Hristo's FI Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
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Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I've been thinking a lot lately about life/work options after I hit the FI crossover point, which is on track to happen around my 47th birthday, when my daughter starts high school and my son is in middle school. At that point, I'm on track for my house to be paid off and my PPI (not factoring in equity in the house and money saved for the kids' college educations) should cover my post-mortgage monthly expenses. I'll be a little over 15 years into my legal career, not counting law school (I was a second career law student), about half of which will have been spent in "BigLaw," and, assuming I don't get fired, half spent in a smaller "boutique" firm. I suspect I will want to continue on in my profession in some capacity, but likely in a more pared-down way. I don't see myself as someone who is going to keep coming into the office into my 50s and 60s (and 70s and 80s) to practice law full time. It's an honorable profession (despite what I've said in this journal in other places), and I get a lot of life fulfillment helping clients resolve their disputes, get businesses up and running, and protect those businesses' assets. But I also like the idea of trying something completely new, if only for the sake of a challenge. And I have no intention of ever "retiring" (so long as I am able to work) in the sense of sitting around the house doing nothing or even pursuing some sort of selfish, hedonistic, and permanent "see-the-world" traveling lifestyle. Informed by my Catholic worldview, it's sinful to not employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts we've received from God.

Something I've been reading and hearing about a lot lately is classical education, from the First Things podcast and from Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons and Benedict Option books, among other places. It seems classical education schools are gaining a lot of traction, and I suspect that is largely due to the fact that people are realizing that our current schools are doing a fantastic job of preparing kids for some sort of dystopian, Brave New World-type society, by focusing almost exclusively on utilitarian pursuits like test and college prep and lots of time on STEM fields so our kids can develop job skills that will be obsolete by the time they reach adulthood. Humanities have been largely stripped from the curriculum, and there is little to no interest in developing moral and virtuous individuals based on any universal truths (insert screed bemoaning moralistic therapeutic deism and moral relativism).

Anyway, I joined the Peace Corps in part because I was interested in teaching, and the Peace Corps seemed like a good way to see if I actually liked teaching without having to commit to getting accredited, etc. I enjoyed my time teaching in the Peace Corps, but I ultimately decided teaching wasn't for me as a career, mostly because the brief time I spent in college as an education major turned me off from the idea of teaching in our public schools and dealing with all the crap teachers have to deal with that have nothing to do with actually teaching.

Anyway, the classical education model intrigues me, in part because I majored in the humanities and because I love the movie Dead Poets' Society, and I always saw myself as a teacher as some sort of John Keating (you know, instructing kids to unleash their barbaric YAWP). So, all of this is to say that perhaps the next work chapter of my life could be teaching and/or helping to run a classical education school, preferably one in the Catholic tradition.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

2019 Books So Far
  • 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos; Jordan Peterson
  • A Childhood: The Biography of a Place; Harry Crews
  • Crunchy Cons; Rod Dreher
  • Coddling of the American Mind; Haidt & Lukianoff
  • Mary Poppins; Travers
I would have enjoyed both 12 Rules and Coddling more had I not already been exposed to the ideas in the books through countless podcasts and YouTube videos featuring the books' authors. Crunchy Cons was wonderful, and it introduced me to Russell Kirk who I've enjoyed reading and reading about since (though it will probably be a while before I finish reading his The Conservative Mind). I'd previously read Dreher's Benedict Option, which I liked, but I found Crunchy Cons to be a little less pessimistic (which is perhaps due to the fact that Crunchy Cons was written about a decade earlier). As for Crews' A Childhood, it was wonderful. I absolutely love Harry Crews and have yet to read anything from him that I don't absolutely adore. I usually don't like memoirs, but his was wonderful because, as the name suggests, it had more to do with a place than with him as a person. Finally, I decided to read Mary Poppins on a recommendation Ross Douthat from the NYTimes made during The Argument podcast. He spoke of the book as presenting a title character that was much more interesting than the character in the original movie; and although the character in the book was different (meaner, mostly) than the movie character, I just wasn't interested. I'd gotten the book thinking it would be a book that I'd read with my daughter as part of our book club, but having read it, I don't think it's worth my daughter's time. I also had it in my head for some reason that Mr. Banks played a larger role in the book than in the movie. He didn't. He hardly appeared in the book at all. For purely narcissistic reasons, as a working dad with little kids, that was disappointing.

