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29 yrs old, looking to Semi-ER in 2-3 years, RE by 50 maybe?
Old 01-27-2012, 01:38 PM   #1
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29 yrs old, looking to Semi-ER in 2-3 years, RE by 50 maybe?

I have lurked here for a while and I have posted a handful of times but so far have neglected to introduce myself, so I will do so now!

Hello, I'm 29 years old, been pretty active over at the earlyretirementextreme.com forums but figured I may as well join in here for the different dynamic. I'm single, but living with my boyfriend right now. I have no children and not planning on any. My boyfriend has one child who lives with her mother out of state. I make $91000 gross and we live near Denver, Colorado.

My current goal is to semi-retire, or essentially, quit as soon as I possibly can without any semblance of doubt or a guilty conscience. I think I need a transition stage prior to full retirement. I have taken a few staycations and what not and I sort of didn't really know what to do with myself. Plus I think it would be good to get out of the house about 10-15 hours per week to interact with people; and it would be a nice safety net to have that income. I think, with luck, I could do this by December 2013. I think I could certainly do it no later than December 2015. I'm not really sure what to do for those 10-15 hours per week, though. That is one thing I am pondering. I have absolutely zero interest in continuing in my current line of work in any capacity unless I need to for survival purposes once I reach this point.

Currently I have roughly $200,000 in assets but I have $18500 in student loans locked in at 2.5%. I also have, as a part of my $200,000, about $1000 liquid paying on those loans and another $17500 in dividend paying stocks that I will slowly liquidate to handle the loans. So I am in no hurry to pay them off. I'm intrigued by the possibility of IBR in semi-retirement, but I don't know if the slowly accruing interest for the next 22 years is a best idea; perhaps I will just defer them for 3 years (the gov't pays the interest the first three years) and then pay them at a payment amount of my choosing, maximizing the tax deduction, until they're gone.

I'm saving up cash to buy some property in probably 2013 or 2014. In my ideal world, I would do it as soon as interest rates skyrocketed; I believe this will cause housing to come down even further, and I might be able to score some kind of deal. I don't really want to buy now for personal reasons; my future housing situation is somewhat uncertain, but I hope to clear that up in the next couple years.

My current challenge is refining what "my number" should be, in order to begin semi retirement. I think, given I am so young, even a 3% SWR is pretty optimistic for a full on ER. I have run some firecalc calculation with a 30 year retirement, with principal not getting below half at any point (since I'd have about 40 years to go after the first 30 years) and 3% SWR fails about 20% of the time.

Another challenge I have is determining a proper asset allocation. I intend to pick up The Intelligent Asset Allocator and The Four Pillars of Investing from the library next week so I can hopefully take a leap in this direction. I think I am an indexer at heart and have been investing that way for about 6 years now, and am fairly comfortable with it. Stock picking sort of scares me.

Going for me is that I have really low expenses right now of about $1250 per month. I have cut a lot of costs over the past year to get here and I am relatively happy with it. I think a property purchases would lower this by about $300 a month over the long term. I intend to monitor my spending over the next year to hopefully get some kind of monthly average over 12 months to catch some larger, one off purchases, and perhaps notice and identify any "frugality fatigue" I may have subconsciously by cutting this far. So far (7 months) so good though.

Looking forward to talking with you all!
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:27 AM   #2
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Sounds like you're doing a great job.

The usual caveat: enjoy yourself while you're young.

I think you're doing fine at that, but just don't focus too much on tomorrow at the expense of today.

The two books you mention are a great place to start. From there you can move to some others on the Bogleheads list.

Plan for health insurance, which will be more clear once ObamaCare is decided or not. Your budget will skyrocket fast if you have medical issues.

Welcome!
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:00 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum!

