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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-16-2004, 07:08 PM   #41
 
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Well, I must repeat. Retiring early, even with very little
planning, was the best decision I ever made in my life,
and I'm pushing 60!

John Galt
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-17-2004, 12:33 PM   #42
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Hey John Galt:

Regarding your not planning for early retirement.

That actually proves that numbers can"t be used to pigeon hole ability to retire or not.
What you had going for you is life experience, and you can"t extrapolate a set of numbers to fit all people. That"s what makes a horse race.
Your background and motivation, in my opinion, is what made it possible for you to retire early. (That can"t be handled on a spread sheet.)
As we both know, by a stroke of luck, we were both born in the U.S., and what may seem like hardships for some people here is envied by most of the rest of the world.
I don"t believe there is really anything mysterious about being able to chuck a job that is not worth it any longer.
Spend less then you have coming in. (If you can't figure out how to do that, then you probably should work till you drop. Not for me. And apparantly not for you.
Take care, and continue posting. I really enjoy the exchange of ideas that is available on this board.
Regards, Jarhead
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-17-2004, 01:57 PM   #43
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Re: Spending in early retirement

I didnt really plan either. Just stuck a thumb up to a pile o' money and a big paid off house and said "eh...I'll take a vacation and in a year or two I'll look it over".

That having been said, if I had done a little more planning and a little less spending the first year or so, I might be marginally better off.
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-17-2004, 02:40 PM   #44
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
That actually proves that numbers can"t be used to pigeon hole ability to retire or not.
What you had going for you is life experience, and you can"t extrapolate a set of numbers to fit all people. That"s what makes a horse race.
To be fair, it helps to have a large salary and appreciated real estate. Heck, I consider myself one of the poorest of this board, but I was able to pay down $20k+ of debt in the past 2 1/2 years while supporting myself, living alone, taking a couple of small vacations, saving more for retirement and still not having to restrict myself to rice & beans, so I'm not exactly poor myself. Although 3-4 years ago I felt poor making not much less money and running out at the end of the month.

Living below your means is obviously the secret here. Bigger means helps, but it can be done with less means.

(I'm not picking on John Galt's situation; I think just about everyone here but me has/had appreciated real estate and/or other considerable assets when they started thinking of retiring, and even I have a vested defined benefit pension plus my saving-since-21 401(k)/IRA.)
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-17-2004, 04:08 PM   #45
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Re: Spending in early retirement

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Heck, I consider myself one of the poorest of this board...

(I'm not picking on John Galt's situation; I think just about everyone here but me has/had appreciated real estate and/or other considerable assets when they started thinking of retiring, and even I have a vested defined benefit pension plus my saving-since-21 401(k)/IRA.)
BigMoneyJim,

If I recall correctly, you're a fairly young guy, is that right? I'll bet you're far ahead of where I was at your age. Your knowledge is certainly light years beyond where mine was. I enjoy your posts, by the way. You have a way of challenging conventional wisdom that keeps me thinking.

Regarding the considerable assets, I had almost nothing when I started planning my escape at age 38. I'm 51 now. Even now my house is worth maybe $75,000 tops, and it doesn't even factor in to my plans. Not only that, I have never earned the type of money I hear about on this board. Although my wife and I have never been unemployed, even for a day, and have kept the same jobs for 26 and 28 years respectively (her about 25 hrs/week) we are earning only about $68,000 per year gross between us right now. We did inherit $180,000 recently, but we built the other $900,000+ ourselves (which includes the value of my pension if I had to buy it - that would be about $280,000). I guess what I'm trying to say is that this can be done without relying on large real estate gains or inheritances, or even large incomes.
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-17-2004, 07:15 PM   #46
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Big Money Jim:

Sounds like you are a little discouraged.
I have found that most of the posters on this board that have actually retired, did so without hitting a lottery, a large inheritence, etc. etc.
As Bob Smith stated in his post, you are a young guy. If you are motivated, and your goal is early retirement, live below your means, and invest as much as you possibly can.
When I was your age I was married with small children, and my wife was a full time homemaker. (In other words, we were happy to be paying our bills.)
I didn't really start making good money until I was about 34. (I retired at age 49, so I basically did it on 15 years of admittingly above average income.).
My kids are all doing fine, and appreciate the fact that we can get together with them unencumbered by job requirements.
In my post to John Galt, I did not mean to suggest that anybody, at anytime could retire, but to point out that if you are not motivated, and unable to grasp what is truly important, (In my case, the luxery of freedom), then the alternative is to continue working.
Retirement is not for everyone. I have known a number of people that have stated they made a big mistake when they retired early.
I do not think you will find many of those people on the board though. My wife and I deferred a great deal raising a family, and investing as much as we possibly could to make retirement possible. As I have stated before, the 17 years of time we bought has been worth it in spades.
Don"t get discouraged because you think that other people have a leg up on you. (Life isn't always fair).
You and you alone will have to take responsibility to realize your goal.
Life doesn"t always serve up a nice big fat homerun pitch, but being a good singles hitter is o.k. too.
Regards, Jarhead
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-18-2004, 01:24 PM   #47
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
BigMoneyJim,

If I recall correctly, you're a fairly young guy, is that right? I'll bet you're far ahead of where I was at your age. Your knowledge is certainly light years beyond where mine was. I enjoy your posts, by the way. You have a way of challenging conventional wisdom that keeps me thinking.
Thanks! Yes, I'm 34. (Gee, that used to sound so old....)

