The hair of the dog (that bit you)

The remedy, Mrs. Gofi exclaimed, is that I give it a shot.

For all our growing years, most of us know what it is about us that makes us, us. Few fortunate folks are tall and slender. A few look intelligent, which is a real tragedy when they’re not. Few look scarred, in a raggedly sexy way. Few look honest, and a few unfortunately don’t.

Of course you judge to you own peril.

I am, and there’s no other way to put it, sort of round. I am ethnic and round. Some may say quite correctly that I eat well – which I do. It is my favorite hobby.

And I have wonderful, full hair. The genes seemed to work out a better blend for me. My parents have thick and dark hair.

And they grow thick and fast.

I absolutely detest my monthly trips to the local Great Clips. It’s really not great, or local for that matter. $20 a month can feed a family of four for a month in some parts of the world. Or if only Colorado Public Radio also gave hair cuts, I’d gladly take two a month. They keep asking for contributions and they sound like they’re talking directly to me. I’ve free ridden for far too long that it’s making me feel a little guilty.

May be I give it a try, my wife has mischief in her voice. Some secret malice even.

I’ll show you what you get on a stringent budget, she’d say, but does not.

How hard can it be? I’ll youtube first, don’t worry.

She’s actually pampered, Mrs. Gofi is, I tell you. If I could just stop talking about FIRE and all it’s possibilities, she wouldn’t think we’re keeping it tight – which we really aren’t.

But I am a true believer. I walk the talk. I’m prepared to let her have her way (because that, my friend, is almost always the right way).

We’ll see some action this weekend, when the garage is warmer. Unless of course you can chip in <figure out a way to insert a paypal donation link here>.

Where we are on Kids

We are in our mid 30s and we’re thinking of kids. In many ways, it’s looking like writing a paper a day before it’s due.

This is the year to have one if we want one, my wife tells me.

I’m not sure about next year, she says.

She would know. She’s a neonatal nurse.

But I’m not sure why we need kids.

I know we’d be incredible parents, if that’s reason alone. The kid’d have a great childhood, and if she’d be anything like her mother (I’d like a girl), she’d be pretty cool, and incredibly good looking (everyone sort of is thesedays). May be that’s reason enough.

I’m hesitant. I’ve been unsure for months. For one, my parents haven’t really put any pressure on me. They did, on my brothers, and they gave them four grand children.

I’m sure they haven’t forgotten me? But I don’t want to ask them.

I think of my friends who have kids. Two of my more recent friends do, two each. They’ve followed the typical template – get great education (phds), work work, marry well (phds), keep working, then kids (two at least, bang, bang), keep working, retire at sixty, play with grand kids.

Now that doesn’t look too bad. May be a little tiring just thinking through it. And if you’re impressed by their phds, don’t. It’s like choosing the most difficult route to climb a mountain when we (the FIRE tribe) know better.

But that’s coming from someone who does not have those credentials (so sometimes disgruntled). And who’s to say what experiences we’re after. It’s the journey, they say, and the sweat is always more uplifting, more lightening. Comfort and growth don’t go together says Ginni Rometty, and she must know.

But she has no kids.

Of my classmates from high school, only five have kids. A few aren’t even married. We’re all in our 30s. Surely they know what they’re doing. They’re all incredibly smart. The girls, in particular. All of them.

I think of my cousins. And some of them aren’t married either.

Surely I’d be okay.

When we’re old, I’ll look after you, I’d tell them.

In that, I’ll call on you, I clarify.

You do the same. Can we make a pact?, I’d tell them.

Please sign here.

We’re of one blood. Or close enough. We’ll even move to New York (or Toronto). New old folks in cold cities. Now that’d be something. I tell my wife she must start preparing.

Can you learn to start enjoying hot tea?

On our drive to the mall yesterday, my wife asked about adopting in the future. We’d always spoken of it, but this felt like an alternative.

I felt a sense of relief.

