10 Questions and a Pizza Place with… myself!

No, I can’t believe I’m doing this, I should seriously contact a doctor…

igmonkeyAnyway, here’s the thing: I loved so much the 10 questions series on the 1500 days to freedom blog. Since I started blogging I have this TODO item of “answer 1500’s 10 questions and try to get featured on their blog“. I kept procrastinating for 4 months. “Why rush? I have plenty of time… I’ll send my 10 questions sooner or later. Not now, obviously, I have to watch latest episode of series XYZ!“.

And suddenly… in their latest episode they announced that the series is coming to an end by end of 2016 and no more submissions are being accepted. Nooooooooo that’s not faaaaaair 🙁

Ok, let’s keep calm and… nooooooooooooooo you can’t do that to meeeeeeeee!!

Breathe.

Procrastination should come to an end and today is that day. Let’s do it. Let’s do it here. Gimme those questions! Oh crap, the link to the actual questions is no more working! I remember they had something like 17 questions and they asked anyone who wants to appear on their blog to answer at least to 10 of them. Let’s be gross, let’s answer all of them!

Disclaimer: just to state the obvious, I sincerely like the blog 1500days and I’m obviously not complaining I didn’t get my chance to be featured in the mentioned series. Mr & Mrs 1500, you did an amazing job and I’m going to miss your “10 questions” series!

How to find the 17 questions, assuming they were 17? Simple: let’s take a look at the recent episodes and collect questions. I’m pretty sure I’ll hit 17 distinct questions within 4-5 episodes.

Update #1: I hit 17 after just 2 episodes and I kept investigating few more to be sure the number was actually 17.

Update #2: I’ve actually found more questions, but they seem to be something like “ask yourself a question and give an answer“. Cool, I’ll do that too!

Update #3: I’ve found that the series was formerly called “10 questions and a Pizza Place with” and it’s awesome, because I do love pizza and I do cook pizza almost every week! But… holy crap, the questions were almost totally different! Going to merge and answer to something like 30+ questions? Need to think about it…

Update #4: Ok, answering all of them is not feasible, I’d answer the “new 17” plus some random questions from the old ones and few totally random ones as extra. Take your time, reader 🙂

So, let’s get started!

Today is the first and last edition of our aperiodic (and a little bit schizophrenic) guest post series called 10 Questions and a Pizza Place (RIP’s pizza is truly awesome). We have a list of A_LOT of questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are forced to answer all of them. Don’t even try to be featured in a future edition, there will be no future editions!

Mr RIP is a FI blogger that… well… ehm… ok, yeah, Mr RIP is a FIRE blogger that has this blog where he talks… about FI… and ER… you should visit. His blog. Yeah. Cool stuff.

1) Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.

Thank you for hosting me here Mr 1501, you’re so better than Mr 1500 BECAUSE YOU HOSTED ME! Ahem, sorry, ok, what’s my blog about? Let’s see, it’s about my personal path to Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

Yes, I know, the internet is full of FIRE blogs but I wanted to add mine, with no special ambition but have fun, meet like minded people, get feedback on my strategy, clear the confusion in my mind, publicly commit to my goals, share my philosophy of life, share my frugal strategies, explore this newfound passion for writing and finally provide a unique point of view of how to earn, save, invest and retire in countries like Switzerland and Italy. All of this with a little bit of nerd humor. And all of this before doctors come.

I launched it 4 months ago, in June 2016, and must admit that so far it’s doing great!

If you want to know more about me and my goals please take a look at the about me page on my blog 🙂

2) Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).

The bad news is that I’m not going to change the world in this life, with this blog.

spiritroverThe good news is that I’m going to live several lives! I guess at least another 5-6, assuming 4-5 years cycles. So plenty of time to leave a long lasting impact in this world. Let’s list some of them.

  • I’m going to revolutionize the education system.
  • I’m going to bring people to Mars.
  • I’m going to launch the next big thing with my future startup.
  • I’m going to found the first FI ecovillage.

And that’s just the beginning! More ideas on my dream jobs left post.

