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Old 09-09-2010, 05:44 PM   #41
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Well probably what motivated me was that my father was laid off from a good paying job when I was just a freshman in high school. My father made good money but spent it all. They had very little savings and some relatively big debts. My father was out of work for eight months. The finances were a disaster and we almost lost the house.

That had a tremendous effect on me and so I have always been a saver all of my life. I never ever want to go through what they went through (or what lots of families are now going through).

So I saved and invested, and saved and invested. Fast forward 30 years and now I'm worth some real money. I have stepped up the spending somewhat over the years but we still live a very comfortable but quiet lifestyle that we enjoy.

As others have posted on this forum, I feel that the more money that I have the less I want all the cars/stuff/fancy clothes etc. Once you decide that you don't need all that junk It's pretty easy to sock alot away and not feel deprived at all.

Megacorp has those golden handcuffs making it really worth while to hang on for another few years or so. My job is not stressful, it is work, but I enjoy it. My thinking right now is that I really don't want to not work. If they'll have me I may just keep working for awhile yet.

As I have posted before on a number of occasions, My work attitude really changed when I figured that I had enough money to hang it up if I wanted to and live our modest lifestyle. The boss wasn't a jerk anymore, the co-workers weren't idiots anymore. I accepted, and am now thankful that I would never be promoted to the corner office with all its issues. Really - Life is good and I am thankful for everything that I have.
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:50 PM   #42
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Great story Master Blaster
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Old 09-09-2010, 06:33 PM   #43
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My Story of FIRE

This story lacks the uplifting quality that I get from reading other’s stories but is a story of a so far successful FIRE. It is kind of a stretch to call it a story. More like a collection of thoughts.

THE BEGINNINGS
After spending some time as a young adult, I began to feel that living from pay to pay with nothing going into the bank was unacceptable. I wanted to be able to save something. This was one of the feelings that gave me the impetus to put myself through college and to relocate for better paying jobs.

In my adult life I realized that I was blessed to have average college level intelligence. I worked and went to school for many years with the ultimate goal of getting a four year engineering degree.

We were blessed to both have practical money values. Living within our means came naturally to us.

DW and I relocated to California and we were looking for a place to rent. Met this guy who had an electrical engineering degree but was not working in the field. He had some houses for rent. I was shocked that he would turn his back on all of that hard won education and training to own a couple of houses. Something that required little or no formal training. He explained that he did not like being a “migrant missile worker”. It gave me something to think about. Finally got the BS degree. Started to learn what he was talking about.

In the early 1990s we moved to NY for work. When I was complaining to my landlord that my little nest egg from the California house sale was not making any interest in CDs, he told me about Mutual Funds (he taught high school finance). I started learning about investments but FIRE was not yet on the thought horizon. We moved again and I went for an MBA on the weekends while working full time. Got to learn more about investing and business. Graduated in 2000. It was interesting attending B school during the Dot Com craze and the Y2K thing. I wish I could say that this additional education made me a shrewd investor. It did not. My technology heavy portfolio suffered larger swings than the S&P500 but I managed to avoid a dot com catastrophe.

FIRE
Back in California again where both me and DW planned to work. This time I was armed with some knowledge of the real estate market there. Bought as much house as I dared to on one income. Conservative? Yes, but it turned out to be a good thing because I lost my job 9 months later. Got another job or two. Housing prices and the stock market kept going up.



I went to a couple of retirement parties (for other people) at work. Some of these people had a well planned out transition that they have been working on for years. I was not nearly so prepared. I envied them but I was not going to dally and probably give up the chance for the freedom that FIRE offered. I was doing a 200 mile round trip commute in LA. I felt that A Stop At Willoughby was waiting right around the corner for me.

