A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by DutchGirl » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:22 pm

Hi Dave,

Nice to meet you!
IlliniDave wrote:Learning as I Go

2. There appear to be some conventions/content traditions for these journal entries. I couldn't find where they are spelled out (book perhaps?), so I've been a bit overly conversational and substantially deficient on the fact reporting. It wasn't intentional.
Maybe it's because a lot of people here are engineers and other "numbers-loving"-people? I can drive my boyfriend crazy by my apparent lack of interest in numbers. I often joke that I count: "1, 2, many / a lot".

For the life of me I can't be interested in whether we have 6 million or 6 billion or maybe 50 million basepairs in our DNA, on the amount of zeroes when describing the amount of stars in the universe, or on the amount of electricity that is produced by a wind turbine. It's "a lot"...

I loved reading your musings, and I hope they are also helping you improve your life in some way.

I'm probably also doing ERE-light, given that I spent roughly $25k last year and will do the same this year. And that I will probably be FI only by age 45 to 50 or so... Hopefully! But this forum inspires me and is also an antidote to the people who are spending all they earn and then some. It shows me that so much more is possible than what I thought is possible...

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:32 am

Hi DutchGirl, good to meet you too!

I do quite a lot of musing, and yes, it is helpful. I once read somewhere that writing involves a significantly larger portion of one's brain than simply sitting and thinking. I don't know if that is true, but I do find that the process of fishing "things" from my subconscious/intuition and assembling them in the language of conscious thought helps me figure out what I really think (if that makes any sense).

I think you might be right regarding the numbers. I don't know who are engineers and who are not, but numbers are somewhat tangible and do tell part of the story, like it or not. When I wrote that I had noticed a degree of consistency in the handful of entries I looked at, so I thought maybe there was a facet to ERE that suggested journaling certain information.

I'm a numbers person insofar as I understand them pretty well. But I'm more engaged by inner growth, and possibility of remaking the calloused husk that was flung out the rat race machine's discard chute into something I can live with for (hopefully) the next few decades. I share your sense of inspiration!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:41 am

Another Day, Another Dollar?

Well, not quite, more like $0.83 for me--that's the expected increase to my monthly FI income attributable to a single workday under my present plan. It doesn't include the vagaries of investment returns.

When I begin to generate silly little numbers like that it's a sure sign that my enthusiasm is waning, and that I'm really "reaching" for some fresh way to think about things. I've noticed this tends to happen in the Spring which is the time of year I typically become deluged with a lot of tedious work around my house/property and feel like I lose ground on a daily basis. By the latter part of September I begin to feel caught up again. Autumn is always the best time of year for my spirits. Perhaps that bodes well for my retirement years.

$0.83 per month.

That will be my mantra today.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:45 am

Can I Whine a Little?

Sigh

I'm hoping I'll find some sympathetic listeners here.

In various places, both over the internet and in real life, I have ongoing discussions on the topics of lifestyle, money, and retirement. (There are perhaps good reasons why those subjects are considered taboo in some circles!)

I understand that what works for me won't work for everyone, and I'm fine with that. I can do the live and let live thing quite easily.

I'm also generally resilient. When push comes to shove I really don't care what people think about me. Maybe it's because I've become quite selfish in my "old" age, I dunno.

But I do get irritated at being continually lectured to when I know the lecturer is incorrect. Lately I seem to be getting a barrage of:

-You are making a big mistake if you retire too soon
-You are making a big mistake if you don't retire with an enormous amount of money
-You need to live a little
-You can't possibly be happy if you're running around with your TV disconnected, cooking lentils, and have to flip your phone open to use it.
-You should seek help (premise being that I'm wallowing in abject misery because of some disordered fear/insecurity about money in the future).

A person can have a good life without leaving $50-bills strewn behind them the way Hansel dropped bread crumbs! Is that really so hard to understand, even for the type of person who would prefer to pave the road with cash wherever she/he goes?! It is not a huge intellectual leap.

I try to patiently explain that my consumption rate and degree of happiness/contentment are inversely related. I am not eating Alpo and wearing clothes made from discarded potato sacks. I do not retrieve food from Dumpsters. I eat simply, sure (and my heath as indicated by weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels/composition, triglycerides, and resting heart rate are better than they've been in decades).

Does anyone else get this sort of grief from people? In general it comes from well-meaning people, but I can't possibly be that obtuse.

Sigh.

Okay, rant over. Now I'm going to seek out the positive aspects of the rest of my day.

EdithKeeler
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:06 pm

IlliniDave wrote:

Does anyone else get this sort of grief from people? In general it comes from well-meaning people, but I can't possibly be that obtuse.

Sigh.

