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Old 12-12-2008, 09:31 AM   #21
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Bob:

I'm so totally blown away by your sculpture! Your work is fantastic. It's so exciting to learn about your fine arts background, thanks for sharing that. I study yoga, so I particularly enjoyed your yoga sculptures.

With the brutal losses over the past year - 30% loss for us - and a really tough economic situation going forward, with endless bail-out discussions and any real economic recovery appearing to be a long ways out, I have found that my interest in day-to-day market events has dropped to almost nil. At this point, I am willing to work my investment plan and otherwise not think about it much because who knows where we will be in a few years anyway. I'm drawing on my short-term buffers, and getting used to the idea that we're not nearly as flush as we were a year ago. Times like these are the whole reason I had short-term cash reserves and some conservative element in my plan, so I'm content to use them.

In many ways I'm quite relieved to lose interest to this degree. Even though I deliberately set up a simple portfolio that required minimal maintenance so that I didn't have to "babysit" anything, I've paid way too much attention to market actions over the past decade. I guess it was all great fun and very exciting while it lasted - watching with glee while my portfolio grew and prospered. But now that all has been wiped out in just a few months (my portfolio was just shy of it's peak just last August) and the portfolio is now not that far above where it started in early 2000. Talk about a change in perspective! All the excitement for naught. But, the fact is that I've got lots of better things to do anyway, and that's what holds my interest now.

So, those other things is what I've been spending my time on.

No changes in our spending etc., really. We had already gotten our lifestyle pretty cheap in terms of feeding our traveling habit by switching to the fulltimer lifestyle and further trimming does not appear necessary at this time. Neither, quite frankly, am I willing to as we had been living way below our means for years already. The motorhome was paid for up front and by funds that now have evaporated anyway. Diesel is back down to levels when we first bought the motorhome. Other than some careful tax-loss harvesting to counter the few fund distributions that will be paid out this year, and managing the rebalancing so that I maintain at least a minimal cash+bonds position to allow 10 years for portfolio recovery, I am letting the rest of it all flow by me.

We spent a whirlwind Spring/Summer traveling the Pacific Northwest and I have an enormous backlog of landscape photographs of the spectacular coasts, beaches and redwood forest of northern CA and OR. It's been taking me a long time to work through these - I also had to upgrade my computer just so that tools would run much faster. But with the huge amount of time we spent there I came away with some really great material - for me at least. Thanks to Apple, it's possible to publish one's own gorgeous hard-bound photography book, dust cover and all. You can just buy one. I'm inspired to attempt just that, as I love to research and write little articles that go along with my photographs, and such a "coffee table" book really seems like the best way to do justice to this year's photographs and to show them. I expect such a project will take me a year - I'm slow as I like to leisurely experiment and "feel" my way through artistic decisions. I guess that's the really "fun" part, although I also relish having a final "product" to show.

Anyway, thanks for posting and providing your big picture perspective and a chance for me to express my own thoughts and experience. This has been a shocking and painful experience, but gosh, it really doesn't affect the rest of my life much, at least not in the near term. So here's to doing all those fun things instead!

Audrey
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:47 AM   #22
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Times like these are the whole reason I had short-term cash reserves and some conservative element in my plan, so I'm content to use them.
Sing it.

We were fortunate enough to get a financial windfall when we sold CA real estate back in 2003. It was then that I decided I wanted to "meltdown-proof" our finances to the extent we could control it. Shortly after that real estate mania was in full force, and all these mortgage calculators suggested we could buy a $700,000 house.

No way. That mortgage payment would require me to work another 30 years. And if I lost my job, we probably lose the house.

So instead we chose the small, paid-off $85,000 home and cash in the bank; we can't control the market or the economy but we could control our vulnerability to it. That is a blessing in these times, and as nervous as I am about our retirement portfolio and continued prospects for employment, I'm sleeping a lot better than I would if we bought that theoretical $700,000 house...
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Old 12-12-2008, 11:05 AM   #23
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With the brutal losses over the past year - 30% loss for us - and a really tough economic situation going forward, with endless bail-out discussions and any real economic recovery appearing to be a long ways out, I have found that my interest in day-to-day market events has dropped to almost nil. At this point, I am willing to work my investment plan and otherwise not think about it much because who knows where we will be in a few years anyway.
Amen! I am just about ready to turn off the news and take a break from this forum as well. I guess I have a case of "Bernstein on the Brain" syndrome with acute assetclassitis to boot. The market goes crazy for a couple of months and suddenly everything I thought I knew about investing is being called into question: buy-and-hold is dead, asset class is a dirty word, asset allocation doesn't work... What's next?

I need a vacation and hopefully I can make a full recovery. So I am putting my investment on auto-pilot and going away for a while. Perhaps I should have listened to Helena and sold everything long ago. Maybe "this time it's different". Really...
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Old 12-12-2008, 11:08 AM   #24
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AThe market goes crazy for a couple of months and suddenly everything I thought I knew about investing is being called into question: buy-and-hold is dead, asset class is a dirty word, asset allocation doesn't work... What's next?
The Death of Equities?
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 12-12-2008, 11:09 AM   #25
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So I am putting my investment on auto-pilot and going away for a while. Perhaps I should have listened to Helena and sold everything long ago. Maybe "this time it's different". Really...
Translation: Market bottom?
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Old 12-12-2008, 11:35 AM   #26
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Translation: Market bottom?

Quote:
So I am putting my investment on auto-pilot and going away for a while. Perhaps I should have listened to Helena and sold everything long ago. Maybe "this time it's different". Really...
I was being sarcastic...
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:46 AM   #27
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Interesting post/personal account Audrey, thanks...
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:04 AM   #28
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Interesting post/personal account Audrey, thanks...
You're very welcome.

