Will's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:32 am

Gravy Train wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:03 pm
FWIW, I suffered from panic attacks for years, especially during turbulent times (which it sounds like you're going through, with a new baby and changes at work and a sickness). For me there were tells when a panic attack was coming - a pressure in my chest, a numbing/tingling of my face, labored breathing. I only got a handle on them after going to therapy and eliminating known stressors from my life. I second Jennypenny's advice about meditation. At least for me, I was particularly susceptible to attacks when I felt completely out of control of my life, and meditation could probably help with that. If you have the time and money, I found therapy really helpful, too.

Hope this helps. Best of luck.
Thanks Gravy Train! After my initial panic attack and the initial blowback, I have had no single other occasion where I felt remotely like it. I will look for the telling signs when I'm feeling stressed, but at the moment I think I just let it be for now, with sports as my emergency remedy if it happens again.

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:07 am

January 2019

January was a very eventful month for me - not all of the events were positive though. if every month would be like this one I would get crazy after half a year, so without further ado let's get started.

Cat
Our cat died. He was sleeping over at the parents of my girlfriend for some weeks when he suddenly became very ill. The vet discovered a huge tumor in his belly, inoperable and he was likely in a lot of pain. So we had to put him down. We were very sad for some time, but he was already of advanced age (14) and had a good life. The mother of my girlfriend let us spend 220 euro to cremate him, which I found ridiculous since burying him in a garden would be just as nice in my opinion. But she took care of him for a few weeks and was really sad about it as well, so I haven't complained, though we would have done it differently when he would have died at our place. I always wanted to (illegally) bury him in front of a lion statue in a public park, but i guess I can also save some of his ashes for that. Anyway, we miss him a lot.

Wrist surgery
I received a titanium screw through a bone in my wrist last Friday. The surgery was very impressive, I was awake during the process and even got the chance to take a glance at my own bone and the hole in it, which the surgeon drilled for the screw. The recovery process is brutal though. I will not be able to use my left hand at all for 3 - 8 weeks, depending on my recovery. My whole life is in disarray because of it: feeding the baby, changing diapers, driving a car or biking are not possible anymore at all, typing is a whole lot more difficult with one hand. So my life will be a lot more difficult during the coming weeks.

Job
During the Christmas holidays, I applied for another job. Basically it's the same type of IT job which I'm currently doing, but for a different company. Yesterday they called me to announce that they will make an offer for me. I'm not unhappy at my current job, but I could use some challenge. An increased salary would be a nice benefit. But in any case, it will not be an easy choice for me. I will prepare a list of pros and cons and base my decision on that, provided the salary increase is sufficient (of which I'm not sure, but I'm prepared to negotiate well). I might even tell my current employer that I received an offer, they might offer me a higher salary. I just don't want to damage our relationship unnecessarily. I'm not quite sure how to navigate this situation, but I'll do some research about it. This will likely be the most significant target for me during the coming week(s): deciding which job I'm going to take.

Side jobs
My bicycle riding for Deliveroo was going very well, and I like it a lot! This is certainly a side job I see myself doing during retirement. But, due to the wrist surgery, I temporarily quit. Can't wait to start again though. I even had an interview at another bike delivery company, but I told them I would get back to them as soon as I know when my wrist will be recovered.
Still sometimes writing an article for Seekingalpha though I do not feel like it at the moment, when typing is 2-3 times slower than when using both hands.

Finances
My net worth increased to almost 160K thanks to the (sucker?) rally in the stock markets. I poured quite some money into the markets at the beginning of this year since I had (and still have) too much cash lying around, not yielding anything.
My savings rate was 69% for January, which was mostly thanks to our rent now being processed at the 1st of the month (but the rent for January we already paid in December). Including February rent the savings rate would be 57%, still ok since my target is 50% this year, though I hope for better.
I introduced a new metric into my financial sheet: % of expenses covered by non-paycheck income. This metric measures the percentage of my expenses which I would be able to cover without my main job. I'm counting cash flow of side jobs, dividends (but no share price increases) and other non-main job income here. If this metric is sustainably above the 100%, I would be able to retire from my main job regardless of net worth. Of course, I would need to keep all my side jobs for that, but if I can do those with a job which takes up 4 full days a week I will certainly be able to do that with almost unlimited free time. I could even choose to speculate that I would make MORE money with my side jobs after retiring from my main job. I will see how this metric develops in the future, for this year I'm aiming at covering at least 40% of my expenses with side income. My side jobs will be basically dead until my wrist has fully recovered.

Typing with one hand is tiring, so I'll end it here. If somebody has advice about the job situation, please feel free to provide your take on it.

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:22 am

Received the job offer. It's better than what I'm currently earning, but mainly because I could get a full time pay (36 hours) when working 4 days, while I get 80% (32 hours) currently. However, the hourly rate is not much better than with my current employer. Thinking about it, I would probably be able to convince my current boss to let me work for 9 hours per day relatively easily.

On the other hand, I realized that I'm really a bit tired of my current job. It is amazingly low stress and not too difficult, but after 3 years I would prefer to do something else, even if it might be more difficult and stressful. If it proves to be too bad I can always quit. The new job is likely to be much more meaningful as well.

