Enough

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slowtraveler
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Enough

Post by slowtraveler » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:08 am

I find myself often stressing and then visualizing reaching a certain number and feeling peace. How do I stop lusting for more when I have enough?

I've recently reached the point where I logically can stop stressing but I still stress. I find myself up late at night visualizing having a certain amount as my net assets. Stressing over losing a few dollars when investment earnings are >> tiny expenses stressing over. My expenses now average under $30/day this quarter so far.

Ie, I stress at the thought of paying $25 to check in bag so all my possessions come down to a single carry on backpack weighing under 7 kgs.

Bogleheads say even 1MM isn't enough, as does everyone in the SF area but I've seen that for many, it is.

After retiring, what to do. I find myself thinking about getting the minimal work possible to make a visa much easier, which makes ER redundant as hell. I also don't like working consistently. I can feel happy carrying some kgs of sand up 300 steps to a Hindu temple in Malaysia once but I wouldn't want to do anything like that daily.

Travelling around China, seeing the beautiful sites, settling into a town for a couple of days or months if I enjoy it then seeing somewhere else sounds far more energizing to me than becoming a CEO or anything like that.

If the low expense desire is consistent long term, I can retire at 29 and relax now as I'm well ahead of my ERE. If I start hungering for finer things, I'll need more assets but I grew up with parents who started poor, I mean dirt poor, and worked their way up so they wanted to give us more and I realized from experience that money doesn't buy happiness, nor does spending time working. Family/love time and learning do seem to have a positive impact. So I likely won't change to hungering economic luxuries.

But still, is actually recieving dividends for years greater than my expenses the solution, is the peace I seek only tangible after experiencing the asset income as consistently greater than expenses or can I actually rest in having reached a swr?

*Fun fact
Poor is the Thai word for enough. Jon is the word for poor.

DutchGirl
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Re: Enough

Post by DutchGirl » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:43 am

For me as I get closer to reaching my number (the number at which I can retire and know that with the current lifestyle I never run out of money) I do feel that I get more relaxed about money. Sometimes I still stress at my job (Oh, I did something wrong! What if they fire me?), but then I remember that even being fired (I'm not getting fired over one silly error) wouldn't mean the end of the world anymore.

So I wonder at what part of your journey you are. If you have like 10-20 times your annual expenses in savings, it's time to relax a bit more about money. Maybe it'll help to ponder it over a bit, maybe it'll help to meditate (on it), maybe it'll help to just give it some time as your mind adapts to the new fact that you're ... pretty wealthy.

$1 million is just a random number. What matters is how much you need. You state that you need relatively little. I don't think that that will change much over time. You won't suddenly change into someone who can't do without $200 of new clothes every month or a $500/month subscription to a food box or whatever.

A possible plan is to reach 25x current annual expenses first. Then quit and travel the world. With the odd job you will work every now and then supplementing your income to either build some more savings or to be able to spend a bit more than the minimum.

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BRUTE
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Re: Enough

Post by BRUTE » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:32 am

brute is of the opinion that if there still exists stress, there's probably a reason for that stress.

maybe slowtraveler could retire in SEA now, but not in <area where slowtraveler's parents live/he potentially wants to live one day>. retirement now would mean giving up on the possibility of living in those more expensive places. this is definitely an issue for brute - brute wants to be able to not retire just in LCOL countries, but at least some medium COL places. maybe not Manhattan, as that would require more than brute is likely willing to work/save.

HCOL areas can be a trap. brute has a friend with a $750,000 mortgage. this is not a McMansion. property taxes for this house would be ~$7,500/year, requiring ~$190,000 of capital at 4% SWR. so brute's friend needs to be a millionaire to be able to afford living in a small house with a yard, and hasn't even paid for any food or clothes.

if the goal is to live a middle class lifestyle in the Bay Area, yes, a million is probably not enough. in SEA, $200-300,000 might easily be enough without even using many ERE type skills. $30/day * 365 days would be ~$11,000/yr, or ~$275,000 at 4% SWR.

but those are not the goals of all humans. if humans have friends and family in the Bay Area, they probably will want to at least have the option to live there, to be close to them. such humans might not be able to feel unstressed while they lack the capital to pull this off.

