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ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 10:50 AM   #1
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ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

For your amusement:

http://cbs.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid={0077B904-A54E-430E-A914-F0B5B5ED2F62}&siteid=mktw

(site may require subscription to view article after a few days)

Interesting quotes:

"...[E]arly retirement -- and the notion of weaving in and out of the work force -- is nothing more than yet another American fairy tale. "

"[T]hose who retire early, either permanently or for a spell, don't necessarily enjoy the good life. ... The median family income of those who retired early was $24,000 vs. $41,000 for those still working."

malakito


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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 01:46 PM   #2
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

Another quote: "The average age of retirement in the U.S. is currently 63, and edging up." Great! The fewer of us there are, the better.

Also, I do expect that that I won't have as much at 65 or 70 as many of my peers who get the maximum pension and maximum SS, but I could care less. I'm viewing that 10+ years of freedom between 52 & 62/65 as priceless. I only get one shot at it, and I'm more than willing to pay the price. A lot of men die in their 60's.
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 03:01 PM   #3
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

I dropped him a note...

Dear Robert:

As a former marketing exec who did studies and surveys, and spent considerable time torturing data to produce the results I wanted, I see some of the numbers in your article not telling the whole story.

Let me tell you mine, and its shared by a fair number of people. We communicate daily on a number of web sites.

I retired early (39) from a high stress, high tech job. Some good real estate investments and getting out of the stock market in early 2000 with my run-up profits intact.

I had been living in a huge mcmansion with three expensive cars, a boat, a gardener, housekeeper...ate out almost every meal. Two week jetsetter style vacations every year.

I sold the mcmansion, the cars and the boat. Bought a 2000sq ft house in a nice middle class neighborhood, a couple of inexpensive cars, fired the gardener and housekeeper, and honed my skills as an amateur chef. I paid off all outstanding debt including my mortgage.

My expenses at this point are a paltry 24k a year...exactly the figure you quoted! I live a very pleasant middle class life with plenty of free time to pursue interests and hobbies. My wife and I are expecting our first child later this year and we're thrilled that we'll be able to be full time parents.

At this stage, our expenses factored together with capital expenditures to replace cars, appliances, and maintain our property wont exceed even a modest return from our investments. Three years later I can think of nothing I'd rather do less than strap on a suit and tie at 7am and go play politics in a meeting room for 10 hours. By eliminating stress and creating a ton of free time, most of the things I used to pay people to do for me I now do myself. I dont need those stress relieving vacations and expensive toys that made me feel it was all worthwhile.

There ARE some concerns. Health care is expensive and getting moreso. Stock market valuations, rising interest rates, inflation potential and so forth are problems any retiree has to comprehend and plan for, except we have to do it for 40-50 years instead of 10-20.

One thing I also dont regret: most of my life revolving around a corporation that doesnt care about me at all, followed by retiring in my sixties and dropping dead a year or two later. I'm enjoying my life right now, on MY terms.

Thanks for reading...

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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 03:15 PM   #4
 
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

TH has the right idea, i.e. do it on your terms.

I never had to deal much with corporate politics and stupidity, as I mostly was on my own for the last 10
years before I retired. I have all sorts of problems;
health, health care insurance, you name it................But, retiring
when I decided to............priceless.

John Galt
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 05:26 PM   #5
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

My dad had his own business not long after he left the navy, and ran that (just him and another guy for the most part, a couple of other guys to help out from time to time). He sold the business and started teaching his last 10 or 11 years before he retired.

Apparently university politics are every bit as stupid and far ranging as corporate politics. He was flabbergasted. Never did get comfortable with it.
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 06:16 PM   #6
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

My neighbor has two dogs. When one comes over - up the four foot wide wheelchair ramp and waits at the screen door I let our dog out to play and they go over to my neighbors yard. When they both come over - I have to go outside and help establish who goes first - otherwise they can't seem to get down the ramp. Reminds me of my work years.
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Speaking of tortured statistics...
Old 06-17-2004, 11:13 PM   #7
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Speaking of tortured statistics...

