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Old 01-07-2010, 07:32 PM   #21
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donheff: fascinating about your lawyer wife retiring this week, and her transition. Can I ask age?
She will be 57 next Thursday. She started cutting back at 55. I pulled the plug on an enjoyable Federal career at 56, five years ago.
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:25 AM   #22
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Meanmrmustard,
When you track expenses the level of detail is up to your decision. YMYL is focussing on lots of detail.
Most people are turned off by recording the small items paid in cash. But cash comes from accounts and as a start you could record the cash amounts taken from the accounts just as "Cash out". If the total per month is very high for several months you will probably find it challenging to go more into detail.
Most of your other expenses also leave a paper trace, be it as invoices, checks or credit card statements. I would start with this existing documentation + create a monthly spreadsheet.
And after a year all this information produces all by itself the total per year.
(My own excel spreadsheet automatically projects all expenses into a column "estimated p.a.". Our total time for tracking takes not more than 2 hours per month, incl. a balance sheet of all assets).
If it is close to 100.000 p.a.: perfect
If it is more like 300.000 p.a.: better know now than after ER.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:05 PM   #23
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4) Theory 4 possibly a lie, reality maybe is it’s hard to walk away from prestige of being court room big shot (much as I may despise the life), might be hard to adjust to being anonymous guy in sneakers hanging around the public library; (5) Don’t know what I would do with myself and don’t want to face possibility I’d wander around uselessly;

Your situation is very similar to mine. I have decreased workload the past year and in 6 months plan to decrease it furthur. I suspect the loss of a paycheck and the respect and authority at work will be missed. A gradual change seems logical rather than cold turkey. Also, seeing the deaths of friends and acquaintances their 50s jolts you a little bit, and causes you to ponder mankind's persistent question: What is the purpose of my existence?
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:38 PM   #24
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FWIW (not much!): 35 Year Old PI Millionaire Retires - Lawbuzz.

On a more serious note: Richard Moll, The Lure of the Law (1991), is worth a quick read.
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:00 PM   #25
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Mustard: Expenses really are key. My wife and I have tracked every expense since 1993. I can tell you how much we spent on clothing in Septemder 2003 ($313). Not as difficult as you may think. Analyse your cheque book and credit cards each month. Obviously you can lump small items together as "cash". These items are about 6% of our current spending, very consistent, and include such things as groceries, taxies, cleaning ladies, books newspapers, etc. Should also have a net worth section in your spreadsheet so you can track that over time. Ignore real estate assets-treat them as expenditures. I am really good at this stuff. It helps that both my wife and I are accountants I think. In our case biggest discretionary expense is travel.
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:18 PM   #26
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Pretty sure they're OK because both me and wife have gone out of way for years to be frugal. Unspoken deal with wife: I don't make herkeep records, but she won't spend much. It works but I sometimes I wish I knew the details better. At the firm I know where every nickel goes.
Keeping track of expenses is not really that hard. For us, we use credit cards (paid in full monthly) for almost all our expenses. There are some paid by check and a small, very small, amount of cash. Keeping track of the cash is ideal but if it under, say, $1000 a month (at your income) I wouldn't worry too much about it.

There are programs you can download your credit card spending into and then categorize your expenditures. I use YouNeedaBudget (YNAB) others use Quicken or various other programs.

However, figuring out where the money goes is pretty easy. Ideally you keep the receipts so you can check to see if what you spent at the grocery store was for groceries or you can look at a Department Store charge to see if it was for clothing, or makeup or linens or whatever.

But, really, I categorize all of our spending and it takes very little time.
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Thanks everyone
Old 01-11-2010, 07:47 PM   #27
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Thanks everyone

Again, I would like to thank every one for their comments. Recent posts on theimportance of tracking expenses and low hassle ways of doing it were especially useful. I told my wife about the board and I'll get her to read the thread, plus I'll probably re-read it myself several times, to inspire me to start putting togther a plan for both tracking expenses, and transitioning out of law practice. Someone posted a link to a thread about people talking about when you have to stop thinking "I've only got one more year to go, but..." which I found particulary eloquent on the whole question of when to get out of the working world.