I’m not sure if I’m being fair. My wife deserves everything that she wants. If she’d push me just a little harder, cry, make a scene, beat me – may be that’ll strike some sense.

Or may be not – I’m not sure.

Porto Update – Q3 2018

We are a two income household. We try to live on my income and save my wife’s income.

We’re looking to max our individual retirement accounts for the first time this year. We maxed our Roth accounts early this year, and will max our 401K next month. In all fairness, this is only the third year where one of us have had a 401k account.

We make average salaries (we are a regular office dweller and a nurse, in a fairly expensive city). So meeting all expenses on one salary is not feasible every month. We also make generous gifts to our families.

Setting a savings goal at the beginning of the year has helped us stay in line. We’ve completed 80% of our goal so far and are likely to surpass it by year end.

We plan to continue funding half of our investable income into our emergency reserves (VMMXX) and the other half in VTSAX (and VYM). We want to “always be investing“, while also ensuring we don’t have to sell those should the economy turn south.

We also want our emergency fund as a down payment on a rental property if, when the economy turns, we’re both holding on to our jobs (and are relatively comfortable) and property prices fall.

Our Stock to Bond split remains unchanged at an aggressive 80% to 10% of our net worth. Almost all our funds are now in low cost index funds – see Vanguard and Betterment allocations below.

Jeff, the Millionaire Custodian

Jeff’s obviously frugal, but the guy’s bright in the best of ways – rooted to the ground, and fully aware of where he stands and where he can be. Jeff confirms the basic FI tenets – always be investing, in low cost index funds, keep them there especially in the worst of time and be true to yourself and to the world. 

Listen to the him speak on the Millionaire Unveiled podcast.

Another similarly admirable guy is Ronald Read.

Bullshit Jobs (I’m yet to climb my mountain)

This one’s wonderful – NPR’s Hidden Brain on BullShit jobs

May be why we have open offices, and hypocritical (of me) to post it on a Tuesday morning. But I actually wrote this yesterday 🙂

I’m all for efficiency – and I’m learning to space my work a bit. Weather it does anyone any good in the office (of the regular kind) is a purely subjective matter. Suffice to listen first, then act on it. Best to be efficient but refrain from burning down.

It looks like you have bandwidth this week – may or may not be a good thing coming from my manager this morning.

What do you say?

While I’m (sort of) settled now, my take was this once:

A new bout of existential crisis
amidst my labor
that is not entirely misplaced
nor entirely misguided
treads slowly still.

A reformation is overdue,
no, not doctrinally –
but to accept and surrender
may be the truth.

Or not –

I’m yet to climb my mountain.

Seriously, Amundsen –

My themes these last few days have been rather serious –

Passion
Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai
Aging
Dr. Una Kroll

I came across Ernest Shackleton last week. I spent the entire weekend reading on the heroic age of Antarctic Exploration. And how incredibly they lived – then Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott. Their struggles, and that of their forgotten men, their will to plow through enormous obstacles, and their losses unmask of our own inherent, often hidden strength to traverse our personal journeys – to FI.

Our introspection never end.

On the parking lot of our remote library sits a solitary truck with its driver nowhere to be seen. A beautiful older woman browses through books on a Monday morning. My socially affluent friends on Facebook jump on beaches and travel to places like Azerbaijan on their weekends. The wife of a childhood friend abandons him for a smarter guy.

We make our strides towards FI. It is a wonderful diversion while we’re at it – call it Karma, instant Karma. No rebirth required.

On a more serious note, an unexamined life is not worth living. I’ve decided to examine my life on Saturday mornings, and focus on implementation on other days.

Fire in the belly

A small town could steal a life. Dennis is a small town man. He’s lived in one all his life. He’s been to Florida a few times. New York is just a day away, but he hasn’t really felt a need to see it. He tells me that he’s never been on a plane.

