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Young'uns looking to RE
Old 02-01-2015, 06:07 AM   #1
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Young'uns looking to RE

I hope this comment doesn't become controversial or be taken the wrong way, but...thinking:

Every week or so on this forum I see someone in their 20's or 30's looking to 'retire by the time I'm 40' or something like that.

I applaud their drive and commitment to LBYM and become FI but in a way I find it a little sad.

My view: There's a difference between being FI and RE. You SHOULD aim to be FI as soon as possible, but I feel bad for someone in their 20's who hates their job or just doesn't want to work.

To me, it's a bit like investing; when you're young, you can take more risk, try different things. You might eventually find a job that gives you a lot of satisfaction with a good life/work balance. There's time to re-group! If you don't want to work, maybe you're just not looking hard enough to find something to 'get into'.

When I was 20, I hated my job too! But I eventually found something that was fun, interesting, challenging and I (sadly) became a workaholic because I loved it! But as a result, I was able to FI and RE a whole lot more easily.

(If I had a 20 year old), I'd hate to see them not going out, spending money and having a 'financially reasonable' good time, maybe even blowing a bit as part of life's lessons. Go buy/do that stupid thing you've dreamed of; yeah, it's a waste of money but you have 20-30 years to make back that $10K you blew and in the end it doesn't change your financials one bit after those years.

How sad to see a 25 year old, saying "no, I'm not going to go to backpack through Europe with my friends, I'm going to stay home and watch TV and save that $3000 instead for my retirement (20 years from now) because I hate my job."

It seems they're doing the right things for the wrong reasons.

So...once again, I'll throw myself at the mercy of the forum for comments, hoping my thoughts are taken the right way (as many of you know, I'm not always great at getting my point across)!
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:10 AM   #2
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Marko - I am in complete agreement with you. Enjoying life to the best of our abilities at every life stage should be the true goal. Being able to FIRE is a life goal for many at various ages; and going to school, pursuing a Masters or above should be to not only be able to live well financially, but to enjoy your work and life, because working (with no asterisk intended) is proper after college. That's why we pursue a higher education. Living below or within one's means is important at every life phase in order to enjoy life. Money is only a tool, and that tool will help those who care to (especially members of this forum) be able to retire at an age they choose to, hopefully after an enjoyable career. The financial planning includes LBYM and living well, as Marko signs .." Living well is the best revenge" and that goes for every stage of life.

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Old 02-01-2015, 07:50 AM   #3
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I do agree with you that regardless of income and savings, we all realistically have to work for a long time to make it FI and retirement.
I, too, would encourage younger folks to enjoy life as it comes rather than put ALL their efforts into a faraway goal. That is the balance we all seek: how to live well today while planning to hopefully live well later.



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Old 02-01-2015, 08:28 AM   #4
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Agree with driving a wedge between FI and RE when young...but I believe that having a goal of total freedom one clearly holds above others goals leads to better outcomes.

I used to work at a company that had a surplus of hugely talented 20-something's. The highest concentration of pure talent I've ever been around. Really impressive. After a few years the company got bought and we all got big checks and lost our jobs. There were two types of reactions:

1) Great! I'm going to (go skiing, visit New Zealand, buy a $100k car, etc)
2) Great! I'm going to bank it and (get a new job ASAP, start a company) and use this as an opportunity to create a firm financial foundation

15 years later what people did with that opportunity is an amazing predictor of where they are now. Just about everyone who took the second path are close to FIRE, have climbed to a senior position or built a company, and are enjoying a lot of freedom. Almost all the door #1 folks are firmly on the treadmill. (Side note: I consider all of them friends, great human beings, and to a person they are generous and hard working.)

The difference in outcomes was not driven by that one decision, but the clarity of goals of each group is reflected in the reaction to that opportunity and ultimately in long term outcomes.

Kudos to the young dreamers with clarity of purpose and the determination to take the road less traveled.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:09 AM   #5
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I struggle with this somewhat. I grew up without a lot of money, so always lived pretty frugally.

Once I got a few years into my software dev career, money was available for me to start doing some things I've always wanted to do, like taking vacations to Europe/Australia/New Zealand, or going to orchestra performances, or buying a nice acoustic piano. But it's just so expensive and not necessary, and when I think about how much that money could potentially be worth in 30 years, I invest it instead.

I'm saving over 50% of gross income at this point, and have thought about dropping that to 40% for a year or two to do some cool stuff. But money saved when you're younger is worth more than money saved when you're older.