"The median family income of those who retired early was $24,000 vs. $41,000 for those still working."

Golly-- if it was the other way 'round, would anyone still be working?!?
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-17-2004, 11:31 PM   #8
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

Quote:
the notion of weaving in and out of the work force -- is nothing more than yet another American fairy tale.
I didn't realize that weaving in and out of the workforce was even on somebody's radar. Do a lot of people do this? I know I did.

I could never stand to be in one job for more than a few years, and I never got over losing summer vacations after graduating. So, after a few years working somewhere, I'd quit my job, take a summer vacation, and then either start a business, go back to school for another degree, or find another job.

I'm pretty sure I'm done weaving now, but you never know....
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-18-2004, 01:20 AM   #9
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

The "answer", for what its worth:

"Thanks for your note. It's quite encouraging to learn that someone is doing what I think might be impossible, at least for most people who don't have your discipline and desire. Bob Powell"

I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I think the prospect of life without an identifying career, income without living on the "beat the jones' fast-track, and figuring out what to do with yourself without a jobs is in combination simply incomprehensible to the average joe.

I suppose I was like that once. For a long time.

I guess I'm reminded of that Stanford "jail" experiment where the "prisoner" subjects said that they felt that they had lost their identities and had no control over what happened, thus accepting whatever happened.

We're no longer prisoners, nor jailers, and we learned to cast off the remnants of fear and inequities that put us there in our minds.

Much rejoicing should now take place...
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-18-2004, 05:38 AM   #10
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

YA YA YA - THAT's AFFIRM !

I'm doing the ER bogie in front of the moniter. Heh heh
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-18-2004, 12:32 PM   #11
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

I'll bet thats pretty attractive...

Damn we're fortunate these things dont include video. :P
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-18-2004, 07:16 PM   #12
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

Our response to Robert Powell's article, and his reply.

http://www.geocities.com/ba264/our_r...ert_powell.htm


Billy
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-18-2004, 07:57 PM   #13
 
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

Billy,

You know he is right. We are the minority. When I was working, I only met 1 out of 100 people that were even saving for retirement.

This is a good thing though. They will continue to work and pay our Social Security
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-18-2004, 08:06 PM   #14
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

CT,
No doubt we are in the minority, but do you not think that many are financially able, but do not have the faith to make the leap?

And, FYI I did a survey on here some time ago, regarding annual expenses, (retirees only) and the number was 24K, so that jives.

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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-23-2004, 12:05 PM   #15
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

To TH the former marketing exec who retired at 39 from a high stress, high tech job, etc, etc,... just like to know what you needed in $ to "retire" from your life of expensive cars, boats, gardener to the level where you are now of 'middle class life'. It's just that we'd have a hard time letting go of the life of luxury. We have the expensive cars, personal trainer, the masseuse, gardener, housekeeper and personal food delivery service (Zone or Atkins) as well as the 5 star travel (don't have the boats). Was it a major change in life? If you had the choice, wouldn't it be best if you could retire AND have the perks? Is the tradeoff worth it? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-23-2004, 01:20 PM   #16
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

Well...thats an easy answer thats possibly hard to swallow for some.

The "stuff" simply wasnt improving my life. When I took a value approach in aggregate with the stress and time to make the money to support that lifestyle, the value wasnt there.

Some people buy stuff or have services performed because they truly enjoy it and truly reap the value.

I think many are doing it to create a facade for the friends, relatives and neighbors, or because it was programmed into them that "bigger, better, more expensive" is how one becomes "larger".

It simply became a tradeoff for me. "Big life" + 60 hours a week embroiled in happy horseshit + 20 hours a week "recovery time" + expenditures to make all that look good vs "medium life" + 0 hours a week in the same HH + 0 hours a week "recovery time" + expenditures that really gave me good value for the money spent + full time with friends, family and pets.

