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Old 11-06-2018, 08:54 PM   #41
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My childhood stories:

Always camped for vacations. My cousins went to Hawaii. My dad was the eldest who watched his parents sell off thousands of acres of California farmland due to drought/debt. My mom ‘s parents divorced in the 1930s and her mom worked in a cannery and bought s beautiful home in SF (little did we know). Their frugality and unnecessary economic insecurity led me to choose a career in medicine, with its major economic security.

It shaped my married life, moved me 2800 miles to a life that worked for my family, and fed me the stress of sole breadwinner responsibility. I get what many of the men here go through.

In 2007 I started managing my dad’s finances and discovered the truth-he was wealthy, yet envied his sister’s greater wealth. My inheritance in 2009 made me suddenly FI a few years early, but more importantly, my sister experienced sudden financial relief, which changed her life and our relationship for the better.

My sister spent a lifetime as a lower income breadwinner, working awful hours and overtime, her DH having been laid off by Boeing and struggling thereafter. Her inheritance helped her health and sanity, and our phone calls sometimes center around the markets. Who would have thunk?
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:30 AM   #42
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I did not grow up with any hardship. I was just a natural saver since I first hoarded my Halloween candy to last a very long time.
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Old 11-07-2018, 06:05 AM   #43
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Childhood wasn't where I learned the lessons that helped me FIRE.

I grew up in a reasonably affluent household. Several of my parents friends and relatives were moderately wealthy.

I was at university/working for a finance company when the 1987 sharemarket crash started the worst economic downturn my country had experienced since the Great Depression. Unemployment soared and property prices plunged. I got a ring side seat watching people who had been prosperous (including two of my mother's siblings) go broke – loosing their businesses, investments and their homes. All too often, marriages fell apart under the stress. One of my father's acquaintances went from the local rich list to jail.

I went back to university to finish a law degree and started my legal career in 1990 – doing mortgagee sales and corporate insolvencies. Basically, I was watching careers, businesses and dreams implode.

My father came close to losing everything – shutting down his business to salvage what he could.

I was, I think, fortunate to learn the benefits of borrowing and the risks of over leverage and lack of liquidity at that stage of my life.
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:13 AM   #44
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For a while there, I thought I was back in group therapy.
We always had food, not great food but we did have money for alcohol and tobacco. My mother had a little contraption that rolled cigs. We literally moved every year, always to a cheaper rental. One had a snake wriggle through the floorboards.
One summer my 6 year old sib and I spent days on the boat with my father, at the time a commercial deep sea fisherman. Exciting for a 9 year old, especially during a squall.
Yep, there were lotsa fights over money, adultry, the usual.
I split at 20 and only went back sporadically. I worked and saved, my sib is retired but still picks up painting jobs whereas I have been able to volunteer my time and talents. Same experiences and gene pool but very different people.
Only one of my kids is very frugal, the others, not so much.
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:48 AM   #45
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I knew a few kids like you; also girls, who ate their Easter candy a little at a time. I did not understand these children at all. I was one to eat all the candy as fast as possible, partly because I didn't get much candy and craved it, and partly to forestall sibling poaching.

You can't eat money, and we did not live within walking distance of any store. So when I was given money, or earned it doing chores, I saved it. I had a metal cat bank with a tiny key, and enjoyed "feeding the kitty." I would even open the bank, take the coins out and feed them back in again. Also had a little folder with niches for dimes ("Take care of the dimes, and the dollars will take care of themselves," it said) and got my own passbook savings account when I was around 8. I put $5.00 in it from an aunt and uncle, and loved going to the bank to get my quarterly interest (5%! After a year, a whole quarter, free, like magic!) stamped inside.

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I did not grow up with any hardship. I was just a natural saver since I first hoarded my Halloween candy to last a very long time.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:36 AM   #46
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I didn't have it easy growing up, financially or in other ways. I was on the school free lunch program when it was a rare thing and considered somewhat shameful to have to be on. We lived in a former public housing project that went private. The rent was low, but you didn't have to be poor to get in. We were.

Broken home, father in the military for awhile, mother with a physical ailment, mental issues, addiction issues, who wouldn't work and spent all the child support money on herself. I was supported financially and to all intents and purposes raised by my grandparents. My grandfather had a low-paying job as a sheet metal fabricator. I didn't go without food or clothing, but I know the rent was sometimes paid late. Tenants were responsible for interior decorating, flooring, painting. One time, during a routine furnace inspection, the maintenance man noticed that the walls were dirty. The walls really hadn't been painted in a long, long time. So he reported us for it and we were given 30 days to paint the entire inside of the house or else be evicted. It was a scary time, but we got it done.

Early in my working life at 16, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Forget having my new-found money to spend on myself. Now I was responsible for paying her medical bills and I wasn't even an adult yet. That continued throughout her 11 year battle with cancer, which kept me tied down, unable to make a life for myself. I spent several months after her death still paying off the credit cards that I'd maxed out to pay for the narcotics and other items she needed in her final months.

