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Old 11-06-2018, 02:30 PM   #21
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My family were immigrants, twice. By the time I was nine, I had lived in 3 countries and had had 9 addresses. My father, a degreed civil engineer, could only find work as a night-watchman in a factory for the first 2-3 years after we landed. He eventually got hired into engineering, but it was always with consulting engineering firms. They'd get a contract and work like crazy, then everyone was laid off. Between jobs, I remember many months of uncertainty and palpable anxiety while my dad pounded the pavement trying to find a job. Luckily, my mom managed the finances with a super-frugal hand. She scrimped and saved. We never went hungry, but we sure lived minimally.

I was perplexed when my parents pushed me to become an engineer, as I associated the profession with the potential for long periods of unemployment. I had a successful engineering career. I was never laid off, although many of my co-workers were not quite so lucky. Having gown up with a lot of uncertainty about my father's employment, I set my sights on retiring early, and squirreled away a sizeable chunk of my pay. At 56, I early-retired.

For me, it's such a relief now not to ever have to worry about losing my job.

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Old 11-06-2018, 02:44 PM   #22
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Partially. My parents had fairly low wage jobs but they able to provide all of the basics and some splurges for my older siblings and me, even during periods of unemployment during the 70's and 80's. It took me a while to truly understand the sacrifices they made for us. The main motivator I take from my childhood is understanding how my parents sacrificed to ensure us kids had a decent start in life. I think it drives how we want to want to be FI+ so we can pass along advantages to our kids yet also take care of our parents in their old age.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:46 PM   #23
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I was, but differently than most of these stories. I grew up definitely middle-class, but my parents were savers, and I learned from them. I sat on my dad's lap when he wrote checks to pay the bills, knew that they paid for cars (every 12 years or so) with cash, and knew they didn't run up credit card debt. My dad for years planned to retire early, and he did, at 57 (23 years ago!). As soon as I started working, I maxed out my 401(k) and planned to retire at the same age as dad. Fast forward, I am now 49, and due to life circumstances, am actually planning to retire in 3 years at 52.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:47 PM   #24
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My dad spent money like water. He was a big tipper, gambled and took vacations. My mom was frugal. I'm surprised they stayed married. Nearing bankruptcy, my dad died in a car accident and left my mom with debt. She managed because she was really smart with money and actually saved to leave us kids an inheritance. Not a lot, but enough for us to do a major remodel. I fear being in that situation again. I was young but it made a huge impact on me. I don't like to be around people who blow money just to do it. Sadly, that includes my siblings. They have my dad's DNA. It drives me nuts when we go out together and my DB cannot resist buying the most expensive wine in a restaurant. I think "didn't you learn any lessons from dad?"
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:10 PM   #25
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I didn't grow up hungry, but my family was pretty blue collar and lived pay check to pay check. Every big car repair was a trauma. In some ways I find it an advantage because my life now is beyond my wildest dreams. I'm happy to have a car that doesn't breakdown often, not to have to work, and be able to shop at the finest garage sales and thrift shops.

I do wonder what life will be like for our kids who had passports before they were in grade school and season passes to Six Flags, a pool club and Disneyland growing up. So far they seem to be happy, hard working adults even without the childhood deprivation part as a motivator.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:22 PM   #26
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We didn't have any childhood hardships, grew up very comfortable, but not rich. We always had everything we needed through college, but few extravagances. I was aware of some rich folks who lived nearby with big houses, expensive cars and a few servants.

What DW and I did carry on from childhood was living way below our means. Our parents did, and we just never knew any other way of living. Even in our 20's when we really didn't have anything, we never spent anywhere near what we earned, and every house we bought was far below what any bank or realtor told us we could afford, literally about half the cost of any of my peers throughout our adult lives. Throughout our 30's, 40's, 50's we spent far less than we earned, as low as 25% one (big bonus) year. Even now, we spend much less than we could, but don't feel deprived at all - and we're not.

