November 2018 Financial Update

Hi RIP voyeurs, welcome to my monthly update.

Few days ago I announced a temporary break / slow down from blogging. The only regular post I want to keep publishing is this monthly update, which egoistically helps me keeping track of progresses and makes me accountable. I hope you enjoy it and find useful information too.

Let’s start with the numbers!

More details can be found in my Net Worth spreadsheet (embedded here).


Metrics

Net Worth by end of November is 876.9k EUR, delta for the month +18k. After a turbo shitty October, this roller-coaster November ended up being a positive month. The NW recover in EUR is mainly due to our savings, not to the market. Market is still way below September peak.

No, we’re not back into 2 commas club, NW in both CHF and USD is around 990k.

Income for the month is 15.1k CHF: my base salary plus 2 months of unemployment for Mrs RIP. She got October paid at the beginning of November, and November paid at the end of November. More or less 4k net for her. Nice.

Expenses total up to 4699 CHF (stayed below 4k until the 28th of the month). Saving rate68.9% (so far in 2018: 71.6%).

FI progress: 73.08%, new all time high 🙂

Expenses Highlights

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Health expenses above average thanks to August medical bills debited in November (30th), Leisure above average because my splurge of 120 EUR in books and Mrs 75 CHF in prints, Travel greater than zero because a last minute decision to visit friends in Innsbruck on Dec 1-2, Gifts above average because… Christmas? Transport above average because I gave up biking on November 27th and purchased a monthly pass. 

Anyway, a total of 4.7k CHF expenses means it’s been a good month.

Random Facts more or less in chronological order

On November 1st and 2nd market skyrocketed sending us back into millionaire status. USD and CHF are dancing around 1:1. In the afternoon we’re millionaire in USD but not in CHF. In the evening it’s the opposite. It’s a fun race! (spoiler from December: it will not last…)

Mr WTF update: he’s finally even (fee excluded). he invested 4k more, but only AFTER the market recovered 😀 he told me “I should have invested while it was down… what do you recommend?” And this time it seems he’s willing to listen. I told him “invest in ETFs, diversify and automate. don’t try to be smart! The worst thing it could happen to you is that you’ll be lucky after a ‘smart’ move, then double down and lose. Don’t be smart! Define a strategy (invest X each month) and stick with it

On November 5th I invested the monthly 5k CHF on CSSPX (S&P500): 19 shares at 265.64 per share. I’ve also tweaked asset allocation strategy a bit, nothing worth mentioning.

Met a therapist at Hooli (yes, we have paid psychological support) just to explore if I have some burnout symptoms. It was “odd” to put it nice. He let me talk for… 5 minutes I guess… and then sentenced “you’re depressed! let’s do a blood test, then you need to take medicament, then we may consider a 20% medical leave so that you can go to therapy regularly. Ah… perhaps you’re focusing
too much on the short term (RIP: are you serious?) and lack a wider view… there are still 25 years of work ahead for you (RIP: yeah bro, sure), you must find your balance! Try to walk the
Camino de Santiago! it’s good for your soul, it makes you think!

Oooh thank you Dr. Doctor! Of course I’m going to take some pills after a 5 minute chat! And yeah, I guess I’m the kind of person that is too much focused on the immediate and never think about the future. You read me perfectly! Se you soon 🙂

Go

Fuck

Yourself

Before you scream: I’m not saying I wouldn’t benefit from some “therapy”. It would make sense if: (1) it were cheap. We’re in fucking Switzerland and I assume it would cost something like 200 CHF/Hour to listen to someone who talks like this guy – yes, he mentioned I had to pay with my money. (2) I really had 25 years of cubicle ahead of me. Holy crap, just thinking about it makes me depressed. (3) I sincerely trusted the person who’s supposed to help. I know what I want, and I’m going for it sooner than originally planned. The day I’m supposed to swallow my first pill for work related problems is the day I quit. If I hadn’t a plan, if I had a mortgage and was living paycheck to paycheck I’d probably try it out but no, not now.

Discovered Google Opinion Reward thanks to budgetkitty. Installed, played with it, accumulated 2 CHF 🙂 I don’t know what to do with Google Play credit, I never spend a dime on it. I heard that if you install it on Apple devices you can get the money to your PayPal account. I can’t confirm, I’m an Android person. Anyway, it’s almost zero effort. Recommended.