Maybe when I get to $1M I can dial the saving back a bit... should be able to get to that point while I'm still in my late 30's.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:36 AM   #6
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I feel like this conversation is aimed more at MMM or ERE than this site. At least here you don't get "face punched" for spending money to create one time memories like those other ones. Although if your memory creating event is to accurately relive Scarface then maybe you should get punched in the face...
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:49 AM   #7
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(If I had a 20 year old), I'd hate to see them not going out, spending money and having a 'financially reasonable' good time, maybe even blowing a bit as part of life's lessons. Go buy/do that stupid thing you've dreamed of; yeah, it's a waste of money but you have 20-30 years to make back that $10K you blew and in the end it doesn't change your financials one bit after those years.

How sad to see a 25 year old, saying "no, I'm not going to go to backpack through Europe with my friends, I'm going to stay home and watch TV and save that $3000 instead for my retirement (20 years from now) because I hate my job."
I was one of those 25 year olds sitting at home, not friviously frittering away my money.

Do I regret not spending tens of thousands of dollars in my 20s 'having a good time'? Hell no. Do I have financial assets to show for my extreme sacrifices that I chose to make instead of living like my peers? You betcha. And yes, that $10k that wasn't spent when I was 25 has grown over the years to be much more than $10k today.

When you say 'living it up and learning life's lessons', I don't quite know what exactly you're referring to. I didn't need to squander money and make mistakes to know (mostly) what not to do. I didn't need to travel by myself or with casual friends to learn things - I'd rather wait and enjoy that amazing experience with my wife: someone special, someone I truly care about, and make the experience even more meaningful.

Of course, in my 20s and now in my 30s, being a long-distance dater, there are definitely expenses I incurred that many other of my peers haven't in dating or in life. So it's not that I've spent zero - just have spent on certain, controlled outlays.

Now, I have no worries about money, being on the cusp of FIREing. Could I have been almost as close if I had been a little looser with my purse strings in my 20s? Probably. But the danger is that getting into the mindset of "hey, it's just a $10 lunch", or "hey, it's just one $100 weekend bar bill - it won't kill your retirement" suddenly keeps repeating itself until you've spent a vast majority of your paycheck. Because, hey, you'll earn more money next year. Live a little this year!

And even more importantly, regarding your comment about jobs: yes, it's great to theorize about 'finding your passion'. And, luckily, I seem to have found a career that I am somewhat passionate about and enjoy. HOWEVER....many people are stuck in the theory and the romanticization of it. It can, actually, be fairly possible to find your 'dream job/career'. The only problem is that in reality, that dream job has co-workers, bosses, bosses of bosses, subordinates, customers, clients, industries, government agencies, natural disasters that impact your company's business, and a whole host of other things that all impact you both directly and indirectly. So that 'dream job' quickly becomes something that isn't quite so rosy when you have to deal with all of the other host of variables that, for most people, make ER a far more attractive option than working until 70.

If you are able to fulfill your passions in a career while avoiding a large degree of the above, more power to you. But, for the vast majority of workers, that isn't the case, nor is it realistic given the various factors.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:35 AM   #8
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I think that there can be balance. A lot of 20 year olds are NOT backpacking through Europe nor saving for retirement... they're going to bars etc and blowing their money that way. It's not an either or... save or do awesome vacations.

I did fritter money in bars some as a 20 something. (But I was broke so I tended to budget just enough for the cover charge and for the drink minimum since I was mostly going to bars to see live music.)

I also traveled some. And started saving. It wasn't a total either or.

As far as hating my job.... I was lucky that when I got out of college I fell into a job I enjoyed (most of the time) and was good at. I didn't start dreading going to work on a regular basis till I was in my mid 40's. That said - sometime in my 30's I started internalizing the Dave Barry quote: "Don't mistake your career for your life"... Making sure I had a life outside of work.

Marko - you were fortunate to be given opportunities to live a large life at work (sounds like you had all the perks that come with executive life). Obviously, not everyone is promoted to executive level - a lot of that is right background, at the right time, knowing the right people, etc.... The vast majority of us have a worklife that involves producing work (engineering design, legal advice, medical care, etc) while working for someone else, having the workplace dictated by someone else, with very few perks like expense accounts and first/business class travel. It's a lot easier to be less than thrilled with work if not being wined and dined in a perk filled environment.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:43 AM   #9
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You will never RE if you do not have the frugal mindset that says no to $3,000 vacations when you're in your 20's. Frugal people find non expensive ways to have experiences.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:43 AM   #10
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I don't care what people do until it impacts me negatively. So far I can't see how others extreme frugality bothers me, although I do think that having people quit socially valuable positions in life at early ages is socially broken. A few other bypassed roles are socially negative too.

