oldbeyond's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:22 am

Forskaren wrote:I am also thinking about decreasing time spent on useless internet use, TV etc. I am still exploring what to do. I found a interesting series of 31 days what have started with the 3 first days. The principle to find a few things that you care deeply about and focus on those seem interesting. I realise that I spend a lot of time on things I care a little about. Is that the fact for most of your internet use?

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... -the-deep/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... -shallows/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days- ... d-meaning/
Thanks for the links!

Yes, that is the case. Or to be more specific, I read stuff I do care about - FI, geopolitics, resource depletion, economics, cultural commentary, but from sites/authors/forums where there's a consensus I've already internalized, so the new information gathered is miniscule, but I still can't stop. I don't get stuck for hours on buzzfeed or playing farmville, but it's still time wasted and it's always the default thing to turn to when I have spare time. I think the lack of areas of focus also shows itself in other ways, as I tend to get too caught up in chores, and tend to obsess over diet and money management, even though they're "solved" as said earlier. I guess I lack a proper output for my energies outside of work.

My "core things" per the link above would be financial autonomy, building a strong extended family(there are some clannish genes in me, I think), erudition and spiritual maturity. Tier 2 would be a well-rounded phsyique, friends, a beautfiul environment around me, good cooking and some involvement in politics/public affairs.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:21 pm

I tend to get rather long-winded, so I've strived to make my resolutions brief for a change, and also focusing on high impact changes:

HEALTH:

# Do 20 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by deadlifts-overhead press-pulldowns alternated with leg press-benchpress-barbell rows three times a week
# Always take the stairs and do shopping by foot

WORK:

# Bill my time every day before heading off, making detailed notes of what I spent it on. Determine my time budget at the start of new projects and keep up with it over time
# Attempt more difficult tasks first, leaving routine stuff for later
# Keep a "what I don't know"-list and update it over time
# Be at my desk 7.30 every morning

MENTAL:

# Meditate for 10 minutes every day
# Avoid brooding over stuff beyond my control by writing down my thoughts on an appropriate message board when I start getting ramped up
# Memento mori - daily

SOCIAL:

# Plan one social gathering/outing/trip per week
# Take one active step to further relationships at work every week(asking for a favour, suggesting lunch, suggesting outing)

FINANCIAL:

# Do diligent due diligence(hehe, couldn't help myself) before purchasing any property. Speak with the co-op board and do own estimates of maintenance needs 20 years down the line. Make a budget for any planned upgrades in the apartment(new kitchen etc).
# Save 50 % of post-tax earnings.

ERUDITION:

# Read a book every two weeks
# Do a course/read a book on art history
# Finish all of Jordan Petersons lectures on youtube
# Do chinese flashcards daily, read 3 books, listen to 100 podcasts

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun May 07, 2017 7:44 am

An update on my goals:

HEALTH:

I've been decent at walking and I've followed my regimen to the dot every time I've gone to the gym. I have not averaged 3 times per week, more like 1.5, with a couple of weeks lost due to illnesses. I have to improve in this department, frequency(volume) is the most crucial variable for me. To improve I will plan when to exercise at the start of the week. In general I've seen a decent improvement in body composition. Going by this image: https://www.healthstatus.com/wp-content ... 00x199.jpg I'm at roughly 15%, down from 20+, with total body weight constant. I seem to have built muscles mainly in my legs and core, reverse disco? My progress has been noticeable, but mediocre, mainly due to low frequency(volume). I feel I am doing the right things, just too little of them. I will start biking to work after the move(see below), upping the light daily exercise a bit.

WORK:

I've become way more independent at work, a necessary transition from a cushy apprenticelike existence that was ultimately very unfulfilling. I've been good at showing up early and have vastly improved my time management, even though I still have a penchant for busywork. I need to work on focus, efficiency and endurance, but I am happy with my progress. Currently I'm quite swamped, hopefully this is transitory.

MENTAL:

I've neglected all of this. At least I'm writing this down. Memento mori happens, though.

SOCIAL:

I've been quite active on the social front, with work, friends and family all. I still strive to develop relationships at work and to up my social skills which are still a bit rough around the edges. My goal is mainly to have a bit smoother interactions, I'm not wired to be a people person but I want to avoid weirdness. If I can manage that, I'll be pleased. A more active social life has helped somewhat, though.

FINANCIAL:

Savings are roughly on target, no major purchases besides some outlays for a planned trip and replacement of a couple of worn out pieces of clothing.

