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29 year old planning FIRE in 5 years, not your usual story!
Old 04-14-2016, 11:44 AM   #1
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29 year old planning FIRE in 5 years, not your usual story!

hi everyone!

have been thinking and planning for early retirement for a while now and stumbled upon this forum and am loving what I'm reading, if not just for the fact of knowing I'm not crazy and there are other people out in the world like myself.

My goal:
I'm 29, live in Manhattan, work in finance, and I plan to retire in the next 5 years (33-35). I plan to have 500-750k in the bank, move abroad, and not to touch the nest egg but doing work that I actually enjoy doing.

A little background abotu me:
I started working in New York at 22, green to the world of finance, and a money hungry sh*t like all the other kids I was surrounded with. For people that have already done the math, I started working in 2008, August of 2008 to be exact. Within 3 weeks, Lehman brothers had declared backruptcy and markets were down 40%. I didn't really know what was happening at the time, and how it would affect me later, but it was quite the introduction to the working world. Coming out of college, I made $65k a year, and earned a bonus of about $30k my first year to bring my salary to around $100k. Yes that seems lilke a boatload of money for someone at 22, but you have to factor in NYC cost of living where we're taxed ~40% and you're paying $2000 a month to share an apartment (although it was temporarily cheaper following the recession). However, I had accrued a boatload of credit card debt (BAD BAD BAD) and some student loans in college. Also, being young and new to NYC and life in general, I fully indulged in everything NYC has to offer. I wasn't saving a dime and struggling to make expenses meet especially since I had so much expenses. My lowest point in my life was when my Mint account said in 2009 my net worth was $9, all my credit cards were maxed out, and I had to go to dinner with a friend and lie that I forgot my credit card to pay for my meal. nevertheless, I was lucky, and after my bonus paid out, along with some tax returns, I was able to pay off my debts in 2 years.

Over the years, conditions continued to deteriorate. Work became less interesting, banks became extremely regulated, salaries barely increased with inflation, and bonuses dwindled to almost nothing. The most senior guys still got paid decent bonuses, but a mere fraction of what they once were and I saw first hand how one person's income equating to 10 average Americans was not enough because of how leveraged and unsustainable their lifestyles had become over the years. During this time (2010-2013), I saved more regularly, and poured money into my 401k and brokerage account taking full advantage of the stock market rally.

In 2013, I decided to transfer with my company to South Africa as i always wanted to live abroad. I lived in SA for 2 years, traveling all throughout Africa and really seeing the world through a different lens. I took a paycut to move there, but the cost of living was so much less that I was saving significantly more. It was my two years here that really changed my outlook on life. There's much more to life than making the big bucks, which I probably won't ever see anyway. I returned to NYC in 2015 after traveling through Africa for 6 months, this time finding a job making $130k base and another $20k in bonus a year. I quickly realized I had lost interest in the world of finance and what i was doing was really just helping the rich get richer. Traveling also made me realize that I don't need nor want the fancy luxuries most peopel associate with people in my professions. So with that said, if you're not asleep yet, let me present my plan:



My income:

Current Salary: $150k + unknown bonus (15-20% of base)
401k: Company contibutes 10k a year
Airbnb: ~10k a year from renting apt while I take vacation

My current accounts: $180k (mostly in cash in brokerage accounts as I don't like where the market is at the moment)

401k: $55k
Roth: $10k
Brokerage Accounts: $75k
Cash: $40k


Current Savings per month: $5500 (3k post tax, 2.5k pre tax)
Current Savings per year: ~$60k + bonus = ~$90k


Assets:
I own an apartment in Manhattan via 30y fixed (3.5%) that should appreciate in value.




Plan after retirement:

I'm not sure what people on this forum think, but I think many people wrongly associate early retirement with "are you really just going to sit around and do nothing for the rest of your life? Sounds awful". I don't view early retirement as I'm just gonna be on a bitch and sip margaritas all day.

For me, it is simply, I will not work for the sole purpose of making money anymore. So my plan is to move abroad (haven't decided where yet), rent my apartment in nyc. Plan is to travel for awhile (budget style of course). I am also a dive instructor which is a huge passion of mine so will likely work as a dive instructor in Indonesia or the Maldives for awhile (housing and food usually included as part of the job). I will see what interests me after that and take it from there. But gone will be the days where I stare at a computer for 12 hours and mindlessly slave my life away.

The plan is to not touch my nest egg, and grow it through growth ETFs and decent yielding dividend stocks with track record of dividend increase.

