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Not so young anymore!
Old 06-28-2005, 04:21 PM   #1
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Not so young anymore!

Hi all,

I am a New Yorker, 35M, married and have a beautiful 3 year old daughter.

It seems like that I have found this forum little too late in my life and given the "overwhelming" information around retirement (early or not), I get nervous everyday. I am not much of an investor and as a result have stored most of my savings in banks earning interest less than inflation. I would love to retire early but not sure how and I hope that you whizkids can help me get started!

Here is my situation...I have a job which pays about 100k/yr. (including bonus etc.). I max out on my 401k but started way too late in my life...about 4 years ago. I have about 50k in there now. I also have about 20k in stock that I bought from my company over the last three years. I have about 100k in the savings account earning 3% as of now.

I bought a house about 3 years ago whose market value is around 300k. I have about 175k left in debt at 6.25%. No other debt so far.

I tried my hand at equity investing last year but lost more than 50%....I guess I did not read enough on how to remove emotions from trading

I have been reading alot about ETFs but haven't had guts to invest yet.

Then I got in to this forum and there is a lot of information here along with fundadvice.com and lot of helping people. I hope I can come up with a plan in the next couple of months. I still have to use the calc to get a handle on my situation but until then, any comments would be much appreciated.

Q
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-28-2005, 04:53 PM   #2
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Re: Not so young anymore!

You're not too late - I wish I had started at 35 - it was closer to 50 for me.* And don't worry about losing - sometimes you need to pay your dues and nothing like losing real money will teach you lessons in investing as well as humility.*

Pay attention to what the ER people here talk about.* Unlike financial advisors, they aren't after your money and they are proof that it can be done and in lots of different ways.* *


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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-28-2005, 04:58 PM   #3
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Re: Not so young anymore!

I've become a broken record, but read 4 pillars. Get money in your savings moved into an IRA, Vanguard is a good company to go with, others like Fidelity etc. Sell that company stock and stick it in an index fund!
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-28-2005, 05:14 PM   #4
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Refinancing your mortgage might be an option, too, if you plan to stay put.
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-28-2005, 06:11 PM   #5
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Re: Not so young anymore!

You have not started too late. What would be too late is starting after now that you know more about economic issues.

Get a financial plan together, meaning emergency fund, necessary insurance, an asset allocation you are comfortable with and will hold through difficult times.

Oh yeah, pay off credit cards, if any, first. Maybe refinance the mortgage. Get a sense of where your money goes so you know what can be cut to find money to save and what is actually necessary. Although New York is an expensive place there are a remarkable number of cheap/free things to do there too.Then get the investments on autopilot. Its actually pretty simple though not always easy. Check back in with specific questions and progress reports.
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 04:28 AM   #6
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Re: Not so young anymore!

You have not started too late. There are however a number of things that you must do.

First, get your financial house in order (pay off credit cards, emergency fund, etc.)

Second, put a plan together. Read Four Pillars, etc. and put a plan together. Cautious is ok and will work, but letting fear control (i.e. all funds in savings) will not. The plan must be one that you are comfortable with. Educated yourself. Be aware of the highs and lows and realize that you do not have to have a 20-25% return on investments to achieve financial independence.

Third, write your plan down on paper.

Fourth, stick with your plan through the ups and downs of the market, economy, etc.

Fifth, let growth and compounding work for you.

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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 11:06 AM   #7
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Quote:
I tried my hand at equity investing last year but lost more than 50%....I guess I did not read enough on how to remove emotions from trading
Good lord. Perhaps you need to stop trading [read: speculating] and start investing. I would definitely check out Terrance Odean's site [he's a prof at Berkeley] on individual investors, trading, and other behavioral stuff. Another good reference for how your emotions and brain trick you is Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes And How To Correct Them: Lessons From The New Science Of Behavioral Economics

I would learn the basics before going headfirst into investing. The Dummies books are an excellent place to start: "Investing For Dummies", "Mutual Funds For Dummies", "Personal Finance For Dummies." A lot of local libraries have these available [for free* ]. There's nothing wrong with starting late in life, but don't shoot yourself in the foot.*

- Alec
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 12:18 PM   #8
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Duh?

If you are planing to retire - why not go buy a retirement portfolio like Vanguard Target Retirement Series - put your money in until the time comes - Then retire.

Anything more complicated is just hormones - or to be charitible - the natural human tendancy to complicate something simple.

Of course - being male with hormones - I just gotta putz with stocks - it's incurable. But it is not central to my retirement.

