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Did you want and plan FIRE or did it just happen?
Old 05-04-2017, 05:26 PM   #1
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Did you want and plan FIRE or did it just happen?

I remember taking my first corporate job at 26/27 and saying to myself I want to retire before 40, didn't have a game plan but I started saving aggressively, that compounded with snapping up as much company stock as I could and it splitting 3 times in 4 years got me to the promise land within 12 years.

Just curious if your mindset was to get out early or if the cards just landed that way for you?
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Old 05-04-2017, 05:30 PM   #2
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Similar to you. I had a plan to retire in 5 years starting at about 30. Most of those required lottery winnings but I was an aggressive saver and LBYMer and I got to the promised land at 55 without the lottery or a pension
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Old 05-04-2017, 05:43 PM   #3
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I had no specific thoughts about retiring early when I was younger.

In 2012 I started a new job at a megacorp, and I absolutely hated it almost from the start.
I gutted it out for 1+ year just to get the 20% vesting in the 401(k) and then I quit.
I didn't have another job lined up.
That was when I started thinking that I could possibly retire.

I haven't entirely retired. I have worked at a couple of contract jobs since then.

With the uncertainty over healthcare and for my own sanity, I do want to go back to work part-time.
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Old 05-04-2017, 06:38 PM   #4
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I started seriously planning for it at age 47 and pulled the trigger two months shy of my 54th birthday.

Diligently ran the numbers with FireCalc almost every evening as my portfolio grew (and shrank) for several years prior.
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Old 05-04-2017, 06:59 PM   #5
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At 29 I was totally infatuated with the future Mrs. Hermit. At 40 we had kids and they, along with Mrs Hermit and aging parents were my focus. I did start maxing out the 401k at work because the oldest would be starting college right when I could tap that pot. At 59 DW passed away and the youngest started college leaving me by myself. That is when my focus moved to retirement. I set my plan to retire when the youngest graduated in 2013. That is when I retired. The youngest is still plugging away at that degree...

Oh, and BTW, I never did need to tap the 401k for education. That is just how things worked out.
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Old 05-04-2017, 07:04 PM   #6
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While I always thought I would be able to retire well before I turned 65, several big things happened during my working years to greatly accelerate my path toward ER.


The first was paying off my mortgage in 1998, when I was 35. I used some of the gains from the booming stock market of the mid and late 1990s to pay it off. These were my peak, full-time earnings years, as my pay was rising more quickly than my expenses, increasing my savings rate. With the mortgage paid off, I was able to cover my remaining expenses using only 1 biweekly paycheck per month. The other biweekly paycheck I was able to save, quickly replenishing the money I used to pay off the mortgage.


My company introduced its ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) in 1997. While it grew fairly slowly in those first few years, its value really began to take off in the early 2000s. And in those early years, I was accumulating lots of shares thanks to my peak earnings. So, when its value began to take off in the mid-2000s, I saw the possibility of being able to cash it out while leaving the rest of my separate 401k intact.


Also related to the ESOP was a new tax rule about cashing out company stock. I could use something called NUA (Net Unrealized Appreciation) to pay income taxes at LTCG rates instead of as ordinary income. With nearly all of the stock's value as NUA, this would keep my tax bill pretty low.


Thanks to my expenses being pretty low, I was able to switch to working part-time starting in 2001. This gave me a taste of living on a smaller income amount. It was still more than enough to cover my expenses, only my savings rate fell some. My portfolio's income was rising, so my total income didn't fall by a lot.


In those PT working years, the ESOP was exploding in value. I now saw the chance to cash it out if it reached a certain value, and that value was now on the radar. My existing portfolio was already a good size so the addition of the ESOP being cashed out could provide me with enough investment income if I could find a reasonable bond fund to put it into. I began looking for one with a sufficient return with a risk I could tolerate. I found one.


My next step toward ER was when, in 2007, I reduced my weekly hours worked to 12, from 20. This reduced my income again but it could still cover my expenses. It gave me a little practice for living on a low "income." By this time, I was pretty sure I'd be able to ER by the end of 2008.


Once I found an affordable individual HI policy (no ACA yet), and the ESOP hits its magic number, both in the middle of 2008, I ERed at the end of October at age 45.
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Old 05-04-2017, 07:12 PM   #7
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Soon after I started working I asked myself "Where is it written that you have to work your whole life??" I was determined to take charge of my life and retire early. Retired 1.5 years ago at 53. It's all a matter of choices. Make sure your spouse has similar ideas on money, however. Much easier if you are both rowing together. JMHO
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Old 05-04-2017, 07:21 PM   #8
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I always wanted to retire before my Dad did. He went at 56. I did what I could but still had life and kids to support. I finally felt good at around 53 or 54 and wanted to build up a safety margin. Shortly after, is when Megacorp hit the re-org button before Dad's retirement. DW went back to work for a few years at much lower pay than I had been getting just because she felt she needed to. Then I got a PT consulting job for the last few years which covered about 40% of my previous pay and DW soon retired. I consider myself semi-retired. Truth be told, I could go at any time but I have a close relationship with my customer/boss and would not leave him high and dry. We've been working together in one form or another for over 16 years. We also have a mutual side business starting up which I hope will provide some small $$ for long into my full retirement. It is different and fun at the moment. When it stops being fun, I will pull the plug on that too.

