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View Poll Results: early retirement stress test
iíve gotten satisfaction from working for money 26 34.67%
but i get more satisfaction from spending it 9 12.00%
earning money made me more anxious than trying to hold onto it 10 13.33%
investing money makes me more anxious than earning it 16 21.33%
working seemed stressful at the time but satisfying in retrospect 8 10.67%
living off investments is more stressful than i thought it would 12 16.00%
working is more stressful than investing 29 38.67%
investing is more stressful than working 11 14.67%
money making money is more satisfying than working for money 39 52.00%
living off investments provides a sense of accomplishment even when losing money 22 29.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 75. You may not vote on this poll

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earning or losing money -- which gives you more anxiety?
Old 12-22-2008, 01:18 PM   #1
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earning or losing money -- which gives you more anxiety?

you've spent years earning (working for) a living and now you've watched a good portion of your hard won earnings quickly die. you worked for 20 or 30 years or more to save and invest and then lost 10 years of good gains overnight. which caused more anxiety? which provided more satisfaction? does losing money to the market make you feel like you've failed? did working make you feel accomplished?

poll options: feel free to choose more than one selection, which ever one(s) you find applicable.
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:38 PM   #2
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I believe that one reaches "critical mass" the should enjoy it. Old enough where you do not have to or want to w*rk any longer and the passive income coupled with return on your investments provide enough income to live the way you want to IMHO is financial critical mass. I believe that there is a point where "more money" loses its importance to your personal way of life.
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:40 PM   #3
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To clarify, this poll is intended for those already retired?
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 12-22-2008, 01:47 PM   #4
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It does not bother me when the market value of my investments (on whose dividends I am living) goes down, as long as the long-term viability of the companies (and their earnings and dividends) is good, so no problems here. I feel a sense of accomplishment by making it work.

I got a different sense of accomplishment from work, writing good software and seeing it perform well. Designing and coding was never difficult - the stress came from interacting with other people. Since I now only interact with those I like, I have very little stress now.
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:01 PM   #5
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Wiggles and downright steep downturns in the market will NEVER approach the stress I was subjected to for a paycheck. Never, not ever. If I were older and my portfolio was my only source of income, I know I would feel differently.
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
Wiggles and downright steep downturns in the market will NEVER approach the stress I was subjected to for a paycheck. Never, not ever. If I were older and my portfolio was my only source of income, I know I would feel differently.
I feel much the same, watched the numbers fall off my charts and thought: "I've lived without it so far."
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:59 PM   #7
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I recall a trader saying that it felt 20 times worse when he lost money than it felt good when he won.

I feel the same way.
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Old 12-23-2008, 03:37 AM   #8
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I answered yes to your first question and:
"money making money is more satisfying than working for money."

It never bothered me to lose money in the market in say, '74 or '87, etc., because I was working and nowhere near FI. Once I reached FI I was very concerned about it. My current losses really aren't a major concern because what remains in those accounts is earmarked for spending way out in the future. I should worry about living so long? Like the younger person I was in '74 or '87, I (hopefully) have time to recover those losses.

I don't know about accomplishment, but I feel some relief that the swings my PF did in the four months since I retired are confined to the cushion.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:03 AM   #9
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My picture is probably in the dictionary under "risk averse". Because of that, I w*rked years longer than I would have needed to had I invested in a more aggressive manner. The upside is that it's been many years since I lost any money in my overall portfolio - even this year I think I'll squeak out a few bucks in gains.
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investing is more stressful than working
Old 12-23-2008, 08:37 AM   #10
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investing is more stressful than working

I'm in the minority I guess, but this one is more stressful to me than work. Investing as a retiree under our current economic situation is not fun at all.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:52 PM   #11
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For me, working for money is way more stressful than investing. Sure, when the market tanks you lose money, but that still is not close to the stress of losing a job.

