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Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-05-2006, 10:03 AM   #1
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Expediting FIRE - Advice

This is my advise to those seeking to hasten their retirement plans. It's not for everyone, but I wish I had considered this approach sooner.

I got a late start, i.e., at age 51 I had roughly 400K in assets. Six years later, I am on the cusp of FIRE with a nestegg that is roughly $1.1M. Luck? No. Investing prowess? Hardly (my assets are invested VERY conservatively). At 51 I figured the only way to catch up and supercharge my plans was to work overseas. I accepted a job with the Government, working as a civilian employee on a military base located in Asia. The government furnished a free house, free utilities, commissary privileges and a post allowance of about $1,000 per month (in addition to my salary, of course). I practiced LBYM big time. Saved every penny. My wife and I basically banked our salaries (she worked too) and lived on our post allowance. Also volunteered for a six month tour in Iraq (as a civilian). Lots of overtime, danger pay and additional post allowance. Save it all. Viola! Ready for FIRE. If you want a sure thing, working overseas is the best way I know of to achieve FIRE quickly. I figure I shaved 5 years off the time it would have otherwise taken me to achieve FIRE. For me that's a big difference considering my late start. If you are gifted with investments, or inherently lucky, you may find a better approach. But, for those who want a near "sure thing" this is the best approace I have found.

Hope this advice resonates with at least one FIRE-seeker.

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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-05-2006, 10:14 AM   #2
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

But remember the risks inherent in this "sure thing": you could have been hurt or killed.
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-05-2006, 10:17 AM   #3
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

Yeah, I considered the same path. I figured it was too risky, even tho the money could be great!

Of course, I may end up an a forced tour over there compliments of uncle sam, but until then I think I will pass...

Still, 125K tax free to run an internet cafe sounds pretty sweet...
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-05-2006, 10:34 AM   #4
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMueller
At 51 I figured the only way to catch up and supercharge my plans was to work overseas.* I accepted a job with the Government, working as a civilian employee on a military base located in Asia.
GMueller,

That's great for you.* *Did the Goverment pay you as much as your previous civilian employer?* Including all the perks (housing, danger, etc), how did the goverment total pay/benefit compare to your previous salary?

I have been in the civilian computer industry for 24 years, I wonder if the goverment can ever match my current compensation.

Thanks,
Sam
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-05-2006, 10:35 AM   #5
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

yeah, you probably had a cozy cube job or something else fairly safe in Iraq.

Hubby can't wait to get out of the rat race and starting looking for Iraq jobs to supercharge the paycheck. He used to live in Bagdad and speaks some Arabic and so on. He used to build cell phone towers all over the world. In Israel he was only allowed a few minutes up there at a time and to keep moving because of all the nutcakes trying to shoot you down. No question he would be able to get something again. I am just not interested in seeing hubby on TV while his head is being chopped off in Iraq.

I think we will pass on this one and take a few years longer

Vicky
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-05-2006, 02:27 PM   #6
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

what is your job and how did you get the job in Asia?
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-06-2006, 12:55 PM   #7
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

At Cam Rahn Bay in Vietman, the huge base had 5,000 troops, a PX store, a bank, a library, a big pond for a swimming pool, a bar, several churches, a snack bar, a cafe, etc.* The civilian electronic contractors who merely calibrated the Army radio repair equipment were making $3600 a month in 1971.* The equipment was in an air-conditioned office inside a Quonset hut the size of a Costco Store.* Similar work was at satelite tracking facilities in remote, but not hostile locations, all around the world.* Better to hire a qualified civilian than to move out a similarly qualified soldier from some secret missile tracking unit in Alaska, Germany, or Korea. Not all of those civilian jobs are driving a semi truck load of explosives across enemy territory.
Joe
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-06-2006, 01:13 PM   #8
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

I am doing the same, 3 tours in Iraq in the last 3 years, lots of hazardous duty pay, hostile fire pay, tax free re-enlistment bonus, etc.

I talked to my troops about saving and investing, helped many start Rothís and gave investment options for there risk tolerance and knowledge.

Many guys/girls come home and buy a Harley, plaza screen, etc. We had 3 new Ford F-150ís in the parking lot within a week of coming home. I saw guys get $20K re-enlistment bonuses and all they did was buy junk and more debt.

