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Retiring Very Early (FIRVE?) - special considerations?
Old 04-13-2008, 04:55 AM   #1
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Retiring Very Early (FIRVE?) - special considerations?

I'm 39 and am at FI by most people's standards. Its long been my plan to retire in the next five years. Lately I've been giving serious consideration to leaving in the next year or two. So my planning, which has always been pretty thorough, has taken on a new level of seriousness.

Maybe this is just cold feet, but it seems to me there's something particularly scary about jumping so early. Its easy enough to put '50 years' into firecalc, but is it really that simple? What about the geopolitical risks involved in planning for half a century? I know fire-calc takes that into consideration indirectly, but still - I'm imagining my equivalent in 1910 with his slide rule and paper saying "yeah, I should be good", without having a clue what kind of havoc would be brought on in the next 4 decades.

Has anyone here pulled the trigger very early? If so, can you share your thoughts and experiences?
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:03 AM   #2
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I didn't FIRVE, but William Bernstein has some excellent thoughts on the subject: The Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part III

My conclusion after reading this and other material is that it doesn't really matter whether you jump early or late. Whatever you envision the future will be at the time you jump will likely change dramatically as it unfolds and in ways you could have never foreseen.
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Old 04-13-2008, 07:00 AM   #3
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First, congratulations on being FI at such an early age! And no, unfortunately I am not a FIRVE. I will be FIRNSE (Retiring Not So Early). But I am still happy for you!

I would probably have cold feet too, were I in your shoes. If you continue to feel that way, could you possibly work part time for a few years? That might be a good transition and would allow your nest egg to grow.
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Old 04-13-2008, 07:16 AM   #4
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Yeah, it would be a stressful choice for any number of reasons. I would make sure I was well beyond where I needed to be and would continue to LBYM for quite some time to make sure I had some flex room. But how much difference is 45 from 40 anyway? If you are ready - go for it.
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Old 04-13-2008, 07:29 AM   #5
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Wasn't he the QB for the Packers? Brat Firve?

Sorry, that was a bad one...
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Old 04-13-2008, 08:05 AM   #6
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Wasn't he the QB for the Packers? Brat Firve?

Sorry, that was a bad one...
I think he beat OP, too...he was 38...
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Old 04-13-2008, 08:29 AM   #7
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I would like to hear more about your plans...I am 38 and want to do the same thing.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:23 AM   #8
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I "retired" in 79 at age 38. But if I would have known then what I know now I doubt I would have (sometimes too much knowledge is not good). Talk about blindly walking off. The again it has worked out fine; moved around the country since then with DW of 48 years and three of four kid off to college and married. Currently I am glad I did it; I have outlived Father and Grandfather in years. We plan at least one more move to someplace we have not decided on but will pretty soon.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:43 AM   #9
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I would like to hear more about your plans...I am 38 and want to do the same thing.
Originally my plan was to keep working for another 5 years, and then stay in NYC part of the year and live somewhere in Latin America the rest of the year (probably Mexico).

I'm considering leaving NY, which would make it much easier to leave my j*b anytime (realistically I'd probably wait until early next year).

I'm 39, DW is 41. No kids, but we might (just might) have one. Net worth is ~2.6MM not including home. Home is worth probably 1.2-1.4, and will be paid off by this summer.

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.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:46 AM   #10
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I "retired" in 79 at age 38. But if I would have known then what I know now I doubt I would have (sometimes too much knowledge is not good). Talk about blindly walking off. The again it has worked out fine; moved around the country since then with DW of 48 years and three of four kid off to college and married. Currently I am glad I did it; I have outlived Father and Grandfather in years. We plan at least one more move to someplace we have not decided on but will pretty soon.

RWood - I'd love to hear more about your retirement. Did you set out to retire, or did you figure you'd take time off and then just never ended up going back to w*rk? How old were your kids when you retired? Did you have a military pension or do it off savings? or was there another source of income?
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by rogersteciak View Post
I didn't FIRVE, but William Bernstein has some excellent thoughts on the subject: The Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part III

My conclusion after reading this and other material is that it doesn't really matter whether you jump early or late. Whatever you envision the future will be at the time you jump will likely change dramatically as it unfolds and in ways you could have never foreseen.
From the link, for OP (this has been widely referenced):
"A wildly optimistic historian might give us another few centuries of economic, political, and military continuity. Back-of-the-envelope, that’s about an 80% survival rate over the next 40 years. Thus, any estimate of long-term financial success greater than about 80% is meaningless.

Now, let’s return to the above table. The historically na´ve investor (or academic) might consider reducing his monthly withdrawals to a very low level to maximize his chances of success. But history teaches us that depriving ourselves to boost our 40-year success probability much beyond 80% is a fool’s errand, since all you are doing is increasing the probability of failure for political, economic, and military reasons relative to the failure of banal financial planning."

So the bottom line is you'd better plan on making adjustments to your plan if you're going to jump with 50 years to go. There is no calculator or expert that can answer your question definitively. Everyone has to be prepared for their "plan" to not work out, you'll just have a greater (time) exposure than most of us.
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:59 AM   #12
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RWood - I'd love to hear more about your retirement. Did you set out to retire, or did you figure you'd take time off and then just never ended up going back to w*rk? How old were your kids when you retired? Did you have a military pension or do it off savings? or was there another source of income?
Yes there was military retirement @ $875 a month before taxes and deductions, like a CHAMPUS Supplement from USAA - No Tricare at the time. It was a voluntary retirement (tired of all the 18 hours days) and a possible move to Europe with 2 teenage daughters or a 12-16 month unaccompanied tour to ?). All 4 kids graduated from the same High School which was something they really wanted to do. One Son was 18 and headed to USNA, (a big help; he is now a Navy Captain still on AD) daughters 16 and 15 and a son 13. I did some wo*k but just stuff I wanted to do and did take advantage of the GI bill to get a couple more college degrees for things I was interested in. No inheritances and no savings to speak of in fact my net worth was probably negative at that time (8% Mortgage for about $50K). Like I said, and looking back I wonder how it really happened to go as well as it did, just lucky I guess. DW did work a few years at virtually minimum wage while we were in the DC area - just to feed the kids (teenagers eat a lot!).
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Old 04-13-2008, 11:13 AM   #13
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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.

