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Slow start to FIRE
Old 07-20-2019, 08:27 PM   #1
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Slow start to FIRE

Reading the blogs of the new ĎFIREí crowd makes me see the new crowd is young and makes big bucks right out of the gate. What if you arenít a high dollar earner? Is there still hope for those who desire to FIRE but arenít earning the salaries of engineers or techies right out of college? What if you are a nurse and a landscaper for example? And you live in a city with high rent? How do those young couples even hope to start a family, have a decent place to live, and save enough to ĎFIREí? Is it possible to be a W2 employee for your career in a middle income job TODAY and have no side hustle- and even hope to have one stay at home parent- and still FIRE? ( asking for a very close family member)
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Old 07-20-2019, 10:05 PM   #2
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Donít underestimate the power of compounding. Getting in the habit of living below your means and paying yourself first by saving and investing is more important than how much you make. Yes, itís easier to save with a larger salary but it can be done even on modest incomes. Be mindful of debt and work to pay down balances.
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Old 07-21-2019, 04:34 AM   #3
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Donít underestimate the power of compounding. Getting in the habit of living below your means and paying yourself first by saving and investing is more important than how much you make. Yes, itís easier to save with a larger salary but it can be done even on modest incomes. Be mindful of debt and work to pay down balances.
+1. It has as much to do with your spending as with your net worth.
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Old 07-21-2019, 06:47 AM   #4
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This example is a bit extreme, but her friend is making $30K and will be able to FIRE (although mostly because they have a job overseas, where I'm guessing room and board are paid for): https://www.thelily.com/this-woman-r...one-can-do-it/


As I said, it's extreme, but you could be less extreme and halve that savings rate, and retire at 41 or maybe 51, and still be doing better than most people.


Like we've discussed in the other thread on the extreme FIRE movement, they often serve as good examples or sources of ideas you can adapt to your own uses, even if you don't take them to the same extreme.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:08 AM   #5
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I don't think you need to make big bucks right out the gate. For instance, I have an acquaintance who got laid off, at the age of 26, and when he started applying for other jobs, said his salary requirement was $104K per year! Needless to say, he stayed unemployed for awhile. I heard he finally did get some job in his field, software engineering/coding or whatever, but I don't know how much he's making. We had a bit of a falling out.

Anyway, for reference, you know what age I finally hit $104K per year? That would be, never! I'm 49, and just hit $85K. I'm hoping to retire by around age 51. I started getting serious about saving and investing when I was 21, but had a bad marriage and divorce that put a damper on that. From age 26-30 I took on a second job delivering pizzas, to get the debt down, and get more investing money. But, for the most part, it was living below my means, maxing out my 401k and other investments as best I could, reinvesting the dividends, and compounding.

Now, I am currently single, with no kids, so that also makes a difference. But, I'm sure having a spouse that's on board with your plans will help you get to early retirement even quicker. My ex was extremely short-sighted, and managed to sabotage just about everything.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:30 AM   #6
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Donít underestimate the power of compounding. Getting in the habit of living below your means and paying yourself first by saving and investing is more important than how much you make. Yes, itís easier to save with a larger salary but it can be done even on modest incomes. Be mindful of debt and work to pay down balances.
+1
We had lower wages, but worked for govt that had good pension. Still LBYM and saved regularly every month, and participated in work retirement plans.
Retired at 60, not early, early, but sooner than 65!
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Old 07-21-2019, 09:47 AM   #7
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I learned to live frugally in my 30's and 40's. Really didn't start earning until I left my 30's. Had the discipline to live on $80k while making 2-2.5x that in subsequent years. Threw it all into the market
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:43 PM   #8
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A good read might be "Millionaire Teacher."

I retired at 60. DW was a SAHM. Only earned north of six figures in my fifties. No 401K available until late 30's. I have two modest pensions - that helps. But, once we were lower middle class, we started living on half of my gross pay. It's more about the spending than the earnng.

Best wishes in your efforts.
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Old 07-21-2019, 01:00 PM   #9
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Is there still hope for those who desire to FIRE but aren’t earning the salaries of engineers or techies right out of college?
Of course there is hope. Depends on how early you feel that you need to retire.

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What if you are a nurse and a landscaper for example? And you live in a city with high rent? How do those young couples even hope to start a family, have a decent place to live, and save enough to ‘FIRE’?
As always, it's a matter of priorities. You need to decide what's most important and work towards that.

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Is it possible to be a W2 employee for your career in a middle income job TODAY and have no side hustle- and even hope to have one stay at home parent- and still FIRE? ( asking for a very close family member)
Maybe.

It would be a lot easier to retire early on at least two incomes, but perhaps your very close family member doesn't need much income in retirement.

Remember - nobody is entitled to retire early. But those who decide they need to badly enough can usually find a way.

You can't necessarily have it all, but you can usually have enough.
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:30 AM   #10
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Reading the blogs of the new ĎFIREí crowd makes me see the new crowd is young and makes big bucks right out of the gate. What if you arenít a high dollar earner? Is there still hope for those who desire to FIRE but arenít earning the salaries of engineers or techies right out of college? What if you are a nurse and a landscaper for example? And you live in a city with high rent? How do those young couples even hope to start a family, have a decent place to live, and save enough to ĎFIREí? Is it possible to be a W2 employee for your career in a middle income job TODAY and have no side hustle- and even hope to have one stay at home parent- and still FIRE? ( asking for a very close family member)
What you earn is only important in the context of what you save. If you earn $10k/year and save/invest $5k/year, you'll reach FIRE faster than someone making $100k/year who saves/invests $5k/year.

