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Lucky to ER?
Old 06-24-2013, 04:57 AM   #1
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Lucky to ER?

Good article that examines comments from an earlier NYT article. Lots of diverse opinions and the author lands on luck. I agree to a point but it is a mix with personal responsibility:

First, the people who have done well donít recognize the amount of luck that goes into success. They seem to think that if everyone followed their excellent practices, everyone would be as rich as they are. Thatís obviously not true.

Retirement Planning by New York Times Commenters | Firedoglake
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:20 AM   #2
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Some great quotes on luck:
  1. “Chance favors the prepared mind.“ – Louis Pasteur
  2. “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.“ – Henry Ford
  3. “In short, Luck’s always to blame.“ – Jean De La Fontaine
  4. “Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure.“ – Earl Wilson
  5. “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.“ – Harry Golden
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:33 AM   #3
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"Luck is the residue of design" - Branch Rickey

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Old 06-24-2013, 06:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tekward View Post
Good article that examines comments from an earlier NYT article. Lots of diverse opinions and the author lands on luck. I agree to a point but it is a mix with personal responsibility:

First, the people who have done well donít recognize the amount of luck that goes into success. They seem to think that if everyone followed their excellent practices, everyone would be as rich as they are. Thatís obviously not true.

Retirement Planning by New York Times Commenters | Firedoglake
Thanks for the link... a good read.
Would be interesting to parse the opinions listed, and turn them into a poll. Wonder who here, would agree with what?
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:57 AM   #5
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Thanks for the link... a good read.
Would be interesting to parse the opinions listed, and turn them into a poll. Wonder who here, would agree with what?
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:29 AM   #6
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Luck!
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:14 AM   #7
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I've got to agree with the article in the general idea that there is a ton of luck involved in success. For all these people who think they're the only ones out of 7 billion who don't spend more money than they have, and if only everyone would just be like them, they'd -easily- find financial success seems kind of part of a real self-centered world view.

To be born the right race, and the right gender, in the right time, at the right place, near the right school, see the right help wanted board, be the right candidate, have the right health, all involves a decent amount of luck. There are an incredible amount of hardworking people working at Walmart right now without enough to get by, downgraded from much higher level jobs because the economy sucks.

I would argue I'm relatively successful for my age, but I'm not going to pretend it wasn't luck. I started a business, so did tons of people in my same field, but it was luck that I started it at the right time, when the businesses I wanted as clients just happened to need it. 30 years ago, the business would be a lot less feasible in my position, and who knows where I'd be.

I've also recently started a photography business making more than my peers in there, increasing my income by a good 1/3 and taking almost no time out of my day. I'm not even a good photographer and I acknowledge that. I know many photogs who are much, much better. I just luck into seeing the better jobs before they do.

I never worked hard in school, but I'm doing a lot better than those who did so far, while I watch them vie for foodservice jobs on Facebook because there's just nothing else for them. They're good, professional people. For some, maybe they weren't lucky enough to have parents who could afford college, we were all unlucky enough to go to school in a time where all of the local service jobs were filled by laid off adults with more experience, so there was no saving up for college for any kids without a connection to a job.

It's not all luck, but to pretend there's none involved is just silly.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:16 AM   #8
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The more I saved, the luckier I got.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:49 AM   #9
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Most people never put themselves in a position to be lucky. Luck rarely just falls into your lap.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:05 AM   #10
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People that made it to FI probably think it was mostly planning and hard work with some luck here and there. (I fall into this category)

People that didn't make it are probably prone to blame bad luck or circumstance.

I bet both categories could be pulled apart to find people that are right in each group. But I do think there are exceptions. Like those that inherited everything and attribute it to hard work. It probably was hard work, just not their own. Or those who find it easier to blame circumstance for failure than to actually try to live without every last toy they can possibly buy.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:44 AM   #11
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Luck - Bogle's Folly in my 401k(1976) and the influence of my parents' experiences in the Great Depression.

Frugal to the point of being a cheap SOB and proud of it.

heh heh heh - Being INTJ also helped - imho.
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Old 06-24-2013, 11:18 AM   #12
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I think it takes a combination of luck and good life choices to be able to FIRE although if you have a helluva lot of one, you won't need much of the other.

As for me, I made some good life choices (no debts, no kids, LBYM) to put me on the path to FIRE but once some good luck came my way (the exploding value of my company's stock) I was in a position to capitalize on it and RE when I did. There are plenty of people who have no debts and no kids and LBYM but can't RE, or at least as early as I did. And many of my old coworkers had as much as or more value in their company stock than I did but had other financial obligations preventing them from RE.

Without the big company stock value it would have been a lot tougher to ER when I did, or I would have delayed it a few years, probably into my 50s.

