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Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 12:40 AM   #1
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Blues v. Whites

One of the criticisms you sometimes hear of the Retire Early idea is that it is something that was cooked up for the benefit of spoiled Yuppies. There's some truth in that, but I do not at all believe that it is a complete truth.

There are some ways in which it is easier for blue-collar workers to win financial freedom early in life. Those in white-collar jobs often have big loans for college and graduate school to pay off. Advancement in a white-collar career often requires attention to image--living in the right house, driving the right car, wearing the right clothes--and that costs money. Blues with union protection often can be sure in advance of what time they will be able to leave their primary job, and that opens up the option of moonlighting.

I think that overall whites have the edge. The big benefit of white-collar work is the promotion opportunities. I've known a lot of people who started out in jobs that didn't pay much but who impressed their bosses and who were ultimately placed into pretty darn good jobs because they were known commodities. There are not as many alternate routes up the ladder in the blue-collar world.

Still, I believe that there are a number of interesting angles to the question. I was fascinated by a comment made by a poster to this forum not too long ago (I'm thinking it might have beeen hyperborea, but I'm not at all sure), that the best candidates for early retirement are those who were raised blue-collar and then found a place in the white-collar world. The combination can be a powerful one--low lifestyle expectations combined with big earning possibilities.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 02:53 AM   #2
 
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Interesting theory. I would fit the profile
(raised blue collar and then spent over 30 years white
collar). Not too sure what effect that had ER-wise.
In my case, looks like a mixed bag.

JG
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 04:30 AM   #3
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Like the INTJ thing - very interesting!!

Raised very hard core union blue collar - after college - worked white collar engineer for 29 years or so.

Depression Era parents, totally against stocks - so I had to self educate myself with the help of the school of hard knocks. Worked my way through college - the idea of help - from parents, scholarships, loans were alien concepts. Got to help pay my sisters tuition - after all she's 'a girl', you have a good job, etc. - six years younger and no women's lib back then - and it was ok for her to have a partial scholarship - because she was a girl taking teaching. Only ok for guys if it was a sport scholarship.

Early 60's era thinking - at least in our family.

Have no idea how that plays with ER - but interesting.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 05:03 AM   #4
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Quote:
that the best candidates for early retirement are those who were raised blue-collar and then found a place in the white-collar world. The combination can be a powerful one--low lifestyle expectations combined with big earning possibilities.
The train of thought here can go another direction too though. I was raised in a pretty well off family, and i've already admitted i'm accustomed to being "comfortable". On the other hand, because i've experienced that life so long, I know from experience that lots of "stuff" doesn't necessarily make me happy.

So being raised in a white collar family, I have the means to make a lot of money and the drive to save it cause i know the greatest happiness is found in being a free spirit, and being a free spirit costs $$$ cause there's still bills to pay.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 05:37 AM   #5
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Re: Blues v. Whites

One of the things that doesn't seem to be addressed here is the effect of poverty. I was raised in the South, oldest of 6 kids, and we were poor. Once that gets into your system, it is hard to get it out; you never forget. That's one of the reasons I stayed on the job so long, and was reluctant to retire when I did. I'm not gonna bore you with poor stories, but I can tell you that my father was blue collar and the idea of ER would be alien to him. The depression-era citizens remember when men begged for a job, any job. If you haven't read Tim Russert's "Big Russ and me" book about his father and their high regard for work, you might check it out. Russert's father was a garbage collector in Buffalo and Tim helped on the route, before he became famous. Back-breaking work it was.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 05:51 AM   #6
 
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Re: Blues v. Whites

My folks lived through the Depression, but very differently. My Dad was the main support for his
mother and 2 sisters. The Depression left its mark on him. My mother hardly knew there was a Depression
going on.

My wife was one of 10 children in her family and they
were rural poor, financially and otherwise. She had a tough life. I am doing my best to make it better.

JG
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 08:04 AM   #7
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Quote:
My wife was one of 10 children in her family and they were rural poor, financially and otherwise. She had a tough life. I am doing my best to make it better.
Hey JG,

Aside from our occasional disagreements we may have, you sound like a good and devoted husband. She is very fortunate, as I am sure you are, for being with her.

