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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 10:32 AM   #101
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Originally Posted by youbet
He likes to do contract work around the country and moves from efficiency apartment to efficiency apartment with everything he owns in the back of his Subaru station wagon.
A whole Subaru station wagon full of stuff?!? Heck, that sounds like blatant consumerism when you compare it to the meager possessions of the Buddhist monks I know (who have shunned all worldly possessions). They own nothing and get to use only what they can borrow from their temple (like orange robes and $1 flip flops).

Beat that!
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 10:35 AM   #102
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

Just read the entire thread, very interesting.

We could make it (2 Upstate NY) on about $24,000/year minimum, subsidized health through prior employer. We fix everything ourselves and I cook from scratch, mainly from my own garden. If we sold our house and moved to a much cheaper area after the selling costs we could make it on about $20,000, possibly less depending on property taxes.

We choose to live in a house in a neighborhood we love, enjoy live theater and music and travel domestic to see kids and international once a year. I love to cook use the highest quality fresh veggies I can find, small amount of highest quality meats and fish. Certainly a lot more expensive than rice and beans, but healthy.

for our life $48,000 does it very well.

Certainly we can live on much less but don't want to. I have been to third world contries as well as rural areas of the US with many people living in poverty. No thank you. I am very lucky and know it.
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 11:56 AM   #103
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

some great points here, and as we all take our places on the continuum, there will always be those spending much more and having more stuff and those spending much less and having very little stuff.

To some people we know, we live on the barest minumum of consumer goods, and to others, one comes to mind who lives in a van on a tiny Social Security check, we spend like drunken sailors. It is, indeed, apples and oranges.

When we bought our motorhome, we agonized for quite a while over moving to something so big and having so much stuff. Our life changed quite a bit when we made that decision. We ended up getting a cell phone, mobile satellite internet and satellite TV. We have ended up canceling the TV because we really weren't using it enough to make the expense worthwhile, but we did ratchet our lifestyle up quite a bit and some of our more simple living friends were aghast.

It does help, I think, to differentiate between poverty and voluntary simplicity because they are two very different things. No one can feel at ease living in poverty, but almost anyone can live comfortably on a very small income if they have skills to do so, and a mindset not tortured by desires for consumer goods.

Remember, poverty is not usually just about income. It often has much to do with life choices, medical problems, education, judgement, ability to function within the system and ability to defer gratification.

We have known many people living on a poverty level income who were able to have a very enjoyable life, and others with an even higher income living in poverty.

Poverty is as much a way of being as it is a lack of money. The two should never really be compared in the sense that "if your income is below XXXXX, that is poverty". That level of income might well be poverty to one, and quite comfortable to another.

To people like us, who actually enjoy a less expensive, mostly vegetarian diet, bake all our own bread, sew or remake clothing, and enjoy using our ingenuity to solve problems, living on a very small income is and hasn't been in the past, very difficult. And although our spending was within "poverty" limits at periods in our life, we were certainly not living in "poverty".

To those without life skills, who perhaps do not have the knowledge or education to make the best use of the resources they have, the same income might well spell real poverty.

I remember reading an article once, talking about simple livers not actually living in poverty, even though their spending reflected that level. The point was made that they came to that very limited income or spending level voluntarily, which makes a huge difference, and most often had environmental or philosophical outlooks that supported their way of life. Folks in "poverty" in contrast, are usually just conscious of lack and things they WANT but can't have. Not a fun place to be.

When I shop at a thrift store, it's for the thrill of the hunt, finding some special thing that I can use or remake into something else. It's a very different experience from the mother looking for a dress for her daughter, because if she can't find one at the thrift store, her daughter can't go to the dance. Involuntary poverty is miserable, deadening and sad. I always know the difference. And I never forget that I have the option to go to a store and just buy what I want if I choose. That freedom makes NOT going to the store an easy decision.

We also, since we were living that way voluntarily, always had the option to go out and make money if we needed more. We had education and skills that were marketable, so if some expense had come along that we couldn't afford, we had the means to achieve what we needed. People living in poverty, uneducated, without skills, with medical conditions, etc. do not have that luxury, and their poverty level income may well doom them to poverty.

Poverty is not good for anyone. Voluntary simple living (on the same amount of money) can be enriching indeed.

Once that basic floor of food, clothing and shelter to meet basic needs is met, all else is extra.

It's also nice, sometimes, for all of us, even the "big spenders" to realize that these huge amounts of money are not really necessary for enjoyment of life. We know so many who agonize over the stock market, worry about not having "enough", and most of those are quite comfortable people. They just don't realize that they could have a lot less and still be quite content. Sometimes it's good to step back and realize that as it reduces anxiety a LOT.

