RFS' Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by jennypenny » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:24 pm

I'm sorry, too. You and your siblings are awfully young to have to deal with such a sudden tragedy.

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS » Tue May 01, 2018 6:57 pm

Net Worth: $10.2k
Expenses: $784
Savings Rate: 71% (81% If you include tax returns as income ;) )
Years Saved: 1.57
Avg. Month: $562.25
Avg. Year: $6,747.00

I spent $300 on a 2-year supply of contact lenses. Working out in glasses is a pain in the ass, and this luxury seemed worth the money. I looked into LASIK, but the thought of "adverse effects" is simply too damn terrifying for its consideration. Spending should be back to the $400-$500/mo levels now.

The local grocer installed a light near their dumpster, transforming a bountiful land of organic produce and fruit to somewhere I could get arrested at. They already made a sick ROI on that light, because it lead to me standing in the checkout line days later thinking "I can't believe I'm actually buying shit from here." $80 went to food this month.

I'm on a diet of eggs, sauteed sweet potatoes and kale, cheese, oatmeal, protein powder, and sometimes onions and avocados too if they're on sale. No bread or added sugar. Hot damn, people are not kidding when they say cutting out sugar makes them feel better! I don't have mid-day crashes anymore, and I'm much leaner.

In other news, it has been one month since my father's death. Focusing on the little things seems like the best way to stand tall and enable my family to find strength beside me. Daily discipline in exercising, keeping my room tidy, shaving, drinking enough water, reading, and going to bed/waking up at the same time are keeping me sane. I think that's applicable whether your father dies or not, though. One commonality in a lot of the books I've read this year, from Phil Jackson to Marcus Aurelius, is the power of the process. Great achievements are made up of little baby steps each day. You can control what you do each day, but not the outcome. The process gives you a sense of agency, no matter the situation.


The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
- The personal diary of the most powerful man on Earth, trying to be wiser, more humble, and ultimately bad-ass. Here's 2 bits I liked:

"Your actions and perceptions need to aim: at accomplishing practical ends - at the exercise of thought - at maintaining a confidence founded on understanding. An unobtrusive confidence—hidden in plain sight."

"That to be remembered is worthless. Like fame. Like everything. Indifference to external events. And a commitment to justice in your own acts. Which means: thought and action resulting in the commongood."

Average is Over, Tyler Cowen
- I was initially hesitant to read a book by an economist, because most of them don't think about energy. This is a great book, though. He argues that the economy of the next 20-30 years will look like freestyle chess matches. In these matches, people use computer programs to calculate the outcomes of potential moves. The humans can pick up on things the computers aren't advanced enough to see, though, so they determine what moves to actually make. There will be 2 groups: People who can work with intelligent machines, and those who won't learn how. The benefits will increasingly skew towards the former.

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
- I got this book from Ryan Holiday's reading list, where every recommendation has been a home run with me so far. I'll let him do the talking: "Cheryl Strayed, also the author of Wild (Amazon), was the anonymous columnist behind the online column, Dear Sugar and boy, are we better off for it. This is not a random smattering of advice. This book contains some of the most cogent insights on life, pain, loss, love, success, youth that I have ever seen."

The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod
- Hell yeah.

The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone
- Redundant at times, but it wasn't bad. It's a trip inside the brain of one of the most hardworking humans to ever live. Grant Cardone struggled with going to rehab-levels of addiction and didn't get his life together until he was around 30. If you want to be at the top, you have to outwork everyone else and take massive amounts of action.

@jennypenny &edithkeeler- thank you!

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Smashter » Fri May 11, 2018 4:48 pm

Since you seem to be devouring content and you liked that Tyler Cowen book, I recommend you check out his podcast, "Conversations with Tyler." He doesn't always ask the follow-up questions I wish he would ask, but he has a unique style, a very interesting mind, and he gets good guests.

Your discipline and toughness in the face of adversity is inspiring. Keep on keeping on. But one thing I gotta ask... shaving every day?? That seems awful. I had to do that for a job a while back and hated it. Maybe I just needed a more positive mindset?

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:02 pm

Years Saved: 1.9
Avg. Month Expenses: $530
Avg. Year Expenses: $6,452


1. Places
- I've been obsessing over where to move recently. As Johnny from Granola Shotgun would say, America has an archipelago of West Berlins ranging from the great lakes down to the southern midwest. There's a high demand for walkable communities with good urban fabric, and these places offer them at great prices. Cincinnati is emerging as a frontrunner in the search. It has some good things going for it:
- Projected population and job growth
- Diversified economy
- Good price-to-rent ratios
- 300k people [big enough that major corporations will come, but not too big]
- Nobody says "what a great choice!" [this marks the death of an emerging market]

2. Exercise & Nutrition
- My relatively basic diet has forced me to learn the importance of the spice game. Not only does it make your food delicious, but changing up the spices practically turns it into a different meal. I'm mainly using cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and an assortment of other peppers.

