Mrchopboy's Roady Road to ERE

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mrchopboy
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:26 pm

Mrchopboy's Roady Road to ERE

Post by mrchopboy »

I've been browsing through the journals here since I found Jacob's blog two weeks ago. The quality, diversity and thoughtfulness of the posts surprised me. I've paid to be part of forums that would be lucky to have a fraction of the depth of conversation and thoughtfulness that this one has. Life is so busy these days with two young children at home that it feels like I don't have any bandwidth to communicate much beyond my family, but something compels me to share here. I tend to follow my gut (for good or ill), so here goes!

Mid 30s father of two (DS 4 and DD 10 months) and husband to an amazing wife. Stay at home dad/trader by day, video game developer/writer/budding composer by night. In a past life, I worked a variety of jobs in order to pay the bills while I tried to live the life of an artist (writer, filmmaker and now maker of video games). I've made some horrid financial blunders in the last decade of adulthood. The regret could eat me up for many years to come if I let it. The only saving grace as it pertains to FI and ERE in particular is that I've always been quite frugal. I had my first credit card in college and when I got my first interest charge after I put a bunch of books and other "necessities" on it, I was horrified at both the APR and the actual dollar amount. After that experience, I became vigilant about living below my means.

If not for the financial mistakes (I'll go into this in a future entry) I've made thus far, we would be in a very good position to move on from our current life situation even with two kids. However, as it currently stands, we're looking at another 1-2 (years) depending on how long DW can handle staying at her current job.

Our current NW is just under 300K. It fluctuates a bit as we have a chunk in equities with at least half of that chunk in individual equities (not index funds). I invest/trade our assets with the goal of capital appreciation. DW brings home the bacon (we're pescatarian, though we love bacon) with her hard earned W2 income. Our goal is to have around 400K, though ideally 500K (with some help from investments) before DW leaves her job. She makes a bit above the American median salary, though below the median salary for our HCOL city. Our current SV rate is hovering around 82% YTD. While DW doesn't make much, the benefits of her job include housing with nearly all expenses included. This is what allows us to save at such a high rate, while still paying $400 a month in car insurance and payments (sub 1% APR). We're both frugal by nature, though in the past we've spent more liberally on items (production equipment for me, clothes and health products for her). Since covid19 hit, we've been in extreme savings mode. Next month we'll be switching our cell phone plan to a pay-what-you-use company, which should bring our SV closer to 85%.

On the Wheaton scale, I'd say we're around 6-7 with aspirations for 8. DW would love to be a homesteader with a nice plot of farmland. I grew up as a city boy but have spent time in rural Japan and have come to appreciate the relative peace and solitude of non-city life. Perhaps a longer term goal of ours. Our more immediate plan is to leave the States and head to Asia and take advantage of some geoarbitrage while also giving our children a chance to develop their foreign language skills.

Our projected budget is roughly 2x JAFI, 2.5x JAFI would be comfortable. 1.5-1.6x JAFI would be doable, but a leaner existence. Living abroad will give us to live on our assets more comfortably while we work on this video game together which should take us a few years. I don't see us staying beyond 2 years, originally the hard stop was 1 year but covid19 spooked my wife a bit and since discussing it at greater length, we decided it would be prudent to give ourselves more runway if possible. Her job is taxing on her for a variety of reasons and if it ever comes down to it, we will choose to leave with less financial security than risk jeopardizing her mental health. The one decision I've made in my life that I can unequivocally say was spot on was marrying my wife. It's been a wild and turbulent ride, but we've come out of it stronger and more connected than we've ever been. Besides, given our ability to live quite frugally, we feel reasonably confident that we can pick up part time jobs in our destination country that will cover our expenses if our investments take an extended beating.

Overall, I'm incredibly grateful for Jacob and this community for opening my eyes up to the possibility of ERE. If I had known about this sooner, I don't think I would have made nearly as many financial mistakes (mostly investing/trading blunders) as I would have realized that I didn't need millions of dollars to escape the rat race that I've resisted for as long as I can remember. Oh well, if there's anything I've learned in the last few years it's that dwelling on the past is a giant waste of time. I'm optimistic about the future, not because I think everything is going to go our way, but rather because I feel empowered by the ERE mindset. I've come to realize and believe that there is a sustainable way to live the creative life we both desire. Tons more to share, but I'll let it flow as it will in future posts. Thanks for reading!

rube
Posts: 646
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: Mrchopboy's Roady Road to ERE

Post by rube »

Welcome

2Birds1Stone
Posts: 1038
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am
Location: Earth

Re: Mrchopboy's Roady Road to ERE

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

First post and already sitting at a 6/7 on the Wheaton scale, that's impressive. This should be a breeze for you.