A higher income allows for a more luxurious lifestyle for the same savings rate. So it comes down to how much you value a more comfortable lifestyle vs how much you value retiring early/earlier.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:57 PM   #11
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Seeking out employers who pay a pension is another tactic.

E.g. work for the government...federal, state, city.

My kids owe several years military service after undergraduate, and starting salaries aren't as high as the private sector, but given their service selections they've got a good chance of going career and getting a pension after 20 years (also will have TSP match under the new BRS)

I've noticed several posters here have "mini-pensions" from different employers where they didn't spend 30+ years but had enough years to be vested before they left for another company.
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:20 PM   #12
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Many of the threads on this forum discuss expenses. I was surprised to see posters yearly expenses so low here. Some with families. What can you live on and be happy?
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:35 PM   #13
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Read "The Millionaire Next Door". Doesn't take a large salary, just living below your means. Saving 15%+. Almost anyone COULD do it, if they started early, and made the tough choices. Not everyone will do it.

A nurse and a landscaper should be pulling down $120K+ in a high cost of living area. If they keep their debt under control, they should be able to save $15K+ before taxes with only a ~$8K hit to their 'lifestyle'.
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:11 PM   #14
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Many of the threads on this forum discuss expenses. I was surprised to see posters yearly expenses so low here. Some with families. What can you live on and be happy?

My dad lived by himself on around $20K per year in NYC and was happy, but for him saving and LBYM was more important than any budget item, even in retirement. He could never "blow that dough", despite my encouragement and showing him that, even if he left us nothing, we would be very comfortable and able to retire early. It really depends on your outlook. (Me, I know I'm not going to have any problem blowing that dough! One of my first new threads was about retirement splurges, because I'm toying with the idea of a 6-month cruise when we retire to celebrate!)
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:19 PM   #15
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Reading the blogs of the new ĎFIREí crowd makes me see the new crowd is young and makes big bucks right out of the gate. What if you arenít a high dollar earner? Is there still hope for those who desire to FIRE but arenít earning the salaries of engineers or techies right out of college? What if you are a nurse and a landscaper for example? And you live in a city with high rent? How do those young couples even hope to start a family, have a decent place to live, and save enough to ĎFIREí? Is it possible to be a W2 employee for your career in a middle income job TODAY and have no side hustle- and even hope to have one stay at home parent- and still FIRE? ( asking for a very close family member)
I never thought I would earn 6's (figures) even 6 years ago. I almost feel like a person needs to earn at least that to ER nowadays. Of course there is always the exception, spend less etc. but you can only trim SOO much, before daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

I think the answer I would give is...it makes it easier if you can create some financial opportunities during the accumulation stages. A lot of that is just hustle and grind and that is how we are doing it. DW doesn't earn much but she wants to live a solid retirement so she decided to keep working when we had kids.

Sure it's been stressful and we've missed some time with the kids in daycare, but we don't live life with regret.

Step 1 look at family members annual subscriptions and then start comparing on this site..you will see people overpay for essentially the same things everyday.

Step2 Learn what you don't know.

I went from construction laborer to engineer over the past 20 years...so really kind of 2 careers. There is NO way I would have ER in construction or the trades, I just wasn't getting the financial opportunities as I do in engineering. (401k match, stock options, cheap insurance, other perks).

I always say small goals lead to big things, so set small goals to accomplish big things like ER. It has so far been working for us...although we too feel like the pace is a bit slow and the hustle is a lot harder than it sounds on paper.
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:40 PM   #16
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Is there still hope for those who desire to FIRE but arenít earning the salaries of engineers or techies right out of college?
I am inclined to agree that the outlook may not be good. Here's a recent government news article that discusses the median wage.

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

Looking at the numbers and realizing that the "median" means that half of the people earn less... it's hard to to be optimistic about people who are earning at the lower end of the income scale. Couple that with the long term outlook for Social Security, and the thought of retiring "early" may be different than what we see today.
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Old 07-22-2019, 09:56 PM   #17
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It's certainly possible to have a modest income and FIRE. However, IMO great sacrifice will have to be made over many years. You just have to want it really, really bad and then you will find a way.
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Old 07-23-2019, 07:31 AM   #18
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I am getting closer to being able to do just that, FIRE on a low/middle income. I have had a good steady job with an auto parts manufacturer for 20 years now WITH a building pension (10 more years). I have doubled up on my 401K with holdings, and have driven older used cars for years. We don't wear nice cloths, or live in a HOA community, and we fix most of our own repairs, we eat well, but not extravagant, shop at Walmart, and have eliminated all debt.

I have never made over $50,000 a year, and my wife just eclipsed that amount last year. We put 2 kids through college, and have horses, so things have been tight for a long time, but getting better at 54 years old.

I will have plenty to retire on with a sizable 401K, two SS payments, and a 30 year pension with no debt, but will most likely wait until 64 years old, to only pay 1 year of COBRA before getting Medicare.

It's all about choices, and having a spouse who is on board with you.
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