Okay, rant over. Now I'm going to seek out the positive aspects of the rest of my day.


Yes, I do. And as I get happier and more excited about the prospect of my exit, I have to contain myself not to talk about it much. I have a few people that I am close enough to "talk money" with, and all but one of them thinks I'm crazy when I say something that goes against the grain of conventional money advice. So... I just don't talk about it much. (The one person who doesn't think I'm crazy has early semi-retired--he's a lawyer who's basically working only to pay his youngest son's college tuition. Of course, he's got a big inheritance coming from his very rich parents, too, so his reality and mine are not similar....).

Most everyone at work knows I don't have a TV. I mentioned this in front of a few people and it immediately became fodder for ongoing discussion: "But what do you do when you get home from work?" was the big one, like plunking your ass on the sofa to watch TV after sitting on your ass all day at work is the only option. I just smile an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile, like I've discovered the secret of the universe. I'm glad I've finally gotten beyond caring what other people think (for the most part...I still have moments). My true friends love me, though they appreciate that I've always been weird; my coworkers and acquaintance are just that and I only have to deal with them at work.

I think not talking about it is best. Otherwise we seem like those religious nuts that have "found the Answer" and want to share it; those are people I try to avoid, too!

"The first rule of early retirement is don't talk about early retirement. The second rule of early retirement is don't talk about early retirement..."

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:54 pm

EdithKeeler wrote: "The first rule of early retirement is don't talk about early retirement. The second rule of early retirement is don't talk about early retirement..."
Well, I've already violated both the rules. Naughty me. Today they decided that if I were to download Mrs IlliniDave Version 2.0, it might not be too late for me to be cured. In other words, the consensus is that my malady is largely due to a lack of adult supervision.

At least they have a sense of humor about it.

Seriously though, I should probably just keep mum. I'll have to work up a "I know something you don't know" facial expression.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:40 am

One Evening at Home

I pull the keys from my pocket
and lay them on the counter,
then my wallet.

Next is ambition.

Then worry, fear,
a worn nickel and
two pennies--one from Canada.

I rearrange them all
to make room for

regret

and a last bent paperclip.

Breathe.

Now I'm ready to
fling myself into Life--the
Festival of Empty Pockets

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:25 am

Little things on the Margin

I've gotten into the habit of washing dishes by hand (living alone does not generate the heaping sink-fulls of yore). It wasn't a huge surprise, but some cursory research indicated that by efficiently using my dishwasher I can probably reduce water usage a good bit, and even possibly reduce electricity. Forgoing the heated dry cycle would further lower electricity. Plus, automatic dishwashers just do a better job of sterilizing. I'm going to give it a try for a month or so and see how it works out.

With temps finally creeping into the 80s here in the southeast US, it's "cool" shower season, and before long I'll be progressing to cold (tap water is never truly "cold" here in the summer). Sadly, I'm just not resilient enough to handle cold showers in the winter.

I found a spot in my yard where I can hang a little laundry to air dry with it being very difficult to see. I kept it small because being spring the Covenant Enforcement Agents are patrolling the neighborhood eager to spot a dandelion or untrimmed bit of shrubbery. They'd mobilize their SWAT unit if they discovered such blatant probable cause as a pair of old jeans hanging out to dry.

Not a huge win, but my dryer ran for one less cycle than it normally would have. This is something I really want to institutionalize if I can. I wind up discarding a lot of clothing just because it gets threadbare from rolling around in the dryer (purportedly), and shaving a couple bucks a month off my electric bill is a good thing too.

Demolition in my bathrooms starts tomorrow, prompting some rearrangement of things. I think I'll be putting some really worn out old furniture out on the curb for the recyclers, freegans, and flea market enthusiasts to pick up. I just don't feel like keeping it around to try to milk a few bucks out of it at a yard sale or something. Is that bad?

I met a friend I haven't seen for a couple years and ate dinner at a restaurant last night, even had an overpriced craft beer. Only my second such excursion in 2014. $28 well-spent, even if it wasn't the optimal move from an early retirement perspective. Life is a many faceted thing.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:45 pm

Weakness and Accountability

I made my last trip to the grocery store this month and was doing my spending tabulations and looking at totals for April since for most items spending for the month is complete.

I'm particularly frustrated about my grocery expenses. So far this year they are as follows:

Jan $200
Feb $250
Mar $296
Apr $259

April was not quite as bad as it seems because a good chunk was plucking Easter loss-leaders and stocking up but still, stepping foot into the grocery store is relatively the most inefficient facet of my trek to ER.

The ironic thing is I dropped about 15-20 lbs over that stretch!

