...most FIRE discussions I see are rooted in near-term or long-term time frames.
Near-term (~1 year): e.g. what's your yearly budget? Do you have a 6 month emergency fund? One time events like: I did X and saved Y dollars
Long-term (20+ years): e.g. tax/social security/pension strategies when elderly, perpetual withdrawal rates (25x vs. 33x)
In ERE as Chess terms, these are conversations about Openings and Endgames, which are typically either formulaic or foregone conclusions. Which is all well and good to keep studying and rehashing, but how you think about the impenetrable fog of the Middlegame matters way more. Near as I can tell, the medium-term (~5-10 years) is by far the most important time frame with respect to planning.
So within that context, my mind has been kicking back against the implicit assumptions embedded in FIRE. There is no "financial independence" because I can't remove myself from any system (finance, humanity, nature, etc.—however those terms are defined). Independence implies that you've "solved" the problem of money, but because money is completely embedded within societal and cultural and natural systems, there is no "answer". It's only a mirage. It's thinking something is there when it isn't. It's a fundamentally flawed way of thinking.
Thinking I have the "answer" would also lull me into a false sense of security. It would be easy for me to stop paying attention to changing circumstances.
Dave on converging upon a relaxed 'exploit' balance in his lifestyle and ending regular journal updates. Link.
Dave wrote:And in the cases when I do stuff, journaling about it feels somewhat forced - it very well might just be a personality thing with me - but sometimes I feel sharing "projects" is somewhat obnoxious where I'm describing activities that are quite obviously wholesome and good in ERE lingo that really aren't that interesting (at the level I am doing them). Sometimes walking to the park to do pull-ups is just walking to the park, and picking up trash along a canal while chatting with strangers is just cleaning up the backyard. Throwing in words/phrases like yields and WoGs and homeotelic and stoke is just overcomplicating common-sense living principles of enjoying life while being a productive and contributing member of society.
A path to learn about active investing that one can copy or compare to. May be useful for those looking for alternative ways to get into active investing other than reading the ERE investment curriculum. (YMMV on results though!)
A case study of someone trying to focus on removing the distinction between work and play
Great topic. I’m currently talking to my father about his estate plan. He’s in his 80s. Terminally ill. And he hasn’t spent enough money yet (according to him).
He has lived frugally all his life and now accumulates money for the sake of accumulating money. He doesn’t need anymore cash. His income exceeds his expenses by 5x right now. When I pulled him aside in May and suggested we start getting things in order he said what he usually has said over the years “Wait, I think I’m going to start spending my money.” It has recently changed to, “wait, I’m going to spend some of it, but perhaps I’ve waited too long.”
Right after he said that he just fell over on the grass next to me. Knees buckled. I was showing him my freshly mowed lawn. I knelt down to pick him up and he said he just wanted to lie there and look up at the trees. His trees.
The guy has a few months to a year to live and he hasn’t spent an extra dollar more since we met. I’m staring at his balances on my terminal watching them go up, not down.
I’m mentioning this because the the guy is kind of my ghost of Christmas future. I too have lived frugally and invested my money. I live on a fraction of the income...not quite 5x but it will eventually get there if I live into my 80s. Always feeling I don’t have enough. Always sacrificing for tomorrow.
It’s kind of sad. I think it’s okay to save aggressively. People here get satisfaction from doing that. But to get a pang of regret at the end of the line that you forgot to spend your money is a sad place to be.
Something to think about before I get there. It’s kinda tragic.
I think FFJ mentioned recently that buying most things doesn’t give him the satisfaction it once did. I’m there. It’s really hard to find anything that adds more value. Yet I worry about a moment in the midnight hour when I realize I have a ton of unused wealth that I feel I need to spend while I’m wasting away in bed wheezing through an O2 mask on my face. And, all I can do is think about spending my money.