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Old 09-14-2016, 04:09 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort View Post
We're not at super low spending levels compared to many posters here, but a lot lower for us than where we used to be. A big deal for us was simply optimizing our spending. We can live pretty much the same lifestyle as before but on a lot less money now. But some of it was chicken and the egg. We wouldn't have had time to analyze all our expenses without the free time we have now. Like we got rid of the landline for Ooma, cut most of the cable TV channels no one was watching anyway, switched the cell phones to Consumer Cellular, made the house energy efficient, joined some rush ticket memberships for concert and theater tickets, learned how to get free travel with the credit card point hacks, have time to cook more from scratch, and probably a hundred or more other expense improvements. And living on less means a lower withdrawal rate so lower income taxes.

If we had known how much we could cut relatively painlessly, we probably would have semi-ERed many years ago and both just worked part-time.
Interesting, since we have found the same to be true. Although very, very part time work, we consider ourselves semi-retired. We love the work and extra income and travel as much as we want. But I have noticed also being able to save money based on having the free time. And the reduced taxes.
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Old 09-14-2016, 05:49 AM   #62
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I don't relate to this "they are wrong and we are right" way of thinking at all. It is not a virtue, in my opinion, to live on a very modest income, neither is it a grave misdoing to live on a larger income. If I had a portfolio that would support a high income, I'm pretty sure I could find ways to spend it - not to blow it, but to use it to purchase goods and experiences that I would enjoy and derive satisfaction from.
Don't forget that not everyone has the opportunity to earn a large income. Those with modest means who want to retire early must learn to live less expensively than others. That was my point when I said that some "do it right and others do it wrong". If someone only makes $40k - $50k a year, then brand new cars every 3-4 years, too much house, etc., are the things that must be addressed to achieve the early retirement goal.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:17 AM   #63
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Has anyone on here found themselves wanting more after FIRE? Basically the numbers worked for an X K/yr RE but then you wanted more so those numbers no longer worked? I would like so much of a cushion that I could support a wide range or RE options.
Wanting more? Not really. Just being ERed is sooooooooo much better than anything I had before. One condition of my being able to ER 8 years ago was that I would have no change in my day-to-day lifestyle. I could keep doing the stuff I was doing before, go out to eat once in a while, go on a trip once in a while, without busting my budget.

As for building a cushion into my ER budget and planning to alter my budget in case my original plan wasn't working out quite the way I planned, I'll say this: I built into my ER budget a surplus of monthly income over monthly expenses to cover me in case I have small, unforeseen expenses. I have had to tap into this often over the years, without tapping into the principal which underlies my monthly income.

I made a Plan B to take my quarterly stock fund dividends in cash instead of reinvesting them, in case the main monthly bond fund income dropped and could no longer cover my expenses which have risen a little over the years. I have had to implement that Plan B which simply means my overall large surplus has dropped to a smaller one, but not nearly to the point where I have had to dip into principal. Not even my 12-day hospital stay last year busted my monthly budget because the hospital took 5 months to finally bill me for the copay/coinsurance/deductibles, giving me time to build up my running cash surplus to pay the bill.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:32 AM   #64
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Don't forget that not everyone has the opportunity to earn a large income. Those with modest means who want to retire early must learn to live less expensively than others. That was my point when I said that some "do it right and others do it wrong". If someone only makes $40k - $50k a year, then brand new cars every 3-4 years, too much house, etc., are the things that must be addressed to achieve the early retirement goal.
Then I apologize, and partially retract my comment. It wasn't apparent to me from your post that you were referring to folk with modest means who want to retire early. It could be that I was taking your comment out of context, and not considering it in the frame of reference of the discussion in the thread. I've seen a fair amount of inverse snobbery in this forum - folk who live on smaller incomes, and seem to think that somehow makes them more virtuous than those here who spend more, even when they have the means to support their larger incomes. Likewise, if anyone wants to spend the majority of what they make, and accept the consequences of that decision (inability to retire early, and other possible problems due to lack of emergency funds), that is OK with me too. It's only when anyone is unwilling to accept the consequences of their actions that I get a bee in my bonnet - particularly if I know them. I tend to care much less about people I don't know!
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Old 09-14-2016, 07:17 AM   #65
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I think it is all Relative. I only track mandatory expenses. We do not stick to a budget as such, we spend what we have to in order to maintain our above average Standard of living (IOHO), we eat Steak, Lobster and Lamb, not Spam and Bologna, but neither of us like caviar.

