which is a pair-programming group. My project is with a guy in Japan. I'm learning a ton from this. I was offered a developer job in Shenzhen a month or so ago, but I turned it down. Not the ideal fit for me. I had a good interview for a design studio in Hong Kong, and I scored a take-home project out of it, even though I admitted I didn't know how to do what they wanted. My take home got a needs improvement, but has potential, so they want another project out of me, this time with more direction, and will pay me as a freelancer.

School is done. I have two classes next week that still need to finish their final. Input grades on the 22nd. My plan is to never teach again.

I will fly into LA and stay with family for the first week or two. I want to find a job in Denver. I will either apply remotely from LA, or find a temporary room-share/sublet in Denver and apply locally.

I have about 12 months expenses saved.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Nice to hear from you Viktor, all of your images have disappeared from your posts.

I was under the assumption that you were way beyond the 1X living expenses mark?

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Ya I noticed that too, probably something with flickr. I've got 18k in assets, -34k in loans.

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 »

Good to see an update! Congrats on getting an offer, even if it's not what you are looking for.

I don't think you are spending much time on the .NET stack, but if you find an interest, I've really enjoyed this book:

https://www.lulu.com/shop/jeffrey-paler ... 77802.html

The author covers what a modern enterprise application architecture looks like, using the azure devops tooling, from design through to production monitoring. He gets through it all in 250 pages and provides a sample project.

I think the broad understanding would be a big help in evaluating potential employers. I've never seen the material in such an accessible format before. I've been dismayed to recognize my current company as 10-15 years behind the curve.

TopHatFox
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by TopHatFox »

Viktor K wrote:
Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:24 am
The world is war

ERE is nothing but a dream for most. Seriously, how quickly can you get ERE? Without the right education, you're looking at many years of sacrifice, followed by many more (but at least you won't have to go to work?). Commitment and actual earning potential make ERE less likely for those without the right education, or at least delay attainment.

Education seriously affects commitment. For example, I didn't even bother to deposit money in my savings this month. On-time deposits only really help my graphs look better. What happens on my graphs makes little impact on my ERE date due to my low earnings. Another example: I stopped smoking weed but spent a lot on alcohol. While I'm thinking about quitting alcohol as well, this too will make little impact. The biggest impact would be time-traveling back to 18 and choosing a different major. If I quit drinking now, I could reach ERE maybe 6-12 months sooner, but that ERE would be an ERE without alcohol/weed. Not that that's such a bad thing, but the point is, without the high earnings, my ERE is going to be more impoverished than many others, so I'm not really that eager to give up more now, just to have less earlier.

I've got a lot of "The world made me this way" mentality. I can't earn much because I don't have the experience/education. Let's face it, if I had a different major, my earning potential would be double/triple, meaning ERE would take half to a third the amount of time. With my degree, ERE even in 6 years seems unattainable, even while I still maintain ridiculous levels of personal spending. Does Jacob even spend this little? My ERE will be slower and worth less than others. You see journals of people with $100k annual income talking about how they can't reach ERE any sooner than my 6 year goal. Man, that must be rough. If I had their income I would be ERE in 2 years, living like a king in China. These factors generate some degree of disillusionment with ERE.

Does education affect ability/willingness to ERE? Absolutely. With the wrong education not only is your income lower, but your actual desire for ERE can also be affected since you're really working towards a pretty crummy retirement, early as it may be. This means that people like me aren't really represented on this site as much because they probably look at this ERE concept and think... Wow, look at all these engineers and their $80k+ incomes. Must be nice! Then they never come back because they would rather go out and blow a paycheck having fun for once, rather than suffer for the next 6-10 years just so they don't have to 9-5 it anymore.

PS: My bank account isn't showing the totals for my spending reports so I'll upload some graphs if it gets fixed.
Hey Viktor K, read through your journal and thought it was cool that you both packed up and started working in China. If anything, your quality of life is better. The piece above is so true. 110% agree that the decision we made at 18 has a massive impact on the next decade. And yet, we were told things like "study what you like and the money will follow." I wish anyone had warned us, but that's the struggle of our generation I suppose. All we can do now is move forward despite our dumb degrees. ^_^

niemand
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by niemand »

Viktor K wrote:
Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:24 am
The world is war
...
That’s all true and disappointing to realise how the real world works and how the old rules from school don’t apply here anymore. Let’s mourn about that. And then let’s move on.

I think you’re doing well Viktor K. And so do you THF. Although it may not always feel that way.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

@Scott Thanks man, I'm pretty much full-stack JS at this point. I might dip back into PHP later on if I want to start building a freelance practice, and then, of course, whatever is needed from any new job.

@THF Pretty good little essay by myself. A lot has changed since then. I think taking a break the last few months from this website helped me really appreciate a lot more how beneficial this time in China has been. I've worked <15 hour/week the last 2 years, with 3 months off each year. Definitely was a good decision.

