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Old 04-13-2008, 02:41 PM   #21
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You should do it. It is a wonderful life change.

I ESR in Dec of 07 at 43. DW and I planned for this from day one of our marriage 21 years ago. We plan to reach FI by 34 and met that goal by each working two jobs and a business on the side. We had our kids then and cut back to one job each and a business on the side. We still have a business and a few rental properties to give us some income and that allows us to keep our withdrawal rate at 1.4%. This includes doing all the traveling we can when the kids are not in school. We will probably cut back more in a year or two and bump up the SWR to maybe 3% if the business quits being fun but for now it is a blast and also a good teaching tool along with the rental property for our kids.

We probably work about 15 hours a week each but the time is for the most part when we decide to get the work done. After four months I am just starting to realize how good ESR is and I really like still having a small business on the side for several reasons. It also helps mentally in economic down turns like this.

Go for it and look for something on the side and you will love it. Of course make sure you have the health insurance covered.
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:40 PM   #22
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Maurice,

I am in a similar boat as you, having left my job in January at age 42. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of living maybe 50-60 years more and wondering if my money would hold out.

I realized that part of the problem is that the insecure part of me wanted the assurance that I was "set" for life. But realistically, who knows? The market could crash, I could get a horrible expensive disease, I could suffer through a painful divorce, etc...

But maybe a better way to look at it is that, rather than thinking of retirement as an irrevocable decision, you now have the means to make your own choices. You can try retiring for a few years, and if that's driving you nuts (or if you decide you need more money), you can go back to work. One advantage of FIREing early is that it's probably easier to return to work than if you were twenty years older.

The other thing to ask yourself is, "why do I want to retire?" What things do you want to do that work is keeping you from doing, and are these things worth the uncertainty of leaving your job?
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:16 PM   #23
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I retired at 39 in 1999, I believe CFB was the same age (and from the same company).

Maurice, IIRC your financial assets (and financial accuity) are considerable. I am estimating in the top 10% of the board members which is turn in the top 10% of the
population. Roughly speaking you are in better shape to retire than 99 out of 100 people in the US.

Like R Woods, my financial decision was rather simplistic. I had $2 million plus a good size IRA/401K I figured 2 Mil @5% with tax free munis is 100K/year. That was more than I needed to live, and my IRA would be my inflation hedge... Intrcst (aka Greeny) work was published shortly after I retired and convinced me to maintain a high equity AA, instead of Munis.

The world is a vastly different today that it was in the 1960s, and I have little reason to think that won't be a lot different in 40 more years.
So I think that anybody who retires before 60 good health is likely to find different world in their latter years. Yes, it is even more likely for those retiring at 40, but I am not convinced that extra 15-20 years substainially increases our risk. You are a smart guy and if S* happens, you just have to be confident that you have the ability to be adapted intelligently. Will an extra 5 years of working and $500K or $1 million in assets be that big a deal if we have a hyper inflation, a 50% wealth tax is enacted, or the Chinese announce that the US is being Annexed??


IMO the non financially factors are more important in deciding to retire very early. I didn't intend to stop working entirely and who knows I may still go back to w*rk, but it will be based on desire not need. I think there should be a strong non financial reason to retire early. Anything from a passion for a new hobby, to spending more time with the kids, or a volunteer activity. If I have one regret in my early retirement is that I haven't found an act 2, some real passion which motivates me to get up and go off and do something wonderful.

That being said, my non financial reasons weren't particularly complicated.
My job had gone from being one that was generally fullfilling to being boring. I had stayed on the straight and narrow for my whole life, good grades in high school, good college tough major (EE), 18 years in Silicon Valley, LYBM and other than two sabbaticals no down time. Hawaii looked pretty compelling by comparision.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:10 PM   #24
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5What does that look like? Hopefully something clearer than a blank canvas.
Well, we can tell you when spouse permanently retires from the Reserves or when our kid leaves the nest, and perhaps we'll do some traveling, but we haven't felt any need to overplan things. I'm not sure that I'm ever going to take on Joe Perry or Billy Joel and I'm probably not going to resume programming in assembly language, either, but maybe I could achieve proficiency in a foreign language.

I've decided to hold off the Netflix subscription until I'm unable to handle taekwondo or surfing. Hopefully by then Netflix will no longer require its customers to actually be able to "see" the "screen"... I'm hoping for full-bandwidth virtual reality.

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I retired at 39 in 1999, I believe CFB was the same age (and from the same company).
I thought that the timing of you two was the result of a corporate housecleaning...

