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Old 08-10-2007, 11:11 PM   #21
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Last week when I cleaned out my desk drawer at the salt mine I ran across an envelope with one of my first pay check stubs. September 1972, gross for the month was $485......Starting the first of November I'll get my first pension check, about $2900.

Not bad for two Associate degrees.
My first check stub from December 1977 gross was $384 for 2 weeks (80 hrs). I really thought that I was rolling in high clover! My 1st pension check May 1st was a couple bucks short of $2600. Not bad for no degrees, other than a certain degree of BS.
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:29 PM   #22
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I know quite a few people who have FIREd and not all of them made a boat load of money during their working career. In fact, what you earn has little to do with your ability to FIRE. It's all about what you spend (and save) relative to what you earn. Somebody living on 25K a year and earning 50K will be able to FIRE at the same time as someone living on 250K a year and earning 500K.
I am a scientist and many people in my field (chemistry/chemical engineering) with an advanced degree have a good chance to reach the 100K salary mark at some point in their career. My first job, right out of school paid 55K in 2001 and it was considered low (I took the job anyways because it was a startup and I really believed in the company). My wife, also a scientist, started her career at 65K in 2000 also at a startup. Many people from my graduating class who took jobs at large companies usually started at 70K+. There is no doubt that those people are now making north of 100K.
Finally, one's degree does not necessarely determines one's income. Opportunities along the way, ambition and tenacity are all very important to determine your future earning abilities. For example, even though my wife and I both hold PhDs in chemistry, my wife makes a lot more money than I do, because at some point in her career she had the opportunity (and took it) to stray towards management whereas I am content sticking with the technical and hands-on aspect of my work and I don't want to be bothered with managing people.
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:41 PM   #23
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It seems that many posters to this blog view a six-figure income as a normal milepost on the road of life. Many here seem to have found that one gets one's degree, snags a lucrative j*b without undue effort, works hard for a number of years and does not even question the fact that at least a $100K+ salary will be the result.

Further, the general tenor seems to be that if that j*b is lost, a few weeks or possibly months will result in w*rk of comparable pay. Maybe even more.

Well... yes and no...

Yes, I do enjoy a better than six-figure income. Yes, I did get a degree (2, actually). Yes, I have snagged a series of lucrative jobs, have worked hard for a number of years, and have lost a job only to find one that paid more within the week.

No, I have never viewed it as a normal milepost. I'd venture to say nobody is more surprised than I.

This long, strange trip began with three (freakin') years in my hometown McDonald's restaurant, followed by a Navy enlistment and the G.I. Bill, followed by a full-time job and part-time Jr. College, followed by full-time college and a part-time job, at the end of which I found I'd accidentially landed in just the right place at just the right time -- Sillycon Valley.

Deserat is exactly right -- location has a lot to do with it. Deliberately relocating from rural NY to Northern California opened up huge educational and work-related opportunities, though years of student poverty were also required.

That said, I live in a marginal (but gentrifying!) neighborhood in a house I couldn't afford to buy again today. While high salaries are the norm, I've also been laid off twice and endured a year at a time of unemployment during industry slumps. Lots of folks making half my salary will always be better off than I am because they started to work hard and LBTM a lot sooner, and in more stable industries.

I guess the moral of the story is that a lot of things are relative.
If you LBYM, take a few risks, and are prepare for opportunity when it arrives, the amount you make is less important than what you make of your amount.
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Old 08-11-2007, 04:11 AM   #24
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Also, Salary is subject to basic supply/demand economics. Sometimes people wind up (luck) in careers that are higher paying. For example IT seems to be a fairly hot field. People tend to make a high salary. That supply demand imbalance will not last forever.

IMHO - for today... IT is one of the fields that is easiest for one to get a reasonably high salary fairly easily and with little training.

Some people are so called "Consultants" (The word is used very loosely now days often they are just contractors... temp extra help). They tend to make more than someone who works for a traditional company... but they can be let go at the end of a contract engagement and have down-time.
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Old 08-11-2007, 07:17 AM   #25
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Barbarus: I could tell you my story (I am 66 BTW) but, if you have spent a reasonable amount of time researching this forum and reading older posts you have already read it and others that did it FAR below any 100K annual paychecks. Hard returns generally require hard work (inheritances excepted).
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:03 AM   #26
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Barbarus:

I once got this bit of advice from someone...."If you are not able to save on the salary that you have, what makes you think that more money will help you save?"
I haven't broken the $50K as of yet, I have a BA and an Associates in Business....but I put 25% of my salary pre tax into my 401K before I pay any bills. ER is my one major goal and I will cut back in other areas to ensure that I have enough for my investments. LBYM has to become a life habit for one to be able to retire early....just like eating healthy and regular exercise is needed to lose weight.
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:35 AM   #27
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Hi,

