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"Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 09:57 AM   #1
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"Foolish" Advice

I just got this in my email...

http://www.fool.com/news/commentary/...ry04120903.htm

Who here actually agrees with this?
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 10:33 AM   #2
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

I'm not sure what "this" you're referring to, so I'm going to answer in my own quirky fashion.

"If you're not making money, you're spending money," according to the article. That's true, but not necessarily to the extent the article implies. For example, if I'm not at work earning money, I might go to the library to borrow books. Thus, I've spent the money for the gas to get the books. It's not much, but I have spent money. Somehow, I don't think that's what the author meant.

The author seems to mean that "new hobbies" will necessarily cost a lot of money. Drawing costs only a pencil and a pad of paper - $5-15 - and you'll get hours, if not days, of enjoyment from it. Certainly stained glasswork or adventure travel will cost more, but those aren't the only hobbies around.

It all comes down to the individual. No rule of thumb will work for all of us, and it's up to us to figure out what our likely expenses will be.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 10:45 AM   #3
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

I agree, and the really good advice I see in there is to make a budget and see how much money you ACTUALLY need.

But when an author says this:

"Some studies support the 70% to 80% rule. The "2001 RETIRE Project" report, conducted by Georgia State University, found that retirees need 74% to 83% of their income to maintain the same lifestyle in retirement.[...] I looked at actual spending figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and found that most older Americans have lower expenses -- along with lower incomes. "

And then contradicts that study by saying this:

"I've found that many retirees require the same level of income in retirement they enjoyed while working. "

What is the reader supposed to take away from this? I believe most non-savvy folks will do some simple math and think "hmm, we make $100k/year... and we will live for 20 years... therefore we need $2M" and conclude that it's hopeless, especially if they are like most folks in their cohort and only have about $50k in their 401k. Dispair will lead to inaction, further compounding the problem.

The great thing about this board is that it's full of stories from people who have retired on budgets of <$30k/year and are having a GREAT time.... I think if folks saw that they CAN retire on less (and thus lower the target amounts), the task of saving and investing wouldn't seem quite as daunting or impossible.

My 2 cents.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 12:04 PM   #4
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

I don't see a contradiction between "some studies" and "many retirees."

It all comes back--again --to figuring out what each individual needs and planning for those.

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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 12:15 PM   #5
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Marshac, the stuff that TMF puts out has degraded so far down into the "garbage scale" that I rarely even bother reading it any monre. They are in the business of selling sleazy stock-picking newsletters and do a lot of hyping and promotion. Sad, really.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 01:03 PM   #6
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

I personally spent way more money when I was working than I do now.

I was always stressed out enough to think, I need that nice meal in a restaurant, I need that vacation to Costa Rica, I need that new sports gear, etc.,etc..

I did need it too, because otherwise I wasn't able to distract distract myself from my onerous job.

But now, although I would like much of those same things, I don't really need them, and all in all I am not sure I would enjoy then any more than what I am doing with my time. For sure I wouldn't want the whole package, with hard job and all.

Mikey
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"Foolish" advice-- still too generic.
Old 12-10-2004, 01:52 PM   #7
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"Foolish" advice-- still too generic.

The author says "After all, nudist colonies aren't cheap."

I wouldn't know. Yet.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 03:37 PM   #8
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Quote:

What is the reader supposed to take away from this? I believe most non-savvy folks will do some simple math and think "hmm, we make $100k/year... and we will live for 20 years... therefore we need $2M" and conclude that it's hopeless, especially if they are like most folks in their cohort and only have about $50k in their 401k. Dispair will lead to inaction, further compounding the problem.
Yes, these are the types of articles that had me really intimidated about the idea of early retirement until I found this board.

As for hobbies requiring requiring so much money - I guess it depends. It occurs to me that if you are retired you have more time to seek bargains, travel in the off season, etc. If you are early retired then you probably also have the health to enjoy some lower cost activities like hiking, bicycling, etc. I don't see us needing 80% of pre-retirement income, but we're still at least a decade from ER, so who knows.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 03:57 PM   #9
 
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

25% in a walk, without touching our "base".

JG
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 05:02 PM   #10
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

These articles always seem to confuse income and expenses. I'm planning on having 100% of my current expenses in retirement... but that's a very far cry from 100% of income. It would be scary to try to replace even 70% of income, considering that we're living on about 25% of current income. (Not counting taxes, which take another 25%).

The really scary thing about these kinds of articles, IMO, is that they reinforce the belief that the "normal" thing to do is to spend all that you earn. I didn't even do that when I was a grad student!
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-10-2004, 05:04 PM   #11
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Dory's 33% That's my story post got me to join this forum. Me and the SO's combined salary plus rental was about 100k in 1992. My personal best 'cheap SOB'(frugal?) was 12k for a year - I was threatened with bodily harm if I ever tried to get that frugal again.

The 18-24k area was ballpark for the first ten years with no hard core budgeting. We'll probably exceed 33k in coming years because of pensions, SS, Step daughter in spare room, widowed mom's SS, & pension - in short spent more - 'because we're not taking it with us'.