Hopefully job search goes well. I just got a US phone number via Skype. I'm going to start pre-applying to jobs in Denver now. It's going to be a huge change switching back to 40 hour work weeks. But I can easily say I enjoy coding much, much more than teaching, as well as any other job I've done thus far in my life.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

@niemand Easy to say, but harder to do. Especially with this site's focus on $, monthly charts, and general complaining about 9-5. A message that gets missed a lot is that ERE is just 1 thing, not everything, and not even the most important thing in my life. I do not measure my success by my progress on ERE. Sure, 1 goal of mine is ERE. Plenty of goals are much higher than this.

I think a lot of what I said in that from 2017 is still true.

I also think the idea that "anyone can do this" is also dangerous. Anyone can try is more accurate, I think. And I respect anyone who has made ERE the most important thing in their life, it's great to know what you want and know what's most important. But I think it's important to not obsess.

This forum has helped plant some ideas in my mind which I've slowly watered. Building marketable skills is one that first comes to mind. At the same time, I also think this website is the cause of a lot of unneeded stress and lamenting.

If I look back at when I started my journal, asking myself, "If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with my decisions today?" then, and at many points since I've started this journal, my answer would be "No". Now and certainly over the last year, 2019 especially, the answer is certainly "yes". I lament the poor soul who suffers their way to ERE and then dies the day they quit. Or worse, those that reach ERE and realize it's not an answer to everything.

slowtraveler
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler »

I see you've made a huge leap forward in your programming skills. Most people who start drop out but you've already developed a marketable skill with some job offers. You should feel damn good about that.

On the conversation, about ERE, I did suffer my way through a good few years but now I have a freedom and opportunity I never would have dreamed of. The few years of sacrifice were worth it for me but you're right that everyone's situation is unique.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

@slowtraveler I've stuck with it, it's been going well. On the idea of living the life you want, today, I wasn't doing that start of 2018. It was okay, but I was playing so many computer games, staying up late, being tired, and not going anywhere with my life. There was no progress. I was stagnated. That experience alone has pushed me a great deal. I don't know if I would have committed as heavily to learning coding if it wasn't for that dissatisfaction.

Which kind of touches on the sacrifice you mentioned, right? Everyone has their own degree of sacrifice that makes sense. I'm not trying to say my life is sacrifice free, but the sacrifices I'm making are a weighed decision. I could still die tomorrow, and be satisfied with the sacrifices I've made. At other points in my life, like when I first started this journal, I couldn't always say the same.

As well, I think if I were to dread my 9-5 (as I did my last one), come home each day tired, and have little time/energy left for my hobbies and things I actually enjoy, then I also wouldn't be able to say, "Okay, if I die tomorrow, I'll still be happy with my choices." And I think that's something the forum needs to embrace more fully. ERE doesn't have to be all or nothing. There's so much more to life than dumping years into a financial goal. Sometimes I think people focus too much on the 9-5 and lack of financial independence as the reason they're not happy. You can be happy and work a 9-5. At least I think you can. Easy to say for me right now having not worked a 9-5 since 2014 (which I was miserable doing).

On another note, I talked to a guy yesterday. He's trying various businesses right now, capitalizing on the ESL teacher free-time in a different way than me. He mentioned his goal as $10,000,000. I don't know why.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Also @TopHatFox, my quality of life is not 100% better here. I think you could say, instead, that my life is better here than it was in LV. But I'm hoping to make that more of a continuous theme in my life, rather than location dependent. Some things I can't mention now, I'm still in China. But ways my quality of life is worse here than I suspect it will be in a couple weeks, after I'm back in the US:

#1! Air quality. I'm basically a tobacco smoker, that's the equivalent damage to my lungs when I don't wear a mask, or when our cat jumps on the air purifier and clicks the off button.

#2! Food quality. I'm so tired of the food. No food safety. McDonald's has the highest safety rating in my neighborhood. Think about that: your healthiest and (also very important, and basically a non-issue in the US) safest food option is McDonald's. That being said, you can spend like ¥100 for some high quality food, and in downturn there are better options for high quality, safe, delicious dining. You can also cook, but our kitchen is tiny, not full-size (no stove, ovens are uncommon, sink water is dirty) and the produce quality at supermarket is low.

#3 Earning potential. I was considering renting a studio in HK for the work week, and then coming to Shenzhen to see my girlfriend on the weekends, or her coming to HK on the weekends. However, salaries for developer are about half. And for entry level, they're about 1/3-1/4. Add that to the fact that HK is the most expensive city in the world.

Ways it's better:

#1 Safety. You can do things that would be stupid to do in the US here, without worry. E.g. walking home alone at night, regardless your gender.

