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Life Lessons: the path to now
Old 09-30-2015, 11:42 AM   #1
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Life Lessons: the path to now

A brief summary of my history and a good lesson for those in their 20's. I've hit a lot of rather large speed bumps along my path (dream) towards FIRE. I've done a lot of foolish things, and I've learned a lot...

Life Events and Salary
2004 - Engaged at 22
2005 - Married at 23
- Moved into $500K house 2 days later
(stated income thing, fascinating how they worked in 2005, horrifying really)
- Income started at $75,000, 2 weeks after moving into house
(this actually makes me laugh now, I am dumbfounded that I could actually get into that house when we did, luckily my job market was extremely stable despite the recession that started a year later)
2009 - Had first child
- Income crossed the $100K income range
- Wife stopped working and moved into her dream job (Stay at home mom)
2011
- Had second child
- Income crossed the $150,000 range
2012
- Uncovered wife in an affair
- Decided to move, build new larger house (foolish, foolish)
- Income reached $175,000 range
2013
- after months of marriage counselling found out wife is serial cheater, and there were other men, spanned entire marriage.
- divorced
- sold house ($40K mistake, luckily that was it)
- swept up the mess. Split everything.
2014
- Income reached $200,000

Retirement:
I am so fortunate that the company I started working for in 2005 set aside (fully vested) 20% in top of my income into 401k. Despite the horrible performance in the market, by 2014 (divorce) my 401K had reached $300K

About $175,000 of that became mine by the time it was split. Long story there is that the ex is dragging her feet filing a QDRO (why I have no idea, I think because she knows she will spend it all the second she gets it). So my $175,000 is locked (frozen) in a 401K with my old employer. For the last 2 years psst divorce I continued to invest about 25% of my income into it. Which is why my share is more than 50%

Started new job this summer. Amazingly they have the same 20% towards retirement model for 401K contributions. On top of this I am contributing my max as well. My company is contributing $32,000 and I'm adding $18,000 on top of that. Three months later I'm at $15,000 in my new Vanguard 401k account.

So retirement sitting at approximately $190,000 right now, and I'm adding $50,000 to that a year. I am renting for the moment (which is painful), but the smart thing while looking at where to buy when it makes sense. Living way more modestly today, with a perfect amount of room for myself and my daughters when I have them. Perspective: my current rent is 30% less than my mortgage was on that house I bought in 2005 - and it's plenty of room for me, and a nice neighborhood. I estimate in 4 years my new 401k should surpass the other account, which will be a small (moral) victory in my path towards FIRE.

I really put myself into saving overdrive coming out of this. I suddenly feel so free. I have so much income, and I'm able to really save. Child support is $1400 a month, but I keep my own sanity there viewing that as for my daughters (not my ex). Piece of mine is that I'm no longer living paycheck to paycheck, in a family life that seemed destine to never pull itself from that cycle. Despite the aggressive 401K contributions I'm still taking home $10K cash every month. Only about half of which is going towards living expenses.

My path seems on a great trajectory... I am thankful that I had the 401K contributions through the 8 year marriage. Now to just stay the path and avoid the next speed bump

I am 33... and I certainly haven't taken the easiest path here, but I'm proud of where I am despite everything:
- Retirement $190,000
- Savings: $52,000
- Debts: $25K auto loan ($600 a month)


10 years ago I had a vision to reach $1,000,000 by 42 (did a lot of math and excel play to come up with that). I think I may still make it. Hope is to FIRE by 55...
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Old 09-30-2015, 01:30 PM   #2
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She done you wrong. Have you verified with DNA analysis that you are the father of the children?
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Old 09-30-2015, 01:46 PM   #3
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She done you wrong. Have you verified with DNA analysis that you are the father of the children?
Good question. I have not, but I decided long ago it wouldn't matter. With that understanding, from my view it is irrelevant to even check. They are my daughters, and they need me in their lives.
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Old 09-30-2015, 02:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by EvrClrx311 View Post
Good question. I have not, but I decided long ago it wouldn't matter. With that understanding, from my view it is irrelevant to even check. They are my daughters, and they need me in their lives.
Good man.
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Old 09-30-2015, 02:52 PM   #5
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Despite the turmoil in your personal life you're making $200K at 32 - a rare and enviable position. Just keep doing what you're doing, don't lose sight of your goal and, even while supporting your daughters, RE at 55 should be easily achievable.
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Old 09-30-2015, 03:22 PM   #6
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It sounds like you are on a good path after a rough marriage. Be a good dad, keep saving, and put the ex in the rear view mirror.
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Old 09-30-2015, 03:43 PM   #7
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"Into every life a little rain must fall." The purpose of relationships of any kind is to teach us something (about ourselves). A couple of questions you might want to ask yourself if you choose (not to be answered publicly):

1) For what reason did this show up in my life?
2) If you were you, sitting right next to you, and knowing everything you know about yourself and the situation, what advice would you give yourself a) before the event began; b) during the event; and c) now that it's over?
3) What might somebody else possibly see that I might be missing?
4) What's the single most important thing you can do right now to move on?

