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Young tech workers become obsessed with FIRE
Old 05-06-2018, 07:40 AM   #1
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Young tech workers become obsessed with FIRE

A typical, yet at times frustrating, article on a supposed trend in silicon valley and elsewhere.

https://thehustle.co/how-to-retire-e...o-retire-early

The usual stuff here (including an incorrect description of the "4% Rule"); but look at "Kevin"'s budget -- no health insurance, nothing for clothing, no taxes (?). And terrible diet. Plus, he self describes as a "shitty coder" but in retirement will "work pro bono for a nonprofit." !! No thanks, the homeless don't need your crappy muffin tops! (Seinfeld reference). I worked most of my career in the nonprofit world and would never accept "shitty work", whether free or otherwise. Arghh...

Also, the young woman who makes a $130K salary and saves most of it for FIRE at age 32, while bemoaning the fact that her father will never be able to retire. Major moral disconnect here. If he hadn't had a child (you!) perhaps he could retire. But, hey, not your problem is it? Arghh...

And, only $800K in one case and $1M in another as a goal to fund what could be 70 years of retirement. Yes, 8% annual portfolio growth per year until you're 32, then you're golden....

Could be some rude awakenings in store.

Sorry for the rant; but this one rankled a bit, perhaps unfairly so.

-BB
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Old 05-06-2018, 09:04 AM   #2
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They're living way below their means.

So that they can retire in their early 30s and lock in that lifestyle?

If they've only been saving and investing within the past 10 years, they've never seen a big market correction yet.

I guess they don't have student loans so for that they should be ahead.
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Old 05-06-2018, 09:30 AM   #3
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A good point, and one that I wish such articles would explore.

I could get along with a lot less when I was 25 than I can now. The thought of living on a shoestring for the rest of my life would probably drive me to suicide.

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Originally Posted by explanade View Post
They're living way below their means.

So that they can retire in their early 30s and lock in that lifestyle?
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:07 AM   #4
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If you are male and retire on a shoestring you had better have some other powerful attractants or you may have seen your last naked woman.

Doesn't sound really good to me.

Ha
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:32 AM   #5
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It is about freedom of choice. Working on demanding schedules, no social life, and paying exorbitant rents. I went through that in the Silicon Valley. I was dreaming to retire to rural acres and build my own log cabin.

But locking myself up to bare minimum for the rest of my life is even worse.

Glad I am here today. Achieving balance between extreme.
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:32 AM   #6
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I would do the same if I were a high earner right out of college. I would save $1M and live off the dividends. My income has averaged around 1/3 of those in the story so I can't save what they do. I live on <$20K/yr but will never have to big income to retire that early. Everyone is different but if I could retire on $25K/yr at age 30 or $100K/yr at age 60 I would chose age 30 every time.
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:33 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
A good point, and one that I wish such articles would explore.



I could get along with a lot less when I was 25 than I can now. The thought of living on a shoestring for the rest of my life would probably drive me to suicide.


At a minimum, it would certainly drive me back to w*rk! Agree completely, I wouldn’t be comfortable living on twice what some of these folks plan to live on. I know some folks here do, so to each their own.

For the OP, I wouldn’t get too spun up about the kid who described himself as a “shitty coder”. If he’s making $165K a year at a big tech company, the odds that he’s actually that bad are very low. He’s either being self-deprecating, or comparing himself to some of his savant-level co-workers. Either way, he’s probably competent.
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:42 AM   #8
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For the OP, I wouldn’t get too spun up about the kid who described himself as a “shitty coder”. If he’s making $165K a year at a big tech company, the odds that he’s actually that bad are very low. He’s either being self-deprecating, or comparing himself to some of his savant-level co-workers. Either way, he’s probably competent.
Fair point.

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Old 05-06-2018, 11:29 AM   #9
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The article did have one quite that was good:
Quote:
FIRE is an innately privileged concept, but anyone can follow its unofficial formula: Dramatically minimize spending. Maximize earnings. Save enough to live off of dividends.
I wish I had figured it out in my 20s.
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:05 PM   #10
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Not too surprising that folks in that situation and that age cohort express those opinions. "Maturity" is the word that comes to mind for me, and I don't think I was any more mature at that age.

My last job was in Silicon Valley. I was one of the fortunate few who was able to eventually work remotely from Montana for the last few years, then subsequently ER'd here.

What I'd be interested to see is how many of these folks fall into OMY mode once they're FI. I did two plus years more, which significantly added to my numbers now in retirement. (and I was pretty much counting every day, as I was completely fed up with my job)
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:07 PM   #11
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I don't see the point of focusing on retiring so young, when surely having an enjoyable career to at least age 50 adds a valuable component to one's life experience. Sure, plan for the possibility that you may need to retire early so save and LBYM while young, but focus on creating an enjoyable career with decent longevity prospects. Also, more likely for some unknown to occur if you retire very young (high inflation, health problems, geopolitical crises) so less possibility of confidence in financials. I happily retired at 55 due to stress at the end of my career but can't imagine not having those years in the work force.
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Old 05-06-2018, 01:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 4legsgood View Post
I don't see the point of focusing on retiring so young, when surely having an enjoyable career to at least age 50 adds a valuable component to one's life experience. Sure, plan for the possibility that you may need to retire early so save and LBYM while young, but focus on creating an enjoyable career with decent longevity prospects. Also, more likely for some unknown to occur if you retire very young (high inflation, health problems, geopolitical crises) so less possibility of confidence in financials. I happily retired at 55 due to stress at the end of my career but can't imagine not having those years in the work force.
The point of retiring so early? My answer is, "because w*rk sucks".
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Old 05-06-2018, 01:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
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The article did have one quite that was good:


I wish I had figured it out in my 20s.
Me too! It may have worked as long as I would have stayed single, didn't have two children, not bought houses, drove a car that could last 500,000 miles, and never got sick.
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Old 05-06-2018, 01:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by l8_apex View Post
Not too surprising that folks in that situation and that age cohort express those opinions. "Maturity" is the word that comes to mind for me, and I don't think I was any more mature at that age.

