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Old 09-25-2013, 01:15 PM   #61
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No one has actually said that to me, but if it were to happen, I might say something along the lines of:

Yes, we both are extremely lucky, aren't we? We are so lucky to live in a country that provides countless opportunities to amass wealth. We're lucky that our society has strong protections for individual rights, as well as pretty decent healthcare, and relatively clean water and air. We are also fortunate to live during a time of relative peace. All of these things make it possible for hard work to pay off in the form of FIRE--while people in many parts of the world can never attain that goal, no matter how hard they work or how diligently they save.
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Old 09-25-2013, 02:24 PM   #62
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I used to get a lot of the other moms tell me I was lucky to be able to work from home when my kids were in school. But I didn't find a job and get hired. I went back to school for difficult classes, did volunteer work to build up a portfolio and networked online with people doing the same type of work and got a lot of free advice.

I used to try to help the other moms who seemed interested do the same. But putting in a lot of work for possibly no pay - ever - just wasn't something most could get their heads around.

I spent a lot of time with one mom with a business related masters degree going over how to get started. After hours of work on my part she told me she could devote one day a week towards developing a home business over the summer (12 days total) and then if she wasn't making $40K a year she would have to look for a job.

Creating a business netting $40K after putting in 12 days of work and no capital? I kind of realized after that most of the people I knew really didn't get the concept of building a business versus applying for a job and making $40K+ year on day one.

So after that when they'd say how lucky I was to work at home, I would just agree and leave it at that.
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:49 PM   #63
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I agree with some of the other posters' point.

I was lucky to be born with intelligence, to an intact family that valued education.

I was lucky to have a father who modeled the millionaire next door stuff - (I thought we were poor - because he was careful with is spending and didn't buy unnecessary crap - only later did I realize that's why he could afford to pay for our college and retire with nice income.)

I was lucky to be given the opportunity to go to college (public school) paid for by my parents. No loans. It made the "strings attached" worth it. (Had to be a major that would result in a job, had grade minimums.)

I was lucky to figure out maxing out the 401k early is a good thing.

I was lucky in so many ways.

My brother had the same parents, same upbringing... and turned out very differently. He was unlucky to get cancer in college, and a different cancer in his late 40's. But his other differences were choices, not luck - living beyond his means, marrying a horrid woman and then having an expensive divorce... buying an overpriced house at the peak of the market.

Luck is part of it - but choices are also a big factor.

I like to be thankful for the luck part.
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:53 PM   #64
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We do a disservice to our cause and fellow person when we discount that luck is involved in our success. There is no doubt that that all FIRE's have an element of luck. I am going to hazard a guess that no one here on this board was born with Down's Syndrome or in a Kinshasa slum, and I am absolutely certain no one has Trisomy.

On the other hand, there is also no doubt that the harder you work at it, the more likely you are to succeed. I would not be where I was without hard work, good choices and the willingness to defer short term pleasure-gain for long-term pleasure gain.

The hard question is figuring out how much of our willingness to work hard, make good choices and make sacrifices is genetic. The older and wiser I get, the more I have come to believe that genetics (luck) is more important in these areas than most people believe. I still believe in free will, but I believe people are much less free than they think they are.
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:59 PM   #65
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Most times I've heard this it's from someone "stuck" in the rat race with no finish line in sight. Regardless of how they got there and the choices they made, it is easy to empathize with someone whos BS bucket is at capacity. A lot of us have been there, done that. I just say:
"No doubt I've been fortunate in many ways and I'm grateful every day for both all that I have and all I've been able to accomplish." Then I let the person go off a little bit sharing their misery and become even more grateful that that isn't me!
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:22 PM   #66
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The hard question is figuring out how much of our willingness to work hard, make good choices and make sacrifices is genetic. The older and wiser I get, the more I have come to believe that genetics (luck) is more important in these areas than most people believe.
I've often wondered about that too. Setting aside health issues that will derail anyone's ER plans, one sees so many examples of people raised in the same circumstances with radically different outcomes. And I see it so often in the people around us.