the expectations of what an acceptable lifestyle is probably depend a lot on upbringing. maybe slowtraveler grew up in an area where, to live the lifestyle he expects and finds acceptable, he would require more than in SEA, either in additional savings or in additional ERE skills he currently does not possess. from what it sounds like, slowtraveler probably intuitively wants the ability to live a "reasonable western" lifestyle, maybe not the Bay Area or Manhattan or Singapore, but probably any rural area in most western countries, or the suburbs of a bigger city. living on the cheap in SEA might be a fun adventure and money saving strategy for him now, but he is probably (subconsciously?) not comfortable committing to this lifestyle forever. hence the stress.

it's probably a good idea to listen to the stress, and accumulate some more (monetary, skill, social) capital.

some humans write or talk about the "levels of wealth". brute likes this idea, though the levels seem very subjective. they often go "not thinking about debt", "not caring about the prices in restaurants", and so on.

there is probably a level in there that roughly says "never having to worry about any expenditures while not living super extravagantly, and barring any major accidents". brute must assume that slowtraveler has not reached that level for himself, or he wouldn't be stressed. brute knows he himself is not at that level, though his current savings definitely make him more relaxed than when he had nothing. he has noticed being more relaxed about bills and even potential bills as he has accumulated more. he's unsure how it will feel once he has hit "the level". maybe he will never reach a level where stress about money is completely absent. but he expects to get about 85% there eventually.

brute would also stress that the diversification into different types of capital is a great feature of ERE that he himself has not yet made much use of. brute typically thinks about RE mostly in monetary terms. even when he thinks of skills he has acquired or could acquire, he mostly imagines them as hobbies, not as mechanisms to fulfill essential needs he currently fills with money. by building other types of capital, slowtraveler might be able to reduce stress without necessarily saving up money, and it might be more fun than working more, too.

IlliniDave
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Re: Enough

Post by IlliniDave » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:27 am

From the perspective of someone who has set and surpassed several numbers and is still grinding away, I would say this:

For most of us peace is probably not going to come from a number. I think for some of us peace is easier to achieve once a certain amount of future financial uncertainty is mitigated. Peace to me is a cousin to happiness and something that comes from within. I don't think it lies in the distinction of living off of investment income only versus employing an SWR-based strategy.

There's nothing wrong with working after FI is achieved. Since one is free to pursue an occupation that is meaningful and/or enjoyable, it can be a good thing. Maybe that is a good plan for you--ease into it going slowly. Give yourself an opportunity to adjust to each step. Stay aware of your mental and emotional state and seek to discover the whys behind what you think and feel so you can address them as the journey unfolds.

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Re: Enough

Post by jacob » Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:42 am

I wouldn't exactly call it stressing, because that connotates some negative state, but I focus (some would call it obsess... gollum gollum) about several numbers, when it comes to NW. The next round or semi-round number. Ditto for DW. Ditto our combined account. And in two different currencies. It's like playing a money game where these numbers represent the score and passing another $50,000 means I slew another end of level boss.

I have ostensibly far more than I need. However, it does not translate into spending more even if I can. Sometimes I wonder whether it's just because I like the score keeping aspects or because there are other values. I could afford to 3-4x my spending with my current NW, but I have no aspirations to upgrade my lifestyle by means of spending more. If there's to be any upgrades, it's to learn a new skill or figure something out. For example, I could have paid a contractor a few thousand for our recent bathroom upgrade. The price would have been daily portfolio noise. However, I spent weeks designing and figuring out various cabinetmaking, plumbing, and electric stuff because I've never done any house work like that before. Now, while I greatly enjoy the result, I wouldn't say I enjoyed the process. And now I'm looking at the kitchen ... and I'm trying to decide.

In that sense I make full use of the diversification of capital to the point that money doesn't play much of a role. This means relying on other factors of capital where I sometimes don't have as much as I have money to substitute. And sometimes I wonder whether I should punt and pay someone else. In that sense, my "Enough" is more the question of whether I really need/want to learn about finding esoteric slant-back faucets for my fancy 150lbs *FREE* cast iron kitchen sink which would certainly be awesome when installed ... or whether I know enough (for my personal edification) about kitchen sinks and consequently just punt on the problem by paying someone else to think about it and install some cheap-ass fiberglass sink in the cheapest particleboard cabinet from home depot.