As for books I'm currently reading or will be reading soon:
  • A Man for All Seasons: A Play in Two Acts; Robert Bolt (about St. Thomas More)
  • Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation; Ken Starr
  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain; Eagleman
  • Brave New World; Huxley (I've been meaning to read this as an adult)
  • John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court; Brookhiser
  • St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians
As for St. Paul's letter, the ubiquitous "Love is kind, patient, etc." reading from Chapter 13 of the letter was the second reading at mass on Sunday, and based on a recommendation from our priest, I decided it's probably time I read the full letter so I can, among other things, understand the "Love is patient, etc." passage in better context.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Bless me Father, for I have sinned; it's been 7 months since my last confession . . . .

It's been an exciting 7 months, however. The day after my last post I stayed the night in a Catholic-run homeless shelter, where I volunteered to make sure everyone got fed and that there were no disruptions. That was a sort of penance, I suspect, because two days later I left to go on an exorbitant Disney Cruise with my family (my third; it's the only way I'll do Disney). Thankfully, my kids are starting to grow out of the Disney thing.

I also went on trips to Costa Rica (with my wife and a big group of friends), Boston (for a conference), the beach (with the family), on a camping trip (with neighbors), and on some short trips to Florida to visit family. I think we're going to go back to Costa Rica for spring break and take the kids this time. It's a wonderful country.

Professionally, I had my first jury trial in March (lawyers of my specialty don't often go to trial, and jury trials are very rare), which was exciting. And my decision to "downsize" my career continues to be the right one. We don't miss the money, and I'm working about 10-15 hours less a week than I was when I was doing the biglaw thing; and I'm continuing to work for great clients with interesting issues. I'm using the extra time to: (1) teach Sunday School, a first for me; (2) take a more active role around the house and with the kids, including lots of time spent playing chess and kicking the soccer ball or throwing the football around with my kids; (3) read; (4) actively participate in community/church groups; (5) hang out with my wife; (6) watch more TV than I'd care to admit (though Ken Burns' Country Music documentary is amazing!); and (7) spend time with friends. Also, starting in a few weeks, I'll begin training to become a volunteer canon lawyer for my diocese, which is a bucket list item for me.

Our net worth has grown healthily enough, to just over $600,000. And we've mostly stopped closely tracking our spending, largely due to the fact that we've automated so much of our savings--401Ks; 529 contributions; HSA; extra mortgage principal payments; and taxable mutual fund contributions--that we feel pretty OK spending what's left over, which isn't a whole lot for a family of 4 living in a large metro area with 2 kids in parochial school; but it's still more than enough.

The big news for us is that we are about to downsize our living situation once again, as we will be moving from our current townhouse (to which we moved from a large detached home on an acre of land), to a smaller townhouse that is directly across the street from where our kids are in school (and where they will be in school for the next seven years). The new house is also 3/4 of a mile from my work. This means the kids can walk to school and I can walk to work, and my wife won't have to drive to work either because she can walk to where her employer's free shuttle picks up.

This also means that we'll knock $60K off of our mortgage, which will be paid off in 4-5 years, and we've FINALLY been able to downsize to just one car! (Something I've been trying to figure out how to do for some time.) I happily sold the second car over this past weekend. And I'm happy to say that I sold it for about $1,250 more than I paid for it 2.5 years ago. I'm already enjoying the lower car insurance payment.

The move will knock a few months off of my projected FI date, which is nice. But more importantly, to pat ourselves on the backs, my wife and I are doing a good job of designing a life for ourselves that prioritizes what’s actually important to us and deprioritizes what’s not.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

One thought on selling the car; it was a Nissan Leaf. And I must say that if you have to have a second car, an electric one is not a bad way to go. It was an absolute blast to drive, and it cost next to nothing to own, with the exception of the crazy annual EV tax our state imposes to make up for the gas taxes we don't pay to repair highways that many EV drivers don't use. Plus, the smugness was nice. I'm not really surprised that the car appreciated in value over the 2.5 years I had it. I bought the car in 2017 when a lot of the 2015s were coming off leases at huge discounts due to the massive tax credits that were available for new EVs in 2015. Add that to the anxiety and uncertainty of the battery technology, and you ended up with a car that had a ~$30K price tag when it was new going for around $8K on the used market 2 years later. And now the used market for those same 2015s is closer to $10,000.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

