I don’t get credit cards

Hi RIP friends,

I got my first real Credit Card few days ago. I didn’t own one before. Well, as I’ve previously explained, I had some sort of similar tools, like prepaid credit cards and a Hooli issued real credit cards, but that’s another story. With the prepaid cards you don’t get a line of credit and the Hooli card is for work related expenses. I’ve never considered it mine.

I never had a real credit card, I’ve never experiences this sort of monthly threat “pay your bill or we’ll destroy your finances“. It feels strange. And wrong.

Anyway I don’t get it. I don’t understand why it works this way. The system is broken and inefficient, I really don’t understand why.

Let me explain.

RIP, why are you complaining? Why you got this card??

Ok, let’s start with why.

Apparently some sort of Visa/Mastercard is needed in modern world if you want to buy things online. Physical purchases in your home country can still be resolved with debit cards / atm cards / cash. Did I tell you I hate cash? I’d love to experience the disappearance of physical currencies! Physical purchases in another country usually require either cash or some sort of credit card, regular or prepaid. And then there’s US, where for most actions you need a credit card, like car rental, bike rental (!!), hotels… That’s because with credit cards they can reserve an amount for eventual damages or “in case you don’t return the bike”.

Most of the purchases I do in Switzerland can be resolved with PostFinance card, which is a debit card that’s accepted on every Swiss website and physical shop, and it’s bound to your PostFinance bank account.

I hate cash. I avoid using it as much as I can. Did I tell you?

There’s only one money related thing I hate more than cash and it’s debt. I hate debt! Maybe it’s because I experienced so many time (in third person) people going mad due to it.

So, I got the card. It’s a Cumulus Mastercard, issued by Cembra Money Bank and connected with your Cumulus Migros account. Essentially your fidelity card for the Migros world. Migros is the biggest grocery chain. Well, not only a grocery chain: Migros is everything. A bank (Migros Bank), phone company (Migros mobile), IKEA-Like (Micasa), electronics (M-Electronics), gas (Migroil), language courses, flowers, travel, farmacy, you name it.

How does this card work?

  • You do your purchases, they anticipate the money for you. You pay later.
  • If you pay your monthly credit card bill, it will be the face value of the money advanced. No interests, no fees. A 0% loan.
  • You get points for using your card. We’re talking about 1% of your purchases in the Migros circuit and 0.5% of your other purchases back in terms of cumulus points. Actual cash, if you’re a Migros customer (I challenge you not to be one!).
  • You don’t pay any annual fee.
  • You get sign up bonus (3000 points, i.e. 30 CHF).

My first reaction was “where’s the trap? It can’t be that good!

I’m so used to only spend money when I have them, I’d never miss a payment. Why am I rewarded to get a service from an evil company without paying a dime?

Are they just hoping I miss a payment so they can charge 9.99% interests? Is that all?

If that’s all, the system is bugged my friends. It’s an horrible system. Ok, I get the benefits while someone else is paying with interests rates above usury limit, but that’s stupid!

Then I start looking closer at how people use credit cards, reading posts about “avoiding credit cards debts” or the concept of “minimum payments”… holy sheet, do people only see the “credit” word in “credit card”?

Apparently yes, they do. If you get a credit card with 10k limit, you may see it as “cool, I get another 10k to spend“. No no no no it doesn’t work this way! It shouldn’t! Credit cards are not cheap loans.

Credit cards are too good for smart people to be true. You get rewarded for getting a 0% short term loan. This is not a stable system, it’s based on financial illiteracy! Too bad for dumb people.

So I thought: “well, if everyone started using credit card correctly they’d go out of business overnight!

That’s also not true.

They’re not charging you for your purchases, but you’re not the only one involved in the trade. They’re getting a hefty percentage from the merchant! That’s where things go really evil. That’s why some merchant will charge you extra fees for credit cards payments (looking at you, my dear low cost flight company). That’s why some shop won’t accept your card below a certain minimum purchase amount.

And here’s where the system is purely wrong and evil.

Ok, I can’t easily articulate all of my concerns, but I’ll try. Please, understand I’m an old man, getting dangerously close to my 40s, a man who’s born in an age without easy access to credit and always been scared by debts.

The system is based on splitting consumer and merchant worlds. They (credit card issuers) befriend and reward consumers and drain merchants. Divide et impera. They drain way more (2-7%) the merchants than they charm consumers (0.5-1%). Plus signup bonuses. Ok, that’s a little bit of exposure on their side, but the break even for them is probably very close to few thousands spent on your side. Plus yes, they’re close to explicit thievery when it comes to currency conversion fees, but that’s not an issue for most people who (unlike the RIPs) don’t live a three currencies life.

The system is inefficient. Consumers and merchants could find a 1.5% discount or so for “cash payments” and credit cards will be cut out. I don’t understand why merchants don’t offer discount for cash payments. Are they forced to be silent? Ok, I admit handling cash is boring, risky and obscure (money laundering? tax evasion?) and it doesn’t work for online shopping… but what about wire transfers? Ok, I know, debit payments are not immediate and can’t be…

But…

But what about cutting out the middle man here?

Why can’t I just have money and send money to someone without a middle man?

Than I watched this TED Talk. Did I tell you I love TEDs?

Enjoy

In my EGN about future I missed this one!

Are cryptocurrencies the solution for this inefficiency/robbery?

I think so.

Are they production-ready today?

I don’t think so. But sooner or later they must become. I don’t like the mechanics and the whole speculative world behind Bitcoin, but if I have to guess how the world currency is going to be in 100 years I’d bet on a decentralized credit system almost impossible to hack, i.e. Cryptocurrency.

Have a nice day… and use your credit cards judiciously!

February 2017 Financial Update

Hi RIP voyeurs,

February 2017 is gone, it’s been incredibly warmer than average here in Switzerland, it really looks like spring already!

Welcome back to my monthly update. As usual, the reference doc is my NW spreadsheet.

Overview

This was a strange month. First of all, lowest saving rate since started this blog, 50.9%. Ouch. Few unexpected medical expenses, some expected wedding expenses and lowest salary ever since joined Hooli made it. I guess next 3-4 months won’t be better, with wedding date getting closer. Second, very high NW Delta of +19,496 EUR. How is it possible? Last month we saved 23k and NW went up by 6k… this month we saved 5.5k and NW went up by almost 20k, am I cheating? No, it’s simply that cashflow is not the same as net worth. NW growth is affected by savings, investments growth, and (in our complex 3-currencies life) currencies fluctuations.