Once you have enough streams of unearned income - pension/annuities/cash bucket - then losing money in the market is not as painful as having your job as your only source of income, losing it and having to search for another one. At least that is how it is for me.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:59 AM   #12
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I have a bit of each......but the biggest one for me right now is to just concentrate on not letting my "Corporate F*** Y** fund" get to $5K. My investments have taken a beating, but I do have some time in my favor.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by OAG View Post
I believe that there is a point where "more money" loses its importance to your personal way of life.
true enough for me as i'm happy with food and shelter. but not to the madoff victim who slashed his wrists. he was probably down to his last few million.

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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
To clarify, this poll is intended for those already retired?
this is a nondiscriminating poll.

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Originally Posted by CyclingInvestor View Post
I feel a sense of accomplishment by making it work....I got a different sense of accomplishment from work.
thanx for sharing the distinction. do you experience any loss of a sense of accomplishment in that when you worked your accomplishments were shared by others & benefited others (& perhaps taken advantage of by others) but now they are pretty much just for you. or does this enhance the experience?

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Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
Wiggles and downright steep downturns in the market will NEVER approach the stress I was subjected to for a paycheck. Never, not ever. If I were older and my portfolio was my only source of income, I know I would feel differently.
glad you qualified that. hmmm, stressed at work and still stressed with no work. i'm gonna go beyond my credentials here and prescribe more sex.

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I feel much the same, watched the numbers fall off my charts and thought: "I've lived without it so far."
but did you live without it & without a job? heck, if i was working now i wouldn't even notice the depression.

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Originally Posted by barbarus View Post
I recall a trader saying that it felt 20 times worse when he lost money than it felt good when he won.
i think i tend to feel the downside more without feeling the upside much. probably doesn't eliminate my mood swings but maybe ballasts them a bit.

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I answered yes to your first question and:
"money making money is more satisfying than working for money."
i'll have to go back and see what the 1st question was. as to money making money, i should have clarified that option (would be great to get everyone's imput first but then tough to do the poll after). what is satisfying about not working for money? when i think about my inheritance, i find it comforting but i wouldn't describe it as satisfying.

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It never bothered me to lose money in the market in say, '74 or '87, etc., because I was working and nowhere near FI. Once I reached FI I was very concerned about it.
i guess just like there is some freedom to retirement which might balance stress caused by insecurities and market crashes, perhaps there is some security in employment which might balance stress caused there.

Quote:
My current losses really aren't a major concern because what remains in those accounts is earmarked for spending way out in the future. I should worry about living so long? Like the younger person I was in '74 or '87, I (hopefully) have time to recover those losses.
i think what bugs me so much is having had these losses so soon upon quitting my job. it isn't that i won't have time to recover under any presumed 100-year scenario; it's wondering about what if this 100-year event happens again in my lifetime. what if this was a turn onto a rocky road?

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Originally Posted by Koolau View Post
My picture is probably in the dictionary under "risk averse". Because of that, I w*rked years longer than I would have needed to had I invested in a more aggressive manner. The upside is that it's been many years since I lost any money in my overall portfolio - even this year I think I'll squeak out a few bucks in gains.
i'm not talking to you, braggart! (just kidding.) actually good to know that not everything failed. i've still got time to rework this now that i'm getting a better idea of what i'm dealing with.

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I'm in the minority I guess, but this one is more stressful to me than work. Investing as a retiree under our current economic situation is not fun at all.
you just might be in the silent majority. difference between you and me is i'm to vain to hit my head against a wall (do you have any idea what that would do to my complexion?)

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For me, working for money is way more stressful than investing. Sure, when the market tanks you lose money, but that still is not close to the stress of losing a job.
relative to the amount of time i've worried about losing money while living off investments, i've had only very few moments of worrying about losing a job. plus, while i know it can happen, i've never seen a job disappear (without the ability to get another one) as quickly as i've seen so much money just vanish (without the ability to suddenly create more--outside, of course, of getting a job).

