mathiverse's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
mathiverse
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Hi,

I mentioned in my intro that had learned to be frugal earlier this year and at the end of last year, but really that reverted after a few months. The only thing I've kept is that I log all my expenses and income.

I'm a high earning, high spending individual living in the SF Bay Area. I'm currently at the "having trouble lowering my expenses" stage. I did try living in a van, but ultimately that wasn't the lifestyle for me. Currently I'm living the apartment close to work and the grocery store lifestyle. Still quite expensive since I don't have roommates. I'll be lowering my expenses in other ways than housing in the coming months.

It seems as though lowering my expenses is the only way to meaningfully speed up my time to FI.

I'm mainly aiming for FI for the financial security and options with respect to lifestyle.

Also I want to get into shape and I've started running after a few months hiatus from exercising.

Well anyway, let's see how things go.

mathiverse
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Oh I started a journal to get advice. It seems like people often chime in with advice on things to people who frequently write in their journal and who describe problems/issues they are encountering. Folks can feel free to give me advice if they have it at any time.

I've read the ERE book, Your Money or Your Life, the Tightwad Gazette, In Over Our Heads, and some other ERE related books. I also have lurked for a while and asked a few questions on the boards.

Zanka
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:33 am

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by Zanka »

Gl! Will be following:)

mathiverse
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Thanks!

I'm going to start with weekly updates on straightforward goals.

Goals
  • Eat out at most twice this week
  • Concentrated work for at least 10 hours at home on Economics by McConnell and Brue
  • Run 2 miles five days this week
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
After housing, food is my biggest expense each month. I'll start by eating out less. I have an SO who I normally eat out a lot with, so I'll have to work out a way to avoid eating out so much with them that is satisfactory for both of us.

mathiverse
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

November 2019

Savings Rate: 69.72%

Expenses

Various explanations or excuses about my expenses

I typically spend a lot each month even though the high categories vary. The expenses have been decreasing for the last few months, but things are still out of hand.

Dating is largely eating out. The total for all non-dating food categories is $X. If you include dating then the total is $Y.

The total for all transportation categories this month is $Z. I can sell the van sometime in the next month or two. It needs some more work before I can do that though, so van maintenance will be another category for me in December.

I will get reimbursed partially for the work related personal development category in a few months, but only $A of the total expense will eventually be reimbursed.

The healthcare expenses may be almost as high next month because I have to get some dental work done.

The sales tax category is there because I don't like having to assign sales tax to the specific expenses on itemized grocery receipts where items fall into different categories.

My rent is high. It's due to location and living alone. As I mentioned before, I'm not open to changing that right now. While I can easily get along with roommates, I am often too self conscious to do anything other than hang out in my room. Is that a problem other people have? For example, in my place I might read a book at the kitchen table. When I have roommates, I may do this, but if they come out either 1) they are doing something that prevents me from reading books like hanging with their friends or watching tv or 2) I feel embarrassed enough about reading that I stop because that distracts me as much as the actual noise they might make. I'm a lot more productive alone since I don't have to worry about that social issue I've got. That might be something I tackle down the line... Or maybe I wait until I can move in with my SO. Next year that might be a possibility.

Plan
  • Eat out less (no boba, no eating out without company, limit eating out with SO).
  • Sell the van.
  • Don't buy any books until I've read the ones I've got in my queue.
edit: Remove detailed expenses
Last edited by mathiverse on Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

m741
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by m741 »

Good luck!

That's a ton of library fines. I see you have a fair amount of book expenses... Many libraries have ebook and audiobook checkouts directly to your phone/ereader. These don't even require visiting the library, so it's very convenient. In my case, they get auto-returned, as well.

What kind of work-related personal development are you doing?

mathiverse
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

m741 wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:28 am
Good luck!

That's a ton of library fines. I see you have a fair amount of book expenses... Many libraries have ebook and audiobook checkouts directly to your phone/ereader. These don't even require visiting the library, so it's very convenient. In my case, they get auto-returned, as well.
Thanks!

I typically prefer physical books. My current plan is to stop going to the library for now until I have time to go regularly enough to avoid fines. I get big fines like that approximately once a year when I stop going for a few months at a time and don't make the time to return the books I have out during that period.
What kind of work-related personal development are you doing?
I'm going through a career counseling class in an attempt to get more clarity on how to improve my career. It's a meta class rather than one specifically about being a software engineer. This will be partially reimbursed at work.

