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Old 08-28-2014, 09:53 PM   #41
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I feel like if one is going for retirement they should be looking at the ERE website versus this one. As appealing as pulling the plug in the 30s is... I feel like it requires waaaaay too many lucky breaks and unknown guesses of the future to accurately predict.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:26 PM   #42
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I feel like if one is going for retirement they should be looking at the ERE website versus this one. As appealing as pulling the plug in the 30s is... I feel like it requires waaaaay too many lucky breaks and unknown guesses of the future to accurately predict.
Or nothing more than a 7 figure portfolio, ability to slum it when necessary, and cojones of steel?
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:36 PM   #43
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I feel like if one is going for retirement they should be looking at the ERE website versus this one. As appealing as pulling the plug in the 30s is... I feel like it requires waaaaay too many lucky breaks and unknown guesses of the future to accurately predict.
I agree. I got to the point where I could retire only after three decades of lateral and upward moves at different companies, with no gap in between. And that leaves me, hopefully, with 30-40 years ahead, which is challenging enough. Planning to retire for 50-60 years after working full-on only a decade or so seems unrealistic to me.

The folks I've known who tried to go the I'll-work-on-occasion-and-only-at-what-I-want route from early on have had a harder time of it as they've gotten older and their options have dwindled with each passing decade.
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Old 08-29-2014, 06:09 AM   #44
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I quit work at age 39, 15 years ago. I will say that my thinking has evolved a quite a bit over the time. So I think the running away question is a good one, and I am not sure I would have thought so until age 50.

The realization that you are FI has such a profound impact on your attitude about work, that to be honest I have a hard time taking criticism of early retirement by folks who aren't there yet seriously. It is one of those life changing moments that you have to experience to appreciate it.

For the sake of argument lets assume that money issues aren't a factor (obviously not true for many folks hoping to retire in their 30s).

Even though I had achieved FI by 39, I wasn't sure about actual retirement. I'd hoped to find a second career. Hell I even offer to work part time for a start up for stock only this summer. But hope is not a plan.

A while ago I posted this phrase which seem to resonate with a lot of folks
"Your best months working will be better than your best months in your retirement, but your worst months in retirement will be much much better than your worse months working." Lower highs but way higher lows.

Now some people have jobs that are almost never fulfilling. Others have jobs which are inherently meaningful (I am thinking about things, like teacher, doctor, firefighter, Disney Imagineer, and entertainer). The rest of us have jobs which can be fulfilling depending on our attitude and circumstance. Personally I generally had interesting jobs. I was always very conscious that I was working for a very important company in its hey day. There were definite times that I realized that what my team did would have a small impact on hundreds of millions of people, which was pretty heady stuff.

I think as a society we are conditioned to look for way to be part of a larger organization early on. For example the emphasis on TEAM (there is no I in team) sports in schools. Good organization emphasis the team aspect (nobody left behind, my brothers in blue). Team building exercise are common in corporate America. In my experience good corporation don't need this they have a mission which everybody buys into. For example I bet that virtually everybody that works for SpaceX is inspired about establishing a Mars colony.

Still at some point, I think most everybody gets tired of taking one for the team. Instead they start asking when is my turn to get the ball and have all the other guys block for me so I can get across the goal line. Most of us realize that most of the potential blockers are asking the same question. At which point we start to plan our escape.

A part of Senator McCain standard stump speech is a call to "commit to serving a cause greater than your self-interest.". I think most people get a sense of purpose in life by doing exactly this.

Of course there are some who don't feel the need to do this, but I suspect that is minority. For them setting personal goals, earn a PHd, qualify for the Boston Marathon, travel to 50 countries, create the best cabbage patch doll collection in my state are sufficient.

There are plenty of ways of serving a cause that have absolute nothing to do with a job. For many people being a good or even better great, dad, mom, husband, wife, daughter, or son are fulfilling. A good citizen seems rather bland to me but it may suffice for others. Still another message we get is that being a stay at home mom isn't enough, much less a stay at home dad.