Quote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this can be done without relying on large real estate gains or inheritances, or even large incomes.
Read below for more...

Quote:
Big Money Jim:

Sounds like you are a little discouraged.
I have found that most of the posters on this board that have actually retired, did so without hitting a lottery, a large inheritence, etc. etc.
As Bob Smith stated in his post, you are a young guy. If you are motivated, and your goal is early retirement, live below your means, and invest as much as you possibly can.
I'm sorry if I came off as discouraged; that was not my intent. The first time I read your message it sounded like "hey, anyone can do it", and I was thinking of those in rougher positions than any of us, but you did make the same points I did, so I was a bit redundant. My point was even as the "poor guy" here I'm still pretty well off. But on second thought the investment advice holds for any income/spending level: If you spend below your means you can retire early. Like the guy with $3.2 million who's not ready to retire with the lifestyle that could afford (which the rest of us drool at), we--or at least I--have in mind a minimum standard of living which we would accept even though many others live below that standard happily.

I agreed with your points; it's just that sometimes I pick a small detail out of a post and nitpick it. And sometimes nitpicking the detail is irrelevant, redundant, or misunderstood by me anyway. Sorry.

Quote:
Life doesn"t always serve up a nice big fat homerun pitch, but being a good singles hitter is o.k. too.
On second thought, maybe I have been a tad discouraged lately. Real estate appreciation and investment returns have been pretty kind to this ER generation, but much of what I read now says that interest rates will rise, house pricing will crash, the market is overvalued, bonds will slump, they sky will fall, terrorists will bomb us, we'll have a nuclear war, etc., etc.. I had in the back of my mind that I could reach $1mil in about 10-15 years after eliminating debt, but I finally did some calculations and that's overly optimistic. On the other hand, perhaps it's better to be employed and 34 with such a bleak outlook instead of retiring at 55 or so and wondering if my investments will outlive me.

But you're right; we are all tempted to swing for the fence, but once the debt is gone and we LBYM we can make it with only a decent on-base percentage.
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-18-2004, 07:59 PM   #48
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Pardon me for jumping into the middle of this, but . . .

Jim, you're thinking the right things and living below your means and building for the future - it's SO much more than most people are doing. There's always someone to predict nuclear war (when I was a kid we had those air raid drills where you crouched under your desks - how helpful would THAT have been in the nuclear war??).

I, too, have been a little fearful about the predictions of lower returns than we've had historically. But living below your means is the key, no matter what happens. We can't control the state of the world, but we can control our spending, and that's probably going to work for us in the long run.

I've been watching your debt clock since I joined this board, and it's getting quite close. I hope a celebration is planned!

Good luck to you, and to all of us!

Anne
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 04-18-2004, 08:11 PM   #49
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
when I was a kid we had those air raid drills where you crouched under your desks - how helpful would THAT have been in the nuclear war??
You have a prime opportunity to kiss your a$$ goodbye...
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 07:57 AM   #50
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Okay, so can someone tell me where I am going off track? I retired on basically 100% of my previous take home pay. I was living on 2k a month, saving 1k in the 457 plan, and using the rest to convert to a higher pension plan so that I was able to get out at 52. I am now trying to live on 1825 a month ... only 175 less than my previous amt and I should have seen a drop in my financial needs as I was no longer commuting. Yet it is tighter than ever.

Okay, I've taken a few trips ... Fort Lauderdale, thru the canal, Sacramento Jazz Festival, Tahoe at the end of the month ... a few more than ordinary. But the cruise was already paid for. And I am giving more to charity and going to more charity functions ... about 1k more this year.

I think my problem is that I have more time on my hands and that leads to spending more. Any one else experience this
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 08:02 AM   #51
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Re: Spending in early retirement

forgot to state that the only increases in 'fixed' expenditures were:
PGE averages monthly bill and it went up $25 a month
gardener went from 80 to 90 a month
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 09:57 AM   #52
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Gayl,
Yeah, it is hard for some of us to cut expenses by much. I found my expenses went up a bit in ER because of the extra travel. For me, the solution has been to do a little part-time work on the side to make ends meet and keep me at the 4% SWR. I found a bit of work adds some structure to my week and gives me something else interesting to do with my days. I know it isn't for everybody, but it has worked out well for me, and solved some of the unexpected budget push. I didn't want to spend the next 70 years of my life worrying about money every day, either. I did that for the first 30 years or so and it got boring.