Someone on the ER forum had a saying that goes something like “gradually I realized that I hit the real estate lottery”. I know the feeling. How many more years would I have to work to save what I now could walk away with? 10, 15 years? We had to pull the trigger and sell but the gun did not go off without a kick. The house sold at the hairy end before the collapse. In the early 1990s when we were in CA, I sold my house in a real estate free fall. That was not fun. We could not have cut it any closer. It was luck that we got out in a timely manner.

I read a book or two and from them I got the idea that I could FIRE on a SWR of 8-10% (I have read other books since then). At this rate, we almost had enough nest egg to FIRE with. By then, my house had almost doubled in value and it was apparent, even to me that we were on the edge of a real estate bubble that was about to pop. This extra money would give me enough to FIRE with for sure. Couple this with the fact that by then we were unhappy living there and you get a “ What are we waiting for?”.
I quit working in February, 2007.

We moved back east to a rural area but within driving distance of DW and my families. Paid cash for a house and started enjoying retirement. It has always been my dream to live out in the country. I live in a forest surrounded by tall trees.

Starting reading about FIRE and investing in earnest. Diversified my portfolio but I only used equities. I used the 2000-2002 scenario as my worst case as far as portfolio design is concerned. I figured that I could survive a 20-30% drop in the market OK. What are the chances of a dip worse than that? Almost zip I recon. And besides, FIRECalc did not really change it’s percentage much when I added those bonds to them. The diversification into REITs worked well in 2000-2002. Another ace in the hole, in case I need it.


2008
Well, we see how that plan worked! The year end number for my portfolio was –42.4%. At times, the portfolio looked a lot worse than that number indicates. It wasn’t 1931 but I could see 1931 from where I was standing in March, 2009. I had learned what it was like to get a windfall and now I learned what it was like to lose a lot of money. I was sure I had to go back to work (if I could find a job). I started a local job search and we cut back expenses. On cable TV they call it a “teaching moment”. I had risked my freedom to retire and put DW through hell for a few dollars. The world is a changing place and markets are unpredictable. There was warning on this downturn but there was no such warnings in 1987. We really don’t have to have that extra money. We have made several good expense reductions without any loss in utility. Working a temporary job is a good way to get out and meet people in the community. I would rather eat dirt than live in the city full time. When I get out of this, I am going to protect my egg (investments that I live off of) better. I have a plan to gradually move asset percentages over to safer investments proportional to the rebound of the egg. Some people can only learn by experience. I guess I am one of them.

2010
The portfolio is surviving. I believe that we are going to be alright and still be retired. I truly think that I am better off for having experienced this recent downturn (but I would not want to relive it). Working part time acts as a reminder that it is really, really great to be FIREed.

Free to canoe
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Old 09-09-2010, 07:47 PM   #44
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Thank you for sharing your story Free to canoe. Mine is different in some ways, but quite similiar in others. Living and learning. Don't want to be in the city anymore. Love tall trees around me.
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Old 09-09-2010, 07:57 PM   #45
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Reader's Digest condensed version:

By the time I was 30 I was tired of working.
I started saving and investing for retirement.
Twenty seven years later I was FIREd.
I felt uplifted.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:23 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Reader's Digest condensed version:

By the time I was 30 I was tired of working.
I started saving and investing for retirement.
Twenty seven years later I was FIREd.
I felt uplifted.
Sound like the Khan version. Few words and to the point
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:29 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Reader's Digest condensed version:

By the time I was 30 I was tired of working.
I started saving and investing for retirement.
Twenty seven years later I was FIREd.
I felt uplifted.
Almost Haiku.

Well done.

