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Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-06-2006, 12:03 PM   #1
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Smart or Lucky?

Before I do the intro I want to tell you all how grateful I am for finding this board and how much I am learning from your combined experience. I’ve been lurking here for a while and want to join in some of the discussions, so here is my story:

So…when I was 18 the only ideas I had for “careers” involved either the military or law enforcement. The idea of serving and protecting others had a lot of attraction, but the reality also was that I just never saw myself doing anything else because I saw it all as “boring”. And to my then childish mind, being bored was a fate worse than death. Don’t worry – I outgrew that – when I was 43.

The Marine Corps was fun, but without a war all of the training started to get – you guessed it – boring. A twenty-five year career in law enforcement provided me with all the non-boring entertainment I could stand and I found myself one night, after yet another particularly exciting series of events, thinking that I was too old for all of this fun.

A couple of promotions in as many years found me doing a job that I hated but the owner of a pretty darn good pension package and a family that I felt I had neglected.

In the early 1980’s I got a small windfall, some of which I wasted on stupid things and the rest I invested in what turned out to be the greatest bull market ever. As it grew larger I admit that I was scared to mess with it and was extremely conservative in my decisions. The result was that I took a hit when it fell, but not as bad as most others and it has grown back quite nicely since then.

At 45 I had over $3M in after tax investments, a pension that started at $53K a year, health care for life and tax-deferred accounts of almost $300K. Then they offered me a deal to stop working and still get paid for two years+ while they paid me back for a career’s worth of never used sick and vacation time.

I crunched numbers for a few months and everything said, “you can go now”. But it was only after the CEO decided that he wanted me to do the most-demanding (and most-hated) job my pay grade was eligible for that I called HR and had them cash in my chips. In 45 minutes I went from a vague idea of retiring in two years to looking for boxes to pack my junk in.

When I left I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to do for myself, but the only real goal I had was being a bigger part of my two sons’ daily lives. My job had always offered flexibility to be there for all of the major events in their lives, but there had been too many times when I said good night over the phone while on surveillance in New York or Miami.

Sixty-hour weeks have been replaced by playing golf and doing homework with the kids. I’ve spent a lot of time learning all I can about investing and financially surviving retirement, but I have yet to figure out what I want to “do” for the rest of my life. I just turned 47, the oldest son is a Junior in HS and the youngest is in 7th grade and while family is still my top priority, there are some things I want to do before I'm too old. My wife seems open to anything, but we have yet to decide on any changes. If anything, picking something from the number of possibilities is the real challenge.
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-06-2006, 12:33 PM   #2
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Welcome to the board, Leo!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas
The Marine Corps was fun, but without a war all of the training started to get – you guessed it – boring.
I just turned 47, the oldest son is a Junior in HS and the youngest is in 7th grade and while family is still my top priority, there are some things I want to do before I'm too old.* My wife seems open to anything, but we have yet to decide on any changes.* If anything, picking something from the number of possibilities is the real challenge.
Just what we need... another Marine. At least you've seen the light.

It sounds like your kids will be driving any changes for the next few years, and you won't have any trouble staying busy. It certainly won't be boring...
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-06-2006, 02:48 PM   #3
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Buy a Farm.
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-06-2006, 05:02 PM   #4
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Get into farming only if you enjoy working outside in hot, cold and rainy weather.
Not an income generator unless on a large scale.
Then you get into personnel management and it's not easy hiring farmworkers now unless they are illegal.
That is a whole 'nother hassle.
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-06-2006, 06:30 PM   #5
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Leo,

You seem to have a pretty good situation and a pretty good idea of what you want to do. Looks good to me.

Take your time deciding what to do next. Put everything on cruise control.

Beware of buying something big (farm, business, boat, etc.). Why would you need a new financial commitment? I have seen people who had no previous experience running a business and were otherwise in good shape buy or create a business and lose a lot of money. One chap had to go back to work (I had to work for him, and neither of us liked it).

All the best,

Ed
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-08-2006, 12:13 AM   #6
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Quote:
Just what we need... another Marine.
Nords,

If a marine wants to talk, I will listen. (Response depends, but he gets the floor.)

Ed
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-08-2006, 10:46 AM   #7
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
Nords,
If a marine wants to talk, I will listen.* (Response depends, but he gets the floor.)
Ed
Regular Army
Besides, it's not as if we have a choice!

I was at the debrief of a multi-service exercise where it was clear (from earlier meetings) that the participants were going to blather on for hours. The flag officer had been threatening everyone with time limits but no one had paid him any attention. So at the beginning of the final meeting he put a two-gallon bucket of ice water on the table and announced that he'd given up. Everyone was welcome to talk as long as they wanted-- but they had to keep one hand in the water bucket.

The meeting lasted less than an hour. Most speakers wrapped it up under two minutes. One guy got a little competitive and wouldn't stop talking, of course-- the Marine. He lasted almost 15 minutes, and the speaker who followed him claimed that the bucket of water had gotten even colder...
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-11-2006, 06:53 AM   #8
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

You put your hand in that bucket, Nords?

I had a similar experience as part of the ongoing, 15-year heart study I participate in every few years. They were trying to test our reaction to stress, so they took our blood pressure while we held our arms in icewater for three minutes.

I expected it to be cold and it was, for about 15 seconds. Then it started to HURT LIKE HELL. Like my arm was in a vise!.

If that Marine did 15 minutes all I can say is "oohRAH!"

Leonidas -- you've been out of the force for a year or so now, do I read that correctly?

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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-11-2006, 10:26 AM   #9
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
You put your hand in that bucket, Nords?
I had a similar experience as part of the ongoing, 15-year heart study I participate in every few years.* They were trying to test our reaction to stress, so they took our blood pressure while we held our arms in icewater for three minutes.*
I expected it to be cold and it was, for about 15 seconds.* Then it started to HURT LIKE HELL.* Like my arm was in a vise!.*
If that Marine did 15 minutes all I can say is "oohRAH!"
Nah, I was senior enough to be expected to sit in the audience but not so senior that anyone felt compelled to hear my voice.

I learned to dive in Monterey Bay. To some extent cold-water endurance is an acquired skill...
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Re: Smart or Lucky?
Old 05-12-2006, 03:56 PM   #10
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Re: Smart or Lucky?

Thanks for the welcome everyone. Isn't it amazing how everyone has a Marine joke/story? You get used to it because it is so hard to be humble we don't even try anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline

Leonidas -- you've been out of the force for a year or so now, do I read that correctly?
Actually, I am semi-retired for almost two years now. They still send me a paycheck, and in return I keep qualified and licensed and stay out of trouble. The official retirement comes when my bank of stored vacation, sick, OT, etc. runs down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maximillion
Buy a Farm.
Very concise comment Maximillion.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the farming/ranching thing. Tax benefits galore and of course I would never lack for anything to do with my time because grass and hay grow constantly and equipment breaks even when you don't use it. The drawback would be there is always something that has to be done - because grass and hay grow constantly and equipment is always breaking---. The wife has always liked the idea, and I admit that it is starting to grow on me as the urban madness from the big city creeps ever closer to my once quiet suburban hideout. Maybe a weekend/summer kind of place would be worth trying.
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