The major event in the financial realm is me having bought an apartment in a bostadsrättsförening, basically a co-op with a HOA. We found one with low debt, low maintenance, good cash reserves, decent bathroom + kitchen and horrible wallpaper/wall paint within biking distance of both our jobs in a quiet area 20 minutes from downtown, for a decent price. It's a normal size 2-bedroom with an additional small(but very usable) room carved out of the living room, meaning we could raise a family here should the housing market tank, without having to fork out too much extra cash upfront or in monthly fees. We paid 5x net income, which is a lot, but a lot better than I feared. I doubt it'll make us rich, but I feel I can mange the downside. There is some potential specific upside in the exemplary financial state of the co-op(especially since it's likely that new legislation will force real estate agents to advertise debt/square meter and a few other indicators in the prospectus) and in redoing the horrible decor on the cheap. We are thinking about repainting the kitchen cabinets to get a cheap do-over of the kitchen(not more than a few thousand dollars hopefully), since the layout and bones are solid. My goal is to get involved with the co-op, hopefully being able to cut a few costs and influencing the upkeep of the property.

The purchase of course influences my asset allocation. Fixed rate mortgages can only be transfered to a new property under special circumstances, and then only co-op to co-op, not co-op to house. If rates fall, you have to compensate the lender for lost interest if you terminate the mortgage prematurely. Say you get a fixed 10-year and sell after 5. If the rate on a 5-year fixed at that date, + 1 percentage point, is lower than your original 10-year rate, you have to pay the bank the remainder. Eg. original 10-year is 3%, 5-year after 5 years is 1%, then you have to pay 3-(1+1)=1% of the outstanding principal for the remaining five years. In a raising rate environment, the borrower gets no compensation for terminating the mortgage prematurely. Because we'd prefer to move to a house in the medium term, my plan is to go for a 5-year fixed. If we manage our savings rate, and with current assets at almost 2 times net income, that would leave us with 0.5x NI net debt, provided flat returns for our assets. With our student loans, that ratio would be more like 1.5x, but the terms are extremely favourable(current rate 0,34%! and unemployment/illness provisions built in).

We will split our savings 50-50 between principal paydown of the mortgage and investments in securities. Since the mortgage is basically a bond position, and a long one given that I won't pay it down before the term expires, I've excluded bonds from my asset allocation. Since I am massively invested in real estate, I see no reason to overweight REITs, and I've avoided commodities futures in favor of EM. I like gold as a hedge against government/political risk, so it will make up 20% of invested assets. Living in a small, export-oriented country I've decided on a global equity allocation. Currently, basically all of it is in global index funds. I will overweight emerging markets(10% of invested assets), and there's a local mutual fund tracking investment companies(Berkshire, Fairfax etc) to which I will allocate another 10%. I have a few individual stocks I have my eyes on, basically conservatively managed companies which I think have a better shot at surviving the coming storms. 30% of the portfolion will be allocated to 6 stocks at 5% each. I will rebalance if they reach 10% of invested asset value, or if they fall below 2.5% with valuations prohibiting me from increasing my position.

To sum it up:

30% global index(unhedged)
10% emerging markets index(unhegded)
10% investment companies(unhedged)
30% individual stocks(will be mostly large cap, value, likely lower volatility)
20% gold

Basically, the big risk I am taking on is deflation or a massive strengthening of the SEK.

Apart from this we will have 0.5x NI in an emergency fund.


ERUDITION:

Mostly failed, I've been quite bad at keeping up my reading habit, let alone getting started on the other projects(I think I've gotten the gist of J.P so I won't be plowing through all of his lectures). I will decrease time spent on Netflix/blogs and start reading on the tram again(until the move at least).

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sat May 13, 2017 7:37 am

Following up on the mental stuff, from the post from a little over a year ago:

1. Quitting my regular internet routine cold turkey.
This has not happened. It's not a huge time waste at work, but it is a distraction, and a mental crutch. I'm still addicted to a news cycle, mostly business news and blogs related to FIRE/investments. Looking at the urges more closely, it's one part addiction to novel stimuli, one part FOMO. But on a daily basis it's mostly just noise, or repetition of familiar concepts in the case of FIRE. I really believe that the best strategy is going cold turkey. I will block my regular crop of sites on my phone and work computer.

2. Meditating every day.
To get started, my goal will be to simply sit down to meditate every day, with no goal as for duration.

3. One text/email/call to friends or family per day.
The social front is covered for now I'd say.

4. I need at tribe to share intellectual/cultural/spiritual interests with.
I have gotten a bit of this from a book club. For now that will have to do, as other areas are in greater need of my energies.

5. I need to be more strict with my exercise regimen and push myself more.
I have made progress here, both at work and with exercise and social engagements. I have a long way to go but am on the right track. Exercise will be a key area.

