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Not sure if I belong here. . .
Old 04-16-2010, 11:20 AM   #1
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Not sure if I belong here. . .

Hi -- I have no HOPE of retiring early, but this seemed like a good forum so I thought I would see if I can get some info here anyway. I'm 47 and only started saving for retirement 10 years ago. I know -- I suck. Long story about all that, but too late to fix it now.

I have a 403(b) through my job--5% is matched at 100%. For a while I was w/ TIAA-CREF, but when I tried to talk w/ someone there about my retirement, they basically just told me I was screwed -- I started to late, made too little $$, and would have to either work until I was 80 or work until I was 75 and die when I was 80. Needless to say, this made me pretty depressed.

Then, a few years later, I was at a benefits fair at my job and a VALIC rep was there. He gave us some materials and I told him I was a hopeless case (per TIAA-CREF folks). He asked if he could meet w/ me to go over my stuff, to see if that was really true. So we met, and he was MUCH more hopeful than they had been. He adjusted what I was investing in (not sure of the details there) and said that if I kept increasing my contributions, it would be o.k.

That was 4 years ago. Just met w/ him again, and decided, since I'm currently contributing as much as I can to the 403B and get matched, that I would add a Roth IRA. So right now there is, between my employer and myself, $4500 a year going into the 403(b) and $1200 a year (starting next month) going into the Roth. Once I pay off a few more things, I will be able to greatly increase how much I'm putting in there.

My 403(b) currently has about $43,000 in it.

Basically, my guy ran things on his calculator, and with social security, even if I never put more in the Roth than I am now (and I WILL), I should have the 2029 (i.e, retiring in 20 years at 67) equivalent of $3000-3500 a month to live on, given that I will need it into my 90s (all the women in my family live FOR-EVER). That probably doesn't sound like much, LOL, but I really only want to be able to live as I am now -- pretty simply. I have a small farm, which will be paid off by then, so I won't have a mortgage payment.

Anyhoo . . . Basically I'm wondering if this is a good place for me to be or not. I know most of you guys want to retire early, and I know I can't do that, but maybe I can learn here anyway? Or maybe someone can suggest another place if this isn't it?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:23 AM   #2
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Welcome, PawsPlus.

Yes, this is a good place. You have to start somewhere and there is good advice about saving and investing here. Check out the FAQ section for good links and lists of books that you may find helpful to understanding financing retirement.

Jump in with questions, you will get lots of answers!

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Old 04-16-2010, 11:26 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard. Even if not "early," anyone on a quest to get off the hamster wheel and start owning your own time again is a kindred spirit.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:29 AM   #4
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Great -- thanks!
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:57 AM   #5
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Yes, chiming in late here to say that personally I didn't retire until 61, which I still regard as early retirement. Ten years ago I was in pretty rocky financial shape and thought I would still be working at age 95. I was able to take advantage of the "over-50 catch-up" contributions to my retirement accounts which eventually made early retirement a real possibility for me as time went by. All we can do is to do our best to get to our goals.

Welcome to the Early Retirement Forum.
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:37 PM   #6
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Whoever told you the situation was "hopeless" was an @ss in my opinion. You are already ahead of most people just by doing what you're doing.

Keep focusing on increasing your savings a little at a time. You will be amazed at the results in 10 years.

I was going through some old 401k statements. In 2000, my 401k balance was at $20K. Now, in 2010, it is at $240K. A little discipline (and a good employer match) goes a long way.
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:47 PM   #7
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Pawsplus,

It is better to be at the bottom of the right mountain than the top of the wrong one. Although you may have started late, you have started, and you are climbing the right mountain!

Good luck.

PS- The ones who are really screwed are the ones that haven't figured out yet their screwed. You are not one of them by virtue of that fact.
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:57 PM   #8
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Don't be so hard on yourself. Many of us got sidetracked by one thing or another and got a late start on saving for retirement. I, for one, didn't begin saving until I was 37. The fact that you are aware of the issue and working in the right direction is the crucial fact.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:11 PM   #9
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"I'm 47 and only started saving for retirement 10 years ago. I know -- I suck."

