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Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 07:51 AM   #1
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Why don't more people just quit?

I have known or worked with a number people who are very well off financially...Most have stressful jobs and sometimes both partners are big earners. Most are approaching 50 years of age.

I know that given those conditions most members of this board would ER in a flash (my self included).

Why don't more of these people just quit?

In some cases there may be "golden handcuffs". In others perhaps they yearn for a lavish retirement lifestyle. Maybe some don't understand that they are FI? Seems unlikely.

I have to conclude that many of them LIKE what they are doing. That, or have never taken the time to visualize a better life, or weighed it against their own mortality? It's a minor mystery
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 07:59 AM   #2
 
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Quote:
I have known or worked with a number people who are very well off financially...Most have stressful jobs and sometimes both partners are big earners. Most are approaching 50 years of age.
My guess is that while they are large earners, they have not saved enough! - The statistics support this.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 08:06 AM   #3
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Hi Rok! I have seen your vision and in my case it was your last hypothesis. That is, I was so busy working and making money and had done it for so long, I never
took time to visualize what were my other options and possibilities. Working impossible hours with a lot of stress (not all bad - some of it was actually fun). The "mortality" thing hit me in my late 40s. An epiphany for sure. From the time it struck until I was out the door
was less than a year, but I couldn't just walk away
as I was running my own business. The point of no return was when I sold off my major product line.
After that, Humpty Dumpty couldn't be put back together.
That was in 1992. In August 1993, I closed down the company but it took me until Sept., 1999 to sell off
the last of the assets. I kind of enjoyed the
liquidation process. Lots of variety. Lots of negotiating.
And, a fixed goal with no particular time pressure.
It's ironic that disamantling my company was more fun than running it. I know why, but will save that for another time.

JG
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 08:27 AM   #4
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Most people have to be told what to do. They can't think for themselves.

They are told by the government that retirement age is 62, 65, or 67 so that is when most people plan to retire.

Additionally, most people are trapped by their own conditioning. They have the same routine of getting up, going to work for 8 hours, going home, eating dinner, watching TV, going to sleep, and waking up the next morning and doing the same thing all over again. You do that for enough decades, and you build up a fear of stopping that routine.

It takes self-leadership and intestinal fortitude to plan your own course in how you are going to live your life.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 10:26 AM   #5
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Quote:
Why don't more of these people just quit?
1. Because they just can't turn it off!
2. Because they didn't save enough money!

Last week we were at a Class of '50 college reunion. It attracted about 250 people, which is no mean feat considering that most of them are 75-80 years old. (I guess the original alumni & spouses numbered about 1500.) Admittedly the herd has been culled pretty thin, we only saw the alumni who could travel, and ~98% of them are still married (which for some inexplicable reason has been noted to extend longevity). Among the attendees were several retired flag officers.

These reunions seem pretty important to the flags and I think that all of the class' living flag officers attended. One of them had flown three thousand miles the week after his third surgery for bladder cancer. (He was joking that the surgeons ruined his six-pack abdominals.) Another had completed a 10,000 mile round trip to receive an award followed by a quick return to make the reunion. (No week or two of sitting on one's laurels basking in the adulation.) Another had spent the weekend in the hotel getting everything ready by working 12-hour days. (Everyone was horrified that a professional reunion company had wanted thousands of dollars for the same accomplishment.)

You would think the flags would be set for life and ready to party by the time they reached 20-30 years after their military retirement. A retired flag officer today receives a pension of over $100K/year (as high as $136K). I couldn't find the numbers for '50 but I suspect that these alumni were pulling down at least $65K/year and perhaps even over $100K.

However a flag's lifestyle is hard to leave behind. The month before you retire, you have great offices with wonderful views. Hundreds of people vie to satisfy your every whim. You never have to make a pot of coffee, and in fact your cup never actually runs empty. You rarely drive a car, let alone shop for groceries or tackle household chores. About the only thing you have to do for yourself usually involves a bathroom. The month after you retire, your view has been reduced to cleaning bathrooms and you have to buy your own coffee while your spouse is wishing for a little less togetherness. Is it any wonder that you take a civilian job hoping to recreate the active-duty environment?