Last years Mandatory expenses (not including food) for Insurance, RE Tax, Utilities, HOA etc was $14,470 (Give or take ) BUT we spent $46,503 overall for the year, including cars, travel, toys and food. All After Tax.

We do not have a mortgage and Zero Debt, which makes a big difference.
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:14 AM   #66
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Yeah, no problem. We spend about $100/mo on dining out which isn't more than 2-3x with a family of 5. Probably chinese restaurant 1-2x/month and/or some chinese takeout. Maybe pizza. Sometimes a lunch or two out with an old friend to catch up.

I'm on an ACA plan, and with family of 5 you get subsidies up to $115k income. At $42k AGI we pay about $125/mo for a $0 deductible plan, so we're "saving" about $10k/yr on health insurance premiums from the ACA tax credit, plus several thousand $ worth of not having a deductible (probably saved us $0.5-1k this year).

We drove the car once this week so far to pick up a prescription at walmart and go downtown to a museum. The museum is directly on the bus line and we almost walked to walmart, so a car wasn't really necessary, but it needs its exercise too so we drove it to both places on one trip on Monday. I think I have 14 miles on the current tank of gas that I bought last week sometime. I see enough 70-80 year olds out and about walking around my neighborhood, and I hope I'm one of them too (in another 34-44 years).
We live in Raleigh too, so can relate. We do currently spend about $18K more than you but we dont' have significant subsidies for health care, we spent $14k this past year (which would change if he stopped working, but even part time puts him over the cap for a single person). We live a very decent lifestyle including both of us having to replace cell phones and payed retail price for new iPhone 6S plus, new laptop, new furntiture for the new townhouse, several trips this year, and tons of good craft beer.

We use our car mostly to get to different greenways and I don't trust Uber to find me in Umstead.. going to Duke gardens, the zoo in Ashboro, and lots of trips to the ocean.
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Old 09-14-2016, 11:17 AM   #67
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WE use Uber when we travel etc in big cities and rural areas and it is awesome. You can see when you ask for one where the closest one is and watch it coming towards you. Much faster and cheaper then a cab.
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Old 09-14-2016, 11:45 AM   #68
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My goal to ER was to continue or slightly enhance current standard of living. I wasn't looking to cut back or spend a ton more money.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:08 PM   #69
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I think advertising has done a good job equating spending more money with more happiness, but I don't think that is necessarily true. I've been trying to focus on principles from positive psychology and sustainable living to improve our standard of living instead while spending less, not more. And spending less means more financial security, which does make us happier. Most of the positive psychology principles are pretty inexpensive to implement. There's lots of good books and Tedtalks on the subject.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:20 PM   #70
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No matter how much you spend you are cool if you can afford it.

What to spend on and how much to spend is a decision only you can make. Just like when to retire vs how long to work.

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, it only matters what you think. It's "ducats and buckets", how many ducats to throw in which buckets. As long as you don't run out of ducats you may throw as many as you like and we all have our favorite buckets and they are all different too.

Have fun!
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:56 PM   #71
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I feel exactly the opposite. I want much less than I did 10 or 15 years ago- also I care far less about what anyone thinks of how I dress, what I drive or how I live. I'd downsize if I could after the kids leave for college, but hubby says they're carrying him out of this house in a pine box, so I guess we're staying...
Well, I might feel the same way if I was coming from a higher level, so to speak. But, I already live in a small, old house with only 1 bathroom. The house is 100 years old, needs a lot of work. It's about 1500 square feet, but not laid out all that well...although in casual house hunting, I've discovered that most houses in the 1500 square foot range are laid out even worse, for my needs. Plus, the neighborhood, hell, the whole county, has been on the decline for awhile, and I think it's only going to get worse.

