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View Poll Results: How wouold you describe yourself
Engineer/scientist 68 56.67%
Artist/writer etc 3 2.50%
other 49 40.83%
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What did/do you do?
Old 08-14-2009, 10:02 AM   #1
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What did/do you do?

Arising out of another discussion there seem to be quite a few engineers and scientists trying to FIRE and I wondered what %age of the community they make up. So here is a poll with 3 very broad categories
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:14 AM   #2
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Engineer (j*b title), already FIREd.
BS Physics, almost did a Masters in EE (did 2/3 of degree reqs)
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:24 AM   #3
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Engineering background leading into a career in physical oceanography. Not an especially high paying specialty, in general, but so what.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:31 AM   #4
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Civil Engineer (Environmental specialty). Started my own business age 33, grew to 55 people, gradually sold to partners, bought real estate. Now mortgages all paid and I live on the rent held as a corporation. Retired at age 53, moved to Indonesia. Monthly income $3200 per month with Social Security soon. Great life, great way to live the last 1/3 of your life.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:38 AM   #5
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Chemical Engineer turned chemist. Nanotechnology is now my area of expertise.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:53 AM   #6
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I wonder how many artists/writers will be on the path to early retirement? Without a spouse that does something high-paying or without receiving a large inheritance.

Civil engineer (transportation) currently. Maybe patent attorney or other type attorney soon. Or unemployed temporarily FIREd soon.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:55 AM   #7
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I wonder how many artists/writers will be on the path to early retirement? Without a spouse that does something high-paying or without receiving a large inheritance.
If the answer is "very few," I'd be curious why that is. On one hand you might think it's because they don't get the pay and benefits to enable FIRE. But on the other hand I'd strongly suspect that people employed in the arts are people who are more likely to enjoy their w*rk and not seek as early an out as possible.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:11 AM   #8
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If the answer is "very few," I'd be curious why that is. On one hand you might think it's because they don't get the pay and benefits to enable FIRE. But on the other hand I'd strongly suspect that people employed in the arts are people who are more likely to enjoy their w*rk and not seek as early an out as possible.
This is a good point. My FIRE plan is to volunteer at the local art house cinema and maybe work part time in a bike shop. So I'll be 50/50 art and engineering
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:32 AM   #9
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I wonder how many artists/writers will be on the path to early retirement? Without a spouse that does something high-paying or without receiving a large inheritance.

Civil engineer (transportation) currently. Maybe patent attorney or other type attorney soon. Or unemployed temporarily FIREd soon.
From what I saw with this sub-prime mortgage mess, most Americans (including artist and writers) can't do even the most basic economic calculations. How can you expect to retire early when you can't use a spread sheet to analyze investment alternatives - especially paying mortgages?

Scientists and engineers understand these numbers like APR, and impact of inflation and internal rate of return. Without this knowledge you're lost!
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:35 AM   #10
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Hmmm... Interesting weighting in those results.

So, how many shoe salesmen would be interesting in:
1) long range planning for early retirement
2) managing an investment portfolio on their own
3) conducting a poll on the topic of fields of interest among early retirees?

I suspect that the ER community is composed primarily of folks oriented toward long range planning, with a reasonable grasp of numbers and basic statistics.

Or maybe that's just me?
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:44 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ziggy
If the answer is "very few," I'd be curious why that is. On one hand you might think it's because they don't get the pay and benefits to enable FIRE. But on the other hand I'd strongly suspect that people employed in the arts are people who are more likely to enjoy their w*rk and not seek as early an out as possible
The first reason is the one I originally thought of. That is, most writers and artists just don't make a lot of money sufficient to allow saving a lot. But I see your second reason too. Perhaps they are more "living in the now" people who enjoy what they do and can't imagine not doing it. However I know a number of people who got english degrees and don't really like what they do now. They are stuck in dead end jobs and "go back to school" for something else is one of the things they may have to do to advance in a career (their thoughts, not mine).


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From what I saw with this sub-prime mortgage mess, most Americans (including artist and writers) can't do even the most basic economic calculations. How can you expect to retire early when you can't use a spread sheet to analyze investment alternatives - especially paying mortgages?