Charities, civic organizations, and causes all are worthwhile activities to find the sense of teamwork that a job provides. Still my experience is that most volunteer activities are rather mundane: clean up a park, read to kids, give tours, help with fund raisers. For the most part entry level jobs with some nice perks and for a good cause. I estimate that less 20% of volunteer really get into the activity. Jobs for most people provide that sense of team and being part of cause greater than your self interest, which fills a need. Getting a paycheck provide a sense of validation that volunteer jobs don't generally provide.

I think it is worthwhile for young retirees to ask the question where will I find that sense of fulfillment and self work that working provides. I suspect that by the time most people hit their 50s and certainly by the time they get into their 60s they have accumulated a lifetime of validation, and idealism has been replaced by cynicism.
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Old 08-29-2014, 08:56 AM   #45
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I dunno, clifp. Every time in my adult life I have let myself be suckered into believing a "greater good" type thing in some sort of organization, I have been disabused of the value of such things by the organizational sh!tshow that I invariably observed up close and personal. Maybe I am wired differently or maybe I am prematurely cynical at age 40, but I can tell you one thing for sure: I would never go find a job to be part of a mission or group. I am picking up a 1 year contract starting late next month and it is about one thing and one thing only: money.
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Old 08-29-2014, 10:37 AM   #46
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Clif, I know people who fit in exactly with what you are saying here. They really do value the team element of working, and look for that in other places.

I don't know how it will be for me. I know that the past year and change of DH's sabbatical has been a huge lifechanger for us, in every way, and I'm not sure how it will play out in the future. But I know that he struggles with some of what you bring up in your post, and how to be meaningful when all he's really valued about work is the money it brings in.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 08-29-2014, 11:16 AM   #47
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I believe the best thing going for young REs is that have options to try other careers if they want to come back to the work force. I am over 50 and my learning days are over. Old dogs can learn new tricks but it has to be a very simple trick at best.

To Fuego, I don't think you left work force if you are a stay at home dad with 3 kids from 2 - 9. That's a full time job, ain't it? I am taking your name off of RE at 30 list ... .
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Old 08-29-2014, 11:20 AM   #48
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I quit work at age 39, 15 years ago. I will say that my thinking has evolved a quite a bit over the time. [...]
Wow, excellent post, Clifp.

When I was in my 30's and 40's, I didn't WANT to quit work. I wanted to find out if I was going to change the world, if I was destined to greatness, or in summary, who I really could be in the big scheme of things. I was working to fulfill my place/destiny in the universe as much as anything, I suppose.

By the time I was 50, I was done with that and ready to retire, which I finally managed to do at age 61.

Now that I am 66, I am beyond cynical. In my youth I bought into the whole work ethic thing, hook, line, and sinker. Looking back I wonder if this values system had nothing of substance to it other than encouraging maximum production for the benefit of individuals higher up in the food chain. This probably is an overreaction but this is how it looks from where I sit. I could go on but will spare you.

I am so glad to be retired and out of the ratrace. I have never been so happy and fulfilled, and I think my health may have actually improved a little over the past five years of retirement.
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Old 08-29-2014, 11:25 AM   #49
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Wow, excellent post, Clifp.
times 5.
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Old 08-29-2014, 11:32 AM   #50
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Now that I am 66, I am beyond cynical. In my youth I bought into the whole work ethic thing, hook, line, and sinker. Looking back I wonder if this values system had nothing of substance to it other than encouraging maximum production for the benefit of individuals higher up in the food chain. This probably is an overreaction but this is how it looks from where I sit. I could go on but will spare you.
I feel the same way these days. George Carlin had a bit on the American Dream where he said they call it a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.

