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How did you decide when to FIRE?
Old 06-29-2008, 05:36 AM   #1
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How did you decide when to FIRE?

Leaving out those people who had a specific date (pension after 20 years or lifetime benefits at 55), what was the thought process and motivation to actually pull the trigger?

Even if you are FI, that does not happen in a day. You could RE today, or a year from now, or a year ago, or 10 years from now.

Did you just pick a day (i.e. Jan 1, 2006 or the day I turned 52, etc.)?

When there is no finish line, how did you artificially create one?

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Old 06-29-2008, 06:16 AM   #2
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Basically when our projected net income in retirement would match/exceed our current net income when I/DW were wor*ing. Since we're totally debt free, and probably spend more than most (extensive travel) we have few additional/extra expenses forecast for our early retirement years (later? who knows?)

This date happened in our mid-50's. I retired last year (at age 59). My wife was also to retire at the same time (same age), but as her date approached, she felt she was not "emotionally ready" (although financially so). You can tell that I was "emotionally ready" a few years ago ...

That being the case, she set several "departure dates" over the last year. Her "latest " is now next May, when she turns 61. At least she knows she can leave her j*b at any time, but at this stage, it has little pressure. It would be different if she had grandkids or an extensive circle of family/friends, to occupy her "retirement years" but that's not our life.

Anyway, that's our story.

- Ron

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Old 06-29-2008, 07:11 AM   #3
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My goal was to retire in my 50 's so a few months short of my 60th birthday I called it quits . I had been financially ready for some time but I needed to be emotionally ready and at that point I finally was . Plus my job had gotten crazy busy beyond what I felt was safe ( I'm a nurse ) that gave me the final push I needed .
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:43 AM   #4
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Disclaimer: I consider myself FDSE (Financially Dependent Self-Employed) as opposed to FIRE. This is a major step upward from my previous status (held the last 20 years) as a FDCS (Financially Dependent Corporate Slave).

I made the big jump only after my spreadsheet indicated that my after-tax monthly cash flow far exceeded my anticipated monthly expenses. Most folks would claim that this qualifies as FI instead of FD, but I'm not certain that I can sustain my positive cash flow long term in the face of inflation. I could drop dead tomorrow, but my lifestyle and genes suggest that I could be around for a quite a few more years. I'm still scrounging for a buck, but with far less intensity than in the past.
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:30 AM   #5
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When I reached my FI goal in 2004, work was in a sweet spot - I was doing
fun, easy programming that I could do in my sleep, absolutely no stress.
Knowing these situations never last, I decided to let my retirement date set
itself - I would quit when the fun left.

Sure enough, 2 years later our company embraced a toxic new programming
trend which would suck all the fun out of work, so I retired in 2006 at 48.
learn, work, save, invest, fire
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:38 AM   #6
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My company was trying to reduce headcout so they offered a years pay with benefits and some other goodies like a free computer to anyone who would take the separation package. We were allowed to reapply for a job after the year was over. Most of my stock options were priced in the $50's-70's with the actual price at around 14 after the 2000 crash. They had to offer it to everyone in the company.

I figured to take the free years vacation, get my old job or some reasonable facsimile back, get repriced options that might be worth something, and go back to normal life.

After about 6-7 months it occurred to me that if I played my cards right, I didnt need to go back to work just yet. After 2 years I didnt want to. Now more than 7 years later, I dont even want to think about it...

I still remember being in a big meeting when HR announced the separation package. Hanging out with another manager we talked about it and laughed at how dumb it was and how nobody would take it.

The next month we both took it.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
I still remember being in a big meeting when HR announced the separation package. Hanging out with another manager we talked about it and laughed at how dumb it was and how nobody would take it.

The next month we both took it.
Sometimes a month is all it takes to realize your employer is in a death spiral, and you'd better get out while there's still something to get out of it.
"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 06-29-2008, 08:45 AM   #8
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Nah, the company was doing well and still is. The stock price just took the same dive that every other major tech issue did.

What did happen was when I was on my standard company issue two month sabbatical I realized that I was spending 80% of my effort on self created and organizational horsepuckey. On returning I found that attempting to drop the self created HP or disconnecting ones self from the organization version was not well received.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:13 AM   #9
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I had not been happy for a while with my job -- not unhappy, just not feeling like it was important. I had also been doing the financial analysis to determine how long I needed to work. When the pace of work was magnified by a lot of busyness (the BS factor), I began to find it difficult to maintain my patience. As someone said here, when you become FI, the BS Tolerance Index goes w-a-y down.

So when I saw my needs could be met with my savings and the small pension covered my mortage and property taxes, it all started to fall into place. At that point, I needed to address the emotions of retiring -- you know, the lifestyle change. That took about a year (from realization to retirement).