My wife and I are really looking forward to the move to the new house. The convenience of the location (we can and will walk or bike everywhere), coupled with the savings (housing and transportation costs) make this a no brainer for us. Running the numbers today I realized that our spending has gone down two-thirds from when we started paying attention about 5 years ago--from about $16,000/month at the old house when I was at the biglaw job, to about $8,000 now, to what will be about $5,000 when we move to the new place. During that time we even switched our kids from "free" public schools to not-free parochial schools. And we haven't sacrificed anything of real value in the process of our downsizing. In fact our quality of life has drastically improved. We have a lot more time, and we spend that time focused on things that are actually important to us. Despite taking a big pay cut when I left biglaw for the life of a small firm lawyer, we will nevertheless be on track to have the house paid off in 5 years and to be financially independent in 6--when our oldest will have just started high school. The whole FIRE/ERE thing has been kind of a Trojan horse for me. I got interested in it because I was working and spending too much, and the idea of being able to say screw it and travel around in a van or whatever was really appealing. In the process, however, I've been forced to reflect on what's really important, and as a result I've become a better husband and father, and a more useful member of society. I don't think very many of us are really meant to work at one thing, all the time, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. But that's what a lot of our modern work culture seems to encourage, at least with respect to some of the white-collar professions. I suppose these are the eulogy virtues vs. career virtues that David Brooks talks about. And this is all stuff I should have learned long ago. But modern society seems to be generally crappy at educating the younger generations about the permanent truths; we instead seem to be fine with just letting people try and figure it out on their own, usually later in life (if at all), when it's mostly too late anyway.

Not sure where that tangent came from; I suppose this is all mid-life crisis stuff. But I'm feeling very grounded and content (knocking on wood); also, very thankful that the FIRE/ERE thing got its hooks in me, as it forced me to ask some really important questions that I might not have ever asked myself otherwise, as no-one in my peer group seems to be asking them.

suomalainen
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by suomalainen »

Man, feast or famine. Welcome back. And it sounds like you're making some awesome progress towards designing a satisfying life!
Hristo Botev wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:58 pm
The whole FIRE/ERE thing has been kind of a Trojan horse for me. I got interested in it because I was working and spending too much, and the idea of being able to say screw it and travel around in a van or whatever was really appealing. In the process, however, I've been forced to reflect on what's really important, and as a result I've become a better husband and father, and a more useful member of society. I don't think very many of us are really meant to work at one thing, all the time, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. But that's what a lot of our modern work culture seems to encourage, at least with respect to some of the white-collar professions.
I feel this. I myself am working on "what's really important" and, more importantly than that, how to make this human brain work within its biological and/or sociological parameters. In other words, how to find balance among the various important parts of life so that one is not constantly lurching from "putting out one fire to putting out the next fire" when things get out of whack and the focus jumps from one area of lack to the next to the next to the next. Switching/mixing metaphors, learning to tend to all the fires at once is the goal.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks @Suo. Yeah, I had been paper journaling for the past few months, but honestly the anonymous online journaling seems to be a superior option for me. There's something appealing about the chance that someone else might actually read something you've written down anonymously. And this forum in particular is so good at bringing together a lot of smart people from diverse backgrounds with diverse interests and goals, who are all at some level just questioning orthodoxy (small "o") and trying to figure out what the hell we are supposed to be doing with ourselves, whether that's raising a family, writing books, subsistence farming, public service, or traveling around in a van (or some combination of those things and others).

I think I may have posted something about this previously, but it's interesting to think about the ancient Greeks, who mostly lived lives of leisure thanks to various types of slave labor. And its interesting to think about what they did what all that free time, and all they contributed to the greater society in the nature of philosophy, art, science, government, and so on. And that's not really so different than the aristocrats and/or landed gentry, etc. of more modern times. We hold up the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson for what they were able to accomplish with their lives, and their various interests and pursuits. But of course they had the time to pursue those interests thanks to slave labor. This is also sort of true for the 19th and 20th century WASPy American aristocratic types like the Roosevelts and the Bushes and so on, who are respected for their dedication to public service; but the post-war obsession with business and work, and being a company man, just seems to stifle creativity and any sort of non-consumerism-focused innovation; just figuring out newer and more efficient ways for people to get fat and to mindlessly entertain themselves and pass the time, and to trick ourselves into thinking that we're actually doing something praiseworthy with our lives. From the prophet Sturgill:

Well nobody’s looking up to care about a drone
All too busy looking down at our phone
Ego’s begging for food like a dog from a feed
Refreshing obsessively until our eyes start to bleed
They serve up distractions and we eat them with fries
Until the bombs fall out of our fucking skies


Anyway, I think that's what is interesting about the ERE/FIRE thing, once you get past the whole SWR and passive vs. active investing stuff, etc., you get in to some really, really interesting questions about what the hell we are supposed to do with ourselves if we don't have to go sit behind a desk for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 50 years of our lives (or grow our own food; or make our own clothes; or educate our own kids). It's the same sorts of questions people are asking with the universal basic income issue, and with AI and robots replacing our jobs. But these aren't new questions, society has been thinking about and coming up with really good answers to these questions for as long as one group of people has been able to exert power and influence over other people. Seems like it's progress if "people" we are exerting power and influence over are robots and not people at all. But is it progress that we render ourselves essentially unnecessary to our own existence and subsistence; so that we're supposed to just turn into some Wall-E type of race of people who just sits around figuring out ways to entertain ourselves?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

At Sunday school this past week I taught the kids about St. Therese of Lisieux, who is one of my favorites. Her "little way" of spirituality, which caused St. Pope John Paul II to name her a Doctor of the Church: Do the ordinary things of life well and with extraordinary love. I love that; a clear path to holiness.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Both closings are now done, and we are in our new house. I have a spreadsheet titled "Loans," which goes back over a decade-plus of student loans ($150K+ for DW and me combined), car loans (worst was $25K), and home loans. On the home loans, the worst was on our second house, when we convinced ourselves we needed more space and a bigger yard, and bought a $625K money-pit, with a first mortgage ($417K), a second mortgage ($85K), and a personal loan to my father-in-law left over from when we bought our first house (~$25K). In our efforts to downsize over the past few years, we've spent more than I'd like to admit on real estate commissions, closing costs, and moving expenses. But the student loans and the car loans are long gone, and our only debt now is one 15-year mortgage for $180K at 3.3% for a house we bought (without realtors) for $325,000. We'd been putting an extra $2K to mortgage principal on our last house, and we will continue to do that on the new house, which means our 15-year mortgage will be paid off in 5 years, at about which point our family of 4 should be financially independent, even factoring in Catholic school tuition and college expenses.

The new house is an absolute dream. The kids are loving the independence of being able to walk to school by themselves (as well as the community pool, the green space, all the neighborhood kids, and the adjacent city park), and DW is enjoying her 2.5-mile walk to work as well (she has a free shuttle she can take when it's raining or too hot). Even the dog is loving the fact that her morning and evening constitutionals involve trips to the adjacent dog park. My work commute is 3/4 of a mile, which I walk or ride, depending on how quickly I need to get to/from work. And EVERYTHING (grocery store, liquor store, bars/restaurants, dry cleaners, record store, cafe, church, frame store, drug store, jewelry store, running shoe store, etc.) is within walking distance. It just boggles my mind that this community exists in the middle of a dense, urban setting. There is no cut-through traffic, and so the kids have free reign to wander around the neighborhood and the surrounding parks without adult supervision. I feel like they'll get what I consider to be a real childhood (i.e., my childhood), which involves the freedom to roam and explore without parents hovering over them and scheduling every minute of their day.

There's a lot of work to do at the house--boxes to unpack, pictures to hang, decisions to make on renovations, and so forth. But DW and I finally feel like we're at home. The added bonus is that we feel as if we've somehow gamed the system. I could lament over all the bad financial and housing decisions we've made in the past, but there's really no point, and we wouldn't be where we are now but for those poor decisions. I'm just thankful that our careers and incomes (and the stability of our marriage and our faith) made it so that those poor decisions didn't sink us, financially or otherwise.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Not surprisingly the move and all the craziness involved with selling and buying a house has thrown my routine totally out of whack. Hopefully this weekend we will be able to get the house situated enough that I can get back into a regular routine starting next week. To that end, here's what I'm thinking, which hopefully is more than just aspirational:
  • 5:15-6:00: Wake-up and exercise (run or HIIT)
  • 6:00-7:30: Coffee, walk the dog, breakfast with the kids, read/audiobook, send the kids off to school
  • 7:30-8:00: Shower, dress, commute
  • 8:00-5:30: Work
  • 5:30-6:00: Commute and pick up kids
  • 6:00-8:00: Dinner and family time
  • 8:00-9:30: Read or TV
  • 9:30: Sleep

Hristo Botev
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Sadhu Sundar Sigh

Post by Hristo Botev »

"Without daily intercourse with God there is no piety, no Christianity, no real life."