The other expense was yearly dues for a profession related group that centers on personal development and getting mentorship from peers. It's been useful since I'm still somewhat early in my career. Still trying to get to senior engineer! (Also now that I think about it, maybe I can get it expensed partially by work. I'll ask my manager.)

User avatar
Lemur
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by Lemur »

$553.87 Dating ....

Disregard females, acquire currency? lol I'm not a fan of using memes but this line item popped out. The long game here .. if you're looking for long-term relationships I would filter down to more frugal or those who have the personality to acquire frugal behaviors. Short-term, no advice as my dating experience was extremely limited but I have to imagine that this shouldn't cost that much.

mathiverse
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

@Lemur Thanks for the comment! However, dropping my SO wouldn't work since we both pay for only our portions. We are both software engineers with a lot of disposable income. I spent that much only on myself during meals on dates. I eat out around 10 times a week with my SO at $12 - $25 per meal. I also eat out without my SO to the tune of $300+. Definitely a me problem and not a problem with them.

The change has to come from me declining to eat out all the time. My SO doesn't care if we eat together for meals, so this shouldn't cause a problem. I'll let you know how it goes at the end of this week.

mathiverse
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Weekly Goal Review
mathiverse wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 4:37 pm
Goals
  • Eat out at most twice this week
  • Concentrated work for at least 10 hours at home on Economics by McConnell and Brue
  • Run 2 miles five days this week
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
Let's see how I fared with the goals.
  • Eat out at most twice this week
I ate out five times for $72.48 total eating out expenses this week.

Two of those were out of habit since I normally get breakfast with my SO on the weekend. The other three times were basically due to me not wanting to cook. If I had skills to make something quickly without a lot of mess or if I had some pre-made food (via meal prepping), then I think I could have gotten this down to eating out only twice. My plan for the latter is to meal prep twice next week. If I make a bowl of pasta or stir fry twice a week, then I should only have to cook twice a week and I will hopefully be able to avoid the lazy evenings.

The two that were out of habit could have been easily changed with a talk with my SO. I asked a few minutes ago and they said they don't care if we go out to eat for breakfast on the weekends and we can stick to oatmeal and fruit like we have on occasion in the past.
  • Concentrated work for at least 10 hours at home on Economics by McConnell and Brue
I didn't do any reading of this textbook. Fortunately, I'd already read the first four chapters, so I'm up to date with the ERE Investment Club reading schedule. I'll quickly get behind if I don't figure out how to get quality reading done even when I'm not on holiday. (I read the last four chapters during the Thanksgiving holiday in the US last week.)

I'm going to change this goal to a chapter reading goal. I want to read a single chapter of McConnell and Brue by next week. This will keep me on top of the EIC reading and it means I'll get an hour or two of concentrated textbook reading in. If I hit this, then I'll aim for more next week. My plan to hit this is to mark off Tuesday for reading.
  • Run 2 miles five days this week
I ran three times. I think I'm going to change this one to running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday since I'm restarting exercise. I was too tired to run two days in a row each time I ran this week. I'll gradually increase the frequency that I run from there.
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
I missed only Saturday on this one. I can hit this when I spend a few hours at home in the evening, but tend to forget if I'm on the go or out of the house. Yesterday, most of the day was spent at my SO's place and thus I didn't have the normal cues to complete the meditation and ended up completely forgetting. I think I'll add a reminder for myself everyday and see if that helps.

Goals for Next Week
  • Meal prep three to four days of dinners twice this week.
  • Eat out at most twice this week
  • Complete chapter five of Economics by McConnell and Brue
  • Run 2 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day

General Updates

My boss said I can expense the yearly dues for the professional development group I am a part of! Woo!

I bought three books this month already, so I missed my monthly goal. My plan is to not buy anymore though! I made a list to put all the books that catch my fancy this month and I can review it next month to see if I want to buy any still. Also to be fair, one of the books will be paid for by work and was for a class being held at work.

The van is still in the shop, so no progress on selling it.

My car's engine started making a buzzing noise, so I'm going to take it into the shop next week. Looks like my car maintenance expenses will be through the roof in December haha. Oh well.

After thinking more about the rent situation, I'm considering getting roommates once my current lease is up. I think it'll give me an opportunity to learn more independence of thought and assertiveness plus it'd save me some money. I have a few more months until that time, so I can build up some habits that are harder to build with roommates in the meantime, so once I switch to having roommates, I can focus on habit maintenance rather than trying to do new things until I'm used to roommates again.