Dennis is a good man. He takes care of over two hundred units. Mine is one. He works all the time, gets no holidays or insurance from his work. He tells me he paid over six thousand dollars the last time he went to a hospital. That he took a beating on that one.

I ask him why he isn’t the property manager. I’m not good with numbers, he tells me. I suspect he never had fire in his belly. He’s never needed it. He’s hustled all his life, uncomplainingly. I guess he didn’t think it was a big deal. I guess he just didn’t see it all. A small town can do that.

I’ve never had great fire in my belly myself. I am efficient in my ways. And there were things (and there still can be) –

“With the things you could do, you won’t but you might
The potential you’ll be that you’ll never see
The promises you’ll only make” (Between the Bars, Elliott Smith)

I feel a small speck of some fire lately – in a light sort of way. I hope that I have the hustle for it.

You see, – I’m an idea man, a story man, a man with a song,
on Whitechapel, the hero turns the light switch a 150 times
I have my own creations –
I check my locks and gas – should they move, but how?
spit, lightly, 4 sets of 11s when I pass a cross on the road
a good 3 set needed, but I do the 4th to back the first 3, just in case
I kiss my wife 4 sets of 11s as well

I can do without these –
You see, I’m a steady man, an incisive man, a man with a mind.

This is what I have

Exhibiting FI qualities, by circumstance and design, circa winter 2012.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck – Dalai Lama.

******

This is what I have

On a hard floor lifted by air
a sock here, a sock there
and three bananas on a red bag

In the freezer,
frozen noodles and dumplings
a fist of bok choy and two large red onions
and thank god for the frozen gyozas
and eggs and cheese and coffee
and a loaf of bread and oranges, if only someone would peal them I’d eat them.

In a rather large closet (the largest I’ve ever had)
stands a wicked, full length mirror that makes me look real sleek
a bottle of complete multi-vitamins,
more noodles,
three formal shirts, three formal pants,
t-shirts, towels and more socks
an oversized jacket, two sweaters
two tight jeans, and a new yellow corduroy pant I got yesterday to wear this Friday –
and hopefully when I see the girl, whenever that happens, where ever
O’ destiny, please intervene – and make it a lovely girl please – lovely eyes, slender fingers and all
a heart of gold, real friendly and happy to complement my sometimes somber fallings
A pair of boots, three times more expensive than the most expensive I ever bought before I bought it –
my old and faithful tennis shoes, and the converse I never thought I’d wear
one never knows what one may, will,

And the laptop and the iphone that have been the best of friends
my light in the dark –

And of course, the mind that is in two roads,
one in bhakti, devotional surrender,
the other in fighting through it all, no submission.
There’s victory either way
and how wonderful is that
that I have a choice,
that wisdom and experience is a blessing
and my scars only end up looking edgy
and real sexy.

everyday life must do

I made this list a few years ago. Here’s where these stand today:

  1. No podcast at work: I listen all day. They keep me in line with all that’s there, or was, and stirs the mind. I’ll list my favorites on a separate post soon. Some of the FI podcasts I like are here.

  2. Low carb, greens, fibers: I love greens – cooked, not raw. But I need to get better at it. You see, I really, really like meat.

  3. Calculus, Modelling, stir the mind, Betsy is an old programmer for god’s sake: This one’s ongoing. The idea is to stir the mind and to keep learning. I’m keen on becoming better at working with data. I’ve sort of started learning Pandas on Python.

  4. Put phone away at work: This one’s easy. I don’t have any social media apps on my phone. My phone is for podcasts, messaging my wife and talking to my parents.

  5. Read – no more fiction: I’ve read seven books this year. I’ll list them on a separate post. I spend much more time reading online – some FI blogs I follow are here.

  6. Listen to one good song everyday – get inspired: This gets me nostalgic, and I think of all that could’ve happened.

  7. Sing a few times a week, to cleanse the internals: I don’t play the guitar often enough. I’d love to get better. I finger pick.

