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Old 11-27-2014, 08:48 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by deadshort52 View Post
It would be nice to hear from some average working stiffs, if there are any who got to their retirement number without a high tech, high paying job at a "mega corp" with all kinds of stock options, pensions, bonuses and so forth.
Summer part-time jobs; farm help baling hay, gas station, pickle factory.

Started vo-tech school, got bored with my choice, quit, wandered aimlessly for a few months.

Went to work full time in a sausage factory. Fast forward a few years, a romantic interest of the day made a strong impression on me regarding the virtues of education and I went back to school, still working full time. While still working on first degree in mechanical design, bid for and granted promotion to related work (equipment maintenance mechanic) at the sausage factory. Money good.

New romantic interest. Got married, bought stuff, house cars, etc. Got unmarried.

Figured more money would be better, started on second degree in electronics while still working full time. New romantic interest, this one is a keeper, she's now DW.

Found a new job as maintenance supervisor in a cheese factory (yes, there seems to be a common thread here), sold house and moved for that new job. Money better. Incredible interest rates of the day being earned on proceeds from sale of home in a money market fund had me salivating over investing more money. Poof - blew a bunch of that money on a fast motorcycle. But it was also an experience I bought, lots of travel which my soul needed at that time.

Sausage factory wanted to know if I'd come back to a supervisory position in maintenance. Money better? Yes. And we moved back to my hometown. And that was 25 years ago, with no real savings built up yet. Fast forward through several lateral job changes, with the most recent managing the maintenance departments responsible for the ammonia refrigeration, steam production, fresh water treatment & distribution, and wastewater utility systems in a large industrial food plant. Along the way I completed two more degrees in business and engineering. Money better, but never really great - topped out way less than $100k, and DW less than me. Having done the moving for career thing, we weren't keen on doing that again. Probably would have no problem getting 50% raise by doing so, but financially pointless if DW couldn't replace her salary in the new location.

About 15 years of getting serious about maxing out my 401k, piling money into DW's 403/457 plans, and a couple of meager but helpful non-COLA pensions - my calcs, backed up by several online retirement planners says things look good to go. On my sister's advice (she and BIL retired the year prior) I went and talked to local affiliated branch of FP she had used. Talked with a pair of them, and it hit me when the younger of the two, kind of deer in the headlights look and with my highly detailed, yet succinctly summarized retirement plan in hand says; "so you have this amount in savings, and each of you these pensions, and you want to know if you can retire?"

Might still consider going back to work in a winery.

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Old 11-27-2014, 09:09 AM   #62
Recycles dryer sheets
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Originally Posted by Lucantes View Post
Started out my career as a Metrologist (USAF), then taught it for the military, then ran a corporate metrology laboratory overseas supporting IT/Communications: did that for 23 years (1988 to 2011).
Interesting stuff - my dad once tried to get me interested in metrology before I was out of hs, but I didn't bite. He took me to a regional airport, and we went somewhere into the bowels of the operation - and I recall a very concerned looking gentleman sternly telling me I could not be there! Next thing I know he and I were chatting about a career in metrology. I know my dad had been involved with Wx Corps in his Army Air days during WWII, hence his interest in steering me in that direction. It was many years later when he told us of his involvement with what was at the time, a very clandestine operation to decipher coded weather related radio communications to Russian pilots departing from Elmendorf as part of the lend-lease program.

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Old 11-27-2014, 01:15 PM   #63
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Love hearing everyone's story. Started out as a paperboy at 11, did that until HS, then played weddings'teen clubs as a drummer in a band until becoming a junior newspaper ad salesperson after HS. got lucky, got a job at WSJ, worked up to management until age 34 when I left to start a business.......grew that and now in process of turning it over to next generation.....really lucky financially......spend 100k a year, totally out of interest and dividends.....have great kids, grandkids, yappy puppy and them both dearly..... now I coach next generation at work part time.......starting to travel......interested in children's charities.......exercise and eat healthy to live a few more years
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Old 11-27-2014, 03:45 PM   #64
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Retired marketing executive.

