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Old 11-15-2011, 10:40 AM   #41
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I knew I wanted to be FI when I came to America as a refugee from Vietnam. I saw my parents in their 50s, penniless, and only one of them could speak English. The anxiety of having no money, no home, no job, no language skill, no social network --- there are many more "No's" to add to this list but you get the idea.

So I started to work very very hard, first on learning English, then obtaining a "practical" education (Accounting), and then getting along reasonably well in corporate America --- I am almost FI now. If something bad happens and I were to find myself without a job, I would still be financially OK. Home and car both fully paid off.

I am grateful for how life had turned out and am thanking Providence each night before I go to sleep. I live a relatively stress-free life now. I believe that for most of us, if we had found ourselves penniless at some point in our lives, we tend to come to appreciate the psychological comfort of being able to provide food, shelter, and healthcare for ourselves, no matter what happens. That is FI, isn't it?

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Old 11-15-2011, 11:38 AM   #42
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Did a lot of the things mentioned here - cut grass for my bikes, and worked almost every night after school and every weekend in my junior/senior year for my "own" money. Trip to Vietnam paid for my college degree. Never fell into any money, and what I/we have, I/we earned/saved (wife worked 12 years and we raised two children). I always told myself I wanted to be debt free by 35 and retire at 45, but never had a real plan. Surprisingly, missed by a just a few years on the debt and 14 years on the retirement, but money was saved by around +/-50.

My daughter gave me a booklet she received at her first place of employment through HR - Retirement Made Easy - 1994 (still have it). Impact of re-discovering (compound) interest tables in the back of the booklet started my serious retirement investing in mutual funds. Book given to me by a business client "The Millionaire Next Door" was very helpful, and read numerous financial books self-educating myself in the world of investing. Long journey into the straight fact "no one knows". Did the LBYMs, even though I made a very good living. Allowed us to retire 59/57 (no pensions, annuities). It can be done by almost everyone, but a lot of people choose not to...

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Old 11-15-2011, 11:43 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
An arbitrary statement in my 20s. I was in college (after my tour of duty in the service) and during a conversation about career opportunities, I stated that I would like to retire at 55. I don't remember why I even said it. My best guess (to try to remember) was when I was in the service, many of the career military guys often talked about early retirement. It must have had an impression on me.

It stuck with me, but just as an idea. It was not until I was in my early 30's that I started actually working toward that goal. But I laid the foundation for it by getting an education and skills in a marketable and high paying field.

While I will take my credit for bringing about some of it... part of it was been due to the preparation by the government and employers. SS/Medicare and employer retirement plans. Plus a little luck in spite of mistakes I made along the way.

While we have saved a lot of money just by LBYM and making the effort to do it. If those other plans (employer plans) were not laid out for us... I am not so sure I would have been able to FIRE.... maybe even retire at all. It was part of the compensation... but still, who can take credit for that? Not us... maybe our grandparents and parents generations.

We can all pat ourselves on the back all we want... but the fact is, that capability was only available to a very few number of people prior to some of the modern mechanisms being created and maintained. Those mechanisms have mainly been fostered by government and a very small number of leaders in our history... and against great opposition!

Don't forget to tip your hat to them!
It is eery how your situation is like mine. Your first two paragraphs are exact, word for word as my situation was.
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:39 PM   #44
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My parents were always savers. So I naturally saved as well.
Plus, I am fortunate to work in IT which pays well and has decent job prospects/security.
I've never had money issues, and don't want them. I want the freedom of having enough $ to do what I want, within reason.
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:16 PM   #45
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The earliest and most inspirational things:

1. Being born an INTJ and never been able to find a career or job that I really enjoy.
2. Reading this book and being entranced by the ideas of getting straight A's, saving one's pennies and nickels, and sneaking around at night all sounded like a lot of fun.
3. Watching Trapper John MD where the character Gonzo lived in an RV in the hospital parking lot. That sounded pretty cool as well.

Books (YMOYL and the cheapskate book) and background/upbringing helped a lot, but the above were the motivating factors.

"At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact be the first steps of a journey." Violet Baudelaire.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:12 PM   #46
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At a very early age was taught to save part of my allowance from doing chores around the house. On my 15th birthday was given a business card to do odd jobs and no more allowence in fact had to pay to use the lawnmower when cutting other grass. Lived in a nice upper middle class neighborhood then got booted out of house at 17 because I was somewhat of a rebel and lived in poverty and that is when said I want to be FI and ER and So off to college I went. Then got a real Job. My grandfather then gave me a couple books that showed me the way to become FI. He also told be to never pay the bank always have the bank pay you.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:47 PM   #47
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Interesting topic.