BUT - you really don't know how long you will live, so the decision to RE is really more about getting the most out of life NOW. You know how much money you have, but none of us know how much time we have left on this earth, or how long our good health will last. I guess I was more worried about those what-ifs rather than what kind of natural disasters or economic/political upheaval might come our way. In fact I attitude was if the future does contain some bleak period, all the more reason to retired now.

I mainly handled the long planned retirement period by making sure my retirement portfolio was well padded, yet somewhat conservatively invested (taking into account the long term effects of inflation, of course). And, of course, planning on a rather conservative withdrawal strategy.

Not much more you can do as far as I can figure.

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Old 04-13-2008, 11:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice View Post
Maybe this is just cold feet, but it seems to me there's something particularly scary about jumping so early. Its easy enough to put '50 years' into firecalc, but is it really that simple?
Yup. Or else read the FAQ archives on "Just one more year" syndrome.

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Has anyone here pulled the trigger very early? If so, can you share your thoughts and experiences?
Greaney, the Terhorsts, and the Kaderlis would all say that they beat you to the finish line. Their examples are good enough for me...
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Old 04-13-2008, 11:52 AM   #15
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I think that retiring at any age without some "secure" source of income (like a decent SS benefit or a juicy government pension) takes a leap of faith. You can't predict the future and you can't insure against every conceivable threat to your retirement. So I think the best thing to do is to retire with plenty of padding built into your financial plan and a willingness to adapt to changes along the way.

My grandparents lived through tough times in their lives (economic depression, wars, currency devaluation, oil shocks...) on a very small income. Their thriftiness and flexibility always allowed them to make the best of it and pull through. You must be prepared to do the same. The ones who will not make it, are the "spoiled children" of the world, who are unwilling to compromise. Take for example my MIL. Her husband has suddenly stopped making alimony payments (her only source of income) last month. She refuses to go back to work and she refuses to reduce her lifestyle because "it's not fair". In the mean time she is going through her meager savings like it's going out of style. She is doomed and she doesn't even know it.
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:02 PM   #16
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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've been able to spend more time with my aging parents, my friends, and my wife. I've read books I've wanted to read for years, and have renewed my interest in hiking and mountain biking. My wife and I also have been able to travel in an unhurried, low cost manner that was never possible when I had a fixed amount of vacation and was always due back in the office at a fixed date.

While the market has obviously retreated quite a bit since I pulled the plug, my wife and I are still only withdrawing just over 3% of our liquid assets on an annualized basis. From time to time I have small twinges of anxiety due to the (hopefully) long time horizon of my retirement, but I figure if things truly go upside down financially, I'm creative enough to figure out a way to drum up some additional cash flow.

I wouldn't trade my current life for anything, and have no regrets about pulling the plug comparatively (very) early.
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:07 PM   #17
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[quote=FIREdreamer;642631 Take for example my MIL. Her husband has suddenly stopped making alimony payments (her only source of income) last month. She refuses to go back to work and she refuses to reduce her lifestyle because "it's not fair". In the mean time she is going through her meager savings like it's going out of style. She is doomed and she doesn't even know it.[/quote]


She probably knows it .She just doesn't want to accept it .
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:18 PM   #18
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50 years is a long time to be doing anything, whatever it is. If you were in the workforce for 50 years you would not be doing the same thing for all that time. In fact most people make changes at least every 7 years. So if you are going to RE at 40 you must envisage a series of changes over time. What does that look like? Hopefully something clearer than a blank canvas.
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:27 PM   #19
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She probably knows it .She just doesn't want to accept it .
True, she knows there is a wall at the end of the road, I told her about it. But she doesn't "know" or rather she would prefer not knowing how close it is... Every time I point at the wall, it's like she fakes dumb. She thinks that, somehow, things will get better. Except that she doesn't want to be the one making it better for herself. It seems like she is waiting for some white night to park his horse in front of the house and say, "hey babe, will you marry me?"... Any single white knight on this board?
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Old 04-13-2008, 02:11 PM   #20
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I'd tell OP to go ahead and retire, assuming he's made reasonable preparations for what the future might hold. By "reasonable" I assume he's made provisions for screwy things the future holds, certainties such as paying for his (and family's?) health insurance, proper investment diversification, etc.

If the net worth is in the low millions, surely he can RE? I would advise him to read some other founts of information; the Terhorst book and web site is good. I like the REHP web site, especially the need to analyze and consider the need of health coverage.

Disaster hedging: a future foul economy (e.g., inflation, depression, war, etc) calls for some contingency planning. Got gold? Foreign bank account? Consider: our future may hold benefit cuts, yes even for SS, and certainly higher taxes. If our nation finally cuts back the welfare state, this will probably mean that stocks and bonds have taken a beating too. I recommend Harry Browne's old books (there're all old now, he's dead) -- "Why the best laid investment plans go wrong" is my favorite. Just a pile of gold in a Swiss Bank might look silly now, but might look real good in ten years if the U.S. dollar has finally plummeted, our government has imposed exchange controls, and the stock market is at 6000...
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