Also I was reading the Yields and Flows thread (viewtopic.php?t=10897) since I recently started reading The Fifth Discipline by Senge and I like searching for prior discussion of books related to ERE and then reading what was said. The year of no spending sounds like it might be useful for me. I don't know if I could do it without some preparation though. I feel like it'd be too big a shock for me to continue without easing into it by riding my bike a bit more and gradually lowering my expenses. On the other hand, maybe that immediate shock and adjustment period is the point. As in:
jacob wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:35 pm
Necessity is the mother of invention(*).
I was already planning for a No Spend January (inspired by some reddit posts I read this week), but maybe something longer would be better? Let me think more about it.

mathiverse
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

After eating out a few more times this week mainly due to not wanting to make food in the moment and still not having done meal prep, I wonder how people can do this? I'm not usually so lazy in other areas, but so far I can't seem to resist the draw of eating out several times a week. I thought it was the social pressure, but I've been eating out even without my SO. I don't appear to have much self control in this area without external pressure being applied. I'll give it another few weeks.

In fact, for the next three weeks, I probably won't be able to eat out due going on an elimination diet to figure out some food sensitivities that have been giving me trouble. Maybe at the end of that, I'll have gotten used to not eating out enough to maintain it afterward.

Any tips in this direction on how to resist the urge to order out would be welcome.

EdithKeeler
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by EdithKeeler »

Any tips in this direction on how to resist the urge to order out would be welcome.
Eating out is BY FAR my biggest budget buster. I’m frugal everywhere else, and I even like to cook, but despite my best intentions, meal prepping, etc. I still eat out way too much.

I have been able to curtail it some this year, though, with a stupid game I play with myself. I started it after a particularly stupid expensive lunch at work that I paid $30 for, including tip. No special occasion, just a more expensive place than I usually go, I got some soup, split a dessert....Anyway. Ever since then, every time I pack my lunch for work (and eat it) and don’t go out, I immediately deposit $15 into my Acorns account that I established exactly for this. If I think I want to go out to dinner, but I eat in instead, I deposit another $15. Yes, I still go out to eat, but there have been MANY times I’ve talked myself out of it because I wouldn’t be able to make that deposit. After a while, as I’ve watched the money grow, I’ve realized exactly how much money I was spending eating out. Often crap food.

I think this works because I still have permission (from myself!) to go if I want to. I just can’t make the transfer.

So, a stupid game, but it works for me.

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

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by ertyu »

I am not good at not going out, but I am good at having just the big mac without the coke or the fries, or having just a black coffee at starbucks. I do it for health reasons, but it helps with money, too.

Another approach to try: what is your favorite place to eat out? Could you motivate yourself to splurge there once a week and reward yourself for the good discipline with an evening or breakfast of indulgence? It won't solve the problem, but it'll cut spending in half and it will give you days on which you (a) have to develop workarounds and (b) can observe what works, doesn't work, and why.

EK's game sounds awesome, too.

What if you accepted that you're not going to make food? You're not going to even though it's the better option financially, too bad. What options are there now? If it were me doing it, I''d be stuck with something like ramen, eating tuna out of the can, or eating chick peas from the can. Boiled eggs?

The thing is, after a while, I'd get sick of the plainness and monotony. Suddenly, it doesn't seem like so much effort to dump the chick peas in a bowl, cut up a tomato and a carrot, salt and oil, and chomp. this probably sounds mightily unappetiszing but the idea is, the initial stage is consistent with laziness and wanting to not be fucked with cooking, and then eventually little by little you're doing more not because frugality forces you but because your desire for food you like pulls you.

Hope you find something that works, getting shit delivered and eating out is one of my things, too

mathiverse
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

@ertyu and EdithKeeler - Thanks for the advice!

I'm going to try this. In fact, I've got tuna all ready to go for this haha.
ertyu wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:14 am
What if you accepted that you're not going to make food? You're not going to even though it's the better option financially, too bad. What options are there now? If it were me doing it, I''d be stuck with something like ramen, eating tuna out of the can, or eating chick peas from the can. Boiled eggs?
I think the ultimate solution will be to change from a person who lives to eat to one who eats to live, but I have no idea how to do that yet! The fact that's likely the only way to do this sustainably was pointed out to me by the ERE book which I've been re-reading this past week. Also I don't think I caught that point wrt frugality the last time I read it.