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

The move and the 90+ degree heat have wiped me out physically, and I woke up with body aches and a bit of a fever. It's been nonstop movement for about the past week, apart from time spent at work, and I'm ready to be settled. We're getting close--the family living areas and our bedroom are about 95% done. We've got the kids rooms to do, which we've had to wait on as we wait for a bed to arrive for my son, who has been sleeping in his sister's room for the time being. I've also got to arrange the patio and the garage. Once that's complete, then we will have to start having some hard talks about what work will need to be done to the house. At a minimum we need to put a third full bathroom in the bottom level, where the washer and dryer currently are, so that my son will have his own bathroom. The entire family pretty much shared one bathroom at our last house, even though it had 3 full baths, because the water pressure was pretty crappy everywhere except for the master bath. And that actually wasn't that much of an inconvenience. But our son will be down on the bottom floor by himself, and if we don't get him a bath then he will no doubt just urinate on the garage floor in the middle of the night (he's already done it once). Apart from that, the whole house could use a refresh; from bathrooms to popcorn ceilings to windows and doors that are long overdue to be replaced. DW and I are both the kind of people who absolutely dread doing things like picking out floor and bathroom finishes, etc., which is no doubt one of the reasons why we've moved so many times in our marriage rather than making a place our own. This time, I suspect, we will actually spend some real money on a renovation. I have mixed feelings about that, but ultimately I do want to make this new place our home. The location and the community and the amenities (and the mortgage) are all wonderful; so I think it's worth the expense.

Started listening to Steinbeck's Cannery Row on my walk to work this morning, and I really love Steinbeck's writing. It's amazing how much substance he is able to pack in to a sentence. I read his The Pearl earlier this year, which just blew me away.

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Bankai
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Re: Sadhu Sundar Sigh

Post by Bankai »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:58 am
Without daily intercourse there is no real life
You're pushing it, but generally, I agree.

Hristo Botev
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St. Therese of Lisieux

Post by Hristo Botev »

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Turns out the body aches and fever I was complaining about at the end of September were a bit more serious than I originally thought. The fevers got worse, and so I stayed home thinking it was the flu and it'd go away with rest. When it didn't, I went to an urgent care facility for a diagnosis, worried that it might be pneumonia, of which my daughter just had a mild case. The urgent care doctor confirmed it wasn't the flu, and she also said (incorrectly) it wasn't pneumonia. Rather, she said it was an upper respiratory infection that would go away on its own in about 8-10 days. When it didn't, after 10 miserable days at home, I finally went to see my primary care provider who immediately sent me to the emergency room because my oxygen levels were so low. Turns out it was a massively severe case of pneumonia that ultimately required me to be intubated because I couldn't breathe sufficiently even with a cpap. I was discharged after about 2 weeks, but it will be several more weeks before I'm able to do regular physical activities (like climbing stairs) without getting winded. I guess the good news is that I lost about 25 pounds during the ordeal, but I'll no doubt put most of that back on relatively quickly now that I've mostly got my appetite back.

As with last year's near-fatal bike accident, I've been overwhelmed with the love and support I've received from friends, family, and church. As with last year's accident, I'm once again blown away by what an absolutely incredible wife I have; she is solid as a rock and I would be a smidgen of the man I am but for her. I'd say the experience helped me put things in perspective, but it really didn't. I have things in perspective, I think. And I'm hoping that these serious medical emergencies don't become an annual thing. I'm kind of over it.
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

Glad you are surviving, maybe you can be the pitchman for a pneumonia-as-viable-weight-loss program/scheme.

Thank God for your wife.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Holy crap! I'm glad you're OK.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I mentioned this in my prior post, but the silver lining in the pneumonia ordeal (a/k/a "the lost month") is that I dropped about 25 pounds thanks to a month of having no appetite (during some of which I was being fed through a feeding tube) and no alcohol. Prior to the pneumonia I was about 30 pounds overweight, so dropping 25 pounds is a big deal.

I figured I'd probably put a bunch of the weight back on quickly now that I have a my appetite back and I'm drinking again, coupled with the fact that I'm not yet able to do meaningful exercise; but I haven't really. Since coming home from the hospital I've gone from 167 to 170 in about 3 weeks or so, but that's it. I haven't seen 170 in over 15 years, since I was in the Peace Corps. And it's wonderful. All of my clothes fit, and I've had to notch another hole in my belt to keep my jeans up.