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Old 09-09-2010, 10:43 PM   #48
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Almost Haiku.
Corporate nightmare:
Pray for escape, and invest.
Finally, freedom.
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Old 09-10-2010, 03:33 AM   #49
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Around 1980 (age 27) a friend got me interested in investing. I read this book:

Amazon.com: Money Dynamics: How to Build Financial Independence (9780879095161): Venita Van…
That was the first financial book I read, too! I grew up kind of poor. I was the first person in my family to go to college. My parents lived pay check to pay check. When I got my first post college job the pay was a dream come true. I met my husband (then my boy friend) and when we moved in together we realized we could live off one salary. He bought me the Venita Van Caspel book as gift for some occasion. It was weird because neither one of us had ever grown up in a household where there was extra money to invest so at first we had no idea where to start. We still laugh about that book today because we owe a lot to Venita Van Caspel for good savings habits early on in our careers.
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Old 09-10-2010, 05:48 AM   #50
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I was one of six children. Money was always "tight" and saving and financial planning were stressed. I won a scholarship to our state U. Paid my way through Law School. DW went through medical school on scholarship. Never bought a new car till I was 37. Bought my parent's beat up home and rebuilt it myself. We still live in it. Took Academic job with a good DB Pension. Tenured when I was 32 and full Professor by 40. DW had non profit and then Government position. FERS not CSRS.

Life changing event was my wonderful MIL's death in 1983 at the age of 57. My family tend to live to late 80s and 90s. Decided I wanted Financial freedom much earlier. Retirement was not critical since an academic job allows freedom and security with lower income. By 1992 we knew we would never lose the house and kids would go to college. We maxed out our TSP, 403 B and 457 plans.

I took Emeritus status at 57 which is very young for an academic. DW will probably w*rk to age 60. One DD is now out of Law School and the other is finishing a Ph.D.

Our luxury was always travel. We traveled cheap but we took the kids and went everywhere.
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:51 AM   #51
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Having emigrated to the US at 17, learning American version of English in a hurry, getting drafted in 67, survived to to 62, soon to be 63. I count that as success. Being Early Retirement org member is the pinnacle.

I'm sure there was some other stuff, some not so good, mercifully memory is fading.
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:36 PM   #52
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My "success story" was mostly luck:

I muddled my way through college. During college I worked for spending money at some interesting places, but nothing that was life changing or a future career path. My girlfriend graduated from the same college with a degree in education and immediately got a job, but it was in another city so she moved. I was still a few hours from getting my degree (even though we started at the same time ), so I figured I better get my a** in gear and graduate.

I graduated with a business degree in finance, but due to my other interestes (drinking beer mostly) with with a GPA most potential employers classified as suboptimal. The only job I could talk my way into was a real estate agent with a commercial real estate firm in Houston. My job was cold calling potential investors, trying to sell them foreclosed apartment complexes, most owned by the RTC since the S&L crisis was ongoing. I started in 1989 and had limited success at this job for a coule of years.

Now the lucky part. First, my girlfriend agreed (at gunpoint) to marry me and move to Houston. Then later, my dad, who was a 50/50 partner in a small auto dealership, was getting ready to retire and wanted to know if I would be interested in working in the car business. Since I was not exactly getting rich in commercial real estate, I jumped at the chance. He first wanted me to work in Houston at a few car dealerships to get some "big city sales training" before coming to work for him. That was a great idea because I was able to learn some, um, more advannced sales techniques that we were able to apply at my dad's small store with some good success.

Long story short, my dad retired after 2 years and I was able to buy his 50% of the store. I then worked with his partner for 3 years and was able to buy him out, giving me 100% ownership just when the car business was really taking off. I owned the store for another 18 years, made some money, spent very little, and decided in March of 2009 that it wasn't any fun any more so I got out and retired at 45.

Like I said, lucky..........
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:23 PM   #53
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Corporate nightmare:
Pray for escape, and invest.
Finally, freedom.