It's great that you are focused on the goal of semi/early retirement. However, just a few thoughts to consider:

Withdrawal rates - you are spot-on for assuming under a 3% withdrawal rate for an ultra long period of 60-70 years; however, one thing to keep in mind is that many people have a number for their absolute bare-bones living (i.e. the "sh*t hits the fan and knocks it off the ceiling" situation, kind of like in 2008/2009). It's one thing to depend on only a 2.5%-3% withdrawal rate for a comfortable ER; it's another to be able to cut back and make it for a year on a bare-bones budget "just in case things get REALLY worse". With such a small portfolio, you really don't have ANY room for either scaling back just a bit more and/or an emergency that might make you have to spend some cash you weren't anticipating (and just $10,000, which wouldn't go too far in a true emergency, represents a sizable part of your portfolio).

Semi-ER - some members of the forum have been successful in doing this, but for many of us, it's impossible to reliably depend on having access to a part-time gig with our expertise at a pay rate that is close to what our full-time income was. You could line up some part-time work in the beginning, but make sure it's available for the long-term, and not some hit-or-miss thing that could wind up forcing you to draw all of your expenses from your portfolio for 3 years when you thought you would have part-time income supplementing things.

Unless you know of people with your experience in your industry that have lined up work on a project or part-time basis, you will want to spend a lot of time researching that before going too much farther (unless you'd be happy working part-time at any job, whether it's fast-food or some other industry that hires part-time people...in which case I'd recommend working just a few more years full-time to make up for many years of part-time in those conditions).
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:46 PM   #4
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Welcome! Your post caught my eye as I'm around the same age and in a similar situation - just the opposite gender.

Your financial situation looks fantastic, but I'm wondering if you've discussed your plans with your significant other? Not looking to pry, but he could turn out to be either one of your greatest assets or liabilities.

Although I've been living with my fiancee for quite some time and we're due to be married in a few months, I'm very aware of what she pays and what I would need to cover should she change her mind.
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:36 PM   #5
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Welcome LiquidS,

Your situation is interesting to me. DD is a few years younger than you with a LOT fewer assets. She has no debt, but doesn't really care for her work life too much either.

Since I had barely begun a career at your age, due to military and graduate school, I have a hard time imagining an early thirties retirement plan. But some thoughts anyway...

Your life will be much happier with more than just the bare minimum in investments to depend on. $200,000 in the kitty is not chump change, but hardly enough to live a lifetime on even with very low expenses.

If you don't like your career right now, isn't there something else you could try? If you're earning around $90K, you are bound to have skills that many folks could use. You can still save money making less than $90K doing something that toots your whistle.

One other thing, what do you intend to do after you stop working? I've found that many of the things that I really enjoy doing take money, like traveling to far away places. Since you're in CO, skiing is big, but it costs money. At least it did the times I was out there doing it.

Good luck. And welcome to this forum.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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People are so polite; few will tell you that this is a crazy idea. Ponder the possibility that it could be.

Ha
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by haha
People are so polite; few will tell you that this is a crazy idea. Ponder the possibility that it could be.

Ha
It is an idea outside the norm. It's one I think that's catching on a little more with some of the youth today.

I think plenty will tell her it's a crazy idea. I like that she's pondering that it may not be.

But it will be a very different life than the conventional one. Make sure to have a cushion/buffer.
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:53 PM   #8
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People are so polite; few will tell you that this is a crazy idea. Ponder the possibility that it could be.

Ha
I will come out and say it.

Put down the crack pipe, lady. You have done pretty well so far, but unless you will be marrying a working spouse who is happy to make you a housewife ther is no way you can reasonably expect to stay retired from age 31 to 80+ with your net worth. Sorry.

I would suggest putting your numbers into firecalc and adding in a hefty sum for health insurance and another one for all the things we buy infrequently but cost a great deal (car, appliances, new roof, etc.).
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:50 PM   #9
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I will come out and say it.

Put down the crack pipe, lady. You have done pretty well so far, but unless you will be marrying a working spouse who is happy to make you a housewife ther is no way you can reasonably expect to stay retired from age 31 to 80+ with your net worth. Sorry.

