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Old 06-30-2014, 10:42 AM   #21
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Marrying my wife (and not some others I dated).
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Old 06-30-2014, 10:46 AM   #22
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Apart from the usual like married well, eductation, work hard/smart, etc. etc. two that stick out would be:

-remain in megacorp's DB plan (grandfathered) instead of being bought out for a poultry sum in 2000. Those that took the DC option got slaughtered in 2002 and again in 2008. Performance bonus' during each of the six years prior to retirement increased my entitlement by forty percent. A double dip!

-selling stock options at a good price to secure our retirement and having the good luck to do so prior to the 2008 crash AND holding onto the money as cash because we were not certain what to do with it. It allowed to invest later and realize excellent gains.
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Old 06-30-2014, 10:53 AM   #23
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1. Stayed in the active USAF for 20yrs, and IT jobs after.
2. Married DW with who is a LBYM person.
3. No kids
4. DW, is doing both Military and FERS retirement jobs.
5. Started really savings after I got out of USAF and we were to max out all of them, and never sold during a downturn since 1988.
6. No kids, I know I said it twice, but I see what a draw they can be on income from both of our families.
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:14 AM   #24
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Besides the points already made by other such as LBYM early in career, like-minded wife, and good education, one decision we made greatly paved the way to ER:

When we met & got married we were both in established engineering careers. We knew we wanted children but weren't sure if both of us would continue working so made the decision to gear our lifestyle to live on only one income in case that is what we decide once children came. Once son #1 came, we had about three years of my salary saved up way more than enough to cover the cost of a custom built home for the growing family. No mortgage payments hanging over the monthly budget. DW became a stay at home mom. Four years later, due to organizational downsizing, was offered the opportunity to retire early at age 50. The decision to live off of one income for several years put us so far ahead financially that it enabled me to join her as a stay at home parent with minimal reservations.

No regrets, boys are now 17 and 15 and I've participated in their lifes constantly.
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:31 AM   #25
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Simply saving my money instead of pizzing it away on the American dream. ie Buying sht all the time. I'm sure it cost me some career potential and I know it cost me lots of friends over the years but a job is just a job and friends, like family, cannot be relied upon to be there when you need them. Money is more loyal.
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:38 AM   #26
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1. Spouse
2. Joining a start-up company with stock options.
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:40 AM   #27
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Apart from the usual like married well, eductation, work hard/smart, etc. etc. two that stick out would be:

-remain in megacorp's DB plan (grandfathered) instead of being bought out for a poultry sum in 2000. Those that took the DC option got slaughtered in 2002 and again in 2008. Performance bonus' during each of the six years prior to retirement increased my entitlement by forty percent. A double dip!

-selling stock options at a good price to secure our retirement and having the good luck to do so prior to the 2008 crash AND holding onto the money as cash because we were not certain what to do with it. It allowed to invest later and realize excellent gains.

But just think what you could have done with all of those chickens!
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:48 AM   #28
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I cannot pinpoint to a single most important financial decision.

Overall, I make more right decisions than wrong ones. And when I was wrong which was quite often, none were serious enough to bankrupt me.

If I could have avoided the bigger wrong ones, like quitting megacorp to get involved in startups that failed, I would have been further ahead financially. But then, I would not have the "exciting" life experience I have had.

Yep, more right than wrong is all one can hope for.
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Old 06-30-2014, 12:10 PM   #29
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One thing above all:

Making the best strategic use of my time at every life stage.

Everything else seemed to flow from those decisions.
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Old 06-30-2014, 01:08 PM   #30
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I can think of several financial decisions that made a big difference to my ability to ER, but they built on each other. I guess the key early decision was made in high school: to get a professional degree while my parents were still supporting me. Even at age 14 I understood the concept of FI and made it a priority to become economically self sufficient on the income side.
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Old 06-30-2014, 02:39 PM   #31
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I cannot pinpoint to a single most important financial decision.

Overall, I make more right decisions than wrong ones. And when I was wrong which was quite often, none were serious enough to bankrupt me.

