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Retirement Mentality
Old 09-05-2017, 01:12 PM   #1
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Retirement Mentality

I had a revealing (for me at least) conversation with a friend over the holiday weekend. She is my wife's best friend, and I consider her a good friend of mine too.

She is 60 years old and was telling me how much she hates her job. She said that she is being taken advantage of by her employer (they put her on part time status to avoid paying benefits, but she works 50+ hours/week).

I suggested she see an atty, quit and/or retire. She kind of expected the first two suggestions, but was pretty surprised at the third.

"Why not?" I said. "Have you considered it? Have you reviewed your savings and your spending to see if it's an option? Even if your funds are short of the ideal retirement goal, you should also consider retirement for health reasons (she has a lot of health problems - IMO, many stress-induced). The next day I followed up and emailed her a great retirement article I had read recently.

After the "pep talk" and the article, she replied: "Thanks for the article, but I don't see myself being able to retire anytime soon, rather it's quite the contrary."

It hit me then how much the proper mentality is part of FIRE. Not to pat myself on the back, but I am now waking up every day saying to myself "What can I do today to accelerate my retirement?" Of course I know that there are differences between her situation and mine. But the more time I spend here, I am finding that it's not just dollars and cents that enables one to become financially independent and able to retire early. It is first and foremost the mentality, the attitude that one is going to examine one's situation and make the changes necessary to achieve those goals.

I think Bobby Knight says it best: "The key is not the ‘will to win’ . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important."

Sorry if this is blindingly obvious to others, but looking at my friend concede "defeat" without even examining her situation really drove the point home for me this past weekend.
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Old 09-05-2017, 01:30 PM   #2
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Some people just don't think about things. When we got married I discovered my SO's 401k was in money market waiting to make a decision on investing. For 5 years. They will be fine no matter what as their pension will cover all costs if they works until age 60 (payout at 62 or 65?). Most aren't as lucky.

They are on a better path now and should be FI by age 45 but I expect will keep working many years past as enjoys work.

Surprising how many people in their 50s have a few hundred grand saves and no pension. Especially since most people we know earn $150k+
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Old 09-05-2017, 01:32 PM   #3
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How do you know she conceded defeat without examining her situation. Perhaps she has no savings or far too little to retire.
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Old 09-05-2017, 01:35 PM   #4
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From birth, you are being taught to aspire to moving up. Many people don't see retirement as a move up. Hence, it is never on their radar until they die.
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Old 09-05-2017, 01:59 PM   #5
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How do you know she conceded defeat without examining her situation. Perhaps she has no savings or far too little to retire.
I've known her for 15+ years so it's hard to capture her "on paper". But, knowing her, seeing her reaction (or lack thereof) to our talk, and her email response communicated to me that she doesn't really know where she is financially and doesn't intend to find out.

One example: Even though she is of more modest means than me and the Mrs., she ends up replacing vehicles every couple of years. Why? Because she does not bother to attend to routine maintenance. So, the car breaks down, she pays to have it repaired, and at some point it's not worth fixing and she gets something else.

She recently got a great deal on a lightly used Toyota. The first time I saw it, I said to her (only half in jest), "Do you plan on changing the oil in this one?"
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:19 PM   #6
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I think Bobby Knight says it best: "The key is not the ‘will to win’ . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important."
Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has a viewpoint - which I've always agreed with - that "goals" are mostly useless, or at best just a starting point. What matters is establishing practices that will enable you to make consistent progress toward a goal.

Saying "I have a goal to retire early" is pointless. Saying "I plan to save 30% of my salary every year until I'm able to retire" is a practice that might actually enable you to retire early.
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by CoolRich59 View Post
I had a revealing (for me at least) conversation with a friend over the holiday weekend. She is my wife's best friend, and I consider her a good friend of mine too......

After the "pep talk" and the article, she replied: "Thanks for the article, but I don't see myself being able to retire anytime soon, rather it's quite the contrary.".....

It hit me then how much the proper mentality is part of FIRE. Not to pat myself on the back, but I am now waking up every day saying to myself "What can I do today to accelerate my retirement?" .....

I think Bobby Knight says it best: "The key is not the ‘will to win’ . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.".....

Sorry if this is blindingly obvious to others, but looking at my friend concede "defeat" without even examining her situation really drove the point home for me this past weekend.
It sounds as though you truly care about your friend, and that is admirable.

