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Old 06-17-2009, 07:38 PM   #21
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I'm still in the under 30 crowd. I definitely don't feel like ER is slipping away. If anything, these times are a really great buying opportunity for me to load up the portfolio. The net worth is probably back to an all time high after slipping for a few quarters. The portfolio value is close to an all time high. My plan has been to acquire a portfolio of a certain value and then call myself FI. We are still only ~1/4 to 1/3 the way there, but the first 1/4 is the hardest part. In good years, our investment income is/will be greater than earned income.

In addition, if some form of affordable guaranteed issue health insurance becomes available, that would significantly reduce my target portfolio value and years till FIRE. Overall, I'm thinking FIRE by 40 still has a good chance of happening for us.

Our household income is stagnant this year, and it looks like it may be another year minimum before we are able to increase our incomes. But I'm working on a little move from one professional career to another that may double or triple my salary in the next year or so and take off from there (in theory). So while right now, we are seeing incomes flat at what they have been for over a year, costs aren't really increasing and prices have generally decreased from a year ago.
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:04 PM   #22
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I think younger folks who started early and assumed little or nothing in the way of SS, pensions and health insurance assistance in retirement will do fine. It's the 40-somethings and 50-somethings watching their 401Ks shrink, their pensions frozen and/or their retiree health insurance taken away who are the most likely to be seeing the door to FIRE closing gradually. Unlike the 20-somethings who can see what's happening very early in life, these folks have an uphill battle making up for lost time.

I know that if I wasn't fortunate enough to assume little in the way of SS and pensions when I was in my 20s, retiring at all, let alone early, would seem like a pipe dream. But with little more than consistently pouring 10-15% of my pay (or more) into 401Ks and Roths since I was 22, despite the recent craptitude of the market I think we'll make it. Not as early as I hoped, but still more fortunate than many who didn't plan for retirement so young and aggressively.

I fall in to the first category that Ziggy described. Personally, I feel pretty optimistic about what the future holds. Grant it, as a 32yr old, I have time on my side. I've always been very conservative in my planning, so my plans never included SS or any other type of government assistance. Like most people, I've seen a big decrease in my investment accounts, and that has been painful, but I also see great opportunity in the markets. I've upped my savings rate (maxed 401k/Roth) and gotten more aggressive then ever with my investments. I think we will push through the current recession and start to see our economy grow. Will see as much growth as before, who knows, but I think we are starting to turn the corner. There will certainly be some bumps along the way, but that's what makes life exciting. I will say this, if this current recession has taught me anything, it has really reinforced the need to have a good financial plan. I'm fortunate to have a good stable job that I like, as well as a good cash cushion in case of an emergency.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:44 PM   #23
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Good points.
I would add as a mind exercise and perspective the following:

What would you do if you were in the waning years of:
USSR
Britain at the end of the Victorian era
Britain or Italy in the 60s & 70s with 90% income taxes

The points are:
The USA is an empire in decline more financial and social turmoil are in the future. When is the only question.

In some regards young people need to be prepared to deal with what comes with decline.
Relocate. I don't want to live in China, so I may miss the next empire. However, the Latino world should probably do OK too. I'm leaning towards Uruguay or Costa Rrrrrica!
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:51 AM   #24
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I feel more cautious about ER, but still hopeful. But these are nerve-wracking times. Actually, this economy has gotten me thinking about a few good lessons learned:
1. I'm glad I started saving young (25). So even if I hit some road bumps along the way, I feel like at least I got the nest egg off to a good start.
2. I am more mindful of keeping a proper asset allocation closer to retirement. I've read too many stories of near retirees that had way too much in stocks and watched it evaporate in the '08 meltdown.
3. I am very thankful for everything I do have. Even if it works out that I will need to adjust the timing of my retirement, I am far better off than most in this economy and I am grateful. If the worst thing that happens in my life is I have to w*rk a extra few years than planned...well, there are worse things.