A no-brainer for me. Maybe a huge brainer for others.

Nobody is impressed when I "drive up" anymore. Nobody is impressed when they come over to my house. I cant impress people with my latest big toy purchase or fabulous vacation. And I dont care.

My dad's "american dream" was a steady job, two cars and his own home. My grandpa's was regularly putting food on the table and clothes on the family's backs.

Figure out how they became happy by reaching these goals that are rather modest by todays standards...and there's your answer.

As far as retiring AND having the perks...hard to say. I think the VAST majority of people simply cant amass that sort of coinage. I suppose it'd be hard to argue with the lifestyle of flying in your private plane to a 75 foot yacht to be served drinks by the last two miss america winners.

But think of all the extra worry all that stuff brings with it.
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-24-2004, 11:31 AM   #17
 
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

Thanks for your reply. I agree with alot of your comments. I guess the goal is not to stress yourself out making alot of money as well as having the luxury items that one enjoys. Let's face it, why not pay someone to do what you don't want to?

I agree that one shouldn't care to impress others, in fact I hardly agree that they're impressed, rather I think that they are jealous or envious of the items you can acquire. Most people don't think about how much HH and hours you had to put in to get the toys, which is why we don't allow people to know. So why cause more grief for others? Nobody needs to know how you travel (unless you travel with friends), most people don't see the housekeeper, the masseuse etc. These are services and perks that oneself just enjoys.

I also agree that most people can't amass the amount of coinage to achieve the big life, but from what I gather, you are not like most people (most people that can ER are not like the majority in $). In fact, if you've been successful, you've obviously got the education/street smarts/business savy to make more than most (alittle luck helps as well). So why put yourself in the same category as the majority? We certainly didn't slave through our educational and early years to end up with a minimum life. All in all, I agree that each and every one of us has a different perspective on the values one feels is important or not....
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-24-2004, 11:47 AM   #18
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Re: ER article:  "American Fairy Tale"

Well...I think there are two things at work.

One is that I do put myself in the majority. I dont have a formal education past high school, and I dont consider myself to have any significantly "special" skills. I worked hard, took advantage of opportunities, made sacrifices to get ahead, and in the end I simply combined a lot of good luck with all of that hard work and opportunism to make it to ER.

So on one hand, I think a lot of people dont apply themselves, wait for something to land in their laps, or simply accept the template lives that we're all "expected" to live and never step outside the boundaries of accepted "norm".

On the other hand, a fair amount of it is simply good luck. Thats why I dont disjoint either of my elbows patting myself on the back.

But it is possible for many to roll up their sleeves, start a smart business, work their butts off, live well within their means, invest well, and retire early. Or for someone with a high wage job to rein in the "keeping up with the joneses", stash the cash, and slipstream to a simpler, lower cost life. And still be pretty darn happy.

I gotta say that for a good year, year and a half after I ER'ed, I fully expected to get a phone call from someone telling me that all the money I had made was a bookkeeping mistake or some paperwork snafu. I also fully expected to go loopy without work. And to never be able to stay busy enough or find enough alternative things to do with my life to feel fulfilled.

I was wrong on all three counts, but it does take a lot of internal regulation and reconciliation and I suppose not everyone could do it and be happy.
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-24-2004, 11:50 AM   #19
 
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

TH...what extra worry are you talking about? Never ever heard the rich complain of their private planes, private yahts or private villas around the world. Just have to stay away from the Miss Universes and you'll be fine!
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"
Old 06-24-2004, 11:59 AM   #20
 
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Re: ER article: *"American Fairy Tale"

TH...just some questions for you (given that you are the expert)...how much money did you make (range is good enough) to ER? How long has it been since you ERd? And what are some of the things that you do to stay 'unlooped' and fulfilled. I just want to know how the early years of ER are to prepare for what lies ahead...both mentally and physically....
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