Ah, I just realized you asked me how I’m going to change the world with this blog. Not just how I’m going to change the world. Ouch. Well, I guess I’m now committed to document all my revolutions on this blog.

3) What post(s) are you most proud of and why?

I like “my financial story” series, I’ve actually thought I should write an ebook out of it and give it for free! Wait, not (only) because I’m egocentric, but because I’ve always dreamed about writing a biography and I always wanted to learn how to self publish an ebook. I can do both at once and 90% of the job is already done, what am I waiting for? Go away Instant Gratification Money!

I also love my freedom posts. I actually love them even more. The one about life cycles and the one about the ideal community make me really proud. I wrote them without a concrete plan in my head. They just came out from an enlightened moment and I let my hands fly over the keyboard and type randomly like a monkey that given infinite time, by chance, should also type in something good.

I love my investments series too. It’s the one that’s challenging me the most and that requires me to do actual homework and research.

Ok, I kind of love all my posts. They all suck the same They are all born equal.

4) Do you enjoy writing?

Sure I do! I didn’t know that before. I find myself at peace while writing for hours straight like I’m doing right now thanks to this ridiculous self interview wait someone rang the doorbell it’s my psychiatrist guys I need to live for a while. I can’t help but keep going and write at least a little bit every day. I’m pretty sure that with time quality will increase. I’d love to make writing one of my main activities in one of my future lives.

5) What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?

I think I’ve already answered this question while answering a couple of other questions before. It seems questions are overlapping here. Anyway, let’s see if there’s something not said yet.

Well, sure. I forgot to mention it: my main goal for my blog is to see it failing as quickly as possible.

Wait. Don’t call the doctors (yet). Let me explain. I know I suck at writing. I have never devoted enough time to it, I’ve always been a “science guy”, a “computer guy”. I knew deeply somewhere that my creativity had to be expressed somehow and writing may have been the right means, but I never actually tried seriously enough. So I suck at it for now. But things are improving, I can perceive it. I’m spending time on it. I’m writing every day. I’m learning new ways of expressing the same concept using different words. I’m getting better with the english language which is not my main language. I’m getting everyday better at it. It means that every new article I publish is the best article I’ve ever written. But it also means that every time I’m going to publish a new article it’s the worst article I’ll ever publish.

That’s amazing! You’re reading my masterpiece and at the same time the shittiest article you’ll ever read with my name on it from now on! I want to write for the rest of my life. I want to start 100 projects centered around writing: a sci-fi book, a copywriting career, a role playing game setting, dozens of other blogs. What’s the role of retireinprogress in this plan? Well, it will be remembered as my first attempt at writing. Have you ever seen a first attempt at something being successful? Hell no! Were your drawings, when you were a kid, of a reasonable quality? No, they were shit! So do I think this blog will be a success? Please…

So let it fail and be remembered as a great artist’s first attempt at writing!

But… just… not today 🙂

6) 1501 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?

Sure I do 🙂 What do you think “Retire In Progress” means? You can actually track how close I’m to the goal on my homepage. I’m at 49.27%, end of September 2016.

riplogo49-27

When I started thinking about the ER, i.e. a couple of years ago, I aimed at age 45. I’m 39.5 right now. Then I started blogging as a way to force myself to evaluate actual numbers: FU Number, Withdrawal Rate, Ideal spending regime once ER,… I collected all these data on my Net Worth document that is shared publicly with Google docs. Every month I document my NW progresses, incomes, expenses, spending rate (btw, I’m fighting for the top position on the European Blogger Savings Rates Index) and run my forecasts, tracking them in my NW document too.

Current forecasts say I’ll be FI in 41 months – January 2020 – before actually turning 43. I don’t believe that. Mr Market is going to crash. I’m going to lose my well paying job. I’ll realize that retiring in Italy will almost be impossible because they surely add another couple of taxes. Let’s try to keep aiming at age 45. Year 2022. It gives me room to think about a planned downshift like asking for part-time work: 60-80%. Pretty common in Switzerland. Better 3 years at devastating speed or 5 years more relaxed? Food for thought.

