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Mortality and ER makes me think
Old 12-16-2012, 09:16 PM   #1
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Mortality and ER makes me think

I just learned that a good friend I had lost touch with died a couple months ago. We went to school together and he's a year younger than I am, but because we mostly knew each other in University and a few years after, I think I think of him as even younger than he was.

Of course it's not surprising that some people do die in their early 50's, but having a specific example has really made me think. I have known a number of people who have died as young as this or even younger, but this was probably my closest friend (at one time) so it seems different to me. If one more year (or another and then another) would make me more secure in FI, how much risk is it worth taking that I may have less years in FIRE than I know. It's an altogether subjective element that I hadn't expected with all my spreadsheets. I've no idea how to think of this or how to include it in my planning.
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:25 PM   #2
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For FIRE planning purposes, actuarial tables will, of course, tell you the mathematics of mortality rates averaged across large groups, but the emotional/psychological element for each of us is a far more individual and personal consideration.
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:09 PM   #3
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I just learned that a good friend I had lost touch with died a couple months ago. We went to school together and he's a year younger than I am, but because we mostly knew each other in University and a few years after, I think I think of him as even younger than he was.

Of course it's not surprising that some people do die in their early 50's, but having a specific example has really made me think. I have known a number of people who have died as young as this or even younger, but this was probably my closest friend (at one time) so it seems different to me. If one more year (or another and then another) would make me more secure in FI, how much risk is it worth taking that I may have less years in FIRE than I know. It's an altogether subjective element that I hadn't expected with all my spreadsheets. I've no idea how to think of this or how to include it in my planning.
It is sure something to think about. It becomes even more of a driving motivation in one's 60's, or at least it was for me. Some of us just get to a point in life, after which it seems like Father Time is lurking just over one's shoulder.

As for how to include it in your planning, that is something to ponder. Perhaps you will find yourself needing and planning for lower expenses so that you can retire earlier?
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:24 PM   #4
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I am sorry about your friend, GO. I don't think we can plan for how long we will have in retirement, we can just try to live in and for the moment wherever we are.
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:56 PM   #5
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...(snip)...how much risk is it worth taking that I may have less years in FIRE than I know. It's an altogether subjective element that I hadn't expected with all my spreadsheets. I've no idea how to think of this or how to include it in my planning.
As for me/DW? "Early Termination" is not part of our joint financial plan.

That may seem harsh, but it is reality. One of our nephews suddenly passed two weeks ago (married/two kids) at the age of 41. Nobody knows when their time comes and if it does and we leave a large amount "on the table", so be it. We have an estate plan to handle that situation, regardless of when it occurs.

I/DW planned for the long term and although we may die tomorrow, we would rather die with money than live without it. Failure to account for the long term is just one more risk to add to the possibilities of life. Our joint plan reflects that reality, regardless of when life ends for both of us.

Since you asked...
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:06 PM   #6
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I just learned that a good friend I had lost touch with died a couple months ago. We went to school together and he's a year younger than I am, but because we mostly knew each other in University and a few years after, I think I think of him as even younger than he was.

Of course it's not surprising that some people do die in their early 50's, but having a specific example has really made me think. I have known a number of people who have died as young as this or even younger, but this was probably my closest friend (at one time) so it seems different to me. If one more year (or another and then another) would make me more secure in FI, how much risk is it worth taking that I may have less years in FIRE than I know. It's an altogether subjective element that I hadn't expected with all my spreadsheets. I've no idea how to think of this or how to include it in my planning.
I'm sorry to hear this. How you react or possibly change your plans is personal to you. I can tell you how I reacted when a similar thing happened to me.

I was 40 when my mother died at age 62 and that was a spur to greater saving and planning for ER at 55.

At 45 we were very close friends and neighbors to a couple we had known for 11 years. I was also a work colleague with him and a few days before he was due to to retire on January 2nd he literally dropped dead in the kitchen one evening. He was 60 and apparently in very good health.

We spent a lot of time with his widow and realized that while he left her well provided for, his finances were very complex and he handled everything, so she had a steep learning curve which caused her a lot of additional anguish.