6. I need to plan at least one social outing per week
See 3.

7. I create nothing. I need to do something with my thoughts, but also with my hands.
As for trades, we will be doing some work on our condo, so I think I should focus my energies there. It has been a pattern for me to avoid the obvious, urgent projects right in front of me in favor of daydreaming arbitrary ones I've read about, where circumstances have made it hard/impossible to realize them. An obvious way of escaping having do to anything. I will also sit down to write once a week.

8. In general terms, I've expanded my worldview to encompass the dark sides of the human experience: death, loss, calamity, impermanence, realistic social dynamics. This has however tended mostly to inspire lethargy
I've read the stoics, the existentialists and collections of eastern wisdoms. I do not need more mental concepts, I need to apply them. Gratitude, acceptance, realism, wonder.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:44 pm

I reread the ERE-book, definitely a couple of Wheaton levels up from the last time(I think that was in 2012/2013). The last time around, the juicy parts(<chapter 6) mostly felt like intentionally overly abstracted rationalizations for selling the standard FIRE script, which I perceived as the real "killer app" of the book. I'm not close to zen master yet, but the exploration of the concepts/patterns that the books describes really hit deeper this time around, meshing with "unrelated" reading, thinking and experiencing. Thank you jacob for crafting your version of "Existence for Dummies". It really is amazingly pithy.

Going through the renaissance skills, a bit smug and complacent musing over my progress in the various fields, getting to the Emotional subparagraph largely relieved me of that delusion. Progress is made, but taking the larger view of a complex ecosystem, one organism is clearly scewing with the others. I think I'm not alone in being initially drawn to ERE because it represented a means of escape(summer break forever!) rather than a challenge to master. This tendency to daydream of avoidance has deep roots in me, and is related to social and performance anxiety. In this sense, I could not be more different from jacob(and many others on this forum). Still, a mindset of challenge and improvement is sprouting within me, still fragile but at the same time likely quite hard to obliterate. It is really this mental ecosystem that needs to change, the removal of a weed that will let many other plants grow, allowing new complexities.

Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Jason » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:53 pm

(1) Brewing Beer: I didn't realize that in pre-modern times beer brewing was popular because it purified water i.e. Martin Luther's wife Katrina was an expert beer brewer and he was forever grateful to her for how it helped him take a good, solid, late Medieval dump;

(2) Internet Addiction: There are many books on this topic. If you haven't read one, you should. Knowing the impact on your neuro-pathaways is some harrowing shit. Any book on cognition is insightful. Its about as scientific as I can get. I recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman;

(3) Death: I'm more of a hospice type of guy as opposed to a funeral type of guy because funerals have this "life is for the living" or "let's tell funny stories about this dead douchebag" distraction but hospice is more of a direct, existential confrontation with not only death, but dying. Dying is a fucking arduous task. When you are dying, that's all you can do and its all you are going to fucking do until you are dead. It's not like you can take a break from dying and say "I think I'll go to Aruba to get away from this dying crap." All that time you sit in fucking school and no one tells you the important things like how to save money and how to deal with death. I mean they taught me how to make a fucking apple turnover and yelled at me for scribbling outside the lines but no-one told me how to save money because I'm going to get old and die. Stupid assholes. Fuck them with the dash between their tombstone dates.

Dragline
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Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Dragline » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:16 pm

If you want to learn about death from someone who spends a lot of time with dying people, read these: https://bkbooks.com/products/end-of-lif ... s-booklets

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:29 pm

Great stuff about death, thanks guys ;) I do believe in the wisdom of memento mori, but perhaps what I really need is a lesson in living. I've always preferred living in my head to living in the real world. I guess I should've set my sights on academia, but I'm probably to lazy and intellectually honest for that anyways. I came back from my summer vacation to two frantic weeks of working on my own to keep the project I'm on from completely derailing deadline-wise, having to decide for myself what to prioritize and how to do it. The good was that I met the challenged and delivered. That was perhaps likely but not a given and I do take some pride in that. The bad was that my internal state of frantic anxiety, bitterness and self-pity hardly counts as grace under pressure. It really took my psychological weak spots and magnified them in a harsh light. Also it derailed the social, creative and spiritual sides of my life. Meditating on this, I feel that there are two basic dysfunctions at play here.

The first is a sense of entitlement. I really feel that the world owes me something, that I am special and that any suffering that befalls me is almost metaphysically repulsive. I'm not proud to say so but that's where I stand currently. This fuels my laziness, bitterness and self-pity. I'm the angry child raging at father Absolute for not satisfying my every whim.