On November 8th market are going up up up, recovering all the residual losses of October. So it was a fake crisis, wasn’t it? (spoiler from a month and half in the future: fucking WRONG!)

On November 9th Mr Market went south, starting a 2 weeks descent into the abyss.

Same day, grocery bill record: 192 CHF!

On November 13th I got someone interested in buying my blog. Wait… Really? WTF can anyone else do with my blog? That’s so personal and so “not productive”. And I’ve put countless hours on it, it looked like if you want to buy a kid’s pet. No no no no go away!

On November 14th I’m no more Millionaire – again – by a lot.

Attended a Toastmasters event. It’s a community devoted to learn public speaking skills. it’s awesome but time consuming and multilingual (English/German/French). My German and French skills are not enough to enjoy the meetings. Anyway, public speaking is definitely something I want to improve in the future.

Had a fight with Mrs RIP previous bosses. We got 1.2k CHF instad of expected 1.8k (portion of August salary). I’m proud of having won this battle, but I had to aim for the big fish and let go small things.

On November 20th NW delta was negative, like previous month. All of my ETFs (except CSSPX that I own since February 2016) have negative Profits & Loss. Scary.

Finally on November 24 the market went up again, till end of the month, making this a “good month”. What a roller coaster! Still not back into the two comma club, but it could have been worse.

By end of November I received an offer for my Milan apartment! Wow! It’s a shitty offer, but better than what I account for my flat (70k EUR offer vs 65k EUR evaluation on my NW doc)

Some sparkle of enjoyment at work by the end of the month. A week where I had fun working and looked forward to going to work in the morning. It didn’t happen since years, and I know it won’t last. But let’s enjoy it while it’s here.

Gave up biking to work on the 27th, too much rain and forecasts don’t show improvements in the near future. Purchased a monthly public transport pass. Well done! It’s the first years I bike to work till end of November!

Between end of November and end of January I expect a huge cash flow: 4 salaries (Nov, Dec, thirteen, Jan, roughly 11k CHF each), huge stock vesting (Dec, 25-30k USD), yearly bonus (Jan, 25-30k CHF), dividends (Dec, ~1.5k USD). Mrs RIP unemployment payments (Nov, Dec, Jan 2.5k CHF each). We’re talking of more than 100k flowing in our bank accounts. The temptation of throwing everything in the stock market is very high but I decided to play it safe. First I shouldn’t invest owed taxes: I’m expecting a ~30k debt toward Swiss tax authorities. Second, I should also hoard some cash: I want to feel free to take a break soon-ish. Last but not least: I should do my Second Pillar planned 12k buy-in to save some taxes.

Ditto, sent 12k CHF to our Pillar 2 provider for this year. Why 12k? In my Canton if for the last 3 years you purchased additional Second Pillar benefits for no more than 12k CHF per year and you happen to withdraw your pension amount for some reason (buying a house, leaving Switzerland, becoming self employed) your withdraws are not taxed as income but as lump sum tax. This is a sufficient condition to not receive strange surprises. My last 3 years have been 20k, 12k, 12k.

Completed the “BabyRIP best of” photo album. It has more than 500 pictures for her first 7 months. And that’s just a selection of the best photos, i.e. ~10% of total number of pictures she has. I think I reached 500 photos at age 30 or something. It’s getting ridiculous.

Plus, she’s following her father’s path 😀

And she’s already more successful that him 🙂

By the very last day of the month, the December 5k CHF automated transfer to my IB account took place (thanks to December beginning with a weekend). I wanted to try some US domiciled fund just to play with dividends, DA-1 forms, US Estate tax risks and other fun things. Just with a small amount of 5k, probably I’ll keep buying IE/LU domiciled funds and that would just be a one-off. I don’t know yet. Anyway, I’m short in S&P500. I’d usually buy CSSPX, but this time I bought VOO: 20 shares at 251.77 USD per share. Welcome VOO!

On a side note: trading 5k of VOO implied a trade fee of 0.31 USD. 0.006% trade fee. Trading 5k CSSPX at the beginning of the month incurred in 4.35 USD fee, 14 times bigger. US domiciled securities are essentially trade free.

Blog

I didn’t blog as much as I wanted. I (meta)blogged about it, saying I’m taking a break. I’m actually slowing down to the essential of “blogging”: an online journal – for now. I’ll be back 200% hopefully soon-ish.

