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Newbie to site, retired early 18 years ago
Old 11-04-2017, 06:08 PM   #1
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Newbie to site, retired early 18 years ago

As the title states, my wife and I were early retirees, retiring at ages 42 and 43 respectively, back in mid-1999. Prior to retiring, we spent 10 years as adjunct university instructors, teaching college courses on US military bases in Japan and Korea. The income wasn't great (no better than adjuncts stateside), but it was tax free. For the last six of those years, I also worked half-time as a (non-civil service) statistician for the Marine Corps. We lived on my wife's earnings and saved/invested mine. Our apartment in Japan was about the size of a 2-car garage; the only married colleague who lived in a smaller place built himself a very nice $700,000 house overlooking an avocado grove in southern California when he retired a year after we did.

We went across the Pacific with virtually our entire non-retirement net worth of about $30,000 sitting in a stateside CD. When we retired, that nest egg was approximately $2.5 million. One does not accumulate that kind of wealth on 10 years of an adjunct instructor's salary plus six years of half an NF-4's salary. One must invest; which we started doing in the mid-1990's, thanks to the excellent investment guidance of that colleague with the tiny apartment and some very, very fortuitous market timing.

We've been living off of that non-retirement portfolio since retiring, and plan do do so until we each reach age 70-1/2 at which time we'll take social security and our required IRA distributions. In spite of 2001, in spite of 2008, and in spite of living off of it for the past 18 years, the value of our non-retirement portfolio is now double what it was at retirement. We also own a reasonably modest (2600 sq ft finished) house in southern Minnesota, three cars (one new, one old, and one that needs to be gotten rid of) and a house full of the usual stuff. And no debt.

One lesson learned after 2008 (I guess we're somewhat slow learners) is to structure the investment portfolio a little more conservatively in retirement. It was about 8% cash when we retired, and pretty close to that today. However, instead of being 20% mutual funds 72% stocks, the remainder is now about 15% bonds, 25% robo-advised index ETFs, 25% mutual funds, and the remainder individual stocks.

I'll close this introduction with an observation that I'm sure is obvious to most potential and actual early retirees: health insurance on the open market is expensive!
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Old 11-04-2017, 07:34 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Early Retirement Forum, RockDoctor!

What a wonderful life you have led. Retiring at 43, and being this financially secure all these years later sounds like a life anyone would want to lead.

I can imagine that health insurance is a challenging problem, and there have been many threads on that topic, some general and some specific. Here is a collection of links about health care reform that MichaelB has put together, that looks helpful.
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Old 11-05-2017, 04:13 PM   #3
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Welcome!

Individual Health insurance is indeed very expensive and it is my biggest financial concern. So far, we can afford it, but if it keeps increasing at this rate (27% in 2017 and 38% in 2018), it will start crimping our lifestyle.
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Old 11-05-2017, 04:54 PM   #4
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One lesson learned after 2008 (I guess we're somewhat slow learners) is to structure the investment portfolio a little more conservatively in retirement. It was about 8% cash when we retired, and pretty close to that today. However, instead of being 20% mutual funds 72% stocks, the remainder is now about 15% bonds, 25% robo-advised index ETFs, 25% mutual funds, and the remainder individual stocks.
You had 72% of your portfolio in individual stocks? Yeesh, that was risky!

We have found insurance in MA's marketplace very affordable. Due to subsidies, we are paying less now than I paid for my employee share of a family plan back when I was employed. Perhaps it's all about locale.
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Old 11-05-2017, 06:02 PM   #5
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You have done very well and not many could of done what you have done so early in life.

if I may ask what was your WR (%) when you retired and what is it today?

I find your journey very interesting and you folks had a great plan I would say.

With some of the numbers and narrative you gave you doubled your portfolio to about 5M. So in 18 years you added 2.5M which would be about 4% return average for each year you been retired. That also would be the bottom line after your expenses have been taken out.

Your recipe for ER as such a young age is very interesting and something we could all learn from.

Thanks
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Old 11-05-2017, 06:58 PM   #6
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Insurance is high but we can afford it. We've got a large capital gain for 2017 as a couple of significant long-term holdings were bought out for cash. First earmark is for income taxes. Second earmark is for health insurance with the assumption that the state's subsidy is going to disappear.
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Old 11-06-2017, 03:46 AM   #7
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I like your Tunnel View avatar. I was there in June.
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Old 11-06-2017, 04:13 AM   #8
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As a newbie, I have to ask - what is WR? In my former line of work it would stand for whole rock.
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Old 11-06-2017, 04:14 AM   #9
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WR = Withdrawal Rate

* Acronyms and Slang Frequently Used on the Forum *
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Old 11-06-2017, 04:25 AM   #10
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It was a little bit higher after the market crashes, but at this point it's about 2%. Next year will probably be higher, given this year's realized capital gains and the taxes on them and the ongoing lifestyle creep.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:25 AM   #11
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I'm sorry at one point when I found this site I had no idea what people were talking about with all their shortcuts. LOL I still run across shortcuts that I have to go look up. Thanks for your response.
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:24 PM   #12
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Welcome and also love your avatar! I have that exact picture, a famous one at that. Too bad I have such a fear of heights. We could only do carefully planned trails. That shot was taken at a parking lot from a bus tour. I had to shut my eyes climbing up, at times.You'll enjoy FIRE, dam good discussions go on here.
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:55 PM   #13
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Welcome to the forum Rock Dr. Your story is inspiring, thanks for sharing it with us. $2.5M in 1999 was serious coin for a couple in their early 40's to amass (BLS inflation calculator value of $3.75M today). To accomplish that in 10 years with the income you stated required great discipline and (to quote you) "very, very fortuitous market timing". Nice job, looking forward to learning more from you.
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:09 PM   #14
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Loved reading your ER story.

Here's a story related to your picture:

~ (that means around, more or less) 40 years ago, I saw this poster in the mall and I bought it. Had it hanging up in my bedroom for years.

Fast forward ~18 years ago, I'm getting married. Pre wife and I walk in photographer's home, the gentleman who will be doing our wedding.

I see the poster that I used to have hanging on his wall and I mention how I used to have it hanging on my wall. He says, yeah, that's my photograph, I took it.

It was a quite popular poster. It was a lone shack built into the mountains and surrounded by rugged wilderness.
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:28 PM   #15
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Prior to retiring, we spent 10 years as adjunct university instructors, teaching college courses on US military bases in Japan and Korea.
Univ of Maryland?
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:36 PM   #16
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Univ of Maryland?
My secret is out.
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:54 PM   #17
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Univ of Maryland?

Quote:
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My secret is out.
We had some close friends in Europe (back in the day) who taught for UofMd. Man, talk about a gypsy lifestyle! They moved about every year, and did most of that in their car & thru the USPS. They didn’t own a single piece of ‘rigid’ furniture. They were very happy.
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Old 11-06-2017, 03:20 PM   #18
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Rather than requiring great discipline, I'd say all it took was a mutual determination to make hay while the sun shines, and not complaining about getting wet during the occasional shower.
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Old 11-06-2017, 03:37 PM   #19
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Man, talk about a gypsy lifestyle!
There's a reason the website for former UMUC overseas faculty is at gypsyscholars.org. We were fortunate. The program on Okinawa was so large that after a couple of years of bouncing around Korea and Japan, we were able to stay on Okinawa for eight years.
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