Scientists and engineers understand these numbers like APR, and impact of inflation and internal rate of return. Without this knowledge you're lost!
Sure. My undergrad engineering program required coursework in economics, and a good bit of financial analysis (net present value, present value of future cash flow, discount rates, systems optimization, etc). Add that to learning how to use spreadsheets to facilitate analysis, and the whole engineering analytical thought process, and it is completely logical that engineers constitute a large proportion of FIRE'ees. That and they tend to earn a good bit of money straight out of college.

In contrast, I bet a good number of humanities degree programs don't require a lick of economics or financial coursework. I know my bachelor's degree in literature did not require any of this.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:48 AM   #12
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Count me in with Hobo - real estate as a way to wealth, baby. Not an engineer, highest salary was $15k before I wandered off to work for myself making picayune amounts. No kids certainly helped with the asset amassing, but the biggest factor was buying when all wanted to sell. Kind of like now. Stocks and bonds never did it for us, we did understand that paying higher interest loans down first was the way to go - no spreadsheet required.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:00 PM   #13
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Wow! I am surprised at the results so far. There seems to be a fair amount of military on the board. They may have a eng/sci background, but that's not what they did as a primary occupation. Also surprised there are not more business majors in the group, which would increase 'other'. The small number of artist does not surprise me.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:03 PM   #14
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The vast majority of ERs I know never even went to college. They just held steady jobs with benefits like a pension, saved a good chunk of their income and invested in real estate. Most would not even know how to use a spreadsheet, but they can wield a pencil like champs! With all my knowledge, I am certain that my uncle could still teach me a trick or too... He retired at 55, was a mailman all his life (his wife never worked) yet he has accumulated an impressive, multi-million dollar real estate fortune.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:05 PM   #15
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Wow! I am surprised at the results so far. There seems to be a fair amount of military on the board. They may have a eng/sci background, but that's not what they did as a primary occupation. Also surprised there are not more business majors in the group, which would increase 'other'. The small number of artist does not surprise me.
I should have added business and military as categories too.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:08 PM   #16
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Wow! I am surprised at the results so far. There seems to be a fair amount of military on the board. They may have a eng/sci background, but that's not what they did as a primary occupation. Also surprised there are not more business majors in the group, which would increase 'other'. The small number of artist does not surprise me.
Military, of course, are far more likely to have pensions waiting for them as early as age 38. That is a huge determining factor in who can retire early, perhaps the biggest of all.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:13 PM   #17
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Sure. My undergrad engineering program required coursework in economics, and a good bit of financial analysis (net present value, present value of future cash flow, discount rates, systems optimization, etc). Add that to learning how to use spreadsheets to facilitate analysis, and the whole engineering analytical thought process, and it is completely logical that engineers constitute a large proportion of FIRE'ees. That and they tend to earn a good bit of money straight out of college.

In contrast, I bet a good number of humanities degree programs don't require a lick of economics or financial coursework. I know my bachelor's degree in literature did not require any of this.
Yea, that is my pet peeve. My undergrad engineering required a language course, and several electives that were all liberal arts - like psychology (which I got a D). But none of the Liberal arts students had to take anything practical - like Engineering Economics where I learned all of the financial analysis calculations.

I wonder how many FIRE'ees will buy a new car every three or four years? I bought one.. a Firebird when I got out of college. But it is painful to borrow $20,000, and make car payments, only to discover the car is falling apart after 5 years with a very low resale value. That's $20,000 in principle and $3000 in interest that you turns worthless in 5-7 years. Stupid waste of money.

Hey great website for figuring out all this stuff.. Wolfram|Alpha Try entering, "car loan 8% interest 3 year balloon" in the search slot and it spits out a ton of great information.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:22 PM   #18
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...Scientists and engineers understand these numbers like APR, and impact of inflation and internal rate of return. Without this knowledge you're lost!
Still w*rking on that...
All I had was Business 100 in college. The rest was self-taught online and through a lot of reading. And of course you good folks and the links you provide. TY
My grasp is still fledgling at best. But give me numbers and some logic behind it and I can fly!
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:23 PM   #19
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toward service length.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:35 PM   #20
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Yea, that is my pet peeve. My undergrad engineering required a language course, and several electives that were all liberal arts - like psychology (which I got a D). But none of the Liberal arts students had to take anything practical - like Engineering Economics where I learned all of the financial analysis calculations.
I just had this same discussion yesterday at lunch. The discussion segued into "I wonder if many politically liberal folks have taken any coursework in economics or understand the basic principles of economics". Probably a discussion best not to have on this thread or this forum!
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