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How did you decide/plan to ER?
Old 04-24-2014, 08:15 AM   #1
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How did you decide/plan to ER?

Until this year the idea of ER seemed well crazy. I never calculated or figured out when we could do it. It still seems a bit out of reach.

We've always LBOM, saved, and budgeted. And frugality and budgeting has always been second nature. But we just assumed we'd work until retirement age then retire. Now the idea that we could do it earlier seems possible. I might add that we always planned to be FI, just never considered ER. I always looked at how soon we could pay off the mortgage and have enough saved for college.

Now more than ever I am dying for FI to come. I don't know if it means we'll ER, but at least it'll give me peace of mind to know whatever happens we can weather.
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Old 04-24-2014, 08:38 AM   #2
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In my case it was a combination of health reasons, job stress and just hating my job. I have arthritis throughout my body and sitting at a desk on a computer for ten hours a day didn't help it. We worked with a financial planner to see if we could make ER happen, and we found we were in good shape. I gave my notice a few months later. My DW will join me in ER sometime this year.
Since I've retired my health has improved significantly because I now have time for exercise and don't sit in the same position for so many hours at a time. Life is good!
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:14 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by livingalmostlarge View Post
Until this year the idea of ER seemed well crazy. I never calculated or figured out when we could do it. It still seems a bit out of reach.

We've always LBOM, saved, and budgeted. And frugality and budgeting has always been second nature. But we just assumed we'd work until retirement age then retire. Now the idea that we could do it earlier seems possible. I might add that we always planned to be FI, just never considered ER. I always looked at how soon we could pay off the mortgage and have enough saved for college.

Now more than ever I am dying for FI to come. I don't know if it means we'll ER, but at least it'll give me peace of mind to know whatever happens we can weather.
I found a magazine on homesteading at a relatives house and realized the people in the magazine were getting more sunshine, exposure to nature, fresh air and exercise than we were and living off very little money because they were so self sufficient. We didn't want to grow crops or have livestock as that seemed like too much work for us. Then I started finding books and blogs on urban homesteading and sustainable living. We realized living more sustainably would be better for the planet and allow us to cut our expenses enough to ER.

Juliette Schor has a book on this concept called Plentitude. The idea is to work less hours (if you can) and cut expenses by having time to do more for yourself, spend less money on consumer goods and live more sustainably -

Plenitude: The Book | Juliet Schor

She is also the author of the Overworked American and The Overspent American.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:01 AM   #4
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How did you decide/plan to ER?
Some time in the early 80's I had dinner with a high school buddy I'd kept up with over the years. He told me about his plans to retire in his early 50's. Like me, he had two young daughters in school (we were in our 30's at the time), but unlike me he had a very high paying job working in the "awl bidness" in Saudi.*

I knew I'd not reach FI as quickly as he would, but his plan inspired me to take a realistic look at what was possible for us. I set a target for retiring before age 60, later revised it to age 57. At age 56 I did succumb to OMY syndrome (delayed a year to pay off the mortgage) and retired at age 58.



*My buddy did retire at age 50. Unfortunately his last day of work was Dec 31, 1999 and he was heavily invested in tech stocks. His portfolio suffered a huge loss.

He returned to work in 2002 making really good money and after working five more years managed to amass another nice nest egg. He retired again in 2007 (see where this is headed?) only to have the bottom drop out of his portfolio once again.

Based on his previous experience with the tech stock decline, he had no faith the market would come back so he returned to work in 2009 for what would be the final time. Before he was able to rebuild his nest egg for the third time, he began having memory problems and unusual behavioral issues. He retired again in 2010 (at age 60) and was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, also known as Pick's Disease, an incurable atrophy of the front portion of the brain. He's been in a nursing home for the past year.

Carpe diem.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:35 PM   #5
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How did I decide to go down this path?

Easy. My dad worked until he was 77. He wanted to retire much earlier, but my parents hadn't saved adequately and didn't really plan for retirement until their sixties, probably. My mom is 72 and still working, though she plans to retire soon.

When my dad was 78, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 20% of those diagnosed live another year. 5% live beyond 5 years. Now approaching 80, my dad is one of the lucky ones so far, but he's spent the last 18 months in hospitals more often than not, and we're hoping the way is clear for him after his latest surgery to resume something close to a normal life. He's an insulin-dependent diabetic now (had his entire pancreas removed), and has dropped about 50 lbs during this entire ordeal.

In short, 50% of his retirement has been spent fighting cancer and its complications because he was forced to work into his late seventies.

That's not going to be me.

DW and I got even more serious about saving last year, raising our saving % from about 25% to more than 40%. I came up with an investment plan, consolidated accounts, simplified my strategy, reduced investment expenses even more than I had previously, and came up with a "number" to get us to FI by Jan 1, 2020, and built the plan around achieving that goal. Whether I retire fully on that date (age 42) or not, the groundwork will be in place to allow me to choose my exit, rather than have circumstances dictate it for me.