I saw my grandfather laid off at 64, uncle laid off also at the same time from the same place at 32, mother more unemployed than employed for different reasons. I learned early on from all this that you couldn't depend on a job lasting until you're ready to be done with it and having more money meant that you have more choices.

My husband has seen co-workers nearing 60 regularly laid off, most recently in 2009, not so much since, AFAIK. Early in our marriage, I made it my job to make sure that if the time ever came for him to be shown the door that way, we wouldn't have to worry about food or a roof over our heads. Well, we're 55 and he still hasn't been shown the door yet, but we're not complacent about it. If he doesn't get to leave on his own terms, we're in a good place financially.
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:30 PM   #47
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Grew up much too affluent...developed plenty of bad habits due to that.

Then was out of work early on as caregiver for a parent, which did help me develop a LCOL lifestyle...& now I'm a caregiver again for one of their siblings.

Fortunately, DW will probably continue to work at least until we're eligible for Medicare.
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:52 PM   #48
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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.
My Dad also worked for the railroad. He spent his last couple of decades as the head of the civil engineering dept. although he never went to college. His dad before him had also worked for the railroad and worked through the Depression. I thought it weird when neighborhood friends would talk about their parents waiting until payday to go to the grocery store. I had no real concept about paydays because they were not discussed in our family nor were any other money matters. Only one car. My Mother never drove. The late DW came from a very poor family with divorced parents. She worked at the bank where I banked and thought I was rich. I wasn't too rich. We spent all that I had in the bank on our wedding and honeymoon. I never really thought about saving money other than enough for unexpected expenses until kids came along 10 years later. Then it was time to put some money away for college for the kids. We never had a problem living within our means so by the time the kids were college age, there was quite a nest egg in the bank and investments. By that time we could afford to pay for college out-of-pocket so the college savings became our retirement savings. I guess you could say I stumbled into FI and a comfortable retirement.
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:48 PM   #49
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My Dad also worked for the railroad. He spent his last couple of decades as the head of the civil engineering dept. although he never went to college. His dad before him had also worked for the railroad and worked through the Depression. I thought it weird when neighborhood friends would talk about their parents waiting until payday to go to the grocery store. I had no real concept about paydays because they were not discussed in our family nor were any other money matters. Only one car. My Mother never drove. The late DW came from a very poor family with divorced parents. She worked at the bank where I banked and thought I was rich. I wasn't too rich. We spent all that I had in the bank on our wedding and honeymoon. I never really thought about saving money other than enough for unexpected expenses until kids came along 10 years later. Then it was time to put some money away for college for the kids. We never had a problem living within our means so by the time the kids were college age, there was quite a nest egg in the bank and investments. By that time we could afford to pay for college out-of-pocket so the college savings became our retirement savings. I guess you could say I stumbled into FI and a comfortable retirement.
My Dad was a switchman (I think that is the right term). 40 something years. His Dad also had some kind of railroad job. My siblings were the first generation to go to college.

The RR has a nice retirement program!
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Old 11-07-2018, 06:13 PM   #50
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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.
Same here. My parents grew up during the 1930's Depression and like almost everyone from that era was deeply affected by it. While my mother never had to stand in a breadline there were times they were only days away from it. We figured that was why when my sisters and I were growing up there was always about two or three month's worth of canned food in the basement, and later on the biggest freezer that J.C. Penny sold. We had to take not only the door, but also the door trim, off to get it inside. That's called "food insecurity" now and it clearly made an impression on my mother.

Dad's family was poor (grandfather worked in a paper mill) but they did have a roof, indoor plumbing, food, etc. so they were not impoverished. I don't ever remember them owning a car though.

Dad was an electrician and worked at the power company so there was a steady paycheck, albeit a small one. He was also an alcoholic and my mother made sure to buy the groceries on Friday evening when the paycheck arrived before he could spend it all on booze. When the three of us got to about Jr. High School age she worked as a secretary.

So we weren't on welfare or anything but any luxuries were very few and far between. A six-pack of Coke and a box of Ritz crackers was a luxury. I never went to bed hungry, we had indoor plumbing and heat in the winter so I suppose one could say the family was "working poor".

Dad did give us all a good lesson about credit card debt by going deep into it with a Montgomery Ward credit card, buying tools for the cars and house. We did all our maintenance, even rebuilding two car engines in the driveway. They finally realized what a deep hole they were in and it took three or four years to pay it off, which of course is "forever" to a teenager so that made an impression that still sticks.
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Old 11-07-2018, 06:24 PM   #51
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My father worked construction and my mother was a SAHM. My father was injured on the job in the late 1960's and we lived on his disability insurance for several years. We didn't have much money, but we weren't starving either. It was definitely a life lesson in LBYM.
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:47 AM   #52
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My upbringing was middle-class. No luxuries, but also didn't have needs that went unmet.