Other numbers I look at is the magic $7k/year (1 jacob). I was not happy at all to learn that I now spend 1.1 jacob because our RE taxes got hiked by 20% and our insurance costs doubled (DW's company switched to a shittier health insurance plan or something). We now pay 61% of our expenses for essentially "nothing tangible" or what DW calls "security" (not sure whether she meant that in the mob sense). If I had gone for FIRE with 25x or 33x, we would now need a new plan (move west of the Mississippi where RE taxes are a quarter of what they are here---that'd do it) ... but for now, we can just eat the cost.

However, there went my streak, demnit!! Defeated by inflation of things that are outside my control and by things that don't even add measurably to my happiness... things that 7wb5 calls the "minimum cost of living in society" (head tax). To keep under $7k, I would have to adopt some desperation moves like installing PV (with a terrible ROI) or switch of the internet (replace with freedompop). Such a tactical retreat would not give me much moat, because everything is already optimized and organized to the limit. Then again 7k is just an arbitrary limit(*), but it's a limit that matters to me---afterall, there's a unit named after it. But yeah, after nearly 20 years, I've finally been defeated by inflation.

(*) Unless you're 100% treasuries in which case it's hard, real, and immediate.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Enough

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:27 am

In most general terms, I think what many of us on this forum, although we traveled unique paths to get there, are coming to learn, is that when you are applying systems theory to lifestyle design, it is likely more efficient to integrate social needs/wants/druthers prior to determining financial metrics. Simple example would be that even Dolly Freed, author of "Possum Living", made point that she and her father managed to maintain many of the benefits and signifiers of middle-class lifestyle even though they were living on very minimal cash flow with rabbits hidden in their basement. Also, she went on to career with NASA and more conventional family life in later years.

I still think it is possible, in theory, to maintain/obtain many of the benefits and signifiers of any given social realm, and whatever constitutes adequate "village*" of social relationships for yourself as an individual, on even less than 1 Jacob/year, BUT it likely would be even easier to accomplish this dual goal, if it is openly acknowledged from the get-go, rather than resorting to bare minimum default of rugged individualistic libertarian celibate introvert in order to declare success in financial realm quicker/easier.

* For example, maybe you want a loving sexually intimate relationship, the ability to afford bi-yearly visits to your hometown/family, the ability to entertain/host/ go-out-with a small circle of friends once a week, a book-group, and a tennis partner.

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Re: Enough

Post by jacob » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:46 am

@7wb5 - Dragline famously said "when in doubt, do both"---or something like that.

I'll grant that in some cases, it's easier/more effective to put early effort into wide systems design instead of bearing down on the one-dimensional number ... but somewhere there's also needs to be a crossover. Whereas most consumers create a life where they never even think about money.

Looking back, anecdotally, it might have been stupid to focus so much on saving a large part of a small income instead of looking more actively for a higher income. OTOH, these habits also led to an early stash that both compounded and provided for more serendipity later on.

Our average passive income (not cashflow) for the household is now around ~$100k/yr because how our past choices/focus on the money-before-system placed us in runaway mode. It would be pretty hard for me (and DW) to find jobs that matches this and even harder to catch up to also save the capital to create this.

I think it's one one of those non-conundrums where someone says "you don't have to exercise, because you're already fit" except that "I'm fit, because I already exercise".

Jason
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Re: Enough

Post by Jason » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:13 am

Well, only dead people get to rest in peace. Or depending on how you think things go on after this 80 year or so bullshit, some dead people.

I'm all about the performance these days and based on my thinking you have created a performance paradox - perform until you don't have to perform. As Johnny Carson once said having money removes the money problem. It doesn't remove the second wife problem, the I fucked up my kids problem, the having to smell Ed McMahon's fart problem, the drinking problem, the companionship problem or the performance problem. And my guess is that you have confused a performance problem with a money problem as you are turning a subjective measurement into an objective yardstick. Millions of people are both spending less than you and earning more than you at this very moment that I am wasting my time writing this and you are wasting your time reading this.