I would suggest putting your numbers into firecalc and adding in a hefty sum for health insurance and another one for all the things we buy infrequently but cost a great deal (car, appliances, new roof, etc.).
I donno, I think you guys are making assumptions that aren't necessarily true, based on your comment "ther is no way you can reasonably expect to stay retired from age 31 to 80+ with your net worth"

I don't think she's trying to fully ER on that portfolio.

In fact, based on the thread title, it looks like she wants semi-ER in a few years, actual ER at 50 (in 20ish years). Her expenses are so low (15k/yr) that the semi-ER could easily cover those expenses plus add a little to that portfolio, which will grow over the next 20 years until her full ER. That gives her another 2-3 years of adding 60k+ per year to that portfolio, then many years of adding a little bit to it. It won't be easy, but it's not impossible.

I agree with MooreBonds that it'd be better to work several more years at her 91k/yr job than many years at a part time job, however to each his (and in this case her) own. Maybe she'd rather work part time and have super low expenses than work at her current job.

Though, like I posted earlier, there are many considerations like health care. Starting by educating herself is a good first step, but I don't see why she can't move to working part time to support herself, based on her low expenses. It'll just be a different type of lifestyle.
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:54 PM   #10
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It'll just be a different type of lifestyle.
Yes indeed, yes indeed.
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:06 AM   #11
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Here are some thoughts from my side :

* What if you want to have kids in future ?
* Medical / Appliances / Cars / House / Furniture / all kinds of irregular stuff ?
* How committed is your BF to this idea?

If your work is toxic by all means work towards changing that but wouldn't you rather do it in one shot and ER by 40 instead of 20 years of part-time?

How sure are you that part-time work also won't cause simiilar issues since you are dependent on the income?

BTW Congratulations on being able to think out of the box.

-Desigirl
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Old 01-29-2012, 06:27 AM   #12
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Congratulations on getting an incredible start towards being financially independent.

Just like us who are (much) older, you need to think through how much you need to live on (including health insurance, which is very expensive, particularly as you get older) and what your sources of income would be. As an example, depending on where you live, private health insurance could be $500 a month or more and increase your living expenses by 50%. Also, inflation over 65 years would be very expensive.

One problem with your plan is that your ultimate social security will be much lower if you leave the work force so early.

I think a better course for you would be to either change jobs or change careers to something that is more fulfilling to you and then explore part-time possibilities.
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Old 01-29-2012, 06:20 PM   #13
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I'm just a couple years older than you, and a few things come to mind.

1) retirement is a numbers game. The more dollars you have, the better your retirement income you'll have, and the more bumps in the road you can handle. So run the scenarios.
2) your portfolio sounds scanty to me. Everyone has different needs, but DH and I are targeting 2.2 million to retire by age 55. We plan to be comfortable. Do you want a ramen retirement? How much $$ do you need? What about healthcare?
3) you are earning a great income and you are in your peak earning years. Age 30-55 is when most folks maximize earnings. This is the perfect time to work hard, save aggressively, and build that retirement fund. You can choose to work less and save less, but again it's about your priorities.

I'd love to retire at 35, but we're taking a more conservative approach. We work hard, maximize savings, have fun together, and delay gratification. Your salary is a gift. I hope you won't give it up too soon.

Cheers,

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Old 01-29-2012, 08:28 PM   #14
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Congratulations on your great start! I however, am in the grumpy group. I think your words "relatively happy" are very telling. Lets be honest, at your youthful age you can live off that ( I dont know how, but then again I was too cheap to have a/c during some of my twenties), but your tastes for extreme frugalism might change. There are people on this forum who pay more in one month on health insurance, than your current monthly budget! I personally wouldnt want to suffer today, so I could retire real early just so I could suffer a long " relatively happy"ER. If you were in your 40's I think you might have a clearer perspective of your future ER costs and needs. That being said though, your variables are how good of a PT job you can find, and how much your boyfriend can or is willing to share in costs. Lets dont even talk about the costs if you decide to have a child. My 2 best friends didnt have children until they were 38 and 42. Good luck in your planning and congratulations on building a nice nest egg in your 20's and your dedication to LBYM!
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Old 01-29-2012, 11:37 PM   #15
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As someone who semi-retired at age 38, worked part-time for 7 more years, then ERed at age 45 three years ago, I can tell you what I did to gradually transition from working FT to working not at all.