It’s not that I just didn’t blog: I didn’t network, didn’t meet many people thanks to the blog, didn’t join online conversations and so on. I kind of disappeared. Still, traffic is keeping up. This makes me feel guilty. Go away, leave me alone 🙂

And to those who say I don’t blog because of WordPress 5.0 “blocks”… you’re fucking right, it sucks a lot! Do you think that’s enough to stop me? Please…

Curiosity

Curiosity! That’s one of the things I can’t cut.

This month I delved into rationality.

I already knew lesswrong and Harry Potter and the Method of Rationality (awesome), but never went deep on it. Thanks to the blog putanumonit I discovered “the sequences“, i.e. a series of posts on lesswrong that are now considered the pillars of rationality. Thanks to Eliezer Yudkowsky, the author of all of the above (plus amazing essays like The Twelve Virtues Of Rationality and The Simple Truth).

For the lazy ones, the sequences are also printed out as a book under the name “Rationality, from AI to Zombie“.

It’s a tough read, take your time.

I’ve also went vertical on Cognitive Biases and Mental Models. Main reference is the Farnam Street post about… Mental Models (surprise!)

Image result for Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Last but not least, at the very end of the month I started reading Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.

It’s a teenagers-targeted half-fiction-half-not introduction to philosophy, where ideas and characters are introduced chronologically. December RIP will get lost in Socrates, Plato and Aristotle!

Ok, I know, it’s a book for teenagers, I got it. But that’s how I’m approaching philosophy, on my toes. Btw, this book should be mandatory in any high school, everywhere in the world. Full stop.

The Italians: it’s hard to find someone worth mentioning to my Italian readers, since I mostly read/watch English material. Suggestion of the month is Daily Cogito, a podcast by Rick Du Fer, an Italian Philosophy popularizer that I enjoy listening to. He captured my attention with his recent Seneca week, a collection of podcasts on the life of the ancient Roman stoic philosopher. Superlative.

I think my random walks on the blogosphere and YouTube are kind of converging. I’m shaping my interests in cognitive biases, logical fallacies, mental models, how the brain works, rationality (and predictable irrationality), philosophy, how we build knowledge and wisdom. I’m into psychology/philosophy, and I think I want to stay there for a very long time.

Did I say that curiosity is “one of the things I can’t cut”? Well, I’m going to experiment with how I should feed my curiosity. I can’t let it go that wild. Too much breadth, too little depth.

So – please, forgive me, this should have been a “December Update” entry but I wanted to tell it before end of the year – I’m going to experiment with 2019: a Depth Year.

What is a depth year?

I first came in contact with the concept of depth year on JMoney’s blog, where he shared an article from Raptitude. That idea sat on my mind since than, slightly morphing but always awake in the back of my brain, as a reaction to the overwhelmingness of information availability, FOMO, attention degradation and so on. Lately I found another blog (meeplelikeus, blogging on boardgames) talking about his version of depth year. And then it clicked. It’s time to try it.

Depth year original idea:

I keep imagining a tradition I’d like to invent. After you’re established in your career, and you have some neat stuff in your house, you take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need. No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.

Raptitude

Now, I don’t think I’m going to try a material depth year (I don’t own many things), but an information depth year. I want to read and re-read the posts I bookmarked so far (more than 3k). I want to watch and re-watch the video I saved on my playlists so far (a thousand). I want to read and re-read the books I purchased, without purchasing new ones – Even though I love Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary concept, and when we will move to a bigger house I’ll have my floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled up!

Again, from Raptitude:

The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” Drill down for value and enrichment instead of fanning out. You turn to the wealth of options already in your house, literally and figuratively. We could call it a “Depth Year” or a “Year of Deepening” or something.

Raptitude

How is my depth year going to be? What are the rules? Well, I still need to finalize the details… it’s not easy, there are a lot of subtleties and things I don’t want to completely get rid of. But it’s going to be more or less like this:

  • I will only allow a small window each day to “what’s new”.
  • I can’t save/bookmark/read-later anything I don’t consume directly (then it’s ok to store for reference).
  • I will aim to empty my queues (eventually declaring curiosity bankruptcy) and to consume curiosity material I already own.