What it all comes down to is that we all are o.k. and whatever works for one person might not work for another. I just think it's been really instructive to see what a huge spread there is of the definition of "enough". And very interesting and informative.

LooseChickens
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 12:10 PM   #104
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Originally Posted by loosechickens
To people like us, who actually enjoy a less expensive, mostly vegetarian diet
This one I really don't understand. Unless it is mid-summer, many meats are less per pound than veggies and fruits. Since meat is calorically dense, you eat less meat than veggie . Therefore well bought meat substitutes cheaper meat calories for veggie calories -unless you are a sticking to a rather unhealthy dependency on potatoes.


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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 12:13 PM   #105
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Originally Posted by loosechickens
Poverty is as much a way of being as it is a lack of money. The two should never really be compared in the sense that "if your income is below XXXXX, that is poverty". That level of income might well be poverty to one, and quite comfortable to another.
Interesting... I'd love to meet a couple living in the USA on 14K (including everything) who feel "quite comfortable".
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 12:15 PM   #106
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

Ha:

Your point is true but misleading. Vegetarians also eat lots of grain-derived foods. So if you have a big portion of corn or rice that will get the average price down. Or put another way, how many pounds of oats does it take to get a pound of pork ? Move down the food chain for efficiency.

Also fruits and vegetables if grown locally can be purchased at often very reasonable prices.
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 12:16 PM   #107
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Originally Posted by youbet

For the folks who can live on $10K........ Congratulations! Health insurance for DW and myself costs us almost that much! If you get free/subsidized health insurance and aren't counting the equivalent value in your budget estimates, you don't understand how budgeting and cost comparisons work!
Very good point. My retirement budget has 20k a year in it for health insurance and deductible/copay/prescription drug costs. Tracy
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 01:39 PM   #108
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Originally Posted by HaHa
Unless it is mid-summer, many meats are less per pound than veggies and fruits. Since meat is calorically dense, you eat less meat than veggie . Therefore well bought meat substitutes cheaper meat calories for veggie calories -unless you are a sticking to a rather unhealthy dependency on potatoes.
Most vegetarians get their proteins from beans and nuts, so the price comparison isn't really vegetables versus meats, it's beans and nuts versus meats. Meats are pretty clearly more expensive when you look at it that way.

But I would tend to agree that most vegetarians spend more on food than meat eaters. Meat eaters consume more cheap fast food, processed crap, and bad but cheap food. Vegetarians tend to be pickier about the freshness, wholeness, and quality of their food, so they tend to spend more.
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 01:57 PM   #109
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

I really doubt that a couple can live "quite comfortably" in the U.S. on $10,000 or $14,000 for that matter unless they have a very different outlook on spending than that of most people. And people with a suburban lifestyle in a house the size of an ordinary suburban house with its' cooling and heating needs, property taxes, etc. would find it very difficult indeed. Especially if they have standard American tastes for meat, consumer goods, entertainment and snack foods.

In this nomadic lifestyle, it is ridiculously easy. We know any number of people living on $1,000 a month or less, and "quite comfortably". Opportunities abound for free places to park and ways to live on very little. For example, it is the end of the first week in May. We just arrived in southern CA at the moment, and are paying rent in a park in order to be close to my husband's mother for a couple of months for visiting. That is the first cent we have spent for housing this year. We have either been parked out in the desert on public lands, volunteering at two different national wildlife refuges which supplied parking spot, (as well as propane, laundry and a small stipend, etc.), or in a friend's driveway where we were helping with several projects. Many years we have gone the whole year without paying a cent in site rent. And with producing our own power with solar photovoltaic panels, obviously no electrical bills as well. And obviously no property taxes, etc.

We eat quite low on the food chain. Our diet is based on rice, beans, lentils, grains, etc., with the ADDITION of fruits and vegetables. We often seek out local sources of veggies, etc. in season, and even raise a bit of our own, such as container gardens of lettuce, etc. that grow quickly. We have a nice herb garden in pots that travels around with us in the back of our little pickup, so always have fresh oregano, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, basil and until it came a cropper on a cold night this winter, a stevia plant. We also sprout our own alfalfa sprouts in a jar in the sink, as well as other kinds of sprouts occasionally.

For an example....let's look at yesterday. For breakfast, we had homemade whole wheat bread with butter and honey, and some yogurt. Many mornings we may have oatmeal or something similar.