1. My Dad always liked to save and taught me the same.
2. My Dad liked utility stocks and taught me the value of dividends.
3. I wanted to retire from the first day I went to work, so saved for it from the beginning.
4. Read the book “How to be Rich” by J. Paul Getty, when I was 16.
5. Opened my first IRA at age 17.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:02 PM   #48
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Being fortunate enough to have a generous pension, I never really saved like I should have over the years. Never really got in much debt, but the focus was career advancement to make higher pension, (not saving for retirement)for which I was fortunate to accomplish. Oddly enough, in retirement, is where Im becoming FI independent. Im saving more now than I ever did, and enjoy frugality. New cars, fancy clothes, etc. mean nothing to me now, so its easier to save.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:07 PM   #49
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The internet meltdown in 2000-2002 changed our lives.

Pre-internet meltdown: Dual high incomes, no kids, $16k in credit card debt, a mortgage, two car payments...but had a six month cushion of cash in the bank. DH used to give me grief for having so much in savings, but I had to have it to feel 'safe'. We had very little in investments because our 401k went down with the internet.

DH lost his job as a "management consultant" three times in two years. Thankfully my income was high enough that I could easily pay all of our bills.

After he finally got a job that didn't go away our approach to money and spending were forever changed. We sold our house, took part of the equity and paid off all of our bills. We then bought another house that again one of us could afford.

In 2004 we started living off of one income and putting the second income into the market. After a side trip with Ameriprise, we've again got our finances fully under our control and are in great shape to retire at 55 and 51 (in 4 1/2 years).

So it is possible to change your approach to money, but it took a prolonged period of stress for us to stop spending and start saving/investing.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:25 PM   #50
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For me, it started in childhood, watching my parents struggle financially and seeing how a lack of money constricted their lives and limited their options. I decided that I would not be poor and beholden to anyone when I grew up.
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:49 PM   #51
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I never really thought about FI during my working life or if I did then I told myself it would be after I paid my mortgage. One financial rule my DW and I shared is that we would never take money out of the house unless we put it back into the house. We also never borrowed money for anything but car purchases. It just all worked out for the best. Lucky me . . .
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:06 PM   #52
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After deciding to leave the AF after 4 years to go to graduate school, I wanted to be able to pay for my first year's tuition at Johns Hopkin's cash (if I got accepted there). Tuition back then (just tuition - no books, room or board) was $24 K per year. My then husband and I were able to save that much, pay off our cars and fund retirements accounts in one year - I loved reading the Tightwad Gazette books then. I slid for awhile after going to graduate school, but then read the Terhorst book, Your Money or Your life, and several others. By LBYM, investing and really looking at whether you value the amount of money you spend on something (the principle in Your Money or Your Life), I have managed to be in a position in my 40's where I can do pretty much what I want, when I want to. The discussions with my now husband (thrifty guy who grew up early in communist Poland and made his own toys, had a garden, etc, to live) are about what we want to do and not so much if we can do it. The if we can do it is usually based on scheduling and not lack of monetary resources.

It's been close to 20 years now, but I've managed to have some wonderful experiences maximizing what I value and now can dictate my time as well.
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“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” - George Orwell/Winston Churchill
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:09 PM   #53
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I guess back in the late 70's when I made the semi-conscious choice to first enlist in the military, and then in the early 80's to stick with both a federal civilian career with a COLA'd defined benefit pension at age 55, plus a simultaneous military career in the Air Force reserves, that promised another COLA'd retirement commencing at age 60. I don't think I was any kind of genius, as much as I simply had an aversion to working all my entire life. I knew I did want to be able to retire at a relatively early age, although 55's not exactly a spring chicken. It is, however MUCH earlier than my parents retired. My dad never did fully retire. He owned a barber shop and maintained his business until the day he fell in the living room, went to the hospital, and never came home again, at age 78. My mom, who is still alive, and very healthy at age 82, worked into her 70's. I have always known I wanted to be free of work long before I got too old to get around the way I want to. I want to be able to really, really enjoy life for as long as possible, and that meant I had to check out as early as I reasonably could from the world of employment. As far as getting my brain around saving, that bulb really lit in a big way after I found this site.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
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Old 11-15-2011, 07:21 PM   #54
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Years ago, when I was 26, a Travelers salesman talked me into starting a 403b. Think i started with $50/month. Over the years I added $10/month here and there.

Last fall my DH came home one day from work and announced that it was his last year of teaching. End of discussion. I was shocked. He was a born-to-be-teacher.