7) What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?

Best money management tool: Google Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are awesome, full stop. Those that can be easily shared, accessed from any device, allow for collaboration are even more. I tried other products, didn’t like them, went back to good old spreadsheets!

Best investment tool it depends. If you mean the tool to handle your investments I’d say Interactive Brokers. I manage my investments there. Lowest fees ever. Easy and cheap forex trading. Access to any product. Totally recommended. If by investment tool you mean an actual investment category I’d say Exchanged Traded Funds tracking Stock Market Indexes. Posts on both IB and ETFs are long overdue in my “investment” series.

8) How do you handle people with different views on money, i.e. spendy people?

Thachillesat’s my Achilles heel. I’m not very good at it. I get nervous, I get judgmental, I feel lonely. My history is essentially a long walk alone on this path. I’ve never been surrounded by like minded people. That’s, as mentioned before, one of the reasons I started blogging: to feel less lonely.

I simply don’t care about 99% of the “material stuff” people seem to care about. But this usually puts me under a bad light when hanging out with friends. I don’t know how to live with that. I’m sure when I’ll be bike traveling a week per month they’d say I’m lucky, or lazy, or that they couldn’t have done it because X and Y. It’s common to say “you’re the average of your closest 5 friends“. No, I’m not. I’m opposing a strong resistance and it requires a lot of effort.

9) In your path to financial independence, what was your strangest side hustle?

I don’t have side hustles right now. In the past I’ve been giving private lessons to high school students and it was fun. I plan to do things like hosting people with airbnb or cooking for strangers with gnammo in the future, once FIREd. And obviously I’ll write 🙂

10) If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?

I’m a Software Engineer in a company I call Hooli on this blog. My career has been centered around computer science and software engineering so far. Take a look at my story.

11) Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?

I had a great master that taught me the basics of savings and budgeting at a very young age: my father RIP Sr. He gave me a monthly allowance instead of money on demand. He taught me the importance of frugality, how to save and the benefits of decoupling income from expenses. It’s been invaluable. The single most important skill that enabled this dream.

12) Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?

I didn’t grow up with money. I created my wealth from scratch. I started saving since I was a kid. I’ve never been into debts. I’ve worked hard to earn a degree and made use of it as soon as possible. I’m tracking my NW since 25 years(!!!) and I experienced phases of different growth. Last 4 years at Hooli have been ridiculous, but so were the two years as freelancer before, relative to the fact that Italy was cheaper than Switzerland. Having been covered by gold at a relatively late stage of my life (starting at age 33), with a strong practical and mental training on minimalism and frugality meant that I was completely on top of it. No lifestyle inflation. Well, yes, few splurges, but I’m still a modest person who wears 5$ clothes and doesn’t have a car. And who spends close to zero for body care. The only significant change this shitload of money introduced in my life was the awareness that I needed to start investing it. I grew up scared as hell and risk averse. It was not easy. Along with a bad investment in a shitty house, not having invested as soon as I “became rich” is my biggest regret so far.

13) When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?

That’s a very tough question! I don’t know. I’d like to think more about having lived a happy life and having left memories for future generations more than individual accomplishments. I like to think at “projects” I’m going to do once FIREd, but I guess I’d be happy with a way simpler life, closer to nature, with a happy family and a supportive community. I want to feel like I overcame this sense of “feeling lonely while never being physically alone”.

Plus, I want to visit Mars. C’mon Elon, when is the first ship leaving?

14) What is the best thing you’ve read lately.

The Silo Trilogy. It’s not FI related. I love sci-fi set in some dystopian future where things went nuts and society had to adapt. That’s why I love the Black Mirror tv series too.

15) We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?

boardgamesI’m totally into boardgames, I own a shitload of them! My favorite is probably Dominion, but I’m also in love with Agricola, Terra Mystica, Carcassonne and few others.

Role playing games are not ok for this category, aren’t they? Else I’d add Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve been a Dungeon Master for 15 years. I’ve written adventures and a couple of settings. Good old days. Days gone by.

