Friday, April 15, 2011

Dual screen to single monitor - end results

Do I really need a second monitor?
Today it's friday and as I mentioned in the previous post, I was doing a little experiment this week to try and figure out if I really needed a second monitor. Without a second monitor, my computer desk wouldn't need to be as big. As I'm trying to be a minimalist, that would save me a lot of space and it would create more empty space in my room. Minimalists like empty space. At least I do.

End of the experiment...
I turned of my right monitor for an entire week, to see if I would miss it. It wasn't a big problem, the first days of the week, until it all came tumbeling down. One of my hobbies is buying and selling stocks on the stock market. And that would be one of the things where a second monitor is very handy.
I need to have a graph open on the left screen and work with my calculation applications on the right screen. Having them both visible at the same time, is very convenient.
Or maybe not?
But somehow, I don't feel like I've given it my best shot. It's not like I'm a daytrader who needs to do things quickly on the stock market. So I'm going to do the experiment again, but this time I'll decouple the monitor and put it away. This will help me resist temptation to turn the monitor on so quickly, because I "think I" need it. I'll let you know how that goes by the end of next week.
Non conformity experiments
This whole experimenting concept has given me an idea though. I actually do this a lot, little experiments to find better or different ways to do something.
If someone claims to have a better way of doing something, no matter how weird it may seem, if his explanation sounds reasonable, I'll try it out. Only after testing it, then I'll judge when necessary. This mentality hasn't failed me yet.
And I'm going to write about some of those tests I've successfully completed, that changed my habits or mentality in such a way, that those habits or that mentality are no longer conform the standards of Western society.
So stay tuned and read all about that in the upcoming posts...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dual screen to single monitor

As a computer programmer, I can see why a dual screen setup can give you several advantages over a single monitor setup. You could be looking up documentation on the right screen, while writing code on the left screen. You could also be chatting on one screen and surfing the web on another.

I currently have 2 monitors. The reason I use the second monitor, is to display my calendar and various information about my system, like cpu/memory usage, todo-list output, chat notifications, etc.
I can work on one screen and look at my schedule on the other.

But this week, I have experimented with simplifying my setup, by turning of 1 monitor. They say "once you go dual monitor, you never go back". I can agree about the benefits of a second monitor, but there is one disadvantage about it: it takes up more space on my desk. And because I'm constantly decluttering and following a journey towards minimalism, the idea came to just turn the monitor off and see how much I would miss it.

So far, the absence of the second monitor hasn't bothered me much. I use Arch Linux as an operating system, with dwm as a window manager. That's a minimalistic linux distribution with a very minimalistic window manager. The important thing about it is that you can have multiple workspaces, that be used to replace the functionality of the second monitor. (Actually, the second monitor was brought in the picture to replace some functionality of some of the workspaces, I'm just switching it back to the old system).

If I can manage to keep this system, without actually needing the second monitor, I can sell one monitor.
This would free up space on my desk. And that in turn, would eliminate the need for such a large desk, leaving me with the option to get rid of the desk and replace it with a smaller one. Which in turn would give me extra space in my small room.

All in all, it's an experiment worth trying out, considering the benefits it would give me.

Minimalism... finding out what you don't really need, getting rid of it and focusing harder on what really matters. In this case: one monitor.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Simple Early Retirement Calculation

Early Retirement Calculation
There's a simple calculation that you can use, that can give you a rough estimate of how many years you have to work and save until you can live off your interest.

EDIT: There seemed to have been a small mistake in my formula, kindly pointed out to me by Robert. I needed to make the safe withdrawal from the money I have left over each month, after savings. This means that I shouldn't be using income, but rather (income - saved). What does this do for our formula? We don't need as much years to save as initially thought.
I crossed out all the wrong parts and put the correct values in the examples. I also rearranged the formula a little bit, so it's a bit easier to read.

It goes like this:
years = (((income*1/swr*12)-nestegg)/saved)/12
years = (((income-saved)*12/swr)-nestegg)/saved/12

years: number of years you need to work until early retirement
income: monthly income (after tax)
swr: safe withdrawal rate in % per year (if you take this amount from your retirement savings each year, the interest you earn on your invested money should sustain your lifestyle forever)
nestegg: how many you already saved in your retirement account
saved: how much of your paycheck you can save per month

There are other versions of this formula roaming the web, but most of them are just different ways to write the same thing.

The formula in practice

I will show you how the formula works, based on rounded values of my earnings and savings.

Income: 1400 EUR (1992 USD)
SWR: this is typically 4% or for conservative people 3%. I pick 4%
nestegg: 25000 EUR (35575 USD)
What I save each month: 600 EUR (854 USD)
How long do I have to work if I keep saving this much each month?

years = (((1400*1/0.04*12)-25000)/600)/12 = 54.8611
years = (((1400-600)*12/0.04)-25000)/600/12 = 29.8611

This means that after 55 30 years, I'd be financially independent, able to retire without worries. That would be at age 27+55 = 82. That would be at age 27+30 = 57.