A neurosurgeon I know clears $500k a year...but also works 60-hour weeks, has been divorced twice, and been sued at least twice. An anesthesiologist-friend was making close to this until the Grim Reaper took him away last year at age 60 by way of a myocardial infarction. If you check the licensing agencies of your state, you'll see many medical professionals being disciplined or losing their licenses for various infractions...many from drug addiction/alcoholism. The point is that the above-$100K paying careers are high stress....they take a toll on your body and mind. This is the tradeoff you have to be willing to accept. I am 10 years out of residency training myself and I hope I won't have to do this for 10 years more. I look forward to the day when my investment portfolio will do all the hard work for me.
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Old 08-11-2007, 09:06 AM   #28
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A neurosurgeon I know clears $500k a year...but also works 60-hour weeks, has been divorced twice, and been sued at least twice. An anesthesiologist-friend was making close to this until the Grim Reaper took him away last year at age 60 by way of a myocardial infarction. If you check the licensing agencies of your state, you'll see many medical professionals being disciplined or losing their licenses for various infractions...many from drug addiction/alcoholism. The point is that the above-$100K paying careers are high stress....they take a toll on your body and mind. This is the tradeoff you have to be willing to accept. I am 10 years out of residency training myself and I hope I won't have to do this for 10 years more. I look forward to the day when my investment portfolio will do all the hard work for me.
True enough, and points worth emphasizing.

But it may be a little more complicated than that. I'm 58 y old, 28 years out of residency (and 18 years since my debts were gone). I am ready to retire to a part-time life. "Problem" is that my job is a source of great satisfaction as well as stress and intrusion on the nonwork side of who I am. For me it's about balance, and less like an on-off switch.

I'm hoping for part-time shortly, but would probably work for free if the hours, liability exposure, and productivity issues can be put in order.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 08-11-2007, 09:06 AM   #29
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FIREs are blessed in one way or another. Maybe with personalities that enabled them to live disciplined lives, or to be entrepreneurial, or to gun for the well paying job. Many are highly intelligent with good decision making abilities (common sense).

There is an element of selfishness as after all, our money is not given all away and at a point, we don't want to work. Though many do volunteer.

Not everyone can retire early and not everyone wants to retire early. But everyone can better themselves.
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Old 08-11-2007, 09:14 AM   #30
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Also in the envelope a few old canceled checks, one for DW's wedding ring, $435.
I can beat you on that one. My wedding ring cost $20 in 1975, in Meridian, Mississippi. Although very thin, it was real gold and didn't turn my finger green, either! My engagement ring was passed down to me from my grandmother, so it didn't cost anything.

That $20 ring set lasted 23 years, until our divorce. Better than some.
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Old 08-11-2007, 09:30 AM   #31
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What's the disconnect? Where did you guys get your tickets for the gravy train? Where are the maps to Fat City being distributed. What sort of employers are willing to make with the big sponduliks?
barbarus, I probably could have gotten one of those tickets, but the price seemed too high. So I stayed in the same job and city for, so far, 25 years. I'll never get to a six figure income, but I commute three miles to work, rarely put in much more than 40 hours in a week, live in a perfectly comfortable house worth around $125K, have two cars, a '91 and a '01. I'll retire within a year with a modest, comfortable income. I made choices that I'm happy with in retrospect. I have friends who seem as happy as I am who made completely different choices.

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Old 08-11-2007, 11:25 AM   #32
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I don't think there is one set way to do it, as others have said income is only meaningful when compared against cost of living. $100k does not qualify one to be "rich" in Sillycon Valley or NYC, but $10k would do so in the third world (ever wonder why so many white collar jobs are moving overseas?).
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:26 PM   #33
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I only make 50K on my job but I live well below my means and now investments are paying off. Between what I save and my investment income my portfolio is increasing about 50K since Jan 1. 3K was a 401K profit sharing and 30K was investment income. But I live pretty well on what I have left after savings. My boyfriend/roommate gives me money and pays for things for me sometimes because I am poor and he makes about 75K as a longshoreman. My house has appreciated 14K in the past year so I don't need to change anything to have my net worth grow up to 100K per year on a 50K salary. My work is pretty easy and low stress so going makes sense until I can get SS then I will arrange to live on SS and roommate paying me rent money and my investment income will be for lifestyle improvements.
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:34 PM   #34
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Once apon a time when I was young - like er the 1950's - I thought from observation - it was education , not $ that was required for a successful retirement - teachers knew how to save and invest(cause they were smart, no GEICO jokes please) and everybody else got a company pension and SS.

Also Doctors and Longshoremen could afford to buy timberland and farmland as a tax dodge.

heh heh heh - how times change.
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:42 PM   #35
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I have a different philosophy/perspective than many on this board, so let me share.

Ever since I was about 16 years old I wanted to be financially independent, and I didn't want to have to wait until I was 65 to get there. I knew that probably the only way I could do that was to start a business (become an entrepreneur).