16) What do you do for exercise?

I used to run a lot. I used to play volleyball. I used to bike. I used to swim. Nowadays I’m not doing much sport and I feel guilty enough that you’re being rude in making me think about it.

I do bike to work though. I do play squash. I do some long walk and hike trips. Physical activity is something I plan to increase once FI.

17) What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?

Are there beer styles other than Weiss Beer? I call them “water” or “dusty water” according to the color.

weisses

Wow, that was veeeery long Mr RIP, thank you for the interview! Anyway, I’ve got other questions… I don’t know if you want to take some extra… what? You sure? The post is already 2500 words long, you really really sure? Let’s go on, then.

18) What is the worst financial mistake you made?

I think the worst one has been buying a shitty home in a shitty neighborhood in a shitty town close to Milan, Italy. Paid 105K Euro in 2010, now it’s optimistically worth 60K. In the same time the S&P500 index got +200%. It’s not rented right now and I’m paying condo fees and property taxes. I die everytime I think about it.

Second in line maybe investing the few bucks I saved in year 2000 and disinvesting them in year 2002 with a loss of ~40%. Good timing, RIP!

Third in line (but second or maybe first by impact): after the bad investments in year 2000-2002 I grew up scared of investing and never invested again since February 2016. What a dumbass.

19) What is the best financial move you have made?

I think there are plenty of them. From keeping up with frugality mindset to having invested my free time on my skills in order to achieve a ~250K gross yearly salary. Or having picked Software Engineering instead of Math at University. Hard to tell.

I think it’s easier to identify errors – they usually are individual events – rather than successes. My success story is defined by my mindset, my philosophy of life, my attitude and my dreams. They built up on a daily basis – thanks to curiosity and perseverance – and their effects added up slowly. They are not individual events.

20) What’s your favorite tip for saving money?

rowentaBuy a haircutter and cut your own hair. The ROI can go up to 5000%!

Don’t buy a car, you probably don’t need it.

You don’t need a big house. And don’t buy it unless you plan to stay there for at least 10 years. And that’s a “necessary but not sufficient” condition.

Don’t watch TV.

21) What are your favorite personal finance websites? 

Nominations are: TheSimpleDollar, MrMoneyMustache, EarlyRetirementExtreme, RootOfGood and Frugalwoods.

And the winner is… MrMoneyMustache! Yeeeeah! I think Pete is the closest one to the way I’m wired. He gave words to my thoughts. He finally made me able to think at my frugality as a superpower. My passion for nature another superpower. Thanks to Pete I discovered the true double/triple beneficial nature of “a dollar not spent” and the “shockingly simple math” behind ER. I think that article was my FI epiphany.

But let’s interview the runners up:

Disclaimer: they never said that. I’m just joking and making this up 🙂

TheSimpleDollar: “I… I don’t understand… I feel so Leonardo di Caprio… I mean, RIP, we both know you love me way more than you love Pete. That’s not fair. You’re following TSD since its first steps, you’ve shared millions of articles, you’ve learned everything, EVERYTHING, you know following my blog. I… I want to quit, right now 🙁

EarlyRetirementExtreme: “Yeah, RIP, that cheapass. Obviously he looked for an easy escape from the cubicle life and he found me. Sorry bro, when you were at the age I retired, your NW was in the range of 10K. You loser! Btw, didn’t I win? Maybe it’s because I kind of disappeared and I’m not blogging anymore. I would have easily won if I kept up 😉 … or maybe I’m too extreme for you?

RootOfGood: “I thank RIP for the nomination! I guess RIP loves my openness and ability with numbers and probably my posts about general FI strategies. What I think I miss to win first prize is a ‘vision’, a philosophy that goes beyond a weekly schedule. I’m more than happy doing what I do though 🙂

frugalhoundFrugalwoods: “I think RIP sees us as modern hippies and he doesn’t believe we’ll succeed on the long term. He should definitely come to visit our homestead and play with the frugalhound, he’d change his mind. Come visiting us, the cherry picking season just started!

22) Who inspires you?