The more I thought about it, the more fun it sounded. So, I started figuring on paper every chance I got....had to fight myself not to do that during church. Always came up with pretty close to the same bottom line #'s. We can do this.
He is loving it. While I wish we had saved more/planned more, we can make it work. If somebody told me tomorrow that i have to work one.more.year.....even if it meant another $100,000 in our account.....don't see any possible way I could do that.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:36 PM   #55
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I was always frugal and I started thinking about retirement about the same time I got my first real job at 21 years. FI became a real possibility when I married an equally frugal person in 2008. We should be done working around 50-55 years old, if we want to be.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:47 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by Moscyn View Post
As far as I am concerned, there's more to life than work and I don't want to be too old or too jaded by corporate life to enjoy the simple life that ER offers. I just know that I had to get the finances, satisfy some self-achievement in my career, work with DH on this and I did make good on my decision to ER when the time was ripe.
This was an influence on me too. My dad retired at 62 with a good pension shortly after I entered the workforce. He had the inclination and the wherewithal to get out early. I have worked very hard in my career and have achieved much more than I originally thought I would, but I don't want to be a slave to it for money's sake.

Great thread, BTW. Wonderful stories, such diverse experience!
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:50 PM   #57
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My motivation stemmed from the love of money.

Having trouble finding what one would term a "good job" a few years out of college wasnt much of a deterrant because I was being paid to stay up all night doing some easy customer service in a resort, with my down time spent watching late night infomercials in the lounge. (Worked out great because before I was doing exactly that at home, only not getting paid!)Naturally LBYM was essential to mere survival. But I got good at it. I loved paydays because thats when my bank account looked the best. I really didnt like spending down my checking account during the week, even on necessities. And I loved being able to keep some of my paycheck, thinking how much I will have when my next paycheck is cashed! Great memories thinking, every Friday, this is the richest I have ever been in my life! It was only a 4 digit bank account, but it meant so much to me.

Then I made a lot of mistakes with penny stocks, get rich quick schemes, and loan sharking.

Started a new, higher paying job, with a 401(k) match, bought an I-Bond, and realized for the first time in my life, I have no idea (off the top of my head) how much money I have. So I started tracking all of my assets on a spreadsheet, and discovered what net worth means.

6 years later

I discovered these boards, adopted Bogleheadism, and developed a real despise for selling my time for money. Ive decided that I value my time not spent at work more than the thought of working just to become rich. I dont want to be rich anymore. I just want to be retired.

So now I have to keep playing the savings game for awhile. Efficiency says that in order to maximize my free time, I have to work now, and let the nw grow, until eventual FIRE. Then I can be lazy, and do whatever I want, all the time! I cant wait.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:02 AM   #58
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Naturally am ultra LBYM (actually, more of an economist always seeking to minimize/maximize most aspects of my life, fiscal or otherwise), in spite of an environment growing up where my parents were blessed with more than enough but also followed a LBYM lifestyle.

The first dawning of ER came when I stumbled upon this forum in my late 20s - before then, I just 'assumed' that I'd have to work until my 60s like seemingly everyone else. Before, I had spreadsheets forecasting what I'd need at which years for various cost categories, but being 40+ years down the road, they were only giant SWAGs. However, this forum helped me realize that millions of those who fail to plan are able to make it on so much less....and most of those who do plan adequately are able to enjoy retirement on much less as well, and that my estimates may have been substantially pessimistic (although I often prepare for the worst in most scenarios).

I didn't truly yearn for ER until during the darkest period of my life, working for a family construction company on a mega contract for a new sports facility. For many months, not a day passed where I didn't have to talk myself out of walking out the office door at the jobsite and never return. However, the profitability estimates were running far beyond what we ever dreamed for, and the only thing that kept me walking through the door in the morning was the realization that a decent bonus would put me ohhh so much farther along the road to ER, where I could do whatever I wanted.

The portfolio's behavior over the past 3 years has stalled that a bit, but a well timed career change has greatly improved my mental health, and I'm perfectly fine with working for several more years at a much less stressful (yet enjoyable) career to pad the portfolio and let it simmer - and hopefully find the future Mrs. Bonds and Junior Subordinate Bonds to also add to the portfolio .
Dryer sheets Schmyer sheets
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:45 AM   #59
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DH any me have always been LBYMers and I had worked in a bank before studying law.
But then I picked up the book "Your money, your life" during a trip to the US and suddenly all the different pieces fell into place.
My dad had to retire unvoluntarily at 58 and, though financially ok, suffered from it till his last day. I swore to myself that I will never be so emotionally dependent on any job and would save enough to welcome such scenario if it ever happened to me.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:01 AM   #60
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I was going to say the same. Learning from other people's perspectives and experiences is the main reason why I keep coming back to this website.
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
Great thread, BTW. Wonderful stories, such diverse experience!

Very conservative with investments. Not ER'd yet, 48 years old. Please do not take anything I write or imply as legal, financial or medical advice directed to you. Contact your own financial advisor, healthcare provider, or attorney for financial, medical and legal advice.
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