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Old 09-10-2013, 11:11 AM   #21
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Though obviously tongue in cheek, Willers has a point. Don't eliminate the last few things that give you some measure of joy just to save a few more bucks. When you're working, you often need all the "little things" just to make it through the day.

As for Hondas, I drive one. Would I prefer a more sporty ride? Absolutely. But here in the D.C. area, people won't hesitate to ding your doors, scratch your paint, and generally trash your car - no matter how far you park away from everyone. When I first bought my Honda, I used to park in a completely empty area of the parking lot. Good exercise to walk, blah, blah. I'd come back out and find cars parked on either side of me (but no one on either side of them!)

Thus, I'm left with buying a 3rd car just for cruising, but it seems so wasteful (purchase price, gas, insurance, upkeep, etc...) just for a little bit of driving pleasure on the weekends.
Yes, totally tongue in cheek, and you hit it on the head. I do think it is important to keep perspective in the race to RE and stop to smell the roses. Total financial denial is like crash dieting and probably works about as poorly. Keep spending on what truly makes you happy...cut out anything that doesn't.
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Old 09-10-2013, 01:58 PM   #22
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I'm joking. Kind of. What I have realized lately, through much thought and introspection, is that reading these forums is like taking the red pill. The curtain is pulled back, and you see a lot of big picture life things that you may not have been aware of on a day to day basis. And how people can live on very little and still be happy. Opening my eyes to this has been making it hard to keep living the "same small day" that is my corporate/consumer existence. I've been fantasizing lately about selling my big, beautiful house, and moving into a smaller, way more modest paid off one, in a less desirable area, quitting my well-paying (but highly stressful) job, selling my dearly beloved BMW, and getting a Mazda, and surviving on freelance and side-business income. This has obvious downsides of course, savings rate would go way, way down. My (supposed) social status would drop a few notches.

My fuse has become a lot shorter over the past few months at work. I can barely bring myself to participate in the cross-functional squabbling and constant pissing contests. It is so exhausting. I used to enjoy it, don't know what happened. I think there was more of the good parts of my job back then, which balanced out the bad. The thought of doing this for 30 more years is unbearable. I was making some related comments to my dad, so said "you sound like you're about ready to retire". Except that I'm not, not even close. I'm 20 years from that, at 36, if I can maintain my income as-is. Who knows how long it would take if I live out my fantasy...
We have done or are in the process of doing everything in your post, though we are mid-fifties. We feel like idiots for not figuring this all out years ago.

A few of our light bulb moments:

Back from a driving trip we realized that there were many less expensive, livable cities we could move to and that if we didn't have to commute to megacorp jobs, we could live some place nice but a lot cheaper.

Even just going to a little smaller house and moving a little farther out of town would mean being able to cut our home cost by 1/3 to 1/2, and actually get a newer, better insulated house.

It would be more fun to go back to a slightly more middle class life than work and commute from 7 am - 7 pm and be at high odds of dying from a heart attack.

With DH leaving his megacorp job, between taking early pensions, no more work or commute costs, paying less income taxes, overhauling our expenses, qualifying for financial aid for college and a few tax credits, refinancing the house when rates were low, and getting health care subsidies, even without downsizing or downgrading the cars we are pretty close to breaking even financially from when DH was working 60+ hours a week at a high stress job.

Where we live there are many things to do that are free or cost very little money - parks, hike and bike trails, lakes, ocean beaches, tide pools, Redwood forests, archery ranges, gold panning, and meet up groups to name a few.

We still work, but we have at home hobby jobs. I don't really see myself fully retiring since I'd need some kind of hobby anyway.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:01 PM   #23
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"The most important things in life aren't things" and "the richer your friends, the more it will cost you" sound cute and true, but at least for us, really coming to grips with the adages has made all the difference. Ditching the BMW/Audi/Merc, the big house and living large in general has been liberating, we don't feel deprived in the least...
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:59 PM   #24
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Wow, sensational headlines really do work. I should be in the news media.