Apart from the bloggers mentioned above and few others (the full list can be found on my “online resources page) I have some virtual mentors that I need to thank.

Far from the past, I’d say my mentor is Lao Tsu – assuming he ever existed. The Tao Te Ching is the most timeless book ever written. I’ve read an english translation and interpretation so I may be a little bit biased here though.

muskpanicHenry David Thoreau is probably the number one in the “reliable” world. He existed, he wrote books, he did things. I’ve read a lot of him, including Walden, Walking and Civil Disobedience. I’d add in this category few other american transcendentalists like Emerson, Whitman and Twain (not a transcendentalist though). I love the concept of the Renaissance Man and the Self Reliance philosophy. I’m reading something about Stoicism too.

More modern mentors are Herman Hesse, Wayne Dyer (I read 5 or 6 times “your erroneous zones”) and Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

Last, but not least, I want to add Elon Musk. I love his dreams and the way he’s trying to achieve them.

23) What advice would you give to a 24 year old, just out of college?

Spend less than you earn, you don’t need to impress anyone. Invest time in finding your passions and a life purpose. Maximize the life energies you devote to those endeavors. Every useless, unnecessary expense will reduce the time you can devote to what really matters to you. Keep this in mind: time, not money, is your scarcest resource!

24) What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?

I’d let the caterpillar die to make room for the butterfly.

With an extra million, my NW would jump to ~1.5 millions, way above my FU Number. I’d probably switch to part time work (60% or less) for few months or a year while thinking what next steps should be. Maybe looking for a retirement destination while taking time to sort my project ideas and picking the top ones.

It’d be heaven on Earth.

25) What kind of car do you drive?

I’m car free since 2008 🙂

If you’re interested in what kind of car I drove when I had a car, please take a look.

Spoiler: I’ve spend less than 2000 Euro total on four car purchases so far.

26) What is your favorite place to vacation?

Italy. Every region of it. I’m not being patriotic here, it’s just that Italy is amazing if you don’t have to be productive – in that case it’s a true hell.

Italy is cheap, it has thousands of cities and towns, godzillions of amazing coasts, rivers, mountains, historic places, ruins, roman stuff. Food is awesome, weather is awesome, people are generally kind and open-hearted.

It’s a no-brainer.

27) What is your favorite pizza place (I am a pizza nut)?

Definitely my house! RIPpizza is the best one in Europe.

No joking, ask around 🙂

28) What is your favorite movie?

Probably The Shawshank Redemption. Maybe closely followed by The Matrix, Fight Club and Into the Wild. I’m more into TV series though. Black Mirror and Breaking Bad above all things.

29) Where can we find you?

On this blog.

On Facebook.

On Google Plus (maybe one day on YouTube)

Via mail.

Via IM (hangout/allo/whatever-messaging-app-google-will-release-tomorrow)

30) How did you come up with “Retire In Progress”?

I don’t remember. I wanted to blog and I’m definitely not a good designer / graphic artist / whatever.

r_i_p_gravestoneworkAnyway, since I have my idea muscle trained, this name popped up randomly one day. I liked it. I created my logo merging 2 free images with advanced techniques like Microsoft Paint. I wanted the focus on the progression toward the final goal, so I added the progress bar.

That’s all, folks.

31) Please, end the interview with your favorite paradox.

Sure! Here’s the Paradox of the Court!

There’s this lawyer guy, Protagoras (no, not the king of the right triangles), who taught his adept Euathlus how to win court cases. Since the student was poor, Protagoras accepted to be paid for his lessons only once Euathlus had won his first case.

What happened? After taking lawyer lessons, Euathlus decided that this lawyer career was not for him so he never became a lawyer.

Well, Protagoras was obviously pissed off, so he decided to sue Euathlus for the entire amount of his lessons.

protaDear judge, I, Protagoras, want to be paid. I’m going to be paid either if I win this lawsuit, because it means you decided I’m right and deserve to be paid, or if I lose it, because in that case Euathlus would win his first lawsuit and by agreement he must pay me. So… where’s my check?

pitaWait Mr Judge, I, Euathlus, claim I won’t pay Protagoras either if I win this lawsuit, because in that case you judged I should not pay him, or if I lose it, because in that case I still would have never won a lawsuit! See you Mr Protagoras, good luck with triangles!