Every time I start getting anxious, I take a few deep breaths and try and remember these things, especially # 3.
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Old 06-18-2009, 06:08 AM   #25
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I have no pension or retiree healthcare benefits, there will be more and more of us in the decades ahead IMO. SIRE is on it's last legs. I am certainly less optimistic, and I have moved my target date out two years. But that's not a bad thing for me, I am one of those Type A's that can't just sit and relax. The busier I am, the happier I am. So while I look forward to leaving the MegaCorp pressure cooker, I will still work at something, but it will be a job I take for the satisfaction instead of the money.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:26 AM   #26
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I have no pension or retiree healthcare benefits, there will be more and more of us in the decades ahead IMO. SIRE is on it's last legs. I am certainly less optimistic, and I have moved my target date out two years. But that's not a bad thing for me, I am one of those Type A's that can't just sit and relax. The busier I am, the happier I am. So while I look forward to leaving the MegaCorp pressure cooker, I will still work at something, but it will be a job I take for the satisfaction instead of the money.
Maybe that's a better plan than retiring early. Get your retirement savings squared away, then go do something you enjoy. That way, you're not retiring one day, and dropping dead from a heart attack the next.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:34 AM   #27
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Maybe that's a better plan than retiring early. Get your retirement savings squared away, then go do something you enjoy. That way, you're not retiring one day, and dropping dead from a heart attack the next.
That's actually part of my plan. That will enable me to leave the Megacorp job sooner and/or allow me to leave "on schedule" with a little less saved up.

Truth be told, right now I'd probably be bored in full retirement. But it would be nice to have the option to do so if I wanted. In other words, I'm much more aggressively pursuing the FI part than the RE part.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:38 AM   #28
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Truth be told, right now I'd probably be bored in full retirement.
Have you considered seeking professional help?
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:12 AM   #29
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Have you considered seeking professional help?
Check with me again in about 10 years. If nothing has changed, then yes, I'll need help!

One thing that keeps me sane is that I get 5 weeks of vacation time, which is pretty exceptional for an American company with only 10 years of service. So at the very least, I get to recharge the batteries fairly often.
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"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 06-18-2009, 09:37 AM   #30
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One thing that keeps me sane is that I get 5 weeks of vacation time, which is pretty exceptional for an American company with only 10 years of service. So at the very least, I get to recharge the batteries fairly often.
That is exceptional. My old company maxed out at 4 weeks regardless of how many years you'd been there.

Do you break it up a week at a time or take a couple of longer vacations?
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:39 AM   #31
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Do you break it up a week at a time or take a couple of longer vacations?
More often than not I take a few short breaks early in the year and have enough left over to take every Friday off for the last 3-4 months of the year.
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"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 06-18-2009, 09:45 AM   #32
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Check with me again in about 10 years. If nothing has changed, then yes, I'll need help!

One thing that keeps me sane is that I get 5 weeks of vacation time, which is pretty exceptional for an American company with only 10 years of service. So at the very least, I get to recharge the batteries fairly often.
Wow! After the same amount of time with the federal government (you know, with the great benefits and vacation time) I get 3.9 weeks. I thought THAT was a lot. We also have to use hours from that allotment if we have to take the car to the repair shop or do other errands that shorten our work hours. Still, I think it is a wonderful benefit.

We can carry over up to 240 hours from year to year, too. Really the Cadillac of vacation benefits. I am so impressed with your 5 weeks. 5.2 weeks is our maximum after having worked 15 years or more, but I don't intend to work here long enough to see it.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:48 AM   #33
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Wow! After the same amount of time with the federal government (you know, with the great benefits and vacation time) I get 3.9 weeks. I thought THAT was a lot. We also have to use hours from that allotment if we have to take the car to the repair shop or do other errands that shorten our work hours. Still, I think it is a wonderful benefit.
Yeah. I think this benefit puts the "handcuffs" on me, as it makes me much less likely to leave and get another j*b where I have to start over with 1-2 weeks of vacation per year.