We realized that sort of thing could easily happen to any one of us, and if it happened to me, then DW would be in a similar situation with the finances. So, we both went to night classes on financial planning at the local university (LSU) to be sure that we both had a good understanding of the financial path we should take. I was the primary wage earner, with a DB pension, so we took out life insurance on me as we had not renewed the term insurance after we'd paid off our mortgage. I have also simplified our finances greatly, with our money in a few Target Date funds as DW is simply not interested in doing all that re-balancing stuff.

We updated our will, and keep it updated when circumstances change, such as 3 years ago when we ER'ed and moved to a different State. I keep a list of accounts with contact numbers etc, that the kids have access to. (no passwords in that document).

Events such as these will happen from time to time. All we can do is get on with our lives as best we can.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:12 PM   #7
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If one more year (or another and then another) would make me more secure in FI, how much risk is it worth taking that I may have less years in FIRE than I know. It's an altogether subjective element that I hadn't expected with all my spreadsheets. I've no idea how to think of this or how to include it in my planning.
Sorry to hear about your friend, G.O.

We've had many people on this board who were afflicted with "Just one more year!" syndrome before they ER'd.

I cannot recall a single one of them who said "Thank goodness I stayed for just one more year!"... but there've been a few regrets.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:37 AM   #8
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Sorry about your friend. Working in the medical profession, I have seen deaths around me a few times, as well as patients much younger than me getting some pretty awful news. One of the key reasons why I plan to FIRE.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:40 AM   #9
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I/DW planned for the long term and although we may die tomorrow, we would rather die with money than live without it. Failure to account for the long term is just one more risk to add to the possibilities of life. Our joint plan reflects that reality, regardless of when life ends for both of us.
That is part of the reason I'm still working, or more accurately, went back to work. And I'm not adverse to working as long as things are going well there. We do have the option which is something a lot of people will never have.

I've talked it over with DW and a few of the guys at work who are in similar positions to mine. Yeah, I could quit and hang it up now but that means future options will be reduced for both myself and DW. And at least for me it is being optimistic - it means believing that there will be a "later". And if not, well, I lost the bet. And in spite of that DW will have more options than she would have had. And to me that matters too.

You pays you money (or time) and takes your chances. I might get The Big Ache tomorrow or not for another 30 years. And no one can predict that.
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:06 AM   #10
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If one more year (or another and then another) would make me more secure in FI, how much risk is it worth taking that I may have less years in FIRE than I know. It's an altogether subjective element that I hadn't expected with all my spreadsheets. I've no idea how to think of this or how to include it in my planning.
Sorry to hear about your friend. You can't include it in your planning, but it can help you answer the first question you asked. How much more secure do you need to be? Instead of thinking first about your own mortality, try defining your need for security, expressed in portfolio withdrawal. Once you reach the level most people consider safe, (such as 3% or 4% withdrawal) one more year doesn't add much.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:22 AM   #11
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Mortality and poor health were one of the factors in my decision to ER. After I turned 50 I started to experience deaths in the family and friends with health issues. I realized I wanted to leave work healthy and enjoy more of my retirement. On the other hand I continued financial planning as if I was going to l past the median age. As you get old old then you can adjust your spending accordingly.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:36 AM   #12
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All those stats don't seem to make the same impression as a very personal experience.

Just got my Medicare card and will start on it a few months from now. I've been thinking it's very important to spend in one's 60's because you never know when it'll be all over. Now I find myself realizing that in 10 years I'll be in the middle of my 70's. Yikes, how did that happen?
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:43 AM   #13
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Very sorry to hear about your friend. I learned yesterday a former (still working) co-worker passed away over the weekend from a heart attack at age 53, completely unexpected.

As you know, there is no universal answer. Although we can't predict our longevity and indeed some lives are shorter than expected, I can only go with the odds, meaning 'all your spreadsheets' serve the same purpose they did before your loss.

Thankfully most of us will live to a ripe old age, so it only makes sense to plan accordingly in my view.