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I have a bit of each......but the biggest one for me right now is to just concentrate on not letting my "Corporate F*** Y** fund" get to $5K.
do me a favor and will my funds up too while yer at it.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:41 PM   #14
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relative to the amount of time i've worried about losing money while living off investments, i've had only very few moments of worrying about losing a job. plus, while i know it can happen, i've never seen a job disappear (without the ability to get another one) as quickly as i've seen so much money just vanish (without the ability to suddenly create more--outside, of course, of getting a job).
I think this is a personal perspective. During the early 80's in England in the NE where we lived there was a BIG downturn caused by the collapse of the steel, mining and ship building industries. ALL of my close family members lost their jobs, unemployment in my home town was 80% and it took my family a long time to get re-employed, and at much lower pay. We actually had to borrow money to help out my brother. We used to make regular trips to my parents with bags of groceries, chopped up logs for their fire etc. 1984 in particular was extremely stressful. (the movie and now stage musical, Billy Elliott, was filmed in my home town and set in that year if you want a glimpse of what it was like).

25 years on I now have a DB pension, lots of money in investments, children off the payroll, no mortgage, so losing ~$250K this year is nothing like the stress we felt during a period when we really needed a job and there were few to be had if I got laid off.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
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glad you qualified that. hmmm, stressed at work and still stressed with no work. i'm gonna go beyond my credentials here and prescribe more sex.
Where would one fill said prescription; and would it be covered by HSA?

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but did you live without it & without a job? heck, if i was working now i wouldn't even notice the depression.
I'm one of those folks with a small but adequate pension.

Quote:
i think what bugs me so much is having had these losses so soon upon quitting my job. it isn't that i won't have time to recover under any presumed 100-year scenario; it's wondering about what if this 100-year event happens again in my lifetime. what if this was a turn onto a rocky road?
Bad timing, that.

Quote:
you just might be in the silent majority. difference between you and me is i'm to vain to hit my head against a wall (do you have any idea what that would do to my complexion?)
Good a reason as any.
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Old 12-24-2008, 08:32 PM   #16
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Even though I've spent some time thinking about my paper losses, so far they haven't paged me in the middle of the night to come in and fix someone else's mistake. It took me over a year after ER to learn to sleep through the night. Now I sleep well even with the crisises.
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Old 12-25-2008, 12:00 AM   #17
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I think this is a personal perspective. During the early 80's in England in the NE where we lived there was a BIG downturn caused by the collapse of the steel, mining and ship building industries. ALL of my close family members lost their jobs, unemployment in my home town was 80% and it took my family a long time to get re-employed, and at much lower pay. We actually had to borrow money to help out my brother. We used to make regular trips to my parents with bags of groceries, chopped up logs for their fire etc. 1984 in particular was extremely stressful. (the movie and now stage musical, Billy Elliott, was filmed in my home town and set in that year if you want a glimpse of what it was like).

25 years on I now have a DB pension, lots of money in investments, children off the payroll, no mortgage, so losing ~$250K this year is nothing like the stress we felt during a period when we really needed a job and there were few to be had if I got laid off.
I now recall having watched this movie "Billy Elliott". I have also watched "Raining Stones", another touching movie about an unemployed Irish Catholic man who stubbornly and foolishly tried to buy a new dress for his daughter's communion, something that he could ill afford.

I really feel for people who want to work, but cannot find a job. It is very demeaning to find yourself in such destitute. My wife and I have been fortunate that we have never been out of work, except by choice. However, both our families had been through tough times when we were in our teenage years. Hence we always save to make sure that we will never have to worry about not having a roof over our head and an empty cupboard. At this point, short of catastrophic healthcare costs beyond our insurance coverage, we should have enough to cover basic necessities, despite the market downturn.

