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Old 04-27-2010, 06:27 AM   #21
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Started maxing out 401k in 1986.
Built house 1 in 1984, took $100k profit from it to build house 2 in 1994, paid it off by 2000.
Worked 50 - 60 hours per week from 1975 to around 2005
Took my company profit disbursements and invested amount exceeding tax liability
Didn't have kids
Do all home maintenance/ landscaping
LBYM
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:35 AM   #22
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pay off your house as fast as you can... take on ZERO credit card debt... these two will free up mucho dollars to sack away for you future
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contract on the house, bought an RV and now traveling across America
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:38 AM   #23
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Easy, married the right woman.
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:57 AM   #24
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Easy, married the right woman.
+1

Also, took up offer from megacorp to move to Japan to build a business. It has been wildly successful, leading to further opportunities in Asia, and the accompanying rewards. I've worked hard for what I have, and have accomplished a lot, but I have to admit to a bit of luck as well, being in the right place at the right time.

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Old 04-27-2010, 07:11 AM   #25
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I'd say the one best thing I did was to decide in my early 30's that I wanted to retire (or at least semi-retire) as early as possible. That shaped almost all future financial decisions and put me in a position to leave megacorp at 47. Things like paying off my mortgage early, LBYM, etc., all flowed from that decision.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:27 AM   #26
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Pay yourself 1st would is at the top of the list....but then being born came
into play

In Tom Smothers words ~ "Mom always liked me you best!"

So after buying my 1st house at 18 and several rental properties that got
me half way there....Mom was responsible for me being able to make ER my
new reality.....

PS....and I must be the only one here startled by the NO KIDS remarks as I
wouldn't trade any on my 3 for ER!!
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:31 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by CyclingInvestor View Post
Tough to choose between these three -

1) Dogs instead of kids

2) Selection of a career (programming) that was easy, low stress, well paid, easy to get a new job if necessary (at least from 1979-2006)

3) Always saved, learned how to invest it
Pretty much same here. Not a programmer but stumbled on a good paying job. Investing..........well didn't step on too many landmines.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:51 AM   #28
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Not a single thing, but we tried to do the opposite of penny wise and pound foolish. We didn't sweat the little things like eating out, but we avoided the big ticket tempters like fancy cars, boats, and vacation homes.

Well, on second thought, getting an EE degree was probably the most important. Nothing would have been possible without a well-paying job.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:24 AM   #29
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1. Staying with a job that had a nice pension.

2. Automatic savings to 401K and TSP.

3. LBYM, keeping the same paid off house and keeping vehicles for 10 plus years.

It is interesting the spin on not having kids and early retirement. We have 2 grown children and 1 grandchild. There is no doubt about it that we have spent quite a bit of money on our children over the years. However, I was thinking back to what our lifestyle was like before we had kids. We spent quite a bit of money on clothing, partying, eating out and entertainment. When we had our first child, our lifestyle changed completely. I realized for the first time (okay, I was a slow learner) that I needed to get serious about some things, because I was responsible for a new person and his life was literally in my hands. We stayed home more and played with him. He became more of our entertainment and we partied with him (seeing life through the eyes of a child is great). We cooked most of our food at home. Having the latest fashions did not seem so important anymore. So, even though we spent a lot of money on our children, I think that they also saved us a lot of money. I would not trade my 2 for any amount of early retirement. I realize that other people feel completely the opposite. I am not trying to start any having kids or not wars, just trying to look at did our children really cost us that much money.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:39 AM   #30
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LBYM is the big one. I also kept track of my net worth and spending and set goals. And of coarse marrying the right woman is the main one. We have two kids, and they were expensive, but we both were able to retire @ 50.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:42 AM   #31
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1. Married the right woman who understands what "financial responsibility" means. Missed that on the first try. Financially, that lesson set me back ten years.

2. A job that I liked with a defined benefit pension, although they don't make 'em like that anymore. In lieu of that I'd say start early on the 401k or other investment program. You can't afford not to.

