I've been following the REHP forum on the Motley Fool for about a year and a half now. When the Yahoo and MSN REHP forums were started this year, I signed up for those too, and now this one. So now I have four Retire Early boards to keep up with.
I mostly lurk and occasionally post. I have more to learn than to teach, and I figure I'm taking advantage of some great minds out there (intercst and others).
I retired in October 2000 at age 39. In my case my ability to retire early was due partly to lifetime LBYM, partly to stock market gains, but also partly to luck.
I'm just a college dropout from Cleveland who worked for many years as a telephone company office clerk. In 1995, finding myself in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people, I got the chance for a promotion to management which also meant moving to Chicago. Now I found myself in the company's regulatory department with responsibilities much broader in scope than I'd had before. I also found out firsthand about brutal, crushing deadlines and mandatory overtime, which I hadn't been used to. I didn't mind the work itself, and I enjoyed the social aspects of working; it was the stress, the long hours, and the "corporate culture" politics I could have done without.
At 27 I had read Paul Terhorst's book on retiring early, and the idea was still in the back of my mind. I looked at the growth of my savings and investments and figured I was on track to retire around 48 or so.
Then, due to a merger, my job was eliminated in the year 2000. My job responsibilities were being moved to Texas, and I didn't want to go. The very generous buyout offer I received, plus my accumulated lump sum pension payout, was enough that my net worth nearly doubled overnight. It was somewhat less than I had wanted to retire on, but I had seen this coming for many months and had plenty of time to crunch the numbers. It was around this time that I discovered intercst's website and the safe withdrawal rate studies. I figured out that I'd be able to live off what I already had. So, I decided that my job termination was the launch to my Early Retirement.
I like these message boards because I have access to a wealth of information from other people that is helping me fine-tune my investing strategies. I really learned most of what I know about investing after I retired. During the 1990s, I saw my 401K funds produce annual returns of 15-20% a year, but I didn't really understand what I was invested in. I now realize my returns were "dumb luck" and that I was riding the great 1990s bull market wave. When I left my job, I knew I had better do some research and learn more specifics about investing, and that's where intercst's website as well as the Motley Fool boards came in.
I also like the boards because I don't know any other Very Early Retirees in "real life", so here I can get acquainted with others who have done what I've done. I'll also admit to a curiosity about what it is that other people do all day long if they're not working.
In my first year-and-a-half of retirement, I've been taking it very easy and basically living like a slacker. Once I tie up some loose ends here at home, I'd like to do some extensive traveling -- in fact, I'm very intrigued with the idea of giving up my apartment and just wandering the world Paul Terhorst-style. I'm single and have no kids, so I'm free to come and go. I'd like to find a traveling companion, but will do it on my own if that doesn't happen.