Weekly Goal Review
tl;dr: Rip my goals!
mathiverse wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:44 pm
  • Meal prep three to four days of dinners twice this week.
  • Eat out at most twice this week
  • Complete chapter five of Economics by McConnell and Brue
  • Run 2 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
Let's see. Not good. I'll try again next week.
  • Meal prep three to four days of dinners twice this week.
I didn't meal prep at all. I didn't have the time.
  • Eat out at most twice this week
I ate out eight times this week! Failure.
  • Complete chapter five of Economics by McConnell and Brue
Failure. I didn't read this textbook at all.
  • Run 2 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Failure. I didn't run at all. I'm changing this to c25k because after the running two weeks ago, my knees were hurting which probably isn't good.

I'm also going to start this program: https://earlyretirementextreme.com/the- ... ogram.html. I did it for a few months earlier this year and it was good. I felt good afterward. I got stronger. This time I'm going to try to do it for the full two years though. Every day I don't do c25k, I'll do this.
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
I only meditated twice this week. Not good.

Goals for Next Week
  • Meal prep three to four days of dinners twice this week.
  • Eat out at most twice this week
  • Complete chapter five of Economics by McConnell and Brue
  • Follow the c25k program every other day
  • Do HIIT every other day
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
This week will be likely be more successful since I won't be working. I expect to be able to reach all my goals. However, that doesn't make it that much more likely I'll be able to hit these goals once I restart working. I'm still trying to figure that out.

General Updates
The van is a lost cause that I'm going to donate at this point. There are major issues with it.

As for my car, I have to put a lot of money into it in order to keep it running. I told my repair shop to do the repairs. I hope it lasts me another two years, but I also and making plans to start using my bike more. I can get in shape and get rid of the car next year assuming I can successfully make a switch.

Speaking of the bike, I literally have no idea if my bike is safe to ride. It looks fine and I rode it a mile or two successfully, but the last time I took it for a look over by the bike-repair-people-in-a-van at work, they mentioned some stuff which I didn't understand. Seems like bike maintenance is one of the next skills on my list. I want to learn enough to understand what a bike repair person would tell me and to check over my bike. YouTube, here I come I guess.

I'm also looking into the democratic primary candidates. Is it just me or does staying up to date with politics enough to be an informed voter take a lot of time?

ertyu
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by ertyu »

mathiverse wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:02 pm
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day
I only meditated twice this week. Not good.
self-talk: this is not, "not good." you did it twice! So you succeeded two times out of five. Now write a thing on what made the success possible, why you enjoyed the process/why it was beneficial, and what positive consequences there were.

I'm not eating well and exercising regularly at the moment either and this was something I was considering.

Re: being an informed voter - yes, it takes a lot of time. The tinfoil hat part of me sometimes thinks it's deliberate.

mathiverse
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

I'll do a yearly and monthly round up later. I want to talk about my upcoming plan for the year. I mentioned my overall plan in another thread.
mathiverse wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 12:47 pm
@all
My intention in asking about other journals was more about seeing how other people failed. I feel as though I have a decent intellectual understanding of many things related to ERE, but ultimately when I try to put things into practice I still fail due to my personal failings (or now as I learn more about systems maybe due to the negative effects of work. eg Stress due to work leads to me overeating or buying stuff on Amazon that I don't need which leads to higher expenses which stresses me out, etc. And managing stress to maintain solid performance at work is the main reason I prefer to live alone.)

My plan is to rearrange my current design to have fewer negative aspects (eg getting fit, eating healthy, cooking, working less), aligning the remaining negatives with my strengths (at this time, I'm referring to using my excess cash flow to pay for an expensive housing situation only) to compensate, start learning skills with low ROI in the money dimension, but high ROI in the Renaissance ideal dimension, and make a 2 - 3 year exit plan that feels safe enough for me to move to an area where there are overall fewer negatives I need to compensate for while also quitting my job.
Here are some details.

I'm going to go through 2020 as a "no spend" year. I will be spending, but only on a list of pre-approved items and I'll have a budget for each of those items. edit: Work related, most trip related, and family related spending will go away once I'm ERE.