Anyway, as usual, here are the major wins for February 2017:

  • Market’s doing incredibly great! I’m here, sitting on my chair, waiting for the market crash, the apocalypse and all the things and nothing happens! Why? All my ETFs are up at least 3% during February. I’m so tempted to time the market
  • EUR is weaker compared to both CHF and USD. I’m tracking my NW in EUR and I’m exposed a lot to both CHF and USD. EUR/CHF moved a little while EUR/USD a lot. Both in the right direction. Does it seem odd to aim for a weaker reference currency?
  • Slightly greater than expected 80% salary. February is one of those boring month where I don’t have 13th, yearly bonuses or stocks vesting. So I can finally see what’s my regular salary about. My base net salary is ~86% compared to a base one from last year. Cool. 80% work, 86% pay 🙂
  • Miss RIP got a raise. A small one, still better than nothing. This raise in not visible here, since I’m not tracking (yet) her NW and we keep contributing in ratio 3:1 to shared economy. Wait… now that I work 80% and she got a raise my net salary is no more 3 times hers so we should change internal taxation! Nevermind, starting next month we’re going to join future incomes.

Losses of February 2017:

  • Expenses over 5000 CHF. I set 4k CHF as “we did great” threshold and 5k as “we should be worried” threshold. We went above the second one. The good news is that base expenses were ok. If we exclude wedding expenses (1141), unexpected medical expenses (364), book-in-advance-to-save-money train tickets (~200) and once-per-year expenses (165, Miss RIP’s Half-Price Card) then we are below 4k. It’s a weak excuse though, our life is so complex that it’s normal to have unexpected expenses. It’s kind of… expected!
  • Saving rate slightly above 50%. The minimum since blogging. Why? Because of both a base 80% salary and high expenses. At least it’s still above my acceptability threshold of 50%.

Other facts:

  • Invested more money. Sold Hooli stocks and invested the whole 14k from proceedings. Why did I sell them? Am I not being loyal to my awesome employer? No, it has nothing to do with loyalty. It’s about differentiation. I’m already exposed a lot in Hooli and in IT in general because that’s where I work. What happens if Hooli bankrupts tomorrow? I’d lose my job, my immediate ability to earn a lot of money AND my stocks. Differentiate for the win.
  • Another round of rebalancing, according to my IPS. When I wrote my IPS I defined what my ideal asset allocation strategy would be. My actual investments were not aligned with my strategy back then. I’m aiming to my ideal allocation without having to revolutionize all my investments (which would generate huge trade fees).
    my investment sheet

    So, here follows this month’s steps: sold another 20k of Tech US ETF (SWX:XLKS-USD). With 34k available (20k from selling Tech US and 14k from selling Hooli stocks) I purchased 17k of a Pacific ETF (SWX:CSPXJ-USD) and 17k of an Emerging Market ETF (SWX:CBMEM-USD). According to the investment sheet on my NW spreadsheet I’m almost good. The sheet is not in sync with my IPS though. I may tweak a little bit my IPS to include a 15/5/5 split of US exposure (large/tech/small) instead of 20/5 (large/small). Need to think about it.

  • 80% life kicking in. I’ve been able to enjoy 4 amazing 3-days weekends, the last of which have been spent entirely with Miss RIP, like a small 3 days honeymoon at home.
  • Got a credit card. Why? Wasn’t I showing off by claiming I never had a debt?? Well, keep these complains for next post about “my credit card experience” so far 🙂

Numbers & Details

Total Income for the month was 10,797 CHF (cell F40).

Income highlights:

  • ~7,900 – my Hooli salary + a spot bonus and some extras (base 80% salary ~7.5k).
  • ~1,900 – my Pillar 2 contribution.
  • 1,000 – Miss RIP contribution to shared economy.
  • 15 CHF – Migros Blue coupons.

Total Expenses for the month were 5,300 CHF (cell F40). Expenses detail on my expenses sheet. There are 10 CHF untracked from my new credit card that should show up in next few days. I’m going to backfill expenses once the issue is solved. Here on the right a screenshot of 2017 expenses so far. Click on it for details.

Expenses highlights:

  • Wedding (1,141 CHF), not counting several train tickets we purchased which are because of the Milan wedding.
  • Health. I got a tooth repaired in Italy for 170 EUR and I few exams in Switzerland for 183 CHF. Still waiting for another doctor bill expected in the range of 200-300 CHF.
  • Transportation. Purchased a lot of trains tickets (~200 CHF) for March, April and May. Successfully experimented blablacar twice! Here’s the story: it used to be simpler to find cheap train tickets to Italy on Fridays and Sundays. Sadly, it’s no more true unless you purchase them months in advance (that’s why we did some planning and crazy shopping for the months to come) and it’s hard to find discounted tickets on Sundays. We had to go to Milan a couple of weekends ago and there were no discounted tickets. Buying tickets full price (with half price card) for 2 people (round trip) would have costed ~220 CHF. A lot. We used to pay 10 or 20 each ticket (40-80 total). Just before I was going to buy the pricey tickets mumbling and complaining with “the system”, my beloved Miss RIP proposed “why don’t we try carpooling? Like Blablacar?” We tried, we spent 15 EUR per person per ride (75 CHF total considering blablacar fees and currency conversion), we had nice and comfortable experiences and we met great people! Strongly recommended! We’re still missing few tickets in our trips plan for the next 3 months, but we’re completely relaxed since we have a new default option!
  • Restaurants and “food outside house” above 300 CHF. A lot, I know. We indulged a little bit, but that’s a category that gives us a lot of value so it’s ok. Fondue with friends? I’m always in!
  • We went to an overpriced SPA with friends and spent more than 100 CHF for 4 hours. Nice experience but too expensive.
  • Several IB Trade fees (52 CHF) for investments.

Total savings are 5,497 CHF (cell F42), too little saved this month. Saving rate for the month is 50.9% (cell F43), barely acceptable. Saving rate for 2017 so far: 77% (cell Q43), declining too quickly to normality 🙁

Net worth is 578,093 EUR (cell F17), veeery good! Delta is +19,496 EUR (cell F18), percent 3.49% (cell F19). Good, thanks Mr Market and Mr USD!

The progress bar changed accordingly, from 55.86% to 57.81%, with a nice step of +1.95% toward the big goal. We’re almost back in the 2% monthly jumps world 🙂

Forecast for 100% FIRE: 30 months left (-3 months), i.e. forecast Fire Date is August 1st 2019, (cell V10).

Current Monthly allowance: 1,552 EUR (+54 EUR, cell V13).
Current Withdrawal Rate – Real:  9.52% (-0.23%, cell V15).
Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.77% (-0.20%, cell V16).
Years of Ideal expenses accumulated: 17.3 (cell V19).