So basically, I concluded that I will take the new job if they offer me more salary. Staying where I am currently is fine as well, so I have a magnificent position to negotiate from. I listened to the audio version of this book recently, which I would recommend to anyone, so I feel I'm prepared for it:https://www.amazon.com/Never-Split-Diff ... 0062407805

_____________

Some unstructured thoughts: when talking with my girlfriend yesterday evening I realized that, paradoxically, not wanting to care about money at all in the future (hence ERE) makes me care much more about it in the present. In my mind, I'm cautiously moving forward my RE date all the time. I will likely never retire, but I want to have the time to pursue project which are not easy to pay for a living. I want to build a house once in my life from the ground up, and also sustainability projects or permaculture/hydroponics are dreams I want to achieve, and maybe even politics to get the ERE principles more mainstream. Oh and I more or less told my girlfriend that if we get another child, I want to be able to quit my day job from that moment on. My GF mentioned that she likes her job much less than before her pregnancy leave, and I predict that in a year's time, she will also want to join me with ERE.
My dream-RE date would be the 1st of April 2022, though this will require me to continue to do multiple side jobs since according to my projections my SWR will not be lower than 5% by then. In my opinion a 5% SWR is safer in the Netherlands than in countries like the US, since the risk of a sudden large expense is lower (regulated healthcare, social security system, etc).

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Bankai
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Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:28 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Bankai » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:09 am

Changing jobs also means loosing all your political capital you've accumulated over those 3 years. Not sure how relevant it is, i.e. how much you can leverage it to get pay rise or promotion with your current employer?

I agree with 5% wr being safer in Europe due to (mostly) nationalised health care as well as decent state pension schemes. Although on the other hand us stock market historically performed better than european ones, so its probably a wash.

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:23 am

Bankai wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:09 am
Good point about the political capital at my job: it's a bit of a special situation. Since my department (8 people) was sold to a different (overseas) company, I have a very close working relationship with my colleagues in my department, but know basically nothing about anyone else inside the new company.
The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to choose for the new job offer, it's simply time for something new. Also, the new job is in a sector (public transport) with which I have much more affinity. Yesterday they raised their offer, to just below the target I defined for myself. But I would reach my target salary in January 2020.

With regard to SWRs: I think 5% should never be considered a 'safe' SWR for any retirement, since its failure rate is above 25%. But I am certainly not planning to quit money-generating activities altogether. The bigger 'problem' in the Netherlands is that the money which we invest in our pension system is basically untouchable until you're of age, in my case this will likely be around 70 (or earlier depending on the pension fund). This means that having enough money after the age of 70 will likely not be any problem, I only have to reach that age without going broke. This is another reason why I feel it's justified to have a more aggressive SWR.
The most likely outcome of this whole situation is that my portfolio will have grown when I'm 70 and that I have no additional use at all for the pension income. This is why I do not care about my pension much.

And I thing you're right that historically the US stock market performed better than the European, this is another reason why I try to spread my own investments: I have about 50% in US companies. Then again, most companies I invest in operate internationally so there is some spread here anyway.

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:20 am

I took the job! Will still have some time at my current one, the switch is going to happen in June. I'm not 100% sure it will be an improvement with regard to happiness and stress levels, but sometimes you need to take a bit of risk. The worst that can happen is that I don't like the new job at all, in which case I can always switch again. At least the job pays a bit better than my current one.
My boss and colleagues at my current job all reacted quite normal, which makes me a bit sad to leave since most of them are truly nice people.

My wrist is recovering nicely, I can already do almost all movements relatively well with the protection of a brace. Even changing the diapers of our baby is already going ok. As a result of my recovery process I had zero side job income during February. This will be better in March, I can already ride my bike and will start doing some delivery work next week. I also have some ideas for writing articles, hope I can muster some inspiration (and time!) to do the writing.

Financially, February was an ok month. We booked a rental car for our holiday in the US next May, so that ate into our budget. Savings rate of 45%, I hope this will be at the low end of monthly savings rates this year, but with zero side job income and a large expense it should be. As for my new financial metric, the percentage of expenses covered by non-paycheck income, this was an abysmal 15% in February. The reason that it's not zero is that I'm also counting dividends from investments as non-paycheck income. March will be much better since I will be able to do some side jobs again and March is traditionally the month when I will receive a whole lot of dividends. If this metric reaches 100%, I can retire from my main job without any doubt as long as I keep the side hustles. Thing is, I can likely retire earlier than this, since when this metric only counts dividends, which are only part of the investment returns. Let's call it the ECNPI - expenses covered by non-paycheck income.
Here a quick depiction of what will be the two most important metrics for me this year:

Image

2019 target for the savings rate is 50%, the ECNPI should be 40% over the whole year. I assume the target I set for the savings rate is too low, I might adjust it to 55% or even 60% depending on the next couple of months.
The 40% target for ECNPI is challenging, but it gives me a sense of empowerment, since it is much easier to influence than our savings rate. In our lives, we already cut most of the unnecessary spending, and for the ECNPI to grow higher I just need to write more and better articles or do some delivery work.

