Saving by Efficient Second Hand Buying

You can use money you saved on your cloths shopping to finance a healthy lunch at your next outdoor activity e.g. (Here: Siebenhütten,  Kreuth, Bavaria)

You can use money you saved on your cloths shopping to finance a healthy lunch at your next outdoor activity e.g. (Here: Siebenhütten, Kreuth, Bavaria)

Frequent readers noticed that I got away from focusing too much on aggressive money accumulation because it became clear to me that obsession about money leads as well to unhappiness as having no money at all.

Having said that I still 100% subscribe to the need of efficient spending.

The concept is easy:

Money can buy you nice things and possibilities but money typically is in short supply, plus we downshifters are not into working long hours to maximize income.

Thus spending money on the right things, as well as spending as little as possible on a give thing we want to buy, are important.

One way to do this is to buy second-hand stuff:

In todays consumption and throw away world, actually the second-hand market is one of the most inefficient markets I know – to the benefit of the buyer!
A book not even read but unpacked typically sells for only 60% of original price. Once read but in perfect condition it drops to 30%.
Electronic articles are incredibly cheap to get once they are half a year old and thus no more “fashionable”.
Toys, bicycles etc. are available at very low prices even if they are still in very good condition.
In general the second-hand market is always in oversupply as most people buy new stuff far too often with a need to get rid of their old gear.

The same holds to a very large degree for second-hand cloths.

Problem here is that second-hand stores are typically stuffed with all kind of crap, quality is extremely diverse and it is difficult and no fun to find good cloths in those shops.

Now Woodpecker by accident came across a very good internet service (Germany only?) to buy used cloths.

I typically do not promote internet shops and like to assure you that I am not connected nor paid by these guys.

The site is called ubup.com.

It offers an amazing choice of cloths that you can sort by quality, size and brand. They still might want to work on their search function a bit, but in general this is much better and more comfortable than eBay etc.

I (and Mrs. Woodpecker) did some test buys and went only for high-end brands (brands that we typically would seldom buy because they are too expensive in the shop) and for the very high quality section (i.e. barely used or unused).

And, voila, we were very positively surprised. Prices even in the barely used section come in around 25%-30% of the shop price, and the things we got were in fantastic condition, no shipping costs plus you can resend for free.

Please feel absolutely free to ignore this post but if you want to try the shop anyway and would like to support this blog a bit without a cost to you, you can use Woodpeckers promotion code.

That way you will get a 10 EUR deduction from your first purchase, and Woodpecker gets a voucher of 10 EUR as well.

The code works anonymously for both parties (tried it already with Mrs. Woodpecker) and would be:

ZX7BWKWY

Simply enter it at the check out page.

Cheers,

Woodpecker

A Good Fight with Mother Nature is Something no Money can Buy

A glorious morning in the Bavarian Alps (Tegernseer Hütte).

A glorious morning in the Bavarian Alps (Close to Tegernsee).

One week ago, the annual old boys gathering with people from Woodpeckers home town was due again.

As we were going to meet at lake Tegernsee close to Munich, Woodpecker and one guy who lives here too decided to prolong the gathering by an extra night on a hut close to the lake, a ca. 3 hrs / 1.000 height meter hike up on to mountain top.

The hut was assumed to be pretty booked but the week before our trip a huge autumn storm hit Germany. So one day prior to our departure the landlord called me up and strongly recommended not to go, as +1 meter of fresh snow had fallen in the mountains, with a lot of wind to produce snowdrifts, the ways not cleared and the storm still raging outside.

Well, if you ever fought your way uphill through the mountains in 1 meter of fresh snow you know that this is not quite an easy task.

However, the next day was calm, the mountains glazing in the sun (so the webcam told me) and after a second call to the landlord and a check for the avalanche situation we decided to start anyway. We rented out a couple of snow-shoes for the flatter first half of the hike, and packed avalanche shovels, snow trousers and all the other winter gear plus enough schnapps for the steep upper half.

Sunset.

Sunset.

