Some background on myself:
- Male, 33yo, American (mostly CA, but #vanlife).
- INTJ, with a few personality deviations from the classical INTJ (I have a high EQ, I am *not* curt/abrupt in my handling of other people's emotions if I think they're being illogical, for example).
- High-earner, and a bit abashed about it.
- Remote worker since early 2016. I love my job, but it can definitely be high stress at times. I started in Mechanical Engineering for sustainable HVAC systems and moved laterally to doing 3d animation in the same field.
- Vandweller (since June 2018, with some exceptions including Jan-May 2020, which I'll get in to when I start my journal shortly). My rig is actually a converted cargo trailer that I tow with a 2000 Tacoma, but people know what you mean when you say "vanlife", a lot of people have no idea what a cargo trailer is.
- No children (got the Big Snip as my birthday present to myself at 30yo).
- In a serious relationship with a delightful ENFP, a classic Leo if you're into that, who is in to and supportive of the ERE lifestyle. Fun fact: when we met in Summer 2018, she was living in her van as well.
Why am I here now? I read Jacob's book a few years ago. I've had approximate notions in the direction of FIRE for several years. My move in to a van was motivated by a push to reduce my living expenses dramatically, for example. I got out of a 5 year relationship in late 2017 that consumed most of my income for a variety of reasons that I assume full responsibility for.
In 2018 my SR skyrocketed as I lived with my parents building my rig and then hit the road. I sustained a high SR for about a year, until spring 2019. Then my SR took hit after hit as I made decision after decision that compromised it. My savings have been flat for about 9 months.
...and I just signed a 5 month lease for an apt at $1,700/mo, in a blur of life changes, and have been spending money in a way I'm not happy about for several months. It hit me that I was completely stagnant in my FIRE goals, that I wasn't making good decisions in alignment with my goals and values in life, and that something needed to change in my approach.
A week ago I couldn't sleep because I was stressing about the aforementioned questionable life choices, and was thumbing through through the Kindle app on my phone. I stumbled across the ERE book. I re-read most of it that night. I've been lurking the forums every day since. I've reached a few conclusions about why I tripped hard on my FIRE goals:
- I was attempting to operate at several Wheaton levels above my actual level of understanding. Vandwelling is a Wheaton Level 6 act, but in my day-to-day operationalized habits, I'm still working on the perceptual leap between Levels 3 and 4. I got complacent because "Hey I vandwell, I'm like a black belt at this stuff", but I wasn't even properly crunching the numbers on monthly fuel expenses, had poor habits around preparing frugal food for long trips and just grabbing food from restaurants, etc. I only had a high SR because I made the single decision to cut housing costs to zero as a high earner. I was a white belt thinking I could hold my own against Chuck Norris, and properly got my ego handed back to me.
- I didn't have a rigorous Web of Goals strategy in place with which to guide my day to day actions. I'm an INTJ, without a strong philosophy/strategy I founder at rapid tactical decision-making. I had a hazy notion of "maximize SR", but I didn't have the rest of my life decisions and habits aligned.
- Vandwelling as a full-time remote worker who adds a GF who also works from home to the mix is not a straightforward lifestyle. It's very easy to spend a lot of time dealing with vanlife logistics, and the temptation to solve those time issues with money if you have it is high and constant.
- I have some worldview issues that lead me to heavily second-guess the point of long-term planning. But my thinking in this was heavily flawed. I'll dig in to this more in my journal.
My ultimate aim is not necessarily to FIRE by 20XX, but to achieve Wheaton Level 8 as quickly as is appropriate, with no attempts to skip levels or rush them. I am a patient man on a long journey.
For those who made it all the way to this point, thank you, and thank you for being a co-creator of such a rare treasure. I hope to be able to contribute value to the community at some point.