March (and February) 2019 Personal Update

Hi RIP friends,

as promised on my last financial update, here’s my personal update for last couple of months 🙂


March has been a record month in terms of views and visitors! Wow, and I only published 2 posts!

It helped that I got mentioned on RockStar Finance and The Financial Diet in March! What a boost!

Congrats RIP, but you only post the stats when they’re going up! You’re cheating 😀

Oooh shut up! Truth is that I don’t care much about stats. I measure the quality of my blogging endeavor by the number of thank you emails, by the people who contact me to chat, meet and discuss interesting topics – not only in the personal finance sphere.

I also care about tracking progresses, accountability, practicing my writing skills, doing research for my posts and working my creativity muscle out. Stats come last, as an indicator of my impact on our community.

And what a month!

I’ve physically met 4 new readers this month (another 2 are already scheduled for next couple of weeks), plus half a dozen Hooli colleagues who know me as Mr. RIP. I’ve almost never had lunch alone in March. I’m running out of slots, and that’s awesome!

Meeting people thanks to the blog is a weird but fascinating experience: you meet people who know everything about you and you don’t know anything about them. Then within 5 minutes you’re philosophizing about the meaning of life, life goals, financial plans, passions and anything else except small talks. There’s no room for the weather, only for the water!

A friend from Cyprus brought me some local candies. A friend from Italy offered me two beers. These are real things! People are thanking me for my work. Someone got as far as telling me “you changed my life“. This is pure adrenaline. I promise I just started, stay tuned!

Oh, I was going to forget it: I had my second appearance on Financial Independence Europe Podcast, a 40 minute chat with Alvar.

Check it out!

About the European FI Community, here are a couple of announcements.

Wanna hear the good one or the bad one?

First the bad one: I won’t attend FIWE 2019 this year, and that sucks a lot 🙁

The reason is that we’re going on stage with my theater group on May 4th in the French part of Switzerland (yeah, we’re on tour!). The only date on the wrong side of the Röstigraben is May 4th. then from May 8th to May 19th we’re on the German side. If you want to come see Mr RIP acting, you’re welcome! Details in PVT 😉

On the dark side, May 4th (be with you) is the central day of FIWE 2019. I tried to find alternatives to be able to at least partially attend FIWE but nothing works for me. Sadly, I must accept I can’t attend FIWE this year. Last year it was simply amazing. I was looking forward to attending this year too, but I can’t be replaced on stage, I’m playing one of the main characters. We should have gone on stage in March, but we had many issues and the theater we use as a base was not available on our scheduled dates. We had hard time finding a set of new dates. Some of us canceled scheduled vacations, others had to take days off from work… I fought for FIWE weekend but at the end I had to withdraw, and I cried.

Ok, enough drama. Let’s jump to the (probably) good news.

Second announcement: the Financial Independent Europe podcast guys are organizing a FI Retreat in Portugal at the end of May. My theater tournée (so it seems more important) ends on Sunday May 19th, so I’m technically available. We still have a couple of family “maybes”, but I might be able to attend that one, and take a sample of Portugal, one of the candidate RE countries.

Plans for the future (of the blog):

  • Finish the ETF List series (5-6 more posts I think)
  • I have a long list of future posts, I’m behind my own schedule
  • I want to restructure the blog, adding new pages and rearranging the existing one.
  • When unplugged from a full time job, I want to restart the European Early Retirement Guide project, but I can’t do it in my spare time.
  • Who knows… write a book, start my own podcast, specialize in investments and financial coaching, pivot to philosophy and psychology… who the hell knows!

Midlife Crisis

I could write here for hours, and I know that’s the section that gets more “clicks”, but as I said in my financial update I’m in a delicate career moment and prefer not to disclose much of it.