The first part was easy-going through a fairy tale snow-white and untouched winter forest, crisp air and nobody else walking around. The snow-shoes served us well and soon we reached a hut half-way up.
That was where the real fun started. The inclination got too steep now to use the snow shoes efficiently and the snow was so soft that they were sinking in anyway.
So the only way was to bulldoze our way up, sinking in up to the hips with every step, with snow everywhere, taking turns every 50 meters. Fortunately we were good on time, and a jigger of booze every half an hour gave additional energy. :-)

Woodpecker did some similar (although shorter) tours before, but again and again it is amazing to feel special atmosphere and the quietness of the snow-covered mountains. It is also fascination to observe the different textures snow on a mountain face can have. From soft powder to sticky, from unstable to compressed by the wind, or with a hard icy surface that makes you hope it can hold your step until you break in and have to fight your boots out from below the ice cap.

And it is always amazing to feel your senses and your body absolutely awake and at maximum alertness once they feel a challenge is more real than the ones they encounter in their daily office routine or in front of a computer game.

The night creeping in...

The night creeping in…

Your mind feels the thrill once it notices you will not make it during sunlight, your body chemistry reacts once the shadow of the night creeps in, when the temperature starts to drop quickly, and the wind catches up icy closer to the top with your muscular energy level going to reserve. You perception gets sharper than you think possible when you look out for a weather change, for signs of avalanche danger or for the optimal route through the hillside. No small noise or crackling sound goes un-noticed, every small change in the tone of distant howling wind is recognised. In other words: You can barely feel more alive.

Obviously all of this was not actually dangerous and I would not have done it if it was, but still, the hike was a challenge and far out of the typical comfort zone of us modern humans.

But that is the point:

The true reward, the kick of mountain happiness comes only if you have a prolonged moment of suffering on your way up.

A moment where you curse it all and wish you would have stayed at home on the sofa. This moment then is followed by complete emptiness of the brain, where you just fight on step by step. And only then you will be rewarded later by an overwhelming flow of happiness once you reach the top. Something all the flip-flop cable car riders will never experience.

Every mountaineer, every climber and generally every sportsman will confirm.

And what a reward we got! Reaching the hut when the last bit of the twilight faded with a last look on the mountain range of the Alps under the stars. Finding ourselves the only guests in a normally very crowded hut. Drying in front of the cracking fire, a good Bavarian beer and some hearty food at hand.

And at the break of dawn this view:

Sunrise, 6:50 in the morning. For some reason, no alarm clock needed, the body clock woke us up in time.

Sunrise, 6:50 in the morning. For some reason, no alarm clock needed, the body clock woke us up in time.

 

Boy, this was a good tour.

Something no money ever can buy.

Any similar experience to share? Let us know!

 

Cheers,

Woodpecker

A Modern Disease: Self-Optimization

Last week, near Koenigssee, Berchtesgaden, Bavaria.

Last week, near Koenigssee, Berchtesgaden, Bavaria.

Its been quite a while since the last post.

This has two reasons:

1) I drastically cut down on my internet activities.

The internet is a great thing, but as you probably have noticed yourself, it has also a great potential for addiction and distraction from real life. You might negate that this is the case for you, but very like it is nonetheless. If you disagree, try to turn it off for only one week, NOW.

The good thing is, there is no need for quitting. But what I tried (and will continue to try) is just to shift focus even more from conversations, discussions and experiences in the virtual world back to conversations, discussions and experiences in the real world.

E.g. I joined some “offline” groups of like-minded people who keep me quite busy, plus drastically increased outdoor activity with friends and family, plus more reading (paper books!) as well as more sports.

Look at the picture above. All internet activity, all online conversation and facebook-crap can finally not keep up with a good hike and a sunset in the mountains (and – no picture of that – a classical Bavarian Weisswurst-Breakfast with beer at sunrise on the lodge next morning). At least not for me, so I will continue to prioritize offline over online. Even if that means fewer posts or lower investment income.

I might add more details later, all I can say now (no surprise): Highly recommended.

2) I am struggling how to write this very post and am not sure if the though is finished already.

I’ll try now, but am not sure if I can bring across the thought correctly yet. Lets see.

As said a few post before I came to a point in this blog where I found that more or less all has been said on a topic that occupied me for a long time (about two years):

Downshifting, Frugal Living and the laws of happiness.

I guess if you read all the posts here, you get the picture, you will be able to get control over your spending and your time usage and about setting the stage for more happiness.