A few different things could be contributing to what you describe as an attitude of "defeat" on her part:

1. She may have already considered her earnings history, and her options, and come to a realistic conclusion that she needs to work as long as possible in order to build up her eventual social security payments.

2. She may be the kind of person who is passive in the face of events, and simply allows life to "happen" to her, without actively taking charge and taking steps to remedy a situation.

3. She may feel overwhelmed by her situation, and paralyzed by fear about what to do.

Without knowing her precise financial situation, it is hard for an outsider (even a friend!) to ascertain what her options truly are.

Not everyone is "wired" the same way. I have occasionally made some very gentle attempts to influence friends re: retirement planning, and never once have I been able to "convince" anyone of the brilliance of my ideas!

They either get it or they don't, and if they get it, they are already taking the necessary steps to achieve their retirement goals.

It is hard to stand by and watch a good friend struggle, and I commend you for trying to help.

Just don't be surprised if there is nothing you can do change the situation.

By the way, I love the Bobby Knight quote. I am not a sports fan, and had never heard that one before.
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:39 PM   #8
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Pretty sad to see 60 somethings in the workforce with absolutely no end in sight, it's seen much too often
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:58 PM   #9
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Pretty sad to see 60 somethings in the workforce with absolutely no end in sight, it's seen much too often
Yesterday at our local Harris Teeter (Kroger) I saw an old codger who was in his mid 70's (working) and being treated like a child. The older gentleman was bagging groceries when the manager interjected "when you finish bagging those groceries you can go out and retrieve all of the carts." It was 90+ degrees outside.

I'm so grateful that the "early retirement bug" hit me and I began taking action to save - 25 years ago.

Michael
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Old 09-05-2017, 03:16 PM   #10
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Yesterday at our local Harris Teeter...
Funny you should mention Harris Teeter. That's where one of my nephews (age 62) and his wife are both working. They certainly have had ample opportunity to save enough to retire but they didn't. But they have the Lincoln Navigator, bought in better times.

They will be working until they physically cannot. And that is very sad.
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Old 09-05-2017, 04:16 PM   #11
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When I had my first summer job as a file clerk at age 15, I started with a good attitude about work. By the third day, I found the job so mind-numbingly horrible that I started dreaming of retirement. I have some regret about wasting those first two days climbing the corporate ladder, but at least I got my priorities right soon enough!
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Old 09-05-2017, 04:35 PM   #12
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Well, I know that "taking the bull by the horns" was how I managed to retire. For a long time, I was just too focused on work to even think about retirement planning. One day, I had almost a revelation - - it was like a lightbulb went on over my head, and somehow I figured out that if I was ever going to retire, it was me that had to make that happen.

So here I am, happily retired.
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Old 09-05-2017, 04:57 PM   #13
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I have a sister that is 3 years older than me. She worked for many years with over a 6 figure salary while DH and I worked for almost minimum wage for many years. Fast forward 30 years later. We raised 2 kids on $50,000 a year until the last 10 years of working we had over a 6 figure income. We always lived way below our means and put 13% into the 401K with megacorp matching the first 6%. Long story short, she is now 60 and has to work to 70 to have enough to live on. She asked me if she could borrow $50,000 to buy part of a condo in Fl. Answer was, sorry, no we are on a fixed income. Love her but she has to help herself. If she is hungry, we will provide a room and food to eat. Thank the Lord it hasn't come to that.

DH retired 2 1/2 years ago at 57 and I quit at 50 7 years ago. Since then we pretty much do what we want (within our budget) when we want. Made 2 cross country trips in our rv. Next big trip is when DH turns 60 in November. He is still trying to decide what he wants to do....go figure.

It is possible if you start young and are consistent about paying yourself first.
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Old 09-05-2017, 05:25 PM   #14
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Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has a viewpoint - which I've always agreed with - that "goals" are mostly useless, or at best just a starting point. What matters is establishing practices that will enable you to make consistent progress toward a goal.
I find that the term 'Goals' has become so misused and distorted that it no longer means anything to a lot of people. Goals can fall into the same commitment level as New Year's Resolutions.

Many folks are driven to make the money. For some, spending is how you show the world how much money you make. For some, saving for retirement puts you in a position to have the option to retire.

I believe that we see folks on this board all the time that do not know how to make that transition from accumulation mode to whatever retirement is. They may not understand the numbers, they may not know how to use some of the analysis tools, they may not understand how healthcare and/or taxes work. There is also the definition of 'retirement' issue. We see it in threads now and then where folks get all heated up- 'You aren't retired if you are still land-lording rental units.' 'You aren't retired if you are working a part-time job, just because you enjoy it means nothing!'