And full circle, my Mom passed away 3 years ago and my Dad just recently. I had a pretty good idea what their 'estate' consisted of, but now that I know, they left behind a lot of money and property. My sister is dumbfounded, more money than she's ever had in her life. Before the last three months and some unusual medical expenses, my Dad was living very comfortably on about 20% of his income...and had for at least 10 years, probably more.

The habits they instilled in us, have made our lives much easier than most people we've known in our socioeconomic station.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:31 PM   #27
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I hesitate to say we were "poor" but definitely blue collar. I can remember many times near the end of the month when all we had to eat was onion sandwiches on saltine crackers. But the great thing is that everyone else in the neighborhood was in the same socioeconomic bracket, so we all just felt this was normal.

It was only after I left home in my early 20s that I understood how much better other people had it.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:42 PM   #28
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I had a very modest lower middle class upbringing. Neither parent went to college. Dad had a reasonably good office job but was unemployed on and off for several years in the 1970s. Mom went to work around that time and they both had side hustles to bring in much-needed cash.

Money was always tight. Mom sewed most of our clothes. We never went out to eat or went on vacation. But otherwise we always seemed to have what was needed and we lived in a reasonable, though modest, suburban neighborhood. Parents got divorced when I was in high school and the money situation got much worse. I was old enough to realize the seriousness of the situation and definitely felt some insecurity.

I started working two jobs at 16 and left home at 17. My two older siblings had done the same. Both parents continued to struggle with money, and even though both their side hustles had developed into fairly successful businesses (at least for a time), they both died with more debt than assets.

I moved to another state to attend college and supported myself, including tuition with no financial aid or debt. I was a case study in how to survive on ~$400/mo... lots of roommates, work at a restaurant for food, no car, take a semester off when money was tight, etc. I lived this way through 4 years of undergrad and another 3-4 years of grad school. I finally got a real Megacorp job at 28, after 12 years of supporting myself with lots of hard work and study. Retired 24 years later at 52.

My whole experience growing up and supporting myself through college had laid the foundation for a strong work ethic, LBYM, and saving/investing. The desire to achieve FI was motivated in part by a strong desire to not end up like my parents and never have that feeling of insecurity. That's not the whole motivation but definitely a part. Interestingly, my two older siblings are on the same path as my parents... on and off work, and side hustles that never lead to anything. Neither one has any savings. So yeah, I'm the "lucky, rich relative" who lives out of state.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:03 PM   #29
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I was very motivated by childhood memories. It turned out we were middle to upper middle class but my parents did a seriously good job of convincing me we were poor (I was afraid to ask them for running shoes so I could run track) that it really impacted my views and actions for a lifetime.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:10 PM   #30
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It certainly motivated me. As a child, whenever I thought about my adult life, my dream was not to be rich, but just to be not so poor as we were.
This. I won't go into details, but also resolved in my youth that I would not live the way I grew up.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:35 PM   #31
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This. I won't go into details, but also resolved in my youth that I would not live the way I grew up.

Sums it up here too. On paper, we had the trappings of upper middle class. Two-professional household, recent immigrants who revered higher education. Sizable rental holdings. However, mix family drama, mental illness, and a slide into living in rentals in a bad inner city neighborhods, and I was inspired to find another way, any other way, to live. Fortunately, the folks supported most of my tech education and I w*rked for the rest.

I learned that I couldn't depend on anyone else to financially support me and my family. The downsizing and offshoring of the 2000 "lost" decade taught me to accelerate my early drive to FI.

I was blessed to have a family strong enough to raise me protected from the worse very worse tramas that can have a lifelong negative impact. Yet, I had to figure enough out for myself to learn that I, not some boss government or company, would have to keep on figuring it out.