Next Steps & Other Updates

Money & Investing

  • Everything is ready to close UBS account, probably doing it in March.
  • Still thinking about a better Pillar 3a with PostFinance, like PostFinance Pension 25/45/75. TERs are high, considering that they are funds of funds, and market diversification is very low. They invest in Switzerland stocks, essentially 3 stocks (Novartis, Nestlè, Roche). I know there are better options out there but I’d rather stay within PF, my financial life is complicated enough and I don’t want to make it more complex. Plus, Pillar 3 constitutes less than 5% of my total wealth and I may want to withdraw it within next 5 years. Keeping my money into a saving account at 0.2% interest may still be ok.
  • What about a Pillar 3a for Miss RIP? We’re getting married and next year we’re going to join our tax returns which means we might want to save taxes on those 6.7k she could set aside. In that case there will be too much money sitting at 0.2%, funds become more tempting.
  • Extra rebalance to adhere to my IPS. I’ve done a good job moving money around and investing more in Jan-Feb with limited friction (115 CHF total fees). As mentioned before need to think about 15/5/5 split between Large US, Tech US, Small US vs 20/5 Large/Small as mentioned by my IPS. Technically it’s the same stuff. Tech US are large companies. Problem with current split is that I’m triple exposed with Tech US: I work for them, I invest in Large US (most of them are tech anyway) and I invest in Tech US. Home bias is hard to die!

Wedding

Wedding is coming! We’d get officially married in Switzerland in March, and then we’ll celebrate it with a big party in Italy in June. March will be an interesting month! From a financial point of view, the default in Switzerland is that we, individuals, keep whatever was ours before the marriage while whatever we make as a couple after the marriage is then shared. If you want something different (sharing everything or keep finances separate) you need to sign a contract in front of a notar. Anyway, since we’re planning to reach FI together I’d add Miss… pardon, Mrs RIP NW to mine. Expect a nice jump forward in March 🙂

About the wedding budget… last time I took a look at the spreadsheet it was dangerously coming close to 25k…

I need to find a way to account for monetary wedding gifts too. Both my parents and future in laws are going to give us money, several thousands. I expect some of the invitees will too. I don’t want to consider it as income nor I want to don’t consider monetary gifts at all. Need to think about it.

Blog

February has been my least active month on my blog and on the communities (forums, other blogs,…) since I started blogging. I’m not losing passion, it’s simply a too intense period of my Stardew Valley farm life.

Anyway, good news:

  • book featuring me has been published!
  • Financial Independence Week Europe (FIWE) 2017 has been announced! I’ll be there for sure during the 3 main days and probably few days more to hang out with bloggers and participants! Follow the link if you want to join us! We’re going to Timișoara (Romania) in September 2017!

How was your February?

No, that was not my last summer of vacation!

Hi RIP friends,

good friends are always a source of inspiration. I was chatting with my bloggers friends Emma & Robert White (whatlifecouldbe) and Oli (frugalisten), discussing issues like the next FIWE and few personal updates.

…And then I’ve been enlightened by a clear memory of when I had first glance of what I would call FI epiphany…

I previously said I don’t remember when it was my FI Epiphany and I still don’t consider a single point in time when I realized “I want to be FI”. But now I remember when I put the first brick on this wall and I want to share it with you dear readers 🙂

It was June 1994, end of school year. I was attending the 4th year at my High School in Rome and we were all discussing what we’d do in the following summer! I was 17 and I was eager to enjoy my usual 3 months school vacation, from mid June to mid September. Yes, in Italy it works this way until High Schools. 9 months of “going to school” and 3 months of summer vacation. At that time we were all 16-18 years old and summer vacation meant everything for us! First kisses, beers, sun, the sea… 3 very long months all for us!

image credits: clipartfox.com

It was one of the last day of school, beginning of June. I remember clearly when our Math prof said “guys, enjoy this summer! It will be your last one you can spend this way!

She was sincere and happy for us, but her words sent us down. The electricity you could breathe in the air five minutes before was gone. She was still smiling.

Someone in our class took courage and asked: “Prof… what do you mean by ‘the last one’?

With a bit of bitterness on her voice she said: “Well, next year you’ll have Maturity exam so you won’t have 3 months for you. Maybe one, but then you want to prepare for University entry exams or you’ll go looking for a job or you depart for your Military service. Next summer won’t be the same. And from then it’s every year worse. You’ll work, i.e. 4 to 5 weeks of vacation spread across the entire year, or you’ll study, which means you have exam in June-July and in September-October and you have to study for them. You may not have realized yet, but this one, the 4th high school year summer, is your last light-hearted summer. Enjoy it as such!

She was sincere, she didn’t mean to be mean. Energy level of the room dropped but I was still on the fence. I remember scanning everyone’s eyes to see how they were taking this truth.

Despair, disbelief, a bit of anger… but soon, too soon, acceptance.

A random friend relaxed the atmosphere saying something like: “Yeah, it’s true. I never thought about it… so then if that’s the last one we should partyyyyyyy

Everyone switched to an inferior level of happiness. I was still waiting for something. My brain scanning all the other options finding none. Well, I didn’t know that life at University wasn’t that different from continuous vacation, but the point is: I didn’t know that I didn’t know enough to judge this prison sentence.

Ok, next year maturity exam, then uni, then job, family… pension at age 65-70… holy sheet what the hell is happening??

And then I mentally said NO. This is not true, this can’t be true. I will have a lot of similar summers! I don’t know how, but the rule is: “if I don’t have other options, I only have other options“.

I was not thinking about FI at that time, obviously. I still dreamed about “going to America” to work in Microsoft or somewhere else. Or founding my own software company or whatever. But I couldn’t accept I won’t have had the freedom of taking a summer off whenever I wanted.

The Freedom seed was planted.

Fast forward 23 years.

What happened? Did I took some summers off? Let’s see:

1999Third year at Uni, perfect curriculum so far. Took a lightweight year to recover from a sentimental failure. Mid July – Mid September free to enjoy the sea and the sun.

2004 – Before starting my PhD and after 2 years of Robotic Research I’ve thrown everything away and went skiing in April. Took the full month off and some spare days in March before rejoining.

2007 – After quitting academic career and before joining Videogame Company, why not take a couple of months off? May – June.

2009 – Negotiated a raise and a sabbatical at Videogame Company, took ~50 days off Mid July – Beginning of September. Bike traveled on south of France and spent time in Rome.