But now comes the complicated thing:

At a certain point I noticed that all this “stage setting” for happiness was in fact driven by my wish to find an algorithm, a way of life to “force happiness”.
If I am brutally honest to myself (and what other way is there when you are working at the higher stages of Maslovs pyramid?) I have to realize that I was hoping to arrange life in a way that happiness will endure “forever”. In other words I made the same mistake that so many searchers for happiness made before, I thought there is a receipt for happiness, or in other words a “religion” one has to follow to be happy. Where indeed happiness is a complicated state of being that kicks in without planning but as a side effect of things done the right way.

In my case the “religion” was a mixture of downshifting (maximizing free time), frugal living (maximizing financial independence and minimizing need to work) plus social contacts, travelling, outdoor experience etc.

In other cases (allow me to say more “trivial” cases), the religion is consumption, accumulating wealth and status, career or – closer to Woodpeckers case – things like financial independence (for the ERE community).

And now comes the complicated thought that somehow struck me one day during my two months of sabbatical in summer:

All of the downshifting and frugal living exercises do obviously not bring happiness per se, and if done wrong, they can even create unhappiness.

Don’t get me wrong, I still highly recommend downshifting and frugality as ONE way to set a good stage for happiness, as a good fundament where happiness can prosper and unfold itself.

But only under one precondition:

Most of us people today, downshifters and others alike, we should relax  a bit on our self-optimization efforts.
Actually we not only have to relax a bit, but we have to relax a lot.

I am convinced that a huge, very huge opponent of becoming happy is today’s world’s focus on self-opimization and never-ending growth (be it personal or economic). The constant urge to get better, faster and more perfect in whatever area we are concentrating on. An urge to grow and to get richer without knowing the “what for?”.

The low hanging fruits suddenly have a bad reputation, staying in your comfort zone is considered something bad and boring today, and deciding not to grow or not to develop seems not really acceptable anymore.
Whereas not to grow and not to stretch might be an excellent choice from time to time.

And, if you are honest, the treadmill that most other people tread  in their jobs and lives (putting themselves under pressure to go ever higher and further); this very treadmill can exist as well for the frugal living and the downshifters (save even more money, spend even more effective, generate even more free time).

And this is the big danger:

Than in your (perfectly reasonable) desire for leaving the job-/work-treadmill, you are merely exchanging it against the “extreme frugal”- and “extreme downshifting”- treadmill.

That you forget about the middle-way.

You calculate and count too much, you are optimizing things too grim and create another system in your mind that is as stiff as the old one.

Coming back to the middle way means concentrating on the low hanging fruits (there are many), stay in your comfort zone (this is what all sane life forms wish to do), and more than all be careful to not put yourself under too much optimization stress.

Plus two things:

1) Avoid contact to people too much concentrated on this “optimization” (they are constantly unrelaxed and their urge for self-optimization is very epidemic).

2) Avoid contact to people with significantly higher socio-economic “status” (i.e. the rich guys, the “big” guys), because it is very hard to not start comparing to them is you see them too often and as a result of the comparison you will either (a) start to self optimize again, or (b) feel depressed.
Let them life in their money world and stay in your own world. At least in my case I noticed that both conversations and activities with the rich guys are quite boring anyway – too much focussed on money and political tactics.
And definitely put all your “why-Steve-Jobs-is-such-a-great-guy-and-how-you-can-become-him”-books in the bin immediately. They are all crap and this Steve Jobs guy never struck me happy or good company anyway.

Your world is already big enough (in a way likely much bigger than most big guy’s world) and can offer a perfectly happy life if you just accept being where and what you are.

That’s it for the moment.

Hope I was somehow able to bring across my thought.

Cheers,

Woodpecker

What are you living for?

mrwoodpecker:

Inspired by the comment of Klaus on my last post, I started thinking about what really means stage 4 and 5 of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. This is not so easy as these stages obviously are much more complex and immaterial as the somehow “tangible” stages 1-3. This post from “Tao of Wealth” seems to be a good first step to me.

Cheers,
Woodpecker

Originally posted on The Tao Of Wealth:

What am I living for

DO NOT CHASE FORTUNE, FAME, POWER AND PLEASURE

Fortune: Money is needed for many things in our lives. We should work for money and save it and spend in wisely. But making accumulating as much money as you can as the goal of your life is not right. Because money cannot make you happy or satisfied by itself. We need to be contented with what we get in life. We also need to give money in charity and to those who need it and for worthwhile causes. For when we die, will money come with us? How we use money in our lives is important, but never chase money as your goal.

