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Dear Abby doesn't get FIRE
Old 07-24-2013, 06:45 AM   #1
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Dear Abby doesn't get FIRE

This was in Dear Abby today. I'm going to post the whole thing instead of linking, because the contents go away the next day. I just shook my head. Even Dear Abby doesn't understand that you can LBYM and be set for life...
DEAR ABBY: I'm single, have no kids and I'm about to turn 62. I own my own home and have no debts. After years of earning a modest but steady income and watching my expenses, I have saved enough and I am eligible for good retirement benefits. So what's my problem?Friends and family insist I'm crazy to leave a job at which I could work for another five to 10 years. I know retirement is practical for me because I have gotten professional financial planning advice. There are many things I really want to do -- classes, hobbies, volunteer work and travel before I'm too old.
My friends need to work to support their extravagant lifestyles, lavish vacations, expensive restaurants, plus their new cars, clothing and electronics. I did things my way and can afford to retire now, so why can't my friends keep their mouths shut and let me enjoy what I have worked for? -- READY TO RETIRE


DEAR READY: They may be jealous, or they may be genuinely concerned about you. Not knowing them, I can't answer for them. I can, however, suggest this: Before quitting your job and the steady, modest income it provides, talk with another financial planner and get a second opinion. You'd do that with a doctor if you had a serious question about your physical health, and I'm recommending you do it because this decision will affect your financial health for the rest of your life. If you wait a few more years, you won't be over the hill, and you will have even more money to enjoy in your retirement.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:26 AM   #2
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Not only does Abby not get FIRE, she went beyond answering the person's question and gave advice on getting a second opinion. It wasn't bad advice, it just wasn't asked for. She mentioned she didn't know the friends and family, but she doesn't know the poster either.

I imagine there are many folks on this board who can relate to this person's dilemma. I know that when I talk with friends about retiring before 62, most of them cannot relate. I only have 2 that are on the same track...and have another dozen who will be working until 70 or later, if they can maintain employment. It's getting harder and harder for well paid professionals to keep their jobs when they can be replace with younger, lower paid employees...
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:59 AM   #3
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The writer specifically asked "Why can't my friends keep their mouths shut?" and Abby answered, sensibly enough, "I can't speak for them." If the writer had asked "What can I say to my friends to keep them from bugging me about retiring?" it would have given Abby something to advise about.

I think the rest of her advice was sound enough. She didn't say "Don't retire," she said "Get a second opinion to be sure your finances are as good as you think they are." The only thing Abby didn't do was recommend subscribing to the ER Forum, and that, of course, was a "fail."

For what it's worth, I felt the writer didn't need to go all judgmental on their friends and family needing to work to support extravagant lifestyles. Just a question about "What can I say to these busybodies?" would have sufficed.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj View Post
This was in Dear Abby today. I'm going to post the whole thing instead of linking, because the contents go away the next day. I just shook my head. Even Dear Abby doesn't understand that you can LBYM and be set for life...
DEAR ABBY: I'm single, have no kids and I'm about to turn 62. I own my own home and have no debts. After years of earning a modest but steady income and watching my expenses, I have saved enough and I am eligible for good retirement benefits. So what's my problem?Friends and family insist I'm crazy to leave a job at which I could work for another five to 10 years. I know retirement is practical for me because I have gotten professional financial planning advice. There are many things I really want to do -- classes, hobbies, volunteer work and travel before I'm too old.
My friends need to work to support their extravagant lifestyles, lavish vacations, expensive restaurants, plus their new cars, clothing and electronics. I did things my way and can afford to retire now, so why can't my friends keep their mouths shut and let me enjoy what I have worked for? -- READY TO RETIRE


DEAR READY: They may be jealous, or they may be genuinely concerned about you. Not knowing them, I can't answer for them. I can, however, suggest this: Before quitting your job and the steady, modest income it provides, talk with another financial planner and get a second opinion. You'd do that with a doctor if you had a serious question about your physical health, and I'm recommending you do it because this decision will affect your financial health for the rest of your life. If you wait a few more years, you won't be over the hill, and you will have even more money to enjoy in your retirement.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by cj View Post
If you wait a few more years, you won't be over the hill, and you will have even more money to enjoy in your retirement.
This quote shows for me that Abby does not understand retirement:

1. Retirement does not necessarily get better the more money is available.
2. In a few more years the poster might not be "over the hill" but under it...

To original poster:
Track your expenses and use firecalc and some other good tools.
If they give you 100% success go for it! Just give your friends a big smile when you tell them that you appreciate their concerns but appreciate your time more than your job. And ENJOY!
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:30 AM   #5
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There are unknown variable that may say retire, retire. Her pension and employer retiree health benefits may more than cover her current expenses and in fact she could still build her nest egg. We retired prior to age 60 in that situation and as SS continues to kick in we only invest more etc etc. There is no financial life quality advantage to working. Unless pensions and SS collapse FireCalc will always give us a 99 percent plus chance of meeting our goal with a sizable increase in investments. Abby like many others in the media are consumed with people outliving their assets.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:30 AM   #6
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I read that column but don't expect a deep answer. After all people are writing about some serious issues and how do you dispense advice on such issues in 5 to 10 sentences? Don't you need to have a serious 2 way conversation, or multi-way like in these forums?