For lunch, we had mixed greens with tabboleh (tabboleh is bulghur wheat, soaked, with lemon juice, chopped parsley (from the herb garden), an onion and chopped tomato and crushed garlic. We each ate half of an orange. We also had a couple of whole wheat Ak Mak crackers.

Last night for dinner, it was really hot. I made chicken salad and we had that over greens, with some roasted zucchini, carrots and onion, and more homemade whole wheat bread.

Even when we eat meat, it is seldom the way the standard American family would eat meat, in hunks. For example, say we buy chicken. We buy a whole, organic roasting chicken from Trader Joe's. Pretty pricey, you say? Well, yes, but we will make five or six meals from that chicken, and over a period of several weeks. And it might be the only meat we buy that month.

We'll roast it, and each have some as roast chicken, usually some of the dark meat. The rest of the dark meat is set aside, the chunks of meat removed from the carcass, and the two breast hunks, we usually wrap and put in the freezer, cooked, for later days. We seldom eat meat more than a day or so per week, of any kind. We kind of chop up the carcass and simmer it for awhile, strain the broth and pick out and save any meat that remains and add to the broth. This becomes a pot of chicken soup with the addition of a few veggies and herbs, and maybe some noodles or rice, enough for several meals of soup at least. Now, remember we still have two nice big fat chicken breasts, which will be the basis of maybe two or even three more meals. Chicken salad, stir fries with the addition of some chicken, casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, etc.

Yesterday, here is how I made the chicken salad. One frozen, cooked chicken breast defrosted. An onion, chopped, some chopped celery, a chopped up apple, some herbs and spices, a little mayo and seasoned rice vinegar, and voila, the chicken had almost doubled in amount. Each of us had a helping last night on greens, and there is still enough from that one breast for us to have on a nice piece of homemade whole wheat bread for lunch.

Tonight we'll be having black beans from dried beans cooked in the sun oven and rice and some roasted asparagus which is now in season and inexpensive.

Yes, fruits and veggies are expensive, but they are not the basis of a vegetarian diet. Grains, beans, legumes and rice are, with veggies and fruits serving the same position as they would in a meat based diet, as side dishes. We usually buy our whole wheat flour, brown rice, beans and oats in bulk at a natural food store or co-op, and can have a supply of twenty pounds or so of brown rice and twenty pounds of beans for maybe twenty bucks or less, each. That's a lot of meal basis and good protein for the price of a steak or two that would be eaten up in one meal.

Vegetable sources of protein such as grains, beans, legumes and rice are far, far less expensive than meat sources of protein. It takes nearly 20 pounds of vegetable protein to produce one pound of beef, for example, when raised in our usual feedlot fattening system in this country. Unless beef is raised on grass, utilizing food unable to be utilized by humans, it is an expensive food environmentally, indeed. And pretty much not good for our health in the amounts eaten in the standard diet in this country.

The cheapest way to get calories in this country is with junk food, which is why many of our poorer citizens are obese. But a vegetarian, or mostly vegetarian diet is nearly as cheap and offers excellent nutrition for low cost.

We keep records of everything we spend, and have done so for the fifteen years we have lived nomadically. Even buying mostly organic food, in the past year, we spent less than $300 per month on food, and we make our decisions based far more on nutrition, taste and quality than on price. If we were going just for price, I am sure we could get it down below $200 per month, but there is no point to do that because we want quality. We don't want lots of saturated fat, processed foods, additives and junk. We don't buy soft drinks, although we have been known to spring for the occasional bottle of "Two Buck Chuck" wine at Trader Joe's.

It helps that we LIKE eating this way. For someone who is a meat and potatoes person, it wouldn't be. But we feel happier, healthier and more satisfied on this lower on the food chain diet. And we are in excellent health with sound teeth and have lots of energy and wellbeing. When we are forced by circumstance or family necessity to eat the standard American diet, it's AWFUL to us. We had to go out last Sunday with my sweetie's mother who wanted to go to IHop. The eggs were good, but the bacon tasted dead, the hash browns were premade and loaded with salt, and the pancakes managed to be both rubbery and dry, with the artificial syrup leaving a ghastly chemical aftertaste in our mouths. We LONGED to have had a simple vegetarian breakfast of good homemade food made from scratch instead. It's just an extra, added bonus that that breakfast would also have been much cheaper.

I'm going into all this detail because I can realize by your comments that some of you have little understanding of this way of living. I've learned a tremendous amount from many of you on the financial threads, finally understanding what our broker has been trying to tell us about withdrawal rates and the fact that since we don't even spend all our interest and dividends, we really can and should loosen up a bit. Realizing that, thanks to you guys, led us to plan this two month trip to Europe this fall. We have stuff to learn from each other.