I know I have the money, so ER is really a matter of transitioning from treating ER as a kind of fanciful daydream to actually planning in a serious way how to do it. I think the exercise has made me realize that none of the reasons why I thought I need to keep working (a potent mixture of ego/desire for prestige/fear/procrastination/misplaced obligation) really make any sense.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:46 PM   #28
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Welcome! I immediately look at you finances and say, whats holding you back, but its personal decision and there are many things to consider.

As to the last part of your intro. There are many types of people. Some find a career and do it out of love. Others are just addicted to work, even if they don't love it. Some, like many of us value our free time. Don't let those other people's priorities dictate your decision. You only get one life and you should live it on your terms. Don't know if you were worried about what they would think, but if you are, don't.
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:08 PM   #29
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I have been thinking about the ego/prestige aspect of retirement a lot recently. In my case i really wanted to become anonymous after a fairly high profile carreer. Three years after retirement i am starting to miss a bit the profile i used to have. I am sure this will ebb over time but you should consider some kind of transition. i went cold turkey.
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:21 PM   #30
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OP, I empathize with you. Our situations are similar. Here are some thoughts:

1. It is critical to get a grip on your expenses, by which I mean "follow the money." Because taxes are so very high, the shift to ER is huge on that score. But you can get a feel for your other expenses. Determine what your "pro forma for retirement" spending will likely be, then add a cushion. Then add another cushion. Believe you will find you are already "there." I am. This is very liberating.

2. If you like being as lawyer (I do), then don't quit. But restrcuture your work to cut out everything you don't like -- even if that will "hurt" your on-going compensation. I am amazed by the fact that so many of the very fine lawyers that I have known have never quit practicing law. And I mean "never." As in, worked until they died. People who could have quit 30 years ago. And why is this? Because they do only what they want to do, and nothing else. An example is William Rehnquist, whom I was privileged to know. When he was asked in his 80s whether he would retire, he replied, "Retire to what?"

3. You DO have the resources to retire now. But rather than do that, in my opinion and experience this is when it starts to get interesting. Because if you can quit, then you can also dictate your terms for staying on. Not in a cruel or difficult way. Just matter of fact. Take advantage of that -- you've earned it.
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Old 04-22-2010, 04:28 PM   #31
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Upon re-reading this thread, I agree with Chris2008. The OP has been a lawyer for 25 years and earns a very good employment income (which can be as much as $1.8 million pre-tax), plus investment income. Since he does not have a lavish lifestyle, his net worth of $4 million + house appears lower than it should be.

Income taxes are high, fair enough; but as a self-employed professional he has lots of deductions, and even after taking taxes into account he should have > $4 million. I wonder if there is more leakage than he realizes, and again encourage some form of record keeping.

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Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer View Post
If you like being as lawyer (I do), then don't quit.
This is sensible advice. However, his five arguments against ER do not include love of his work ... on the contrary, he mentions the ridiculously long hours, the drudgery, the antagonism with peers, and the stress.

I don't have the sense that he particularly enjoys being a lawyer any more; rather, he expresses a sense of obligation.

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I am amazed by the fact that so many of the very fine lawyers that I have known have never quit practicing law. And I mean "never." As in, worked until they died.... An example is William Rehnquist, whom I was privileged to know. When he was asked in his 80s whether he would retire, he replied, "Retire to what?"
Well, we are all different; but that seems rather one dimensional to me. It is a bit sad that he didn't make time to pursue other interests when he had the chance.

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[R]estructure your work to cut out everything you don't like -- even if that will "hurt" your on-going compensation. You DO have the resources to retire now. But rather than do that, in my opinion and experience this is when it starts to get interesting. Because if you can quit, then you can also dictate your terms for staying on.
Clients can be extremely demanding, at least in private practice. He has previously indicated that he does not have the ability to take a sabbatical. If he starts taking time off, or attempts to pass clients off to his partners, it is not unlikely that some (most?) clients will go elsewhere.

But you are quite right: even in the worst case, so what? At this point, he doesn't need to work so there is no reason to accept the drudgery etc. merely to protect that income stream. Might as well give it a shot and see what happens.
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Old 04-22-2010, 04:46 PM   #32
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William Rehnquist was one-dimensional because he didn't want to retire from his job? Are you serious? Although opinions do vary, I think we are talking about one of the brightest minds in the history of the US legal profession. Criticizing someone like that for being "one-dimensional" is absurd.