Look forward to following along.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1658
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Mrchopboy's Roady Road to ERE

Post by classical_Liberal »

Nice first post! My guess is you'll fit in here great. PS nice spend rate!

mrchopboy
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:26 pm

Re: Mrchopboy's Roady Road to ERE

Post by mrchopboy »

rube wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:40 pm
Welcome
Thanks!
classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:09 pm
Nice first post! My guess is you'll fit in here great. PS nice spend rate!
Thanks, have really enjoyed reading your journal so far!
2Birds1Stone wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:05 am

First post and already sitting at a 6/7 on the Wheaton scale, that's impressive. This should be a breeze for you.

Look forward to following along.
Thanks, though to be fair I think there's a lot of nuance that isn't captured by the Wheaton scale descriptions. Have a lot to learn about reducing waste and pushing my comfort zone a bit. I'd love to go sans car in theory, but in reality neither DW or me want to pull the trigger despite using it quite infrequently. Btw, also enjoy following your journal!


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It's been a positive week overall. The big win on the spending front was finding a new carrier that has the potential to cut our cell bill in half, we'll see how it goes as I haven't had a reason to test usage/coverage out. But since we don't really go out anywhere these days, getting by on 100% WIFI hasn't been an issue.

Markets have been somewhat volatile, though none of this surprising given the elevated VIX levels and vol of vol is still very high. It's interesting to see how, despite my best attempts to shift towards the mindset of the typical JLCollins convert, I am at my core a trader/investor interested in picking up better deals if and when they're available. I've nibbled a bit this week, but still comfortable holding larger cash levels than most looking to retire early would (though maybe not for ERE folks). My goal right now is to stay active in my trading accounts, hold current investments in LT accounts with cash reserves to add at lower levels (if we get them).

One of my goals, for the last few years, but more intensely in the last few months since market volatility ramped up, has been to get better at disconnecting myself from the markets. It's hard to be an semi-active trader, while still trying to get other work done (educating DS, game development). Over the last two weeks I've updated my old trading spreadsheet updating it reflect changes in my broker's API, it's not 100% back to old functionality but I'd say it's about 90% there which is good enough to monitor things without having to open up the trading platforms themselves. I was a bit more engaged Friday, however I found that I can work on coding tasks while still actively monitoring the markets. This has been a refreshing discovery. I find it very difficult to do right brain activity (writing, music) with active distractions, but left brain activity seems a lot more manageable as long as it doesn't require a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to get the job done. I managed to have a productive afternoon while still feeling like I had a good handle on the risk environment. So all in all, I was pleased with how the week ended.

Also this week, I picked up 'Life in a Medieval City' an old book that's been gathering dust on the bookshelf. I've picked through parts of it before for another manuscript project I was working on years ago, but now that we've decided to ground our game in Medieval Europe (at least parts of it), I've found it worthwhile to do a cover-to-cover read through. The level of detail is incredible. Even in the 13th Century there was a decent amount of specialization in trades (At least 150 trade guilds according to the authors), however everyday people (maybe not the rich), were still actively engaged in life's work (gathering resources, preparing food etc.). I'm not sure I want to do everything ourselves, but I would like more engagement with growing/harvesting food items as a start. Not sure how realistic that is in an urban setting, but it's on my mind.

One of my goals for the coming week is figuring out a schedule I can stick with in terms of splitting my time between educating DS, working and managing portfolio stuff. The hardest part is teaching DS as it is the most emotionally taxing. I've worked with a lot of kids of various ages in my previous life as an educator, but working with a four year old who I also happen to be 100% responsible for is something that nothing I've done up until now has prepared me for. It's unlikely that we will send him to pre-school given the covid19 situation, which means I'll have my work cut out for me in this area. Certainly an area in which there's a lot of personal growth potential. A functional schedule would help. I'm not a scheduler (ENFP/INFP) by nature, but I've done it enough in the past that it should be doable, once I can get over my internal resistance...

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