I just started with another exercise program, but I used Ice Cream Fitness to build a good base. Highly recommended. It was hard to bench and squat more than 135 lbs when I started, but I can do 225 and 375 lbs. now!


12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson
- An incredible book. For those who haven't read it, check out the overture. I think Jordan Peterson is one of the most important intellectuals in today's ravaged-by-postmodernism world.

The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
- See this MMM post.

Mastery, Robert Greene
- An incredibly well-written exploration of what makes people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Darwin, Freddie Roach, Mozart, and other badasses achieve mastery in their field.

War, Sebastian Junger
- I thought Restrepo, the documentary about a US platoon stationed in Afghanistan's mega-dangerous Korrengal valley, was fascinating. So I read the book. Which is also great.

Tribe, Sebastian Junger
- A nice reminder that modern society, for all its caveats, is deeply fucked up.

The Big Short, Michael Lewis
- Scion Capital is born after Joel Greenblatt reads a medical student's investing blog and loans him $100m to start a hedge fund. Michael Burry, the student turned manager, sees in 2003 that multitudes of AAA-rated mortgage bonds are, in fact, comprised mainly of adjustable-rate loans given to people with rock-bottom FICO scores. He gets Wall Street banks to create products that allow him to short the bonds. 2 other fund managers saw what was happening and bet against the housing bubble, too. The story explains the 2008 crash through the lens of these investors.

I was in middle school when the 2008 crisis hit, and I vividly remember the general feeling of misery and swaths of abandoned sub divisions, but it blew my mind to see just how criminal the whole thing was.

@Smashter - Thank you for the recommendation and the words, sir. I appreciate that, and I'll definitely check it out. As for the shaving, I heard on the Russian-Chechen war Jocko Podcast that the Russian brigades began their descent into chaos when they stopped shaving [according to one of the Russian commanders.] It's a nice daily discipline to get your day going. Although Jules Verne's legendary beard has inspired me to try my hand at beard-growing, so I am no longer shaving :P
Last edited by RFS on Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Kriegsspiel » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:29 pm

I think Cincinnati would be a great choice (I ended up buying a house in the Pittsburgh metro).

Will PM you a book recommendation.

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:53 pm


Net worth: $31k (I got a $10k inheritance)
Avg. monthly spend: $676
Years saved: 3.86

I read Set for Life and Shop Class As Soulcraft recently, which got me me thinking about optimizing my journey to FI.

For those of you who don't know these books, Set for Life is for someone no assets who wants financial freedom in 5-10 years. It's by Scott Trench, a true FI badass. He started working as a financial analyst after graduation, and he wound up getting an operations/sales position at BiggerPockets. He tripled his income and essentially house hacked his way to FI. I think he has 8 units that net him $3.2k/mo. You can read all about his investment philosophy and portfolio numbers here. SFL covers 3 stages:

1. Save 1 year of expenses.
2. House hack and scale income.
- If your goal is early financial freedom, staying in the job with a promotion every 2 years becomes the bigger risk than taking advantage of an opportunity that could scale your income. Often, the price of opportunities like this is lower base pay. This could be entrepreneurship, joining a startup, something like that.
3. Asset generation
- Here, you just build on your investments until you're at FI.

I already had a plan like this for stage 2, but the book inspired me to consider synergizing this step with real estate investing. Then I read Shop Class as Soulcraft and Jered Sturm's article about how a shortage of skilled trade workers will affect the economy.

This got me thinking: What if I went for a trade? It could be synergistic with real estate investing, away from the odd psychic landscape of white collar work, and I could leverage it to cover my expenses when I reach FI.

Some ideas floating around:

1. Find a good residential contractor and work for low pay as a remodel apprentice. Learn the trade, then build my own business.
- In America, this is a largely unregulated field. If you took a poll, I bet many Americans have either been screwed by a contractor, know someone who was screwed by a contractor, consider finding a contractor that won't screw them to be very difficult, or all of the above. If you did good business, I think you could get going rather quickly.
2. Plumber or electrician apprenticeship.
- I'm not sure about this. It would take about 5 years, and the pay is low starting off. Although, maybe I'm not thinking long-term enough.
3. Work at a real-estate related startup, become a real estate agent, or do something in sales.
- I have a good bit of career capital in sales already. Although it was weird communicating with people solely through phone/email, and not in-person. I think that kind of sucks the soul out of you. This would have to incorporate leaving an office and not staring at a screen all day.

Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker.
- The most mind-blowing health book I have ever read. He did a great podcast with Joe Rogan.
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
The Primal Connection, Mark Sisson
Grit, Angela Duckworth
Flash Boys, Michael Lewis
The Blind Side, Michael Lewis (I am just enamored by how ridiculously good his writing is.)
Retire Early With Real Estate, Chad Carson
#AskGaryVee, Gary Vaynerchuk.
- I knew little about Gary V prior to reading this book, and I was worried about wasting my time with a book that had a hashtag in the title. However, this man's knowledge of the modern economy and the future marketing is incredible. A lot of the book is about the importance of becoming a media company, which I had not thought about before.

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:03 pm

Mike (Lacking Ambition) executed your idea. He was a lineman who retired after he bought a few properties. Linemen can make six figures with all the overtime they put in. Did you decide on a city?

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by RFS » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:40 am

Here are the numbers for my first ERE-year, 2018.
Expenses: $8.5k
Avg. Savings Rate: 75%
Years Saved: 4.14
Net Worth: $35.5k (started at $0 this year.)

2018 was good! Even though my dad passed, I think it was the best year so far. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I attribute it mainly to focusing on having a good day and setting the bar appropriately low enough to do it.

This started to click for me after listening to Jordan Peterson's Personality & Its Transformations class last year. It's about personality's biological underpinnings and how it's a lens people see the world through, but he often talks about his clinical psychology practice. A huge part of his clinical work is helping the patients fix the small things that bother them on a daily basis, no matter how trivial, incrementally. Because the truth is that the dull, mundane parts of daily life actually comprise most of your life. If there's negative emotion embedded in the way your partner greets you when you get home, your physical space, your physique, etc, you should do something about it. It replaces a constant source of negative emotion with something life-enriching.

This strategy stuck with me because it seemed like a realistic way to improve life. I spent some time thinking about what bothered me on a daily basis, and my personal health and physique kept coming up. I did not exercise the entire time I was at university, except for walking, and my muscles atrophied down to spindly levels. I looked like one of those bohemian restaurant waiters that bitch about capitalism. Plus, I was experiencing the general feeling of shittiness that comes with not exercising. Since I am 24 and in what feels like a competitive dating market (people in their 20s), my brain perceived looking and feeling like shit as especially problematic and responded accordingly. I was carrying around a ton of negative emotion subconsciously.

To start fixing this problem, I knew I needed to just start lifting weights. I looked up Jocko Willink's recommendations for a strength training program and found Starting Strength. Maybe it was just the feeling of elation from having actually done something, maybe it was the post-exercise euphoria, or maybe it was both, but I was hooked from that first workout. This one habit ignited a slew of other good habits- yoga, healthy eating, and sleeping enough. It was like my first keystone habit, for those of you that have read The Power of Habit.

I think these habits have been huge for ERE, as they make you mentally sharper, more confident, and raise testosterone levels, all of which are assets to the web-of-goals approach.

Most importantly, this taught me that I need to narrow my focus in life. This is hard for me because I am high in openness as a personality trait, and I want to do a million different things. Still, I can either be pulled in a million different directions and make no progress in anything, or I can choose to be focused at the expense of choice and actually do something meaningful. The latter is obviously superior. I need to re-visit my self authoring program and develop a more specific vision that ruthlessly excludes almost everything :twisted:

My main goal for 2019 is to reach the trifecta of house hacking, going car-less, and hunting and processing all venison myself. If I achieved all of these things, I think my monthly housing cost, transportation cost, and food costs would be close to $0.

@Kriegsspiel, to answer your question about cities, I am thinking of sending work applications to a few different cities- Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and possibly Detroit. This way, I broaden my chances of being able to go on an adventure! While I enjoy living with my family, it feels time to move on.

Louisville is my top choice. It has a plethora of good schools I can work at, and it is one of the least-sprawling US cities I have ever seen. The economy is diversified, it has great bones, it's incredibly affordable, and the government is business friendly. I think it's a great value for the money. Plus, the other factor is that my family wants to relocate, too. This is great for me, because I have a good relationship with them, and I would like for my future kids to have that support network while growing up. I had a set of grandparents that chose to move several states away when I was a kid, and despite their efforts to make up for the distance, it just couldn't replace proximity. My Mom and siblings have mentioned that they would happily relocate there.

