What’s plan B?

I haven’t posted here in quite some time now, and I’m not sure this post will be really focused on anything. There are a million tiny things I want to talk about, but also nothing specific. So I guess I’ll just be doing some brain dump.

First of all, we ended up cancelling our contract with Ichijo for the house. Our point of view was that they were too difficult to work with, and in one occasions had us pay for some of their mistakes. The last straw was when they accepted to partially refund us, on the condition that we would accept to not publicly say bad things about our experience with them. We got them to remove that clause of the cancellation contract, but I’ll stop here on that topic and move on: it takes two parties to have a disagreement, so I’ll just say that in the end Ichijo was not a match for us.

We’ve gotten back in contract with one of their competitors, Yamato Juken, and we’ll see where this takes us.

On the financial front, I’ve seen that the closer I get to financial independence, the less I seem to want to work on my side gig. I have to face the realization that maybe I’m not so excited about that project after all, and it’s possible I had been driving it mostly from the motivation of it being a money maker.

But of course, the less time I spend on it, the less money it makes, and the less I can count on it for my future plans, which kind of pushes the date for me. In my initial plans, the side gig was supposed to generate 40% of our expenses for 10 years or so. But since I had to push “one more year” for the sake of getting my loan for the house, I realized I wouldn’t need the side gig for 10 years (unless I really wanted the extra money) as I’m getting much closer to full financial independence. But with less money coming in from the side gig already, the “full financial independence” date seems to get pushed away, and I’m fearing that I’ll have to push a bit further if I really want full security.

We’ll see how things go. In terms of our savings rate, 2018 so far has been a catastrophe. Down payments for the house and the land it will sit on are the main culprits obviously, but also increased tax since we moved back to Japan, as well as my attempts to fund my kids’ NISA (I count that as an expense for me, as the money is technically moving out of my accounts, and will be used to fund whatever the kids need in a decade or so, e.g. college or something).

So, because it seems mentally I cannot count on the side gig to fuel my early retirement anymore, and because savings rate in 2018 hasn’t been nearly as good as what we had in the past 3 or 4 years, it’s very possible that I’ll have to push my “date” by a significant amount of time. Plus as I type this, the S&P500 has had a terrible week so far. I guess I’ll cross the “One more year” bridge when I get there.

I also have the growing concern that this whole “7% increase a year” thing will simply not be sustainable. Hanging out with a bunch of socialist friends has hurt my confidence in the FI dream over the past few months (conversations start with me talking about the 4% rule, and end with “your capitalist scam assumes infinite growth in a finite world, there’s not even a discussion to be had”).

Talking with these guys, I’ve also developed a bit of eco-anxiety realizing that, according to them, economic growth basically aligns with how fast we’re depleting the resources of the Earth + accelerating global warming. Bottom line, what works for me today might not work for my kids in 30 years from a financial perspective (I still have the belief that as a frugal person I would do better than most in a case of catastrophic failure of the global economy), plus on bad days I feel that as an investor, I’m only contributing to the problems. I understand that I should probably eliminate noise and pessimism from my life at this point, but I also don’t want to be fully blind to the challenges that we’ll collectively face very soon.

Then again, what’s plan B? Keep working and fueling the economy, contributing to the problem anyway? Wait in a corner of my bedroom, crying, until the end of the world? Meh.

Well, there you go, I promised this would be a bunch of random thoughts, and I delivered.

  1. RetireJapan
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