I'm going to try and maintain this weight, and perhaps even drop another 5 pounds so that, for the first time in my adult life, I'll have a BMI that qualifies as "normal."

DW and I have a very general plan to limit drinking to 1-2 drinks a night, seriously limit take out and trips to restaurants, avoid snacking between meals, and eat home-cooked meals. That combined with some exercise should do the trick.

Regarding home-cooked meals, one of the HUGE benefits of DW and I living so close to where we work (less than a mile for me; about 3 miles for DW) and so close to where our kids are in school (across the street) is that we have a TON of time in the evenings, when we'd otherwise be commuting and chauffeuring our kids around. Our kids spend this time playing and getting ready for the next day, and DW and I often spend this time talking in the kitchen while DW cooks and I mix cocktails. This is wonderful, quality time; and it is very conducive to being able to routinely eat home-cooked meals at home.

Regarding exercise, I'm currently on the fence about whether to commit to running a half marathon (my first) in the spring. This is in part an FU to the pneumonia, and it is in part an effort to get my energy levels and lung capacity back to where they were. I've seen some quick improvement over the past few weeks regarding energy levels and lung capacity, as I've gone from not being able to walk to the bathroom without getting winded to being able to walk the mile to work with no strain on my lungs. But I've got a long way to go before I'm able to stick to a sustained half-marathon training plan. If I do a 10-week training plan, then I'd need to start around Christmas, which gives me about 7 weeks from now to get to a point where I can run about 10-15 miles a week. You'd think that would be a piece of cake, but I can assure you that recovering from a severe case of pneumonia is no joke.

If I do end up running a half marathon in the spring, then I think my next goal would be to run a full marathon not long thereafter. This is a bit of a bucket list item for me, and I'm not getting any younger.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

DW called me at work yesterday around 4 to tell me that there was some sort of water leak at the house and that there was a large bubble of water hanging from our ceiling and dripping onto the floor. I walked quickly home and, once I realized that whatever the problem was, it was beyond my skill set to diagnose or fix, I called a plumber. $541 later ($300 emergency dispatch fee plus $241 diagnosis fee) we were left with a large hole in our first floor ceiling and a diagnosis that the grout work in my kids' shower was poorly done, such that the entire floor of the shower was leaking as water seeped through the grout. The good news is that we didn't have an active water leak, and the kids can shower in our bathroom for the time being. Also, we were already planning on meeting with a contractor next week to begin the process of renovating the kitchen and the two bathrooms, and adding a third to the basement where my son's bedroom is. I know a big part of the ERE thing is doing work yourself. But honestly, as much as I love our new house, it's full of bad renovation decisions and shoddy workmanship because the prior owner was a DIY guy. That's true for the 4 other houses we looked at in our new neighborhood as well. Our townhome community was built in the late 80s (popcorn ceilings, lots of unnecessary railings, etc.), and so there really is a cap on how much the homes will sell for, because resale on homes built in the 80s in my city (which is filled with desirable 1920s bungalows and new construction) just isn't good. We benefited from that of course when we bought the house a couple months ago for a fraction of what 3-bedroom homes in our city normally go for. But this resale cap also means that unlike what is often the case with detached homes or even non-1980s condos and townhomes, if you put a significant amount of money into a renovation in my neighborhood you shouldn't expect to make much or any of that money back when you sell the house. The result it seems is that most people in the neighborhood do home renovation projects on their own, or with the help of a "contractor" who is really just a buddy with limited skills. And so in every house we looked at in our community, we saw lots and lots of just really crappy construction work. Anyway, I will leave the DIY home renovation stuff to the more handy of you ERE folks. I'm hiring a contractor who comes highly recommended from multiple friends who I have confidence will not screw up the grout work resulting in a huge hole in my ceiling.

Hristo Botev
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Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Also, even though this particular home purchase was a very friendly process done informally and without realtors, I still should have insisted on having an inspection done (DW was concerned that insisting on an inspection might torpedo the deal, which might have been true, and that since we were planning on doing a renovation anyway, we didn't really need the inspection). As I recall home inspectors do a test where they plug up shower drains and leave a few inches of water in the shower for an hour or so, as a way to make sure that water isn't leaking through the grout work or otherwise. That simple test would have revealed the leak issue that resulted in the hole in our ceiling.

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