So the purpose of this entry is nothing more than to avow "publicly" that I will find some way to eat for $100 a month for each of the next 3 months. May should be easy because the larder is well-stocked.

I'll post my numbers here and I'm counting on folks to call me out if I stumble.

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Dragline
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Dragline » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:52 pm

That would be relatively cheap if it results in improved health as you suggest. As Gompers mortality curve tells us, our chance of dying (as an aggregate population) increases 9% each year.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gompertz%E ... _mortality (particularly the table on right -- basis of the life insurance industry).

The older you get, the more incremental health matters. Still, if you can reduce it and get similar results, more power to you!

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:07 am

I found a spot in my yard where I can hang a little laundry to air dry with it being very difficult to see.
I hang my laundry to dry in my apartment. My office clothes go on their usual hanger to dry and everything else goes on a line or two that I temporarily hang from one end of the room to the other. When I lived in a different apartment there were permanent clothes lines in the basement that worked great. Maybe you could set up something indoors.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:29 pm

Dragline, the ironic thing is that the "cheats" are the biggest contributor to driving up the bill. Despite them I managed to drop some weight and more importantly get my BP from ~150/90 -> 110/70 (BP is hugely sensitive to weight for me, even lean mass above a certain point elevates it). Your point is well-taken, yet I think I can get a little more out of it, both lowered cost and healthfulness. In the end, if it has to stay around 250 to be optimum, I can live with that once my 3-month experiment/challenge is over.

Gilberto, I've given that a lot of thought. I have an unused room that I block the HVAC from. It gets really hot in there in the summer, so it's a candidate. I also think my garage would work well, from late spring to mid-autumn it is stifling hot, probably rivals my dryer temp on some days. I like your idea of using a "temporary" setup, I'll have to give that some thought, because I'd rather have a way to quickly/easily convert any space affected back to other uses.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:59 pm

Melancholy Day

We learned yesterday that a friend/colleague for the last 16 years is retiring effective tomorrow. He does not want to do it, but his health is just not robust enough for him to keep going. He's in his early 60s I believe.

I don't believe "retirement" is a goal that all people must pursue. For people like my friend who got a great deal of satisfaction out of his career, early retirement is a failure of sorts. It's strange that my dream is his nightmare. Hopefully he'll find new pursuits to keep himself engaged with. My dad did not want to retire. He took a too-generous-to-refuse early retirement incentive with the intent of going back to teaching part-time (he was a college instructor). He was required to be away for at least a semester before he could come back in an adjunct position. Turns out he developed other interests and never looked back. Hope my friend is able to make that transition smoothly.

I don't know why I'm writing here other than it's somewhat cathartic. For the last 20 hours I've been doing a lot of thinking and am promising myself that I'll be as proactive as possible regarding my health because once the chronic things start to build up, there's little hope of reversing course. A quote I like: "It's not that you have to stop moving because you get old, it's that you got old because you stopped moving." (I believe it's from Greg Glassman but not positive, and it's paraphrased. no photographic memory here).

No matter if you're shooting for ER or want to pursue your career/vocation until you drop, health should be a priority. It's too easy to resolve to "start working on that" next week or next month or next year, only to find that all the time you had to take care of that has passed you by.

Sorry if that reads a little like a lecture or sermon. Mostly it's addressed to myself.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri May 02, 2014 7:35 am

April

Well, April was my first month as an ERE-er, so I view that as a success.

Starting with the bottom line my total net worth increased by $4260 for the quarter, and my invested assets increased by $5148, which represents $12.87/month increase in ER income. Total spending was $6412 of which $4551 was draw down of my sinking fund for a home repair/renovation project with it's genesis in a plumbing problem last Fall. My routine life/lifestyle expenses were therefore $1861, which is pretty good for me. Still looking at ways to drive that down some, but with assets today and estimated proceeds from downsizing my home, I'm able to generate somewhere around $1550/month, so convergence is close as far as passive income covering all the day-in/day-outs. If I keep whittling those expenses down and ramping the future income up, I should be in good shape in my goal timeframe, even when factoring the standard complement of vagaries.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Fri May 02, 2014 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

robby152
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by robby152 » Fri May 02, 2014 9:35 am

@IlliniDave Great journal! I appreciate your openness and dedication to 'remake your life'. One question (sorry if I missed this, but I reread your journal first to try to find the answer): How are you calculating your $1550 a month? Is that a vested pension? Dividends off of taxable portfolio? 2,3,4,5% SWR off of index funds? You may not want to answer, but I am always curious of the mechanisms people choose to utilize.
Also, given that you have about 12 years until early SS withdrawals would be possible, does that factor into your withdrawal strategy?

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri May 02, 2014 10:28 am

Hi Robby, good to hear from you.