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Only got A dimple, would have preferred 2!
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:36 AM   #10
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I haven't retired but my thoughts on when are centered around my FIL. He has Alzheimer's and DW fusses endlessly over him. She is getting better and has come to a better balance with him. I'm still concerned that if I retire I'll get drug into more activities and visits with him.

I am currently w*rking in the least stressful position I have ever had. I'm getting a great paycheck with decent benefits. I w*rk usually 4 days per week, get 23 days of PTO per year and can take "unlimited" unpaid time off (but haven't yet).

My goal is to do more trips. We've had a number of long weekends and a few weeks in the Arkansas and Missouri short list retirement spots. Others are planned. We took a river cruise on the Rhine recently. We're doing better but DW still is reluctant to commit to more trips with all of her "obligations."

I consider us FI but not obscenely FI. I'm just cruising along waiting for FIL to pass to the great beyond or for DW to adjust to not seeing him for a few weeks at a time.
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane -- Marcus Aurelius
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:52 AM   #11
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Although "normal" retirement was 25 years for me, I stayed 29 because I was having such fun at work. We were starting a computer crime/computer forensics unit which at the time was very much bleeding edge stuff.

Not so much the technical issues (which was a steep learning curve in itself) but the legal/social issues were brand new and in many instances no one knew what the right answer was. We had a couple of high profile cases that proved our worth and a nice lady from the budget dept. stopped by and said "We need to spend $40k on equipment and training. Can you help us out?"

So that was a fun and exciting period.

After a while the budget people stopped being so nice and as the computer-savvy people here know, to play in that arena is expensive because you need continuous training, equipment and software upgrades. The bad guys steal their stuff but we had to buy it. So dealing with the bureaucracy was getting very frustrating.

And the traffic where we lived was horrendous. What should be a 15-minute trip taken during the "wrong" time of day could be an hour and a half or more, so one had to plan life around traffic. I have little patience with sitting in traffic, I can certainly understand why people get into shooting matches, but where I worked in law enforcement that's generally considered a bad career move.

Also a year earlier my mother died, six months later DW's mother died, we had zero debt, "normal" retirement went from 25 to 20 years making my bennies much better, I was maxed out on deferred compensation, DW's job was making her physically sick, I looked at the retirement numbers and realized that my net pay would go UP if I retired and I thought:

"I'm working here why?" There was no good answer.

DW was hesitant about leaving her job but is so much more relaxed now that she's not sorry about leaving.

We sold the house there a month after retirement and moved to WV where a "traffic jam" is three cars backed up at the stop sign. And they send me money every month just for having a pulse.

Is America a great country or what?
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:31 AM   #12
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At the end of 2005 we realised we would possibly be able to FIRe in June 2008 if we reached our target. By the end of 2007 we were at 90% of target, however with the happenings of 2008 we have not managed to progress beyond that point. In Dec 2007 we were both happy enough with our jobs so figured we would keep going for another couple of years.

Fast forward 6 months and my job had moved towards the unbearable. More and more corporate demands, the bullshit factor kept climbing, politics had become horrendous and I decided I really couldn't take it any more. DH and I discussed the situation and we decided that me quitting would result in a drop in $'s but that loss would be more than offset by the expected improvement in our quality of life. I gave my notice early June and finish in 10 days time. I prefer to think of myself as being semi-FIREd rather than FIREd at that time as the possibility exists that I may do some temp work from time to time to generate a bit of extra income.

For me it has been the best thing I could have done and I am excited about getting my life back. DH is going to try and continue thru the end of 2009, but at that time we are likely to have to make a decision about the next step in our lives as our medical coverage will be COBRA thru my employer and it is unlikely we will get individual coverage.

I be a girl, he's a boy. Think I maybe FIRED since July 08. Mid 40s, no kidlets. Actually am totally clueless as to what is going on with DH.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:38 AM   #13
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I believe about 20% are actually forced out.
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Old 06-29-2008, 11:35 AM   #14
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With a Vulcan logic that only Spock could appreciate, Joe Dominguez used to say that it's when your passive-income line crosses over your living-expenses line. Bam, you're ER'd.

Some, as CFB have mentioned, get a starter ER sabbatical and return to work to realize that it's been a miserable existence. They either decide right then that they're FI and exit as soon as they can complete the paperwork, or they harden their ER commitment and set a firm date.

Others get to FI (or close enough that they're just polishing their cannonballs) and their BS buckets start to fill up. One day they fill to overflowing, and that's enough.

I was pretty happy with ER (the military helped me set my date) but I confirmed that I wasn't going back when I got my first unsolicited job offer. I realized that I'd enjoy the work but that I would have no patience for all the auxiliary hassles. I also wouldn't know how to keep it under control.

Some have the date thrust upon them-- a family emergency or a corporate buyout. You can't really control that but you can try to be FI (or ready to tighten your belt for a low-end FI) and be ready to bend with the hurricane wind.

