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Everything is finally coming together
Old 05-16-2016, 05:25 AM   #1
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Everything is finally coming together

As the title of this thread says, I'm at a point in my life (mid-40s) where 25+ years of hard work (if you count professional school) are finally coming together. My wife and I have a substantial nest egg, 2 beautiful children, a wonderful house in a great neighborhood, and professional jobs that pay us very well. You would think that I'd won life's lottery - and you would be right - I feel very fortunate. However, society (here in the US at any rate) seems to be bombarding me with two distinct messages: (1) spend, spend, spend on luxuries - you've earned them, and (2) give, give, give to those "less fortunate - you didn't build that". While I do like nice things, I know that my discipline in not spending money on luxuries over the years allowed me to reach where I am today. Likewise, my discipline on helping myself and my family over the years, rather than following a public interest career, also allowed me to reach where I am today. Thus far, I've resisted the siren's song of the former, and the guilt-imposing messaging of the latter.

I'm not unhappy with my life as it stands, but I feel like something is missing (maybe I need a vacation?) I'd be curious to know whether others have felt this way.


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Old 05-16-2016, 06:12 AM   #2
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As far as your second point on "giving." I have always felt that "giving" is a very personal issue....much like tipping. It is up to me and nobody's business.

We give a few hundred every year to our church. That's it. Could we give more? Of course....but I have always felt that charity starts at home. My wife and I will enjoy our retirement and whatever is left over will go to the children/grandchildren. It's our money. We earned it and dammit we will enjoy it. No charitable donations, contributions, foundations,etc. We feel no compunction, moral obligation, responsibility, etc. as far as "giving back to society." Besides .... we already do that. It's called "taxes."

Good luck on society trying to make us feel guilty.
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Old 05-16-2016, 06:16 AM   #3
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As far as your second point on "giving." I have always felt that "giving" is a very personal issue....much like tipping. It is up to me and nobody's business.

We give a few hundred every year to our church. That's it. Could we give more? Of course....but I have always felt that charity starts at home. My wife and I will enjoy our retirement and whatever is left over will go to the children/grandchildren. It's our money. We earned it and dammit we will enjoy it. No charitable donations, contributions, foundations,etc. We feel no compunction, moral obligation, responsibility, etc. as far as "giving back to society." Besides .... we already do that. It's called "taxes."

Good luck on society trying to make us feel guilty.
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Old 05-16-2016, 06:32 AM   #4
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My wife and I are animal lovers and we have always contributed to the Humane Society. It gets frustrating that they then attempt to guilt you into more contributions with continuous letters and requests plus little "free" gifts to get you to send more money.
And... don't get me started on selling my name to related organizations that also try to pull at the heart strings to get money.
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Old 05-16-2016, 06:35 AM   #5
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Regarding giving to charity:

I firmly believe that it's important to be part of something that's bigger than myself. For me, it's my church and a couple music organizations. For others, it might be a charity supporting homeless people, advocating conservation, or fighting child abuse.

I submit that if you get engaged in something that's bigger than yourself, your life will be more complete and more satisfying. At that time, you may be moved to make generous financial gifts and feel good about them. But getting involved and the resulting feelings of purpose come first.
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Old 05-16-2016, 07:34 AM   #6
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As the title of this thread says, I'm at a point in my life (mid-40s) where 25+ years of hard work (if you count professional school) are finally coming together. My wife and I have a substantial nest egg, 2 beautiful children, a wonderful house in a great neighborhood, and professional jobs that pay us very well. You would think that I'd won life's lottery - and you would be right - I feel very fortunate. However, society (here in the US at any rate) seems to be bombarding me with two distinct messages: (1) spend, spend, spend on luxuries - you've earned them, and (2) give, give, give to those "less fortunate - you didn't build that". While I do like nice things, I know that my discipline in not spending money on luxuries over the years allowed me to reach where I am today. Likewise, my discipline on helping myself and my family over the years, rather than following a public interest career, also allowed me to reach where I am today. Thus far, I've resisted the siren's song of the former, and the guilt-imposing messaging of the latter.

I'm not unhappy with my life as it stands, but I feel like something is missing (maybe I need a vacation?) I'd be curious to know whether others have felt this way.