MJ
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 08:21 AM   #8
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Re: Blues v. Whites

I'd probably fall under the category of being raised blue collar and now working a white collar job. My dad was a truck driver and my mom was a homemaker until they divorced when I was 8. I was then raised by a single mother working full-time, for the next 5-6 years. I'm totally self-educated on finance and only really started serious thinking about FI at age 25. I was raised pretty frugally in the country, so I learned to entertain myself, etc. I had full scholarship offers from most every major school in the country, so I didn't have the disadvantage of paying off student loans for years to get my education and started part-time in a white collar job at 20. I think it's a good recipe for a retire early mentality. I'm also an INTJ.

Jason
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 01:50 PM   #9
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Re: Blues v. Whites

I was raised in an upper middle class family (father was a doctor, mother was a homemaker/teacher). However, there were times when my father made some terrible (and I mean TERRIBLE) investment mistakes. He probably lost a couple of million dollars over the years. As a result, there were times that money was tight, and although my parents tried not to let my siblings and I see the financial strain, we noticed and internalized it nonetheless.

Consequently, although I've made a very comfortable living since graduating law school nine years or so ago, I live like I make less than half my salary. Since I work in the white collar world, many of my peers/colleagues try to keep up appearances. I don't. As long as my suits fit well, my shoes are polished (and match my belt), my tie looks good, and my car is clean -- nobody seems to care. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to own the alleged "trappings of success", but I'm not willing to sacrifice my ultimate financial independence to get them.

The surest indicator of financial wealth is the ability to choose not to work without compromising your lifestyle.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 06:01 PM   #10
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Re: Blues v. Whites

I grew up in Europe where our apartments didn't have a toilet or bath. We had to go to the top floor for the toilet and the public baths for a thorough cleaning. I don't recall being deprived.

My father worked for small clothing manufacturing firms there and in NY. I guess he was a blue-collar worker and we were in the very lower end of the middle class.

I'm not sure how to catagorize my 1st 12 working years. I worked as a cashier in supermarkets, post office mail handler, bicycle messenger, and chicken batter for a takeout place. Then I moved into management for a short time when I got a job as a manager in a massage parlor, sleazy but interesting work with some perks . Then I decided to start making some real money by becoming a computer programmer and finally joined the white collar elite.

MJ
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 06:16 PM   #11
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Re: Blues v. Whites

I may be getting a graduate degree but deep down I am blue to the bone. Nobody in my family has ever had money. Brains do not substitute hard work and that has always been my approach based on how I was raised. And even if I could buy the best clothes, house or car I would probably still look like some poor schmuck.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 06:57 PM   #12
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Quote:
II'm not sure how to catagorize my 1st 12 working years. I worked as a cashier in supermarkets, post office mail handler, bicycle messenger, and chicken batter for a takeout place. Then I moved into management for a short time when I got a job as a manager in a message parlor, sleazy but interesting work with some perks . Then I decided to start making some real money by becoming a computer programmer and finally joined the white collar elite.
MJ, you have an excellent resume. If you find ER boring, maybe back to the massage parlor?

Damn, that sounds like my kind of job
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 07:03 PM   #13
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Quote:
....Then I moved into management for a short time when I got a job as a manager in a message parlor, sleazy but interesting work with some perks
Hey MJ, why did you leave? Rub somebody the wrong way?

REW 8)
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 09:06 PM   #14
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Re: Blues v. Whites

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Hey MJ, why did you leave? Rub somebody the wrong way?
REW 8)
Nah, They (who?) kept rubbing me the wrong way and I could no longer raise to the occasion. :P
Kinda like what some of us experience within corporate management. :-/

Quote:
MJ, you have an excellent resume. If you find ER boring, maybe back to the massage parlor? Damn, that sounds like my kind of job
Well, I guess there is always Bangkok Thailand, if I want to semi-retire and get back to that ol black magic feeling.

MJ
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-24-2005, 10:34 PM   #15
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Re: Blues v. Whites

My Dad reached age 18 one month after Black Tuesday. His Grandpa was able to get him a job as an apprentice printer, which was a very good unionized craft until computerized typesetting took hold in the 60s. So he had a relatively well paying and stable job. He met my Mom in 1937; she was straight out of high school and staright off the farm. They later aquired two side businesses, a bar and a residence hotel. After having 4 kids my mother went to college and became a teacher; eventually getting her masters dergree and teaching 25 years or so.