My last job was in Silicon Valley. I was one of the fortunate few who was able to eventually work remotely from Montana for the last few years, then subsequently ER'd here.

What I'd be interested to see is how many of these folks fall into OMY mode once they're FI. I did two plus years more, which significantly added to my numbers now in retirement. (and I was pretty much counting every day, as I was completely fed up with my job)
Finishing off my 4th OMY from the point at which I finally decided to retire. FI was maybe another decade befor this, hard to pin down because the goalposts moved a few times. So I'm of the same mindset from an earlier generation. IMO it's fine to start the trip based on a fuzzy depiction of the endpoint, so long as its direction gets you closer.

I do remember spending more than a few weekends staring at the ceiling of my apartment in my mid 20s thinking about how badly I wanted to depend on my megacorp paycheck for as short a time as possible, so I think I've BTDT. I didn't move to silicon valley to take this path, I think like most arrivals, I wanted to be where I could get a big and early score. Over time it became increasingly apparent this wasn't going to happen, early or at all, and so the backup plan turned out to be handy.

One prediction I'd make is that in two or three decades these highly-paid people who now love their work for dazzlingly successful companies will not regret having made their lifestyle sacrifices to weave their safety nets early. Like in any goldrush or ponzi scheme, the stories about the early wave big payouts sucks in many more, most of whom are likely to be disappointed if they are expecting similar outcomes.
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Old 05-06-2018, 01:23 PM   #15
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It's a personal-freedom spectrum thing. Some people feel that responding to other people's demands is like having their leg caught in a trap. It bothers them 24/7.

Others manage to accept work as a necessary evil, go on to find value/personal growth in it, as you (and I) did, but still keep an eye on freedom at the earliest opportunity.

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I don't see the point of focusing on retiring so young, when surely having an enjoyable career to at least age 50 adds a valuable component to one's life experience. .
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Old 05-06-2018, 01:34 PM   #16
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It's a personal-freedom spectrum thing. Some people feel that responding to other people's demands is like having their leg caught in a trap. It bothers them 24/7...
Yes, working for an egotistic maniac like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk would drive you insane. But then, you can go find good work elsewhere like many have done, and not have to quit early and live in poverty.
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Old 05-06-2018, 03:06 PM   #17
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The article did have one quite that was good:


I wish I had figured it out in my 20s.

Me, too! If I'd known then what I know now I would have watched expenses more and retired even sooner.

We live in the Bay Area with lots of two tech income households or equivalent but only know a couple of other households who retired early - both from an environmental group we belonged to. I think we were all pretty motivated to be able to be outdoors during the day instead of cooped up in office buildings. And being interested in cheap outdoor hobbies and lower consumption kind of lifestyles helped on the low expense front.

Many of the SV and SF high tech jobs just aren't that healthy - working indoors, sitting at a desk all day and working long hours -

"Thirty-year-old engineers would have 50-year-old bodies, complete with potbellies, curved spines and high risks of diabetes and heart disease. The advanced aging appeared to be a result of poor nutrition, sleep deprivation and stress."

Is Silicon Valley Sabotaging Your Health?
https://www.inc.com/melissa-shin/is-...r-health-.html
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Old 05-06-2018, 03:19 PM   #18
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Ironically, in China tech workers older than 30 have a tough time finding work, as I read in a recent article.

Age discrimination is legal in China, and many job ads say flat-out that nobody older than 30 need to apply. The reason: young workers work harder because they have no family ties. Employers expect them to work the so called 996 schedule: 9AM to 9PM, 6 days a week. That's 72 hours/week.

The article says that many ads even go as far as saying they don't care what degrees you have, nobody over 30!
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Old 05-06-2018, 03:52 PM   #19
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There's age discrimination in Silicon Valley too, or at least several people have made such allegations.

Before the first tech boom, you didn't have graduates all migration to the Bay Area, at least not in the numbers they've gotten.

Then you have some huge new tech companies like Google and Facebook, as well as a second round of startups -- the so-called unicorns. In the meantime, I'm sure a lot of schools beefed up their CS programs since the '90s so tech companies are recruiting nationwide more than they did previously.

The companies do offer fitness programs and the good weather lends itself to more active lifestyles but you can't force people to get off the couch.


On the early retirement question, you don't see too many silver-haired employees, especially among the rank and file. Every year they can hire new graduates and there are a lot of stories of older employees being edged out when their department is suddenly filled with twenty somethings.

There is no such thing as seniority so people often leave rather than wait until they're displaced.
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Old 05-06-2018, 04:12 PM   #20
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Yes, working for an egotistic maniac like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk would drive you insane. But then, you can go find good work elsewhere like many have done, and not have to quit early and live in poverty.
I found keeping a step away for the “egotistic maniac” worked well for me. My direct boss was an excellent buffer and the work was exhilarating - until I did eventually burn out. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have burned out by my late forties regardless of where was. Better to be in place where one can have a real impact.
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