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Absolutely. Probably nothing is really missing. Now try and relax and be content? Not necessarily easy.
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:13 AM   #7
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(1) spend, spend, spend on luxuries - you've earned them
(1) Sounds like you have earned it. (moderation in some discretionary spending works for many as you go through life) You only go around once.

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(2) give, give, give to those "less fortunate - you didn't build that".
(2) I know you didn't say it but "who built it"? I guess my (and the mega corps where I worked) for 40+ years of work and paying taxes didn't build or do anything or support all the welfare systems in this country all these years.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:08 AM   #8
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I didn't learn true joy until I learned to give. We are currently giving 1% NW. That's a lot. It will go down later after I'm off OMY.

Our giving is for causes, not necessarily only those less fortunate. For example, a camp for youngsters of all backgrounds. Helps keep it affordable for all.

It is very personal.

And I leave it to the govt. for the destitute. The "you didn't build that" comes from a whole different mindset than mine. Govt. seems to be in that business. So it goes.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:43 AM   #9
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While we give to charity organizations in the US, the bulk of our donations goes to unknown organizations out of Autralia or in 3rd world countries that shelter and feed orphans or children who are abandoned by their parents. I also know individuals who go to places like Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Cambodia to give clothes and provisions to the Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns who run these orphanages. The cost is completely out of their pockets, and I help with some money as I can.

What we give is minuscule compared to what these children need, and perhaps I do that for myself as much as for them. Some of our siblings do the same, some don't. We don't bring it up much.

By the way, my donations are not tax deductible because these overseas orphanages are not recognized by the IRS. No matter though, as I know that 100% of my money goes to the cause, and there's no middle man.
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:44 AM   #10
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We lived in a high end area. We never bothered keeping up with the Jones and we very purposely did not spoil our children. I never really felt the pressure but I am one of those people who does not really care what others think of me. I just do my own thing. Not exactly a contrarian but I don't follow the pack just because they are all going there.

We take a very different view on giving. We give because we have been extremely fortunate in our lives. Much of it from hard work, smart work. But much of it was a fluke of who our parents were, where we were born, how we were raised. Those, and other extraneous factors played a part in the opportunities that were available to us. Not to mention very good health.

Many others have not been as fortunate, sometimes because of their own issues, sometimes through no fault of their own.

On retirement we had the time to analyze (and increase) our giving and eliminate organizations that we felt did not use our money effectively or spent too much on admin. We also had the help of a magazine that each year lists the best charities in our country from a number perspectives. Bottom line is the local church gets very little of our money now. The bulk of our donations go to our local food bank, followed by a World Vision child sponsorship, and Doctors without Borders. I wanted our money to work as hard as we do (did). Everyone has their own preferences.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:31 AM   #11
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We give quite generously to a local children's home. They do amazing work with kids that have basically been abandoned by parents who are either incarcerated or living on the street. We learned about the home because it was in our neighborhood and our kids went to school and became friends with some of the kids who lived there. They really make a difference in lives that otherwise would likely take a very different path. We focus all of our charitable giving to this one group because it's local and we've personally witnessed the positive impact they have.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:43 AM   #12
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I'm not unhappy with my life as it stands, but I feel like something is missing (maybe I need a vacation?)
Vacation or timeoff is in order to reflect and to gain an understanding of what's the real issue and to determine what it takes to become satisfied.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:00 AM   #13
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Vacation or timeoff is in order to reflect and to gain an understanding of what's the real issue and to determine what it takes to become satisfied.
I agree - - you need a vacation, G8tr!!

And not a "busy" type of vacation, either. You need the kind of vacation where you can unwind, kick back, and think without interruptions about what is missing in your life.

As for those two messages that society is sending you, G8tr, I ignore them both.

(1) Like you, I did a lot of LBYM to get to where I am and if I had listened to the "spend, spend, spend" message I'd be broke and still working.

(2) As for the "give, give, give" message, the best gift I can give to society is to independently support myself for my entire life and not end up leaching off of everybody else. Once I am absolutely sure that my own support is 100% locked in, then I may give more significant amounts, but I do not feel justified in doing this otherwise. Timing is of the essence.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:30 AM   #14
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'Things' don't really do it for us. They never have. Sure we had a nice house, car etc. But we always lived conservatively, below our means.