For the numbers I use at this stage it's based it's based on a 3% annual withdrawal (0.25%/month). I use the total of my invested assets at present plus an estimate of the residual I'll have after sell my current house, move, buy a smaller house, and pay all associated costs, which would then be invested along with my current nest egg. That number is somewhere around $620K, so 3% translates to roughly $1550/mo.

I think I differ from one of the ERE conventions in that I include money in my retirement accounts (401k and Roth IRA) in my net worth calculations and the like. I'm close enough to traditional retirement age that it makes more sense for me than does excluding them.

I really haven't worked out a specific withdrawal/spending strategy yet. I just use the 3% number above to get a feel for approximately where I'm at based solely on what I have in my pocket, so to speak. If things work out I might have a small single life annuity as a retirement benefit, then SS later. I really haven't tried to determine an optimal sequencing strategy yet, which would include a plan for utilizing the invested money.

That said, being within shouting distance of the "outside" fixed income is most definitely an ingredient in the stew. I think it's biggest impact is that it will provide me a generous margin for error. Maybe it's because of my age (and beginning to really feel it in my bones), but I don't have as much confidence as others that I can always rely on my physical self to get whatever work done that needs doing. So I'm perhaps excessively cautious.

In other words, SS is the margin/reserve that will allow me to sleep well at night once my financial assets appear to be enough to do the job indefinitely by themselves. That's sort of a non-answer, but honestly, working out the detailed strategy (which will include tax planning and estate planning as well as utilization of invested assets) will probably be the first major chore of my early retirement. Until then I'm working from a bird's eye view. As close as I am, it's still a fairly long journey.

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spoonman
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by spoonman » Sun May 04, 2014 11:55 am

You write a very interesting journal!

I think a good number of people in the ERE forums do include their retirement accounts in their net worth calculations. I've traditionally excluded those accounts from my calculations because I wasn't sure I wanted to implement the 72(t) exemption. You might have mentioned this earlier, but are you thinking of using a SEPP with one or more of your retirement accounts?

DutchGirl
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by DutchGirl » Sun May 04, 2014 1:39 pm

I also hope that your friend finds a way to enjoy retirement. Perhaps "work" or "volunteer work" that is less taxing on his health. My mother retired from a teaching career at age 62... That is to say, in the three years since she has tutored roughly 6 different pupils (on Wednesdays and Thursdays) to help them do better in school. For her, it is more satisfying work than her work as a teacher was in the last few years. Hopefully your friend can find similar projects, volunteer work, work, or other activities that entertain and that make him feel alive and kicking :-)

I make some difficult calculations to see where I am, retirement-wise. I'm actually already "set" for after age 67 or so, because my country's pension plan PLUS my work pension plan already cover much more than what I would need. (Age 67 is when the pay-outs would start. I assume in the end they will pay out less and perhaps also start two or three years later, but they would have to pay out way less for me to get into trouble). So I make two calculations: one from when I retire until age 70 (I need to cover those years), and one from age 70 onwards (check, covered, done).

DutchGirl
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by DutchGirl » Sun May 04, 2014 1:46 pm

Oh, PS. Together the boyfriend and I spend 600 euros so roughly $840 per month on groceries (groceries plus household expenses actually). So don't feel bad for spending $250 or so... I am trying to get the 600 euros down to 500 euros and then to 400 euros, and I'll be very happy if I can make that. Our problem seems to be A. candy and the like and B. ready-to-go meals and convenience meals.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun May 04, 2014 1:59 pm

spoonman wrote:You write a very interesting journal!

I think a good number of people in the ERE forums do include their retirement accounts in their net worth calculations. I've traditionally excluded those accounts from my calculations because I wasn't sure I wanted to implement the 72(t) exemption. You might have mentioned this earlier, but are you thinking of using a SEPP with one or more of your retirement accounts?

Hey, spoonman. Thanks.

I'm not completely sure about SEPPs at this point either.

If I go significantly before age 55 I would look seriously at that as an option. My understanding is that you can discontinue (or deviate from) them without penalty at age 59.5 (until RMDs pick up at 70). If that's true, I might do it with my 401 where the bulk of my assets reside. So at this point I'd say it's an option, but I'd have to do a lot of homework before saying it was part of the plan. Like I mentioned above, for now I'm looking at my future mostly from a bird's eye view.

I'll be counting on the 401k sustain me (along with SS) during the out years where I'm too old to fend for myself, so any drawdown of it prior to RMDs at 70 I want to keep relatively modest.

If I work until 55 and the financial markets are favorable, or at least benign, my little annuity benefit taken then plus taxable accounts should see me through to full retirement age.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Sun May 04, 2014 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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