Some call it "musterbating" i.e. I must do this, I must do that. Some call it the "ought" problem, I ought to do this I ought to do that. Cognitively speaking, you are painting yourself into a corner.

My suggestion is to turn your "musts" to "wants" - "I want to save up enough for retirement because I want to (fill in the blanks) not "I need to save up enough for retirement because I need to (fill in the blanks). It has been proven that people don't like being told what to do, and you are telling yourself what to do and your conscious is all fucked up.

Let me know if you try it because I have and well, to be quite honest, things are actually get worse in that regard.

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Sclass
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Re: Enough

Post by Sclass » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:33 am

Many years ago I cleaned a bunch of squirrel caches from my garage loft. They hoarded a bushel of almonds. They apparently stash more than they need and often forget about the hoards. Hence all the interesting mast trees growing around my lawn.

I think this comes from someplace deep inside. And at some point it needs to be seen as the desire to eat more, mate more or fence off more, especially after one’s needs have been realistically met.

I’m dealing with both of my parents aging these days. They hoarded far more than they need. Mom is in hospice now and there are years of assets to burn leftover. The only thing left are a bunch of offspring waiting around for whatever is left. The finance people even called me and asked what I had planned as if it was a big payday for me. It’s actually kind of sad. Both my mom and dad are close to death with way more money than they needed to get here. Dad refuses to do any estate planning because somehow at 85 he dreams of spending his millions while savoring his senior coffee and McMuffin at McDonald’s every morning.

So at the end of the day it is kind of sickening. It’s like they built a bridge that was so strong, it not only didn’t collapse, it needed to be dismantled as the cities surrounding it outgrew it’s lanes. Kind of a failure of engineering so to speak. Honestly my folks lived a muted life because they chose to save so much.

What motivated them? The same kind of thinking in the OP. Squirrel brain. Not really having a handle on the concept of enough.

I currently live on 2% SWR. And at some level in my reptilian brain I want 2x what I have in my account. Why? I dunno. Factor of safety I guess. A higher wall. A deeper moat. It’s all in my mind. Maybe 8x...just to see how it feels to look at the number. Certainly not to change my already comfortable lifestyle.

As it stands somebody will probably clamor for my unspent dimes as I go into hospice. The kind of somebody I despise most in this world.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Enough

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:40 am

@jacob:

I agree that there are a lot of valid reasons for putting the financial piece of the puzzle together first. For instance, it is more tangible, because harder to graph your social life :lol: , and compound interest. Although, I would note that from SpaceX tourist perspective, compound interest is also the result of a set of social relationships, although very varied, fluid, distant and anonymous.

Also, I would note that the important part of my above post was the claim I made that theoretically one could "do both" on less than 1Jacob ;) I am certainly not one to be highly promoting the "focus on making more money" side of the equation. And, I do believe that many of the members of this forum are individuals who are happy with minimal recommended allowance of social life, but it's a design decision that very much needs to be made on an individual level.

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Jin+Guice
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Re: Enough

Post by Jin+Guice » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:08 am

There are 2 concepts/ challenges I'm teasing out of the discussion thus far, conveniently I struggle deeply with both :).

The first is the concept of "enough" which manifests itself in a number seen on a screen. I'm not FI but the accumulation phase golden handcuffs is doing something fun vs. doing something more highly paid. I have more money now than ever but it's easy to feel like I have less, because in percentage terms I'm very far from my goal.

Another dimension to this problem, I used to budget obsessively, constantly doing budget math in my head. Now I'm constantly doing savings/ SWR math. I imagine many of you are similar. If thinking about money a lot got us here, how do we stop thinking about it? Freeing oneself from this is simple but not easy*.


The second challenge is knowing what to do with the freedom that early retirement provides us. This is the work hard to never work again problem. The retire at 62-70 crowd faces this problem with everyone else at 62-70. I suffer from this currently because after discovering ERE I got an extremely part time high paying job. It's been much harder than I anticipated self directing my own time. It's hard to find motivation to do meaningful work if your used to that motivation coming from money. Do I still want to have a studio if I just use it to record my lazy af completely disorganized musician friends for free? Should I force myself to get up early to "get more done" or just let myself sleep in. It's much easier to answer this question when someone else controls the stick and the carrot, even if you hate them. It's also hard to not feel bad if your used to self identifying as a "hard worker."


