MBB_Boy's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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MBBboy
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:11 pm

MBB_Boy's journal

Post by MBBboy »

TLDR at bottom

Following my decision to make an account and post an intro, I’ve also decided that the best way for me to explore ERE is to start a journal and start engaging a bit in the community. I’ve been reading a few other ones without commenting – now that I have my own I’ll feel empowered to chime in on the journey of others now that they will have the option to lob some criticism and questions my way. Fair’s fair.
I don’t know if ERE is truly for me, but I do know that I’ve reached diminishing returns in my primary internet lifestyle outlet (Bogleheads). I’d like to spend less of my online time there and more of it elsewhere, because it’s gotten repetitive.

An analogy that I’ve come up is that my FI game is strong, like a longtime marriage. We’re in love, I’ve fully internalized its aspects into my daily life, and been enriched by it. Alternatively, I’d rate myself an A+ here on a grade scale.

Prepping is the hot girl I picked up at the bar. We’ve exchanged numbers, flirted a lot, gone on a few dates, even made out once or twice. But I haven’t fully committed, and I don’t know where this is going. We recently got drunk together and now I have a generator and an interlock on my house. I’ve got a long way to go. I’d rate my prepping as a C+. Passing.

ERE is currently the cute girl that’s a friend of a friend. She’s popped up at a few BBQs, we’ve chatted a few times, and every once in a while I find myself sort of eyeing her from across the party. I don’t even know if she’s interested, or if am. But I’m curious and wondering if I should ask her to lunch on a weekday. My grade is incomplete at best, but perhaps the community will give me an F (aka reject me) once I eventually get around to discussing spending.

Because the “problem” with potential fit is that while we have saved between 45-65% of our incomes since we’ve been married and I found FIRE………our incomes are large. I was completely comfortable and ok with that before, but part of the intellectual discomfort I’ve been purposefully seeking is leading me to pressure test whether I’m ok with our spending. Many people here would be saving 95%+. With our net worth / investments, my read of the forum says most would already be FI. Instead, I’m projecting FI in another 5 years subject to uncertainty from children. I’ve read Medsavers journal with interest.

My first month or so reading here was a struggle – many of the perspectives, tones, and opinions were grating. I decided to press on and keep going as an exercise in intellectual discomfort. I eventually found the blog (which I realized I had run across a few times years and years ago), through the blog decided to take a chance on the book.

I really enjoyed the book. I read it cover to cover during my beach time on our recent vacation in Miami – at a St. Regis resort no less, so the irony was certainly not lost on me. But like any good WL5, I rationalized it away because I got a great deal and used points accrued during my / my wife’s management consulting careers.

I’m not sure what’s happened, but the early blog and the book have a different feel than I’m picking up from the online community. I surmise that things have simply gotten more extreme over the past 10 or so years, which makes sense.

I have a “comparison is the thief of joy” problem. The first order insight of that saying is that there are many people who are happy / content until they compare themselves to others – after which they become unhappy even though nothing has changed. Therefore, don’t compare yourselves to others and focus inward / on things you can control.

HOWEVER, comparison might be the only way to recognize that change is needed. You can be perfectly happy with your head in the sand saving 5% of your income for retirement, buying everything that’s advertised to you, being overweight, and working until you are 67 when social security kicks in. We certainly wouldn’t suggest that person stay on their path because comparing themselves to people pursuing FIRE or ERE is the “thief of joy”.
If I was part of a murder board and forced to counter this point, I’d accuse myself of conflating knowledge and comparison. You can learn of a new way without necessarily comparing yourself to the people walking it…….but I don’t know if that’s realistic.

TL;DR: WL5 thinks most people would be envious of position and say he’s doing great. Married and happy, 50% savings rate, will be FI by 40, happy at work, kid on the way, etc etc. But THIS community will provide a different, likely critical point of view. He hasn’t done enough, spends waaaaaaay too many JAFIs, should have been FI years ago, and is ruining the planet by having a lawn and two cars. Starting a journal to decide how to weigh these POVs and what changes may be warranted.

mountainFrugal
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri May 07, 2021 2:26 pm

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by mountainFrugal »

Welcome. Looking forward to following along.

mathiverse
Posts: 200
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Welcome! I'm curious how you'll change things now that you're actively involved! I'm looking forward to following along as well.

I started in a similar position with respect to income and spending. I always enjoy seeing how others handle that starting point and what changes they make because I find those stories inspiring and relatable due to the similarities to my own path. I've gotten my spending lower, but I haven't hit really low levels yet. Maybe in another few years as I gradually figure out how to ramp things down.

jacob
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Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by jacob »

MBBboy wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:13 pm
I’m not sure what’s happened, but the early blog and the book have a different feel than I’m picking up from the online community. I surmise that things have simply gotten more extreme over the past 10 or so years, which makes sense.
Time happened. It's been almost 15 years since I started the blog and there has been some development.