2010 – Almost burnout at Videogame Company, quit end of December 2009 and rejected an offer from a very famous company in UK. Finally free! 2 months off trying to figure out what to do next. January and February.

2010-2011 – Well, jobs started to hunt me during my Freelance days. I tried to only take enough to make me a decent salary and reject the others. These whole 2 years have been a big well paid part time job, I’d say 50%, but earning double compared to Videogame Company.

2011 – Freelance, but I still wanted more time for me, with no restrictions. Mid June – End of September. 4 months, more than school vacation! I took these 4 months to stay in contact with people. Friends in Rome and Tuscany, family, theater playing, tango dancing. I met future Mrs. RIP at the end of this extended time off. I still remember that one as the best summer of my life!

2012 – After having received the life changing offer from Hooli in June and before actually joining the company in November, why not take Mid July – End of October off? 100 days off seems the best way to celebrate! Bike traveled The Donau, Brenta, Mincio, Adige and Adda rivers and why not visit Croatia and Spain?

2016 – 4 years in the same place, never happened so far in my career. Time to take a break and take Mid April – End of May off and go hiking Italy Coast2Coast.

2017 – Started working 80%. It’s not a sabbatical, but it feels good. It’s not a school summer, but it’s 52 more days of vacation spread across the whole year. It feels good 🙂

202X – FI date is coming, how many summers are there?

Dear teacher, I’d love to tell you that you were wrong.

There’s always another option!

A book about Financial Independence (in German) featuring… me!

Hi RIP’s friends,

few months ago I’ve been contacted by Gisela Enders (klunkerchen.wordpress.com) for an interview about my Financial Independence journey. She said “I’m writing a book about FI and I’d like to share your story”. Wow, will my words be printed on an actual book? A paper one? One I could brag about for the rest of my life? Something I could go to mama and tell her “hey mom look here, I’m on a book”? So I replied to her showing my willingness to answer her questions and then patiently waiting for the book to come out.

That time is now! The book is ready and my interview is there! Look mom! What? You don’t understand English? Ahem, that’s not even English mom…

Here it is: Finanzielle Freiheit

The book is in German – meaning I can’t actually read my own interview 🙁 – but apparently an English translation is planned.

First part of the book is an explanation of what is FI, followed by a second part with interviews to those who’ve already made it, including the White Family (whatlifecouldbe) – member of the special circle of RIP’s bloggers family – and a third part with interviews to those who are on their way uphill, including me and Oliver (frugalisten), another member of RIP’s bloggers family 🙂

You can buy it on Amazon for 9.99€ but but but till February 26th special price ‘only for you’: 4.99€! (holy sheet how much I hate commercial speak)

If you want to help children in Transylvania (who doesn’t want??) you can buy the book using this affiliate link from the White Family.

So, what are you waiting for?

Tools Of Titans book review part 0 – Habits

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin

Hi RIP friends,

Few weeks ago I’ve told you that I started waking up early, thanks to several input signals last of which was reading first pages of Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I’m still waking up early, finally made the switch to 6am (still aiming to 5am) and it’s been great so far. It’s amazing how things go smoothly and quality of life improves once you overcome initial costs of installing a new habit.

I kept reading ToT as one of my daily routines. Essentially, the whole ToT book is about offering you a vast amount of options in terms of new habits to install. Tim says he wrote this book as a collection of life gems / advices / habits given by successful people he had as guests on his podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show. I truly love the idea of squeezing roughly a hundred of two-hours long interesting interviews in a sort of “collection of life directives“.

I knew little about Tim Ferriss before buying this book. I heard about the 4 hour workweek, of course, but neither I purchased it nor I researched about the author and the messages he wanted to communicate.

Then I saw this book recommended by so many people I follow, including James Altucher (James’ podcast with Tim, Tim’s podcast with James), and I wanted to try it out. I knew I loved the format, the interviewees and the topics: how to become healthy, wealthy and wise.

So that’s my Christmas gift to myself: 700 physical pages of amazing life lessons!

I’m a scientific person who does things in the most structured way possible. When I read a book I want to know everything about the author, the story behind, related works and so on. I want to explore further concepts I liked, I want to build on top of the ideas I’ve read about. This book is a gold mine for a person like me. It could keep me busy for a century. Read a chapter, get interested about the topics, go listen the whole associated podcast, get to know the podcast guest more, repeat with next chapter.

Trying to read between the lines of Tim’s comments within each podcast, it seems he did almost the same, but at the next level. Listen, interact with the guest, ask questions, experiment techniques on himself, repeat with next guest. It’s like cooking: once you have so many ingredients you can then start to mix them up for unique recipes. A lot of them won’t work – who cares – some of them will rock. I love Tim’s experimental approach to life!

Inspired by him, I’m writing my own “Life Directives” doc too. It’s not meant to be a book, just a life cookbook for myself. I’m parsing articles, videos and blog posts I saved in last years and extracting gems from them. Obviously ToT is one of the sources!

Must say that extracting ideas from an already compressed book like his is not simple. It’s like a juice of another juice.

My process is: read a chapter with a black pen on my hand, underline the concepts I want to export, transpose them to my doc once in front of a computer.

I don’t usually like to underline on a physical book, but who cares! That’s not a normal book: it’s a trip, an experience. I want to feel I’m physically consuming the book. I want it shredded at the end of this adventure, like a backpack after a hiking month, as a sign of the fatigue and toughness of the adventure itself.

About the content. The book is divided in three sections: healthy, wealthy and wise. Each section is mainly composed by “podcasts extracts” but there are special chapters written by either Tim himself or someone else that don’t follow the standard podcasts extract scheme. In the healthy section there are two very interesting special chapters on workout and meditation that I took as they are and started implementing straight away.

I’m roughly at 30% of the book, started moving first steps in the wealthy section. I must tell I’m not onboard on every chapter. The healthy section dives into subjects I don’t want to experiment with (for now) but it’s good to know what’s around, which variables one can play with in the game of life. More on this in the next part of this multi-post book review.

Do I recommend the book?

Totally! You won’t agree with everything but I guarantee that, even if you just take the 20% of this book that resonates with you the most, it would be worth 10x the money and time you spent on it.

To whom?

To whomever wants to improve the quality of their life. To those who are struggling to get things done. To those who have a researcher mindset and can’t just sit and repeat meaningless actions for the entire life. To those who want to overcome procrastination and laziness. To those who have an entrepreneurial mindset and want to build something. To anyone who is less than 25 years old.

Is that an affiliate link?

No, not yet. Well, I guess I’ll setup an affiliate account on Amazon,.I think there’s nothing wrong on making few dimes on such heartfelt recommendations!