I have been thinking a lot about Detroit recently, too. Well, to clarify, the 7.2 miles that is being heavily developed. Detroit is simply too big for the entire city to "come back." But, pockets of it seem to have extraordinary opportunity. Big lots that could grow lots of vegetables, unbelievable price-to-rent ratios, code enforcers often looking the other way on things, lots of water nearby, and businesses moving to the area. I think you can do more there with less money than any other city in the US. Perhaps it's one of the biggest opportunities for someone my age, especially an ERE person. Except, my mom and siblings are 100% not down with this location. It's cold as shit, extremely sketchy, and if my siblings didn't want to home school their future kids, they'd have to move out to the suburbs or pay for a private school. Which are all completely valid criticisms.


The Everything Bubble, by David Stockman, which should actually be renamed to "We're All Fucked." Stockman makes a clear case that the fed created a bubble in treasuries to inflate the economy after 2008. Since prices for everything are connected to treasuries, if there's a bubble in treasuries, every asset class is in a bubble. There were many parts of this book that made me say "jesus christ" aloud, like learning that the fed lowered the fund rate to .25%, and how the countries that have already experienced this crisis (lovingly referred to by the international community as the PIIGS- Portal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) implemented things like negative interest rates, asset seizures, holding taxes, etc.

Prosper! by Chris Martenson.
- This book attempts to answer the question "What should you do, considering that we're all fucked?" It made me wonder if I am a huge dumbass for even wanting to move to a city with hundreds of thousands of people. I think Chris Martenson is one of the best things to happen to the doomer world, because he explains our energy, environmental, and economic predicaments with the candor of a former Pfizer VP from Connecticut. If we had to send one person to the RNC or DNC to explain the unsustainable nature of modern life, they would be booed off stage, but Chris Martenson would make it the longest (1.5-3 mins) before being booed off stage.

Small, Gritty, and Green, by Catherine Tumber.
- This explains how the smaller Rust Belt cities (Syracuse, Akron, Rochester, Muncie, etc) are best equipped to make what we need in a low-carbon economy. It's an academia project that was turned into a book, so beware of unbelievably wordy passages and editors that clearly give 0 fucks about being concise. Plus, half the book is footnotes. Honestly, it should have been a long-form article. Catherine, if you're reading this, I don't blame you for wanting to make some cash.

Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger
- I couldn't put this book down. Anyone who says "I want to be a world bodybuilding champion and be in the movies" at age 14, then moves to the US with no money, no connections, and no English, then actually does it, has something to teach everyone. It's a great business book, too. He house hacked and started bodybuilding-related side hustles, which gave him the FU-cashflows.

Can't Hurt Me
, David Goggins
- This guy's life story is almost as incredulous as Arnold Schwarzenegger's. He was 300+ lb when he decided to become a Navy SEAL, so he lost 100 lbs. in 3 months and went to BUDs. He also had to teach himself to read during this time, so he could pass the ASVAB. He got discharged the first time because he broke a bone. He comes back a second time, gets through Hell Week, and in the closing weeks broke another bone and was discharged. The Navy told him he could come back one more time, but he would have to start from Day 1. He came back and pushed through another injury to became a SEAL. Then he ran a 100 mile race on 3 days notice with no training or experience, which spawned a career in ultra races.

1. Why We Sleep
2. Deep Work & So Good They Can't Ignore You
3. The Primal Blueprint
4. The Magic Art of Tidying Up
5. Total Recall

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by Smashter » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:55 pm

Great update! I'm really impressed by your fortitude in the face of tragedy. I'm reading a few different ancient stoic authors right now, and it sounds like you are pretty close to embodying their ideal virtues.

I implemented a modified starting strength regime and I am really enjoying it. For anyone else interested, there are good youtube videos explaining proper deadlift and squat form with Mark Rippetoe, the guru of Starting Strength. I played D1 sports and yet never had anyone really take the time to teach me proper form. It's a game changer.

I also really want to read Can't Hurt Me, I've heard Goggins on Joe Rogan's podcast and he is so inspiring.

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by cmonkey » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:23 am

Great financial progress! With numbers like that you'll be FI by 30.

I'd love to start harvesting venison myself, looking forward to your updates.

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by blackbird » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:52 am

Hello RFS,

Your last update was great. Very positive and proactive. On venison, have you been following the Chronic Wasting Disease / misfolded protein / prion situation? It seems like this past year saw an explosion (anecdotally speaking) as I noticed outbreaks from Wyoming to Alabama. Because it is suspected that this is transmissible from eating affected meat (hence the required destruction of game in several states) I have worried a bit about my own area since deer hunting and venison are a big part of local activities. Might be worth looking into if you have not yet caught up on it.

Keep up the good work!

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Re: RFS' Journal

Post by prognastat » Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:59 pm

Glad to hear despite some bad life events happening you've managed to make it through stronger and are working on improving yourself and your situation.

Keep up the good work in 2019!

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