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I didn't intend to stop working entirely and who knows I may still go back to w*rk, but it will be based on desire not need. I think there should be a strong non financial reason to retire early. Anything from a passion for a new hobby, to spending more time with the kids, or a volunteer activity. If I have one regret in my early retirement is that I haven't found an act 2, some real passion which motivates me to get up and go off and do something wonderful.
I keep up with all the "do what you love" and "find your bliss" books, and not a single one of them has made me go "Aha!" Most of my ER decision was based on the dissatisfiers, and most paid (or even unpaid) activities seem to involve more of the same.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:28 PM   #25
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I keep up with all the "do what you love" and "find your bliss" books, and not a single one of them has made me go "Aha!" Most of my ER decision was based on the dissatisfiers, and most paid (or even unpaid) activities seem to involve more of the same.
Exactly.

(In my case) being around large amounts of people and having to try to remember names/faces/hierarchy/business relationship/duties/responsibilities... was/is just too stressful.
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:57 PM   #26
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To the OP - I haven't FIRVE'd just yet, but I'm in a very similar situation as you (late 30's, FI by most standards, on the bubble but thinking of getting out later this year, nervous as hell given that I'm looking at a long period of retirement).

Although at one point I talked myself into waiting for a bigger cushion, I'm now heavily leaning towards pulling the trigger later this year so that I can enjoy myself while I"m young. My thinking is that even if the s*** hit the fan and I run low on funds, I'd rather have 40-55 free and work between 55-65, than wait another 5 years until I've got a cushion that will eliminate any doubts. Of course, Ideally the market will perform as it has historically, but this frame of mind is helping me get past the uncertainty.
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:01 AM   #27
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I retired at 39, and yes it is scary considering a long future of relinquishing a salary and living off one's investments only and having them survive a long time.


Do you mind sharing more about your circumstances and deliberations at the time? Had you worked toward your goal for years or were you the recipient of a sudden windfall? Mentally were you pushed or pulled into ER?
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:09 AM   #28
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I retired at 39 in August of 2007. The eight months since have been without question the most peaceful and happy of my adult life.

...

I wouldn't trade my current life for anything, and have no regrets about pulling the plug comparatively (very) early.

First of all let me say I'm proud that a thread I started encouraged you to post for the first time in two years...

Re life post-ER, I can actually imagine. I took two sabbaticals in my career - one for 9 months and one for about a year. I remember being healthier and happier.

I'll ask you the same question I asked Audrey - care to share what the circumstances of your ER were and your deliberations?
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:25 AM   #29
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We probably work about 15 hours a week each but the time is for the most part when we decide to get the work done. After four months I am just starting to realize how good ESR is and I really like still having a small business on the side for several reasons. It also helps mentally in economic down turns like this.

Go for it and look for something on the side and you will love it. Of course make sure you have the health insurance covered.


That to me sounds ideal, although the downside of a small business (most anyway) is it keeps you more tethered than you might want to be in ER. What kind of small business is it?
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:40 AM   #30
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Clifp - sage advice, esp. about the downside risks... its true that in most of the catastrophic scenarios under which my ER fails, another half mil or mil probably wouldn't make the difference. Like Audrey points out, if something like that does happen I'll probably be glad to have taken the time off while I could.

This was interesting - we're a lot alike:

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That being said, my non financial reasons weren't particularly complicated. My job had gone from being one that was generally fullfilling to being boring. I had stayed on the straight and narrow for my whole life, good grades in high school, good college tough major (EE), 18 years in Silicon Valley, LYBM and other than two sabbaticals no down time. Hawaii looked pretty compelling by comparision.

My job has gone from generally fulfilling to generally stressful. Its killing me slowly.

Good grades in high school? Check.

B.S.E.E. from good school? Got that, too.

18 years - yep, 18 years this May since I enterered the w*rkforce. But for me it was management consulting followed by Wall Street.

I even took two sabbaticals.
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Old 04-14-2008, 09:34 AM   #31
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I have a retire at age 49 plan and a retire greater than age 50 plan.

At age 49 and below, I want around a 3% SWR, with most income coming from dividends.
At age 50+, I plan to do a more typical 4% SWR, and around 25% of income will come from dividends, and drawing down principal in this case is more acceptable.