Painfull! - I like cheap. FireCalc indicates 60-70k/yr once SS kicks in next year. I have no idea what we'll piss it away on - but I'm sure the women will think of something.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-11-2004, 06:46 AM   #12
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Holly beat me to the punch. I'm already living on 60%-70% of income while I'm working. Lately the rest has gone to debt elimination (~= savings), and after I figure out what the next phase of my life is and implement it that money will be directed towards savings which I won't be doing after retiring.

Some people spend more than their income. They'll probably need more than their income to retire.

As far as whether expenses go up or not, that's on a case-by-case business. I can entertain myself quite cheaply, but I do like to travel, too.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-11-2004, 07:50 AM   #13
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

I have thought that these popular estimates of what percent of your current income you need when you retire made little sense. If you currently have 200,000 of income, why would you need 150,000 when you retire? If you make 30,000 you may very well need 30,000 when you retire, not 22,000.

These formulas are assuming you live a certain lifestyle and you need to maintain the lifestyle. If you are retiring early, you probably did not live the assumed lifestyle.

On the other hand, a number of younger people on this board have talked about living on about 25,000 of income a year. They talk about their minimal needs. One danger is that your needs change over time. Insurance might be cheap now when you are young and healthy, but expensive when you are 55 after a bout of cancer. You may want to travel in a comfortable car, not by bike. You may want to stay at hotel, not a tent. Desires and needs both change over time. This makes it more difficult to properly plan for an early retirement.

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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-11-2004, 08:32 AM   #14
 
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

I was intrigued by unclemick's post, especially their
total family income peaking at around 100K, and his best
"cheap SOB" year spending around 12K. This is kind of my story also, except I don't think I ever got down to 12K. However, just after I ERed and was still being extra careful, I lived in a $230/mo. apartment, drove a
small Chev pick up, no pets, no cable, no cell phone, and ate a lot of meals at my folks. My big expenses were child support and dating. Courtship was the one area
where I didn't spare the horses

JG
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-11-2004, 10:33 AM   #15
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Quote:
Courtship was the one area
where I didn't spare the horses *
And from all accounts, it seems your ROI is quite high.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-11-2004, 10:36 AM   #16
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

[quote]I have thought that these popular estimates of what percent of your current income you need when you retire made little sense. *If you currently have 200,000 of income, why would you need 150,000 when you retire? *If you make 30,000 you may very well need 30,000 when you retire, not 22,000.

These formulas are assuming you live a certain lifestyle and you need to maintain the lifestyle. *If you are retiring early, you probably did not live the assumed lifestyle.
Martha: I have never responded to one of your posts, although I have read most of your posts. You show good commen sense, and seem to really have it together.
You're absolutely right, regarding income pre-retirement and post retirement. I think most of the hype is because of the folks that have an axe to grind. (Brokerages, financial planners, etc.).
I retired 18 years ago, (our kids were out of household and had no opposition from my wife as her career was
was running the household, and I guess she trusted me.
We actually have had more spendable since I retired on
less than half of the income. (And I'm not a cheap date).
Next to no taxes, no longer kids to worry about, (to a point), no longer saving for retirement, all add up to a much smaller requirement.
I honestly think that the main derailment of retiring is not having a game plan on what you are going to do with your extra time. If you can come up with that potential problem, you have it pretty well whipped.
Being an ex-athlete, and now having time to play as much golf, and fly-fishing as I want to it has been a very easy adjustment to me. What I have been surprised about over the years is how my wife adjusted to having an empty-nest, and enjoying it as much as she has.
Apparantly we were both cut out to be "bums".
Good luck to you, Jarhead

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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-11-2004, 11:18 AM   #17
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Quote:
These articles always seem to confuse income and expenses. I'm planning on having 100% of my current expenses in retirement...
I agree, and have pointed it out before. The number to use is expenses, but don't get there by adding them up. I much prefer using income minus taxes, minus long term savings. That is what you are really living on, and adding up expenses is error prone. If you got the money, and didn't save it, you spent it and that is the expense number to use.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-12-2004, 09:08 AM   #18
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Quote:

I agree, and have pointed it out before. The number to use is expenses, but don't get there by adding them up. I much prefer using income minus taxes, minus long term savings. That is what you are really living on, and adding up expenses is error prone. If you got the money, and didn't save it, you spent it and that is the expense number to use.
I'm not really sure what the difference is. Maybe for someone who only tracks income/expenses loosely your method makes sense, but in my house we track *everything* - every single expense. It's easy to do since we use hardly any cash at all, and instead use the credit card for everything possible. And cash withdrawals get tracked too - I usually indicate what they're for (buying vegetables at the farmers' market, mostly) but otherwise they're a "misc expense" that still shows up as an expense.
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-12-2004, 09:10 AM   #19
 
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Quote:
I'm not really sure what the difference is. Maybe for someone who only tracks income/expenses loosely your method makes sense, but in my house we track *everything* - every single expense. It's easy to do since we use hardly any cash at all, and instead use the credit card for everything possible. And cash withdrawals get tracked too - I usually indicate what they're for (buying vegetables at the farmers' market, mostly) but otherwise they're a "misc expense" that still shows up as an expense.

Yup, Me too!
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Re: "Foolish" Advice
Old 12-12-2004, 09:24 AM   #20
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Re: "Foolish" Advice

Quote:
... Maybe for someone who only tracks income/expenses loosely ...
Exactly. And there are many of those, maybe among the early retirees, but among the wanabees who will be running numbers.
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