Life crisis is not over of course, it just started. It actually got more intensiFIed this year 🙂

Parenting is becoming both demanding and awesome. I can spend countless hours with my daughter and laugh like I never laughed before. But I can’t have privacy and quiet time in my life unless I’m very intentional about it. Over the course of a regular day I’m either at work or I’m handling family crisis (or I’m sleeping). We’re super lucky our daughter is fantastic, but she’ll be 1yo in few weeks, and there’s no way she’s quiet while she’s awake. Luckily she sleeps from 8.30pm to… well, nowadays she wakes up at 7am. It’s still 10+ hours of sleep (a blessing) but chores sometimes are postponed until she’s finally in bed. Which means we’re “really free” at 9.30pm circa. Add to that that Mrs RIP is juggling many tasks and working on her unemployment situation (sending CVs & motivation letters around, and preparing a Baby Massage class) on her “free” time, and that I’m helping her out… time for blogging, thinking, planning for the future is very scarce.

But we’re talking about future a lot. We know we’ll probably leave Switzerland, but we don’t know when and where to move yet. We might want to test drive our future by subletting our Swiss flat for 3 months and trying out a future life for a trimester, knowing we have an easy way out. We have nothing planned yet, but it seems the most viable scenario for unplugging us from Switzerland, for our CHExit.

A “Remain” solution that doesn’t imply working for another 5 years could be taking an open ended break (a mini sabbatical with no end date), and see if personal projects plus passive income, plus maybe some consulting gig can keep us afloat in this Very HCOL place. It may also be that after few months of pure freedom I’d be happy to come back to a 9to5 job, maybe on a startup, or on a managerial role in a smaller company. Who knows.

Else there’s always the No Deal solution, the one that my gut feeling are strongly pushing for. But if we learned something from the metaphor I’m doing nothing to hide, rationality should command guts, not vice versa.

Anyway, we’re Goal and Aversion Factoring (oops, curiosity spoiler!) our situation, and it takes time, clarity, peace of mind… scarce resources these days. It’s much easier to be more reactive than intentional, but being intentional in life is my mission.

Eventually, when? Well… it depends. Things could go south (or is it a north?) quickly, in few months, or it can take a couple of years or more. We don’t know yet, our luggage is always packed!

Anyway, as you can imagine it’s not being a relaxed planning season.

About myself: as I said, I’m loving spending time with my family. I never thought it would have been so funny to grow a child. I can’t believe it gets better than this, and I keep repeating this sentence every month. But I love to be alone too!

Mrs RIP had to go to Milan in March, and I had been alone for few days. Hell if I loved it! Must admit I missed my girls after 3 days, but holy crap what a wealth you guys without kids have that you don’t realize!

I’ve been doing whatever the hell I wanted, like a unleashed dog in the field. I did my stuff my usual way, spending only 1.65 CHF (had to buy bread), and had amazing time: friends offering me beers, RIP friends offering me beers (thanks Andrea), theater friends bringing wine at my place while we cooked a Cacio and Pepe… and of course Terraformed Mars sipping wine 😀

… and I won. I always win 😉

We’ve also been to Rome for the first time with BabyRIP, and it was great. I was expecting 5 days of trauma, where either Baby, or Mrs, or me, or my family would screw things up but it didn’t happen and we had awesome time all together. My extended family wanted to play with Baby, so we had to visit so many aunties, uncles, cousins that I lost count.

Again, as I said in my last post, part of me feels guilty for living so far from my family. Yes, I know, I always want independence and freedom, but growing up and starting my own legacy I feel like I want to better reconnect with my family. We’ve not been a five-star model of a family, but… that’s a plus in moving back to Italy. Of course I’d never go back to Rome, I’d get devoured by my old life and a degrading quality of life, but maybe not too far from my old nest as I’m today. Maybe.

This is to say that another internal fight these days is between “alone time” vs “family time” vs “friends time” vs “original family time” vs “meeting new people time”. Defining and achieving the right balance intentionally is a tough challenge. I don’t even know what I deeply want, how can I reach my balance?


I’m behind an entire quarter on Curiosity, I apologize. I saved so many resources worth sharing that maybe I should publish a separate post, or a weekly “CuriosiTips” (or resume the old eleven gems on the net), a là kottke “media diet or collaborative fund “what we’re reading”. Maybe, but not today.