I also don't travel all that much. I haven't been on a "real" vacation in about two years...just short little day trips here and there. If I was to retire right now, I could maintain my standard of living. But, moving would put a strain on me. And I wouldn't be able to travel much. So that's why I'm holding out a bit longer in the w*rkforce. I'm not overly concerned about fancy cars, clothes, fine dining, etc. But I don't want to retire just to be stuck in an old house all day, and be too dependent on the stock market to improve my standard of living.

If I already had the big, fancy house, and all the other luxury trappings, I might be tempted to downsize and make do with less. But, I'm already fairly minimalistic.
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Old 09-14-2016, 02:14 PM   #72
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DW could retire now (she's 53) and we could live on a 4-5% withdrawal rate until SS.
She's afraid of boredom, however, so probably will continue to work. I'll continue working 1/3 of the time from home until the employer cuts me off from 'modified employment' gig. We were saving about 40% of earnings after the kids graduated in Houston, so the down-sizing and down-salary hasn't affected us a bit after last year's move to Reno. And the free hiking is a low-cost form of vacation on weekends.

Assuming DW continues to want to work, I'm figuring we can tack on at least 25% extra spending on vacations/travel than now and spoiling the grandchild (due in March).
Our oldest is only a 3.5 hour drive away in the CA Central Valley.
Other than more travel, there's not much else that I want. Maybe a used pickup and trailer in a few years when DW does decide to go part-time or retire.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:04 PM   #73
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Has anyone on here found themselves wanting more after FIRE? Basically the numbers worked for an X K/yr RE but then you wanted more so those numbers no longer worked?
Occasionally, but then I think "would buying 'x' materially affect my happiness or overall satisfaction?" The answer is always no. For example, while I enjoy photography and have a nice DSLR and several lenses for it, would spending $40k+ on a Hasselblad improve my photography? Most definitely not.

We generally don't like travel because of the crowding and hassles involved but I suppose if we were at the level of private jets we'd travel more. Again, speculation, maybe not. We certainly don't feel deprived because we don't travel much.

More often than not I'd prefer eating hamburger at home than filet Mignon in a fancy restaurant, but have been known to occasionally spring for the filet both at home and in a restaurant.

But we are very much aware that we have what matters, that being friends and family, a comfortable lifestyle, (at least for us) and generally good health.

BTW, if you're feeling down because your income isn't in the top 1% take a look at this site: Global Rich List.

On a global scale we are quite wealthy indeed.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:09 PM   #74
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That puts it into perspective.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:33 PM   #75
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If you had asked me 25 years ago if I/DW would be where we are now, I would have laughed. I assumed I would be working into my 70s. Even the frugal here are living the life of the 1%ers.

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Occasionally, but then I think "would buying 'x' materially affect my happiness or overall satisfaction?" The answer is always no. For example, while I enjoy photography and have a nice DSLR and several lenses for it, would spending $40k+ on a Hasselblad improve my photography? Most definitely not.

We generally don't like travel because of the crowding and hassles involved but I suppose if we were at the level of private jets we'd travel more. Again, speculation, maybe not. We certainly don't feel deprived because we don't travel much.

More often than not I'd prefer eating hamburger at home than filet Mignon in a fancy restaurant, but have been known to occasionally spring for the filet both at home and in a restaurant.

But we are very much aware that we have what matters, that being friends and family, a comfortable lifestyle, (at least for us) and generally good health.

BTW, if you're feeling down because your income isn't in the top 1% take a look at this site: Global Rich List.

On a global scale we are quite wealthy indeed.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:53 PM   #76
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No matter how much you spend you are cool if you can afford it.
I'm glad RobbieB has joined the forum, as his philosophy seems to match mine pretty well. I may not have quite the level of assets he does, but I use the same approach to spending what I have.