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Old 02-01-2015, 11:00 AM   #11
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I have several 20's somethings that I know well enough to talk at least superficially about money. Most of them are oblivious to any FI or RE concepts and simply live mostly paycheck to paycheck, saving up to the company match in their 401k with no concept that saving 5% is likely going to be insufficient for much retirement.

Then there are a very few who want to save aggressively. They do buy what they want, but they don't want much. When they talk about early retirement, they mean to retire in their 30s! With savings rates over 60% and very low expenses they might make it. They want to live in small spaces that are sufficient, not in big houses. Even conventional apartments are bigger than their needs. They hate their jobs, not because of work, but because of the stupidity of their managers or corporations. The issue isn't failing to work hard or even desire to work, it's chaffing at being judged by hours the workstation is logged in, instead of the innovative solutions that make them 10x productive that they programmed on their own time in the evening or weekend, so it doesn't count in the metrics that determine advancement and raises. When they talk about "retirement" they don't mean staying home and watching TV, they mean being freed from corporate overlords (more like FI than ER) and intend to either freelance or form their own firm to do what they want. Maybe work for pay or not, maybe work on social issues such as poverty or medical innovations, or maybe just work on creating educational materials or even games without being constrained by needing to "earn" a living and the corporate kowtowing that requires. They grew up in a different environment than we did, possibly even more different from us and our parents, and they (at least some of them) do think differently. Their early retirement goals may be early, but the "retirement" part seems very different.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:43 AM   #12
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When you say 'living it up and learning life's lessons', I don't quite know what exactly you're referring to.
Not to nit-pick, but if I had used the term "living it up" in my OP -- along with all that phrase might imply--I'd agree with you.

My musing is a bit more subtle.

There are certainly things I thought were way cool when I was a kid only to learn later in life that I had just pee'd the money down the drain ($900 custom ski boots in 1976 come to mind), but I survived and perhaps made even better financial decisions than I otherwise would've down the line as a result.

I've also attended too many funerals of 20, 30 and 40 year olds, which might be skewing my perspective; none of them were working toward RE, but maybe in that case, the squanderers got a better deal.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:05 PM   #13
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although I do think that having people quit socially valuable positions in life at early ages is socially broken
I always saw it as making more job openings available to people who need them.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:11 PM   #14
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I always saw it as making more job openings available to people who need them.
AS long as they are essentially throw away jobs, sure. Joint replacement surgeons? Heart surgeons? Actuaries? Engineers?

These are jobs that soak up a lot of training time, dollars and effort. A person skilled in any of these as well as very many other things represents a huge investment, and a great deal of intelligence and experience. To think that people leaving these careers at their peaks is positive is to buy into the dig holes and fill them up again theory of economic progress.


It is tricky to stray from this boards mission of selling ER, but IMO it is hard to overlook some egregious social errors. IMO, doctors are always going to be able to retire or reduce their work schedules as long as they squirrel away money. Therefore, I believe that they should live large, marry expensive spouses, buy new Mercedes as often as possible, and send their kids to private schools. Then I and other people can find a skilled doctor when we need one.


OTOH, if you push around paper somewhere, retire at 21 if you want to.


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Old 02-01-2015, 12:50 PM   #15
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I think that there can be balance. A lot of 20 year olds are NOT backpacking through Europe nor saving for retirement... they're going to bars etc and blowing their money that way. It's not an either or... save or do awesome vacations.
That is the hard part, especially now with pensions virtually extinct. I grew up not very well off - not in poverty by any stretch but no one called us wealthy - and when I started my career job I was making half again what my father did at his peak. Not knowing what to do and having had a childhood dream of learning to fly I bought an airplane, a Piper Tri-Pacer, for $3,900 in 1975. I think I financed not quite half of that. I had a ball with that airplane and owned it for two years during which time it took every spare nickel I had for fuel and maintenance.

Forty years later I'm still undecided as to whether that was a good thing to do so I guess it was. For sure I wold have been financially better off not doing it and would have been able to buy a house much sooner. I would almost certainly not have met my ex-wife and that would have saved us both a lot of grief.