*Kapow, popped my simple but not easy cherry.

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Re: Enough

Post by prognastat » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:03 pm

I have two levels of enough that I'm striving towards. No way in telling if I'll be satisfied once I reach them, but I would hope so.

1) 4% SWR, enough to no longer have to work jobs only for financial benefit and instead being able to pursue lower paying jobs that will give me skills I'm interested in acquiring.

2) 3% SWR, enough to where I feel comfortable even without any kind of external income.

I'm hoping to reach 4% in not too much time and be able to have my stash mostly coast to 3% while still making some income from jobs that can teach me useful skills.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Enough

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:07 pm

I'm currently reading Jonathan Rauch, "Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50", in my quest of trying to understand/learn how to maintain contentment. The book itself focuses mainly on the relatively recent discovery of a U-curve of happiness over a human lifetime when accounting for all other variables. However, it also repeats what I've read in many other places. Money/monetary capital only provides happiness to the extend one has food, shelter, AND is doing slightly better than peers. After which, financial capital does very little insofar as a correlation to better well-being. It's a hard pill to swallow after devoting so much of my life energy to the financial leg of my life stool over the past 4 years, but that message is consistent in the research.

Anecdotally, I remember my life 10 years ago. I had walked away from a fairly lucrative financial sales career with maybe 6 mos of my, at the time, bare bones expenses. I moved away from my home town with no real plans, other than to get my shit together(long, impertinent story, lets just say I was not happy). I picked up odd cashflow jobs to make ends meet. Not to compare, but I was living similar to 7WB5 in the sense that I learn to live off of less money, and learned to make up for it in social capital (not romance, I wasn't/still am not as suave as 7WB5).

This roughly two year period was the most content I had been since my first run of college years and the most content since. I lived in a college town of about 150 thousand souls and it was difficult for me to go anywhere without running into a friend or acquaintance. I had made a very conscious effort to weave myself into the social fabric of the community through various organizations, events, hobbies, etc. Even though I was poor in both income and assets, I felt I had enough. My insurance was my social circle. If my car went in the ditch (which happened a lot in the arctic upper Midwest winters), a friend pulled me out, if I moved 10 people showed up, if I needed to paint someone volunteered to help with their equipment. This phase of life passed, partially because I became hyper-focused on the goal of a new career. Partially because of the river of life Marus Aurelius speaks of in "Meditations".

My point being, relying more on social capital vs financial was much more fulfilling. My renaissance skill levels are moderately low, but my experience so far shows reliance on skill lies somewhere closer to social capital than financial capital in the contentment producing arena. The ROI (in the sense of well-being) on more money past "enough" for bare bones living is very low. For the most part we can choose our peers, ie who to compare too if you want to squeeze out the last bit of well-being out of financial capital. After that, there is very little to gain unless access is granted to the uber-wealth dynasties of the upper class. You will always want more or fear losing what you have, so it's relatively useless to purposely accumulate past enough.

My guess is slowtraveler is not sure of his peer group (ie who to compare to) and is currently lacking in the areas of skill/social capital. No shame in that, I'm 42 and trying to relearn this lesson for a third time. The imaginary bar of "enough" will change through your life. That's OK! You will adapt, make more money if needed, or better, learn to adapt with skill or social capital. I think discontentment rears it's ugly head most when we have focused too much on one thing for too long.

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Re: Enough

Post by jacob » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:17 pm

@cL - This also explains why people have such a hard time leaving [rural America] for better^H^H^H^H^Hhigher income "opportunities".

In terms of peer groups, that's another good point. For example, I felt distinctly different in having a NW of e.g. 40x my low expense vs just meeting the classical fixed amount standards. The former always required some explanation subject to subjective framing. The latter is just objectively better than practically any random group of peers other than these guys.

