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Self-Sufficiency and Capability to ER
Old 03-01-2016, 11:04 PM   #1
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Self-Sufficiency and Capability to ER

I have noticed on this board and from personal contacts with early retirees (or even successful traditional retirees), there seems to be a high correlation between self-sufficiency and the capability to be ER'd. I will define self-sufficiency loosely as being reasonably proficient at home repairs or maintenance/upgrades, doing car maintenance and repairs yourself, controlling finances and portfolio, and generally able to handle situations using your own skills and abilities. Not having to rely on others to get things done.

This sufficiency seems to enable not just the financial savings of paying for stuff to be done, but more importantly it promotes the mindset that you can ER and make it without fear of the future. You know that you can deal with whatever comes up, without high potential cost or stress. It is not just the portfolio value you have, but the knowledge how to maximize the benefits or minimize the consequences of a situation.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:15 PM   #2
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I hope you're right about the correlation because I'm trying to ER but things are running in slow motion lately. I do consider myself a fairly advanced DIYer as long it's something that interests me. Working on cars is a passion, I can also do a decent amount of metal working, welding, woodworking beyond the basics, same with the home repairs, finances and I'm in IT by career and education. However, I suck at cooking, cleaning, home decorating and worst of all grocery shopping...I can do the laundry but I'd rather drag coal carts in a sweltering mine every Sat than fold the laundry lol
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I have noticed on this board and from personal contacts with early retirees (or even successful traditional retirees), there seems to be a high correlation between self-sufficiency and the capability to be ER'd. I will define self-sufficiency loosely as being reasonably proficient at home repairs or maintenance/upgrades, doing car maintenance and repairs yourself, controlling finances and portfolio, and generally able to handle situations using your own skills and abilities. Not having to rely on others to get things done.
This sufficiency seems to enable not just the financial savings of paying for stuff to be done, but more importantly it promotes the mindset that you can ER and make it without fear of the future. You know that you can deal with whatever comes up, without high potential cost or stress. It is not just the portfolio value you have, but the knowledge how to maximize the benefits or minimize the consequences of a situation.
Well for me I know that these don't apply: "being reasonably proficient at home repairs or maintenance/upgrades, doing car maintenance and repairs yourself" but my wife likes nothing more than to get stuck in with a tool in her hand!
but I think these do: "controlling finances and portfolio, and generally able to handle situations using your own skills and abilities".
Now the ones that don't apply to me are actually more of a choice I guess, but there are things I choose to spend my time on and things I prefer to spend money on so I don't have to spend my time on.
I am okay with that.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:35 PM   #4
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I'd rather drag coal carts in a sweltering mine every Sat than fold the laundry lol
Think of it this way, when you ER, nobody's gonna care if you don't look presentable so you can easily get away with not folding laundry.

Honestly though, only thing I DIY is computers. I'm pretty hopeless with cars and repairs around the house. Practically zero cooking skills, too. I can use the microwave and make instant ramen (and have actually subsisted on it day in and day out while in HS and college). That's pretty much the extent of my cooking skills.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:37 AM   #5
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You can also count on top of car repairs and maintenance, doing hardscape, cement and all. I'm a 56 years old woman who can carry tons of heavy duty materials. Between my husband and I, we cover 95% of stuff at home. I even make clothes, love sewing, make curtains, slip covers for indoor and outdoor furnitures. I also love canning, grow my own food, etc.. There is nothing I don't try to DYI, even doctoring. LOL


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Old 03-02-2016, 06:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I have noticed on this board and from personal contacts with early retirees (or even successful traditional retirees), there seems to be a high correlation between self-sufficiency and the capability to be ER'd. I will define self-sufficiency loosely as being reasonably proficient at home repairs or maintenance/upgrades, doing car maintenance and repairs yourself, controlling finances and portfolio, and generally able to handle situations using your own skills and abilities. Not having to rely on others to get things done.

.

I read this at first and said. Yep... It's called being a real adult. Then I paused long enough to think about it ...

Independence, be it financial independence or other form of independence is at the root of the rugged individualism trait. I would suspect a strong correlation.