A case of study: myself

Ok, how has the book influenced me so far? How is it worth the 15 USD I paid for it? I already said I started waking up early also thanks to Tim. Reading thru the pages of ToT I found that many successful persons have some sort of morning routine, usually including some form of meditation and physical activity. So I decided to have one. Reading Tim’s deep personal struggle on one of the special chapter (no spoiler!) I rediscovered the importance of uninterrupted blocks of focused work on a single task. So I decided to organise my time to allow for such blocks.

I’m trying to structure time following a simple pattern which is essentially a variation of what James Altucher suggests in his Choose Yourself book (which I didn’t read btw): trying to make yourself 1% better each day by doing something that improves life on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.

My structure is similar, but my levels are slightly different:

  • Physical: do some kind of workout each day, at least get myself out of breath each day.
  • Social: connect with new people, re-connect with old friends, enjoy the presence of friends, family and my partner, do something that makes at least a relationship better.
  • Creativity: do something that’s expression of my uniqueness. Write, code, play guitar, whatever stimulates my mind and makes me do something.
  • Curiosity: learn something new. Read blogs, watch youtube videos on topic I want to learn more, taking a coursera class, watch a TED talk. Whatever stimulates my mind and expands my knowledge and brain capacity. P.S. I love TED talks! I’d like to host a TED marathon with friends, watching the top25 TEDs of all time plus someone I personally loved, and following up on each one with a discussion within the attending crowd. And obviously one of my dreams is giving a TED talk!
  • Spirituality: I’m no religious but I do consider myself a very spiritual person. My daily spirituality routine includes some form of meditation, journaling exercises (write down your anxieties, what scares you, what you’re grateful for, what’s important for you, how you see yourself in 5 years…), decluttering (both mentally and physically) and finding new ways to improve my happiness baseline.
  • Pleasure: enjoying a videogame, wasting time on Facebook, browsing the internet, watching a movie or a tv series or just doing nothing.

Well, not everything is doable every morning! My goal is to do at least a single step on each ladder each day. So far I’m devoting time to Creativity, Curiosity, Spirituality and Pleasure each morning. Social is tough at 6am, but I see room for improvements: I could write an email to an old friend I don’t see much anymore, connect with a new person, prepare a handwritten letter for Miss RIP (or prepare her breakfast, she’d love it). I’d prefer in-person social things but I could still do something.

Physical, don’t hide. You’re next in line. As soon as temperatures will allow a morning run there would be no valid excuse.

What’s your routine?

January 2017 Financial Update

Hi RIP voyeurs,

January 2017 is gone. It’s been freezing cold here in Switzerland with temperatures below zero all the time.

Anyway, new year new spreadsheets! 2016 monthly reports have been very long full of boring details. I want to simplify from now on. The main NW spreadsheet for 2017 has been simplified and assets in the same class collapsed (except stocks/ETFs investments).

Overview

Before we start, here’s a note about 2017 Net Worth: I won’t take into account virtual earnings, i.e. “vesting” stocks, 13th month, yearly bonus. I used to consider them, a fraction each month. I have quarterly, by-quarterly (semesterly?) and yearly vesting stocks. I used to put into my NW respectively 1/3, 1/6 and 1/12 of the “vesting stocks” each month. I used to account for 1/12 of expected net 13th month and yearly bonus each month. Now I don’t. Those are not guaranteed until the money is on my checking account and the stocks are in my brokerage account.

What does that mean? While NW growth due to earnings used to be regular, it will now be spiky. March, June, September and December will be stellar months while the other eight will look poorer. In the end the yearly delta will not change.

The only credit I allow myself is the yearly bonus credit: issued in December and paid in January. Once issued it’s guaranteed unless you quit the company or get fired between Christmas and end of January. Not a wise decision to quit in January. That’s why January is not a stellar month given that paycheck contains yearly bonus. That’s why I expect December 2017 to be ridiculous in terms of NW delta: 10-12k net vested stocks (4 stocks packages, at today’s stock price), 7k base salary, 6k 13th month, 15k yearly bonus. All net, not gross.

This month NW delta is +6,624 EUR. Not that bad given that the USD dropped 2.5% compared to EUR, and US – where I invest a good portion of my wealth – has been downgraded to a Flawed Democracy.

Till the European morning of January 30th the delta was in the 5 digits world but then Muslim ban’s market reactions, dollar dropped and, yeah, 4K burnt to ashes.

Here are the major wins for January 2017:

  • Market’s still doing good! Well, I started drafting this post before The Psychopath signed the Muslim ban, right before market dropped. Anyway, all our ETFs went up, gold medal being the Tech US ETF (+2.77%). That’s to remind me that I did a stupid move last month by selling 40K of it. Never try to time the market again.
  • (Expected) Ridiculous saving rate, 87.3%. 2016 Yearly bonus + January salary = very high income. As I said, if you wonder why NW delta is small (+6.6K) given 23.8K CHF absolute savings and a favorable market, I already accounted for my 2016 yearly bonus under the “Other” (row 13). Expected 17K net, probably received a little bit less (I can’t tell exactly, but salary + bonus + extras = 24K).
  • Low expenses, less than 3500 CHF. A month below 4K is a good month! Well, there are some wedding expenses not included here, like Miss RIP’s wedding dress (she paid with her account but we will share total expenses). Actually there will be several wedding expenses in the following months that mess up our finances, but that’s how life goes.
  • Another small bonus at Hooli. 500 CHF to be credited in Feb for my amazing performances, cool!

Losses of January 2017:

  • Lower than expected net salary. 26K gross bonus + 10K gross base salary + unknown extras (complicated and boring to explain) = 24K net salary. Who said Switzerland is the land of low taxes??
  • USD dropped 2.49% compared to EUR (and 2.77% to CHF).