  8. Run, run, run – sweat it out – feel light, the skin must glow again: I used to be athletic. I haven’t played any sports in two years – partly because we moved to Denver and we had other things to do. I do not have any excuses now. I bought a rowing machine last year that I need to start using. I rowed for a half hour this morning, and will row a half hour everyday.

  9. Smile, thank you, please, everyone, absolutely no bars, but restrain and take it slow and steady: This is inherent. I intend to be good in all ways. I read sometime back that you are what you are at 40. So if you’re a grumpy man at 40, that stays for life. I’m still a few years away, but I’d like to take a happy man forward.

  10. Sleep deep, enough and a little more: I need to work on this. I’m usually in bed by 10, but I watch YouTube on my IPad to sleep. I’m replacing that with podcasts starting today.

  11. talk clearly, cleanly, slowly enough – express, express: I’m a sucker of folks that barely speak, and gifted with silence in return so that they’re heard. Now that’s respect (and power).

  12. a paragraph every night to clean the soul, unburden and go lightly to bed: I should start writing everyday. To think one can (if one ever could) and to actually be able to are different. I need to keep practicing.

  13. finance, other plans, lay it out and patiently move forward: Yes, this one’s done – hense gofi.

And now these:

There’s a lot I want to do.

Get the gruff – but the love handles need to go first.

Write, but my days of melancholy have vanished.

Ditto for my songs.

And Sports.

Be awesome at work – everything seems to be possible.

All to bring out the magic that a mind is. 

“I am a true laborer: I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness, glad of other’s good” – Shakespeare.

Random Quotes

Some random quotes saved as draft many years back. 

  1. Edna O’Brien: I think by nature I am lonely, in that I wouldn’t be a writer if I were not lonely. I think most writers [are], if you read their letters and sometimes read some of their lives. I’m not recommending it, but I know one has to be — to remain writing, not just to start as a writer, to remain faithful to it — one has to live so much of one’s life alone. And reflective. Certain people, I think, are kind of born lonely. I can tell lonely people when I see them, and I’m very often drawn to them, because I feel that they might have some secret to tell me.
  2. A hindu poet on Struggle: For one to see heaven, one must die oneself. 
  3. Einstein: A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.
  4. A BBC Podcast: Inspiration comes from knowledge.
  5. Newspaper article: His thoughts and actions were one.
  6. An aunt: You don’t want to climb a mountain if you’re not going to reach the top.
  7. Ahmet Rasim: The beauty of a landscape resides in its melancholy.
  8. A friend – we must remain true to our values regardless of where society goes.
  9. Nature of Existence: A Chinese guy: Happiness comes from Hard Work.
  10. Kahlin Gibran: The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
  11. T.S Eliott: Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
  12. Humboldt: I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves.
  13. HG Wells: I can’t bank on religion. God has no thighs and no life. When one calls to him in the silence of the night he doesn’t turn over and say, “what’s the trouble, Dear?”
  14. Florence Nightingale: To-day I am 30 – the age Christ began his mission. Now no more childish things. No more love. No more marriage. Now Lord let me think only of Thy Will, what Thou willest me to do.
  15. Epicurus’s idea of “the good life“: It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly.
  16. Robertson Davis: A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.
  17. A friend: Where does the faith come from, he asked … From events that seem life shattering, but a boon in retrospect
  18. Dalai Lama: Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  19. Maya Angelou: There is no greater agony then bearing an untold story inside you.
  20. Kahlil Gibran: Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
  21. Unknown: You’ll waste a lot less time worrying about what others think of you if only you realized how seldom they do.
  22. Albert Camus: To be happy one must not be too concerned with the opinion of others. One should pursue one’s goals single-mindedly, with a quiet confidence, without thinking of others.
  23. Unilever: Humility to create awe
  24. Our Idiot Brother: I like to think that if you put your trust out there; if you really give people the benefit of the doubt, see their best intentions, people will rise to the occasion.