#2 Work-life. <15 hours, 3 months off/year. Absolutely absurd. However, a lot of my free-time I spend coding. The rest I spend playing football, eating, sleeping, or watching TV shows with my girlfriend. She's not coming back with me by the way.

#3 WeChat. Absolutely amazing. You don't text, you don't call, you don't use your apps. You just use WeChat. Much of this app's functionality is better than all combined equivalent available in the US. Meetup for example. Garbage compared to WeChat groups. Post in one, everyone that's in it will see, because it's the same context as their normal texting conversations. "Hey, where can I play football in Shenzhen?" Boom, several group chat invitations for football groups.

#4 Healthcare. It's a toss up. It's cheap, but doctors don't always speak English. As well, quality can be hit or miss - although that's partially the language barrier.

I'm definitely taking a gamble moving back to the US. But I think it's calculated, and I suspect my happiness will be the same, if not higher. More mentally stimulating work, higher sense of status (for first time ever in my life, I'll feel like a respectable professional), better access to quality food, clean air, speaking English (underrated).

classical_Liberal
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by classical_Liberal »

Viktor K wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:00 am
As well, I think if I were to dread my 9-5 (as I did my last one), come home each day tired, and have little time/energy left for my hobbies and things I actually enjoy, then I also wouldn't be able to say, "Okay, if I die tomorrow, I'll still be happy with my choices." And I think that's something the forum needs to embrace more fully. ERE doesn't have to be all or nothing. There's so much more to life than dumping years into a financial goal. Sometimes I think people focus too much on the 9-5 and lack of financial independence as the reason they're not happy. You can be happy and work a 9-5. At least I think you can. Easy to say for me right now having not worked a 9-5 since 2014 (which I was miserable doing).
Jumping into this great conversation, if it's OK.

The thing that attracted me to ERE vs most other ER concepts was the lack of singular focus on the financial. I mean sure, many journals use the core approach of Salary man-->Renaissance man -->FI, doing so through some form of 9-5. Still though, the "how" matters. Here, the "how" is varied and unique. 7WB5 is trying to reach FI with urban permaculture. Theanimal moved to rural Alaska to test himself mentally and physically; he's learned an amazing number of skills in the process that are just beginning to pay off more financially. Gin+Juice up and quit his career, moved to a cheaper area and is heading towards FI with a bunch of part-time lifestyle gigs. Jeanpaul walked away from a great education with a multiple six figure career track to slow travel the world. Slowtraveler used geographic arbitrage to get out of his rut, live his best life, and use LCOL to accelerate financial goals.

I really can't imagine a better place to come if looking for inspiration wrt unique ways to personal financial independence. Our tenancy is to compare to others, but the paths to ERE are so diverse it's really hard to do that here. I wonder if your frustrations of "all or nothing ERE" is related to the wrong types of personal comparisons?

Edit: So rather than feeling poor because you compare yourself to others. Maybe it's simply best to take inspiration for all the amazing "wins" that take place around here. Then use what we learn from the experiences they have so generously shared with us to mold our own perfect route to FI.

TopHatFox
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by TopHatFox »

@K, she’s not coming with you? Knowing yourself, how do you think you’ll fair being alone in the US working 9-5 when you’ve been with someone for years working 3 hrs/day? Is there something you’re doing to prepare for the difference?

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

@classical_Liberal Sure, there are some varied stories, and it's easy to pick out some as examples. And I could just as easily pick 2 or 3 that are exactly how I describe as well - high income, educated, right degree. What I notice more than the inspiring stories and diversity, is the uniformity. I don't feel poor, I'm American, by default I am rich. Something living abroad has highlighted for me. As are others on this forum from wealthy countries, which I'd wager the majority are. We won the birth lottery, we get to live on easy mode and actually consider ERE. But on this forum, I'd say I'm an outlier in the net worth category. And there's certainly some reason to that.

This is all anecdotal, if someone wants to waste time drumming up numbers and counting through the journals - won't be me.

I still stand by 2017 when I said that low-earning, wrong degree, doesn't really belong here and that sort of situation makes ERE less attainable. It's certainly geared towards and seems to attract a higher earning, higher educated, wealthier group.

@bigato Sure you can. I find that posting graphs on my monthly progress is quite a waste because it doesn't really get me anything more than a feeling of, "Wow, this is moving slowly." And it gets reiterated each month. Especially when you consider it's a monthly "progress" graph. A graph on personal happiness would be more worthwhile.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

@THF Nope, situation was we weren't 100% if we would go back or not. There were a couple months to try and find work in HK or Shenzhen. But if we did stay, she would want to stay with the same company. And then the contract decision was forced on us, so she re-signed. In hindsight, the decision was made based on "If I stay, would I want to do change jobs?" and we (she) should have instead made the decision based on, "If I don't stay, would I want to be locked into this contract?" Power to her, for being the type that can't go back on the paper and ink.

