Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

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Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice » Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:45 pm

Hello and welcome to my journal. My purpose for starting an ERE journal is twofold. I was considering starting an early retirement blog but after learning that there are currently over 5,000,000 early retirement blogs on the internet, remembering how intrinsically lazy I am and realizing that everything I had to say is pretty much captured in either the ERE book or on this very forum, I decided to start a journal instead. Given all of this I'm planning on writing some journal entries, which will likely be somewhat lengthy and possibly have titles, as if they are blog posts. I'm also interested in keeping an ERE journal in the more traditional sense, where I log my journey towards (possibly early) retirement and all my struggles therein.

I'd like to start my journal by giving JLF and the ERE community a huge thanks. I found these ideas at a time when I was a bit aimless and they substantially changed my life. Aside from providing me with almost limitless freedom, they helped me congeal seemingly disparate ideas (like being a cheap fuck and caring about "the environment") into a coherent philosophy. I'm really only beginning to grapple with how to implement this philosophy and deal with the new found freedom. I look forward to sharing the experience here with all of you. It's rare to find such a group of thoughtful, kind and smart individuals anywhere, particularly behind the safety of a keyboard on the internet.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:56 pm

4,999,999 early retirement blogs but Jin+Guice ain’t got one.

Harry Browne admitted he was lazy, and that, too, was refreshing honesty.


Scott 2
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 7:27 pm

You've given me high expectations for this journal. Best of luck!

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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jason » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:29 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:45 pm
they helped me congeal seemingly disparate ideas (like being a cheap fuck and caring about "the environment") into a coherent philosophy. I'm really only beginning to grapple with how to implement this philosophy and deal with the new found freedom.
Interesting insight. No one comes in neutral, let alone tabula rasta (1). So it's in varying degrees clarification, conversion, and syncretism. Perfecting one's own cocktail so to speak.

(1) gangsta pun

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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:08 pm

A Personal FI History Part I (Family Values Tour):

I was primed for the ERE movement before I discovered it through the book and blog. All of the tools necessary were available to me by the time I was in my early twenties. However, I failed to connect the dots and even after discovering the FIRE movement, it took over a year for me to become a convert. My first few journal entries will chronicle when I was first exposed to the ideas of the FIRE movement and how I put the pieces together after exposure to the various FIRE gods.

The idea that one could live from investments alone, without drawing down on the principle, is something I have known for as long as I can remember. Money and economics have always fascinated me. The importance of frugality was instilled at a young age. My mom (who mostly raised me) and her family were the primary conduit of fiscal wisdom.

Their advice has always been simple and unwavering. First go to college and major in something practical (engineering being the most popular choice, but not strictly required), then get a "good" job and work at it for 30-40 years, saving a modest amount each year. Eventually retire with more than $1,000,000 in the bank. To achieve this get straight As in high school and participate in approved after school activities. Worship at the alter of your career. Along the way be very cautious and governed by fear. "Safety" is the most important achievement. Safety can be attained largely by having a high credit score and "owning your house" (in the 30-year mortgage sense). The house is guaranteed to ascend in price. The corporate bosses are to be feared and respected. Always have a job so that health insurance is maintained and no gaps in "the resume" occur. The rich and those who attend Ivy League schools are gods and if one plays their cards exactly right, they too can join these esteemed ranks.

Along the way, the implicit expectation was that a spouse with a similar degree and career would be acquired. 2.5 children, trained in the same fashion, would be produced. Each adult with driving capabilities finances their own car. A "nice" house (ideally a "reasonable" McMansion) in a "safe" neighborhood with "good schools" in the suburbs of a large city is purchased. The house is also financed but thanks to the high credit score a "low rate" is obtained. As a responsible consumer unit, 10% is saved for retirement. An IRA is utilized and money is invested in the "stock market" which has a guaranteed real return rate of 10-12% (ah the 1990s). This is THE plan. If THE plan is followed extra carefully, and wise decisions such as paying the mortgage off at a slightly accelerated pace and focusing on a career at the expense of health are made, "early retirement" may be achieved around 55. At this time and only at this time "riskier" activities such as art, a sport or going outside may be pursed.

By the time I was up for the all important college decision I'd made a simple observation. Despite the fact that my family worshipped "the rich", none of them were "rich" and all of them worried constantly about money (some had poor savings, others were finding the amount of money required to "feel safe" a moving target). Alternatively, many of my friends parents had followed THE plan and had at least become McMansion holders who took cruise vacations. None of these accelerated suburbanites struck me as people whom I desired to emulate. This observation coupled with my parents bitter divorce (I guess some engineers like cocaine and extra-marital affairs) had me doubting THE plan.

I'm extremely thankful that I received this upbringing but didn't follow this path. It's now obvious to me that there are many other ways to live, but at the time it was a difficult decision to make. While my family is always "supportive" when I'm around, I know they disapprove of my decisions. I whole heartedly rejected THE plan (with the minor exception of attending college) and began looking for my own path. From a FIRE perspective, my rejection of THE plan had the important consequences of concurrently causing me to doubt the ultra-consumer lifestyle and also reject all forms of investing. While my family didn't teach my how to competently deal with finances or "life", these issues were at least discussed and frugality was emphasized heavily.

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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 pm

A Personal FI History Part II (I Only Feel Alive When the VU is Flashing):

I first became “homeless”* in November 2009. I was four months out of college and had moved to NYC from upstate New York the previous month. I was pursuing a second degree in accounting and had two internships, one at a recording studio and one at a record label. I became homeless when my roommate (an old friend I'd lived with for years) suffered a nervous breakdown and decided to move back to our hometown. This was a bummer because we'd just signed a lease and paid three months rent up front. It was also great because we lived in an awful apartment in a terrible neighborhood. My friend had insisted we get a two-bedroom apartment with a living room and kitchen as opposed to my proposition that we "find something weirder." Becoming homeless was sincerely one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.