Most of the planning involves how long I want money to grow vs when I draw down principal. I would prefer to not draw principal down until age 68. Meaning between ER date and normal retirement age (68 for me, I am 35 now) I want to live off gains only and not draw down principal for between 20 and 30 years.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:03 PM   #32
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That to me sounds ideal, although the downside of a small business (most anyway) is it keeps you more tethered than you might want to be in ER. What kind of small business is it?
Web consulting and web sales. With a laptop and cell phone I am good to go. I have a retired friend that shares the calls with me so that we can unplug as desired. The web sales are through a full E-commerce site so I am usually not actually talking to the customer just forwarding orders to suppliers and tracking info to customers which can be done anytime during the day.

I worked 21 years in an engineering field so this fits right in with my degree, experience, and knowledge base.

Maurice,

We also each have pensions that we can start at 55 or without penalty at 62 so that is another long term comfort factor to consider.
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:56 PM   #33
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I agree with what looks like the majority opinion here--retire when you are FI, stay flexible and engaged with the world, and take events as they happen. I'm 48 and have been essentially FIREed since 1992 (age 32).

Starting out as a scientist, I was later trained in the investment business and was lucky enough not to be able to find a "real” job during the 1992 recession, so I spent the years from 1992-2000+ managing money and enjoying the bull market. At the end (and still today), a 3% withdrawal rate would support my very modest lifestyle (I live comfortably on $50K after tax in high-priced California, but single, no kids).

Since then, however, I went to law school, joined the bar, practiced for a few years at a high salary, and just ERed again on April 1st. Now, my objective is to work part-time and earn just enough to lower my withdrawal rate to 0%. I'll let my portfolio grow for the next 15+ years, and adjust course as needed. In the meantime, more travel, movies, food, and exercise are on my to-do lists.

It has always taken me a while to decouple from my high-profile careers (I miss the excitement and energy--it's fun being called upon to give your opinion, and having others consider you an expert). But, I have gone through enough of those cycles that I now have the self-confidence to realize that I can step back into that role if I wanted to--it's all up to me.

What's my point? Eventually you get to the position in life where you are confident enough to decide what is important to you, and you then can focus on those things. Obviously, it takes some maturity, which is why ER in your 20s is probably too early.

A final thought. For me, the best all-around guide to psychological ER/FIRE issues and stepping down from a high-profile career is Terhorst's book, Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35. My all-time favorite (but, it can be hard to find!).

Good Luck!
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Old 04-14-2008, 02:48 PM   #34
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This thread has been so interesting to see how many made the leap of faith and it turned out fine . I worked in the medical profession for many years and I honestly do not know any Physicians who retired earlier than 55 despite being FI. Congrats to all of you who made your dreams come true !
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Old 04-14-2008, 07:21 PM   #35
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A final thought. For me, the best all-around guide to psychological ER/FIRE issues and stepping down from a high-profile career is Terhorst's book, Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35. My all-time favorite (but, it can be hard to find!).

Just ordered it. Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:58 PM   #36
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If we retired in the next 12 months, we'd sell here and buy somewhere in the US where we could get a decent place for 500k or even less. That would give us 3.2-3.5MM to play with. Our expenses are obscene here in NY but they wouldn't be if we moved elsewhere and gave up these j*bs.
Your asset should be enough to weather any storm, if any, in the future.
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Old 04-15-2008, 10:35 AM   #37
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Do you mind sharing more about your circumstances and deliberations at the time? Had you worked toward your goal for years or were you the recipient of a sudden windfall?
Kind of a mix. I was able to retire early due to owning a good chuck of company stock since the mid 80s. But that stock was really "funny money" until the company finally went public in 1995. We all hoped it would become "real" someday. It did (which seemed a miracle at the time), but still I waited until I felt my nest egg more than sufficient. I had vague hopes of perhaps being able to retire by the end of the century and by '96/'97 was very deliberate in my planning. Nevertheless, we still went through two market corrections ('97 and '98) that made it look like my plans might be delayed for a while. Obviously I stayed concentrated in company stock to maximize my possibility of ER. Fortunately things worked out and by late 1999, I was able to aggressively diversify my holdings and ER.

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Mentally were you pushed or pulled into ER?
Pulled mostly. There were just so many things I wanted to do that were impossible with my demanding career. I couldn't travel (for pleasure for long periods). I didn't have time for hobbies or to learn new things not related to my career. My job really sucked most of creative energies. I felt the need to spend a great deal more time outdoors. A sabbatical might have helped, but I really felt the need to move in a totally new direction, do new things. I'd had enough of the constraints of working for hire.

Audrey
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