A bit to old to my likings. Lets see how we can improve on this...

Retire Early
If you want to retire early, you need to get the result of the formula down. The easiest way to do this is by dividing by a larger saved number.

Pay close attention to this! The more you can save, the earlier you can retire.
This is beautiful, because the one thing we have the most control over is what we spend. By controlling what we spend, we can make the amount we save per month bigger.

So more saving = less working!

Suppose I can save 750 EUR/month (1065 USD).
The result would be:
years = (((1400/0.04*12)-25000)/750)/12 = 43.888
years = (((1400-750)*12/0.04)-25000)/750/12 = 18.8888

150 EUR/month (213 USD) of extra savings gives a difference of 55 - 44 = 11 years!
150 EUR/month (213 USD) of extra savings gives a difference of 30 - 19 = 11 years!

I like it. I like it a lot!

In the spirit of minimalism, I'm gonna keep it at this. It's the most important lesson to be learnt here. Remember the above and start saving, if you want to retire early. The more you save, the better...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eliminate Unnecessary Bad Feelings

Being a minimalist, is a way to become a better person in general. To become a better person, there are more things you can do, not always related to minimalism per se. So today I would like to give you an interesting thought that can save you and the people around you a whole lot of misery: "Do not be affraid to admit your mistakes."

Let me give an example:
Suppose you say something without giving it much thought and whatever comes out of your mouth is something that should not have come out. You made a mistake which hurts the person you said it to or perhaps someone else... Do not wait too long to admit your mistake, explain what you did wrong and truthfully apologize.

And the faster you do it, the better. It will save you and the other person a whole lot of time feeling miserable for nothing. Just try it the next time you make a mistake, you won't regret it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Minimalist wardrobe - part 1

I have too many clothes
On my journey towards minimalism, there is one path I have skipped so far... my wardrobe. I still live at home, so when it comes to washing clothes I have it easy. My mother does those things. And when clothes seem to be worn down, she tells me that it's time to buy new clothes.
This is a problem. Why? My mother is not a minimalist and does not fully understand it or at least she doesn't see it the way I see it. Therefore, my wardrobe is not a minimalist wardrobe, making that an area of my life that needs improvement.
So this weekend, I took out all my clothes and put them in stacks per kind of clothing. It was time to catalogue everything. The goal of this is the following:
I want my wardrobe to reflect my minimalistic lifestyle.

That means 3 things:
1. I need to know exactly what I need for clothing
2. old clothes need to be purged
3. full control of all items that go in my closeth and a "one in, one out" system has to be implemented

Gaining full control
I notified my mother that from now on, everything regarding my clothes will be under my command. She sometimes buys something I need when she sees it on sale. This is no longer an option. I will decide everything from now on.
I will also implement a "one in, one out" system after I minimalized my wardrobe. For each new piece of clothing that enters my closeth, the most worn down one must leave my closeth (and my life).

Making an inventory
I'm currently making an inventory of all clothes I have. Each number will be written down. Those numbers will be matched with numbers I have yet to decide. Those numbers will represent the amount of items that suffice in a minimalist wardrobe.
I'll post more on this later.
The first thing I'm doing right now, is purging old clothes.

Getting rid of old clothes
I was shocked today, to see how much clothes I seem to have. I never really paid any attention to this. And the results are terrifying for someone who strives to become a minimalist: already 2 bags of clothes that are ready to be given away and I'm still not done.

Control every aspect of your life. Keep everything in sight. Some say expressions such as "a place for everything and everything in it's place". I see what they mean by that...
But giving every item its place, is impossible if you have more items than storage space. And right now, my amount of clothes make it impossible to give it all a proper place in my closeth. So I know what I'll be doing in the next weekends...

On a journey towards minimalism.

I'm getting more and more intrigued by the minimalist lifestyle. Own only what you need and nothing more. I've written several posts about decluttering before, but even with all the purging I did... I still feel I'm not there yet.

There are people that do a better job than me, who act as a source of inspiration to me. One of them, would be author of Miss minimalist. Whenever I read that site, I seem to find enough inspiration to continue my journey to a true minimalistic life.

So if you're interested in this lifestyle, I suggest to have a look on that blog as it may inspire you too.

A return from absence.

It has been a long time, since I posted something on this blog and for that, I apologize.
I have been occupied with work, decluttering and life in general.
I will try to make writing posts a weekly routine. This should keep me from procrastinating.

Posts I will be writing in the short future include early retirement and what I try to do to achieve it, my everlasting journey towards minimalism and stepping outside the norms in more than one field.