I created categories for curiosity-sharing:

  • Deep Dives: few resources I love and want to share. It’s more about the entity itself (a person, a blog, a company, a youtube channel…) than the actual resource shared.
  • Rabbit Hole: documenting a sequence of discoveries, and the thread that connected the dots. Don’t try this at home. Before you know your day is gone. But an awesome day of discovery!
  • Italians do it Better: a deep dive on an Italian resource. Yeah, a bit of patriotism is allowed, isn’t it?
  • Random Articles and Resources from the web: few nice articles that I’ve read recently. Each resource may come from an entity I’ve already deep dove, or from an entity that I didn’t explore enough to recommend as a whole.

Let’s get started!

Deep Dives

I already mentioned A wealth of Common Sense and The Irrelevant Investor in the financial update post. They are two of my favorite investing blogs, along with Seeking Alpha (more than a blog) and Collaborative Fund.

Amazing articles from Ben Carlson (a wealth of common sense, AWOCS for friends): from chaos to concept, competing takes, deconstructing 30 years stock market returns, and his latest post on writing: 7 benefits on writing.

On Michael Batnick side (The Irrelevant Investor, TII for friends): Miss the Worst Days, Miss the Best Days, Multiples Are Not Valuation (amazing, how to kill P/E ratio superficial analysis), The Economics of Owning a Home (unbiased view of the buy vs sell debate). Michael also publishes regularly posts named “these are the goods”, about other articles, podcasts, books around.

Michael and Ben run together (easy, they’re colleagues IRL) a weekly 30 minutes podcast named Animal Spirit. Go check it out!

[Actually, I just discovered that Josh Brown, the boss of Ben and Michael, the CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, is also a blogger (The Reformed Broker), but I’ve not read his articles yet. Along with Michael Batnick and few other at Ritholtz they also have a YouTube channel named The Compound. I’ve watched a couple of videos and albeit too technical I enjoyed the discussed themes].

Ok, enough about investing/finance! Let’s move to… Learning 🙂

I’ve fall in love for Accelerated Intelligence, a feed on Medium ran by Michael Simmons. I like his posts on the 5 hours rule and the importance of lifelong learning, deep work, and mental models to understand the world. It’s a mix of Cal Newport, Derek Sivers, and Shane Parrish (all people I follow) and I like his way of writing. Here are more interesting articles.

Rabbit Hole

I want you to tell one of my recent descent thru a rabbit hole that made me discover new stuff:

  • Putanumonit: How to Choose a Goddess (Using a Spreadsheet). I started my day-long trip from an apparently innocuous nerd post on Putanumonit, a blog I follow – and love – about rationality and numbers. The post is about decision making and spreadsheeting, a fun read for nerds. At one point the author mentioned the Goal Factoring technique, saying that it’s a “CFAR technique“. Tha hell is CFAR?
  • CFAR: Center for applied rationality. Holy crap, I kind of put on hold my “sequences” read and my rationality study… and now I discover that things became much bigger than just Less Wrong and Yudkowsky! CFAR is an entity that teaches rationality in 4.5 days workshops (for the fair but unFIRE amount of 3.9k USD). I’m kind of tempted but ~4k is a strict no. Ok, but I still want to know what goal factoring is so I googled for it…
  • Hammertime on Less Wrong: Goal Factoring. Discovered this non-Yudkowsky sequence on LW named Hammertime focusing on rationality practice, a gold mine! Finally discovered what goal factoring is, even though I didn’t understand exactly how it practically works, i.e. how to factor my goals. Btw, saved the hammertime sequence for future reading, just consumed on the fly the article about aversion factoring, which reminds me of fear setting by Tim Ferriss.
  • blogging-goal-factoring.png (1280×961)Malcolm Ocean: Goals. Googling more about goal factoring I’ve found this nice blog from this Malcolm guy which is also a teacher / facilitator at CFAR workshops. The post on goals is a deep dive on goal factoring, with an amazing graph of his blogging goals factored. I also loved his yearly reviews, like this one from 2013. Here’s also a report of his CFAR workshop as attendant back in 2013 vs how it has changed over the years, when he became a facilitator. Malcolm is also behind Complice, a productivity tool that I might give a try. But let’s go deep down the rabbit hole, not lateral (it’s actually becoming a rabbit tree).
  • Slate Star Codex: five years and one week of less wrong. Of course, I thought all this rationality would lead me again to LW at one point, but I ended up on Slate Star Codex instead. It’s a blog by Scott Alexander, one of the most eminent rationalists around. Amazing blog, amazing content, philosophy oriented, not a simple read. He reviews books too. Take a look at his “12 rules for life” (by Jordan Peterson) review.
  • Sacha Chua: goal factoring. Sacha is my end station of the trip. Not because it was time to stop digging, but because it was time to go to sleep or to eat or I don’t remember what. I spent the rest of the day digging thru her blog and saving 100 posts(!!) for a later read. I’ll devote an entire week to Sacha when I have time. No risk to get bored in retirement! Sacha is such a prolific content creator, animator, emacs fan (I see 944 articles about emacs on her blog. She gives talks and course on emacs) I can’t really put a box around her. She’s deeply involved in “becoming a better human” and documenting everything. Reading her blog I have the impression that a single life is not enough for people like her (or me or you, probably) to do all the things we crave to do. Take a look at her blog, it’s incredibly useful. She also loves to make sketches about everything, i.e. you’ll see a lot of pictures! And to close the circle, she also wrote few posts about FIRE, and interviewed Justin, from RootOfGood! Enjoy