The second is excessive worrying. This is slightly different, because as opposed to my sense of entitlement, my bearishness does pay some dividends. It helps me see the world more clearly and has certainly allowed me to dodge a few bullets. It's a question of dosage. It is a form of addiction for me, reveling in that i fear most, testing fate in summoning ever worse scenarios to contemplate. Here it's more a question of a balancing act, avoiding some obvious traps without sucking all joy out of life. Especially as the worrying triggers the self-pity.

In a nutshell: perhaps suffering is in the cards for me, as it might be for anyone, and there's not really any point in obsessing about it:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

Jason
Posts: 2110
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Jason » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:45 pm

lol@Great stuff about death.

I consider myself pretty death obsessed but you Swedes take it to a whole other level.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:42 am

FINANCIAL:

For the last six months, the surplus has been used to renovate our apartment. New kitchen cabinet doors, new floors, paint, wallpaper, new stove and washing machine, also the tearing down of a wall. We did some of it ourselves, while the rest was done by professionals. Some it was mandatory(electrical work), some of it a bit ambitious to DIY(wall demolition), and some of it we hired out merely for convenience(wallpaper, floors). I didn't mind the work we did in itself, but the combined pressure of full-time+ work and renovations was a bit much to me, so I was quite happy to hire out the rest for convenience's sake. I would have like to have tried my hand at doing the wallpaper, but I'm sure there'll be a next time. All in all, everything we did either improved the apartments layout/utility, or its aesthetics, and quite efficiently from a financial standpoint. We've spent about 5% of purchase price all in all, which likely is quite a bit less than what we would've spent extra if we'd bought a shinier place, and now it's all done to our tastes. But I'll confess that it'll be nice to reduce the outflows and resume building NW again. Savings will be 50/50 principal paydown/investments(gold+equities). Our emergency fund(1x expenses) is fully funded still. Short-term, my goal is 50% savings. Mid-term, 10x expenses + pay down mortgage, part-time work. Long-term 30x, more passive side business(es).

HEALTH:

I'm a bit stronger and I've been running a bit recently, so my cardio has improved quite a bit. I've added some body fat recently, likely due to stress induced comfort food intake. I've gotten a bit stronger and added some muscle, but my progress has been slow. I think this is mainly due to 1) low volume and 2) stress/sleep. My goal is to do my strength routine + 20 min of running(my goal is to fit 5km in these 20 minutes by the end of the year, currenly at 4.05) 2 times/week. This should be very much possible to achieve, but I've stumbled due to my situation at work in recent weeks. My diet is good if I avoid cake etc(at work) and crisps etc(at home), but I could eat more fatty fish, nuts and vegetables.

MENTAL:

I bad at dealing with stress/anxiety and I struggle to maintain a dialogue with myself. Also I am coming to terms with basically being on the high-functioning autism spectrum. I used to blame my awkwardness on anxiety, but really I just don't get people intuitively, even if I can devise decent models/heuristics for human behavior. There's also the lack of energy to perform in social situations. I feel that I can do more with what I have to improve my situation. I've also been lacking in hope/optimism, not really striving for anything or feeling that I can handle adversity.

WORK:

Work has been very intense. Planning and responsibility has been lacking from my superiors, but also from myself. It's likely a 50/50 split in assigning the blame. I need to improve my planning and efficiency, and also force the people around me to improve. If I don't, I will get crushed, because I lack the stamina to keep up with the recent workload bursts long-term, and I don't want the lives of some of the people 5-10 years my senior, that I'm slowly morphing into. On the plus side, I've been learning a lot, and been given some recognition in a specialized role, taking courses and going to conferences. I hope to involve scripting/programming more into my work, taking small steps toward computer science.

SOCIAL:

I've been more active with friends and family, but I feel more odd and awkward. I think I need to treat it more like a game, and come to terms with constantly making an effort.

wolf
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Location: Germany

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by wolf » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:43 pm

oldbeyond, why do you "feel more odd and awkward" around friends and family? Usually those are the people who you can trust and can be authentic. But I guess, somehow I can think of it this way. May family only knows a very vague description about what I am trying to achieve (ERE, FI...) And of course my colleagues don't know anything. So in a way I kind of have to live with some aspects of my live which others don't know anything about it. Do you talk about ERE, etc with your family and friends?
...and by the way, thank you for this journal entry. Your roadmap to your financial goals sounds great!

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:45 pm

Not more than around other people, but more than before. Being more active socially has made me become more self-aware(/self-conscious), it was easier to fool myself into feeling normal by avoiding social interactions. So it's not really my lifestyle choices(family sort of know about my plans, friends not as much, but they know I'm frugal(/cheap)), but rather personality traits coming up against my self-image.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:46 am

FINANCIAL:

Finally a surplus this month, not quite at 50% SR but almost, and that's with a new iPhone(well to us, bought used) for the GF and two birthday celebrations in the family. All our outflows are now linked to the same account, so it's easy to break down our expenditure using the banks app/website. I showed our stats to my girlfriend and she was amazed that we spent so much. I guess I have a pretty solid team mate in her.