I haven't been on the forum much lately, but I'm sure glad I caught ESRBob's post as it helped me step back and look at my big picture.

Audrey
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:42 AM   #29
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Audrey, do you feel that your full-time lifestyle is an asset or liability during these trying times?

I am referring to the financial planning piece, not lifestyle (which I know you enjoy). Because if nothing else, this would be a fantastic time to activate the exit strategy and buy brick-and-stix even if you kept the motorhome.
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:06 AM   #30
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Audrey, do you feel that your full-time lifestyle is an asset or liability during these trying times?

I am referring to the financial planning piece, not lifestyle (which I know you enjoy). Because if nothing else, this would be a fantastic time to activate the exit strategy and buy brick-and-stix even if you kept the motorhome.
Definitely an asset! In fact, I am more than ever grateful for the flexibility of the fulltimer lifestyle. And fewer people are RVing these days in spite of the lower fuel prices due to the other economic stresses. The low fuel prices are definitely a boon for us right now.

We are in no hurry to activate an exit strategy as we aren't close to being ready to "settle down". I believe that we have plenty of time to buy property when we are ready. Even when we get past the extreme distress of the housing market, I believe that housing prices will remain low for many years. We are 3.5 years into our 10 year fulltiming plan, and even if we cut that tentative plan short by a couple of years, we are far from ready to change now.

In fact, I envision that we will start to do some serious overseas travel in the coming years, and that is easily accomplished even if you live in motorhome. You just need a reliable place to park it during a long absence and we have several places we feel are safe. Of course, international travel means the travel budget goes way up - that's the big downside. I'd love to have more padding to support that, but my sister just moved to Indonesia for a few years and tells us we have to meet her in Bali or Singapore for a visit. Well gee, how can we turn that down?!?!

Oh gosh, and we really hate to fly, especially long distances. I guess we'll just have to get used to it again as that's the unavoidable price of crossing oceans.

Audrey
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:43 AM   #31
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I'll say it again. These are the kinds of personal insights that make this forum worthwhile. Thanks Audrey.

And the irony, we had a fairly nasty disagreement on another topic some time ago, hopefully Audrey doesn't remember. And I'm sure neither of us have changed our views, isn't life interesting...
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Old 12-13-2008, 11:47 AM   #32
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Hah! LOL!

Audrey
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Old 12-13-2008, 04:41 PM   #33
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Audrey,
Glad to catch up and you got it: if ER just means having more time to obsess about our portfolios then what's the point? Especially when we have all these great long-term passive investing approaches. (and even if they are disappointing right now I still believe the data support their winning out over the long term). All this really should give us the freedom to get out and live. Glad you're on the road and that gas prices are more affordable.

Don't know why it never occurred to me, but how do you mail order something if your a full-timer? Where do they send it and will they send it to a campground if it isn't your 'permanent address'?

Glad you like the sculpture!
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:36 PM   #34
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Companies handle different shipping from billing address all the time although some are much stricter in terms of verification. Most UPS or Fedex deliveries take less than a week, so when we are somewhere for a week or longer, we catch up with our mail orders. We just have it sent to wherever we are staying - no problem at all with delivery to campgrounds. The last campground we stayed at the delivery trucks came right to the RV site! Usually they deliver at the campground office.

Amazon has a "prime" program where you pay a fixed yearly fee and then you get free two-day shipping on whatever you buy. We take advantage of this a lot, especially as Amazon is very flexible in terms of shipping methods and locations. The two-day turn is sweet.

Otherwise our mail is handled through a mail forwarding service which caters to RVers.

Audrey
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:26 PM   #35
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Audrey,
Glad to catch up and you got it: if ER just means having more time to obsess about our portfolios then what's the point?
Absolutely , the market was making me crazy but then I stepped back and looked at what I have . The freedom to do what I want when I want is worth the cost and if I have to cut back a little to maintain this freedom so be it .We put in our longevity hopes but you never know so why not enjoy what we have now .
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Old 12-13-2008, 07:27 PM   #36
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I'll say it again. These are the kinds of personal insights that make this forum worthwhile. Thanks Audrey.

And the irony, we had a fairly nasty disagreement on another topic some time ago, hopefully Audrey doesn't remember. And I'm sure neither of us have changed our views, isn't life interesting...
That's why it pays to change avatar often. In fact, I'm making a market on other people's old avatars so that you can "accidentally" attribute nasty posts to someone else. I am charging $0.50 an avatar from non-controversial posters and $500 an avatar from controversial ones because these babies are at the money!
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Old 12-13-2008, 07:32 PM   #37
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That's why it pays to change avatar often. In fact, I'm making a market on other people's old avatars so that you can "accidentally" attribute nasty posts to someone else. I am charging $0.50 an avatar from non-controversial posters and $500 an avatar from controversial ones because these babies are at the money!
OK, I want a listing, as I may want to bid.

Ha
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:12 PM   #38
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As you can see I'm not paying the ransom to Buns I'm just using the bunny's avatar . That should piss him off enough so he'll be back ! Good because I need a veggie recipe for Christmas .
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Old 12-15-2008, 11:49 AM   #39
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Thanks for the frank and thoughtful update, Bob.

Any thoughts on SPIAs?
Missed this earlier, Rich --
My thoughts on SPIAs -- not too different from thoughts on any annuity -- I love the concept but whenever I've looked the payouts haven't matched SWRs until you get up into your late 60s and older. Fees are often an issue, and there is always some sort of risk that an issuer (eg AIG) will get squirrelly and give you sleepless nights on a par with those you'd have just holding a balanced portfolio.
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