First, I made sure I was debt-free when I switched to PT work in 2001. This kept my expenses low relative to my reduced income which was about 60% of what it was before (after taxes).

The PT gig I had was simply a reduction of work hours at the same place I had been working at all along. This kept my hourly wage nice and high (about $40 an hour). It also kept my health insurance intact although I had to pay 50% of the premiums. The rest of my benefits were mostly intact such as 401(k) matching funds and participation in the all-important ESOP plan.

I was still able to save some of my salary over and beyond what I was putting into my 401(k), just not the huge amount I was saving before. Do you have an IRA or 401(k) account now? This will become more relevant later in my post.

By the time 2007-2008 rolled around, I was planning my ER because the value of my non-retirement account plus the value of my company stock (ESOP) had been growing a lot, especailly the latter. My ER plan was to build in a sufficient cushion or surplus of monthly investment income over monthly projected expenses (including individual health insurance, or HI). My main goal was to build a plan which would get me to at least age 60 okay because starting at around that age I would have access to what I call my "reinforcements." Those are unfettered access to my IRA (formerly my 401(k)), access to my frozen company pension, and Social Security (which is somewhat reduced because of all those zero-earnings years but not by a whole lot). Then throw in Medicare which takes care of my health insurance better than the costlier and less broad individual plan I have now and my finances improve greatly after age 60 or 65.

This is why I split my ER plan into two pieces - the one which gets me to age 60-65 and the other one which gets me beyond age 60-65. My SWR has been around 2.5%.

If you end up having any kids, that will throw a big monkey wrench into your ER plans. I am childfree and attribute much of my ER to that choice.

I think you will need a lot more than $200k to generate enough investment income to get you to age 60-65 while maintaining enough of a cushion or surplus to give you some comfort. But you have started well, I commend you.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:30 PM   #16
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A lot of extreme early-retirees (and MrMoneyMustache) don't account for big expenses. It's easy to say that you only spent $15000/yr if nothing big comes along but that spikes to $22000/yr when you need a new car, and then $19000/yr when you need a new roof, and then the oven breaks, etc. Pre-amortizing these expenses is a worthwhile endeavor. Auto-save these expenses each month and include that in your spending totals.

That said, going part-time is a great idea. It can really improve quality of life (read Ernie Z's book). Just be sure that future expenses are accounted for in your plan.
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Old 01-30-2012, 03:16 PM   #17
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Wow, and I thought I am too young to think retirement.

In some ways you and I are similar - young, no dependents, disenchanted with current employment. Your conviction to retire is miles ahead of mine however.

Have you discussed with your boyfriend your plans?
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:48 PM   #18
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A lot of extreme early-retirees (and MrMoneyMustache) don't account for big expenses. It's easy to say that you only spent $15000/yr if nothing big comes along but that spikes to $22000/yr when you need a new car, and then $19000/yr when you need a new roof, and then the oven breaks, etc. Pre-amortizing these expenses is a worthwhile endeavor. Auto-save these expenses each month and include that in your spending totals.
I don't necessarily think one has to pre-amortize, as you suggest, but big expenses need to be accounted for. That can happen when they occur, IMO.

I'm fine with someone saying their budget was 19k last year, 27 the year before and 22 the year before that, and it'll be around 22 this year. Keeping a running average, and understand that some years you will have larger capital expenditures, like a car, is different than amortizing over time, but no less valid.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:19 PM   #19
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A lot of extreme early-retirees (and MrMoneyMustache) don't account for big expenses. It's easy to say that you only spent $15000/yr if nothing big comes along but that spikes to $22000/yr when you need a new car, and then $19000/yr when you need a new roof, and then the oven breaks, etc. Pre-amortizing these expenses is a worthwhile endeavor. Auto-save these expenses each month and include that in your spending totals.
There are three ways I handle this issue.