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Re: Enough

Post by Augustus » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:31 pm

i think there are a few different psychological factors at play. i've slowly gained more peace of mind over time. here is what has done it for me:

1. i keep about 2 years of expenses in cash at all times. that is a HUGE peace of mind boost for me. i'm a contractor and my income varies wildly, but even with the volatility i really can't see a scenario where i won't be able to bring in net positive money over a 2 year period. the chances of me being reduced to poverty or losing my current level of assets are very low. so it doesn't really matter so much if i lose a job, because i trust my ability to find income given the buffer that i have in the bank.

2. i paid off a house. living in a paid off house provided a big boost in peace of mind as well. i felt safe when i paid off the loan, and when i lived there. we moved out, and now it gives me a direct deposit from the rent every month, which is also nice. but the main thing is that i know if things ever get bad i can move in there and have a place to live for about 400/mo total cost, no cost or negative cost if we rent out a room, or if we rent the place out then rent somewhere else cheap. basically, my shelter is covered for the rest of my life.

3. my passive income is rising. during the first few years of implementing my plan to become FI, it was abstract and theoretical. now i've got 1700/mo being direct deposited into my account each month. even in a great depression scenario, i can't really see rents dropping by more than 50%, so no matter what i've got about 850/mo coming in each month at minimum. coupled with owning the house, and being able to offset the cost of owning the house by renting out rooms, i've got a place to live and some money coming in guaranteed for life now.

4. after having done all this work, as long as i don't touch principal, my NW will rise unless the world goes to hell in a handbasket. and even if it goes to hell in a handbasket, i'm covered by points 1-3. but assuming it doesn't, i'm going to be a millionaire as long as i let my assets grow. that is profoundly comforting as well.

you could sum it up by saying i have assets that give me piece of mind, my future looks bright, and i've internalized the fact that getting fired/losing an income stream isn't going to make a big impact on my trajectory. i'm going to hit a million+ at this point unless the whole country goes to shit. that's enough for me.

if you're feeling insecure, you may want to deviate from just paper assets, maybe buy a spot of land or a small house and pay it off and try living there for a while. keep a cash buffer if you're worried about market crashes happening and losing a job at the same time. the cash buffer should cover the period of time you need to find a good new source of income. get your total assets to critical mass, and then let time handle the rest.

you don't need to hit 3% SWR to feel secure, you just need to get to the point where you know that your assets will grow to 3% SWR over a period of 10-20 years, and you know that you don't ever have to touch principal i.e. you have a cash buffer and a guaranteed place to live.

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Re: Enough

Post by sky » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:04 pm

The resource that you should be most concerned about is the number of days left in your life.

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Bankai
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Re: Enough

Post by Bankai » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:40 pm

jacob wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:42 am
I have ostensibly far more than I need. However, it does not translate into spending more even if I can. Sometimes I wonder whether it's just because I like the score keeping aspects or because there are other values. I could afford to 3-4x my spending with my current NW, but I have no aspirations to upgrade my lifestyle by means of spending more. If there's to be any upgrades, it's to learn a new skill or figure something out.
At this level of wealth, I would definitely ramp up my spending. By no means on 'stuff', but by outsourcing as much as I can. It just doesn't make sense to die with (tens of) millions... while washing dishes and mowing the lawn.

Inverting the problem and moving fast forward 50 years to the deathbed. Would one rather die with, say, 25m (i.e. the most resources) or only 20m BUT could get back all the hours spent on mundane tasks? I.e. house maintenance 3h a week x 52w x 50y = 7800h or an extra year of life... adding all other outsourceable tasks and one might get another few years.

There's a reason why powerful people throughout the history outsourced all they could (including dressing up etc.). Time > money.

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BRUTE
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Re: Enough

Post by BRUTE » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:16 pm

brute enjoys washing dishes.

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Bankai
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Re: Enough

Post by Bankai » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:29 am

I understand. However, is washing dishes brute's activity of choice? Or would brute rather...? And what about other household chores?

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Re: Enough

Post by Farm_or » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:14 am

Eight is enough.

8x annual salary. 8% SWD.

8 friends. 8 children.

8 hours a day of servitude.

8 inches of annual rainfall.

8 spatulas.

8 hobbies.

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