I don’t know how it ended, I guess the Judge went nuts or probably committed suicide.

Is the interview over? 🙂

Holy sheet, it finally ended! please call those doctors or cops or whatever, this guy is totally crazy… Ahem, thank you Mr. RIP for your interview, have a nice day!

8 comments

  1. What a post! I like how you say “you probably don’t need a car”, except in Houston. There’s really no way around it. There is some sort of public transportation, but it would take me 1h30 to get to work when driving takes just 15min.
    My wife and I visited Italy this summer: coming from Paris, we visited Florence, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi coast.
    My summary : Florence was absolutely stunning from an architectural standpoint, Rome’s history is in a league of its own and blogging in front of the Pantheon felt surreal, the Amalfi Coast was absolutely gorgeous. The only dark spot was Naples, a driver’s hell.
    Your writing doesn’t suck at all and in fact, it feels like you’re a natural writer.
    I enjoyed your 31 questions from 1501 days 😉

    1. Thank you MM for you kind words!
      Glad you liked Italy, but have to admit: you just did a very touristic path! You only missed Venice. Well, blogging in front of the Pantheon is probably amazing though, good point 🙂
      But you’ve not tried to get lost in Sardinia, or spend a couple of weeks in Apulia or seen gems like “Civita di Bagnoregio”. Italy is unbounded from that point of view. Just don’t try to build something or be productive.

      The car… I know how it’s not possible in US, that’s why when Hooli offered me a position in US I asked for a European alternative and it should probably be added in the list of “best financial moves I have made” 🙂

  2. Hey Mr. RIP, you should have contacted me; I still would have let you in! I would have also given you 50 bonus points because I see you’re a fan of Tim Urban.

    Those are some crazy cars you’ve owned too. I love how you describe the Escort as “a little bit enormous.” By severely/ridiculously inflated American standards, the Ford Escort is a microcar! In the States, some of us need an 8 passenger, 5000 pound urban tank (Chevy Suburban) just to get to work 4 miles away. Sigh…

    And the Paradox question/answer; that is the first time I’ve heard that one and it’s awesome! I should keep my 10 Questions series going, but hire you to manage it!

    1. You “heard me roar”, don’t you?? 🙂
      Welcome to my blog Mr 1500, I’m glad you liked my interview (you didn’t try the pizza though) and I don’t believe you really read it all till the last question!
      Anyway, I obviously won’t mind having another one on your blog too, as you can see I’m schizop… willing to recycl… answer as many questions you can find.

      Wait… did you say you want to hire me to manage the 10 questions series? I’m more than ready! Where should I sign?

  3. Gosh they got some good cocaine in ZH! I gotta relocate soon ;P
    Good stuff you wrote here. I see us having more and more points in common.

    Thanks for mentioning the #BSRI, but please note that it’s not reserved to European. We want all the FIRE blogs to enter the competition 😉

    Cheers from the West Coast!

  4. Fun read, very enjoyable and funny. In your current forecast for FIRE, you said 41 months and 2010, I think you mean 2020. I would love to hear more about Italy as a retirement destination. I visited Italy and did NOT hit any of the tourist spots, but all the little towns in the Tuscany area. I loved the relaxed pace and small communities, it felt like home to me. Keep up the good work, you would never know english is not your first language.

    1. Thanks Nancy, fixed the date with 2020 🙂
      Anyway, if you followed November and December updates you saw how in two months I’ve cut 9 months out of that forecast!
      I’m totally going to talk more about Italy, I’m actually planning a deep 3 weeks road trip to my home country as honeymoon, with the goal of exploring ecovillages, cohousing and rural areas. I’m not calling it “let’s see where the hell could we settle” but… it will be a first exploratory mission. It’s happening in July 2017, when our “Italian next life” project will be kicked off. Keep following if you want to know more 😉

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