And even if one does make good life choices and gets some good luck, that person may not wish to RE even if he is able to. My best friend, one I have written about a few times in this forum, has no debts and no kids and is my age. He LBYM and he inherited a large amount of money recently so he has about $900k in his investments. He is living on half his salary, putting half of it into his 457b plan (he is a local gov't employee). He has a short, easy commute (5-minute drive) and he likes his job. He has a partial physical disability from a car accident 30 years ago so it is not like he has always been lucky.
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Old 06-24-2013, 11:31 AM   #13
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First, the people who have done well don’t recognize the amount of luck that goes into success. They seem to think that if everyone followed their excellent practices, everyone would be as rich as they are. That’s obviously not true.
Luck certainly has some part in this. To be born with a good set of health producing genes is certainly nothing one had any control over. But, then lots of people who have good genes have tossed away many opportunities to acquire wealth. So...

My gut tells me the real motive some people have for attributing the success of others mostly to luck is to justify confiscating what others have built in the name of 'fairness'.

A certain multi-billionaire who lives in my neck of the woods made a fortune in software. He as also born into a wealthy, well connected family. Would he have been as successful if he had been born to Joe the Plumber? My guess is he would still be a smashing success but probably not quite as wealthy as he is now. His family wealth was able to turbo-charge his own ambition, intelligence, etc. But, the wealth certainly could not substitute for those characteristics in him.
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Old 06-24-2013, 11:54 AM   #14
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No doubt life ain't all fair. Most prob agree that luck (random chance) plays some role in everyone's life, but choices we make certainly favor successful/unsuccessful outcomes. Only way the hardest working day laborer will become a multi-millionaire is the long-shot of winning the lottery, and the chain-smoking, morbidly obese diabetic who chooses to regularly drive drunk, eat a poor diet and skip taking their proper medications greatly increases their chances for an early demise. A person with who works hard, maintains a practical outlook (i.e. common sense), pursues a market-relevant college education, develops good social/networking skills, and follows a healthy lifestyle will always have a higher chance for success (i.e. be "luckier") than a high-school drop-out burger-flipper who spends all their free time watching TV or playing video games. And people with big $$$ can also create their own back "luck", too. Stories abound of big-time pro athletes or 1-time successful business folks who squandered the $millions they made and wound up in bankruptcy.
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Old 06-24-2013, 11:59 AM   #15
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I think we had lucky breaks on which we worked hard to capitalize.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:14 PM   #16
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It might be interesting to analyze the size of ones ego in relation to whether they agree luck was involved
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:31 PM   #17
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The laws of probability state that with enough draws the cumulative outcome becomes the same for everyone. That's what life is. A few thousand important decisions driven by a quarter million random events. My belief is over time the random stuff all evens out and all that matters is your decision making.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:07 AM   #18
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The laws of probability state that with enough draws the cumulative outcome becomes the same for everyone. That's what life is. A few thousand important decisions driven by a quarter million random events. My belief is over time the random stuff all evens out and all that matters is your decision making.
Over what span of time is this, and what size? I love my brain, and I think my good choices help lead to success, but I also think I am incredibly lucky to be in my position.

I don't for a second believe that if you took my brain and all that it is, then placed it in the body of a black man in 1890, or a child with abusive parents growing up in the same time I did, or a woman in the Middle East, or even into my own body two thousand years ago, that I would achieve a single drop of the same success I have. I don't think those circumstances could ever even out to where my brain, work ethic, etc would bring me to the same places. Even today I lucked into a ton of what I have just by being in the right place at the right time.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:44 AM   #19
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I FEEL lucky to be able to ER. But I always enjoyed saving money/investing it more than spending it. I've always been a worrier and having money saved was piece of mind for me in a high turnover industry. So my luck was health, finding good employment and having the desire to save.

I've been trying to convince a young couple we met a while back to start saving. They are late 20s, both have good paying jobs and have not invested anything yet, not even to get company match . If they started to put $1000. per month into VG target 2040 now and took advantage of company match in 401K - I think their luck would be better in the future.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:44 AM   #20
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I think we had lucky breaks on which we worked hard to capitalize.
This seems to be the majority view, and I agree.

And look at it the other way - drop a bunch of good luck on someone, but w/o some hard work and long-term thinking attached to it, they are unlikely to be successful for the long term. There are exceptions of course, lottery winners, some silver-spoons. But in general I think it holds.

IOW, I would not be where I am today w/o a lot of luck. But I see a lot of people with that same luck or more who did not take advantage of what was available to them.

One simple example - the great Bull Market of the 1990's. Without working towards a decent salary, LBYM and saving, and being rational about the risk/reward of equities, I would not have done nearly as well. I know others in very similar positions, but they would rather spend than invest, never learned about investing so they bought high and sold low, etc. The Great Bull was luck, but being ready to take advantage of it more than people in the same position as I was, at the same time, was not luck. It was a conscious decision backed by a lot of hard work and long-term thinking. That applied to a lot of areas.

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