But there is nothing like the experience of flying to Tangier Island for lunch with a pretty girl and then flying back home. (The commoners have to take a ferry.) There's nothing like flying to the the Oskosh Air Show which for that week is the world's busiest airport (well, it was in 1976) and sleeping in a tent alongside the runway and being awakened every day at 6:00 AM when a Boeing 727 takes off a hundred feet away. A two-hour air show every day, hundreds of display aircraft. Total aviation experience for a week! I'll never forget that.

Finding that "happy spot" between living for today and planning ahead is difficult at best and is different for everyone.
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:13 PM   #16
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That is the hard part, especially now with pensions virtually extinct. I grew up not very well off - not in poverty by any stretch but no one called us wealthy - and when I started my career job I was making half again what my father did at his peak. Not knowing what to do and having had a childhood dream of learning to fly I bought an airplane, a Piper Tri-Pacer, for $3,900 in 1975. I think I financed not quite half of that. I had a ball with that airplane and owned it for two years during which time it took every spare nickel I had for fuel and maintenance.

Forty years later I'm still undecided as to whether that was a good thing to do so I guess it was. For sure I wold have been financially better off not doing it and would have been able to buy a house much sooner. I would almost certainly not have met my ex-wife and that would have saved us both a lot of grief.

But there is nothing like the experience of flying to Tangier Island for lunch with a pretty girl and then flying back home. (The commoners have to take a ferry.) There's nothing like flying to the the Oskosh Air Show which for that week is the world's busiest airport (well, it was in 1976) and sleeping in a tent alongside the runway and being awakened every day at 6:00 AM when a Boeing 727 takes off a hundred feet away. A two-hour air show every day, hundreds of display aircraft. Total aviation experience for a week! I'll never forget that.

Finding that "happy spot" between living for today and planning ahead is difficult at best and is different for everyone.
I did the same thing...bought an airplane. It cost a lot of money to acquire, operate and to maintain. I was often at odds with myself over the cost...but it's something I had always wanted to do. So, went there, did that, got the tshirt. Did it really change my early retirement plans? Not really. But...when I moved to Georgia and realized that the cost of fuel and a hangar were substantially higher than when I was in Texas, I sold it.

I guess my point is this...

You can live a bit extravagantly when you're young and still retire young. Of course, you have to be reasonable about it. Much of life is all about being reasonable.

In summation, I could really care less what people do. As long as you aren't interfering with my life and liberty, have fun...I won't judge.

Sent from my mobile device so please excuse grammatical errors.
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:19 PM   #17
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I guess my point is this...

You can live a bit extravagantly when you're young and still retire young. Of course, you have to be reasonable about it. Much of life is all about being reasonable.
This is my point exactly! I worry that 20 year olds who are so focused on RE and FI might be missing out on 'life'.

When you're young, there's plenty of time to catch up if you miss a few steps.
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:24 PM   #18
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This topic hits close to home. During university my brother and I did backpack through Europe. But our lives went separate ways after that experience. I am not as LBYM as my brother but through the last 30 years am now FI with RE in a year or two.

Our dad retired at 54, and a few months ago my brother, who works in a developing country, remarked how fortunate our dad was. I did not have the heart to tell him that rounding 50 will be my RE time.

My job is 'disposable' as Ha said above. My brother however is making a huge positive contribution in the developing country he lives in and as far as I know has no plan to step down anytime soon.

I applaud him but I feel a little guilt with my future RE.
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:52 PM   #19
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I confess, I am one of those young'uns looking to retire by 40. One of my favorite movies is Jack Reacher. I've read some of the books as well which I admit become tiresome after a few but here is one of my favorite quotes from the film.


"Look out the window. Tell me what you see. You see the same things that you see everyday. Well, imagine you've never seen it. Imagine you spent your whole life in other parts of the world, being told everyday that you're defending freedom. Then you finally decide you've had enough. Time to see what you've given up your whole life for, everything. Get some of that "freedom" for yourself. Look at the people. You tell me which ones are free. Free from debt. Anxiety. Stress. Fear. Failure. Indignity. Betrayal. How many wish that they were born knowing what they know now? Ask yourself how many would do things the same way over again, and how many would live their lives like me."
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:10 PM   #20
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Personally, if I had to do things over again I would have saved even more than we did, bought a smaller house, optimized expenses sooner than we did and turned FI many years sooner. Many of the really fun things we did when we were younger like camping, white water rafting and canoeing trips didn't really cost that much money. We took classes and went on trips with friends through an outdoors co-op or Sierra club groups.
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