3. Didn't get sick or badly injured.

4. Never, ever, pay credit card interest rates. Suze Orman irks some people, but this part she has right: "If you can't pay cash you can't afford it."

5. Keep cars for at least ten years, preferably longer. There is debate over new/lightly used/heavily used, but wealthy people don't make car payments forever. Same for other toys like boats, RVs, airplanes, etc.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:13 AM   #32
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Purchased and studied "The Bogleheads Guide to Investing." I have read it several times; it is dog-eared, written-in, and well-used.

I am glad that before the crash, I had mapped out our investing strategy!

Paid-off home.

By the way, even with the trying times of adolescence, I am incredibly glad that I had my two children. They are grown now, and bring abundant joy to our lives.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:20 AM   #33
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I really can't decide. It was one of three different things:

1. Not having any children (this was not driven by financial considerations, though);

2. Putting 10-12% (or more) of my pay into a 401K plan since I was 23 and maxing out Roth IRAs since 1998

3. Buying a house in Silicon Valley in 1997 and selling it for a considerable tax-free windfall in 2003.

I could add the usual dose of LBYM, letting the Joneses win and all that stuff, and it's a factor, but in reality it's a fortunate byproduct of some of the items above.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:52 AM   #34
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The biggest thing I did was to decide when I was 20 years old that I never wanted to have children. I did not know it at the time, but it was huge in enabling me to retire in 2008 at the age of 45 and greatly improve my everyday life.
Now that everyone else has listed more than one thing, I can join in.

Besides being childfree...

(1) LBYM. For example, cooking your own food is a lot cheaper than going out to eat, even if it the same type of food.

(2) Switching from renting an apartment to owning one; After paying off the mortgage in 9 years, I pay less than $600 a month for my co-op apartment which is mostly tax-deductible property taxes and interest. Local rents for the same typs of apartment are double that.

(3) Avoiding high-interest debt such as credit cards (and to a lesser extent, student loans which I paid off in 2 years after I graduated from college in the mid-1980s). Avoid car loans, too.

(4) Don't smoke. Besides being bad for your physical health, this is bad for your financial health, too.

(5) Do some research before you buy a car so you can keep it for at least 10 years. And pay cash for it.

(6) I chose a career, actuarial, which paid well. I specialized in computer work which also helped me get good raises.

(7) I was lucky to be with a company which had an ESOP, and a growing one, that I was able to cash out when I left it.

(8) Max out the company match portion of your 401(k). For me, it was 50 cents on the dollar for a few years then rose to 75 cents. That's like a 50% or 75% return (even more when you consider the pre-tax dollars used to pay in) even if you stuffed it under a mattress (not that a mattress was an investment option LOL!).
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:18 AM   #35
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Easy, married the right woman.
If you change this to married an easy woman would that still be good advice?

single biggest thing-

[moderator edit]

It really comes down to one of two things

1) I have a great sense of humor and don't take much too seriously or
2) I spent less than I earn from the day I started working full time.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:21 AM   #36
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Good question. I made a lot of mistakes and didn't LBYM when I was younger.

I guess the main things that were positive were getting a good education so I could earn and a good living and marrying my husband.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:37 AM   #37
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What is the best thing you ever did (or best habit you developed) that contributed the most to your financial success and financial independence?
Saving as much as we could.

Everything else was details.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:58 AM   #38
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Saving as much as we could.

Everything else was details.
I'm surprised that you didn't mention going to the Naval Academy. Kinda like forgetting about a degree from Harvard isn't it?
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Old 04-27-2010, 11:05 AM   #39
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I set goals for myself that were independent of the job I was in.
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Old 04-27-2010, 11:30 AM   #40
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Right spouse is my top choice, too.

Another: choose a job or profession that you like for the most part. Even early retirees need to spend decades on the job and jumping too soon (financially) because of job toxicity can be tempting. A rewarding job takes the pressure off needing to jump before you're completely ready.

Granted, not an easy thing to find.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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