I know my plan sounds a bit crazy and most people would probably work until they're 50 or whatno tand save a few mill but there's no way I want to do what I do for another 20 years. You'd be surprised how good of a life you can have abroad! Appreciate any input!
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Old 04-14-2016, 02:32 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! There's lots of great folks here who can help guide and advise.

You plan doesn't sound crazy at all. There are tons of people here who didn't 'retire' per se but just decided to follow a passion as soon as they had enough resources to bridge one life to the other.

It sounds like you have a great attitude and realistic plan on the whole thing.

Dive instructing in the Maldives while allowing a portfolio to grow?? Can you take me with you? Go for it!

It's great to live life on a "bitch" (as you put it...hey it passed spell-check) when you know you've got a portfolio chugging away for your future. It's when you're on that beach and have nothing behind you that things get dicey as you hit 50...then you're just a loser; but that's not you!

In your case...have fun!
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Old 04-14-2016, 02:44 PM   #3
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Welcome!

Your plan doesn't sound crazy. Keep saving as you are. As I tell everyone in their early 30s or late 20s that comes here (as I did in my mid-30s), things change.
You meet someone, maybe kids arrive, or you discover a different passion, the market doesn't cooperate, etc. Quite a few things have changed for me in the three years or so I've been on this forum, first coming here thinking I'd drop dead retire at 42. Maybe I will, but I'm betting I find some other bridge career that, like you, is more passion-oriented than "earn a living" oriented. Being FI allows that.

The key is to keep LBYM, keep banking capital and nursing it to grow. Whether you "retire" at 35 or Retire at 55, the principles are the same. Get to FI and figure it out from there!
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Old 04-14-2016, 03:16 PM   #4
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I have known a couple of former Navy divers that have done exactly what you want to do. As I understand, many outfits do contracts all over the world. Usually they are given room and board and a fair salary. The last guy I talked to (Isla Mujeres, MX) said he spent 10 years as a rescue swimmer in the USCG and then started doing the contract dive instructor deal...and has been doing it for the last 8 years and has been all around the world.

I would be all about that, but I don't do very well at dives of more than 10 feet...my ears do NOT cooperate (blood and pain for WEEKS!). I have to guess that all those years of flying have done a number on the inner workings of my head (in more ways than one!)
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:30 PM   #5
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I have known a couple of former Navy divers that have done exactly what you want to do. As I understand, many outfits do contracts all over the world. Usually they are given room and board and a fair salary. The last guy I talked to (Isla Mujeres, MX) said he spent 10 years as a rescue swimmer in the USCG and then started doing the contract dive instructor deal...and has been doing it for the last 8 years and has been all around the world.

I would be all about that, but I don't do very well at dives of more than 10 feet...my ears do NOT cooperate (blood and pain for WEEKS!). I have to guess that all those years of flying have done a number on the inner workings of my head (in more ways than one!)
Yes! For the most part, diving is a pretty low paying job and let's just say no one goes into the industry to make the big bucks. But it's all dependent on cost of living. $150k salary sounds like a lot of money, but is it really when you're taxed at 40% and rent is $3000 a month? Same goes with diving. However, I've worked as an instructor before in Indonesia and was paid about $1k a month including room and board. My only expenses were beers (which turned out to be quite a lot). It's not much money, but it's more than enough to live off of and save a bit if you want, and most importantly to enjoy what I'm doing.

The Maldives is usually teh cream of the crop for dive instructors. Usually the jobs are ~$1.5-2k a month, and more if you speak other languages (which i do). You stay in a resort on a tropical island and everything is included except alcohol. Most people go to the dive industry because they are young, free-spirited and hav eno idea what to do in life (and no $). I'm definitely the exception to this as I'm planning this after I'm financially comfortable.
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:29 AM   #6
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Very interesting story. It sounds like you have learned some good lessons. Since your plan is really a career change to what you like instead of RE, it looks good to me.
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Old 04-15-2016, 06:58 AM   #7
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I've done the "work to pay the mortgage" existence on the East coast (lived in NNJ for 25 years) and can see why you'd want to get off the treadmill. One thing I didn't see mentioned, though, is health insurance. Stuff happens, especially to physically active and adventurous people in developing countries, where there are new and exciting bugs your body has never encountered before. I'm a mother and I've watched too many episodes of "Monsters Inside Me", but you really need health insurance from somewhere.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:37 AM   #8
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An update on my path to FI:

I turned 31 a month ago and am few years wiser I'd like to think

My Income
I received my bonus for the year in early 2017 and it was $50k which makes my yearly income ~$200k. I saved roughly half of that for the year. Markets have also been kind.