Ultimately job didn't come through (well, kind of did, but it's freelance for now). And now it's time for me to go back and find work in the US.

I'm not preparing for the difference. I'm not so worried about the difference. I already know what it's like. Moving abroad and all. The hardest will be not being with my girlfriend for 6 months and, more importantly, not seeing my cats (I kid). After 6 months she'll be rejoining me.

40 hour workweek we'll see how it goes. As it is, I already code >20/week. Last I remember, 40 hours/week meant coming home tired, fried, unfulfilled and unmotivated. That was my free time state. That's kind of how it is now anyway. I teach, then code, code, code. And eventually my brain says it's done and I watch TV shows with girlfriend, play football, or try a computer game (I get bored super fast of computer games, though). We'll see what happens.

Biggest changes to adjust to will be:
- workweek
- no girlfriend/cats
- US less convenient
- culture shock

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

I reached out to my network on LinkedIn and FB (which nobody seems to use anymore). Targeted software engineers/devs. Told them about moving back to US and either searching Denver jobs remotely in LA, or moving to Denver and searching while local. Got a ton of good advice. As well, my self-taught dev community, where I've been the last few months I wasn't posting here, net-wise, has been extremely helpful.

This girl spent 60 hours/week on her job search for 1 month.

Sabaka
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Sabaka »

Just been rereading your journal and came across the post when you first started considering learning to code. To get to the position you're in now, with people offering you jobs, is a fantastic achievement mate! :)

Also, just to add my two cents on how attainable FIRE/ERE is, I'm in complete agreement with you. Coming from someone with no degree and no other valuable skill-set, the path to FIRE/ERE looks an increasingly difficult one. And at some point, you have to ask yourself how many years' sacrifice is it worth to achieve this goal, which you cannot be certain will instantly give your life meaning. Of course, for some people the 9-5 isn't a sacrifice and therefore it is good to crack on towards whatever the financial target is.

When I read your journal, it reads as the journal of someone who has taken every opportunity they can get to explore their present life to the fullest. Supermarket jobs, insurance work, teaching. It's all part of the journey. I firmly believe you cannot truly know what you want your life to look like until you try these different things, which you have done. Regardless of where it puts you on the journey to FIRE/ERE, judging by the fact that you say you have not regretted any of the decisions for the last two years, it has worked out for you :) .

I guess what I am trying to do is to adopt more of your mindset, which is difficult for a few reasons. 1 being that I am naturally a quite conservative guy, who likes routine and dislikes change. And also, partly due to ERE, I have become somewhat fixated on a financial target. For the past 3 years, I have just worked, not been happy and have just focused on an increase every month in my NW. Now that I've finally taken a decision (I'm going to go to Russia for 3 months), which will mean going into deaccumulation mode for at least 6 months, I actually feel excited (and also super nervous and afraid) for the future.

TL;DR: Congrats on the coding, and personally I find your journal very inspirational.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Ya, it's pretty sweet, but there's still a lot more to go. For example, this freelance gig is potentially just 1 job, and who knows when it will actually come through. Small company, dealing with the owners directly, who are busy... It took them more than 2 weeks to get back to me about my take-home project. It's been over a week since I agreed to doing a freelance one.

Good luck in Russia. It's always a rush moving abroad. I've got like 7 more days here. Crazy. Glad I inspired you, that's all I really hope to get out of this journal. No ragrets. Not even a letter.

This friend on LinkedIn gave me such good advice for the job search. But it's going to be tough. I think I'll check back in in a few months.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

I’m in California. It’s pretty nice. There was an earthquake.

The culture in the US is so obviously different. Luckily there’s pickup games just a couple blocks from my house. Lucky I have family to stay with right now.

It’s been two and a half weeks or so I think. Spending is pretty low. I have no rent or car so food and soccer fees is all I pay right now.

Ive applied for 29 jobs. I’m taking care to write cover letters and send them to the people working there in addition to filling out their online application. I’ve put an ad on a freelance website as well. In the meantime, I’m finishing up a coding cohort this week. Then I’ll have more time to work on other things coding-wise.

I haven’t gone to any networking events yet.

I’m spending about 4 hours/day during the week on my job search online, but I’m getting faster. Sometimes I code in between each job or cover letter or email. Sometimes I use something I heard Elon musk does where he spends 5 mins on each task. It works pretty well but I still only do it for the 4 hours. Other times I just start a timer, work as long as I want, pause the timer, relax, and by early afternoon I’ve still worked about 4 hours.

Anyways. My sister comes home from Texas in about a week. And I’m sleeping in her room right now. So I’ll have to figure things out soon. But I’ll spend some time here either way since I haven’t seen her in over a year.

Really satisfied with the food. Cost, quality, etc. And of course the air. So easy to take it for granted. But it’s so nice to have worrying about it off of my mind.

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