ESRBob ("S" for semi-retired -- the possible solution to the rock-and-a-hard-place of SWR rates and a growing budget).
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 10:17 AM   #53
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Do you still save? When I left my job in February '04, I had less than $100 in my savings acct. Through a small settlement (6600), I have increased my savings account to 8600. I think I'll be happy when I hit 10k in a few months. I plan on leaving my 457 acct and IRA alone until I hit at least 59.5 (can draw on the 457 now w/o penalty as I am over 50) to offset inflation as my defined benefit pension plan has an annual COLA cap of 3%. I am glad that I am not the only one whose bills did not go down in retirement ... they stayed the same.
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 12:35 PM   #54
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Hi gayl,

I have found it helps to use Quicken. I track every dollar. Each year my wife and I take a look at each spending category. We compare it to previous years and we're able to know, without any doubt, where the money is going. Then we attack the problem areas.
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 12:36 PM   #55
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
Do you still save? When I left my job in February '04, I had less than $100 in my savings acct. Through a small settlement (6600), I have increased my savings account to 8600. I think I'll be happy when I hit 10k in a few months. I plan on leaving my 457 acct and IRA alone until I hit at least 59.5 (can draw on the 457 now w/o penalty as I am over 50) to offset inflation as my defined benefit pension plan has an annual COLA cap of 3%. I am glad that I am not the only one whose bills did not go down in retirement ... they stayed the same.
Gayl, so good to here from someone in a similar (DBP and 457) situation that has already "crossed over".

I'm assuming you were government or Schools. Did your employer offer you an opportunity to buy years of service? If so any idea how they come up with that figure?

I am also curious about how other Defined Benefit Plan/457 types "planned" those last years to get the most bang for the buck. I can't relate well to the 4% SWR because it doesn't apply nearly as directly to our retirement benefits. We are more about getting to a specific monthly allotment (read paycheck without the working part) that is determined by years of service combined with age at exit from the workplace.

Many of the Boarders here get to ER by savings, aggressive, consistent savings to reach a nestegg level that will pay them the safe 4 percent forever. For many Government workers we settle for less pay then our private workplace counterparts, but cash in at the end because all those years our Employeer was gutting our gross to fund our potential retirements. I figured out how this was working at 43, (49 right now) kinda late in the game, but by adopting the ER tactic of aggessive savings to supplement for 7, now it looks like 9 years I can still bail at 52 with about 85 percent of my current take home pay. If I find out I can afford to buy back 4 or 5 extra years for the DBP calc, I can exceed current net take home. If not I can use what ever I can cram into the 457 to supplement or keep as backup. Cool.

As to the expectation that my spending levels will go down in ER? I have to go in with two assumptions.

1. Not if I can help it. Mitigated by acquisistion of the fixed assests in recent years that blow my dress up, (guitars and such) that I can change into trade mode in ER.

2. I get what I get. I will have to learn to leave within my defined ER means.

DBP types don't get to adjust their SWR, it is what it is, and we hope the 3% COLAS turn out to be enough over the long haul to keep us protected from inflation. Overall I wouldn't trade for the Nestegg SWR approach. Not having to worry about the market is mostly a good thing.

If I find I am not quite as flush for those impulse purchases as now? Small price to pay to get out at 52!!!
8)
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 01:44 PM   #56
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
I'm assuming you were government or Schools. *Did your employer offer you an opportunity to buy years of service? *If so any idea how they come up with that figure? *

I am also curious about how other Defined Benefit Plan/457 types "planned" those last years to get the most bang for the buck.
I was a public sector employee (county gov't) in California. Although we have the 'Ventura Decision' which would count overtime in figuring the last year's income, mgmt doesn't get overtime. We could, however, sell 1/3 of that last year's vacation accrual and they would honor a years worth on the books. So I sold 53 hrs in Oct, sold another 53 in Jan, and retired with over 53 left on the books in Feb. All counted in my FAS. (Pension is based on 'yrs of service' X 'age factor' X 'highest 12 mos salary.' So if you can increase your FAS (final average salary or highest 12 mos salary) then you can increase your pension.)

I was Tier 2 retirement for years, which meant that my age factor used to be a set .009% -- an employee working 20 yrs with an monthly average salary of 5000 would get .009 x 20 x 5000 = 900 per month.