Despite their stratospheric career achievements, one or two "retirees" can't afford to retire. One woman pulled my wife aside and said "I like your husband's ponytail. Is he really retired?" When my wife explained my pension, our savings, her PT income, etc. the woman said "Oh, we never had any of that." Had what? "We never had any investments." They're pushing 80 and her husband's still working to pay the mortgage. Admittedly it's a nice home but after 30 years in the military (and with a pension in the high-five figures) you'd expect some savings to stick to their bank account.

BTW, I hope I'm that spry when I'm that age. Alumni in wheelchairs were joking about winning the dance contest at the dinner party. One widow-- not a member of the class but married to one for over 50 years-- had written a Hawaii travel guide and attended the reunion just to give a free copy to her husband's classmates. Some of these people looked 20 years younger than their chronological age and almost all of them BEHAVED at least 60 years younger. So there's still hope for all of us, JohnGalt, regardless of our ages.

OTOH I sure hope it's not the office that keeps them young.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 10:37 AM   #6
 
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Nords,

Curious as to why you were at the Class of 50 reunion? *

I can't remember the President (maybe Truman or LBJ)- But, upon leaving the White House, he was driven to his new residence. After a few hours he was 'surprised' to see his bags still outside the door, waiting for someone to carry them inside.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 10:46 AM   #7
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Most likely that they do not want relent their status in the workplace. When no longer working, they are viewed as just ordinary people - not someone special. Also, they are tied or attached to their work that they cannot escape.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 10:48 AM   #8
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Quote:

OTOH I sure hope it's not the office that keeps them young.
I am suspicious that in some cases where the person has a great interest in what they are doing that it probably is. My Grandfather worked till 85 then retired and lived another five years. He was happier working. MY fathers neighbor when I was young farmed till he was 80 and looked sixty when he passed at 89. Now neither worked too hard the last ten or fifteen years they worked. Retired or not keep yourself interested and I think you enhance your chances at living to a ripe old age. However if you dislike what you are doing you will have a greater liklihood of dying young.

Bruce
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 10:53 AM   #9
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?



I think Cut-throat hit it on the head.
Most people with low or high incomes just have not saved
enough, and probably will have to seriously cut back when they "retire" if ever. At best, an additional part-time job,which most of you ER folks would probably not consider retirement.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many of the people who appear to be "doing so well" actually have
very little put away due to unsatiable appetites for stuff.
Frankly, I fall victim to this myself, and constantly try to
achieve balance in my financial life. And I am just an average wage earner .

Most of us are not conditioned to save. Its not something you are brought up to learn in school, and if you don't get it in the home from frugal parents, its unlikely you will pick it up in life.

As much as I have tried to instill savings and frugality in my children, they have been heavily influenced from the upper middle class public schools they attended, and the constant bombardment of the media, letting you know that you "need" all this stuff to be happy or fufulled.

Those of you who have ER'd are to be commended for making it work at a relatively early age. Particularly those
whose incomes were "average" or had no access to pensions.

Who was it that said; "It not what you make but what you save or put away"?

gwix
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 05:11 PM   #10
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

I know a number of people in this position. Some are entrepreneurs who thrive on running a business. A lot of them are real estate developers who are always looking for a deal. Work? Hobby? Same thing to them. Why retire when you are having so much fun?

I know some professionals who have their identity so tied up in their profession that they likely will never retire. They seem to absolutely love what they do. It is who they are.

I know some professionals who continue to work even though they are FI because they never developed any outside interests to speak of and don't know how they would fill their days.

I know some professionals who make a good amount of money, save a fair amount, but haven't retired in their 50s because they wish to support their current lavish lifestyle after they retire.

And then there are those who don't save and spend every penny they have.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 05:19 PM   #11
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

To add to my previous post, last week I met the owner of a large Twin Cities construction company. Plenty of net worth to retire. He is one of those guys who is hard to pinpoint their age. But he started working in the company for his father in 1955. He has 50 some hotrods and spends upwards of a couple of hundred thousand (each!) having them fixed up. He is on wife number 4. He works and plays hard. Different kind of guy than most if not all of us here.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 06:22 PM   #12
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

[quote=Spanky l Most likely that they do not want relent their status in the workplace. When no longer working, they are viewed as just ordinary people - not someone special. Also, they are tied or attached to their work that they cannot escape.[/quote]

I went through this although I suffered little angst, such
was my motivation to ER. I went from being a
"Big Fish" to spending time trying to catch big fish. Anyway, I can easily understand that giving up
the status is difficult. I enjoyed being prominent
in the business community. Like Spanky says, now I am just "ordinary people".