Italians do it better

My Italian link for this curiosity episode is Roberto Mercadini.

Let’s see if you guess why. He’s a former software engineer (actually a mechanical engineer converted to software) who used to love writing code and had passions for poetry and theater acting. In his 40s – after his daughter was born – his software engineer passion drained while his theater and poetry passions exploded: he wrote a book with a major Italian publisher and he got his theater show financed by a permanent theater. He decided to quit his job and follow his passions three years ago.

Nice story, isn’t it? 😀

Here’s Part 1 of his story, enjoy Italian friends:

Watch also part 2, where things get more exciting. I know, his style is a bit spammy and you might not like him at first sight, but stick with it and you won’t regret!

His videos on youtube are about philosophy, poetry, history, psychology all mixed up with science! On stage he brings science history, human history, how life evolved on Earth and makes everything fun. We need more Mercadini and less [place a name of a random Italian politician here]

Random articles and resources from the web

Lastly (promised!) here’s a list of other cool articles I read recently, for which I might have already deep dived in a previous post, or for which I didn’t dig the blog/site/YT channel enough yet to recommend the entire resource, just current link.

  • JL Collins: Investing for Seven Generations. Amazing, a manifesto for generational wealth! “I no longer think of this money as mine. No longer is the objective to invest just for my lifetime. I think of myself as its custodian. Certainly, I am free to benefit from it, but only to the extent of staying well within the 4% rule. My first role is to nurture it and see it grow.
  • Indeedably: Uncharitable. This is the best article on charity ineffectiveness I’ve ever read. And it matches exactly with my gut feeling of avoiding charities. I know, the Effective Altruism folks won’t agree with us, but until I go deep with EA and change my mind this indeedably article is my source of truth about charities.
  • Meb Faber: Nobody Wants to Invest in Your Shit. Which is a good article, but it let me discover the existence of a book I might need if I want to make my writing to the next level: Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit, which is about… ehm… not wasting readers’ time: “When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer must give him something worthy of his gift to you. When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy.” The book is also mentioned by Ben Carlson (AWOCS) in his latest post 7 benefits on writing. I don’t know… every single quote from that book makes me paranoid… is he talking about me??
  • Clark, from emilyandclark: How I retired at 36, and spent 20 years sailing. It looks like a “normal FIRE story“, but his philosophy of enough is enlightening and visionary. It explains why people chase for more, and why you and I have clear in mind our “enough”. I strongly recommend you to watch this video, that I embed here for your pleasure <3

that’s all for this month 🙂

RIP, how is your Depth Year going?