On the other fronts, things are going steady: baby is growing, spring is coming again. We will be able to grow some vegetables in our garden again and we will be much more outside. which I love! Also going to start cycling a lot more, need to do some sports after my brief setback with my wrist.

ItsALongStory
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:50 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by ItsALongStory » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:54 am

Always interesting to follow a Western European journal, I am residing in the US currently but plan to retire to Western Europe. I feel super fortunate that I can take advantage of higher salaries/lower taxes/more flexible retirement savings options but ultimately live through retirement in Western Europe (thinking Portugal) where I grew up (Vlaanderen).

My timeline is still a long ways out though, only have about 4x annual expenses saved.

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:54 am

ItsALongStory wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:54 am
Thanks for your response! Taking advantage of higher salaries in the US when working and low living costs while retired in a cheaper European country is a very good strategy. I thought about it myself as well, but with a baby it's a good idea to have a network of people around us. About six years ago, my GF almost took a job in Switzerland, which would have put us on that path as well. On the other hand, I might have never discovered ERE in that case, since I discovered it as a result of unhappiness at my job a couple of months later.
Portugal seems great, I think there are few places on earth with such a high quality of life as Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It's affordable as well. Though for me, the language would be a challenge.
4x annual expenses saved is still more than enough to have some freedom, it will grow eventually.

ItsALongStory
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:50 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by ItsALongStory » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:04 am

Yeah i am putting about 1.5x annual expenses in there per year so within 7-8 years I may be close (assuming little or no lifestyle inflation).

I don't speak Portuguese either but surely could pick it up, the Belgians have to learn to adapt everywhere since nobody outside of the low lands speaks our native language.

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

March 2019 update

Post by Will » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:09 am

April was a month of mostly hard work and quick development of our daughter. She's able to crawl around the house now and leaves every room she was in in an utter mess. Sounds bad, but it's actually quite fun.

First, let's take a look at the two most important statistics for this financial year:

Image

The expenses covered by non-paycheck income nicely recovered, which was because of the increased dividend income in March (more than 650 euro), and because I worked a bit as a rider (a bit more than 200). However, our expenses went through the roof last month, which explains the low savings rate. I really thought I had this aspect of my life under control, so let's analyze where my money went:

Total: 1763
Rent: 347
Energy: 43
Taxes: 346
Banking: 2
Groceries: 144
Car: 34
Public transport: 94
Health insurance: 106
Doctor/dentist: 527
Travel: 17
Child: 88
Gifts: 3

The good news here is the two big out-of-the-ordinary expenses are only once a year. The doctor/dentist was part of the deductible of my insurance, and the taxes are a once-per-year thing. Groceries were a bit higher than average, but all the other categories are actually quite low. So though my spending was high this month, nothing to worry about.

Some random thoughts:

- I'm spending too little time on sports. Apart from the rider job which I do once or twice per week, I only did one long run this month. To be in good shape, this is much too little. The good news is that my wrist has recovered for more than 80%, so I might be able to pick up riding my road bike again soon. Weight training will have to wait longer.
- I broke the screen of my phone a couple of days ago. I've had it for almost 5 years and it worked wonderfully right until the end. Right now I'm doubting whether I'm going to replace the screen (would cost about 15-20 euro and probably a full day's worth of my time since you practically have to rebuild the entire phone, I estimated the chances of success around 70%), or buy a new one (would cost 200-250 euro but no time. I'm luckily able to borrow the old phone of my girlfriend for the moment and think I will try to fix it. I can always buy a new one if it doesn't work out.
- While I was riding to deliver pizza's the other day, I got into a conversation with a girl. After some minutes of talking, she basically asked me out on the spot. Though I was both surprised and flattered, I politely declined. Even when you're 100% unavailable like in my case, it does feel good to know that I'm still at least a bit attractive to other people. This whole experience did make me realize that I long for a bit more social interaction next to my colleagues (who aren't that social) and my family.
- My job is a true grind at the moment. All of my colleagues know that I'm leaving so nobody is investing much time in me anymore, which I understand. I'm just doing my job and that's it. At least it's still less than 4 weeks until our California holiday, and after that I will start my new employment.
- My girlfriend is finally convinced that she wants to retire early as well. She didn't take any action yet, like new ideas or figuring out what she wants to do after retirement, but at least she made the first step!

Will
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:23 am

Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:54 am

Something crazy happened at work yesterday: My boss hired his wife. She's obviously under-qualified for the job she's supposed to do and there wasn't even a vacancy! My boss didn't tell anyone until she just showed up for work, most of the people first thought it was a joke. It's completely and utterly ridiculous, if I would not have left the company I would have now be looking for a different job.

Needless to say, I'm even more happy to be leaving the company after next week. I'm doubting what I should do though, since most of my colleagues are cowards who will not do anything meaningful about the situation. I could call out my boss for it and create a big hassle, I have nothing to lose anyway. The thing which makes me doubt is that he will likely hate me for the rest of his life, and his family is living near me, so I do not want to create unnecessary enemies. I also know that I do not really owe my colleagues anything, but if there's somebody who can do something about the situation at the moment, it's me. Any advice?

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