LooseChickens

P.S. added as Ha posted while I was writing this. We do eat some nuts, but not a lot. Grains, such as corn, rice, oats., etc. are excellent sources of protein in and of themselves, but need to be complemented by such things as beans, nuts, eggs or dairy, or soy products such as tofu or soymilk for them to be complete in the essential amino acids that our body needs to assimilate protein effectively. There are, I think 22 amino acids. Our bodies can synthesize all but eight. The reason you mix grains and beans is because grains are low in a few of those eight while beans are high in those, so between them, they make a complete protein. It's why most peasant cuisines are artful combinations of vegetable proteins. They might not have understood the science, but they knew what worked and kept people healthy.



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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 02:09 PM   #110
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Originally Posted by free4now
But I would tend to agree that most vegetarians spend more on food than meat eaters. Meat eaters consume more cheap fast food, processed crap, and bad but cheap food. Vegetarians tend to be pickier about the freshness, wholeness, and quality of their food, so they tend to spend more.
And of course, vegetarians are morally superior too.

Ha
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 03:04 PM   #111
 
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

My wife will retire in 4 years at which time we will sell our house and move to an area where the cost of living is much cheaper. We will buy a house for cash.

Our very rough estimate is our basic income needs will be about $42,000 but I am adding in another $23,000 in the to be determined category. It is impossible to gauge what we will need in 4 years let alone in a different part of the country.
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 03:27 PM   #112
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Most of you guys are just drowning in STUFF, yet it seems to us that most want more, more, more ..... ;-)
heh, that's one nice thing about sharing a 1 bedroom 560 sq ft appartment in nyc w/a BF & 2 cats. I have sooooo much less stuff than other people. And once I got over my hoarding issues (brought on by growing up in a 4 bedroom house so stuff that there are little pathways through most of the rooms), I've found a lot of joy to be had in actively NOT buying things, and throwing out the old stuff from my hoarding days that I can *finally* get rid of without fear.

One of my retirement plans is that if I ever either get a 2nd home, OR retire outside the city, I want to get one of those cool mini-houses that are coming more into vogue. A nice, snug 650 sq feet, I'd say ('cause my current 560 is a bit too small, especially when company calls). Easier to take care of, cheaper to build, and more environmentally friendly. I'd rather buy me a big patch of land with a wee house, than a wee patch of land with a big house!
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 03:34 PM   #113
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

I'm a kind of "one robe, one bowl" kind of person, but I suspect that only our nomadic lifestyle and limited space keeps my sweetie from accumulating stuff.....not so much going out and buying stuff, but that guy never passed a dumpster that he didn't look.

A couple summers ago, we were parked near a window and door place. I made the mistake of saying "boy, I went past their dumpster this morning and there was lots of neat stuff sticking out". For the rest of the summer, he haunted that dumpster, and gifted people we knew who were doing remodeling or fix-it projects with lots of neat scrap trim boards, etc. When we got ready to move on in the fall, I found a "little" stash of special boards, about FIFTY pounds worth, in the basement compartment of our motorhome......stuff he just couldn't bear to part with because it might end up being useful......

He DID make a beautiful wooden band trim around the bottom of our garden tub that matches the wood in the bathroom, a file drawer in the cabinet by my desk, pull out pantry shelves (except for the hardware), and a couple of bird feeders.......and all out of that stuff from the dumpster.

I happened to think that a few of you might have interest in another board we frequent. Some who might have some interest in simple living and how to achieve it and why, some who might not yet be retired, but anxious to reach FIRE a little quicker. You'd be welcome. Lots to learn there. Some of you guys would have no interest at all. You pick.

http://www.simpleliving.net/forums/
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 03:37 PM   #114
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by loosechickens
Poverty is as much a way of being as it is a lack of money. The two should never really be compared in the sense that "if your income is below XXXXX, that is poverty". That level of income might well be poverty to one, and quite comfortable to another.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
Interesting... I'd love to meet a couple living in the USA on 14K (including everything) who feel "quite comfortable".
Quote:
Originally Posted by loosechickens
I really doubt that a couple can live "quite comfortably" in the U.S. on $10,000 or $14,000 for that matter unless they have a very different outlook on spending than that of most people.
Make up your mind, loosechickens. Comfortable or not?

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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 04:13 PM   #115
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Is this the board where members were discussing how to strain broken glass out of peanut butter so you could still eat it?
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 05:26 PM   #116
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

I don't know, Justin....but I wouldn't be surprised!