So yeah, there was a mindset, and it did just happen.
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Old 05-04-2017, 07:29 PM   #9
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At about 35 my megacorp provided a financial planning opportunity. It was the first time I was asked at what age I wanted to retire. I built the plan for 58 and retired at about 55.

I have asked the same question of my children so they select an age and build their plan. I expect if someone had the conversation with me, I would have retired earlier.
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Old 05-04-2017, 07:42 PM   #10
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I loved those 'Freedom 55' commercials. The people always looked so happy. So yes I started planning early on - learned to sail and everything.
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Did you want and plan FIRE or did it just happen?
Old 05-04-2017, 07:59 PM   #11
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Did you want and plan FIRE or did it just happen?

I started at 23. Planning to retire this year at 55. Already gave notice.

LBYM. Had a great wife who also wanted to save.

32 years ago started saving 10% to 401K in Vanguard Windsor funds . My dad's advice, he said we would never miss 10%, he was right.
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Old 05-04-2017, 08:08 PM   #12
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Started work at 28 planning (more hoping) to retire at 40 - this turned out to be just in time for the dot com crash of 2001. Plan B was 50. Well on my way there I was already semi-retired (at least working part time) by 46. Then 2008 happened. Another recalibration and then finally FIRE'd for real at 55.

At least now my AA is 50/40/10 not 85/15 so maybe I'll weather the inevitable next crash with somewhat more aplomb.
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Old 05-04-2017, 08:12 PM   #13
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When i got hired i knew i would stay till forced age retirement on my 63rd birthday. By the time i had completed 10 years ,it seemed like i did 25. I knew i was going to limp to the pension office as soon as i had enough to maintain our lifestyle. It took a few times to get off the elevator, i didnt know if there was a world out there beyond my job. As you can see from my signature line i should have left when i did 20 years, i just couldnt figure out if i had enough,. Ergo i stayed 5 years too long.
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Old 05-04-2017, 08:30 PM   #14
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I told my college auditing professor when I was 18 that I was going to make a million dollars and retire at age 30. He laughed. I always wanted to retire young. Some real estate losses and the "lost decade" delayed my timing, but with hard work and LBYM, we managed to accumulate enough to ER at age 56 and stay in our chosen home of Southern CA.
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Old 05-04-2017, 09:16 PM   #15
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I wanted it and planned for it for many years. But the timing was not of my choosing. My employer announced that my contract would not be renewed. My finances allowed me to call it quits, so I did.
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Old 05-04-2017, 09:38 PM   #16
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I knew well before I started my career my goal would be to retire before age 60. As I got closer I realized it could be sooner. By age 50 I ran all the numbers and planned to retire at 55 and I did.
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Old 05-04-2017, 09:42 PM   #17
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My megacorp stint started age 24 and it turned out to be a bad fit so I started looking for the exit after just a few weeks. Around that time I read a Money magazine article about a local couple aged 35 who had amassed a half million and quit to travel the world. That was the spark. As for a plan, me neither, just get there ASAP.

It took a decade to accumulate 30x annual expenses and another four years to double it for margin. By this time though my job seemed a lot better (or maybe I grew up) so I stuck around. I tried ER a few years ago but that lasted only a few weeks before I got bored so I went back, along with some changes that make it feel like 'semi-retirement".

Now closing out my third decade on the payroll so maybe it's not going to be early after all. My guess is that accidental (and voluntary) ERs are pretty rare, not because I think 'anyone can do it', but rather I believe sustained conscious effort has far better odds than a major lottery payout.
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Old 05-04-2017, 11:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
I wanted it and planned for it for many years. But the timing was not of my choosing. My employer announced that my contract would not be renewed. My finances allowed me to call it quits, so I did.


Did you collect unemployment? Same that's ng happened to me, I collected for 18 months and my job 4 years before that one did the same, collected them too, so I collected 3 years of unemployment in an 8 year work stretch
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Old 05-05-2017, 05:29 AM   #19
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Set a goal as a teenager to retire at 55. No special reason except the "normal" then was 65 and I wanted to beat that by ten years.

Made it on time, so I never felt 55 was especially early, just "normal for me."
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Old 05-05-2017, 06:25 AM   #20
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Starting out, I just assumed I would stay until 65 with Megacorp. Early on, I got an assignment I just hated. I had no option to leave (other than quit and pick the lock on my golden handcuffs.) That got me started w*rking diligently toward at least FI which I reached at 51. By that time I had created my own position within Megacorp - which I loved. So I stayed until the next time Megacorp handed me a crappy assignment. Then, gone in 60 seconds (well, 3 w*rking days plus accrued vacation.) YMMV
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