Total non real estate accounts: $286k

401k: $85k
Roth: $11k
Cash+Brokerage: $190k


Equity in Manhattan apt: $280k
($200k downpayment, and they've sold apartments in the building for a good chunk more than what I paid for it)
I also refinanced my mortgage to a 7/1 ARM last summer when rates hit all time lows and locked in a rate of 2.625%. I don't plan to hold this apartment for more than 10 years so figured knocking down my interest 1% would be meaningful.

Summary of changes
In the last year and a bit, I've increased my non-real estate net worth by $100k. It feels good to save and know that I'm on the path to no longer depending on my job (that i still dislike) and especially saving more than my friends that make significantly more than I do. People become consumed with the NYC lifestyle and buy so much sh*t they have no need for, it's pretty crazy.

Plans have not changed much. Still plan on retiring with 500-750k in the bank and then going traveling and diving. I feel like most people here wait until they've reached that point and then travel to make up for lost times. Not me. I actually hit 50 countries a few months back so this is just a matter of continuing doing what I love.


Three revelations I had over the year are the following:

1. Airbnb the apartment full time. Instead of just renting it while I am on vacation, I could feasibly rent it out monthly and get around $6.5k, which is almost a $3k profit after all expenses are taken into effect.

2. Move to Hoboken/Jersey City: I calculated I could save around 5% of my gross income by just moving 20 minutes across the Hudson. There is NYC city tax in jersey, and the state income tax is a bit lower. Apartments are also cheaper. I could rent my current apartment, and even if what I got only covered the expenses, the apartment I'd live in Hoboken would be much cheaper.

3. Roth ladder conversion: Didn't really know abotu this before I came on this forum. Plan is once I FI, to convert my 401k to IRA to Roth IRA periodically which will help with my passive income generation before I hit retirement age.
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Old 08-14-2017, 12:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
My current accounts: $180k (mostly in cash in brokerage accounts as I don't like where the market is at the moment)
Quote:
My Income
I received my bonus for the year in early 2017 and it was $50k which makes my yearly income ~$200k. I saved roughly half of that for the year. Markets have also been kind.


Total non real estate accounts: $286k

401k: $85k
Roth: $11k
Cash+Brokerage: $190k
So you saved ~$100k and increased your balances by $105k? I'm guessing your still mostly in cash then and missed out on most of the great performance in the market over the past year? This is an example of why people here preach to not try and time the markets and instead just stick with a designated asset allocation and ride the ups and downs.
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Old 08-14-2017, 01:28 PM   #10
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So you saved ~$100k and increased your balances by $105k? I'm guessing your still mostly in cash then and missed out on most of the great performance in the market over the past year? This is an example of why people here preach to not try and time the markets and instead just stick with a designated asset allocation and ride the ups and downs.
Actualy i just checked my balances again and my 401k is acutally $95k. But you're right, I had way too much in cash. I put some money to work the past year but I certainly could have gained so much more if i had just dumped everything in to the tech stocks I bought. But instead, they earned a measly 1.3% in my savings account. Keep thinking the markets will pull back and eveyr time they do, new highs are set.
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:18 PM   #11
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Actualy i just checked my balances again and my 401k is acutally $95k. But you're right, I had way too much in cash. I put some money to work the past year but I certainly could have gained so much more if i had just dumped everything in to the tech stocks I bought. But instead, they earned a measly 1.3% in my savings account. Keep thinking the markets will pull back and eveyr time they do, new highs are set.


You need to stop thinking then. You brain is making you look dumb. Seriously, you are not smarter than the cumulative experience and knowledge of every investor on the planet who determines the going prices. Admit your stupidity to yourself, and you may be richer for it.
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:45 PM   #12
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Yes, was pretty stupid not to invest when looking back on it. 15% returns YoY is still decent although could have been much better. Hindsight is 20/20 though.
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29 year old planning FIRE in 5 years, not your usual story!
Old 08-14-2017, 08:59 PM   #13
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29 year old planning FIRE in 5 years, not your usual story!

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Yes, was pretty stupid not to invest when looking back on it. 15% returns YoY is still decent although could have been much better. Hindsight is 20/20 though.