JG
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 06:46 PM   #13
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Rare cats - we ER's are - eh!

I for one will let the rest of the world enjoy the 'variety of human experience.' - as long as 'they' don't try to convince me to ah er WORK!

Yeck! Besides after 12 years of ER, I will have passed two milestones: pension at 55, and early SS this year.

That's an 'official old phart' in my book.

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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 07:37 PM   #14
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

I would keep at it if I loved my job and found it challenging or exciting. The boredom is what would get me. I think a lot of wealthy (those that really have enough to retire) people keep at it because it becomes a game and most care more about the "win" than the money.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-24-2005, 08:05 PM   #15
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Why don't they stop? In addition to all the other reasons above, add Fear and Greed.

Fear they don't have enough yet or will run out some day. Greed in the form of working out for every hour or week or year of work the extra cash they can earn or vest in that keeps them on the gerbil wheel.

Education can help eliminate the Fear -- learning about SWR and investing and so on. Greed is something that takes wisdom to overcome. Or barring that, a 'wake-up call' such as a heart attack, or a truly toxic workplace that makes you chuck it in no matter the $ left on the table.



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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-25-2005, 07:12 AM   #16
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

I'll confess to the "golden hand cuffs" ... the severence package is a right of passage if you ride-it-out to the end. Not alot of money (~35k) ... but it'll put gas in the car.

Enjoy!
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-25-2005, 08:33 AM   #17
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

I look at my upcoming (summer '06) ER as the opportunity to take the job I've always wanted:

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In my case it will be the persuit of my artistic expression. I'm a musician, enjoy creating art in a variety of media, and love to read books, and commune with nature (and DW).

ER gives me the chance to esentially get paid (without risk of losing my "job") to do the job that until FIRE just wasn't available in the marketplace.

I agree with most of you in that most folk haven't figured out what it is that they would do all day, and worse than that how they'd pay for it given a high compsumtion Living well beyond their means, debt ridden lifestyle. I can relate because a decade ago, that was me. I had no plan for my future after the workplace world ends, and I spent every cent I made, and some I hadn't yet made.

Those on the ER board of seen the light. I work in a very dense building (1,000 plus coworkers) and I can tell you from my last few years of preaching the ER path,

VERY few get it.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-25-2005, 08:52 AM   #18
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Quote:
Nords, Curious as to why you were at the Class of 50 reunion? *???

I can't remember the President (maybe Truman or LBJ)- But, upon leaving the White House, he was driven to his new residence. After a few hours he was 'surprised' to see his bags still outside the door, waiting for someone to carry them inside.
A friend of a friend mentioned they needed volunteers, it involved free lunch, and we doubted that anyone else would be available at 9 AM on a Monday. We helped with checkin and handed out luau reservations. The worst problem was being on the hotel's 34th floor hospitality suite and seeing a solid 4-6' on the Waikiki break by the Hilton... bigger & earlier than I've seen it before and a real temptation.

With the high percentage of this class' military retirees, we thought it'd be a great chance to meet ERs and see how they'd lived the last few decades. They're doing fine but if any of them ER'd they didn't mention it.

I don't know if this story is true, but I've read that Bess Truman arranged for Harry to run out of gas when they departed the White House for their new home.

At least he knew where he was going. At one conference Kissinger was asked where he was living and his reply was "I don't know, it's wherever the driver takes me."
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-25-2005, 09:18 AM   #19
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

I think some people do not want to ER because, similar to what Spanky said, they feel they will lose POWER. Power can be an addictive drug to some.
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?
Old 04-25-2005, 09:34 AM   #20
 
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Re: Why don't more people just quit?

Some people can never get enough money.

I remember reading Lee Iacocca's autobiography. * He had millions of dollars, but wanted more -- felt that one could never have too much money.

A lot of people feel that they have to have the things that are just beyond their means. * Either a boat, or a jet or a house on the Riviera. *And they think that if they keep working, get more money, and get more stuff, maybe they'll be happy.
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