Now we're more into reading books like Juilet Schor's Overworked American and Overspent American. She is on the board for a group called the New American Dream which focuses more on quality of life and less on maximum production / consumption:

Mission
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Old 08-29-2014, 12:24 PM   #51
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I was considering it in my 30s but decided not to retire. I went back to school and bought a bigger house knowing it meant a much longer work life. I was saving money and had a roommate in a paid off house but it would have meant living in poverty for 60 years or so. I could have stayed in my little house but without anything but food pretty much and survived. Working allowed me to save a ton of money a year while buying things like boats and a bigger house. I didn't see the appeal of sitting home doing nothing for the rest of my life.
So I worked in some pretty fun jobs and a couple not so fun and retired much later. Now I can sit home or go places and own some boats, trucks and a car and can buy whatever I want so not nearly as boring as early retirement would have been in poverty. Besides now we have internet and things we didn't have back then.
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Old 08-29-2014, 12:53 PM   #52
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To Fuego, I don't think you left work force if you are a stay at home dad with 3 kids from 2 - 9. That's a full time job, ain't it? I am taking your name off of RE at 30 list ... .
I think if it's a full time job you're working too hard at it!
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:07 PM   #53
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...A while ago I posted this phrase which seem to resonate with a lot of folks
"Your best months working will be better than your best months in your retirement, but your worst months in retirement will be much much better than your worse months working." Lower highs but way higher lows.
...

I think it is worthwhile for young retirees to ask the question where will I find that sense of fulfillment and self work that working provides. I suspect that by the time most people hit their 50s and certainly by the time they get into their 60s they have accumulated a lifetime of validation, and idealism has been replaced by cynicism.
+1 Clifp, yours is one of the most insightful posts I have read here. Certainly resonates with me.

You have so eloquently stated many of the things that have been going through my mind while reading this thread.

I started out at a young age in the sciences, felt we were making a difference. The money really was always secondary. I often did extra work on my own just for the joy of learning and sharing it with others. When we wrote papers, and they were cited by others there really was a feeling of joy at doing something we felt was worthwhile. And I got to work with really brilliant people! Sometimes I could even make a small contribution, it was such fun I would have done it for free, and often did!

Later started my consulting business and got to work on projects and with people that would never have happened outside of business. I started my business in my early 30s, would not have retired even if I were FI, just would have done it bigger.

One time when business was slow I got to thinking about "when were the times when I was the happiest?" It was not the times I had nothing to do, or could do only what I wanted. In fact there was one full year after a facility I was consulting for closed, and they kept me on at full time pay for doing nothing, just because the VP wanted to retain the knowledge. I got good money and had nobody cared if I did anything. You would think it would be great, but really it was the worst and most depressing time I had in my career. I still worked hard trying to find ways to help, but nobody cared. I was miserable and depressed.

So for me when was I the happiest? I boiled it down to these five things: 1) A project that was very difficult, but not impossible, 2) Somebody really needed and wanted it, it would make a difference to them, 3) I had some helpful skill in that particular area where I could make a significant contribution, 4) I was given the problem to solve, but not told how to do it, had to figure that out on my own, and 5) I got to work with really smart and creative people. (I found I was only successful when I worked with people smarter than me, don't know what that means but it always seemed to work that way).

I was lucky in my career that I was able to work on a number of projects that fulfilled these requirements, and I would always think it was special, and wonder if it would happen again.

If I had not been in the business and working world I would never have had these opportunities, never felt the joy of successfully doing something that somebody said was "stupid" or "impossible", never been to trade show where a lot of people were standing around looking at my creations, never have gotten the chance to work with really brilliant people, never have traveled the way I did, never have felt the feeling of exhilaration at succeeding at doing something difficult.

Now I am not particularly smart, but I did always seek out opportunities that were fun and where I could contribute. Someone once told me, you don't need to be the brightest light in the world, only the brightest light in the room (and I might add: you get to choose the room).

Now I am retired and don't feel the urgent need for this kind of stimulation (maybe I will someday I don't know) but I am grateful for the experience. And you can't get this if you checkout too early.