I studied finance and economics, all I learned was the theory and the math that proved to me why I knew nothing before I started. Now I can just measure it my stupidity and call it inefficiency. Even if you believe strongly in behavioral finance, you still can't time when crazy will start or stop.
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Old 08-16-2017, 04:49 PM   #14
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I am a big proponent of after-tax 401(k) contributions. These could be rolled into Roth IRA's immediately, if allowed by the plan. The contributions of these can be withdrawn without penalty before age 59.5.
However not all companies 401K plans allow after-tax contributions.
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Old 08-20-2017, 01:56 PM   #15
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Just an opinion to add to the mix, spending is as important, if not more important than saving. I assume you travel frugally, no fancy restaurants or name brand clothes. It's all relative. "The Millionaire Next Door" has many examples of incomes exceeding six figures in debt to their eyeballs. I have a family member whose income has exceeded six figures for more than 15 years and they couldn't retire next year. Matter of fact, they are in debt. They asked us for a loan 5 years ago. Really?
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Old 08-20-2017, 05:46 PM   #16
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Great to read your story. I envy your willingness to pursue your passions at the expense of a big salary. Life is short and you seem to know exactly what you want to do with it. Good luck with it and keep us informed of your progress.
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Old 08-20-2017, 07:33 PM   #17
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hi everyone!

have been thinking and planning for early retirement for a while now and stumbled upon this forum and am loving what I'm reading, if not just for the fact of knowing I'm not crazy and there are other people out in the world like myself.

My goal:
I'm 29, live in Manhattan, work in finance, and I plan to retire in the next 5 years (33-35). I plan to have 500-750k in the bank, move abroad, and not to touch the nest egg but doing work that I actually enjoy doing.

A little background abotu me:
I started working in New York at 22, green to the world of finance, and a money hungry sh*t like all the other kids I was surrounded with. For people that have already done the math, I started working in 2008, August of 2008 to be exact. Within 3 weeks, Lehman brothers had declared backruptcy and markets were down 40%. I didn't really know what was happening at the time, and how it would affect me later, but it was quite the introduction to the working world. Coming out of college, I made $65k a year, and earned a bonus of about $30k my first year to bring my salary to around $100k. Yes that seems lilke a boatload of money for someone at 22, but you have to factor in NYC cost of living where we're taxed ~40% and you're paying $2000 a month to share an apartment (although it was temporarily cheaper following the recession). However, I had accrued a boatload of credit card debt (BAD BAD BAD) and some student loans in college. Also, being young and new to NYC and life in general, I fully indulged in everything NYC has to offer. I wasn't saving a dime and struggling to make expenses meet especially since I had so much expenses. My lowest point in my life was when my Mint account said in 2009 my net worth was $9, all my credit cards were maxed out, and I had to go to dinner with a friend and lie that I forgot my credit card to pay for my meal. nevertheless, I was lucky, and after my bonus paid out, along with some tax returns, I was able to pay off my debts in 2 years.

Over the years, conditions continued to deteriorate. Work became less interesting, banks became extremely regulated, salaries barely increased with inflation, and bonuses dwindled to almost nothing. The most senior guys still got paid decent bonuses, but a mere fraction of what they once were and I saw first hand how one person's income equating to 10 average Americans was not enough because of how leveraged and unsustainable their lifestyles had become over the years. During this time (2010-2013), I saved more regularly, and poured money into my 401k and brokerage account taking full advantage of the stock market rally.

In 2013, I decided to transfer with my company to South Africa as i always wanted to live abroad. I lived in SA for 2 years, traveling all throughout Africa and really seeing the world through a different lens. I took a paycut to move there, but the cost of living was so much less that I was saving significantly more. It was my two years here that really changed my outlook on life. There's much more to life than making the big bucks, which I probably won't ever see anyway. I returned to NYC in 2015 after traveling through Africa for 6 months, this time finding a job making $130k base and another $20k in bonus a year. I quickly realized I had lost interest in the world of finance and what i was doing was really just helping the rich get richer. Traveling also made me realize that I don't need nor want the fancy luxuries most peopel associate with people in my professions. So with that said, if you're not asleep yet, let me present my plan:



My income:

Current Salary: $150k + unknown bonus (15-20% of base)
401k: Company contibutes 10k a year
Airbnb: ~10k a year from renting apt while I take vacation

My current accounts: $180k (mostly in cash in brokerage accounts as I don't like where the market is at the moment)

401k: $55k
Roth: $10k
Brokerage Accounts: $75k
Cash: $40k


Current Savings per month: $5500 (3k post tax, 2.5k pre tax)
Current Savings per year: ~$60k + bonus = ~$90k


Assets:
I own an apartment in Manhattan via 30y fixed (3.5%) that should appreciate in value.