What was more important to us were experiences. Most especially travel experiences. We travelled to many different places.

In retirement, experiences are even more important and we travel frequently. Downsizing from a large home to a smaller condo made us realize even more how little many of these 'things' truly mattered to us. Our time is limited. Still hopefully a long time on our horizon. But we want to travel and experience as much as we can while we have the health. A new shiny car, bigger house or boat just does not do it for us. For us, the ability to pack up and go anywhere we want for as long as we want is the ultimate reward for working hard during our careers and for being financially astute.
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Old 05-16-2016, 12:18 PM   #15
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I'm at a point in my life (mid-40s)...

... society (here in the US at any rate) seems to be bombarding me with two distinct messages: (1) spend, spend, spend on luxuries - you've earned them, and (2) give, give, give to those "less fortunate - you didn't build that".

...my discipline on helping myself and my family over the years, rather than following a public interest career, also allowed me to reach where I am today...
You are still young. Your children probably have some time yet to grow into adulthood and be self-sufficient.

So, it is good to resist the "spend, spend, spend". Once you have enough, building up reserves for rainy days is not a bad thing. Or it will allow you options to retire early, or do whatever you come upon later.

As to "give, give, give", there's plenty of time ahead for you to do that, when you are in your later years, your children established, your life is winding down, you care less and less about "stuff", and realize you cannot take it with you.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:58 PM   #16
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In a forum like early retirement, the typical topic is how to get to retirement, how to enjoy retirement, etc. However, goals for retirement are really only one aspect of finance. How or whether to give charitably is another aspect, I believe. Just as discussions on spending, saving, making money all matter, I think that discussions about giving are just as important.

The question that helps me determine answers about charitable giving is other than retirement, what am I working to make money for? I don't plan to golf during my entire retirement, nor do I plan to travel the rest of my days.

However, since I may a pretty comfortable living, and have few material needs, I find that using the financial resources that I've been given to help improve the lives of others brings far more meaning and joy to my life than any material good or even any balance on my brokerage account.

You have to decide what it is that you personally wish to do in your lifetime. Although I wish to enjoy some leisure, I don't want a life of leisure.
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:00 AM   #17
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So many good responses.

For us we have been blessed to have good parents and good opportunities. Sure we worked hard and lived below our means but we had so many blessings.

We love our retirement time now cause a lot is about giving back to those who did not have our good fortune. While its giving a lot of time to good causes its also financial. Sure the kids and grandkids come first but we have to help others.

This world is much better when we help others. And we are too.


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Old 05-17-2016, 07:15 AM   #18
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We take a very different view on giving. We give because we have been extremely fortunate in our lives. Much of it from hard work, smart work. But much of it was a fluke of who our parents were, where we were born, how we were raised. Those, and other extraneous factors played a part in the opportunities that were available to us. Not to mention very good health.

Many others have not been as fortunate, sometimes because of their own issues, sometimes through no fault of their own.

+1
Well said.
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:00 AM   #19
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There is so much great advice in this thread and I thank everyone who took the time to respond. I do need a vacation, or at least a day off without hearing the constant ping of my work phone email.

On the issue of helping others, I like the idea of staying close to home. I don't trust most charities, as they just want my money to cover bloated overhead. Likewise, I agree that my taxes = a pretty hefty charitable contribution, yet again there is so much waste. I've thought about going into a low income neighborhood elementary school and pay the tab for all student lunch accounts that are in arrears. Unfortunately, part of me feels like that might just enable the parents to waste money on more vices for themselves. Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. 😀

On a more serious note, I would like to spend more time on my hobbies and with my kids as they grow up. Yet work, at least mine, is an all or nothing proposition. Once you leave, good luck getting anywhere near the same job at the same pay again.


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Old 05-17-2016, 09:51 AM   #20
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I agree with the above posters. When we downsized, we also had to get rid of a lot of "things".
I do pay hefty taxes, but still contribute to my religious institution. Flying patients with Angel Flight West is a direct contribution with no overhead.
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