These are otherwise healthy, apparently normally intelligent people who seem completely unable to plan past their next paycheck or payment. I just don't get it.
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:29 PM   #67
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I sometimes reply: "Well, I can't work all the time."
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:29 PM   #68
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What I note is that folks assume that the things you end up in that look fortunate are "luck". However, one doesn't know if one was put into that situation, if that would have the same (or better) results.

For example, several posters mentioned how lucky they felt being born white and in the U.S.A. I am not white, and while I was born here my parents were immigrants and we grew up barely above the poverty line. I could look at the situation and say "I would be better off if I was born white". However, I'm glad I was not. Why? Because I don't know if, being born white, I would have had the same drive for achievement that has contributed to my "lucky" position today. Perhaps I would have assumed that everything would come my way, take things for granted, and not strive to be the best with my academics, athletics, and career.

So yes, you can be born into situations that seem more fortunate than others. But ultimately one has to decide if they are going to do what they can with the hand that was dealt to them which doesn't guarantee but can improve the odds, or spend more time looking at others and wishing for the "luck" they see, which has more odds of failing.
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:32 PM   #69
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I agree with 'you make your own luck'.

But there is some luck, I had a couple of industrial accidents that could have fatal(or worse). So I believe I was lucky.

So some luck, but a lot of hard work, planning, saving....

MRG
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:47 PM   #70
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I agree with the earlier posters that it is best to just agree and move on. Those that mean it as a compliment don't require anything else. Those that don't are affected more by a smile and an agreement than any other response you could give.

There was only one occasion when I just couldn't resist. When I was younger DW and I would buy the worst house in a neighborhood, live in it while fixing it up, and then sell it and repeat. After I'd bought a modest sized-house in a great neighborhood a coworker told me how lucky I was to live there (he was not being kind). I'd been up until midnight the night before tearing out a ceiling and being covered with bat guano that the critters left above the drop ceiling. I calmly described my previous night and suggested that he come over that night to see how "lucky" I was. He didn't ever bring it up again.

I am the first to admit that I had some advantages in life: I was born to parents that stayed together and valued education, I was born reasonably intelligent (the DW may disagree), I have a great supportive DW, and I emerged unscathed from a couple of life-changing experiences from which I learned some important lessons.

At the same time, I sacrificed, worked long hours, looked in the mirror rather than others when assessing mistakes, and most of all kept learning (that's why I'm on this board).

I love an age-old quote I last heard in the Last Lecture (watch it on YouTube if you haven't): "e cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." I think people most of those on this board played them very well.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:21 PM   #71
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II love an age-old quote I last heard in the Last Lecture (watch it on YouTube if you haven't): "e cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." I think people most of those on this board played them very well.
I agree with you. Still, I am sometimes amazed at how many stupid decisions I have made over my lifetime, that didn't kill me or bankrupt me or make me paraplegic, but might have done.

A person cannot rely on luck to achieve success, as there just isn't that much luck in the whole world. Still, everyone needs luck, if only to account for being among the living by late middle age. For the logically inclined, luck is necessary but not sufficient to bring about good results.

Ha
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:24 PM   #72
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I do freely admit that good luck has played a large part in my good fortune. I muddled through and didn't play the cards I was dealt particularly well. I had the great good luck to be born into an upper middle class family that valued education and at least attended pretty good schools. I inherited some reasonable intelligence. I can do a pretty good job with computers, despite my lack of real dedication and determination to excel. I saved like crazy and like to ignore my investments, so I'm not tempted to do anything except stay the course.

I could have made much worse decisions, and when bad things happened to me I was lucky they weren't much worse than they were. I wasn't so lucky to get a silver spoon, a big inheritance or win any of the IPO lotteries. I worked steadily and saved steadily and made at least a little bit of luck through just plain grinding along day after day. But it's also fair to say I was lucky to start with many advantages and lucky to avoid many kinds of misfortune that could have affected me.

