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How did you stay focused on ER?
Old 12-24-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
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How did you stay focused on ER?

We would like to hear more success stories on reaching ER.

DW works for a small co. and will probably continue working PT in the future. DH works for megacorp. Not a bad gig, but the office politics, DRAMA, (Hollywood could not have written this stuff) and long hours have taken their toll.

With a little luck and Mr. Market we could be looking at ER in 10+/-yrs. (I guess that makes us part of the 2020 club also.)

Both 49 "DINKS" Small town frugal lifestyle but love to travel when we can.

Best moves: Bought funds in Vanguard 20 years ago.(wish it was 30) Thanks, Jack B.! (Started with only 13k added to it when we could)

Worst moves: Buying Worldcom stock right before the meltdown.

We are reading Bob Clyatt's book right now. Good stuff. Thanks Bob.
Wishing all of you the best in 2011.

Dances With Fire
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Old 12-24-2010, 05:51 PM   #2
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My own story is maybe a little unusual in that my FIRE is not due to many years of long-term planning and investing. All the way up until almost age 40 I never saved much or even cared about money. I figured my finances would just take care of themselves, and there were so many more important things in life. That was a huge mistake, and at about age 40, in the middle of a lousy recession, I crashed and burned financially, ushering in the darkest, most desperate, most humiliating time I have known or ever want to know.

I came out of it a completely changed person who was, it's probably fair to say, fanatical about achieving sustainable financial independence as soon as possible. Almost everything I did, and didn't do, was for the purpose of FIRE. I negotiated hard for pay raises, and sometimes I w*rked two and even three jobs. Paychecks were for the FIRE fund. It was their only purpose. I held back only tiny amounts for my living expenses. I bought almost no luxuries, and I didn't date, since $100 on dinner and movie would cost me $4 in annual retirement income. Sounds crazy now, but it was a holy crusade then. I truly felt like I was wrestling with the devil, and any slip-up would cost me everything I valued. Nothing else mattered.

Eight years of that fever allowed me exit the w*rkforce in April 2010. Since then I've been travelling, reading, napping, seeing friends, and just enjoying not being under anybody's thumb. I'm sleeping the soundest I have slept in many, many years. I'm even thinking of dating.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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How did you stay focused on ER?
Well, I wasn't going to be able to focus on my career.

We valued our financial independence, freedom, flexibility, and time more than we valued spending money for things to make us feel better.
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Old 12-24-2010, 11:10 PM   #4
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Well, I wasn't going to be able to focus on my career.

We valued our financial independence, freedom, flexibility, and time more than we valued spending money for things to make us feel better.
Yep, stopped shopping, maxed out my 401k and Roth IRA in the last 10+ years, invested carefully but not conservatively, and retired at 62.

I missed having free time, and I had enormous work stress that was unhealthy. That plus serious illness made it clear to me that I had to retire ASAP. I live well, but I don't fritter away money. I cook. We do netflix, don't go to the movies. But we have a big screen TV so it's not like I feel deprived .

There's nothing I really want that I can't afford - I just try to keep life relatively easy on me.

So save, save, save - and invest, invest, invest... I also did NOT like my job any more, that helped a lot.
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Old 12-24-2010, 11:15 PM   #5
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... Almost everything I did, and didn't do, was for the purpose of FIRE. ... I didn't date ... Nothing else mattered.

Eight years of that fever allowed me exit the w*rkforce in April 2010 ... I'm even thinking of dating.
Be careful, my friend, or dating may send you back to w*rk!
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Old 12-25-2010, 07:48 AM   #6
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How did you stay focused on ER?

Simple. I was "living" the alternative ...

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side...
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Old 12-25-2010, 09:22 AM   #7
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Welcome Dear Dances!

My formula was to become ruthless about my saving and spending. Pay attention to your investments (although I probably spend too much time on them). And, I have been very, very lucky, in spite of some disasters over the years.

Part of my motivation was, and is, that I was on my own at a very early age. I was forced to learn about FI at age 17. My first investing lesson was arbitraging my student loans in college. I worked a parttime job to pay my tuition and I was receiving survivorship bennies from SS, so I did not need the student loan, but it was 0% interest until 6 months after my graduation. The loan guy at the college practically forced me to take the money, and I'm glad he did. I took as much as they would let me borrow and put it in the bank, made interest, and then took my time paying it off after graduation because I was able to invest the money at a higher interest rate than I was paying. At age 17 or so I thought that was pretty cool.

I followed the standard advice that you will find on this site: I have never carried a balance on my credit card in 34 years of holding a card. Paid cash for cars, drove them as long as it was economically feasible. I usually get a minimum of 10 years out of a car; right now, we have one that is 9 and one that is 13 years old . Bought some used, some new, mostly Hondas because they run forever and they are so reliable. We now do most of the maintenance ourselves. Paid off my mortgage early, and bought less house than I could afford.