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

Ever since I found this site a few months ago, I've been reading and learning, and I've already drastically altered my spending and saving habits and that feels good. Makes me feel like I have a buoy of control in a sea of uncertainty. But, getting rid of the big house would be a huge boost to my savings ability. It's weird, I always wanted to end up in a house like this, and I do enjoy it, but the grind of paying for it on my own, being chained to my job more-so because of it, and seeing a large, long-term financial impact in relation to FIRE has definitely taken a lot of fun out of it.

I could give up the house easier than the car I think. If there ever was a natural-born BMW customer it's me. I've been irrevocably spoiled by the sport-oriented features, driving dynamics, and general excellent engineering of my current car. (Mine's a 2005, too, Willers). It's getting old and needing more work, so I have to part with it soon or I won't be able to get anything for it. I've been test driving everything, probably 10 brands, all price points, leaning toward being practical. I'm finding it very, very hard to leave BMW, even BMWs without the right suspension, roll bars, and seats are not cutting it, which means I have an expensive problem. My BMW does make me happy every day, on the other hand. I smile every time I fly around a corner. I'm torn between that and saving money (thanks to this forum ), which is where the Mazda comes in. I can pay off a Mazda a lot quicker, and they are (almost) tolerable to drive.

harley: That's true. But what I had in mind was going back to a house that I used to live in that is now a rental. Decent house, but the neighborhood is a bit sketchy. Sense of community isn't any better there either.

samclem: "For me, the administivia and useless BS/meeting at work became >less< bearable as I approached FIRE." Learning about FIRE and all that goes with it over the past few months has lowered my threshold for the BS. This is my problem. And that threshold was low already I just don't know how I'm going to make it, because I'm a long way away from FIRE.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:51 AM   #25
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I could give up the house easier than the car I think. If there ever was a natural-born BMW customer it's me. I've been irrevocably spoiled by the sport-oriented features, driving dynamics, and general excellent engineering of my current car. (Mine's a 2005, too, Willers). It's getting old and needing more work, so I have to part with it soon or I won't be able to get anything for it. I've been test driving everything, probably 10 brands, all price points, leaning toward being practical. I'm finding it very, very hard to leave BMW, even BMWs without the right suspension, roll bars, and seats are not cutting it, which means I have an expensive problem. My BMW does make me happy every day, on the other hand. I smile every time I fly around a corner. I'm torn between that and saving money (thanks to this forum ), which is where the Mazda comes in. I can pay off a Mazda a lot quicker, and they are (almost) tolerable to drive.
IMO the trick is to critically examine each expense category and cut back everywhere you can, but maybe not everywhere. Some expenses you'll be able to cut altogether, some you can spend less or reduce frequency (some folks view every expense as either-or, and can't give up any as a result), but there are probably some indulgences that are worth it to you. Start by separating what's 'keeping up with the Joneses' or "social status" as you call it VS what really makes your life enjoyable irrespective of what others think.

If you deny yourself everything, you'll feel deprived eventually, and fall off the spending wagon one day.

Maybe an analogy, the most sensible diet plan I ever read called for perfect discipline 6 days/week (Fit for Life IIRC). But the plan encouraged that 1 day a week you could eat whatever you wanted. It worked better in the long run. Asking someone to diet 7 days/week will fail sooner or later for most people, depriving yourself of everything is asking too much. Seems a good plan for personal spending too IMO.

Just for example, not a template for others. We've happily had very modest homes and drive late model Toyotas or the like. We don't travel much anymore, and though we still go out for fine dining/concerts, it's far less frequent nowadays - this less frequent option has been key for us reducing expenses without feeling at all deprived. But we owned boats for 25 years, we just weren't willing to give up that indulgence until recently.