Other facts:

  • Wrote my IPS. Took time to write down objectives, strategies and asset allocation.
  • Invested more money. 13th month and Yearly bonus went straight to InteractiveBrokers! I’ve sent 35K CHF to my brokerage account and extracted 10K EUR to my Italian EUR bank account to cope with wedding expenses. A nice side effect of using InteractiveBrokers is the amazingly low currency conversions costs. I can buy EUR on the market at its price (actually buying EURCHF currency pair) and pay between 1.50 and 2.50 CHF trade fee. No costs on deposits to IB and no costs on your first withdraw each month from IB. Beat it if you can!
  • Rebalanced my investments according to the IPS. I didn’t fully adhere to my newly written IPS since it’d require a lot of trades. I’d like to aim to perfect balance with time, with new money being invested in assets lacking funds rather than selling current assets and buying new assets. The more money you move the higher you pay in trading fees. With 40k USD cash sitting on my brokerage account after the sale of half of my Tech US ETF and the extra 35k CHF invested I purchase 50k EUR worth of STOXX600 ETF and 15k USD worth of SWX:CSUSS-USD, an ETF tracking the MSCI USA Small Cap index. Extra 10k have been sent to my Italian EUR bank account as previously explained. My portfolio looks better to me but still not perfect.
  • I started a healthy routine of waking up early. Still not at it’s final permanent stage (and I skipped a morning), but waking up early in a consistent way is bringing more quality time into my life.
  • Free Fridays. 80% is here and it’s awesome! I don’t work on Friday anymore and the life balance of a 4 days workweek / 3 days weekend is a step toward acceptability. I guess 3 / 4 would be even better but in my “Hard Accumulation Phase” working 60% would unacceptably slow my FIRE journey.
  • Health emergencies in both Mr. and Miss RIP family. Both RIP Sr. and Miss RIP’s brother had surgery in Italy. We had to travel at the very last minute to visit our relatives. They’re ok now, but they have both seen better days. So yeah, January nomination to “first month without international trains or planes since I-don’t-even-remember-when” had to be withdrew.
  • Wedding budget finalized. It won’t be a frugal wedding and I’m not happy with that. What makes me happy is that Miss RIP cares about a perfect wedding and I’m doing my best (not much though, just avoid complaining too much with pricey extras) to make her happy. I won’t put many details here, like individual wedding related expenses, because few close friends of mine read my blog. I’m ok with throwing totals here though. Initial budget was 20k EUR, current forecasts say 23k but I guess we’d end up above 25k. It’s a shitload of money, I know. I don’t feel comfortable with it. I made the mistake of showing Miss RIP my yearly bonus… Anyway, wedding expenses will mess up our finances this year. Regular monthly cycles no more apply in 2017 and bills will come at random till June. Combined with spiky income months, I expect expect negative saving rate when the stars align.
  • Finished reading the Healthy chapters of Tools of Titans (Tim Ferriss). Want to blog about it. It’s awesome. It’s very inspiring.
  • Mr DIP found a job and he’s no more unemployed! I guess he needs a new nickname now 🙂

Numbers & Details

Total Income for the month was 27,227 CHF (cell E36).

Income highlights:

  • ~24,300 CHF my Hooli salary + 2016 bonus. Expecting less taxes but it’s ok.
  • ~2,000 CHF my Pillar 2 contribution.
  • 1,000 CHF Miss RIP contribution to shared economy.

Total Expenses for the month were 3,448 CHF (cell E37). Nice one! Anyway, I’m trying to change the way I report expenses. I added an expenses sheet to my NW spreadsheet. I won’t go into details here, take a look at the sheet if you want.

Expenses highlights:

  • New health insurance, costs went up from 426 to 490 CHF.
  • Several Trade fees (64 CHF) for investments. roughly 0.08%of capital moved (70k) plus some currency conversions.
  • Milan condo fees 120 EUR. We pay condo fees in Milan 5 times per year in July, September, November, January and March.
  • Paid 180 EUR as deposit for our next group hiking trip along the Via Francigena! It will be 5 days during Easter with Walden Viaggi a Piedi, an italian social trekking company. Both I and Miss RIP will take this break right after my theater plays and before turning 40 and getting married. Yes, it will be a pretty intense Q2 2017. Anyway, this trip will be a super frugal group hiking with a guide and seeking for hospitality in hostels and monasteries. Have you ever heard about Via Francigena? Canterbury (UK) to Rome? It’s our Camino de Santiago! Well, we’ll just walk 5 days in Tuscany, from Florence to Siena, first time together (I’m used to hiking trips). looking forward!

Total savings are 23,779 CHF (cell E38), very good. Saving rate is 87.3% (cell E39). Do not worry, we’ll be back to normal in February.

Net worth is 558,597 EUR (cell E15). Crap. Delta is +6,624 EUR (cell E16), percent 1.20% (cell E17). Very bad. As explained above it’s mainly due to USD drop and lower than expected net salary.

The progress bar changed accordingly:

With a small step of +0.46% toward the big goal. We were used to 2% jumps, it’s ok. There will be better months. And worse for sure! If Mr. Market will get irritated w may end up reusing some of the old logos…

Forecast for 100% FIRE: 33 months left (+1 months, calm, breathe), i.e. forecast Fire Date is October 1st 2019, (cell U19). What the hell! A month has passed, net worth increased by 6.6K and FIRE date moved away from us by 2 months? Just for fun I tried to play with linear forecasts. What if our NW increased every month by 6.6K EUR during 2017? We’d be doing steps toward FI, I expect to get closer to the goal. Let’s take a look at the FIRE date:

Whaaaaaaat?? If our NW increased by 6.6k per month in 2017 we’d end the year with 56 more months to go. How depressing 🙁

What if it increased by 5 digits per month from now on?

Holy sheet, 10k NW increase per month and at the end of the year we’d still be 34 months far from FI? Carrot and stick. Actually 10k per month is above my expectations for 2017. I don’t think the Market is going to positively surprise us in 2017 and let “exponential growth” or “compounding magic” happen.

All forecasts are linear forecasts over a 12 months window.

Current Monthly allowance: 1,552 EUR (+19 EUR, cell U25). It represents how much I could withdraw indefinitely per month (at my desired WR) in case I decided to call myself FI today.

Current Withdrawal Rate – Real:  9.75% (-0.35%, cell U28). This represents the WR I need to support current spending regime with today’s NW. It got better this month because we increased our NW and reduced yearly expenses compared to previous forecast.

Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.97% (-0.05%, cell U31). This represents the WR I need to support my desired spending regime (lower than current, since I plan to retire in Italy and not in Switzerland) with today’s NW. When this number will meet the desired Withdrawal Rate (cell U10) we’ll be FI.

Next Steps & Other Updates

Investing

  • I have extra money to invest in February, roughly 13k USD from Hooli stocks sale. Need to finish rebalancing my investments. I may sell another portion of Tech US (17k) to kick off Emerging Markets and Pacific.
  • Since we’ll do joined tax declaration in 2017, I’m thinking about opening a Pillar 3a for Miss RIP. She holds her Swiss savings in cash, what a waste of money. She’s totally not into investments and I may consider suggesting “safe” investments to her.

Wedding

This wedding project has been so far the most complex project we’ve been involved together. So much effort for “a single day”. I’m talking about the wedding day here, not about the fact we’re starting a family and the long term project. Just the wedding day.