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Old 11-27-2014, 06:33 PM   #65
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Former code slinger, extrordinaire. I'm surprised MichaelB actually counted his megacorp jobs! I don't think I had 18, but maybe somewhere in that range. On my most recent resume, I left off some of the first long gig (19 years at that outfit), so I wouldn't look so old, hehe! After that, I bounced around for 15 years in 4 outfits. Maxed-out every retirement option offered by the IRS. What was the question again?
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Old 11-28-2014, 12:43 PM   #66
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I have spent my professional career in Human Resources. No fancy title, currently earning a little over 100k in the oil and gas.industry I am bored to tears and have become disillusioned with the job (very underutilized). I am really tired of being a cog in the wheel. I estimate that I am currently saving approx. 30% of my salary. I have 6 rentals that will provide an additional income stream in retirement. At this point in life I've survived a divorcee, 2 layoffs, a broken back and 2 broken elbows. I am a survivor. Hoping to FIRE in the next 2-5 years...or at least transition into part-time work or a different career. DH has a job, pension, 401(k) etc. but we manage our finances separately.
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Old 11-28-2014, 04:27 PM   #67
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12-16, babysitting, saved most the $, enough to buy a new car when i turned 16 and still have several thou left
16-21, waitress, pizza delivery, note taker, other misc kid jobs
21-23 systems analyst
23-28, graduate assistant, instructor
29-now, professor, save around 30-60% of gross
1-2 years from now: FIRE!
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Old 11-28-2014, 06:10 PM   #68
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Project Manager for a major wireless infrastructure manufacturer. Make decent money and save/invest ~70% of after tax income. No debt, empty nesters with our pedal to the metal on the savings throttle.
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For deadshort52, from an "average working stiff"
Old 11-28-2014, 06:24 PM   #69
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For deadshort52, from an "average working stiff"

Well, time to check in as a token humanities major.

Not sure that my work was "average," as in "what most folks wouldn't mind taking on." I spent 34 years teaching literature and writing, including 5 years part-time at the college level. Occasional semesters included mentoring new teachers and supervising student teachers for a local university.

What was definitely "average" was the pay!!

Of the 34 years, I only taught full-time for 11. The challenge was managing the paper load, especially to meet the demands of honors/AP curricula when teaching in CA, where average class sizes were 38. So how did most of us honors teachers manage the load? by requesting a part-time contract each year, even though we had tenure for full-time jobs. As DH put it, my 3/5 contracts "allowed" me work 40 hour weeks for part-time pay.

When we moved from high COL San Francisco Bay Area to Ohio, we cut our COL in half. During last 12 years of career, I taught in private school here: a pure delight. Class sizes averaged 18-22, kids wanted to learn, and parents were absolutely supportive. Though I ended my career earning in the low 50Ks, it had been twelve years of fulfilling some dreams as a teacher. I could have been earning another 30K back in the old Bay Area job, if I had stayed in it full-time. But it was worth sacrificing those paychecks for the quality of life here in Ohio.

(Plus, I probably would've never returned to full-time in CA.....again, because of the burnout from essay and research-paper grading.)

DH and I always LBYMd, and saved as much as possible during our 20 yrs. before the move to OH. Paying off our mortgage here in '98, plus the lower COL, allowed us both to max out our 401K's and Roth IRA's during the 12 years before we retired.

Fortunately, most of my interests are free and/or inexpensive. (Except the travel addiction.) Thoreau and Emerson grabbed my heart, back in my teens. So, I'm pretty happy as long as there is a woods nearby.

Life has been good.