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Old 09-16-2010, 02:23 PM   #54
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Went to college on scholarship, got a degree, then got married. Realized we would be perpetually living from pay-check to pay-check working in that particular area of expertise, so I went back to graduate school, paying as we went (lots of gigs playing in bands, lots of work as a technician), and finally graduated without debt.
Landed a great job with an oil company, just in time for the first (of many)layoffs since 1954.
My FIRE epiphany came 6 months after I signed on. I watched others who were more talented and experienced than I was get laid off for being on the wrong project at the wrong time. Some were in their 50's, and were depending on their pensions for their retirement, but were out before they qualified. As a sole-bread-earner with a small child, that scared the pooey out of me.
We began maxing out my 401K (401Ks were a new concept back then) and started saving a total of 25% of our gross income. Every raise for the next 7 years went to savings. And I do mean a savings account.
It accomplished 2 things - 1) started building a nice nest egg and 2) kept us LBOM.
After our saving grew to cover our living expenses for 1 year, I started reading everything I could about investing. Found Andrew Tobias's book and realized that I could let the cash do some of the heavy lifting for me, but it still took a couple of years more before I bought my first MF. Yes, I'm the belts-and-suspenders type. Realized thatreal estate would not be a good investment for me because of frequent transfers, so pretty much stuck with mutual funds. Also learned that any speculative stocks I bought always needed to be sold when I was out in the field or overseas and had no access to a phone. After a couple of those lessons, I stuck to "buy and hold" funds.
After 10 years, I realized we had enought to survive being laid off for an extended period and a lot of the pressure from the perpetual layoffs went away.
We live simply. Alway paid cash for cars (until recently, always used), bought nice houses that were less than we could afford, saved as much as possible, invested in MF and stocks, and have become comfortable.
And.... although I did retire briefly, I am back at work. Turns out that I like poking holes in the ground and seeing what's down there. Also realized that retiring, like anything worthwhile, make take a couple of tries before you get it right. I'm enjoying the job (and salary), but know that I have the option to walk away at any time, and that makes all the difference in the world.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:48 PM   #55
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I do not consider myself as a success story. Always saved money from my first paycheck - so just lucky enough in my professional life to be financially independent in my 40s.

Very bored at work though.

The problem is that I do not talk to anyone about my project of retiring early - those who know me would think I am crazy.... Fortunately I have found this site by chance - it's very nice to meet like minded people.
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:28 AM   #56
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I suppose that I am a success. I have been retired for 25 years, divorced for 3, and have two grown, educated sons. I didn't understand many of the things that are taken for granted now, and even now I find books and articles to read that show me things that I could have done better had I known. I would prefer to have a budget like some I read about here, but I don't think I could have done much to avoid the big kahuna, which was divorce.

Basically, we lived fairly cheaply. I was my own mechanic, carpenter, plumber, electrician, gardener, etc., and my wife was fairly frugal and an excellent cook and homemaker also. We did spend a lot of money on our kids which in my opinion has paid big dividends for them.

I am frugal, but I would easily find plenty on which to spend more money if I felt more comfortable about my long term income. I live in a somewhat pricey part of a moderately expensive city, but have no plans to leave here. What counts most to me is my day to day living, and I would not scrimp to take expensive trips or take up expensive hobbies or pastimes. I think in this way I seem to differ quite a bit from many on this board.

In investments, I kept 70-110% exposure to stocks when that mostly paid off. I sold down around 1997, and missed a lot of the dot.com boom, but I really would not have been likely to participate in that anyway. In '99-2000 I loaded up on busted but high quality REITs, and also around that time when the lawsuits against the tobacco industry were gaining some success and a lot of publicity I loaded up on tobacco. Both of these things paid off well, and more recently I have learned a little about concentration risk, etc. So I take fewer risks, at least until something again might seem stupidly cheap. In investing, I believe that cheap compensates for a lot of other issues.

Ha
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:37 AM   #57
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My story is here. Is it success?
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:23 AM   #58
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In my view, yes.

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My story is here. Is it success?
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:17 PM   #59
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Early this year FireCalc said I had enough "FU money."
What is and where is FireCalc?
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:21 PM   #60
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What is and where is FireCalc?
This should answer both your questions: FIRECalc: A different kind of retirement calculator

Be sure to click on "How It Works" to learn...well, you know.
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