Best of luck in putting this behind you.
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Old 09-30-2015, 04:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by EvrClrx311 View Post
10 years ago I had a vision to reach $1,000,000 by 42 (did a lot of math and excel play to come up with that). I think I may still make it. Hope is to FIRE by 55...
Clearly you've made quite a few smart choices, they are part of your path as well. Looks like you have the drive and resiliency needed to achieve just about any target you set, no reason to think you can't make your ER@55.
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Old 09-30-2015, 05:01 PM   #9
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You must be in a great field and very good at what you do! I admire your dedication to supporting your daughters and being in their lives- that has a HUGE effect on their futures.


I also survived a very bad marriage and started over at the age of 44 with $200,000 in savings, $100K in home equity, a $250K mortgage and sole custody of a wonderful but angry and confused 12-year old son. Eighteen years later, I'm happily remarried, DS is out of college with no student loans, he owns a house and he and my wonderful DIL have a beautiful little girl. Current DH and I dated 6 years before we married so we knew each other very well. He's turned out to be a spectacular stepfather. I ER'd last year at age 61; because we were in a LCOL area and had modest tastes other than our travel budget, it was 4 years ahead of plan. (DH is 77 so had retired when we got married and moved for my career.) We got back from a spectacular trip to Iceland last month. Life is good.


So, with your drive and your savings habits, ER is still possible.
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Old 09-30-2015, 05:50 PM   #10
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I was married at 21. Two great kids. Husband had an affair with my "best friend". Also spent every penny we made and several we had not made. Ended up divorced, bankrupt supporting two kids. Like you- I was in a higher income field. Able to begin to recoup and rebuild.

Fast forward 13 years. Still two great kids. 1- very supportive SO a lovely home, business and rental property. After father's recent death and inheritance I have decided to cut back significantly at work.

We all have different journeys. Many times unexpected. I suppose we make the best decisions under the circumstances and just enjoy the ride.

Wishing you the best.


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Old 09-30-2015, 06:11 PM   #11
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Good man.
+1

You will make such a difference in their lives.
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Old 09-30-2015, 07:02 PM   #12
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Old 09-30-2015, 07:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by EvrClrx311 View Post
Good question. I have not, but I decided long ago it wouldn't matter. With that understanding, from my view it is irrelevant to even check. They are my daughters, and they need me in their lives.
I assume she has domiciliary custody. How much child support are you paying?

My theory was always OK, you can fool around if you need to, but I will never pick up the check on any of this.

You are doing well in any case.

Ha
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Old 09-30-2015, 09:49 PM   #14
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Good work on the financial changes. I hope you are able to still meet your FIRE goals despite the twists and turns in your life.
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:52 AM   #15
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One statistic in this country that has changed drastically in the last two generations--the number of people whose marriage is older than their children.

Thank you for standing by your kids thru all of this. If you can remain civil with your ex-spouse on top of that you, sir, are a shining example to your children on being a true parent.
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Old 10-01-2015, 08:13 AM   #16
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Good question. I have not, but I decided long ago it wouldn't matter. With that understanding, from my view it is irrelevant to even check. They are my daughters, and they need me in their lives.
Kudos. I doubt many would have the same view.
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:21 AM   #17
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Kudos. I doubt many would have the same view.
Some courts have awarded CS when it's been proven that the ex-husband is not the Bio Dad. So, the dirty laundry has been aired, the child knows he/she is not the flesh and blood of the ex-husband, and the ex-husband doesn't escape the obligation to support them. (I don't know the "right" answer in these cases, but that's what's happened.)

I agree with the OP's decision to consider them his daughters and go on from there.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:29 PM   #18
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What a bad hand to have been dealt, but you still have uncommonly good cards to play with your relationship with your kids and your high income. Consider your good fortune in just a few years if you continued to rent for a while longer, crushed all your debt and got rich enough to retire early, if you chose to. At least do yourself a big favor and read the Mr. Money Mustache blog. It's free and shows what freedom and bullet-proof living can be had through sound choices compared to the poor financial choices you (and I) have admittedly made in the past and must live with. It's not good or bad, just choices and predictable outcomes. Thanks for sharing your story and good luck!
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:49 PM   #19
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I am 33... and I certainly haven't taken the easiest path here, but I'm proud of where I am despite everything:
- Retirement $190,000
- Savings: $52,000
- Debts: $25K auto loan ($600 a month)


10 years ago I had a vision to reach $1,000,000 by 42 (did a lot of math and excel play to come up with that). I think I may still make it. Hope is to FIRE by 55...
Doing way better than me. All things considered. In my twenties I spent my dough on travel and partying...I suppose we both lost a bit of our youth making mistakes. I wish I earned 250k/yr. Man I went into the wrong field (IT)
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FIRE in 2031 @ 50yrs old (+/- 2yrs) w/ a hypothetical $2.5mil portfolio, 3 appreciated homes worth $1.0mil and rental income to fund my gap years until RMD. Assets will go to an inherited IRA where I plan on watching the investments grow until I die or the trust gets executed.
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