My younger brothers and their younger wives, on the other hand, seem to want to enjoy everything that their good incomes can fetch. I hope their jobs are as secure as they think.
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Old 12-25-2008, 02:02 PM   #18
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My younger brothers and their younger wives, on the other hand, seem to want to enjoy everything that their good incomes can fetch. I hope their jobs are as secure as they think.
This is the case with my younger sisters. They live from paycheck to paycheck. One of my sisters has just been through a stressful few weeks. Company is laying off 30% of office workers and she knew she or one of 2 others would get laid off. They went through a job analysis and fortunately, last week she was told she was staying. Her husband of 30 years has been disabled and unable to work for the last 6 years (brain tumor - he's very sick and has undergone 2 surgeries to date).
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Too complex
Old 12-25-2008, 02:20 PM   #19
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Too complex

To me the poll is too complex and does not reflect the fact situaions change. The greatest anxiety I have felt is when I percieved there was/is a threat to my security (yup Maslow). When I was working and had a young child, money was tight. A bad economy, rising unemployment created anxiety because job loss meant I had a big problem. When times were good financially work provided stress but not at the same level as my security was not threatened. Maybe I was tired of dealing with what I thought was BS, I was frustrated. I think that is different type of stress at least for me. Now that I am in Semi-ER job loss does not spell disaster in the short term, the downsizing of my portfolio has created some anxiety but that threat to me is long term (>10 yrs). The solution to anxiety and stress for me is to be proactive, to plan what I need to do or get moving and doing something to change the situation. I don't want to go back to work full time and in a few years I would like to be fully ER'd. Right now I hope to continue working P/T and enjoying life, if at the end of 2009 things look bad then 2010 or maybe 2011 or 2012 I go back to work F/T. Only time will tell. If I have to go back to work hopefully I will have the health to do it.

Stress and anxiety are a part of life. It's going to come from somewhere, work, relationships, finances etc. It's all in how you handle it I think. Good coping skills are an asset in life and I am always trying to improve mine. Truth is all too often in life I have borrowed trouble when I didn't need to.
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Old 12-25-2008, 04:53 PM   #20
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I think this is a personal perspective...unemployment in my home town was 80% and it took my family a long time to get re-employed, and at much lower pay...
that's some story alan. just a few weeks back, tv news ran a similar story about an extended family employed entirely by the auto industry. not to be sophomoric, but oddly to the point would be that diversification applies to all aspects of economy, from a portfolio, to a one horse town, maybe even right down to family.

i was expressing my (worst case scenario styled) worry to my brother the other day and he said to me that i should stop worrying because he'd help me out if ever needed be. i thanked him for that but thought to myself: what makes you think you'll be in a position to help me?

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To me the poll is too complex and does not reflect the fact situaions change.
some really good observations there shotgunner. though i wonder if the poll wasn't complex enough. i like the types of tests that ask the same questions in different ways. for instance, ask which is more stressful, working or investing, and more people check working.
Quote:
working is more stressful than investing 28 40.00%
investing is more stressful than working 9 12.86%
but ask which gives more anxiety, investing or working, and more people check just the opposite, investing.
Quote:
earning money made me more anxious than trying to hold onto it 10 14.29%
investing money makes me more anxious than earning it 16 22.86%
i'm real curious as to the very high response on satisfaction gained from money making money, particularly since i get no satisfaction from that. aside from the closeted financial planners, i suspect the satisfaction there is not the same satisfaction one gets from being a productive person (either in society or in one's own life) but i think the poll was not complex enough to capture what type of satisfaction people were voting on.

i think your thoughts on security are spot on. i wonder if i wouldn't be less anxious about the reduction of my net worth if i wasn't tied to this expensive area. if i cashed out and vagabonded, i'd probably be in pretty good shape for the rest of my life. but there is so much uncertainty now that this area does give me security of job possibilities if need be.

as you note, this is just such a wierd situation and nobody seems to be able to guess what tomorrow will be. i've already learned that my planning isn't worth a damn. and now i don't even trust the modeling that i would use to plan with. but i do like your thinking of being flexible and i'm, yikes, modeling that into my planning.
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