I did not start out as a high income person. In 1975, graduating from college, I made a salary of $5,500 per year. Certainly not wealthy. However, DW and I both worked and saved and I tried to advance my career by changing jobs, looking for opportunities, taking some risks. As soon as I worked in a place with a 403b, I started saving for ER, about 30 years ago. Best thing I ever did. Started with $5 per pay and gradually increased every year. Have been maxing out for the past 10 years. I have been a high income earner for the past 10 years, so I have a 457 plan that I also max out. If all goes well I hope to ER in about 2 years at age 59.
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Old 12-25-2010, 01:06 PM   #8
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I was probably in my mid thirties, married, one child, house, car and misc. debt. Had a good job and was making good money just couldn't seem to get ahead. Read Charles Givens book, Wealth Without Risk and cherry picked the strategies I liked such as paying off debt, paying mortgage off in half the time, only carrying term life insurance and raising deductible amounts to max allowable on car and the house policies. He also got me interested in investing, primarily low cost index funds. Started reading books by Bogle, Peter Lynch and a few other investment types. Once I got all but my house paid off, saved, saved and saved. Still took vacations and enjoyed life, just put some discipline into spending and followed a budget. Maxed out my 401K contributions early on, plus my company had a defined benefit plan which allowed me to walk with a nice lump sum. Retired at 55 and rolled everything into an IRA which I control. Guess I never really though that much about retiring early but when I started running the numbers and realized I could, work became less attractive. Been retired now for five years, have enjoyed playing all the golf I want, riding my motorcycle, taking music lessons, seeing the grand kids as much as I want and I still work part time during the winter months, just to get out of the house. In retrospect, I guess I just followed a plan, was fortunate with my job and investments, plus married to a frugal woman, which helped a bunch.
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Old 12-25-2010, 04:04 PM   #9
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I must admit, it was very difficult to focus on retirement 30 years ago when I started my last (now retired from) job. BS degree in Biology gave me no decent job prospects. MS in my present field did, but it was in NJ and I lasted through one winter before moving back South for a PhD. Next job up north (but not as far as NJ) did not turn out well either, so I quit and cut wood for a while. Found a decent job in 1979 back in the deep South ( do not like cold weather and nothern culture). Company was small then but growing.
I bacically got in on the ground floor heading up my own small department, which had to grow tremendously as the company grew by more than ten fold in thirty years. Always lived eneath my income and married in my 30's.
Really started saving $$$ then. As the company got larger, options and bonuses went into savings and the market. Company stock was a plus and it took off. I still have some worth 10X more than the basis. No need to sell. You might say there was a certain amount of luck involved, but I have seen in my life and that of others that those who are willing to work harder than others early in their careers often get the best payoff.
Once the small pile got bigger, the more I put in and the faster the growth.
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Old 12-25-2010, 04:27 PM   #10
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I focused more on FI than ER. Unlike most on this board I loved my career, at least until near the end. Eventually, the job became a real pain and by then we had enough for ER. Lived below our means ( as it turned out) while investing heavily all along. If you have the means the rest is easy.
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Old 12-25-2010, 04:34 PM   #11
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I was probably in my mid thirties, married, one child, house, car and misc. debt. Had a good job and was making good money just couldn't seem to get ahead. Read Charles Givens book, Wealth Without Risk and cherry picked the strategies I liked such as paying off debt, paying mortgage off in half the time, only carrying term life insurance and raising deductible amounts to max allowable on car and the house policies. He also got me interested in investing, primarily low cost index funds. Started reading books by Bogle, Peter Lynch and a few other investment types. Once I got all but my house paid off, saved, saved and saved. Still took vacations and enjoyed life, just put some discipline into spending and followed a budget.
As a 30 year old; it really cheers me up to read about this working out. This has been my exact path the last couple of years!

Haven't ER'd, but one way I stay focused is by hanging around here.
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Old 12-25-2010, 04:36 PM   #12
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I have always been pretty frugal, that helps, in fact it's probably essential. I started saving and investing seriously in my late 20's. My MegaCorp froze our pensions and eliminated retiree health care when I was about 40. Made me ramp up saving and investing considerably. Now at 56, I'm more than FI (about 2.5% WR) but not RE yet. Ironically, having MegaCorp take away all our retirement benefits probably helped me reach FI much sooner than I otherwise would have...admittedly just lucky timing for me.
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Old 12-25-2010, 06:30 PM   #13
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I never really needed the extra motivation, but watching my friends - who mostly had about the same education and salary as I - accumulate children, nicer cars, and houses, while saving minimal $$ or keeping their 401k's in cash because of the dangers of the stock market tread water for decades, then have to plan on working basically forever as we got older kept serving as a warning.
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Old 12-25-2010, 08:16 PM   #14
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It is distracting, but DW and I are on the path, and looking at 2019 or maybe 2020.
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Old 12-25-2010, 08:36 PM   #15
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As a 30 year old; it really cheers me up to read about this working out. This has been my exact path the last couple of years!

Haven't ER'd, but one way I stay focused is by hanging around here.
One thing I failed to mentioned which was also a major factor was, I was eligible for retiree medical coverage. If I had not gotten that I would no doubt still be working.
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Old 12-25-2010, 08:57 PM   #16
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i hate my job but it pays very good, so i keep going into the office every week. we travel in our motor home frequently to look in on our out of state properties & dream of moving to oregon soon. i guess thats what keeps me motivated, wanting to leave california for good. every year i make a plan to invest more than the last & so far i have been able to do so.
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Old 12-25-2010, 09:21 PM   #17
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How did you stay focused on ER?

We figured out how much money we should have in order to retire.

We could save less and it would take longer or we could save more and retire earlier. We chose the latter.
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Old 12-25-2010, 09:44 PM   #18
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Well, I have admitted elsewhere in this forum that I did not focus on ER. I was strictly focused on FI, to build up my pile of money. I love to count money, even if only figuratively done with a spreadsheet.

"Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world"
- ABBA

So, that has been my motivation.
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:16 PM   #19
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My wife and I are very much goal-oriented people. The minute we decided to make FIRE one of the most important goals of our lives, it became quite easy to stay on task. We drew up a plan with regular milestones to measure progress against. Reaching the next milestone ahead of time became a game for us.
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:40 PM   #20
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What got me motivated? The thought that I was someone's pet. The Man told me when to come , where to sit, when to leave. Worked on a leash. Spent many days chasing my tail. Spent even more time plotting my escape. Out at 50. Life tastes better already
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