I fix my own cars. Do my own home repair. Cook. Manage my own portfolio, Read a lot online etc. I'm a life long learner of many topics from finance to languages etc.

Some of this is to avoid being fleeced. Some is natural curiosity. Some is just to prove what I CAN do... An inner drive. It's the latter trait that I think is most relevant - the thrive gene.

But it's all the stuff that I can control. I'm a bit of a control freak - I'm in the wheelhouse of my own ship so to speak.

The thought that popped into my mind the. is what I can not "control or fix/repair myself" such as health.

There, I feel vulnerable ... Can't really control it. Can't fix it if it gets broken etc. Sure I don't smoke, don't drink often, eat balanced meals, trying exercise etc but Health is the one area where independence is quickly lost, sometimes completely out of ones own control.

For us control freaks it's one of the wild cards for sure - part of the reason I FIREd at 45.
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Old 03-02-2016, 07:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I have noticed on this board and from personal contacts with early retirees (or even successful traditional retirees), there seems to be a high correlation between self-sufficiency and the capability to be ER'd. I will define self-sufficiency loosely as being reasonably proficient at home repairs or maintenance/upgrades, doing car maintenance and repairs yourself, controlling finances and portfolio, and generally able to handle situations using your own skills and abilities. Not having to rely on others to get things done.

This sufficiency seems to enable not just the financial savings of paying for stuff to be done, but more importantly it promotes the mindset that you can ER and make it without fear of the future. You know that you can deal with whatever comes up, without high potential cost or stress. It is not just the portfolio value you have, but the knowledge how to maximize the benefits or minimize the consequences of a situation.
I think there is a lot of truth to this and it is part of the fabric or our LBYM lives. We do a lot of our home repairs and improvements. I used to be pretty handy with cars but now hire all that out, but even then I think I know enough to be able to ask the right questions.

I think another important factor is knowing when we are over our head and need to call in a pro before we make a mess that costs more to remedy than if we called in a pro to begin with.

But many times we end up doing something that we have never done before but these things are not hard to do if you can read and follow instructions and have some common sense and I think that confidence and reduced fear of he unknown is an important factor in our confidence in our ability to retire early.
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Old 03-02-2016, 07:55 AM   #8
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I think it is more a case of having confidence in your own abilities to make decisions in life, and to budget and navigate the financial aspects of being retired. Whether I am a skilled mechanic, electrician, carpenter, landscaper, etc doesn't seem to be much of a factor.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:06 AM   #9
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I think it is more a case of having confidence in your own abilities to make decisions in life, and to budget and navigate the financial aspects of being retired. Whether I am a skilled mechanic, electrician, carpenter, landscaper, etc doesn't seem to be much of a factor.
Yup, self confidence goes a long way, as there are plenty of nay-sayers that will try to discourage you from doing anything yourself, including controlling your own finances and retiring early.
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Old 03-02-2016, 09:31 AM   #10
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Independence, be it financial independence or other form of independence is at the root of the rugged individualism trait. I would suspect a strong correlation.

I fix my own cars. Do my own home repair. Cook. Manage my own portfolio, Read a lot online etc. I'm a life long learner of many topics from finance to languages etc.

Some of this is to avoid being fleeced. Some is natural curiosity. Some is just to prove what I CAN do... An inner drive. It's the latter trait that I think is most relevant - the thrive gene.

But it's all the stuff that I can control. I'm a bit of a control freak - I'm in the wheelhouse of my own ship so to speak.

The thought that popped into my mind the. is what I can not "control or fix/repair myself" such as health.

There, I feel vulnerable ... Can't really control it. Can't fix it if it gets broken etc. Sure I don't smoke, don't drink often, eat balanced meals, trying exercise etc but Health is the one area where independence is quickly lost, sometimes completely out of ones own control.

For us control freaks it's one of the wild cards for sure - part of the reason I FIREd at 45.
+1

Well said! I feel it applies to DW and me too.
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Old 03-02-2016, 09:42 AM   #11
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But many times we end up doing something that we have never done before but these things are not hard to do if you can read and follow instructions and have some common sense and I think that confidence and reduced fear of he unknown is an important factor in our confidence in our ability to retire early.
Yep, the ability to read and learn a useful skill, while constrained by common sense, is key to developing a variety of new abilities. Sure, you can talk to folks and they can show you stuff, but it's hard to find people who have both the needed skill and the time and willingness to share.