Fame: Fame is empty. Fame is a vapour. It comes and it always goes. Do not go after it. In case it comes into your life, use it well to serve others and be humble. Do not become…

View original 2,537 more words

The next step.

All is flowing. From time to time you must venture on to new waters. (pic: Sailing, approaching north-west coast of Mallorca)

All is flowing. From time to time you must venture on to new waters. (pic: Approaching north-west coast of Mallorca by sailing boat)

It’s been a long time since the last post.

There were a couple of reasons for this which I think can be best summarized as “creative break” or “philosophical re-adjustment”.

Actually this had three aspects:

  1. Woodpecker & family were simply quite busy these months
    Social “capital” increasingly pay “dividend” in the form of various invitations, visits, social activities etc. Plus obviously the travel season started good and early this year and let to quite a list of trips, e.g. to Verona (see here),Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Freiburg in South-West Germany, a trip to relatives in Hamburg and finally, the last two weeks, I managed to integrate my passion – sailing – deeper into family life by doing a family sailing trip in Croatia. More on this in a separate post. All of this led to a phenomenon that – thanks to downshifting in the job – I seldom encountered before:

    Time got scarce!

  2. I decided to decrease virtual activity a bit
    This is on one side connected to scarce time and social activities.
    Plus while I like blogging and being in the internet, I am more and more convinced that we (as the western society) spend too much time in the virtual realms and too little in real life.
    I mean the internet is fantastic, one of the greatest inventions of modern times (right next to the dish washer), but more information is not always better.
    The internet is also dangerous in that it can distract us from living life itself. Distracting us into planning and planning, looking for non-binding contacts and social exchange, flipping from idea to idea without ever sticking to something real and enduring…you certainly know what I mean.
    And all the time, the real life is out there right in front of our doors and beyond the screen of our smartphones.

    When in doubt better turn off the computer and take a step out (Even if this means decreasing traffic to this blog! ;-) ).

  3. I had to do a few re-adjustments in my job
    In todays world which is centered all around work, progress, “sucess”, career and status, it is not always easy to go the middle way. It is easy to run in the rat-race and it is easy to just quit the job but if you want to go down the down-shifting road, i.e. work in a job, but in general concentrate on maxing out free time rathern than pushing career, then a lot of people around you will frequently get confused.

    Because not living 100% for your job is kind of a taboo today and considered almost a rebellious act by many of the rat-racers.

    The reason is clear: You do question their view of the world, and people don’t like that.
    So you have to do your moves carefully and spend some time every now and then to convince bosses and co-workers that you are committed to do a good job, but you simply want a different balance in your life.

    Companies are typically very normed social entities, thus the way to do this is to seek personal contact and build trust. On that basis it will be easier for others to accept you being different.

    Thats what I did, and I’ll go on another two months block of parental leave this summer, according to the plan to have a minimum of 50 free days (plus weekends of course) per year.

  4. The frugal living and thinking about money topic is sucked dry for Woodpecker
    We shall not forget that money still is only a tool. It is extremly important and thrilling to set the stage right by getting your financials in order, start to monitor and question your spendings, think about opportunity costs, efficient spending and the fact that happiness and money spending are consumption are little correlated, learn about adaptation effects and psychological traps when dealing with money and consumption, and understand the principles of successfull investing.

    But honestly, once this is done, it is time to move on to the next step.

    Because if you did your homework, your habits will sustainably change and you can savely put lots of the money related things decribed in this and other blogs to auto-pilot to a certain extend.So I could write 100 more posts about tiny savings and tiny optimizations, but I would start to repeat myself.

    Money is merely the tool.
    It is the hammer that drives the nail into the wall.

    But we should not admire the hammer, but the beautiful picture that you will put on that nail.And the picture is your life.

    If you keep on admiring the hammer, you are in no better position than the rat-racers or career-driven, no matter how frugal your life is.
    In that case you’d still worship the wrong god, the colden calf.

    Only from a different angle.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs (link)

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

So Woodpeckers journey (and with it this blog’s topics) will probably move forward to focus on the next stages on Maslows pyramid: Stage 4 (Esteem) and 5 (Self-Actualization).

Cheers,

Woodpecker