I'd judge the blog as WL4 in 2007 and WL6+ in 2011.
Here's a list of the posts in chronological order: https://wiki.earlyretirementextreme.com ... ed_by_Date

The ERE book is WL6-7.

The gravity of the forum used to sit around WL5-6 for the longest time but over the past couple of years it has moved to WL6-7.

Married2aSwabian
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:45 pm

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by Married2aSwabian »

Welcome! The accountability of tracking and posting monthly expenses is huge and the feedback from this forum is great. We’ve fallen short of budget goals several times last year (also stuck around WL5) but are more confident in making decisions when everything is being tracked more closely. Sure there are plenty of diverse approaches / philosophies, but that makes it kinda interesting. :)
Last edited by Married2aSwabian on Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

MBBboy
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:11 pm

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by MBBboy »

Thanks for the welcome everyone!

@Jacob - exactly as I surmised, thanks for confirming! It's a bit like what happens when you watch old TV shows or movies. Seeing Steve Carell or Will Smith in current times is a shock when your view of their age is encapsulated forever in the sitcoms.

Dream of Freedom
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Location: Nebraska, US

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by Dream of Freedom »

MBBboy wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:13 pm

I really enjoyed the book. I read it cover to cover during my beach time on our recent vacation in Miami – at a St. Regis resort no less
:o :lol:

MBBboy
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:11 pm

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by MBBboy »

I’m beginning a series exploring each of our budget categories, starting from the most expensive and continuing down until the line of irrelevance. My wife and I have detailed tracking by category for the past 7 years, and I create a 2x per year presentation that includes a waterfall chart of all of our expenses (among other things).

The only thing I’ve struggled with before starting this is whether or not I should share the $ amount of each category, or just the % of income. Given my intelligence background and personal inclinations, I’m basically allergic to sharing personal information, even anonymously. Sharing the actual $ amounts makes me uncomfortable……..which is exactly why I’m going to do it. The primary reason I stuck with lurking the forum and ultimately making an account is because I have found many of the thoughts and expressions grating and uncomfortable.

I’ve thought deeply about the potential risks, and ultimately thought of the potential downsides in a 2x2 fashion, with an X axis of severity and a Y axis of probability. What were the potential outcomes if I shared this info, got doxed, and someone stapled together all the posts along with our EOY financial presentation and gave it to everyone that knows me?

Turns out none of these things fall in the scary upper right quadrant (high probability, high severity) OR the upper left (high probability, low severity). Some things are on the tail risk side in the bottom right (low probability, high severity) – but the severity of the threat isn’t affected by sharing this info, only the probability….which remains low. Everything in this box is already cared for, because I already practice good behavioral and digital hygiene (no social media, unique usernames and passwords, MFA, no wifi that isn’t my own, etc etc). And then there’s the bottom left (low probability, low severity) which I would tell any client to dismiss without further action, so I’m going to take my own professional advice.

Preamble out of the way, on to the first entry:

MBBboy
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:11 pm

Re: MBB_Boy's journal

Post by MBBboy »

Housing

Background: We bought our new build, 3 bedroom, 2K sqft house a few years ago when we moved here. It’s bigger than we needed immediately, but not as big or expensive as we could afford. We decided that moving multiple times would be stupid, so we got more than we needed with the plan to grow into it with kids (first one on the way!). We paid 38.4K last year, with a 2.375% fixed rate. Our mortgage is 3,776 a month (did another refinance last year, so numbers won’t foot). The mortgage was 20% of our expenses last year.

I am aware that you don’t NEED a house of this size to raise a family, and that my grandparents generation did more with less. The average American house has gotten bigger, even as family size has shrunk https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl ... 4135.t001/

Motivation to change and rationale: Low. We like our house, the interest rate is really low, and our housing costs (and all other costs by extension) are not a significant portion our revenue. We are 5 minutes away from our grocery and a great park where we jog and take long walks, short biking distance from a 20mi round trip bike path, and less than 15 minutes away from downtown. The plan was to have and raise some kids here, and there’s no functional reason why that plan has to change. In summary, the interest rate is lower than historical inflation, and the payment itself is not a burden.

The Good:
• Interest rate
• Low % of income
• Location
• Like the house
• Smaller house footprint than national average
• New build

The Bad:
• Yearly payments are still higher than an average person’s salary
• Time and money on house maintenance (not unique to this house)
• Ever rising property taxes (not unique to this house)

The Ugly:
• I don’t honestly think there’s an ugly here

Current go forward plan: Keep the house, will be 45K this year due to full year of higher payments after refinance (I shortened the term from 30 years to 20 years to optimize rate and cashback). I don’t feel a psychological need to be debt free

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