I would never trust my financial future to an advice columnist unless she could tell me when the market high was coming.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:31 AM   #7
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My personal reaction is that Dear Abby's answer was very good. She was in a position of knowing absolutely nothing about the finances of "Ready to Retire", or the seriousness of the concerns being expressed by the family and friends. If the same person had posted in this forum insisting that he or she was ready to retire, practically every response would have included something to the effect of, "What does Firecalc say?" Abby wasn't in position to ask the same question, so she very sensibly suggested that "Ready to Retire" get a second opinion. I fail to see the harm in such a suggestion.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:34 AM   #8
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I don't see an issue with the recommendation to get a second opinion. For example, I wouldn't rely only on FIRECALC as my only source, I use a finanical planner (free thru my work) along with FRIP, FIRECALC, and Quicken Planner to form a consensus.

However, the "work a few more years, you're not over the hill yet" is still stuck in the traditional of 65 being the first "acceptable" year for retirement... completely ignoring not only those seeking ER before that, but an economy where many who might want to work that long in their chosen career are not allowed to do so.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:41 AM   #9
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:46 AM   #10
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DEAR ABBY: I'm single, have no kids and I'm about to turn 62. I own my own home and have no debts. After years of earning a modest but steady income and watching my expenses, I have saved enough and I am eligible for good retirement benefits.
To me it sounds like the financial planner he consulted WAS the second opinion. (and he wasn't Abby her opinion on his idea to retire, he was asking how to respond to his friends' advice)
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:38 AM   #11
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To me it sounds like the financial planner he consulted WAS the second opinion. (and he wasn't Abby her opinion on his idea to retire, he was asking how to respond to his friends' advice)
A truly unique definition of "second opinion", indeed. By your definition a doctor's opinion counts one, the patient's opinion counts two, so there would never be a need to consult with a second physician in the case of a life threatening medical condition. Please forgive me if I prefer Dear Abby's definition of "second opinion" to yours.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:58 AM   #12
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To me it sounds like the financial planner he consulted WAS the second opinion. (and he wasn't Abby her opinion on his idea to retire, he was asking how to respond to his friends' advice)

That was my take away on it also.

Given the person's comments about his friends extravagant lifestyles and his LBYM scenario, he should have expected some questioning his sanity when he doesn't appear to be as successful as them, and is going to retire early...
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:09 AM   #13
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A truly unique definition of "second opinion", indeed. By your definition a doctor's opinion counts one, the patient's opinion counts two, so there would never be a need to consult with a second physician in the case of a life threatening medical condition. Please forgive me if I prefer Dear Abby's definition of "second opinion" to yours.
You don't need a professional degree and training to know how much you spend, and at 62, how much you are about to receive in pension and SS payments.

I do agree that when it comes to medical conditions I would not consider a doctor's opinion as second to my own diagnosis.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:26 AM   #14
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You don't need a professional degree and training to know how much you spend, and at 62, how much you are about to receive in pension and SS payments.
Anyone who jumped into retirement knowing only how much they were about to receive in pension and SS payments would clearly not be competent to evaluate their readiness for retirement and hence would be in dire need of a second opinion. How much have they saved? How is their money invested? Where is their health care coming from? Do they have long term care insurance? What will be the effects of inflation 30 years from now? What are their monthly expenses? What discretionary expenses would they like their retirement to provide?

Abby wasn't able to ask and get responses to these and many other questions that needed to be asked, so she suggested that "Ready for Retirement" get a second opinion before doing something as potentially irreversible as quitting his or her job. That's sound advice, and probably as good a response as you're going to see coming from a generic advice columnist.
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:41 PM   #15
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People are either projecting their own inability to be good about managing their money, or they are just jealous that others have the ability to kiss their boss goodbye for good.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:17 PM   #16
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I would get a second opinion from a doctor if my medical situation was severe or complex. However, I would not get a second opinion if after a routine physical examination my doctor told me I was fine. I had an "Age 50" colonoscopy a few years ago. The doctor said there were no problems. I did not rush out to get a 2nd colonoscopy nor did I have another doctor check the results.

I think the person in question falls in the second category. He (or she) believes his financial situation is sound and performs due diligence by obtaining confirmation from a professional financial planner. He does not need a second opinion.

Dear Abby does not seem to understand ER or that ER is a reasonable outcome for a LBYM lifestyle. She appears to believe that ER is so unusual / complex that multiple opinions are needed. ER is not open heart surgery.
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:04 PM   #17
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I amazed that the majority of people out there really can't comprehend the concept of FI and ER. It runs the entire spectrum of society. It turns out that our little group here is pretty unique.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:13 PM   #18
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A lot of advice columnists have a stable of experts that they refer to. I'm surprised whoever is writing Dear Abby didn't get their professional opinion and report it--it sounds like it's just what the columnist feels regarding why not work a few more years. I think her answer is just dumb considering the potential retiree is set financially and has lots of things he's looking forward to doing.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:23 PM   #19
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My personal reaction is that Dear Abby's answer was very good. She was in a position of knowing absolutely nothing about the finances of "Ready to Retire", or the seriousness of the concerns being expressed by the family and friends. If the same person had posted in this forum insisting that he or she was ready to retire, practically every response would have included something to the effect of, "What does Firecalc say?" Abby wasn't in position to ask the same question, so she very sensibly suggested that "Ready to Retire" get a second opinion. I fail to see the harm in such a suggestion.
I agree with karluk. The advice was offered in a spirit of helpfulness.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:20 PM   #20
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I retired after running the numbers myself and through a few retirement calculators. Afterwards, I met with 2 different financial advisors who both confirmed my conclusions. This made me feel better about my decision albeit after the fact. It is not a big deal to get a second opinion about retirement readiness and if it means a little extra peace of mind for the OP, then great.

Where Dear Abby failed the OP was that she offered no useful advice regarding how he should deal with all the naysayers around him. Whether he visits another financial advisor or not, he still needs to address the social and family considerations, whether they are motivated by jealousy or genuine concern.
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