For me, having the financial house in order gave me the option to retire from a high-stress job at Mega Corp. I chose to make a career change, and do not fit neatly into many folk's definition of 'retired'.

I know folks that have retired from the same place I worked, and are now working at Lowe's or Home Depot. Not because they need the money, but because they enjoy putting lawn mowers together, or helping people out in the tools section.

I think part of the 'retirement mentality' is to recognize that setting yourself up such that you have alternatives in the future is a good thing. We see folks that will work until they drop because they enjoy it. We also see folks who have not prepared themselves, and they will have to work to an old age because they have no alternatives.
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Old 09-05-2017, 05:30 PM   #15
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While it may not be the case here, some people just like being victims.

DW has a friend who, at age 67 is still working "for the health benefits". When told that she is on/qualifies for Medicare, her answer is "well that costs A LOT of money too".

Then again, some people just lack the imagination to picture a life without working.
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Old 09-05-2017, 06:07 PM   #16
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This is an interesting thread for this forum, where most are quite successful. I know so many in this situation its not funny. Most of the retirees I know (all actually) retired as a progression of their job. So many years, thenyou retire. No thought to how much, when, or active participation. When the time came, they assumed or hoped they had enough. I honestly can not understand why so many people bury their heads in the sand about so many things. I have a SIL that moved to the beach in FL with skin cancer on her nose that requires Mohs surgery and she refuses to see a dermatologist for surgery. She doesn't want to deal with the situation. Shes a 3 Bottle of wine a day alcoholic. Refuses to acknowledge she has a problem. But she retired last year "successfully" because her teachers pension and SS will keep paying her credit card bills and she hasn't run out of money yet so she must be ok. Zero plan.

I've been planning for many years but my problem is the fear of inadequate funds failure even though Firecalc clearly shows easy 100% success. So I will stay another 2 years to bump up the pension enough to overcome that fear. DW says quit now, we have plenty. It just doesn't that feel that way to me. Not yet. My job is now relatively easy, low stress, solid 6 figures, so I just think I am being lazy not taking advantage of the income.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:31 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Michaela View Post
Yesterday at our local Harris Teeter (Kroger) I saw an old codger who was in his mid 70's (working) and being treated like a child. The older gentleman was bagging groceries when the manager interjected "when you finish bagging those groceries you can go out and retrieve all of the carts." It was 90+ degrees outside.

I'm so grateful that the "early retirement bug" hit me and I began taking action to save - 25 years ago.

Michael
Yeah, I feel the same way when we have a 50 something, or older server. That is a brutal job for middle aged and older people.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:55 PM   #18
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While it may not be the case here, some people just like being victims.
I like to avoid that thought. It does not really compute.

But you know what? You are spot on. Really spot on.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:27 PM   #19
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A few different things could be contributing to what you describe as an attitude of "defeat" on her part: ...
I think you are 100% correct. She is a lovely person, but also someone who tends to allow events to overwhelm her.

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By the way, I love the Bobby Knight quote. I am not a sports fan, and had never heard that one before.
It's a favorite of mine, and very much in line with the Scott Adam's comment that Curmudgeon posted above.

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While it may not be the case here, some people just like being victims.
Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of truth to this statement.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:34 PM   #20
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I have a sister that is 3 years older than me. She worked for many years with over a 6 figure salary while DH and I worked for almost minimum wage for many years. Fast forward 30 years later. We raised 2 kids on $50,000 a year until the last 10 years of working we had over a 6 figure income. We always lived way below our means and put 13% into the 401K with megacorp matching the first 6%. Long story short, she is now 60 and has to work to 70 to have enough to live on. She asked me if she could borrow $50,000 to buy part of a condo in Fl. Answer was, sorry, no we are on a fixed income. Love her but she has to help herself. If she is hungry, we will provide a room and food to eat. Thank the Lord it hasn't come to that.

DH retired 2 1/2 years ago at 57 and I quit at 50 7 years ago. Since then we pretty much do what we want (within our budget) when we want. Made 2 cross country trips in our rv. Next big trip is when DH turns 60 in November. He is still trying to decide what he wants to do....go figure.

It is possible if you start young and are consistent about paying yourself first.
Sorry to quote your entire post, but you really captured the point I was trying to make, and not doing it very well.
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