Sorry for this long post, it just kind of spilled out...
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:40 PM   #54
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I was considering it in my 30s but decided not to retire. I went back to school and bought a bigger house knowing it meant a much longer work life. I was saving money and had a roommate in a paid off house but it would have meant living in poverty for 60 years or so. I could have stayed in my little house but without anything but food pretty much and survived. Working allowed me to save a ton of money a year while buying things like boats and a bigger house. I didn't see the appeal of sitting home doing nothing for the rest of my life.
So I worked in some pretty fun jobs and a couple not so fun and retired much later. Now I can sit home or go places and own some boats, trucks and a car and can buy whatever I want so not nearly as boring as early retirement would have been in poverty. Besides now we have internet and things we didn't have back then.

I believe this essentially sums up most (but not all) of the individuals who wish to ERE. I've read countless cases of individuals moving to the country to farm, or rent a room of a house/apartment and living so frugally I ask if its living at all. Sure they may have retired at 32, but if all you can afford to eat is rice and beans and go to the park everyday to pass the time is that really living? And retiring to go farm? That's just a career change

I think we can all agree that the ultimate goal is to stop working sooner rather than later if we so chose. But we all agree that working a little longer than the absolute minimum so we can have the opportunity to partake in luxuries or own nicer things is a fair tradeoff. Sure some people can be completely happy living on the beach and doing nothing but surfing/lounging for years but well... I like doing stuff and partaking in some of the finer things in life from time to time within reason
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Old 08-29-2014, 04:49 PM   #55
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There are people I know in this and other forums who retired very early with little money, moved to another country to live on small expense, and living an idle (subjective, I know, no offense intended) life. They are happy without driving fancy cars, and eating 5 star restaurant food now and then. It is unconventional form of retirement as most of us opt to pile up money to live the remaining 20 - 40 years in comfort. My initial question was more for those who decided to quit work in their 30s without striking rich. But I enjoyed interesting discussions hitherto.
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Old 08-29-2014, 05:40 PM   #56
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I believe this essentially sums up most (but not all) of the individuals who wish to ERE. I've read countless cases of individuals moving to the country to farm, or rent a room of a house/apartment and living so frugally I ask if its living at all. Sure they may have retired at 32, but if all you can afford to eat is rice and beans and go to the park everyday to pass the time is that really living? And retiring to go farm? That's just a career change
I don't personally get the rice and beans crowd either. But there seem to be plenty of folks at the MMM forums getting by pretty well on $20-40k/yr and eating way better than rice and beans. They're just resourceful and creative.

We're one of those families. Today: Homemade butter chicken curry, massaman vegetable curry, seasoned rice(ok, I had rice). Bagel with bacon scallion cream cheese (sort of homemade). A sip of DW's tamarind cocktail. Beer. Nachos with homemade chipotle salsa, chili lime pork, beans (ok, I had beans), queso quesadilla, crema, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime. Belly room permitting, I might have some Thai tom yum noodle soup later on.

I like to cook and try new things. I have time since I'm not working.
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Old 08-29-2014, 05:44 PM   #57
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I dunno, clifp. Every time in my adult life I have let myself be suckered into believing a "greater good" type thing in some sort of organization, I have been disabused of the value of such things by the organizational sh!tshow that I invariably observed up close and personal. Maybe I am wired differently or maybe I am prematurely cynical at age 40, but I can tell you one thing for sure: I would never go find a job to be part of a mission or group. I am picking up a 1 year contract starting late next month and it is about one thing and one thing only: money.
Some people are wired differently, and although I don't know you other than 15,000 post and handful of PM, I'd say you are prime candidate for being wired differently and not being a person who feels a need to be part of team.

I'd also quickly add the world needs iconoclast and no organization needs them more than the financial system. The heroes in Micheal Lewis book the Big Short were all fiercely independent thinkers. They made a lot of money when the figured out that many mortgage back securities were dramatically over valued. I think everybody in his book tried to warn the powers that be of the danger. They were routine punished or at best ignored and consequently many of them started their own firms.