My favorite ER story is the guy who'd already picked a date. Shortly before he was required to make his announcement and file his paperwork, his boss called him in with the devastatingly sad news that he was going to be laid off. Our ER hero had to really clamp down to keep the silly smirk off his face, but when his back was turned he hung his head with despair and smiled all the way to the bank...

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Old 06-29-2008, 12:18 PM   #15
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It's interesting to self-note the changes from the realization period, thru the prep period, followed by the actual event, then the adjustment period, and finally the I'm so in the groove mode lifestyle. And, one's views of those periods adjusts over that time...

For us DW and I shared the realization that the job wasn't getting any better, and appeared potentially to get far worse, especially for her (combination of health issues and weak management) The system we both worked in once we bothered to check out the fine points of the rules and regs stated we could bail at age 50 with a modest Cola payout, basically we'd achieve about 30k per year combined. This seemed way-frugal but doable, and we determined to go for it. This was 7 years out, both of us 43ish at the moment of realization. We agreed to sock away a bunch of contingency money during the 7 year plan, my late 90's estimates indicated 100k each was possible based on the returns of the 90's so far. Oops! well that didn't pan out and other unforseen events interfered with the savings part of our plan, but OTOH the system we worked under also achieved and enhancement (I would guess based on the same 90's gains) and a late career promotion, helped balance out our final return nicely.

To answer the thread, we picked a date based on a particular age (50) and figured we'd back into the FIRE "salary" and learn to live within those future means. We didn't really know what we have to live on until a couple years before I retired. We've been doing it for two plus years now, never had to touch our contingency savings to date (planning to use it to leverage our final home in another location to the North in a year or two when the market is housing market is fully tanked, then hold onto our current home until the market recovers. Who knows whether that's what we'll really do, but it sounds good at the moment.!

We're doing alright, we're getting good grades, the future's so bright, we gotta wear shades.
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Old 06-29-2008, 12:25 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by firewhen View Post
When there is no finish line, how did you artificially create one?
I've always had a pretty good idea from spreadsheet projections of how much investment income (in terms of a 4% SWR) relative to my minimal barebones LBYM budget I needed to FIRE.

The only question was my margin of safety (e.g., a 3% SWR is safer than a 4% SWR and a higher amount of money budgeted to "contingency expenses" is safer than less money so budgeted).

Then one day I got fed up with the job BS and decided I could FIRE as soon as my contract was completed rather than suffer in silence as I had done so in the past when the BS got to me.

The trick is to know where you stand in terms of being financially independent. As you approach that threshold and cross it (subject to your desired margin of safety), your choices improve.
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:03 PM   #17
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Once my expected monthly income exceeded what I'd thought I needed, I moved from a state that is unfriendly to taxing expats to one that is friendly. I thought I'd be here for six months but got interested in an activity that doesn't happen in my intended destinations. I got that activity out of my system, picked a date based on the end of the rainy season where I was headed and started my preparations.

I also stopped sleeping, lost my appetite and was having moments of panic, so I asked for a refund on the ticket. A year later I have another one way ticket that is timed to the end of the rainy season, and I'm sleeping fine with not a moment of panic.

I'm not sure what made it easier to face ER this time, but it's some combo of the following:
* Greater margin of expected income to expected expenditures
* Projected to be able to make it to 59.5 on non-retirement fund assets only.
* Achieved what I wanted to in the activity and now have no reason to stay in this city.
* My employer was gobbled up and a bad job got worse.
* I had a realization. When a man says he's not ready to get married, pop psychologists usually respond that nobody is ever ready to get married, you just have to do it. I realized that retirement, not just ER was like that for me - given my fiscally conservative background there was no way I'd ever be ready for it. I just have to jump in and do ER because the only way to fail is not do it.
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:11 PM   #18
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We had planned to retire in 'three or four years'. We purchased a lot up on a lake, and began drawing house plans. Work was fun, and the cash was good, wife was having fun teaching.

We built the house and were going to weekend for the 'three or four years'. I changed departments at work, got real board! Made several weekend trips to the lake. Stumbled upon this board. Created a spread sheet. Found we had what we needed to retire in COLA'd accounts. Good thing no one was standing in the door, they would have been dead suckers at the speed we would have run over them!

That was Feb 2005. May I quit. June wife quit teaching job. Moved full time to the lake and never looked back!
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:28 PM   #19
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too much drama; life decided for me. had i more strength or foresight or even knowledge then, i would have made a whole different set of mistakes. had i known then what i know now i would not have quit my job. but when i look back at what i knew then and how i felt and everything that was going on in my life as it unfolded, there was no way i would have made any other decision than the one i did. the past is immutable.
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"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:32 PM   #20
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It is getting pretty close for me. I want to kayak more so I have been checking the tide tables trying to pick the date.

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