Given that our lives are pretty optimized on the strategic level, we simply have to avoid splurging on outings/experiences/stuff to maintain a 50% SR(I include principal pay down on student loans and mortgage in this number, excluding that we’re at 35-40%). We’re quite frugal by nature so this usually isn’t too much of a struggle, especially since the budget isn’t all that extreme. It’s set at a level were friction is minimized and we simply live according to our nature. Since that spending is reasonable on a relative basis(50% SR) and on an absolute basis(1,25 x 1 median income), I feel fine about it. But I try to experiment with cost cutting to have the tools at my disposal should circumstances change and to make sure that any splurging is done voluntarily and with awareness. Mostly it consists of going out for food/drinks/concerts, so it’s relatively low footprint.

The plan is still to split the surplus 50/50 between mortgage principal pay down and my asset allocation(80% stocks, 15% gold, 5% commodities). In 4 years when our mortgage resets we should be at 60-65% of Loan to Nominal Purchase Price and have a couple of more years expenses in stocks.

In accordance with the current trend in the FIRE-sphere, I’ve been trying to cultivate a mindset of financial abundance right where I’m at. We only need to earn a median income between the both of us to get by, and our skills are in demand across time and space, especially my GF:s. We have a years expenses in cash(likely way more in a pinch), another in the stock market and 2-3 in the apartment. That’s not FI, but it is a lot of options.

WORK:

The workload has remained intense, with a two week lull I was to burned out to utilize fully followed by a two week grind. I have my annual performance review coming up and I will be bringing up the big guns to make them understand that I will not be able to continue like this. On the positive side I’ve learned even more, been to a fun conference and got our team to pull together during the last push, in a way we hadn’t before.

MENTAL:

There is a deep fatigue in me, and I will have to thread carefully so that I don’t slip into burnout. But dealing with the grind over the last few months has had its bright spots. I’ve taken responsibility in a way I had always ducked before and dared to attempt to manage upcoming challenges. I’ve thrown myself into technically challenging situations and come out the other side. I’ve rediscovered a sense of pride, and a sense of hope and direction. Basically I was in a rut, and probably needed something to shake me out of it. For all the stress and frustration, it has been better than quiet desperation.

I still need to work on my inner dialogue, awareness and cultivating a balanced outlook - not a grim resignation nor a giddy frenzy. And I need to make sure I do not let the stress crush me.

I also rediscovered my interest in productivity, and have been better at using a todo-system, setting reminders and in general getting stuff out of my head. This really helps with low-level anxiety/stress.

ERUDITION:

I’ve taken up my Chinese flashcards again, will plow through all of the HSK and then consolidate a bit. I’ve registered for an online course in the fall, partly as a refresher, partly for credit. I want to get into the habit of reading Chinese again, likely newspaper articles.

I’ve been reading more in general as of late, a habit that had been largely lost over the last year.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:19 am

FINANCIAL:

We’ve bought some summer clothes, decorations for our home and celebrated a few birthdays, but things are generally moving as expected. But I do have a few near-term goals for my spending:

- Procuring more clothes and ”stuff” second hand rather than new. Some stuff I will still buy new(underwear, utensils etc) but quite a few of our purchases are made at the big box/mall simply for convenience.

- Improving my bike maintenance skills. I ride my bike every day, so I should be able to to 90%+ of the required maintenance. It’s also important to have it back in working order quickly so I don’t fall back to my old tram-riding ways.

- Eating less meat and dairy which will likely lower costs, while the motivation is really to lower our footprint. I’ve been eating lentils for breakfast recently, which is a very filling start to the day and avoids having to convince my GF of their deliciousness.

For investing, I’ve been looking more at timing strategies, just simple ones like MA200 TAA and the like. I will explore it further before I make any changes to my buy and hold ways. I’ve added some ballast in the form if low volatility and high dividend yield funds as of late.

As for the mortgage, paying down 0.4*NI extra over the next four years would put us at 70% loan to purchase price, which is ~60% loan to current value, which seems like enough of a cushion to me. So everything we save in excess of that will be added to our portfolio.

WORK/MENTAL:

The main thing has been me working on my productivity infrastructure, as I described in my last post. I’ve expanded this further and have gotten a lot more organized, which has reduced my stress levels and allowed me to accomplish more. I’ve bought the GTD-book and will continue to work on this. Right now I’m on summer leave, which I think was needed in order to really stage a recovery in my energy levels. Despite my improved habits, I’ve been a bit grumpy and tense, so I need to decompress a bit before I get back on the horse. This fall will likely be quite intense, and after that I might be heading a project of my own.