Miss RIP is handling roughly 90% of the details, while I take care of bureaucracy. She’s doing an amazing job with location, invites, hotel for guests, transportation for guests, menu details, church details, flowers, rings, photos, videos… I’m just caring about my dress, whose hunt didn’t start yet while she’s already purchased it.

Anyway, expenses are coming. A lot of trips to Milan are coming too. In February we’ll purchase tons of train/plane tickets to Rome/Milan to cover until end of June 2017. Purchasing in advance lowers ticket costs by up to 90%.

Theater

That’s going great! I’ll be on stage end of March – beginning of April with at least 7 performances. The theater company is amazing and I already love all my new friends! I took over minor IT responsibilities and now maintain the company website and Facebook page. Feb & March will be super intense with full weekends of rehearsals and then it will be “on stage” again!

Milan’s apartment

I was (again) close to rent my apartment starting February but the tenant declined (again) at the very last minute. It’s getting really depressing.

Blog

January has been a page view record month. After few stable months PVs spiked! That’s not due to an “awesome day”, just the daily basis kind of doubled and… it feels good 🙂

Engagement followed the same pattern: more people interacting, commenting and it feels good too! I’m active in Rockstar Finance Forum, which probably helped a little.

Ah, I’m also on Twitter now 🙂

I technically have more time to blog so I may end up writing more. I still love writing but I’m thinking about kicking off a coding project with my free time that might erode time to my beloved blog. I don’t know. No, I won’t switch to full time Stardew Valley farming, do not worry 🙂

That’s all!

How was your January?

A Tale of a small Failure and a big Success

Hi RIP readers,

Today I want to tell you 2 stories. One of them is a story of incredible success and the other one is a story of a miserable failure.

Let’s start with the failure. Yes, you guessed right, the failure story is mine, 100%.

Wait, no, it’s not that I gave up on my journey to Financial Independence! Guys, I said “small” failure… I’m not even talking about giving up on waking up early, even though I didn’t set my alarm at 6am as planned (yet).

The story is the following one: yes, I did wake up early last Friday and – empowered by the fact I don’t work on Friday – I spent an entire day… playing a videogame! One of first hard earned Fridays – that’s costing me roughly 500 EUR of missed earning – wasted playing videogames.

I don’t feel guilty though 🙂

What do I feel? A little bit “is this right?“, a little bit “I’m an asshole, what am I doing?” and then “that’s super cool!“. What scares me is when I go like “Am I sure I want a life like that? I talk about life purpose and then I waste time with such a short term leisure?“. Yes, that scares me. Freedom doesn’t imply happiness, for happiness one has to work hard on themself and results are not guaranteed.

They say “the devil will find work for idle hands” and while I don’t like this sentence (I’m not hurting anyone, go away devil!) it is true that we humans are lazy and greedy beasts and we naturally follow the path of least resistance. Defeating our natural default behavior is very hard even considering we all know how much more rewarding it would be.

Anyway, I enjoyed the experience and, as I’ve previously stated, at the beginning of this 80% experience I’ll use my free Fridays to decompress and try to relax. The real problem is that I’m not done with this videogame! I just started, I want to play more!

RIP, you’re a loser, we all know that. What’s the second story? Wanna brag about a success of yours. And btw, what videogame is this? Is it really that good?

Yeah, let’s move to the second story. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but no, it’s not a success of mine. The success story is all about the videogame itself.

If you’re following me since the beginning (or if you read my story) you know I moved from Rome to Milan in 2007 to follow one of my dreams: become a Videogame Developer. I’ve always loved videogames since I was a child and apparently it’s not something that’s going away with age. I’ve spent so many nights awake playing 2D strategic PC games of any kind: TBSs, RTSs, RPGs. I never bought the 3D graphics story, the console wars, the mobile whatever… I still consider myself an hardcore PC gamer even though I almost don’t play that much anymore (till last Friday).

Yeah RIP, you nerd with your SCUMMy Day of the Tentacle. Shame on you. Cmon, what’s this new game name? Candy something? What-the-hell Birds? Is it at least a MOBA?

No no no, it’s an Indie game 🙂 Developed by a single guy in the good old fashioned way. Here’s the game name: Stardew Valley (wikipedia, game site)!

RIP, a farming game? In 2017? Are you joking? Wait, is this advertising??

No advertising, I don’t get a Rappen for this post. I’m serious about this game, let me explain: the game is about you inheriting a farm from grandpa, quitting your cubicle and becoming a farmer. You get to your land – which is in a very bad shape – and are supposed to try to fix problems and grow crops, breed animals, get to know your rural new friends and see what happens!

RIP. It’s a farming game. A f*cking farming game. A boring game for kids, c’mon…

No, it’s not! It’s the perfect game for me! Listen to me, here’s what I love about this game:

First, I like this genre. Managerial game where you need to plan what to do with your resources, better if the pace is not too fast, I’m too old for action games.

Second, I love the style. 2D games are terrific. I don’t care about cutting edge graphics or other bullsheets. The game is graphically perfect, tons of 2D sprites, animations, a lot of care on details. You should see autumn leaves…

Third, I love the gameplay. I love the game mechanics: how you perform actions and how you get rewards out of them. It’s a never-ending game.

Next, I love the game complexity and level of details: you plant seeds that become crops, than you harvest vegetables and fruits then you can process them and create other ingredients that you can use in advanced recipes so that you can eat or give them as present to other villagers… then there are animals, you need to feed them, pet them, protect them and harvest their products… and that’s just the surface. The game has skills that level up, quests, maps, monsters and combats, mines and caves, desert and mountains, minerals (tons of them), fishing (hundreds of fish types), foraging plants, fruits, shells. There’s a village, with NPCs – 40 of them, local shops, a community center with… ok no spoiler, a quarry, a SPA, a Bar, a calendar with birthdays and social gatherings, weather conditions, time of the day, seasons (fish, crops and fruits are season dependent), an enemy corporation, ghosts, mummies, a dwarf, a wizard and an adventurer guild where you can buy swords and go fighting. Did I mention a gender respectful way to build relationships and family and kids? It’s just about farming eh? Each aspect of the game is extremely curated and deep. Nothing is poorly executed.

Breathe.

Next, this is an indie game, meaning a videogame developed by a small team, with a small budget. A game you could have made! In an era dominated by few huge companies with billionaire budgets, making every year the same game with more graphics (EA, I’m looking at you) indie games are romantic resistance. Like in the game itself the villagers with their local shops are romantic resistance against the mega corporations who wants to “corporatize” our lovely Pelican Town.