First, I build a cushion or surplus into my budget so I can cover a large expense every so often. Second, I have a "slush fund" whose principal and interest I do not use to cover any of my regular expenses, so I can tap into that. Third, I bought a new car in 2007 when I was still working so that will last me a while (my previous car lasted 15 years and I drive maybe 3,000 miles per year).

I live in a large co-op complex so my share of any large expenditures is small, and we have had some large projects completed in the last 10 years.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:28 PM   #20
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Hi, thanks for the welcome.

On health insurance, currently it appears I can procure high deductible insurance with $5K out of pocket max for about $100/month. I have no ongoing health issues. ehealthsinsurance quotes policies for someone 30 years older than me is about $160/mo for a crappy plan and $260/mo for something decent. Of course it's all a house of cards if I ever really get sick, but then, I can get a job, and well, if I'm so sick I can't work, Megacorp is not too likely to keep me around for long, and working longer wouldn't help me much anyway. I am following Obamacare with interest.

My SO is supportive and we are not able to have kids, and we have no plans to have any more, so I am fine there. I am confident in my decision and that it won't change. He will not be able to semi-ER with me but he's fine with that.

I'm definitely considering starting a side business at this time but if it doesn't pan out I am OK with just some enjoyable low paying part time work. I don't need to make much, 20 hours per week would be over half of my living expenses for the year at minimum wage, so if it was fun to do, it doesn't matter what it is or what it pays. I understand some folks are saying, stick it out. Unless something changes in the next two years, I cannot mentally do that. We have already lost half of our staff due to this toxic environment, life is short, money is not everything, and I am not doing that. I think about starting a side business in bookkeeping because I like numbers and Excel spreadsheets, but I don't have any experience in this area. I will probably take a class to try it out and see if it might fit.

I don't care for skiing much, great used appliances can be found on Craigslist, and any smart person should budget 1-2% of their property purchase per year toward maintenance, and I have done so.

$1250/month is tight but it includes about $300 in discretionary expenses. I have already traveled all over Europe and the US, I think a lifetime budget of $30,000 would be just fine, and I can earn that very slowly over time. Also it seems in ER or SER you can travel much more cheaply, off peak times, stay in hostels (I don't need fancy schmancy, don't care), etc. I don't mind working if it is toward a certain goal or a certain luxury, and once that $ amount is hit, you quit.

I had a new Prius and I sold it. It was so not worth the money. I miss my 1989 Buick Riviera and if I ever had to buy another car again, I would buy a 10 year old car and not look back. With SER I'd have the time to learn how to do my own repairs. Wouldn't need to commute so gas would be cheap. Insurance is about $140/6 months. Right now I carshare with BF and that is working out fine. No need to pay for my own car all by my lonesome.

I dislike restaurants most of the time. I can cook almost anything just as good or better than they can make, so why should I patronize them? I do sometimes, for social reasons, maybe 1-2x/month and that is plenty for me.

I say "relatively happy" because while I've always been pretty frugal, this level of frugal is new to me, so I am open to the possibility in the next 2-3 years of getting tired of it. So far so good though.

Yes I could stay some more years and earn more money. And I could breath twice as fast and soak up twice as much more oxygen. I think at some point, one earns "enough" and just doesn't need anymore. I am not really into accumulating stuff or experiences, this allows me to live cheaply. There are few things that I would rather spend money on rather than my freedom.

I am happy with some of the positive replies, and also with some of the constructive criticism but pretty insulted with being called "crazy". Did I call you crazy for working into your 50s and 60s? No? Because I would be crazy to stay at this job that long. I thought this was a respectful forum. Maybe I was wrong. I hope not but we'll see.
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