Our time here is short. I intend to have the freedom to make the most of it.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:46 PM   #6
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How did I decide? My Dad died at age 62, my mother at 66. Although in both cases it was largely the result of poor choices (smoking/lung cancer), their early demise reinforced my belief that you need to grab the opportunity to enjoy life when you can because you don't know how long you might have.

I have spent 30+ years in the workforce doing things that I am good at but that I don't enjoy. I want some time to do the things that I enjoy before I lose the physical ability to do them.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
*My buddy did retire at age 50. Unfortunately his last day of work was Dec 31, 1999 and he was heavily invested in tech stocks. His portfolio suffered a huge loss.

He returned to work in 2002 making really good money and after working five more years managed to amass another nice nest egg. He retired again in 2007 (see where this is headed?) only to have the bottom drop out of his portfolio once again.

Based on his previous experience with the tech stock decline, he had no faith the market would come back so he returned to work in 2009 for what would be the final time. Before he was able to rebuild his nest egg for the third time, he began having memory problems and unusual behavioral issues. He retired again in 2010 (at age 60) and was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, also known as Pick's Disease, an incurable atrophy of the front portion of the brain. He's been in a nursing home for the past year.

Carpe diem.
That's tragic. I wish him well. I almost pulled the trigger around 2007 after rebuilding my asset after the dot boom crash. I am glad I did not RE then. Looking back, I was not ready financially and emotionally. Had I known about this forum years ago, I probably could have RE'd already.
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:01 PM   #8
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Got out of grad school late and started working, wife was working too. Spent money left and right, never went into debt (except for mortgage) but realized that we did not like the hamster wheel of getting kids out the door in the morning only to come home and get everything ready for next day.

When deciding on having a third child we sat down and made a budget and see what it would take for wife to be home.

When doing a budget we found that we were spending too much money in areas that did not matter to us. It also made me realize that we (NOW) spend much less money than we make and with this realized that I could probably ER at least 10 years early.

We also relocated in the process to insure that we didn't have to spend all vacation time traveling to see family.
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:48 PM   #9
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My ER journey was a bit of an evolution:

1) I became disillusioned/obsessed with the structural changes in the world of work after the 08 economic meltdown;
2) The more I read the more I questioned the usefulness of what I did for a living (but had become very good at) to society;
3) Reading too many blogs like this one, too many websites, too many books, running too many calculators, I came to the conclusion ER was possible.

It's no secret there is no one-size-fits-all ER plan. However, what I found is that the more research I did answering the questions I had for my own particular situation, the more confident I became with ER.
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:57 PM   #10
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My road to realizing a possible ER came in stages. First, I paid off my mortgage in 1998 which greatly reduced my expenses. Then, my company decided to relocate, making an already barely tolerable commute even worse. That led to my switching in 2001 to working part-time instead of full-time, my first time living off a reduced salary.

But that part-time, mostly telecommuting deal, ended in 2003, bringing back some of the horrors of the commute. I knew even than that the end of the telecommuting would be my eventual undoing.

Over the next few years, I saw the value of my company stock explode. It was in my company savings/401k plan but also in that time I learned aobut NUA (Net Unrealized Appreciation) which would greatly reduce the tax bite if I were to cash it out at some point.

By 2007, I had to further reduce my weekly work hours to get rid of some of my awful commute. The company stock value was still exploding, and I was creating spreadsheets to see what an ER budget would look like. I was now living on an even lower salary, one which would resemble a target level of investment income should I eventually cash out the company stock.

By 2008, the company stock's value was approaching my magic number and I used Fidelity's RIP program to look at longer-term projections for an ER. I met with a rep who helped me with the RIP program and she gave me an unofficial "green light" to move toward ER.

I had also found an affordable individual HI policy which fit into my budget starting in 2009. The pieces were falling into place. The economic downturn was a big help, too, because I was able to buy shares of the targeted bond fund (from cashing out the company stock which had not been greatly affected) at dirt-cheap prices.

With everything falling into place, I chose a resignation date of October 31, 2008. I ERed and never looked back. Once the economic recovery kicked in, my investments grew back. The ACA has been another godsend, keeping my HI premiums under control while regaining a more comprehensive policy than I had before.

I have had to tweak my ER plan a few times over the last 5 years but all within my overall ER plan.
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Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

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Old 04-24-2014, 02:02 PM   #11
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1. realization that I can't continue to work in current megacrap env.
2. realization that I have enough to RE and keep the current lifestyle.
3. early death of my younger brother which made me realize life is too short.
4. (tongue in cheek) my genome test revealed that I don't have a longevity gene - see 3 above.