I am currently in Italy and LBYM, most guys are buying the latest European Cars (Mini, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover) I bought an Italian made hoopty for $225 to get back and forth to work and I fill the tank once every 3 weeks.

I have many friends who left the Special Ops community and are now working for contractors overseas (Blackwater, DynCorp) They make six figures but also are in the front lines of the most risk.

I have talked extensively with our contractors who are retired military and then come and work overseas. One gentleman started in the US and then asked to transfer overseas (as they pay for moving, housing, etc) and has been here for 9 years. He and DW bought a house and travel around Italy going to wine festivals in there free time, not a bad lifestyle.
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-06-2006, 11:18 PM   #9
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

Working in Iraq is not as dangerous as one might think. Most Government employees work in the Green Zone, a heavily guarded enclave in central Baghdad. I feel about as safe here as I would in, let's say, New York City. How many U.S. Government civilian employees have you read about in the news (in Iraq)? Not many, I would bet. The pay gets "goosed up" because you draw danger pay, post allowance, and you work lots of overtime. This last two week pay period I worked my normal 80 hours, plus 75 hours of overtime. Basically, you receive receive somewhere between 2X and 3X your regular salary. In addition, it is not uncommon to get a temporary promotion as an additional incentive to come over here. I am a GS 13 at my post back in Japan; here I draw GS 14 pay. There is nothing to spend money on so I put every last penny of my take home pay in the bank. It adds up fast. Been watchning the net worth moving up at about 15k to 16k per month when you throw in wife's salary and investment returns. However, the point remains that working overseas (not just Iraq) is a very good way to LBYM and save. Even when I'm back in Japan my wife and I can easily save 80 - 90 percent of our salaries. We basically live on our post allowance. Free government housing (not fancy, but does the job), free utilities, and access to the commissary really helps. My only regret is that I didn't head overseas sooner. I would have retired 10 years earlier.
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-07-2006, 09:58 PM   #10
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

Is there a list of Government job openings overseas? or some way like that to find out more information about what's available, without actually joining an agency first.
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-08-2006, 01:48 AM   #11
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

macdaddy,

Try http://www.usajobs.gov/

This site lists all federal government jobs. However, you may not find many of the temporary assignments that lead to a job in Iraq. For example, my agency regularly sends out e-mail to all employees seeking those interested in filling a temporary (6 months to 1 year) assignment in Iraq or Afganistan. These assignments can often be extended once you arrive for one or more additional tours. That's how I ended up in Baghdad . . . I'm on a temporary assignment from my permanent duty station in Japan. Most people over here work 7 days a week, which explains the plentiful overtime. It's not for everybody, but it is a good way to serve your country and accelerate your retirement plans.
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice
Old 07-10-2006, 01:08 PM   #12
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Re: Expediting FIRE - Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMueller
Working in Iraq is not as dangerous as one might think. Most Government employees work in the Green Zone, a heavily guarded enclave in central Baghdad. I feel about as safe here as I would in, let's say, New York City. How many U.S. Government civilian employees have you read about in the news (in Iraq)? Not many, I would bet. The pay gets "goosed up" because you draw danger pay, post allowance, and you work lots of overtime. This last two week pay period I worked my normal 80 hours, plus 75 hours of overtime. Basically, you receive receive somewhere between 2X and 3X your regular salary. In addition, it is not uncommon to get a temporary promotion as an additional incentive to come over here. I am a GS 13 at my post back in Japan; here I draw GS 14 pay. There is nothing to spend money on so I put every last penny of my take home pay in the bank. It adds up fast. Been watchning the net worth moving up at about 15k to 16k per month when you throw in wife's salary and investment returns. However, the point remains that working overseas (not just Iraq) is a very good way to LBYM and save. Even when I'm back in Japan my wife and I can easily save 80 - 90 percent of our salaries. We basically live on our post allowance. Free government housing (not fancy, but does the job), free utilities, and access to the commissary really helps. My only regret is that I didn't head overseas sooner. I would have retired 10 years earlier.
I spent 8 months at the CPA/Embassy. Pool parties, lime trees for cold Corona's, and Saddam's swimming pool. Yeah, I was roughing it.
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