Sounds like the BMW is an indulgence you just don't want to give up, so maybe you shouldn't - at least for now. And you're not leasing or trading frequently, all the more reason maybe you should drive a BMW. Nothing wrong with that, some indulgences make life enjoyable...and make other "sacrifices" easier to live with.
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:38 AM   #26
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IMO the trick is to critically examine each expense category and cut back everywhere you can, but maybe not everywhere. Some expenses you'll be able to cut altogether, some you can spend less or reduce frequency...
I was a little surprised to read that your BMW is only 2 years older than my Prius, but is starting to need significant work. DH pointed out that maybe you drive a lot of miles, which of course wears down cars faster. I've always had short commutes with this car.

So, as an example of what Midpack says, you could keep driving a Beemer, but move closer to work, so that you don't rack up the mileage as fast. Then you can buy a new car every 15 years instead of every 7.

Or am I being condescending and telling you things you already know?
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:18 AM   #27
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I could give up the house easier than the car I think. If there ever was a natural-born BMW customer it's me. I've been irrevocably spoiled by the sport-oriented features, driving dynamics, and general excellent engineering of my current car.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:23 AM   #28
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Yikes, where was this photo taken? OK, I love my BMW, but I'd sell it in a second if I lived wherever this is. I am spoiled with abundant deserted twisty roads and a general lack of traffic where I live.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:47 AM   #29
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I think for all of us there are those things we won't give up, no matter what else we will nickel and dime down to nothing. Mine is costly adventures, which undeniably delay my retirement goals, but are absolutely non-negotiable. (I understand this is a sign of mental illness, lol). So if the BMW is "it" for you, then by all means, keep it.

But the house, seems less so. If you can sock away serious cash by ditching it, then I'd do that in a minute, especially since you've got the other house standing by. And as for community, you just need to have good friends to make that. We aren't close to our neighbors, but we have TONS of good friends.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:25 AM   #30
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Some great advise above...remember though know matter what you do, you are presently still years away from your goal. And there is no absolute certainty you will be alive then anyways. Work on your financial goals, and reward yourself when benchmarks are achieved. It will give you something to look forward to and still allow you to live life in the present as that is all we are guaranteed anyways.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:32 AM   #31
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You might want to check into some retirement planners and see when you could retire with your current house and car, with a less expensive house, with a different car or an older beamer and think about your priorities. Maybe the big house and nice car will end up being worth the money for you.

If you want to ER with a 50 year retirement or semi-retirement horizon, just saving $10 a month means needing $6k less in savings. With a big house it isn't just the cost of the house you can save, but the repairs, taxes, upkeep, heating, cooling, insurance, furnishing and the keeping up with the Joneses factor. If you can save $1K off housing related costs a month, over 50 years there is $600K less you might need in your retirement nest egg.

Plus big houses often need more cleaning and yard work. If you hire that out it costs money, and if you do the work yourself it costs your time.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:37 PM   #32
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I say keep the BMW and ditch the house! Also, look into starting a side business that can eventually become your daily work and then you can ditch the mega corp job. I had my epiphany at 34 and changed my entire life...it is doable and on a lot less money than you think.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:06 PM   #33
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Yeah, though retired, we have the big house. We get to drive farther to get somewhere, get to pay the extra thousands in RE taxes, association dues and of course, gotta have a housekeeper.

Then I lose jobs because I don't feel like driving so far.

Wish this was tongue in cheek, but wifey wants to keep up appearances.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:22 PM   #34
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Nothing wrong with a 2005 BMW. What hurts most people is when they trade it in for a 2007 BMW, then another trade in for the 2009 BMW, then another trade in for the 2012 BMW and so on. You get the picture.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:33 PM   #35
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To the OP: This forum (among a few others) and the entire concept of Early Retirement has really "ruined my life" as well. My Father-in-law retired at 51, and it really got me interested in the idea of early retirement. Both of my parents are financial train-wrecks, so I never even thought of the idea.