2 contracts ago, we were offered an 'enhancement' that changed Tier 2 to mirror the older Tier 1 age factors which increased with age. I entered a pre-tax contract to pay the difference between what my 'bank' had accumulated and what would have been accumulated if I was Tier 1 all along. So I signed a contract to pay 1291 per month for 5 yrs IN ADDITION TO MY REGULAR CONTRIBUTIONS to cover the 62k difference in order to convert 15 yrs. As I had paid off my house, I just took that money and gave it to the pension board -- pre-tax.

On the last contract, they came up with the proposal that they would grant us 1 yr for every 2 that we converted, max 3 yrs. And the sliding scale changed to a cap at 3% at age 50 for safety employees (police / fire / correction officers) and 2.4% at 62 for non-safety. We had to have a new law written so this could be done and Sacramento had to agree ... even though it was restricted to just Contra Costa County employees -- and only to those groups who agreed to only an 11% raise over 4 yrs and who would have their pension contributions drastically increase (my sister, a safety employee, pays 13% of her salary towards her pension).

Unfortunately, they hit me with a penalty for breaking my contract so I had to ante up another 22k (they somehow only had to come up with 11k), but it was worth it. *As I was non safety, this meant that my pension went from an anticipated 810 at 55 to 2092 at 52. And I got out. *OMIG>D -- it just hit me! They did not credit me any previous pymts, they only credited me the amt that I wrote on the final check :P They were supposed to credit me for the amts that I had been paying all along. But I guess it is too late to do anything now. *:P

Anyway, I had worked assuming that my pension would only cover 1/3, so I squirreled away funds in my 457 to cover another 1/3 and prayed that SSA would be there for the last 1/3. I did draw some out to cover that 22k bill and my cruise thru the canal. But I don't anticipate taking any more out until 2006.

I hear that the school district is offering to add 2 yrs to anyone's age if they retire out now. Too bad I did not work for the schools. Counties just lay off ....
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 02:39 PM   #57
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
I was a public sector employee (county gov't) in California.

(Pension is based on 'yrs of service' X 'age factor' X 'highest 12 mos salary.' So if you can increase your FAS (final average salary or highest 12 mos salary) then you can increase your pension.)

I was Tier 2 retirement for years, which meant that my age factor used to be a set .009% -- an employee working 20 yrs with an monthly average salary of 5000 would get .009 x 20 x 5000 = 900 per month.

2 contracts ago, we were offered an 'enhancement' that changed Tier 2 to mirror the older Tier 1 age factors which increased with age. I hear that the school district is offering to add 2 yrs to anyone's age if they retire out now. Too bad I did not work for the schools. Counties just lay off ....
Very close for me as well. Technically I'm "Technical" and not Management, hence not quite as good perks, but I will be cashing out some Vac as you described to bump that highest 12 months. In my County (Stanislaus) we were notified of the enhanced benefit to line up Tier 2 with the older Tier 1 about 2 years ago. Was I smiling that day! I built my own retirement calculater in Excel based on the new formula, here they call it 2% at 55 for non-safety. I was already well into planning ER by then, but that change improved my lot by about 1/3 better then before. Way Cool! I have not squirreled away as much as I'd like in the 457, but I plan to maxmize the contribution those last 2 or maybe 3 years depending. Spouse retired effectively this month. Can't wait to join her living the GOOD ER Life.

Gayl Thanks for the reference to the Ventura Decision. I've seen cryptic references to that for a while now in the Retirement Board minutes. I did not know until now what it represented. I'll be joining up (bailing out?) either '06 or '07 depending on circumstances WITHIN, not beyond my control.
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 05:11 PM   #58
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Re: Spending in early retirement

I was technically 'unrepresented' as I did not manage anyone, but still locked out of overtime despite working an average of 50 hrs per wk. Counties can get out of paying OT to techies as well as unrepresented. Review your contract and see if you can sell hours, if so, do so. At least we don't have to worry about heath insurance. Mine is still at 18 per mo
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-08-2004, 05:14 PM   #59
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Re: Spending in early retirement

Quote:
Hi gayl,

I have found it helps to use Quicken. I track every dollar. Each year my wife and I take a look at each spending category. We compare it to previous years and we're able to know, without any doubt, where the money is going. Then we attack the problem areas.
I track on Microsoft Money. Unfortunately, these days I am tracking how I am spending too much. But maybe I am not alone in having a spending splurge when I stop working. Hopefully it'll slow down
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Re: Spending in early retirement
Old 06-11-2004, 09:41 AM   #60
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Re: Spending in early retirement

gayl, I may not be understanding you, but it looks to me like you are doing just fine. From your post on another thread you said that you were spending 40% of your pre-retirement income. Since you are also doing a lot of traveling, that sounds completely reasonable. If you want to get into advanced frugality and live on $50 a day, then check "the complete tightwadd gazette" from your local library.
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