Some will be interested, and some not....lots of good stuff on that board, just like there's a lot of good stuff on this one, and BOTH have their share of nutty ideas as well. Your job is to differentiate and separate the wheat from the chaff. ;-)

Sam....I've said it as plainly as I can. For some.....very easy and very comfortable. For others, perhaps impossible. Depends on the outlook, focus, interests and willingness to think outside the box of just having a seven figure brokerage account to feel secure and comfortable.

Someone once asked Picasso if it was difficult to learn to draw. He thought for a minute, and then replied, "it's either ridiculously easy, or it's impossible. It depends". Simple living is like that.

it's clear that some here are, shall we say, not suited for such a life. they'll just have to pile up more money. But for those of us who think differently.....remember we've been out dancing in the sunshine for nearly fifteen years now, without regular jobs and having the time of our life while others were toiling, and only started tapping our investments in the past year or so.

When we "dropped out" in 1992, we had a fairly considerable amount of savings and investments, but not enough to be FIRE. We kind of committed ourselves to continuing simple living and took on short term projects and jobs as needed, mostly stuff that was fun to do anyway. We kind of committed to just letting the investments grow, and boy did they grow through the nineties. And we had the benefit of a truly wonderful broker who guided us through the tech mess with very little damage. (No thanks to me, as by myself I would have been invested up to my ears in that stuff). He kept us on an even keel, let me play around with a small percentage, but kept his eye on the ball of growing wealth for us, not getting rich quick. Not touching those investments for more than a dozen years, through the nineties, and reinvesting most all of our interest and dividends allowed us to cross that magic FIRE line with ease. And when my mother died last year and we inherited even more, it became kind of a moot point.

But, you know what? It could all (or most of it, at least) disappear today, and we'd still be happy people, still contented, and still would feel secure. There are lots of other securities than money, even if we as a society don't value them as heavily. And that ability to live comfortably on very little is our most valuable security, and worth far more to us than the bloated brokerage account we have today. That money is really NICE, but not really NECESSARY at all, and we know it. Few do.

LooseChickens
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 05:30 PM   #117
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

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Is this the board where members were discussing how to strain broken glass out of peanut butter so you could still eat it?
Justin, while there will always be a few who take it to ridiculous levels, the YMOYL concept of only buying things that you really need and really want and skipping the fluff is valid for a pre-FIRE lifestyle.

I think that the YMOYL/simple living philosophy and FIRE preparation have quite a bit of overlap.

Based on your posts, I believe that your personal lifestyle is pretty well aligned with theirs.

The differences on this forum that I see, are that some post here about scrimping now to be able to consume massive quantities later. In my opinion this thinking is flawed. But... Who am I to judge !

The YMOYL idea is to reconsider this whole consumerist lifestyle. Why work hard to buy a bunch of crap that you really don't need, that really won't make you happy, and that causes you to work for years/decades at a job you may hate. Is that what life is all about ?

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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 06:37 PM   #118
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

It's all about perspective. My condo, cars, and all the "stuff" in them do not add up to the 200k motorhome that loosechickens is using for their "less stuff" lifestyle.

And I agree with others - medical is and will be a major cost driver for any ER or just R that has to pay for it. As far as skipping it - I'm glad you have better health than I and good luck.
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 06:51 PM   #119
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

Yeah, mysto......the motorhome is completely out of character for us. We bought it because we decided that the nomadic life was definitely something we wanted to do permanently, and we wanted a motorhome well enough built that it would last the amount of time we wanted it, which meant going up into that $200,000 price range. Once we bought it, it was done. We maintain it well, and don't expect to ever buy another one.

But don't think for a minute that we don't recognize the absurdity of "simple living" in a huge diesel pusher motorhome. Believe me.

Other than the motorhome, we ARE pretty simple livers, in general, but as I said, even we are getting ready to go off for a couple of months in Europe, so even in simple living, it's all relative.

I'm amazed that this has sparked such a discussion, but have found it immensely interesting, as we all attempt to justify and defend our choices......as though that mattered, since each of us is free to make our own choices and enjoy or pay the penalty of them. We each look at the others as "through a glass darkly", but with intense interest, nonetheless.

LooseChickens
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?
Old 05-09-2007, 07:05 PM   #120
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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Re: Poll: What is your basic income need (floor) in retirement?

From Kramer's detailed budget:

For $3K more per year I could take a 1-2 month overseas international vacation each year.

Kramer, how do you enjoy 1-2 months overseas for *only* $3k? That seems to good to be true. I have been flummoxed about the disparity between my travel wants and my (Europe) travel budget. Any tips Kramer?

Thanks,
Frankie
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