Currently suffering through OMY to improve my RE lifestyle (traveling) ....
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:03 PM   #12
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1. Parents always in debt so knew I wanted something different.
2. Finance class in college taught me time value of money.

Just a matter of time from there.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:08 PM   #13
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I'll admit to having had lots of help. We had good thrifty genes so saving always came first and we never spent what we couldn't afford. Over the years it was not always possible to save, and some of the times were frustrating, but we were always financially disciplined, so when the times were good the surplus was always set aside. There were some years I was overpaid well compensated, this let us become financing independent.

I didn't have ER as a goal, but when my BS bucket reached its limit and I saw we were FI, it didn't take long to quit.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:11 PM   #14
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Mom and dad both retired at 62 with extensive plans to travel (and the assets to do it.)
They changed plans when mom started chemo for stage 4 ovarian cancer when mom was 63. She died at 67. Quality of life for her retirement was good for ONE year.
Dad remarried a lovely lady and resumed the traveling with spouse thing.
He got a dx of multiple myeloma 2 months before they were due to start a 4 month round the world trip. He died from complications of the treatment (suppressed immune system, got a cold that went septic) two weeks before they were to leave on their trip. He had just turned 77.

My brother died at age 48 from neuroendicrine carcinoma.
My first cousin has had prostate cancer and testicular cancer (He's 10 days younger than me.)

this has taught me LIFE IS SHORT.

Plus I hate my job.

Plan to retire in less than a year at age 53.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:27 PM   #15
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I was laid off from my job of 16 years at the age of 45. While collecting unemployment and looking for work, it slowly began to dawn on me that I didn't feel like working any more.

So I didn't.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:38 PM   #16
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A number of things came together over approximately five years.

1. Savings reached a level close to critical mass. I was always thrifty and saved. Thanks mom and dad.
2. Changes in the work environment made it tougher to teach any subject that is under the testing microscope.
3. At a retirement seminar where I learned that I could get health insurance (no ACA at that time) though I had to pay 100% of the premium myself.
4. Thanks to #1 above I had a chance to purchase five additional years of pension credit with a capped COLA (something that may disappear in the next few years).
5. Alas, the death of a younger sibling, the death of a good friend only a few years older than me, and life altering sicknesses in two neighbors made me realize time and health are very precious.
6. Kids moved out and are on there own.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:38 PM   #17
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Obituary page.

Most obits are a few paragraphs.

NONE mention how much money, a "magic number" or how many granite countertops or latest luxury car or how much real estate taxes one paid.

A lot of them are so short you wonder if the person actually lived a life of sixty, seventy or eighty+ years.

Get out while you can still enjoy a little life. Expenses count... NOT "X Times annual Income".

There are only so many springs and summers.

Coffee in the early morning on the deck or patio or balcony, hearing the geese and birds, smelling the new day's heavenly scented air-even on a rainy day (Okay I DO live in the mountains!!!!).... beats a commute and BS meetings and all the go-go-go hype and NONSENSE.... EVERY TIME....

That's how I made my choice.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:53 PM   #18
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My father retired at 57 because his father died at 60 and he figured he wouldn't last much longer than that and wanted to enjoy retirement. (Turns out he lived to 79, and enjoyed all in good health but the last few months when he became ill.) So I always planned to retire at 57, which was the earliest I could get unreduced pension credit from Megacorp (back in the good old days of defined-benefit pensions). But when we got both kiddos in college and bought/remodeled our retirement home, we realized we had enough saved that I could pull the plug at 53 and defer taking my pension until 57. Since my BS bucket had been overflowing for about 4 years, I decided that was reason enough. So glad I did.
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Old 04-24-2014, 03:30 PM   #19
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I started looking into FIRE soon after starting my career. I lost my first job out of graduate school after only 9 months (company went bankrupt in the dot come bust). It took me several months to find another one that paid half as much and bored me to tears. I found the whole process of begging for work degrading. So I started to look into alternatives. I read a few book like the Millionaire Next Door and Work Less Live More, which was a revelation. Within a few months, I fired our Ameriprise advisor and put in place a FIRE plan, which had us retire at 55. We increased our savings rate, started banking all pay raises and bonuses, and we made real progress pretty quickly. Then we got lucky. Our income rose very rapidly to levels I never expected. Then, during the dark days of 2008 and 2009, we were awarded a bunch of stock options that paid big time when the market recovered. We were suddenly years ahead of the original plan. So when I found myself without a job again (end of contract this time), I just decided to retire. I really did not want to go through another job search.
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Old 04-24-2014, 03:56 PM   #20
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I was fortunate I chose a career with a nice pension. Though the pension wasn't even on my mind until I hit my mid 30s, then it simply was stay the course until I hit my retirement age. My goal is to be like my neighbor who retired in the mid 1980s with a good union pension. Now 30 years later he is in his mid 80s; golfs daily and still does all his yard work.


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