I am much better off financially than my parents (or grandparents). That isn't the result of being driven by memories however.
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Old 11-08-2018, 02:37 PM   #53
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My parents were both born during the depression (Mom in 1930, Dad in 1932) to families who had relatively little, and were pretty poor growing up. My mom trained as a nurse, but gave up working after getting married. My dad was an engineer at Boeing. They both were extremely frugal. They taught us to plan and budget -- we'd get a number of what they were willing to spend on birthdays/christmas and we'd then go through the Sears catalog (the "wish book" -- amazon before there was amazon!) and put together our lists of what we wanted. Allowance was $1/month if we kept our rooms clean.



Dad had been planning on early retirement at age 55. He died suddenly of a heart attack at 52. That was certainly always in the back of my mind when I started planning my own early retirement (before I even had my Ph.D. and got my first proper career job) after reading Your Money or Your Life.



I retired in 2015 at age 46. Will turn 50 next week. Retired life has been great, and allowed me to spend a lot of time helping my mom before she passed last year. I hope to make it to her age or older (she was 87 but if not for a valve defect caused by childhood disease probably would have made it to over 100).
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Old 11-08-2018, 02:48 PM   #54
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These stories are just amazing! Reminds me of my own 2nd generation immigrant background. My folks and many current friends are 1st generation immigrants from all over. Similar general perspective: challenges confronted inspiring plans for a better future, years of hard w*rk and some luck, followed by Bingo!



I wonder how many here are 1st or 2nd generaton immigrants? Maybe the same perspective comes from Depression -era parents.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:07 PM   #55
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I wonder how many here are 1st or 2nd generaton immigrants? Maybe the same perspective comes from Depression -era parents.
Here's a poll to answer that question: http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...ity-94679.html

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Old 11-08-2018, 03:41 PM   #56
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I grew up in a small town in Pa..We were solidly middle class .My Dad was a state policeman and my Mom was a nurse but stayed home to raise us. My Mom was great with money . We never wanted for anything and Christmas was a big deal .My parents also valued education highly and sent all four of us to College . Looking back I amazed at how they did it without it looking like a major sacrifice .They taught me how to LBYM 's and enjoy it .
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:23 PM   #57
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We were middle class. Dad owned a restaurant and catering biz; mom did the book-keeping. I was lousy with money until I met DW. It took some tine, but she got me on the do-right program.

There was no allowance handed out at our house. As a product of growing up in the Great Depression (and then getting shipped off to war), he thought we needed to pull on the proverbial boot straps. He was strict, but loving and fair.

But if one of us kids got whiney, he had the following helpful grammatical guidance, "If you're looking for sympathy, you'll find it in the dictionary between sh!t and syphilis."
That's a keeper!
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:40 PM   #58
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As a kid, we had food, clothing and shelter but not much more. I learned early on that if I wanted more I was going to have to work for it. Started working full time (after school) at ~14 and didn't stop until I was 60.
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:06 PM   #59
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But if one of us kids got whiney, he had the following helpful grammatical guidance, "If you're looking for sympathy, you'll find it in the dictionary between sh!t and syphilis."

My mother's refrain, if I ever dared to tell her I wanted something, was "want in one hand, sh!t in the other, and see which one fills up first." She also often said "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride."
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Old 11-09-2018, 07:49 AM   #60
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My childhood memories were just not about having or not having money. It was also about observing how others treated or pursued money.

Our house was not poor, but we managed. There was always food, even if it was not something I liked or wanted to eat. We only got presents at Christmas, and it was one, or maybe one and some small "stocking stuffer". No presents for birthdays, just a homemade cake.

My Dad would often say with a smile, if we asked for something, "Who do I look like? Rockefeller"? But if we really needed something, he managed to get it. My Mom was mostly a stay-at-home mom, but she did go to work if the family needed something major, as both she and my dad hated having "bad" debt.

They both learned enough to be handy people around the house and cars. My Dad got at least 10 years out of every car he owned. My mom knew how to repair things around the house, and taught all of her kids how to cook and sew.

With 7 kids, and me having older brothers, it was rare for me to get new clothes. We had lots of hand-me downs, and my clothes I passed down to my younger brothers. My sisters did the same. But my parents were keen to get clothes that would last well beyond a child growing out of them, and taught us how to take care of them, so we never felt ashamed of not getting new clothes.

All of those contributed to me and my siblings desire for independence. In addition... we lived for many years in a bad neighborhood , and saw up close and personal the results of bad decisions driven by a desire for money, a lack of money, getting into debt to others, or a desire to waste money. By the time I was 14 I was not a stranger to having seen street fights, murders, illegal gambling, robberies (and had been robbed myself several times), prostitution, drug sales and usage, drunkards, welfare, scams, etc. None of this struck me as "glamorous". I saw that, even if one had money, one could do a lot of stupid things with it.

So for me and my siblings, having money AND using it wisely became an important lesson from childhood. We did not think of it explicitly as "FI", but as having enough money to take care of our families and not be in debt to others or depend upon others". Which I guess is a major component of FI .
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