If we start a family, I will likely reduce my hours by 20%, like a lot of people in my office. In the short term I will be pushing to increase my competence, both technical and in project management. I’m thinking more in terms of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, these days.

The next step is to work on my mental development, I think in the form of meditation of both the discursive and symbolic varieties. Laying the groundwork for this will be a goal for the summer leave.

HEALTH:

I’m still weak, but there has been a marked improvement both in performance and optics during the spring, so I think I’m on the right track. I feel at home with the lifts I’m doing and I am pushing myself. When it comes to my running, pace has definitely improved and the subjective experience is very much less excruciating than before. Right now, it is more a case of keeping up with it during stressful periods.

ERUDITION:

I’ve the first book of Spengler’s The Decline of the West and am now working the second volume. Truly a read of a lifetime and really something to wrestle with.

I’ve fallen a bit behind on my flashcards, but I have an online course in Chinese in the fall to motivate me during the summer.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:59 am

FINANCIAL:

I've adopted a MA200 strategy for my liquid investments. It's an even five way split between global large cap/domestic mid cap/global small cap/EM/PM. Each is traded based on the 200DMA, so currently EM and PM are in cash. I'm increasingly nervous about valuations so this is a way to hedge my bets and limit drawdowns, without retreating to the sidelines completely.

Recent clothing purchases have been made in thrift stores apart from underwear/basic t-shirts, so that's a win. I've also invested in better shoe care products to better maintain my footwear stock. The trick is of course to not buy anything, but these filled gaps in my wardrobe and will last for years.

I still haven't moved on the bike maintenance, but haven’t had anything to fix since the last time around either.

I got a pay raise that was very good if not outstanding, in general I’ll be pushing for control over my work ahead of maximizing pay so I won’t be expending career capital trying to wring a couple of percent more out ot the company. Along with me not renewing my buss pass the raise will lift my budgeted savings rate to a bit over 50%.

WORK/MENTAL:

GTD has stuck very well, perhaps contrary to my expectations. There’s certainly more to be had from managing projects and the weekly reviews so I’m not claiming to have perfected it, but getting things out of my head and clearing inboxes are becoming habits, and my stress revels are quite a bit reduced.

Things have been going well at the office, if I was inclined to I could probably push for more responsibility, titles, people to manage and the like and make great strides over the next few years, and then be solidly on the partner track. I can get a bit high on that thought, but I do not think it suits my personality very well, nor do I think I have the energy for it. I quite enjoy managing a project, which I really thought I wouldn’t, but I think that’s because I’m in it and get to see results on the ground. I also very much enjoy improving my technical competence. So my plan right now is to improve my technical abilities and management skills, and in the end run small teams to my liking on my own, improving my productivity and reducing my hours, while being fierce about selecting projects and people.

I still haven’t moved on the meditation. I’m considering a retreat to kick things off, and then only having to maintain the habit.

HEALTH:

Much the same, but I ran 10km in rugged terrain in under an hour. My goal is 10km in 50 minutes on flat ground so I’m not too far off. Deadlifts are at 110kg, bench press at 60, leg press at 160(1RM), so there’s still a ways to go in the strength deparment. I need to check up on my knee with a physical therapist and start on squats. Diet is ok, I’ve eaten a bit more crap in the evenings to build muscle and I seem to have. Body fat is still OK so I will keep going like this for a bit more.

Right now, reducing/managing stress is likely to have the greatest positive impact on my health.

SOCIAL:

Work in itself has been more social and there’s been a lot of work-related events. I’ve also made plans with family and friends so I have a bit going on in my calendar during the fall. I need to prioritize doing new activities with my SO as well as keeping in touch with friends out of town over Skype/email. As well improving my social skills in general, or at least learning useful scripts for challenging situations.

ERUDITION:

I’ve been quite diligent with the flashcards as well as reading in Chinese. I’d like to take the HSK6 within a year. The reading should be fine, grammar/writing will need a bit of brushing up but listening will require some serious work I haven’t even started on yet. So the next challenge will be to make time for listening in my routine, and longer term hiring a tutor for speaking/grammar questions, likely over Skype.

The Chinese would also be a great fall back as an alternative income stream, both in tutoring and translation. Not greatly paid, but flexible and location independent. And with a bit of business sense I could likely do well connecting upper middle class parents and native Chinese teachers, as well as assisting in setting up a system of flashcards/podcasts/book reading.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:10 am

WORK/MENTAL:

The work situation spiraled out of control again during fall, with the associated long hours, lack of sleep and constant toxic stress levels finally getting the better of me just before Christmas, causing my to simply burn out. This is obviously a major event for me, and has changed my situation a lot in the short term, while of course also forcing me to reflect a lot on my life. I’m slowly getting back to it, but it’s obvious that I need to lower the pressure, while at the same time work on my resilience. This will be a long journey but it’s obvious to me that I need to work on my perfectionism and self-esteem.