Porto Update – Q2 2018

Our stocks to bonds split stands at an aggressive 81% to 11%. We started an emergency fund (VMMXX) late in the quarter. We will continue building it up until it equals a few months our expenses. This has temporarily halted our non-retirement investments. We continue to contribute towards our 401K and should max those by year end. We maxed out our Roth accounts a few months back.

Our expenses continue to be quite high to my liking. There’s not much we can do to cut cost, other than moving someplace cheaper. That is unlikely at the moment.  

Uber’s not for me

I drove Uber for a few days last year – just for kicks, and quickly realized my time was better spent elsewhere.

I drove for 8 hours, spread across 4 days and made $151. Shockingly, only 3 of the 17 riders tipped.  The tippers included a nice lady from New Mexico, a younger woman from Connecticut, and a young accountant from Ohio. Non tippers included seemingly well to do professionals – two consultants in suits, start up guys, hipsters, and IT consultants.

I’m not sure if Uber makes any sense for drivers who use their personal cars. 

Some of our favorite FI blogs and FI podcasts

Our lives are better, and will be – a lot has to do with what these have done.

Some that are just nice to listen are here.

Our favorite FI Blogs:

  1. Financial Samurai
  2. Mr. Money Moustache
  3. JL Collins
  4. WhereWeBe
  5. Go Curry Cracker
  6. My Money Blog

And Podcasts:

Porto Update – Q1 2018

Asset Allocation, Q1 2018  (as of Apr 18)

The spread between our taxable and tax-adv accounts currently stand at 61% and 39% respectively. Since we will not be accessing our tax-adv accounts until later in life, we are comfortable with this mix at the moment.

Our stocks to bonds split stands at a moderately aggressive 83% to 12%.

We hold a few stocks in our Merrill Lynch Edge account, which we mean to liquidate over time. We recently filed our taxes, and took the opportunity to liquidate some of it to pay our taxes. We’ll probably do the same next year.

We also had replace some appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator) which were all over 12 years old.

Our 401K accounts hold target dated funds (2040 and 2045) even though we’re looking to “retire” a lot earlier. Since we will not be using it until we’re 60 +, we  figure it’s best to keep it stock heavy. I’ll be 58 in 2040, so this is actually not quite as aggressive. My wife, of course, has decided to always be thirty.

We have a tendency to move spare funds to one of our investment accounts. So our emergency funds are almost zero. Then again, smarter folks have agreed.

 

Asset Allocation, 2017 – Year End Update

Our allocation was passive (and automated) through the year. We did not max our 401(k) and Roth contributions. But we managed to save all of Mrs. Gofi’s income. We plan to continue living on one income.

We use Personal Capital to track our personal finance. According to Personal Capital, our investments gained 19.46% in 2017 – this is in tandem with the S&P 500 which gained 19.42%. Our stock/bond split currently sits at an aggressive 83% to 12%.

 

 

Conversations with Mrs. Gofi

Do you want to go the mall tomorrow?

Sure, it’s been a while.

Great, it’ll be fun. But lets not buy anything.

I know. Next time don’t say it before we go.

(We actually don’t keep it too tight. Just in case you’re curious, out clothing expenses are included in HomeExp. We averaged $434 a month this year, which isn’t too shabby I say. That included a refrigerator, a washer and a dryer.)

***

My sisters are visiting us over thanksgiving.
How long are they staying with us?
Three days.
Can they sleep on the floor?

***

I’d like to set aside some money for when I go out with my sisters, she tells me.
That, sexy girl, has to come out of the 2% we’ve allocated for recreation. You can probably go out a few times. Choose wisely.
Can you take them to the Chinese buffet?

***

Would you do this if you had a million dollars?, asked my wife as she came home from work this morning.
Yes I would, I tell her. I’m staring my the spreadsheet.
How about ten million?
Yes, I would.
I’m going to sleep now, you incorrigible boy.