Plan after retirement:

I'm not sure what people on this forum think, but I think many people wrongly associate early retirement with "are you really just going to sit around and do nothing for the rest of your life? Sounds awful". I don't view early retirement as I'm just gonna be on a bitch and sip margaritas all day.

For me, it is simply, I will not work for the sole purpose of making money anymore. So my plan is to move abroad (haven't decided where yet), rent my apartment in nyc. Plan is to travel for awhile (budget style of course). I am also a dive instructor which is a huge passion of mine so will likely work as a dive instructor in Indonesia or the Maldives for awhile (housing and food usually included as part of the job). I will see what interests me after that and take it from there. But gone will be the days where I stare at a computer for 12 hours and mindlessly slave my life away.

The plan is to not touch my nest egg, and grow it through growth ETFs and decent yielding dividend stocks with track record of dividend increase.

I know my plan sounds a bit crazy and most people would probably work until they're 50 or whatno tand save a few mill but there's no way I want to do what I do for another 20 years. You'd be surprised how good of a life you can have abroad! Appreciate any input!
If you are going to pull this retire early millennial worker fantasy off you will need to be all in stocks! NO CASH! You are talking $500k to $750k? Thats not much of a portfolio to retire early or even at age 50.

You will need to trust the stock market GODS and be all in.

Sounds like a cool plan but just remember your hard work is allowing you to now build real wealth.
You are not a slave making $200k a year. You are building wealth. Its called work.

Your plan is not unusual at all. Get rich quick schemes have been around forever.
Its a marathon. Not a sprint. Realistically its somewhere between so be careful.
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Old 08-21-2017, 08:06 AM   #18
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Purplesky - I agree. I don't wake up before the sun every morning and say I can't wait to leave the comfort of my home and family to go to work (I don't really dislike it though). But wanting to quit a high paying career with <$1mill (frankly I wouldn't quit less than $2mill) even if I was having trouble seems silly. When I was young (before I was married) I was fine eating McDonalds and wearing free tee shirts. Medical care and kids expenses are a whole different consideration I wasn't even aware of at that time.

Work is work - I would kick myself quitting my job and having to work the same hours with less stress for maybe 30% my current income. There is stress in any job and it is hard to argue that the additional stress from a high paying job is not worth the other 70% of the pay.

I would focus inward - you are in control of your happiness and level of stress. I know people who get stressed out delivering Chinese food and I know a few VP of top 100 corps who were not stressed with their job. This is your mindset you need to adjust to fit your current situation.

I wouldn't advise to jump ship when your savings won't support health insurance, housing, and groceries without a supplemental job.
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Old 08-21-2017, 10:57 AM   #19
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Purplesky - I agree. I don't wake up before the sun every morning and say I can't wait to leave the comfort of my home and family to go to work (I don't really dislike it though). But wanting to quit a high paying career with <$1mill (frankly I wouldn't quit less than $2mill) even if I was having trouble seems silly. When I was young (before I was married) I was fine eating McDonalds and wearing free tee shirts. Medical care and kids expenses are a whole different consideration I wasn't even aware of at that time.

Work is work - I would kick myself quitting my job and having to work the same hours with less stress for maybe 30% my current income. There is stress in any job and it is hard to argue that the additional stress from a high paying job is not worth the other 70% of the pay.

I would focus inward - you are in control of your happiness and level of stress. I know people who get stressed out delivering Chinese food and I know a few VP of top 100 corps who were not stressed with their job. This is your mindset you need to adjust to fit your current situation.

I wouldn't advise to jump ship when your savings won't support health insurance, housing, and groceries without a supplemental job.


Good advice. I too considered leaving my C-level role to work in a field of interest such as diving, travel, or the wine industry. I realized we would be much better off continuing to work and save/invest and then pursue other career options post-ER, when we didn't need any additional income to be financially secure. ER'd last Nov. and having so much fun so far, haven't pursued any other career options. Maybe someday if we ever get bored. The good news is we can do whatever we want!
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:23 AM   #20
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I "retired" from my previous job at 28, went to graduate school, did my Ph.D., Postdoc, and became a professor at 34. I consider that as a career change, as someone already pointed out.
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