I’ve been sticking to GTD to avoid become to passive, and I think it’s been very valuable to stay on top of chores and obligations even when I was at my worst. Performing two hours worth of menial tasks was an exhausting days work, but it gave me structure and I think helped me avoid depression.

I’ve also taken another stab at breaking my internet addictions, I’ve blocked the sites I check habitually(including these forums) in Safari on my phone by manually adding them to the content blocker I use. I can still access them in Firefox Focus, but with no bookmarks or history, I have to type out the URLs. This friction seems to be enough to kill a lot of the urges, improving my focus/mindfulness and reducing my mental chatter. Highly recommended.

HEALTH:

I slept a lot right after the event, after which I experienced another 2-3 weeks of insomnia. Currently I am sleeping well again, but I’ve spent some time reading up on sleep focused CBT and changed my routine somewhat. Obviously the real test will be maintaining healthy sleep when the pressure increases again, but I have several promising tactics to employ should the problems return. I’ve also been tackling my general worry and anxiety, which seems to be the major cause of my not sleeping.

My workouts suffered once I entered the final, chaotic stretch, but I am back at it again. I turns out sleeping and not wallowing in acute stress actually helps quite a bit with the results. I’ve been able to increase my max quite a bit in most strength exercises which feels great. I still lack bragging rights, but I am exiting the total noob zone. And it’s fun. I’ve done bit of cardio but not too much, knee pains and laziness probably have me regressing a little bit. Picking it up again is a goal, but the main priorities is sleep quality and stress management. Diet is mostly the same(omnivore with a lot of dense vegetables, and quite a bit of refined carbs due to practicality/picky GF), with perhaps a bit less meat/dairy and more seeds/nuts/fish lately. I did a health checkup and all the markers where great so I don’t really focus too much on my eating right now.

FINANCIAL:

Currently 100% cash, but it looks like I’ll buy EM and gold at the next rebalance.

I’ve created better spread sheets for following up on my expenses. My bank app tracks spending categories for all cards and accounts, so I just manually transfer the data at the end of each month.

For 2018 the numbers are a bit fuzzier, but we managed a savings rate of 15-20% if you only count liquid savings/debt pay down. Counting our remodeling as an investment it’s more like 35-40%. A holiday in the summer and some furniture purchases made us break our budget and fall short. Both should be much lower this year and I have much better routines for following up on my spending.

In general, my mindset has shifted quite a bit and I’m not thinking too much about FI per se. I try to improve my skills, maintain balance(I obviously failed last year) and live more deliberately. When I do so, the savings rate seems to sort itself out, and I feel alive instead of like a soulless dragon guarding my treasure. The planning tools my spreadsheets give me are very valuable. But perhaps they are at their most valuable when used once a month or so, charting the course and then walking for another month. I also feel more and more that I want to work in some way for most of the rest of my life. Perhaps not full time, perhaps not with a great deal of pressure and prestige, but I want to provide a service and get money or goods in return for it. My stash will more be a natural result of my way of life, a safety net and a way to increase my optionality.


SOCIAL:

I haven’t isolated myself, but I’ve been less active socially, mostly as a result of being tired all the time. As I feel better I’ll schedule more social activities, but I am quite introverted so I need to find balance. A couple of activities a week is probably optimal for me. I’ll also plan ahead more, going forward it’ll be a something to plan in my weekly review.

ERUDITION:

I’ve finished some self-help books, as well as the second volume of Decline of the West. Lately I’ve had a hard time concentrating on reading. As for the Chinese I’ve done a fair bit of flashcards, I’ve now added all the cards from the old and new HSK. I’ll work on the leeches but I don’t think I’ll add new cards in quite a while. At this stage it’s probably better for me to spend my time reading and listening more, habits I still need to work on. The current Chinese novel I read is going quite well, I enjoy reading once I get going but there’s always some resistance towards sitting myself down to begin with. Hopefully it will recede as I read more.

oldbeyond
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:21 am

I’ve been reflecting on my motivations for pursuing FI and where I am on the journey. Is it a worthwhile pursuit for me or simply a substitute for something else?