The goals of this exercise are:
  • To improve my ability to meet my needs without spending money. I'll remove the hammer I've been using thus far from my toolbox, so that I'll start to notice and use other tools at my disposal.
  • To better understand what expenses matter in my life.
  • To have more time and motivation to develop skills.
  • To decrease my dependency on my job.
  • To increase my savings rate.
Here is my first shot at a monthly budget, I may adjust the numbers lower as my expenses change. I won't adjust any higher throughout the year. edit: I tracked my expenses over the last year and based these numbers on my tracked expenses plus on what I think I can do if it was top priority.

Code: Select all

Rent		$3,000.00
Work related	$429.25
Temp Fam Support $231.67
Food		$200.00
Trips home	$167.00
Car insurance	$125.00
Utilities	$120.00
Healthcare	$100.00
Internet	$50.00
Gasoline	$50.00
Car maint/reg	$50.00
Cell phone	$30.73
Personal	$20.00
Renter's Ins	$10.00
Plans/Tactics

I have some one off items to handle that will make this easier and lower my expenses during the year. The current monthly budget assumes none of this has happened yet.
  • Improve my fitness and diet.
  • Use my bike as my main form of transportation.
  • Sell my car.
  • Get at least one flatmate.
  • Sell/donate/freecycle my excessive stuff.
  • Regularly speak to my family.
  • Optimize the expenses I will have by doing things like switching to cheap phone carriers and getting better at grocery shopping.
  • Limit the hours I spend at work. This will likely make me more efficient at work while also giving me more time outside of work for ERE.
I've done fish bone diagrams for most of the above items and I chose to either fix or add things that were easily and obviously net positive. I've got other planned activities on the list as well, but these are the big ones.

Mindset

I found over the year that my mindset toward ERE changes when I'm less or more stressed at work. Acute stress results in me letting all my plans go out the window except those related to getting work done. Low level, continuous stress results in me being more likely to work hard at ERE. No/minimal stress results in increased spending as I become more okay with a long working career. I want to monitor this and ensure that even with lower stress I'm still aiming for ERE. Since I want to lower my continuous stress levels (and therefore decreasing the dissatisfaction with the current situation), the other things I can do from the ERE book section 1.2 are: 1) to strengthen my vision of the future situation, 2) build a plan to get from the present to the future, and 3) lower the perceived cost of the plan. I'll write more about how I'm doing those things later.

Comments/suggestions on the budget or plan? Is this a bad way to approach these changes? Are there things I should look out for? What do you think? Thoughts/questions/comments about other things?

Edit: Missed a budget item, order expenses from largest to smallest
Last edited by mathiverse on Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

bigato
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by bigato »

It’s better if your expenses are ordered from highest to lowest

bostonimproper
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Random advice:
* Build systems that makes that lowers the activation energy of the desired behavior, ideally making it easier to pursue than the undesired behavior. E.g. Improve diet -> Get an automatic weekly delivery of CSA vegetables + meal-prep.
* Define positive goals (e.g. I want to be able to do X with Y new skill) that you can move toward in addition to your negative (spend less) goals. Diverting activity and focus is easier than focusing on and exercising restraint.

Best of luck!

mathiverse
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

bostonimproper wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 4:46 pm
* Build systems that makes that lowers the activation energy of the desired behavior, ideally making it easier to pursue than the undesired behavior. E.g. Improve diet -> Get an automatic weekly delivery of CSA vegetables + meal-prep.
I'll think more about other ways to build systems that way. That's a good point. Although for the purposes of learning to meet my needs without spending money, I'm going to avoid building systems that increase spending.
bostonimproper wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 4:46 pm
* Define positive goals (e.g. I want to be able to do X with Y new skill) that you can move toward in addition to your negative (spend less) goals. Diverting activity and focus is easier than focusing on and exercising restraint.
I'm going to flesh out my positive goals a bit more like you suggested. I have a few goals like that in mind for fitness and cooking, but I also expect the "no spend" exercise to result in improving a lot of skills that I didn't realize I would need to use up front.
bigato wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 4:38 pm
It’s better if your expenses are ordered from highest to lowest

Good point. Done.

mathiverse
Posts: 75
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Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

That reordering does make me realize if I moved back home right now and quit my job, I'd shave $827.92 from my budget. (Remove work related expenses, trips home, and family support.) edit: Plus way lower rent, potentially even living rent free or with one of my siblings as my roommate.
Last edited by mathiverse on Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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