Lagniappe yes - but not central.
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 03:33 PM   #9
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Thank you all for the re-assurance. I hope I can get thru this phase.

To answer some of the comments:

1. Lawrence - When you suggested moving the savings money to IRA, do you mean all of it? I pressume not. Essentially divide it in to emergency fund for 3-6 months (ofcourse, using LBYM) and IRA. What else should I subdivide it in to?

2. Lawrence - The company stock that I own has given me about 33% resturn so far (3 years). The stock price has been steady for a while now and I do not expect much return going forward. It may make sense to sell it now. I generally put about $500 in to ESPP and I get 15% discount on it at the end of offering period and I can sell it anytime. I think, even when I seel what I have, I will continue with it. It is a 15% return.

3. Refinance was an option and I was thinking about switching to 15 year from 5 year arm which would have increased only $150/mo in mortgage but decided against it after I looked at my credit report. The score was little low because I missed one mortgage payment last year. I was out of the country and they had re-worked my escrow which I did not know about. So I sent in the regular peyment which did not get applied until the following month!!! I also have an insurance claim pending for water in the basement. So re-finance is not an option as of now.

4. Yakers - when you say NY has cheap/free things, can you please give me some pointers? I do look for good deals when I buy stuff but I prefer not to go overboard. I would rather spend time with my daughter than clip thru all the coupons day in and day out. I do under stand that it may make a difference in the long run but then not spending time with daughter/family will as well. I hope I got your message right.

5. Yakers - I am generally quite careful with how I spend my money. I am the saver in the famly and my wife is getting there . It has taken me several years to push her in this direction but it has been difficult as hell!

6. ats5g - Thanks for the pointers. Believe me, I have learnt my lesson. Although, I must say, that the money that I invested was not something I could not afford to loose at the time. So it was a risk without proper planning. I could have minimized it. I still do not count the money left in my brokerage account in my net worth! If I can recover the losses by putting it in a mutual fund/ETF, great. Otherwise, I will take it out next year.

7. unclemick2 - You probably nailed it. In the course of investing, I did play around with penny stocks and made some money as well. But it was more for a rush than sound investing now that I think about it!

8. unclemick2 - I have looked at the Vanguard TRS as well but I have not yet come to terms with the fact that I just cannot get 20-30% return in the long term and time/compounding needs to play a big role in my investing strategy. That is why I am here. To learn from the steps which others may have taken to get their situations right.

9. riskaverse - I guess starting at 35 is not as much an issue as starting with the funds I have. I understand that you started at 50 but if you had much better cash/portfolio situation than mine (extra/intra polating it), then age really does not matter.


I am also thinking of getting in touch with http://www.merrimancapital.com/ for one time portfolio analysis and development. Anyone had any experience with them?

Q
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 05:00 PM   #10
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Quote:
9. riskaverse - I guess starting at 35 is not as much an issue as starting with the funds I have. I understand that you started at 50 but if you had much better cash/portfolio situation than mine (extra/intra polating it), then age really does not matter.
At 35 I had just quit my job, enrolled in a computer trade school, cashed in my 16K retirement account (and failed to pay taxes on it), and started a whole new career.* *My new job paid $18,500 and my net worth was probably 30K.*
At 50 my net worth looked more like yours.* Believe me, you have enough time.* If I knew at 35 what I was figuring out at 50 I could have retired lots earlier.* Of course, if I knew what I know now back in high school -- nevermind I won't go there.* * *
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 05:18 PM   #11
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Re: Not so young anymore!

riskaverse

Just an old saying that was on the side of my Mom's tape dispenser when I was growing up.

We grow old to fast and schmart to late!
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 06:45 PM   #12
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Hi qjj,

Not too late. Those loser investments are your stripes. Get the book (4Pillars). Set up the accounts, and FUND THEM regularly for the rest of your working life, which could well be shorter than you now think. Dump that debt ASAP.

You're on the way. Have fun!
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Re: Not so young anymore!
Old 06-29-2005, 08:15 PM   #13
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Re: Not so young anymore!

Well, Im'm not the best on things to do in NY, I'm a Chicago boy who lived in London (UK) and now is in California. But when I visited NY I had very few $ and I found free concerts in Central Park and great museums. I had to hunt around for cheap food, sort of like in Hawaii, it exists...follow a local.

I never got into shopping there but I would expect there is a garment district like in LA and Chicago's Maxwell Street. While I found NY remarkably expensive on my visits I just expect that it is so large and has so much to do that there would be some cheap choices like I know of in LA, Chicago and London. Finding them would be part of the fun of the place. Ethnic festivals?
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