When I started out, my aim was mostly to avoid financial disaster. I don’t really remember noticing the financial crisis as it happened (our corner of the world had a rough year and then bounced back basically, and I was a student at the time so the chaos in the labour market didn’t affect me) but I think it made an impression in the years after. I was born into a local economic crisis, so taken together I guess these two events have imbued me with something of a depression era mentality. My temperament is generally a bit on the neurotic side, always looking for potential hidden issues with everything, so perhaps I would have been much the same even without these particular formative episodes. No matter why, I wanted financial stability.

As of now, I could handle a halving of the value of the housing market and probably around 3-4 years of concurrent unemployment for both me and my girlfriend. So basically a Great Depression anew. There are certainly scenarios that would have us wind up in dire straits - depositors insurance collapsing, nationalization of financial assets, hyperinflation etc. We would be decently positioned to flee, though. And the bigger lesson is that you can’t really hedge these types of events completely. I will continue to increase my resilience by becoming more self-sufficient, adding skills and increasing my network, but the fact is that I’ve already achieved most the the security I will ever have by now.

That is in the short to medium term. In the long term I also need to prepare for retirement. Because of our low expenses (not by ERE standards, but compared to the rest of society), we might be OK with whatever we get from our version of SS and superannuation, but I think that is a bit to risky. So for the long term, FI is certainly a worthwhile goal. With our SR, WR and current NW, that’s due in 15-20 years depending on market return, with constant salary/expenses.

After a while I discovered ERE/MMM, and a second motivation crystallized itself, namely freedom from work. I had fantasized about this previously, but now it suddenly seemed attainable. A lot of the changes to my life that I have made have been extremely valuable - where I live, how I move about, what I eat, how I spend my free time, what qualities I look for in other people etc. Regardless of finances, these choices have immensely increased my quality of life, and I would not undo them even if I found myself with unlimited assets/cash flow. But I think the quest to escape paid employment in itself has been somewhat misguided in my case.

I don’t see this as a problem with the philosophy or jacob/MMM. I think a lot of the posters on the forum have avoided this pitfall. But for some of us, FI can become an excuse for conditional living, where we avoid to grow and live fuller lives because of the need for sacrifice at the altar of FI. For me, FI was a reason to be complacent in the office, because unlike the other suckers I would be out of the rigged game soon. And a weekend stuck in front of a screen was a success because I spent almost nothing. As I said, I don’t think our dear cult leaders would endorse this, but it made for a nice rationalization of me bowing to my fears and laziness. It also saved me from having to think about what I wanted in life. I had the quest for FI, what could be more meaningful or make life richer? Only thing is, had I continued down that path, it would have been a life of leisure in front of a laptop browsing forums. Not a very rich one.

Thinking about what I want in life, it has more to do with stating my desires to bosses, friends and loved ones than with having more financial resources at my disposal. Looking back at the last few years, my low points have been at work. But so have many of the high points. And with some perspective, the low points do not seem unavoidable. A lot of them are a direct result of my complacency - having to learn neglected skills fast under pressure, not saying no and being overwhelmed, not communicating my displeasure. And a lot of the high points could have been even sweeter. The stretches of unstructured leisure were nice enough, but they do not rate very highly when compared to finishing projects, both professional and personal, and increasing skill.

As I have said, I am likely to reduce my hours in the coming years to improve balance. But I will also attempt to craft my career with all means at my disposal. Sometimes I’ll fail and be forced to cave. But sometimes I will succeed and bask in the agency. Perhaps for some this is truly impossible, but in my particular circumstances I appear to be lucky enough to influence my day-to-day. It’d be a shame to waste it.

IlliniDave
Posts: 2497
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:23 am

Your evolution has parallels to mine. I also started in a quest for more financial resilience that over time morphed into an ER plan. There is a good dollop of truth in what you observe that aggressively pursuing FI can allow one to slip into a hunker-down mode from over-exuberance with regard to clamping down on monetary outflows. It also facilitates an amount of idleness in those of us susceptible to it.

At a certain point I realized that the purpose of my stash was to serve me rather than my purpose being ultimately to serve the stash. I also learned that it would be good for me to begin to envision specifics about my actualized FI life/lifestyle, and begin to integrate some of those things into my pre-actualized FI life. Together those things are helping to establish some sense of purpose beyond hoarding wealth.

There's no reason not to shape your present work life towards what you feel is a better version of it. And no reason not to do the same with your leisure time.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 841
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:15 am

I think you've made a very important realization. Life isn't about goal start point "A" and end point "B", its about the process between those two points.

I think on this forum we are very much overly focused on the end goal, less so with the process to reaching it. I'm certainly very guilty of this.

Augustus
Posts: 874
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:15 am

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by Augustus » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:34 pm

Sounds like you're figuring it out. Maximizing enjoyment is my plan. I need to provide for my future and FI, but I need to be happy while doing it.

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