I'm not sure why the tech industry is more accepting of iconoclast, and more willing to listen when one guy say I don't care that you 20 folks/companies are doing X, we have to do Y. The financial industry needs these people as 2008 proved.
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Old 08-29-2014, 06:03 PM   #58
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I'm not sure why the tech industry is more accepting of iconoclast, and more willing to listen when one guy say I don't care that you 20 folks/companies are doing X, we have to do Y. The financial industry needs these people as 2008 proved.
I think the financial industry tends to attract opportunists with little in the way of their self interest. There have been studies showing that traders who bordered on sociopathic tended to be more successful, probably because they cared about nothing and nobody but the trade. The schlubs (myself included) that have a strong sense of morals tend to end up in the control/audit/regulatory functions and these functions are usually designed and built to be ineffectual (otherwise they get in the way of making money and we cannot have that). I don't believe the tech world has the stark contrast between the risk takers/rockstars and the plodding flatfoots/control functions.

You are likely right that I am just tetched in the head. To my wife's dismay, I doon't even like hunting with other people too often, which means I find myself in the mountains in winter solo.
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Old 08-29-2014, 06:10 PM   #59
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+1 Clifp, yours is one of the most insightful posts I have read here. Certainly resonates with me.

You have so eloquently stated many of the things that have been going through my mind while reading this thread.

So for me when was I the happiest? I boiled it down to these five things: 1) A project that was very difficult, but not impossible, 2) Somebody really needed and wanted it, it would make a difference to them, 3) I had some helpful skill in that particular area where I could make a significant contribution, 4) I was given the problem to solve, but not told how to do it, had to figure that out on my own, and 5) I got to work with really smart and creative people. (I found I was only successful when I worked with people smarter than me, don't know what that means but it always seemed to work that way).

I was lucky in my career that I was able to work on a number of projects that fulfilled these requirements, and I would always think it was special, and wonder if it would happen again.


Now I am retired and don't feel the urgent need for this kind of stimulation (maybe I will someday I don't know) but I am grateful for the experience. And you can't get this if you checkout too early.

I think you nailed it, those 5 elements are really key and I was happiest when at least 4 of the elements were present in a project I was involved in.

My last 6 month I had a make work job and I was bored out of my mind and not at all happy. I Also part of the reason I retired was because I could at 39, and hell I told my mom at one point to get her off my back I'll retire at 39 and wanted to be right. In hindsight that isn't the smartest of reasons to retire.

Still was burned out and completely ready to take some time off and smell the Plumerias My only regret is not finding a second career. In my case, I should have figured out that Hawaii while terrific place to live, is only mediocre place to work. After living in the Silicon Valley where company have mission statements like Organizing the world's information (Google), to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market (Tesla), to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. (Facebook). It is pretty hard to get excited about Hyatt's Our mission is to provide authentic hospitality.
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Old 08-29-2014, 06:36 PM   #60
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I don't personally get the rice and beans crowd either. But there seem to be plenty of folks at the MMM forums getting by pretty well on $20-40k/yr and eating way better than rice and beans. They're just resourceful and creative.

We're one of those families. Today: Homemade butter chicken curry, massaman vegetable curry, seasoned rice(ok, I had rice). Bagel with bacon scallion cream cheese (sort of homemade). A sip of DW's tamarind cocktail. Beer. Nachos with homemade chipotle salsa, chili lime pork, beans (ok, I had beans), queso quesadilla, crema, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime. Belly room permitting, I might have some Thai tom yum noodle soup later on.

I like to cook and try new things. I have time since I'm not working.
We are finding it does cost a lot less to live with more free time. Today I made soup in my used thermal cooker with ingredients I either got for free using coupons and sales or stockpiled from Costco. I hung laundrry out to dry using my "solar" drying racks washed in my low water, low energy washing machine i bought using price matching, sales prices, store rebates and utility company rebates.

Later we will probably have wine (stockpiled when it went on clearance) on the patio sitting under the Amazon warehouse deal solar lights.

Maybe tonight or tomorrow we will see a planetarium show using our membership pass I bought for half price on Groupon.

I quite like having time to live sustainably as well as saving money. I could make more money per hour just working more since my hours are scalable, but the sustainable living and money saving ideas are more fun for some reason.
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