No too people on this tread are saying that they had an EASY upper middle class or weathy upbringing and managed to FIRE. Maybe they are on trust-funders.org or Economic-Outpatient-Care.org
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:50 PM   #32
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My parents were highly educated, but had modest salaries and thus were very frugal. Never missed a meal or had to worry about food or decent place to live. They grew up in the Great Depression so also had those frugal habits. They were moderate in many ways, such as never taking on debt other than mortgage, and never drinking more than two drinks at a party. They strongly encouraged academic achievement in their kids. I seemed to have picked all that up. Fortunately Dad had great retirement benefits, so I never had to worry about him.

I saw that it was hard raising 4 kids in their situation. I definitely decided I wanted to be better off financially. Fortunately I did very well in school and I went into a field that paid very well - completely different from my parents. Still avoided debt and saved a lot. Financial independence from my family was very important to me in that I hated seeing my parents pay for my schooling and I worked very hard to pay for as much schooling as I could and establish myself as an independent household as soon as I could. Heck I didn’t like them spending any money on me - bought my own clothes, books, etc., although they helped me with a old car and did provide room and board from time to time while I was in college.

But the impetus to retire early really was motivated by my mother passing just after Dad retired at FRA. I achieved FI very young due to a couple of lucky career breaks, and retired a few years after Mom passed.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:58 PM   #33
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My parents saved and invested and so did I. Nothing extreme, just don't spend all that you make and over time it grows to a substantial amount.

Some for now and some for later.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:03 PM   #34
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Very interesting thread.

Lower, lower middle class for me. Money was a common topic - we don't have any. Rarely ate out - and then only fast-food. Ate left overs for days and days...ugh...

Started working before I could drive. At age 16-17 recall working at midnight on a particular Saturday night mopping floors at a fast food chain. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I knew I had a better future than this.

No doubt those motivated me to be a saver. Unfortunately probably too good at this point. Those "survival" instincts are hard to break. Easily 60x annual expenses but I still am at it...although only PT now.

Now that I am a 1%er, I fear how my kids will be with finances. I am trying to instill those important life lessons but it's just not the same when we do actually have the means.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:17 PM   #35
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Some of your stories make me think I had it lucky. Seven kids. Father was a salesman (cars, insurance). Mother was SAHM, part time work later to chip in small amounts for my brother's and my college. Growing up, we always had enough to eat, but very basic food, homemade clothes. Got used toys for Christmas. All of us crammed into a small house. Somehow (probably Mother's parents helped) my parents turned the basement into an apartment for extra income. Mother's well-off sister also helped from time to time I think.

In later years, they inherited from mother's brother and parents, who were farmers. This along with SS gave them a comfortable life after retirement, though short because they died young from smoking-related diseases.

They didn't LBYM. They lived on what little came in. After my mother died, we discovered she literally kept a set of double-entry accounting books for the family finances to help budget and manage the household. Those skills were passed down to several of us in the family.

I don't think this experience caused me to retire early, but did get me out working as soon as I was able. And made me set my sights a little higher. Brothers did the same, but sisters for whatever reason didn't get those genes. Three have had multiple spouses and bankruptcies, still in debt approaching retirement.

I do think the money situation made us all a little dysfunctional about money. I'm still too frugal, one brother did well but gambled on investments and now lives modestly, other brother also did very well but seems to spend as a proxy for happiness. Three of four sisters spend beyond their means.

I wonder if most of the people for whom this thread resonates were already naturally pre-disposed towards keeping eyes on the finances, or whether circumstances dictated that. Cause versus correlation. Even in my own case, I don't know which factor influenced more. The emotional side remembers the cause, the intellectual side favors the correlation.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:37 PM   #36
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My parents constantly fought about money -- even if the PG&E bill was a little higher this month, or if Mom wanted to buy us school clothes, or anything that cost money. I'm not even sure if we were poor, since I never missed a meal or worried about a roof over my head. I hid the flyer from school that asked for money for school pictures, because I knew it would cause a fight. I put myself thru college.