So, basically I have been starting businesses since I was 16 hoping 1 would strike gold.

When I was 22 I started a dot-com that did strike gold. Although most would classify me as FI ($5M+), and I am extremely grateful for the luck that I have had, I am still keeping my eyes open for more business opportunities in the hopes that lightning may strike twice.

I never really cared about a "job" or a "salary", nor did I want to work for someone else my entire life.

Anyways, I realize that this diverges greatly from the common theme here on the board, i.e. work hard, work long, LBYM, save, save, save. Just thought another perspective might be valuable.
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:17 PM   #36
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Also, Salary is subject to basic supply/demand economics. Sometimes people wind up (luck) in careers that are higher paying. For example IT seems to be a fairly hot field. People tend to make a high salary. That supply demand imbalance will not last forever.
Maybe not for IT, but it will for good thinking programmers who are willing to keep up their skills with the newer languages.

This job takes a lot of brains, an understanding of structure,and very good attention to detail, plus the willingness and stamina to put everything aside and really work non-stop.

Oh yeah, it helps if others beside yourself can tell that you are speaking English.

These traits don't grow on trees.

Ha
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:49 PM   #37
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Barbarus doffs his chapeau and bows in gratitude to all who have responded. This is exactly the sort of information I seek. Most official sources of data on salaries are unmitigated stool. Be it the BLS, institutions of higher education, corporations or a dozen other sources, private and governmental, most "official" info on j*bs is a damnable lie.

I hope that a salary discussion is not to far afield from the stated focus of this forum, but thanks for your stories. Please keep them coming. In fact, can anyone recommend a site or blog where people discuss this very topic?

One of the great truisms of high salaries is that almost everyone that achieves them puts in a lot of time and hard work. They are not handed easy money on a silver platter. However, join Barbarus in shedding a tear for the legions of w*rkers who work equally hard, play by the rules and end up going nowhere.

By the way, for those interested, Barbarus mightily admires those who live below there means. It has been a natural sentiment for B., who has always lived his life that way.
In fact (and I mean no hyperbole by this statement) even the most ardent LBYMer here at ERF would be appaled at starkness of the Barbarian lifestyle.

I would like to post some variations on this theme if there is interest and please keep posting your own tales.
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:59 PM   #38
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By the way, for those interested, Barbarus mightily admires those who live below there means. It has been a natural sentiment for B., who has always lived his life that way.
In fact (and I mean no hyperbole by this statement) even the most ardent LBYMer here at ERF would be appaled at starkness of the Barbarian lifestyle.
Oh, there are a few here could give you a run for your money. Khan?
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Old 08-11-2007, 04:11 PM   #39
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Truly Blessed

I spend 26 yrs 10 mos and 10 days in the government as a military member and DAC (Army) civilian and my top salary was about $57K. We moved from NJ to Texas.

The cons that the pay was not great and sometimes had to things that I did not agree with or want to to. But the pros outweighted the cons. For example
-traveled all over the world on government expense
-lived in the Middle East
-loved my jobs
-got paid to have FUN (happens when you love what you are doing)
-experienced many diverse cultures, customs and individuals
-retired at 48 in 2006 so that I could spend time with my kids, wife and moved to TX to take care of my mother (passed away the day I left NJ), my father, and grandmother.
-met my wife in South Korea and have 5 children
-allowed to serve as an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities
-lived my childhood dream of servicing my country

We chose to invest our $$$ and time in our family
-sent my wife to school
-my wife is a third degree blackbelt and all my kids are blackbelts
-children have taken ballet, Taewondo, and currently are taking piano
classes.
-saved my $$$$ and paid cash for a house and a 2007 Truck
-we walk our children to the bus stop in the morning and are at the bus stop in afternoon when they come home.

We spend our retirement
-doing what we want
-attending church,
-attending our children's school activites (basketball, cross country, baseball, school plays, awards presentations, etc...etc.....)
-taking care of my father and grandmother
-taking short trips
-doing charity work

We feel blessed as a family because we have everything that we need and more then what we deserve. GOD has blessed me with a family, health and happiness.

GOD BLESS
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:56 PM   #40
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Barbarus- I worked a blue collar job for 30 years. I retired with a small paid-off home in a rural area. I think I'm doing great since my portfolio is 22 multiples of my almost livable, no-COLA pension. People living in coastal, urban areas would snicker at my numbers. The not-secret path to retirement consists of investing your savings from Living Below Your Means (LBYM). You make your luck by perservering when following a good strategy through good and bad market cycles.
Here, we have tall fences to keep out the riff-raff. Sometimes, they are noisy all night, e.g. closing the gates to keep the elk out, and the coyotes howl most nights. Behind our house is a national forest, not an ocean, but this college dropout couldn't afford beachfront property.
Joe
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