I did small jobs in their businesses, and saw quite a bit of real life.My father was quite money conscious, but my mother was not. They were both frugal, but not rabidly so. A brother 3 years younger than me is frugal like I am, and interested in investing and personal freedom. We were both born during WW2. I can still remember rationing, and various ways to minimize it's effects. (Blackmarkets) As kind of an oddity, I can remember interest rates from my grade school years- they would be posted outside the Savings and Loan. I always had my passbook account, and watched it carefully.

Another brother and a sister were born in the early 50s- they are oblivious to saving money. If they didn't look so much like my Dad, I might wonder if they had a *different father

All four of us went to college, and my parents paid for much of it.

After retirement they lived another 25 years or so. Dad's pension failed due to industry changes. Mom, as a teacher, got a good pension, and health benfits for both of them. They also had considerable savings.

All in all, I believe I learned a lot about how to get by and prosper from them.

I always enjoyed spending on immediate pleasure, but I hated accumuilating stuff. My concern was being able to live cheaply, but keep up whatever social front I needed in my career. I basically liked my background so I was in no big hurry to "climb" out of it. Though I could easily see that some careers offered a lot more than others.

So one more lower-middle-class background with upward mobility; and an education and white collar life for me.

Mikey
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-25-2005, 02:40 AM   #16
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Re: Blues v. Whites

there were times when my father made some terrible (and I mean TERRIBLE) investment mistakes.

My father paid my tuition. He paid my brother's too. At the time, I didn't realize what a gift he was giving me or what a struggle was involved in giving it. Dad was a money machine, you know? When you needed money, you went to him, and he gave it.

Years later, we were talking about stocks one day and he mentioned that he had a hard time coming up with the money when my brother and me were both in school at the same time. He said that that was the one time he got involved in buying stocks on margin. That scared the heck out of me. It sort of hit me then that the money had not really just rolled out of a machine, that there was a little more to it than that.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-25-2005, 02:52 AM   #17
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Re: Blues v. Whites

that sounds like my kind of job

My favorite job was a job I had one summer delivering files that were used to produce race-track programs. I had to be at the print shop at 5:00 in the morning, and then drive four hours to the track at Ocean City Maryland to be there by 9:00. Then I had to hang around on the boardwalk for about four hours before taking the reworked files for delivery back to the print shop.

It was 100 percent mindless. No boss watching you. Nothing to worry about or think about. You got sun. You got to listen to lots of tunes on the drives. You had to get to bed early, so by the time you got home you didn't have much time to spend the money you made. I can tell you all the lyrics to any song that was out that summer.

It was the summer of Wasting Away in Margaritaville. And, as the man said: "Some people claim there's a woman to blame, but I know--it's my own damn fault."
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-25-2005, 03:04 AM   #18
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Re: Blues v. Whites

I enjoy hearing everybody's job stories. The one that best reveals my character is the one about how I got fired from a fast-food place that was paying me $1.80 an hour (they were allowed to pay you a little less than the going minimum wage because you were allowed to take some free french fries and any cheeseburgers that got too dried out to sell). It's sort of hard to get fired from a job that pays $1.80 an hour, but I managed to pull it off.

It was really an outrage. I got fired just because I was devoting too much of my mental energies to the conversation I was having with one of the girls who worked there and forgot to include a beef pattie on somebody's cheeseburger. It had the cheese and the pickle and the mustard. Only the meat was missing. And the customer got mad and brought it back after she got home and saw there was no meat in it! People who pay you money for stuff can be so picky.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-25-2005, 05:57 AM   #19
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Re: Blues v. Whites

Anyone that had their school paid for or first car paid for is lucky as hell. I had to work almost 40 hrs a week while going to college full-time, paying for insurance as a 19 yr old male and paying for the vehicle. Don't recommend going that route but oh well. I get a little chapped when I see people my age still getting handouts and just blowing the money on crap.
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Re: Blues v. Whites
Old 02-25-2005, 06:37 AM   #20
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Re: Blues v. Whites

And I got a college degree by going (at times) to school 4 nights a week, holding a full time job, and had 2 kids at home. Thanks to Mrs Eagle, that was possible.

This college degree did get me in the door at Mega Corp. My boss, at that time, wouldn't even look at you without one. It wasn't necessary for the work, BTW, but that's another thread another time.
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