Most people saying "how lucky you are" seem to be envious of a kind of luck (windfall investment, big inheritance, corporate conspiracy) that don't actually apply, so they probably don't understand what I mean when I agree that I did have a lot of good fortune in my life.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:10 PM   #73
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............
These are otherwise healthy, apparently normally intelligent people who seem completely unable to plan past their next paycheck or payment. I just don't get it.
I'm convinced that the inability to handle money is just a manifestation of mental illness, which runs a pretty wide spectrum.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:29 PM   #74
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A major part of my ability to retire early is a result of my military pension, earned from 28 1/2 years of active duty plus 4 years in the Reserves. (I also did the LBYM/saving/investing routine as well and retired for good at 58.) When I get the "lucky" bit I respond that I was "lucky" to get deployed, to have to move every 2-4 years, to have to uproot my kids from their schools and leave friends behind, to get no Government help or subsidy to buy/sell homes, to have my wife not be able to get jobs up to her potential because she was a "military wife" who would move in 3 years, etc., etc.

I wouldn't have stayed in the Navy for a career if I didn't fundamentally want to do it, but I get irritated when people who never served somehow think I'm "lucky" to have a lifetime pension as a result.

And the fact that I saved/invested along the way and had a nice nest egg when I was ready to retire was not the result of "luck".
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:28 PM   #75
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Still, I am sometimes amazed at how many stupid decisions I have made over my lifetime, that didn't kill me or bankrupt me or make me paraplegic, but might have done.
I did as well. I conveniently left that part out.

They say that it is best to learn from others mistakes. If true, there are many out there that have learned a lot from watching me.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:23 PM   #76
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I also just smile, agree, and acknowledge our good fortune.
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"You're so lucky"

"Yes, and I'm very thankful for that"
+1 on both. Just be grateful and gracious and leave it at that.
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Old 09-26-2013, 11:42 AM   #77
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If you want to have any friends, the best way and (likely the only) way to answer is "Wow, you got that right!" Rubbing people's noses in their failures relative to your success is never a good plan.

Ha
Wisely said, Ha.
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:18 PM   #78
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I usually just mutter "yeah" and move on. Mostly, I try to keep this subject off limits with most people.

Now, I'm in OMY syndrome (and actually sort of liking the job at this moment). So, I'm still w*rking and can stay incognito. I was speaking with an acquaintance at the pool the other day -- a gent in his late 70s. He asked a few things about me, including my age. I don't mind the question, since it is kind of common especially if you compete in races.

Anyway, he asked me: "Are you still w*rking?" I was floored! FINALLY, a sane person asking the correct question! He knew my age, and he shared he retired at 54. It was kind of fun to speak with a random person on my wavelength. No "you're lucky" or "you're too young to retire" from him.

I sheepishly said "yes", and he said I need to retire and come to the pool more. I loved it!
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Old 09-26-2013, 05:32 PM   #79
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Thanks. That's not and was never the intention. It's annoying everytime you hear the same thing and wanted to know how to handle the situation politely without getting angry.
I should have responded to your post here earlier. I did not think that you were trying to make the questioner feel bad, and I should have made that clear rather than leading you to believe that I was critical. I apologize for my clumsiness.

What I often forget in social situations like the one you described, is that so much of the encounter and the meanings given to it by participants often have a lot to do with the structure of the situation, not anything that gets said. What I mean is that a questioner or commenter in this situation may already feel one down relative to your success, and thus be predisposed to feel hurt or jealous. I wish I were better at these things, but I am trying to develop the empathy that will help me see things not as contests, but as opportunities for a loving exchange.

I hope I will have a long life, because it may take me long time to get very far along my hoped for path.

Ha
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Old 09-26-2013, 06:13 PM   #80
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It will probably take me till I am 100!
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