I spent my first night sleeping in a Uhaul van that I'd used to move all of my possessions into my grandfather's house upstate. I slept on the mattress I'd had since I was five in the parking lot of the apartment I'd lived in during college. In the morning I woke up, shoved the mattress into a dumpster, returned the Uhaul, walked to the train into the city and took the subway to one of my internships. I spent the second and third nights in the 24-hour computer lab of the college I was attending sleeping on a couch. At 6 a.m., the campus opened and I slept on the lawn. I wasn't sleeping very well, and on the second day a groundskeeper nearly shredded me with a giant riding lawnmower.

"Holy shit man, I didn't see you there. You didn't even wake up!"

In response, I muttered some gibberish and stumbled off to the record label internship. Two hours later, I was hand-numbering Sun Ra albums and shrink wrapping them with a hair dryer. The fourth night, I slept in the recording studio I was interning at. On the fifth night, I entered "Williamsburg" into the Craigslist apt/housing section. I set a maximum monthly price of $600 and watched as 2,000-plus listings become six. I emailed all of them, and an hour later I was handing an oldish hipster $500 in cash for a less than 100-square-foot furnished room, complete with a dresser and a bed. Jackpot.

As I lay in my newly rented bed, I thought about the previous five days. I realized that though they were stressful, they had also been exhilarating. Perhaps I could escape the wife, 2.5 kids and suburban home after all? I found out the hipsters I was renting from were squatters when we got kicked out by the fire department a month and a half later.

On Christmas Eve, I was sitting in the fancy NYC recording studio I'd been hired by a month prior. I was essentially a paid intern. I made $7 an hour, minimum wage was $7.25. I didn't give a fuck; I'd done something everyone I'd ever met had told me was impossible. I had a paid job in the music industry.

I'd been called into the studio to do a mix recall. If you've ever seen a picture of a recording studio, it's a bunch of knobs, switches and sliders. A recall involves setting all of those to specific previous settings. This particular recall involved setting up a bunch of auxiliary equipment I'd never seen before. It was the first time I'd ever been asked to do anything that didn't involve ordering food, making coffee or cleaning a floor. It was exciting and terrifying—and I was out of my league. I started looking for the recalls. They were nowhere to be found. The previous assistant had simply not done them. This was good for my career advancement, but bad for my current situation. I recreated the mix by ear, which began a long series of angry phone calls with my boss.

The recall should've taken about three hours. After 12 hours, I was still working on it. Every half an hour my boss would call me to yell at me, "What the fuck are you doing over there, I can't believe how bad you guys fucked this up."

I was homeless, I'd been secretly sleeping in the studio for a week, waking up every 10 minutes sure I was about to be excommunicated. It was Christmas Eve. I was alone and I was sure I was about to get fired. The next day I'd have to see my family, who'd assured me this whole music thing was totally impractical. I started crying. I don't cry unless I'm completely desperate. It's a last-ditch response when the situation has, in my mind, become completely untenable and irreversible. Think death of a loved one. By the time I'm crying, I'm incapable of doing anything else.

I lay down on the floor and cried for 15 minutes. I ran out of tears and lay on the floor coughing hopelessly. My boss called me back. "Listen, sorry about yelling all day, I know this was a pain in the ass. You did a good job given the circumstances. We've got it close enough. Turn the highhat down 5 dB (this was the initial goal) and send me the mix we have. This client is just some has-been who doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about anyway. If he's pissed, I'll just tell him we should remix it."

And like that, I was free.

I'll always remember December 24, 2009 as the most important day of my life. It was the day I learned that I could do anything I wanted. It was the day I learned that everything I'd ever been told about how a life had to be lived was completely inaccurate. Over the next two years I was "homeless" for a total of 13 months. For about half of those nights, I slept in the recording studio. I developed a network of friends who almost always had a couch for me to sleep on. I spent a few nights back in the computer lab, on the subway and in parks. I'd often work all night and then go sleep in Central Park during the day. I eventually traveled across the country by bus using the Couchsurfing website. I did this in nearly every city in the United States. When I moved to New Orleans, I lived on couches for another two years before moving in with my current girlfriend. I then began grad school and slept in my student office three nights a week for more than three years.

I'm sharing this story because, apart from being my favorite humble brag, it was the second half of my ERE training. My upbringing gave me approximately half of the ERE tools I needed. My family had given me the idea that money could be saved and that passive income could be used to live off, if only at some hopelessly distant point in the future. They encouraged me to attend and graduate from college. All of these revelations were sold to me as part of the standard middle class package. Becoming "homeless,” accidentally at first and then on purpose, led me to believe I could live an unconventional lifestyle I'd thought was impossible and gain the confidence that I could live life on my own terms. I believe that I needed both mindsets to be prepared to adopt ERE.

*I put this in quotes because my homelessness (except for the first time which was short lived) was completely self-inflicted. The entire time I was "homeless" I was either gainfully employed or had ample savings, had the option to live with several family members and almost always had a place to sleep inside if I wanted to.

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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:47 am

Awesome stories!!

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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by wolf » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:32 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 pm
I'll always remember December 24, 2009 as the most important day of my life.
Wow, what a story about your background and journey so far, especially the part about December 24, 2009.

Thank you for shareing that Jin+Guice!

I wish you best luck and success with your current and future ERE journey.

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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Laura Ingalls » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:36 am

I enjoyed your story.

I had a early job (circa 1995) with a private office that would have been a great squatting opportunity. Too bad I never occurred to me until about a couple of years ago. :lol:

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