I w*rked my a$$ off for many years in order to enjoy the result, and that's what I'm doing. I spend far more per year now than I ever did in my w*rking years, and I see no letup in that.

The day will come, and probably not that far off, when I'll lose interest in all the travel, so that will remove a huge part of my current budget. But as long as I can sustain the spending level for that without affecting my FIRECalc projections, I'll enjoy it to the hilt.
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Old 09-14-2016, 04:18 PM   #77
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I am with you guys) I have no desire to leave an inheritance behind but want to enjoy myself after many years of doing without. This is our time to enjoy)
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:16 AM   #78
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And I'm surprised at how many people waste money by poor choices, too much house, too many new cars, etc., and spend $80k - $100k a year when they can live just as good on $50k with nothing more than a few simple smart painless choices. But they don't and then they can't retire in their late 40's or early 50's like many of us.

They are doing it wrong...the rest of us did it right.
Weather or not you can live just as well on $50k vs $80k to $100k is highly dependent on individual situations. For example, my essentials equal $40k for two people (housing, food, utilities, medical, dental, transportation). No mortgage, no debt. When I add routine spending (clothes, travel, gifts, entertainment, recreation) and non routine spending (replacement of car, furnishing, appliances, roof, etc.) my total cost of living for two is around $90k.
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:26 AM   #79
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What one spends is only a poor choice if one is not living within their means. We could get away with spending only $25k pa but end up spending up to 4 times that. Still well within our means. Other years we may only spend 2 - 3 times, all depends. Heck we saved for it, what else would we do with the money anyway?
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Old 09-17-2016, 02:15 PM   #80
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There are numerous blogs and stories out there about people who are RE and living various lifestyles. One young couple (20's) was living in a used RV living on a ridiculously small amount of money. Others are retired in their late 40's with a 200K/yr budget. This got me thinking about levels of FI as related to ER. Basically there is a bare bones FI where you can RE living in a small foreclosure (or tent, run down class C, etc...) all the way up to the 5000sq ft mansion but you have 10mil invested and a cola pension (and healthcare). For example, I could easily be RE in my course side townhouse in Arkansas. COL there is very low and I own the unit. 20-30K per year there which would include unlimited golf and a new (used) vehicle every 5 -8 years. The issue is that I (and DW) do not want to scale back for retirement. We actually are looking to increase in some areas. DW wants to trade her 6 yr old SUV for a 2 yr old vette. As of this moment we can support a 110K/yr budget in retirement. (0% SWR) My rough estimate with her wish list is more like 120-130K/yr. With that being said DW will work 6 more years to get 2nd pension (still only 50yrs old then) and I will pad the 401K for 2-3 more years. We could do 130K/yr now with a 4-5% SWR. Basically we are shooting for 120-130K/yr with 0 -1% SWR.

Has anyone on here found themselves wanting more after FIRE? Basically the numbers worked for an X K/yr RE but then you wanted more so those numbers no longer worked? I would like so much of a cushion that I could support a wide range or RE options.
Living in a van and Boondocking in Walmart parking lots and relying on my YouTube channel to produce income to live just does not sound like a great lifestyle.

I could retire now with a small pension and enough of a withdrawal rate from my portfolio to produce about $40,000 per year in income.

But I have expensive hobbies. So $40,000 per year for me definitely would not work .

I have a home recording studio with lots of instruments and computer gear and interfaces need to be updated about every five years.

Snowboarding is also a big passion and it's not cheap to snowboard for a month at a time.

I also like to take my jeep Wrangler Rubicon off road and when I break it money is required to fix it .

Did I mention I like Harley Davidson motorcycles.

So I already know that it will be worth it to keep working to produce a lifestyle that I want when I do you actually retire.

There might even be a Corvette in my future.

If I were forced to retire now for some reason I would make it work and be happy but at this point I would rather just keep working and keep my eye on the lifestyle carrot of about $120,000 per year in retirement.

I have to say also I do you enjoy investing and I am a MaxSaver.
So the accumulation phase is enjoyable for me.
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