There are still open questions:

  • Is watching the news accepted?
  • Is social media accepted?
  • Is buying books I have in my “to buy” list accepted?
  • Is watching series I’ve… ahem… downloaded ok?

In the end I might decide to take a depth month instead of a year to try out. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s all for November, thanks for all your support 🙂

6 comments

  1. Happy to read your update RIP

    Also, welcome to VOO. This is my preferred S&P500 ETF. I am not concerned about estate taxes, as it is pretty easy to liquidate online your assets in such events, before the taxes kick in.

    1. Well, there are scenarios where you are not able to liquidate your assets and your family can’t too – say in case of a car accident where both you and your phone are gone.
      Anyway, for Swiss investors the limit is somewhere around 2.5M, thanks to a double taxation treaty between CH and US.

  2. The Curiosity part is amazing as always! Please recover soon and don’t cease at least your updates.
    I wonder if I should stop consuming your Curiosity section in case I decide to go for a depth year? 🙂

  3. Wait, you’re selling your flat in Milan? Did you accept the 70K offer?
    Perhaps I haven’t been keeping up (sorry – your posts are long, man!) but I did notice that you depreceated the value of the Milan flat this year. I assume you’re getting rid of it, because it’s not bringing in enough $? Or are you just looking to diversify? “Leave” Italy?

    Good call on that therapist! HAHA!

    Since it’s still 2018 I want to leave you with a single thought-provoking (curiosity sparking even?) idea:

    I spend €100/month on a “body-therapist”. It’s a danish concept developed over more than 100 years called Body-SDS (Body Self Development System). I don’t know if something similar has made it to CHF, but I imagine so. It builds on some of the same concepts as acupuncture, kinesiology and chiro and is considered an “alternative treatment” method.
    Basically they work off of the assumption that your body and your mind is closely linked, in such a way that a physical imbalance can manifest it self as a psychological imbalance (and vice-versa). If you feel like you have an emotional imbalance (which is likely to be the case for all new parents 😉 ) this can be treated by activating your bodys own ability to “restore it self” by engaging and “re-setting/rebooting” your lymphatic system, which acts as the bodies “toxin remover”.

    It sounds super mumbo-jumbo, but it had/has a tremendous affect on me. I’ve been going to a chiropractor since I was 12 years old (for heavy migraines), but since I started this Body-SDS treatment a few years ago, I haven’t seen a chiro since. The body-sds therapists (as they are called) also acts as psycho-therapists as they also encourage you to “speak your mind” while you’re getting the treatments (which I would describe as a sort of luxury massage). It’s super relaxing, and if nothing else you get a 1-hour luxury massage and subsequently feel extremely relaxed afterwards 😛
    I’ve come to terms with the fact that I apparently need these sort of treatments to “keep me healthy”.

    I’m not a very spiritual person (not religious either), so I was surprised to (quite recently) learn that the founders of Body-SDS was in fact inspired by the teachings of a famous danish philosopher called Martinus (http://www.martinusus.com/), who wrote a collection of books, which he called “The Third Testament” on the topic of Cosmology and Spiritual Science. I’ve yet to dive into the teachings of Martinus, but since my reading-list isn’t quite the size of yours (yet), I’ve added it to my shortlist 😉

    Best of luck in 2019! I’m looking forward to reading more about the depth month/year.

    1. Hi Nick, sorry for late reply.
      I’m trying to sell my flat in Milan (actually in the suburbs, outside Milan). I got an offer of 70k and I accepted it but that’s not over. Offers for people without money are usually bound to the mortgage approval, which takes months. I’m still waiting.
      The flat is not generating money, and it’s costing me ~1500 EUR/Year in taxes and condo fees. It’s not rentable right now, it requires some maintenance.
      I don’t want to renovate it, find a tenant (only poor people accept to live in that neighborhood), cross my finger the tenant pays the rent (in Italy 28% of tenants don’t pay the rent, then good luck having justice).
      plus, I live far from there. You have any idea how expensive it is to handle things from a distance? Hiring some property manager is an overkill, I don’t think I can rent the apartment for more than 400 EUR/month (gross), and a property manager wants to get paid by the hour, not as a fraction of the rent.

      Thanks for the curiosity insight 🙂 Will look into that but I admit I’m a bit skeptical about mumbo-jumbo outrageously-expensive pseudo-science 🙂

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