If I could have avoided the bigger wrong ones, like quitting megacorp to get involved in startups that failed, I would have been further ahead financially. But then, I would not have the "exciting" life experience I have had.

Yep, more right than wrong is all one can hope for.
+1

I feel the same. Could have done better, avoided doing much worse, some luck along the way. Like to think I have gained some wisdom on the journey, but maybe it is just blurry vision.
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:45 PM   #32
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-selling stock options at a good price to secure our retirement and having the good luck to do so prior to the 2008 crash AND holding onto the money as cash because we were not certain what to do with it. It allowed to invest later and realize excellent gains.
I would not call it a financial decision as much as it was more good luck for me, too, in 2008. As my ER plan was falling into place that year, I had assumed an approximate selling price for my company stock and a buying price for the bond fund I would be using the proceeds to purchase and receive a nice monthly dividend to cover my expenses. What I did not count on but saw develop through that summer and into the fall was a big drop in the bond fund's price while the company stock price kept rising just not by as much (which was fine). The result was my being able to buy about 25% more shares of the bond fund than originally anticipated, making my ER get a nice boost right from the start. "Buy low, sell high," is great when you can both of them at the same time! With the bond fund not paying as much per share as it did back in 2008, having 25% more shares is nice because it offsets the drop in monthly DPS.
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Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

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Old 06-30-2014, 04:18 PM   #33
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A variety of things.

1. Growing up poor. Not in poverty, we never went hungry or without basic essentials, but living within or below our means was a necessity. That meant that at an early age I knew the difference between "I need" and "I want". Part of that was being raised by parents who came of age during the Great Depression. They weren't scarred by it, but they never forgot it either. Both sets of grandparents were equally conservative.

2. Education. A two-year community college AA degree got me into a reasonable-paying career with a good pension then, by today's standards an excellent one. It also allowed me to bootstrap myself to get the BS degree and that got a bit higher pay and pension.

3. Although it was the 2nd time around, marrying DW. First time was to one who bailed when I flat-out refused to take out a loan to go on a trip, but that happened early enough in life that I had time to recover. If anything DW is more conservative than I am.
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Old 06-30-2014, 04:21 PM   #34
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#1 - I chose the right parents. Not just because I won the lottery of brains and a debt free public college education... but because mom and dad epitomized LBYM values... took me a while to realize they were smart, not just cheap... but I came around fairly quickly.

#2 - I chose the right husband. He had zero debt, owned his own house,car, etc. He also had the right attitude about spending & LBYM vs you have to enjoy life now. Because of this we both took job sabbaticals when we got married (unpaid) and traveled for 12 weeks. Glad we did since kids followed quickly after that, making travel more expensive.

#3 - buying the house I grew up in from my dad. This locked in *his* prop 13 tax rate. A huge factor in reducing our annual expenses going forward.

But the #1 is really the biggest impact - good genes and good values are a very good inheritance.
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Old 06-30-2014, 04:27 PM   #35
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DW - 36 years, 401k - 34 years, slowly plodding along with infrequent major purchases.
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Old 06-30-2014, 04:30 PM   #36
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Most important financial decision in your life
Old 06-30-2014, 04:40 PM   #37
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Most important financial decision in your life

No one likes hearing this, but quitting college was the best decision i ever made. Was after sophomore year 1998, got me into the tech boom before the 2k bust, all my peers begging for jobs in 01 when none were to be found. My trajectory to this day is still taking off because of how i started, and my friends have all languished because they entered a rough market. The opportunities I had with no experience took them years to reach.

The key moment was listening to microecon prof discuss boom and bust cycles. Realizing we were in the biggest boom ever told me something.




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Old 06-30-2014, 06:32 PM   #38
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IMHO

1. Who, if anyone, to marry

2. Chosing to LBYM
Amen to both, but the marriage choice was the first one that came to mind.
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Old 06-30-2014, 08:17 PM   #39
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Leaving Ameriprise in time to get our money into index funds before the current bull market.
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Old 06-30-2014, 08:40 PM   #40
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At age 28, gave up on my preferred career because the job prospects looked poor. Switched to a higher income track.

Plenty of poor decisions also, but this one made up for them.
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