  1. Hey RIP. I read the “Unacharitable” article from Indeedably. While he has some valid points and I agree that you better understand what and how a charity works before you donate to them, I would “avoid charities” per se.
    First of all, in an ideal world, 100% of your donation is going directly to “helping people”. Nice thought. How could that be implemented?
    As an example, let’s take a charity that runs an afterschool for pool children., The goal is to reduce school dropout rate, and improve their health (feed the kids properly, make them clean their teeth etc).
    Now. You need:
    – teachers to help them with their homework
    – psychiatrists
    – music, theatre etc teachers
    – a manager (at least)
    – cooks
    – kitchen helpers
    – a building (that needs to be maintained)
    So how exactly do we define “I want 100% of my money to actually help those kids”?
    Of course you can find all these people to work for free. Can you? You most probably can’t. It’s virtually impossible.
    So before you turn away from donating to charities. Let’s think about situations like that.
    How would they finance themselves?…

    Talking of “doing good”… most of the FI community are smart, don’t have (or fairly soon won’t have) financial problems and are talented in different areas. We have a huge potential in actually making an impact, run charities, work on projects together that change the world in a good way.
    After sorting our our financial issues and after becoming FI…what’s next? I think we can rock and roll and shake up the world in many ways if we chose to.
    Let’s think about that. Let’s talk about that!

    1. Hi Mr W,
      thank you for your valuable comment, which I know is written based on “first hand experience” 🙂

      One thing I didn’t understand: first you say ‘I would “avoid charities” per se’, then you say ‘So before you turn away from donating to charities. Let’s think about situations like that.’ I find these two positions in contradiction. Can you articulate more?

      I’m 100% with you on the potential good that FI people can do to the world if we can find a way to build a real community. My guess is that intentional living will rise and more than “ecovillages” there will be a wave of “technovillages”, where FIREd people could “change the world” in a coworking-like community. Think of the MMM headquarter, but a better version!

      Let’s talk about that 🙂

      1. typo. I wanted to say “I wouldn’t avoid charities per se”.
        Btw. I don’t get notifications when ppl comment on this post eventhough i checked the box.

  2. I am sad to hear that you won’t attend FIWE but I wish all the best for the theatre play 😉

    Being a parent is the best and the hardest thing. Also, you are only at the start of the journey and this will just get better and better 🙂 And more demanding. Sometimes I even feel that if I have free time (or even me-time) I am doing something wrong. Kids are like water, they fill in the empty space they find. And even if they don’t find any they make some space for themselves.

  3. Nice RIP! Enjoyed your interview on the Europe FI Podcast.
    If you’re still looking for help, I would be available to help you in your EERG project. Hopefully I can be of use (I’m from The Netherlands). Just email me if you want help.

    1. Thank you B, I’ll get back to you once the project resumes, which I think it will happen as first step of my after-FI or like-if-I-were-FI life in case I quit before FI 🙂

    2. Hi rip,

      I have seen in another blog entry that you own “brain rules for baby”. There’s one sentence that’s now engraved in my head and I think about it quite often :
      You give.
      They take.
      Period 🙂

      Mine is now 4, and I am sorry to inform you that I have come to accept that alone time is over for years… years… (I even remember the first 18 months as better than now for this matter).
      It’s a bit of a grieving process, mixed to a feeling of generational lack of justice, as our fathers didn’t spend a fraction of the time we today’s fathers do with our kids.
      But you may find a path that works great for the 3 of you.

  4. It was great having you on once more and looking forward to meeting in person at the retreat 🙂
    I always really enjoy reading your posts! same as FiretheBoss I am happy to help with your EERG project if it comes to the UK and Netherlands. although I have one question why do you not want to make anything out of it? If you would charge just a bit to cover the cost involved with the process you don’t have to pay that out of pocket and I am pretty sure readers would accept it because they also understand there are cost involved.

    1. Mine was the pleasure 🙂
      I’ll contact you for EERG when the project resumes, and maybe we can discuss it in Portugal!
      We’re still waiting for a couple of things before confirming our (or maybe just mine) attendance to the retreat 🙂

    1. LOL

      Send me an email if you live in “German speaking Switzerland” and we might find a way to chat.
      Be ready to offer me a beer 😀

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