Here are a few other "one-dimensional" people: Michelangelo (he spent all that time painting the Sistine Chapel); Enrico Fermi (what's so important about nuclear physics anyway?); Michael Jordan (maybe you think he should have spent more time playing baseball and golf). The problem with your outlook is that it allows no room for greatness. Great people are almost always "one-dimensional." The few who aren't are polymaths, exhibiting an even scarcer variety of greatness.

Now, if our OP is not thinking of his career that way, then maybe he should get out. But I think a better solution is to find something to be passionate about, and then be utterly devoted to that. I realize this is likely to be a minority view on this board, as so many of you seem to hate your jobs and can think of nothing better than to escape from them.
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Old 04-22-2010, 05:36 PM   #33
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Welcome to the board SEC. Looks like you're going to liven things up.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:55 PM   #34
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I think people who are one dimensional about their work ....that is those who love their work and are passionate about it are unlikely to be at this particular board.

As an attorney myself I actually know quite a few people like that. I am about to semi-retire (maybe retire) at the end of next week. I don't hate my work. It is highly stressful and I don't want the stress. In my case I have (I think if all works out) that I am going to be able to work part-time doing only the things that I like doing and that is great.

But I know lots of people who don't get the retirement idea at all. I was talking to a colleague and he just can't wrap his head around it. He says he wouldn't know what to do if he retired. Well...I have hobbies. I have interests. I have lots of other things I want to do. I've practiced law for over 30 years and now I'm ready to do something else with most of my time.

For him....well...he is one dimensional. And that is great for him. But you won't ever find him on this board.
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Old 04-22-2010, 08:29 PM   #35
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I think people who are one dimensional about their work ....that is those who love their work and are passionate about it are unlikely to be at this particular board.

As an attorney myself I actually know quite a few people like that. I am about to semi-retire (maybe retire) at the end of next week. I don't hate my work. It is highly stressful and I don't want the stress. In my case I have (I think if all works out) that I am going to be able to work part-time doing only the things that I like doing and that is great.

But I know lots of people who don't get the retirement idea at all. I was talking to a colleague and he just can't wrap his head around it. He says he wouldn't know what to do if he retired. Well...I have hobbies. I have interests. I have lots of other things I want to do. I've practiced law for over 30 years and now I'm ready to do something else with most of my time.

For him....well...he is one dimensional. And that is great for him. But you won't ever find him on this board.
I also know several folks who love work and can't think of doing anything else. Whether I'd call them one-dimensional or not is something else, but I certainly don't judge them harshly. Good luck to them.
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:15 PM   #36
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I think we are talking about one of the brightest minds in the history of the US legal profession.
Many would say that is not exactly high praise.

One can argue about whether Rehnquist was a brilliant lawyer and/or judge (and I respectfully suggest that opinions are perhaps not entirely unanimous); but that quite a separate issue from whether he was essentially one-dimensional.

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But I think a better solution is to find something to be passionate about, and then be utterly devoted to that. I realize this is likely to be a minority view on this board, as so many of you seem to hate your jobs and can think of nothing better than to escape from them.
Well, escaping from the demands of work is the implicit theme of this board, after all.

I do agree that the SEC can use a lot more passion in its lawyers.
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:23 AM   #37
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You are rather clueless, aren't you. SEC lawyers don't make seven-figure incomes or determine the course of human events.

But XSEC lawyers do.

And we'll do that long after you've taken down your inconsequential shingle and "retired early" because your working life is so meaningless.

I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:28 AM   #38
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I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.
From reading the few posts that you made during your tenure, I wouldn't claim to "know" you, but I would be willing to bet a nice sum that your departure has brightened the mood in many a room.

Have yourself a nice life.

(and another one goes on the ignore list)
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:48 AM   #39
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You are rather clueless, aren't you. SEC lawyers don't make seven-figure incomes or determine the course of human events.

But XSEC lawyers do.

And we'll do that long after you've taken down your inconsequential shingle and "retired early" because your working life is so meaningless.

I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.
"Lumpen slums of cyberspace"? Is that the best you can do?
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:21 AM   #40
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"Lumpen slums of cyberspace"? Is that the best you can do?
Levittown?
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