PS-- FIRE was possible because of my STRS, DH's megacorp pension and SS-disability, and our savings. We would not be FIRED if I had been the primary breadwinner. (I would still be slogging through reams of paper 6 days a week.)
"Everything becomes more itself." --C.S. Lewis
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Old 11-28-2014, 08:23 PM   #70
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BS in Physics, 5 years with Big Oil, a few years getting a graduate degree in the history of science, then 15 years teaching high school physics, earth science, and other things. 5 years contracting with the US gov't in some teacher education programs and then 3 years with a non-profit doing teacher professional development. A nominal pension is awaiting from the teaching years, not enough to live on, by any means, but enough to put groceries on the table and pay some bills. Savings rate hit the ceiling when DW got a job as a Fed. This and my contracting job more than doubled our income from when I was teaching and she was doing human services work. By not increasing our standard of living (except for the increase in housing costs associated with moving from the Midwest to Northern VA), our savings rate went from about 10-15% to about 50% for the last 7 years. So ER loomed up pretty rapidly once that happened. We went from LBYM to L WAY BYM. I have a young friend who always asked me "Why do you live like graduate students?" Now that I am retired, she has her answer.
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Old 11-28-2014, 08:46 PM   #71
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Astronomer and optical engineer.
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." - Spock
Retired Mar 2014 at age 52
Target AA: 70% equity funds / 28% TIAA-Traditional/ 2% cash
Target WR: 0.0%,
Income from pension, rent, and eventually SS
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Old 11-29-2014, 05:51 AM   #72
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Started off in Big Management Consulting, from analyst to partner. Then got a management job at an investment bank. Wrapped up the career with one more year in Big Strategy Consulting. Toward the end I was saving well over half of net pay. Pulled the plug for good at 44.
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Old 11-29-2014, 06:58 AM   #73
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I've had the usual (and unusual) part time jobs through college: soliciting funds for an environmental cause, working in a college cafeteria, working in a dry cleaner, working as a desk clerk at a motel, internship at a tech company. Got my engineering degree and starting pulling in a whopping mid-20k salary in the mid-80's. Only had 4-5 engineering jobs... the 4-5 is because I worked for one employer twice (left and came back). Ended my career making $90k - but that was for a 4 day/80% part time deal.

Also had a hobby job or two for extra cash along the way. My favorite was the two years I worked for Talk Cinema. Didn't pay well - but I got paid to watch movies, rather than paying. (I'd been a customer and they talked me into working for them. ) That gig wasn't for the money - it was for the free movies...
Retired June 2014. No longer an enginerd - now I'm just a nerd.
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:13 AM   #74
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Started as a land surveyor / civil engineering tech in 1974. Became part owner of a firm in 1992. Sold out in 2013. Retired in 2014, except 1 project that I'm consulting on. Compensation fluctuated significantly depending on sales and profitability of the company and the overall economy. Started at around $8k. Highest payroll earnings were around $100k before I started tapering off work hours.
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years" - Abraham Lincoln
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:25 AM   #75
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Been in IT, working with computers in some form, for about 30 years, and have grown to hate it.

Back in 2005, I got so sick of the IT world I quit, got my real estate license, and practiced real estate for a couple years. I really enjoyed that - no boss hanging over my head, and I could run my business the way I wanted. But 2005 was one of the worst years to get into real estate and the market where I practiced crashed. Had to get out of it a couple years later and return to Silicon Valley and IT.

Even thought I should count where I'm at right now (I was an early employee of a tech startup that has since IPO'd and is growing) as the most rewarding of my career, I still hate what I do.

I just get no satisfaction from going into an office, sitting in a cube, staring at a computer and pecking away at a keyboard all day.

Can't wait until I can quit IT for good and get on with my life.
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:02 AM   #76
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I managed to make a pretty good living by words alone (and hard work, of course).

My undergraduate major was Communications/Journalism. Besides being in the 99th percentile on all tests of verbal ability, I also tested a bit above average in math ability, but nobody thought that meant anything, since I wasn't way above average. (After my mother died, I found a score page from an aptitude test I took in 9th grade, a few months before my 13th birthday, which put me in the 95th percentile for "mechanical reasoning." I do wonder what this may have indicated in a career sense. Apparently, no adult considered it significant).