After seeing forums like this, MMM, and bogleheads, and reading of all the stories, and doing all the calculations with fabulous tools, I find myself thinking about ER all the time. I suppose it's not terrible... but it's at least a decade in the future for me. It's hard to think so far ahead.
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Old 09-11-2013, 04:23 PM   #36
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You're at a good age to start thinking about retirement. I'm an old man nearing 80 who was lucky enough to retire fairly early @ age 53, and what we did is not going to be applicable to you for the most part, but there may be a few bits and pieces here, that have some small application to your dreams. It involves downsizing, homes, travel, entertainment, and in general, some shortcuts to fun and a good life without big expenses... The keyword is "frugal"...
For any worth it may have, you might wanna skim this, for anything that might help.

Sharing 23 years of Frugal Retirement
I wish you well, and good fortune. Early retirement is a dream that can come true... often for less than might be expected, but usually, not by accident.
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Old 09-11-2013, 04:48 PM   #37
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This forum, along with a few Canadian facsimiles, created an epiphany in my life. I was in my early thirties when a casual Google search brought me here - ER as a concept had never really occured to me - I pretty much became instantly obsessed with it. For the last ten years, with the help of this site and a few others, I have been living my life in such a way (LBYM and all that good stuff) that I will ER in 2014 at 42 years old.

I mostly lurk here and have spent countless hours reading posts that go back YEARS - this place has been a BLESSING in my life.
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:01 AM   #38
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One of the things I do not get is that there are many cars that are 'equal' (or close enough) to the handling of a BMW that are cheaper...


You are probably not even coming close to the limits of that BMW... so say you are in the 80% range... another car might be in the 85% range for the same turn.... both will do it at the same speed... so you are paying up for that BMW.... for the status symbol....


I once did a test drive on a Hyundai Genesis (the old style)... they had other cars for people to drive including a BMW... when a good amateur drove the BMW and a pro drove the Genesis... the Genesis blew away the BMW... sure, if the pro drove the BMW, he went faster, but not THAT much faster.... I am sure there are other cars that fit this bill...
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:08 AM   #39
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One of the things I do not get is that there are many cars that are 'equal' (or close enough) to the handling of a BMW that are cheaper...


You are probably not even coming close to the limits of that BMW... so say you are in the 80% range... another car might be in the 85% range for the same turn.... both will do it at the same speed... so you are paying up for that BMW.... for the status symbol....


I once did a test drive on a Hyundai Genesis (the old style)... they had other cars for people to drive including a BMW... when a good amateur drove the BMW and a pro drove the Genesis... the Genesis blew away the BMW... sure, if the pro drove the BMW, he went faster, but not THAT much faster.... I am sure there are other cars that fit this bill...
So why do drivers of those 'other cars' not have the negative reputation that BMW drivers have? Maybe some college kid can do a masters thesis on this ;-)
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Old 09-12-2013, 03:49 PM   #40
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One of the things I do not get is that there are many cars that are 'equal' (or close enough) to the handling of a BMW that are cheaper...


You are probably not even coming close to the limits of that BMW... so say you are in the 80% range... another car might be in the 85% range for the same turn.... both will do it at the same speed... so you are paying up for that BMW.... for the status symbol....


I once did a test drive on a Hyundai Genesis (the old style)... they had other cars for people to drive including a BMW... when a good amateur drove the BMW and a pro drove the Genesis... the Genesis blew away the BMW... sure, if the pro drove the BMW, he went faster, but not THAT much faster.... I am sure there are other cars that fit this bill...
I do think part of it is status. And most of us like to think we are better drivers than we really are, so of course we need a real car.

I'm actually part of the Honda driving crowd. I got to drive a new 7 series BMW once back in 2000. If I had actually been looking for a full size car I would have been willing to pay 35K for it. Back then it was a 75K car. Nice, but not even remotely that nice. The guy that I worked with felt differently. He decided the car was more important than anything. Including his wife.
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