No, no, no, and NO. That means you started saving for retirement when you were only 37! At 37, many folks are getting and spending for all they are worth - more interested in how their houses and cars compare to their peers' acquisitions, than in becoming financially independent. Others may have been on the right track, but got derailed by divorce, illness, job loss, legal issues, and other disasters.

Since you expect to live into your 90's, you are only halfway through life, so be hopeful. If you really aim to retire earlier than 67, search this forum, and you will find all kinds of ideas for how to do it. Meanwhile, all of us will encourage and guide you to analyze your lifestyle, spending, income possibilities, and investments so you can find your own path.

Good luck!

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Old 04-16-2010, 07:26 PM   #10
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"Not sure if I belong here"
Hmmmm...I've had that feeling for a long time, but not related to posting on this forum. Just kidding.

Welcome aboard and learn all you can. I'm still on the learning curve myself.

I didn't get started in any sort of investing until I was 30 with my TSP 401(k), and nothing else until I was 38 with payroll deduction for some EE series savings bonds. First mutual fund was purchased when I was 39.
I cranked everything WAY up after that "first toe in the pool" to make up for "lost time". It all turned out OK.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pawsplus View Post
I'm 47 and only started saving for retirement 10 years ago. I know -- I suck. Long story about all that, but too late to fix it now.
Like others have said, you're still far ahead of most people, you don't suck at all. And it's not too late by any means. It takes discipline, but the principles/concepts are exactly the same whether your goal is to retire at 35, 45, 55, 65 or 75. We're all on different timetables, and you're most welcome here like anyone else.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:44 PM   #12
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It's not a contest! This is a good place to be if you are interested in retirement in general and living frugally.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:55 PM   #13
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Welcome pawsplus!

There are lot of folks here to learn from. Just browse and read and ask a few questions and keep learning. I've been here around 3 years and one of the most meaningful things for me was hearing from people who are retiring successfully. The key seems to be learning to live below your means and SAVE.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:57 PM   #14
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Try reading "The millionaire Next door" and "the Wealthy Barber" They're the bibles I follow.

One step better, don't buy them get them from the public library, and you'll have made a first step!
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by caninelover View Post
Whoever told you the situation was "hopeless" was an @ss in my opinion. You are already ahead of most people just by doing what you're doing.
Maybe for another $1000 the TIAA-CREF rep would have given a different answer...
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:51 AM   #16
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No, you're not hopeless. I didn't start thinking about retirement until my mid thirties either. But you're still way ahead of most others I know simply because you're doing something about it now, and started on it ten years ago.

One couple we know has had a terrific time over the last 25 years but their next 25 looks pretty bleak as they are now $700k in debt. It is academically interesting to watch their financial train wreck unfold.

Another couple, in their 50's, spends every dime they get. Her "emergency fund" is $500, and her retirement plan is that they'll sell the house and move to NC, and his National Guard pension will come in. Yeah, that will buy groceries if they live on rice and beans.

So you're way ahead of a lot of other folks out there.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:55 PM   #17
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When I was your age I had no more than you do. Not too late at all to save. You have time to make it. What is early retirement? To me as early as I can afford it! Whatever that age turns out to be.
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:26 AM   #18
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Thanks, guys! I really feel much better. I have simple needs, so maybe I CAN retire early . . . . mmmmm. I'll have to keep learning! For sure my 3% raise this year (IF we get one--still not sure as last year we did not ) will go to the 403(b).
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:16 PM   #19
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I would say 'Don't depend on what others tell you, learn for yourself' and this is a pretty good place to start. Start tracking your expenses, track you own savings growth, get the details on any pensions plans. It's not hard, but sometimes time consuming. I for one did not realize I could retire until I really started tracking expenses.
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:31 PM   #20
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I now track everything religiously. I was Very Very Bad with money for many years, but got out of debt and got my act in gear, and things are Good now. I will increase how much I'm putting in retirement, but I don't want to end up having NO fun now. For all I know I'll get hit by a mack truck at 64 and my last thought will be, "DAMMIT!! I should have SPENT that $$!" So one has to strike a balance.
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