I had a terrible time finding a job after college and ended up working as a secretary for two years. During that time, I applied for an intern program with the Defense Department. After they tested me, they made it clear that they wanted very much to hire me as soon as a billet opened up in an area that interested me. After about 18 months, I finally started work as a GS-7, Step 1 in an area that had nothing to do with anything STEM-related. Along the way, I discovered that I was a good public speaker, and became in demand as a subject matter expert and briefer. I also got a rep for taking ugly jobs that nobody else wanted.

I got into the Systems Engineering field much later, as a GS-15, when I was doing Strategic Planning. Somebody higher up was impressed with my ability to explain complex matters in simple words. My systems engineering activities were riffs on that theme; I never did a calculation or wrote a single line of code.

If you understood everything I say, you'd be me ~ Miles Davis
'There is only one success to be able to spend your life in your own way. Christopher Morley.
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:23 AM   #77
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Wouldn't it be cool if, when you looked at someone's profile, you would see something like these interesting and colorful posts!?! Not like I stalk posters profiles, but it seems like when I have gone there, I don't see much.
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Old 11-29-2014, 04:56 PM   #78
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Didn't like high school. Liked college even less. Joined the Air Force (something like $50 a month) at 19 and learned to be an electronic technician. Worked for the Defense Dept as an electronic technician for 15 years including military service. A friend and I started a side business with an automotive garage for a couple of years when I first worked for the Government after my time in the Air Force. Got tired of spending more time doing paperwork than working on cars and decided to try college again. Took Intro to Art and Geology in a summer semester and I liked it! Got degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science while working the government jobs. Quit the same month I would start 6 weeks vacation per year. Worked for over 27 years for a major defense contractor as a systems engineer and software developer. I had a great time on many projects. Lots of fun designing and developing multi-billion dollar high tech systems. Some work for Defense Dept, some for NASA, some for other government departments. Ended up making somewhat more than $50/mo.

When we had kids, I didn't want to put college money in my kids names. I would turn 59 the year our oldest started college, so I just put the money in the company 401k thinking I could use some of that for the kids' college if need be. By the time the kids hit college age, we were making enough money to fund their college expenses without using retirement money. DW passed away and FIRE became a focus for me. Retired about 1.5 years ago with enough in savings to support my lifestyle, but with pension and SS I may never use it. (Then again, I could use some more toys!)

Now I work as a home builder for this really cheap SOB who doesn't pay his help, but just because I'm working for myself and on my future house, I guess its OK.
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Old 11-29-2014, 05:25 PM   #79
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In college/grad school until age 30.

Started non-profit management career at that point. Been doing that for 15 years. Only worked for two organizations. I basically get to give away money for a living, which is pretty cool. Though in my current position I also have to try to bring in money to fund the programs we manage.

DH is in the same field and our salaries have been roughly parallel since we started -- started at around $50k each, and now up in the low-mid 70s. We managed to save a large amount of money during the 5 years we lived in a very low cost area with our housing completely paid for and one trip to the US also covered for the whole family (that benefit was cut). Were probably saving 70-80% of take home during that period. Currently we are only at around 15-20% savings, as we are paying for expensive private schooling for the kids. But we are already more or less FIRE once we decide to quit/leave Beijing/sell current apartment, so while it is painful to pay those fees we feel it is worth it for what we are getting (kids doing very well both academically and socially).
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Old 11-29-2014, 07:29 PM   #80
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Great thread, from a normal worker, raised in foster care system. I know poverty, I still have a warm coat fetish I cannot shake. I've worked for 2 mega Corp out of high school, the current one for 20 years. I've saved all I could over the years, mainly because I know no one else will take care of me but me. I started over after a divorce at 40, split everything in half. Now I look forward to retiring within the next year or 2, look forward to when I can stay home and just enjoy life without w@rk interfering with life. I'm blessed!!!

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