It's a pretty powerful retention tool, I'll say that...
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:55 AM   #34
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More often than not I take a few short breaks early in the year and have enough left over to take every Friday off for the last 3-4 months of the year.
I did something similar (although the every Friday plan was nixed) for many years, then found I enjoyed taking 1-2 days at a time with two of my 4 weeks and then a "real" two-week vacation. Maybe it was growing job burnout, but it seemed to take a long break for my batteries to recharge.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:59 AM   #35
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It's a pretty powerful retention tool, I'll say that...
If I could work a *real* 40 hour week, say 9-5 each day (without that stupid 1/2 hour supposedly for lunch that I eat while working anyway), and if I could get 6 weeks' vacation time, I might be tempted to stay a little longer. So maybe it's a good thing that I don't.

Every time I hear that wonderful Dolly Parton song, "Nine to Five", I think about how so many people work twice that many hours. Even in government we work longer days.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:01 AM   #36
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I did something similar (although the every Friday plan was nixed) for many years, then found I enjoyed taking 1-2 days at a time with two of my 4 weeks and then a "real" two-week vacation. Maybe it was growing job burnout, but it seemed to take a long break for my batteries to recharge.
For us, the "extended vacation" is most likely to get nixed. As a "support organization" our team's "customers" are primarily management at all levels (from first line manager all the way to VPs) doing a lot of the reporting on "key performance metrics" (nice buzzword bingo term), and when they have a reporting need or a concern about data integrity not many of them want to hear "we'll look at this in 2-3 weeks when ziggy29 is back from vacation." Especially not the VPs.

But there's almost nothing so critical that it can't wait a day or two.

Hence a LOT of three- and four-day weekends.
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"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 06-18-2009, 10:07 AM   #37
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I have mixed feelings about this. In one sense I'm worried about future inflation and its impact on my assets. To a lesser extent I'm worried about future taxation levels.

But on the other side, my biggest impediment to ER is health care. It seems to me there's a reasonable chance that I will see positive change there.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:35 PM   #38
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For us, the "extended vacation" is most likely to get nixed. As a "support organization" our team's "customers" are primarily management at all levels (from first line manager all the way to VPs) doing a lot of the reporting on "key performance metrics" (nice buzzword bingo term), and when they have a reporting need or a concern about data integrity not many of them want to hear "we'll look at this in 2-3 weeks when ziggy29 is back from vacation." Especially not the VPs.

But there's almost nothing so critical that it can't wait a day or two.

Hence a LOT of three- and four-day weekends.
I had the same situation, and it was definitely leading to burnout. I was carrying over so much vacation every year I was ending up with almost 10 weeks of supposedly available vacation time. Then they implimented a "use it or lose it" policy, and since I refused to lose it, I used it. I did the 4 months of 3 day weekends, but still ended up with a two week vacation and a couple of one week ones.

What I discovered is that I was not actually indispensable. The company kept rolling without me. The work got done. Not necessarily correctly, but it got done. This realization freed me up to take more extended vacations over the last few years of my career, changed my attitude towards Megacorp, and helped me move into a work mode that easily tranlated into ER when the opportunity arose.

You might want to try it, see what happens. If everything goes to hell, fix it and ask for more money. If not, kick back, train your replacement, delegate a lot of the work, and Retire In Place until you are ready to make it official. Just my advice.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:40 PM   #39
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Wow! After the same amount of time with the federal government (you know, with the great benefits and vacation time) I get 3.9 weeks. I thought THAT was a lot.
Does that actually mean that if you wanted to use all of your vacation time that on the .9 week vacation you'd need to come into the office for 53 3/4 minutes one of the days? Only in the government...
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:47 PM   #40
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Does that actually mean that if you wanted to use all of your vacation time that on the .9 week vacation you'd need to come into the office for 53 3/4 minutes one of the days? Only in the government...
I get 3 hours per week worked. Making the rough assumption that a year is 52 weeks long, that would give me 156 hours/year. 156/40 = 3.9 weeks if a week is 40 hours. There are always odd hours used, as I mentioned, when taking one's car to the shop, waiting for the plumber, or whatever.
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