Anyway, I guess I grew-up thinking the only way to have a peaceful life is if you have plenty of money to pay your bills. Yeah, I guess I was affected by that.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:04 PM   #37
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I wonder if most of the people for whom this thread resonates were already naturally pre-disposed towards keeping eyes on the finances, or whether circumstances dictated that. Cause versus correlation. Even in my own case, I don't know which factor influenced more. The emotional side remembers the cause, the intellectual side favors the correlation.
It would seem the stronger theory. As I mentioned in my post I was always compelled to save. Like "FEAR SAVING". My sibs, not so much. One, buying things made him happy and was always sort of confused when I'd mention perhaps not buying it. Another has always had "hustle" but she never seemed to break in to the big time. Just an endless life of paycheck-after-paycheck with just enough to avoid disaster in the bank. A third one.... I have no idea how he manages to live but I know he is essentially broke but with plenty of "beer money".

We all had the same environment growing up. Not a case of the first two had it bad but then dad hit it big and the later ones had it better. Or dad went bust at some point.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:14 PM   #38
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Maybe it is not surprising that so many of us ended up on this board. I came from a family of seven kids, my Dad worked for the railroad. We always had everything we needed, but no extras. We never ate out, camped for vacation, etc. etc. But we learned great values from our parents. Since there was literally no extra money, we did not even ask. We all started working as early as we could for our spending money and all of my sibs are quite successful today.

I was a young Mom and started with very little. My DH and I did all that the hard, slow way, but things turned out great for us.

I have enjoyed reading your stories and I am struck by the similarities of many.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:44 PM   #39
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I don't know if childhood memories have that much of an influence. While we were never hungry in the old country (we are immigrants), we were raised by frugal parents, and they would tell us of the hardship they went through in WWII in their early adulthood.

Being of a pessimistic nature, I never took anything for granted, and always liked to have a big stash to allow me to feel secure. I read or watch people in financial misery, imagined myself in that situation and told myself that I had to take reasonable measures to avoid it. LBYM came so naturally that I simply do not understand how people can spend all that they make and live paycheck-to-paycheck, the same as I do not understand how people shoot themselves up with heroin. No comprende. Good thing my wife is the same.

My brother, younger by 4 years, was old enough to remember some rough spots in our life back in the old country, but he spends a lot more freely than I do or my older sister does. Hence, I do not think childhood experience matters that much. It's all about one's personality.
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Old 11-06-2018, 08:27 PM   #40
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No too people on this tread are saying that they had an EASY upper middle class or weathy upbringing and managed to FIRE. Maybe they are on trust-funders.org or Economic-Outpatient-Care.org
If I may, I'd like to offer a respectful view from the other side of the coin.

My mom grew up quite privileged. Her brother (my uncle) never really worked a day in his life. He spent most of his time at the beach, travelling, skiing and essentially being a 'bon vivant' along with a bunch of friends of similar means. They were always lounging around my grandmother's house, deciding where they'd all go for dinner while sipping drinks on the lawn. Washing each other's cars was a popular activity and the most I ever saw any of them do. It was all one big party and seemed quite enticing to a 14 year old.

While he wasn't really a role model, he did give me insight into a world well beyond 9 to 5 and from an early age my dream/goal was to 'not work' as soon as possible. From my young perspective, people who did not work were in the minority but not all that unusual.

High school then introduced me to a number of trust funded kids who's life's expectations and perspectives again went beyond the 9 to 5 grind.

For me, an interesting job with great perks intervened on my life and my ER plans were put on hold. 32 turned into 45 and then I RE'd involuntarily at 53.

During that time however I quickly saw my work peers fall into the Keeping Up with the Jones' trap and I realized that no matter one's means, LYBM is the only way to get off the treadmill and start having the time for washing my own car in the driveway.

Several of my high school chums did well, a few died way too young (drugs) and a few more are flat broke (or died that way); too much time on their hands.

So. My motivation for RE was somewhat different and took some life-turns a bit differently but here I am today, having finally RE'd 13 years ago next month.
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