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mere mortal seeks financial independence
Old 10-18-2010, 04:54 PM   #1
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mere mortal seeks financial independence

Hello everyone,

I've been on the bogleheads forums for a little while, and I thought I'd join here as wel. I am two years out of college, just starting my career as a software developer (I'm 28 years old). It's a good career field for me, and naturally fits my talents.

Having graduated in the midst of the Great Recession, I've managed to stay employed by staying mobile. I've done a lot of contract work since college. It pays well, but it has a fairly high turnover rate. This adds an element of stress for me. It's always there, even in the best of times. Also, it takes time to develop a meaningful relationship with those around you (including the opposite sex). I've seen the toll this lifestyle takes on others who have been in the field a while, and it's a fate I want to avoid if possible.

At this point, I have two options.
A.) Find a very secure job with a low turnover rate.
B.) Become financially independent as soon as possible.

I've been looking for option A, and it simply does not seem to exist anymore. I've concentrated my search on federal jobs (sadly, they prefer to contract out software development), and large defense companies. I'm still hopeful, but I have to move on to...

Option B. I save between 62-74% of my income towards 'retirement'. My goal is to be financially independent by 40. At that time, I intend to go to work part time, but only because I want to, not have to. I've run the numbers on firecalc as well as my own calculations, and it appears workable. I estimate that in 12 years I'll have between 800000 and 1 mil (in todays dollars). This should cover my modest expenses at a 3% SWR. My asset allocation is currently ageInBonds, modeled after the TSP's L2030.

That's the plan. I'm sure they'll be some 'surprises' along the way.

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Old 10-18-2010, 05:01 PM   #2
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As yes, balance on the money-love-"free time" triangle of life.

That would be good to have a healthy balanced life. However finding it may be a challenge. Like everyone else, you'll perhaps need to stumble along until some near-compromise to ideal presents itself.

Good luck with your quest, there is no right answer here.

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Old 10-18-2010, 05:35 PM   #3
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Welcome! You are to be congratulated for thinking about your financial future so clearly at 28! I think you will be fine. Here are some things I would recommend:

- I would steer away from federal/defense jobs and gravitate towards startups, especially those in new fast developing areas. For example, if I were young again, an iPhone app startup (or even starting my own with a few friends) would be incredibly tempting. Working at cutting edge startups will give you a decent salary, and an outside chance at hitting the ER jackpot via acquisition or stock options. Always keep contact with colleagues you respect as they move onto other opportunities. If your company gets boring, work your connections to another company you think is doing something interesting and take another spin at the wheel. I suspect there are a few of us on this board who were able to ER by getting lucky via windfall events, (and had the common sense to not blow it on spending...) Getting a windfall is certainly not guaranteed, but you're in a field where they are reasonably common, and you can't win if you don't play!

- in general, as your career moves forward, be sure to increase your expenses quite a bit slower than your income increases and invest the difference sensibly. This has the double advantage of keeping the cost of your lifestyle low, while at the same time increasing your savings rate and decreasing your time to FIRE.
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Old 10-18-2010, 07:39 PM   #4
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I'd go with B, but that's because I've never sought gov't work myself. Although I know it can be a path for some, I think you'd enjoy the challenges of startups or small businesses, at least at this point in your career.
Keep saving; you are doing a rockstar job of putting money away! Have you read Jacob's blog/book on Extreme Early Retirement? You sound like a great candidate for the lifestyle he describes.
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mortal View Post
I've concentrated my search on federal jobs ...
Don't forget state jobs. I just retired (not early!) on a state pension, and it's working fine, for me.
Greg (retired in 2010 at age 68, state pension)
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:13 PM   #6
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The usual benefit people seem to think appealing about government jobs is the pension, which is becoming more rare everywhere else. This may be of little use to you since the payout formulas are almost always based on years of service and you seem inclined to ER so would have relatively few years to count. The other aspect is the supposed job security, but that seems to be illusory. Already you are seeing that the tech jobs have been moved out to contracts in many cases. Plus the recession was enough of a squeeze that freezes and layoffs happen in government too.

Best option is to be so good at what you do that any job wants to keep you, and if for whatever reason they don't, all your former coworkers are interested in hiring you to work with them at their new companies.

Tech jobs for software engineers are starting to be filled in a lot of places. Perhaps you are might consider moving geographically if you are not seeing openings where you are located.

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