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FIRE = Pessimism?
Old 11-04-2007, 03:20 PM   #1
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FIRE = Pessimism?

I recently read a book review that talked about the main character being depressed and pessimistic---but then the reviewer added that this did pay off for him since it led to his saving and investing his money. And in another book I read, the narrator compared his parents, noting his father was an optimist who never worried about "a rainy day" while his mother never questioned if it would rain, "just how hard a rain it would be" and whether it would require an ark! If it wasn't for the mother, the family would have been financially ruined since the father spent money readily and made some bad decisions, like to buy a failing business.

So I got to wondering whether a little pessimism can be a good thing and whether it is associated with people who FIRE or want to FIRE. A lot of people on this board don't seem to be pessimists, but it almost does seem that if you don't worry about your future and if you are convinced that everything will be okay you may not be in a savings mode.
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:30 PM   #2
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In my experience pessimists are savers but savers aren't necessarily pessimists. Of course that's just anecdotal.

I imagine if one were to gather the data they would find a correlation.
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:37 PM   #3
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IMO the best savers would be realists. Mild optimists or mild pessimists would be more likely to save than the extremes on either side (again, imo).
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:42 PM   #4
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So what's hoping for the best and preparing for the worst?
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:43 PM   #5
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Life has sucker-punched me several times, financially speaking. (Get out the tiny violins, my life is such a SAD story! ) I never expected these bad things to happen, so I guess that I have been a little overly optimistic and overly trusting.

Given what I have experienced in the past, I don't think that even now I am pessimistic. However I am VERY cautious by now! I have a lot of back-up plans built into my ER planning and I trust my financies to nobody but myself. To me, that's only logical. Especially during the crucial first ten years, I am expecting the market to tank, social security to crumble, and inflation to skyrocket. I suppose I don't REALLY expect all of this to happen, but I am planning as though it will. It would be unrealistic to expect lovely, uneventful economic times to continue indefinitely, IMO.

I am determined not to have to work for anybody ever again in my life after ER. I am very serious about that.
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
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IMO the best savers would be realists. Mild optimists or mild pessimists would be more likely to save than the extremes on either side (again, imo).
I agree that a normal saver is a realist.. but the pessimist might be a good saver also... I am the realist...

Also, I would think that the person who is not trying to impress people with what they have are also savers and to me this has nothing to do with optimist or pessimist..

I save a lot now because I now make a lot... I used to save a little because my chosen lifestyle used up a lot of my income... but I have kept that lifestyle with a rising income...
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:00 PM   #7
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Interesting question. I have always viewed the glass half full. I'm not a grinning optimist thinking everything is going to be just fine, fine, fine. However, I am cautiously optimistic, willing to believe things will work out, but hedging my bets in case it doesn't. I'm so middle of the road that all my personality profile thingys look like squares. Whoops, do you think...

Maybe I'm neither one.
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:05 PM   #8
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"Why save? I'm probably going to die soon."
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:06 PM   #9
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I'm a slight pessimist and a real planner .Life has taught me there is no way you can plan for all the possibilities life will toss your way so if crap happens I'll adjust spending accordingly.
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
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"Why save? I'm probably going to die soon."
Yeah and 2012 is just around the corner.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:09 PM   #11
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Don't think being a pessimist and saving/investing necessarily go hand in hand. I did OK in those two areas and consider myself to be more of a realistic optimist than a pessimist.

However, there is absolutely no doubt the world is going to hell in a handbasket...
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:26 PM   #12
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unless you were employed as a troubleshooter, i wonder if too much pessimism wouldn't prevent acquiring the skill set to succeed in most careers to the point that you might ever fire or if you did, maybe you wouldn't enjoy it too much, being able to continue finding fault with any given aspect.

i think a healthy dose of pessimism and optimism are both effective depending on a situation. i guess that would be called realism? mom was the eternal optimist and the ol'man tried to live my mother's optimism but really he was either a pessimist or a realist. between the two of them they never lived in debt and worked a very successful small business together. the only reason they never retired was because mom was a workaholic.

me? i'm a lazy optimist-in-the-long-run.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
"Why save? I'm probably going to die soon."
The military version is "Why save? I could be killed tomorrow!"
It's used almost as frequently as "Hey, honey, this is my last night here, I'm shipping out tomorrow. What's your name?"
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:45 PM   #14
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:34 PM   #15
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Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. This is the best of all possible worlds. I am going to use a 10% SWR, I am sure it will work.
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:06 PM   #16
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I am going to use a 10% SWR

A realist!
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
So I got to wondering whether a little pessimism can be a good thing and whether it is associated with people who FIRE or want to FIRE. A lot of people on this board don't seem to be pessimists, but it almost does seem that if you don't worry about your future and if you are convinced that everything will be okay you may not be in a savings mode.
Maybe a little pessimism causes one to save but to echo lg4nb, if one is too pessimistic, one might never stop working because one would want to keep preparing for the worst outcome. The other possible reaction of a pessimist was the one that TromboneAl raised--"What's the use (of saving or doing anything) when we're all gonna die anyway?"

I was raised in a culture deemed fatalistic by sociologists or anthropologists or whatever scientists study such things. There's a phrase called "Bahala na" which loosely translates to "Come what may", "Whatever happens", or "Leave it to God." So retirement was not something average people planned for, much less early retirement. People were too busy with the daily business of just surviving that I think few could take a step back and plan and save. Most times, there's most likely nothing to save.

Anyway, here in the US, I feel lucky to have had an awakening to the values of prudence and realism--that there will be an "old me" for whom I have to save. Maybe everything will all fall apart--global warming, nuclear war, water and other resource scarcity, epidemics, etc. will wipe us all out--but I have very little control over those. (Maybe I am being fatalistic about these problems. All I try to do is not to waste and pollute but maybe that's not enough.) So I just chug along saving and trying to enjoy what I can today.
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:51 PM   #18
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A mild pessimist is more likely to be a saver. A strong pessimist is more likely to accumulate gold, guns and ammo.
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Old 11-06-2007, 01:08 PM   #19
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tightasadrum said: "However, I am cautiously optimistic, willing to believe things will work out, but hedging my bets in case it doesn't."

This is me, too.

I save a lot because I want to FIRE, and I want to FIRE so I can enjoy 30 or 40 years of not w*rking, not because I think I'm going to die young or anything! It helps to have longevity and good health in the family...knock on wood!
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Old 11-06-2007, 01:22 PM   #20
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Well.......I'm an optimistic pessimist tuned into reality.......

I am pessimistic that any two people posting on this thread have that same perception of optimism, pessimism and realism! And I'm optimistic that that's how it really is!
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