I learned how to fix cars from books and magazines in the 1980's. Of course, we now have Youtube too.

I love learning about anything by reading. The bandwidth and depth of knowledge seems so much greater than just talking to folks and can help focus discussion and frame questions when dealing directly with experts like tradesman, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Saves tons of time & confusion.

Not everyone seems interested in reading and learning. I remember my mom's childhood admonition that "readers are leaders".
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:00 AM   #12
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I think several of you identified what I did not say, it comes down to self confidence and the ability to learn and educate yourself.

My point that maybe I did not say as well as my thoughts inside my head were processing is that being self sufficient is more than just skills to do repairs or control finances - it is being able to deal with life and making the best choices for long term success. Having confidence and ability to deal with things that come up.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:10 PM   #13
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I'd say high skill DIY (plumbing, electrical, auto mechanics) do not factor much into ER. The DIY that DW and I have done that saved massive amounts of $ have been:

Cooking at home instead of restaurant/carryout.

Doing our own yardwork.

Cleaning our own house.

Those are recurring events, unlike plumbers (which hopefully are not required weekly).

In addition to that, buying less house than we could afford, buying modest cars, and being indifferent to fashion/shopping/keeping up with the Joneses have resulted in huge savings.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:44 PM   #14
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I would define being able to retire and self sufficiency as being able to pay to have things done so that one doesn't need to be proficient at dirty, time consuming grunt work. It's also trickle down economics. The Jiffy Lube guy's trying to make a living. A match made in heaven
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:47 PM   #15
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We do our own yard work, house cleaning, investing, taxes and cook more from scratch these days. I hang laundry outside on nice days instead of using the dryer. For healthcare we treat minor ailments with alternative health treatments like acupressure, yoga and herbs. We have a reasonably priced mechanic for most car work and we hire contractors and get bids for any major home repairs. I have stack of Home Depot gift cards from reward miles redemptions we're using on home repairs instead of travel this year. We've been tackling many projects to make the house energy and water efficient.

I have many books on urban homesteading and craft type projects but except for the prior list those are probably more hobby and save the environment activities than huge money savers. Like making my own essential oils and cleaning products is not going to make or break our retirement plan compared to the weekly savings from cooking more from home and buying less processed foods.

I would rather work some additional part-time hours at what I know than learn how to put on a roof once every 20 - 30 years. I can make more per hour that way and only risk falling out of my desk chair compared to falling off a roof.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:58 PM   #16
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+1 I do my own yard work, snow removal, home repairs, and financial management. Not as much on the car. I've been a saver since I was a kid. Anecdotal support.
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:55 PM   #17
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there seems to be a high correlation between self-sufficiency and the capability to be ER'd.
Hey - can you guys keep it down in this thread please? I'm busy keeping things to myself and being self-sufficient
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Old 03-02-2016, 03:42 PM   #18
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I learned how to fix cars from books and magazines in the 1980's. Of course, we now have Youtube too.
Thank Goodness for YouTube! I think one can learn to do most anything short of a home-surgery appendix removal there.
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Old 03-02-2016, 06:09 PM   #19
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I'm in agreement with the premise of this thread. LBYM and being willing to cook, clean, maintain yard, finances and health has allowed DH and I to retire earlier than many of our "well to do" friends and co-workers.
We both dislike paying someone to do something we are capable of doing ourselves - we enjoy being self sufficient.


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Old 03-04-2016, 08:49 AM   #20
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I'm a DIY with some tasks but after a hugely unsuccessful attempt with a relatively easy car maintenance item, I now leave all of those issues with my mechanic. With most other asks, mainly those inside my apartment, I have done myself. Those include changing light switches and fixtures, kitchen and bathroom tile work, and some repairs on my PC including hardware items. Years ago, when I played the piano more, I learned how to tune it so all I needed was a tuning form and my perfect-pitch ear. Many of my furniture items are IKEA-type ones which I assembled myself.
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