Finally, we’re not talking about “a small indie company“. This game was developed by a single guy. Everything: code, game design, character design, level design, graphics, musics. There are tons of assets in the game: 2D sprites, animations, items of any kind. hundreds of items, check the official wiki. Take a look at the crops! There are 40 different types, each one with 5-8 hand made, pixel art sprites! What about NPCs design? Quests? Minerals? I don’t know if you ever worked in the videogame industry (I did) but trust me: that’s an unbelievable amount of work for a single person, and the quality is excellent on every aspect.

This guy, named Eric Barone a.k.a. ConcernedApe, started all of this alone 5 years ago, at age 22, right after his graduation in Computer Science. Being pissed off of sending CVs around he accepted a minimum wage job as a usher at a Theatre. In the meantime he decided to start this pet project “using the opportunity as an exercise to improve his own programming and game design skills“. He loved and played a lot a similar, older game named Harvest Moon. That game had some shortcomings he didn’t like so he designed the perfect game he would like to play. Applause. Be the change you want to see in the world!

After 4 years of hard work, in February 2016, the game launched on Steam and Gog. The game sold more than a million copies two months after launch and is now way above two millions just on Steam. The game’s price is 15 CHF per copy (I guess it’s 10 EUR / 10 USD outside the rich Switzerland) so the game earned north of 20M, just on Steam.

And we’re not talking about those super simple random mobile games that inexplicably become successful out of nothing, we’re talking about a game whose metacritic score is 88/100.

It took 4 years of very hard work, working 60-80 hours per week without a boss giving you priorities and keeping you focused. He had to find motivations inside himself and the strength to keep up when, inevitably, morale went down. For 4 years. His story is in my opinion a great lesson for anyone who wants to achieve anything so let’s dig a little bit deep here.

Lesson 1: Passion, Hard Work, Commitment and Integrity are more important than Talent

I don’t have any doubt that this guy has a lot of talent too, but I’m pretty sure that the base ingredients for Barone’s success are:

  • Passion: he loves video games, specifically this kind of games.
  • Hard work: he put 60-80 hours per week on this project, doing and redoing stuff several times.
  • Commitment: 4 years. As a solo developer. It takes a lot of consistency and faith to keep up and not quit.
  • Integrity: He delayed the release date even when publishers and marketplace wanted it out because he was not satisfied and the game was not feature complete according to his plan. He didn’t succumb to business rules. And he won. Amazing! But there’s more: Barone wanted to create an immersive farming experience, with the ambition “to have real-world messages” (that probably weren’t very business friendly) like cubicle sucks, you should pet and not butcher farm animals, love has no gender limitation and dwarves, wizards and mummies are real things and live in caves and mines… ahem, ok.

Talent is overrated.

Lesson 2: Emotional Intelligence is more important than Rational Intelligence

Why am I mentioning Barone’s EI skills? I don’t know him and he’s probably an introvert anti-social geek (just watch some of his rare interviews). What I know though is that his game is a collective story begun 5 years ago with an announcement and it’s not ended yed. Barone leveraged the power of internet and social networks, sitting on the shoulder of the giants.

How? Barone made the development of his game completely public, releasing previews and test versions of the early game, listening to feedback and engaging in discussions on reddit and twitter.

Roughly 1 year after his announcement a producer jumped him and offered to help and raise Eric from any non-development responsibility.

Engaging with the community and being present generated an immense hype around the game and a growing fan base that showed an unprecedented respect and love for the game and his creator. Listen to this story: the game is completely an offline game and you can easily find it on torrent, download it illegally and play it for free – I stil remember the time when software companies went broke thanks to piracy. This game could have easily been a similar story. But I read that some of those who pirated the game, after playing it for a while, planned to get an actual copy and pay for it. I’ve read stories of fans that offered to help paying the game for those that can’t afford it. Things never seen before! These stories (unconfirmed, but they are on wikipedia) show a tremendous amount of respect and love for Barone’s hard work, social attitude and devotion to the community. The community’s involvement is greater than this, though: take a look at the modding community!

I’ve been into videogame development. A month before a game launches it’s already dead from a development point of view. You’re already working on the next game. Yeah, a patch here and there, if we didn’t delete the entire codebase from the repository yet… What about this game? It was launched a year ago and Barone recently said he’s spending more time than before on the game – not coding anymore – replying to fans and being present in the community. And, I guess, playing his beloved game!

Given sales numbers I assume the publisher hired a team to keep the development alive. They ported the game on all consoles and announced a cooperative multiplayer experience sooner or later. FIRE seekers out there, I can’t wait to play together on our minimalist & frugal farm 🙂

Lesson3 : In the risks vs rewards spectrum, investing in yourself is the best choice

Now… this guy knew nothing (I suppose) about publishing, contracts, money, marketing… so maybe he got a very bad deal, we don’t know. But let’s assume he negotiated his life changing deal so badly that he’s earning only 1$ per copy sold. That’s more than 2 Million dollars in his pockets! He reached Financial Independence at age 26. If you’re brave enough and choose yourself you may get 1000% return and more on your investments, not just that miserable expected 7% long term with stocks!

That’s the success story that inspired me the most in last few years! Thanks Eric for this incredible game and for inspiring me and so many others!

That’s more or less me at work on Monday…

 

But let’s talk a little bit about my gaming experience, so maybe we’ll transform my failure in something else. At least a funny story that will gladly crack a smile out of your face!

The game starts with main character design. You can customize your aspect, name, gender and other things. Here’s Mr RIP, the spreadsheets lover from Hooli land 🙂

The game starts with an intro where you receive a letter for your dying grandpa accompanied with those wise words

I’m ready grandpa, I surely am!

Then you’re teleported into your current cubicle life at Joja (which is the evil company in the game) and you can experience how miserable it is.

Your environment is sparkling energy in every directions! A lot of fun! Yeah, someone has been terminated and your colleague on the extreme right is apparently not feeling very good today, but life goes on, doesn’t it?

Then one day, luckily, you get fired!

… or you reach FI 🙂

Anyway, you find the guts to read that letter:

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Oooh, I’m totally bought in grandpa…

And here I started, in Hooli Land! Cleaning up the land and getting started with seeds, plants, vegetables, animals: I have a dog named ETF and few chickens named S&P500, STOXX600 and SmallCap and my farm is doing great!

Joking aside, I’m learning which plants grow in which season, funny real new vegetables names (what the hell is a Parsnip?) and most important of all: I felt like being there, in a smaller community, living a simpler life (with wizards and skeletons, though). That’s my dimension, in my future ecovillage, a day hopefully not too far from now.

What are you waiting for?