To me the real question at hand daily is how to balance the present and the future, to plan to live a long life, but to enjoy each day along the way. There's no universal answer there either, but if we try to always keep both in mind, we're more likely to strike a balance...
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:07 AM   #14
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...(snip)...
To me the real question at hand daily is how to balance the present and the future, to plan to live a long life, but to enjoy each day along the way. There's no universal answer there either, but if we try to always keep both in mind, we're more likely to strike a balance...
Most dogs have this one figured out.

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Old 12-17-2012, 11:59 AM   #15
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My sister almost died of a peritonitis when she was only 10 years old (her own doctor didn't give her a chance to survive but she did). Three of my college buddies are already dead (2 died in their 20s, the third in his 30s). Three others (age 38-41) are battling potentially fatal heart or auto-immune diseases. And one of my best friends almost died earlier this year from a freakish brain infection at age 37. I am very aware of my own mortality and this has been a great motivation to seek early retirement. Still, I cannot compromise my own future based on bad things that happen to other people. I plan as if I will live to be a very old man. Because I just might.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:15 PM   #16
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Here's a perspective:
If you're 60 years old, do you realize that you have about 15 more good summers left?

Yeah, yeah, there's always some 80 year-old running around playing tennis, but for most of us, the 75-80 range is where things start to fall apart and problems start to arise...the good times are behind you.

Enjoy it now. Too many friends/acquaintances already gone or not having any fun.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:40 PM   #17
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Sorry about your friend. I had a good friend, very healthy seeming, die at 56 and it affects you.

One of the differences I've become aware of at work, as I approach slightly early retirement on March 29 of next year, is that most of my co-workers haven't come to grips with mortality. In 2007, I had an aortic valve replaced and an aneurism repaired; the docs say this won't shorten my life span, but it made me think. Then, in 2009, I was in a bad accident, recovered well, but have some physical limitations that are permanent.

I no longer view life as a never ending stream of days, weeks, months, and years. Instead, I view it as a finite quantity, one that only God knows for sure. It may be 1 day, or it may be 30 years, but it isn't endless.

So many of my peers seem to just avoid the issue until they're so old it smacks them in the face. It strikes me that those who wonder "what will you do" will be wondering the same thing about themselves when health or age force them to quit working; whatever "it" is that you will do, you will be able to do "it" a lot better at 60 than 80.

So maybe I won't die with as much money as some of them, but then again, maybe I will. But I want to make a lot more memories that can't be made if I work too long.

Get out as early as you can and do the things you really want or need to do. I'm a couple of years over due, but I'm committed now.
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:22 PM   #18
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Yeah having someone close to you die suddenly and early really makes you think. When I was working, sometimes one of the deputy district attorneys and I (public defender) would talk about retirement. He was a few years older than me. He kept waiting to get to that certain amount. Finally he retired and 2 weeks later he died! That knocked the wind out of me! About a year or two after that I quit. Three years after I retired, my younger sister died suddenly at 55 from pancreatic cancer. Both my parents are still alive at 92 and 88. So yeah you can't know.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:12 PM   #19
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Part of the reason that I hung it up early was the result of a number of people that I knew or knew of who died prematurely. One guy I worked with at one time, didn't know very well, but he died about two weeks before he was to retire. Another was an uncle who scrimped and saved for retire and died of a heart attack 6 months later. based on those and other instances, I decided that I had enough and wanted to enjoy life more.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:21 PM   #20
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My brother was super fit... Had ridden both "Ride the Rockies" and "Tour d'Wyoming" 5.5 years ago 5 years ago he died of a very aggressive cancer. He was 48.

My dad had died 2.5 months before my brother. And my mom 6 years before that.

It made me REALLY look at how long I wanted to work at a job I didn't love (but paid well.) We started making the plans at that point to beef up savings/investments, pay down the mortgage, and get ourselves where we can retire early. DH is turning 62 in just over a year, so he'll pull the trigger then. I hope to retire in just under 4 years. Sooner if i get laid off.

Mortality awareness doesn't change the financial requirements to retire early. But it can motivate you to save and reach FI earlier.
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