Hello from Boston

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bookworm
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:19 pm

Hello from Boston

Post by bookworm »

Hi all! I'm a 30-year old guy from the Boston area who has been a long-time lurker of these forums for many years.

Background:

I grew up in a frugal household by consumerist standards. My parents had a paid off home and no consumer debt. They bought used cars and ran them to the ground. Instead of Disney, vacation was camping in a nearby state. My father was and is a DIY "jack of all trades" type.

After getting disillusioned in my first job at a big defense contractor, I first read the ERE book back in 2018. At the time, what really clicked with me was the system-level thinking which naturally resonated with me as a software engineer. It was a shock to my system that I needed at the time. I started learning to cook my own food instead of buying lunch at the cafeteria. I did a highly inconsistent buy-nothing year. I looked into a new cell phone plan. And I started investing in index funds.

At this point and until rather recently, I was much more in the extreme early retirement mode than early retirement extreme mode (much more LeanFIRE than ERE). The focus was on growing the stash, and also on the absolute number rather than things like SWR. I felt like the 4% rule was conservative, and that if I just chugged along and scrimped and saved, I would magically be able to quit my job one day and go into the early retirement lifestyle. That said, I still managed to develop some useful skills along the way, and poured time and energy into hobbies that I found personally interesting: music, reading, and political activism.

In the next year or so, I started learning more about the climate crisis and related issues and began to fall into a doomer mindset. I began to experience some cognitive dissonance between the perceived reality that we are headed for some difficult times ahead and my rather optimistic 4% WR financial independence dream. Along with this, I was still working the same boring job I got after college acting like everything was normal and okay.

Then the pandemic happened. I went from a daily (~2 hr) bus commute to working from home 100%. My job, which was already rather laid back, became even less demanding. I no longer had music gigs or political meetings to distract me at night. I felt a sense of freedom that I never really felt before in my working life. I took long walks around the neighborhood. I dove into music practice. I started studying algorithms to pass programming interviews to get a job at a company that I found less morally objectionable. I became more consistent with meditation and took my mental health seriously. I exercised intentionally and developed an interest in gardening.


After a lot of initial difficulty passing interviews, I managed to land a new job making more $ at a biotech startup doing software. At this point, I had saved around 20x expenses, so I started to see the runway to the conventional FIRE start to appear in the near future. The new job was good, but I began to get really stressed out by the go-go culture of the startup, some serious office politics that blocked getting things done, and the need to commute into the office most days. So I switched jobs yet again after a year.

At this point, I had something of a mental health crisis precipitated by the job switch, moving in with my GF, and some family issues. But things began to pull back together, although I became much more focused on day-to-day survival more than learning anything new for a while. Fast forward 9 months into the new job, and I got laid off in a corporate restructuring during January of this year. At this point, I was right on the edge of 4% SWR.

I felt like I wanted to jump in the corporate software rat race again, but I was also burnt out with the old job and needed a break. Deep down, I also wanted to see what would happen when I just let myself free from the structure and routine of the 9-5 for a couple months. Even more than at the start of COVID, this was another amazing period for my personal development. I read a lot. I took long walks. I started attending a Quaker meeting. I reconnected with people I hadn't seen in a while. I made more progress in learning Spanish during a couple months than over years prior. I took a trip on Amtrak across the country.

Current Situation:

I found a new job as a software developer in a WFH contract role and have been working there since May. A couple months ago, I passed the 25x expenses mark, so by the standard I set for myself at the start I am now FI. I also reread the ERE book two times this year along with many of the books in the bibliography, and I began to realize the importance of a skills-based approach to any early retirement in my future. (It also knocked the wind out of some of the lifestyle creep that I'd let happen during the long march to FI.) I think part of the reason I chose to go back to another software job is because I didn't sufficiently develop my skill set when I was so focused on the money/career side of things, so that when the job disappeared I both lacked the confidence to find alternative income and experience boredom after a period of relaxation due to a rusty skillset. The next couple of years I want to build the resiliency, competence, and confidence to make a more definitive lifestyle shift, and hopefully a regular journal here will help the process. Overall though, I feel happy and fortunate to be able to have these options and to be where I am now.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to interacting more with a community that I've learned so much from already!

NewBlood
Posts: 208
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:45 pm

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by NewBlood »

Welcome!
I completely relate to the cognitive dissonance you mention. Looking forward to reading more about your journey.

bookworm
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:19 pm

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by bookworm »

Thank you! And yes - I feel like it's taken while for me to get out of the standard FI of thinking. I still fall back on it from time to time.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 2239
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Contact:

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by AxelHeyst »

Welcome bookworm, thanks for sharing your story to date. It'll be interesting to follow along your journey from here - looking forward to it.

avalok
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:42 am
Location: West Midlands, UK; Walkscore 73

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by avalok »

Welcome bookworm. With the focus for you switching to resiliency, sounds like a good time to join the forum. Will be interested to hear future updates from you.

ertyu
Posts: 3032
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by ertyu »

Congrats on achieving conventional FIRE! looking forward to your first journal post with your strategy of skill acquisition!

chickenstick
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2023 8:05 pm

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by chickenstick »

Wow man! That's fantastic. Y'all hiring a UI/UX designer? /halfjoking

GardenDee
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:57 am

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by GardenDee »

Hello from outside Boston! Looking forward to reading about your skills acquisition!

bookworm
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:19 pm

Re: Hello from Boston

Post by bookworm »

@AxelHeyst Thank you for your contributions in the forum. Your journal has been a great source of inspiration and learning for me. Looking forward to more podcast episodes!
@ertyu Thank you! I really appreciate your contributions over the years, speaking as a long time reader/lurker.
@avalok That's the hope for sure! I feel I had to go through a long period of personal growth and some trial and error to realize this lifestyle approach might be for me.
@chickenstick Hah, I wish! It's almost all backend work at this point. :)
@GardenDee Good to hear from someone local! I technically live outside the city limits as well (greater Boston as they say).

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