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Seeking FIRE Advice
Old 01-31-2006, 09:10 PM   #1
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Seeking FIRE Advice

I'm a former Motley member - prior to the charges coming into effect - and have just recently had the time/inclination to get back into the frey, so to speak. I became interested in ER in the late 90's and wax and wane in keeping up with things. One thing that doesn't is my dedication to LBYM and FIRE.

So I'm hoping you guys and gals can let me know what you think.

1. How do I calculate my annual gains on my equity accounts? Is this determined by the end of year (12.31) date year to year? Does anyone have the equation I could use?

2. I've been working since '89 and have done okay with my investments. I've always been a good saver - with bouts of heavy traveling ( my weakness ).
- $600,000 house with $160k mortgage - primary home
- $600,000 house with $200k mortgage - rental paying for itself
This is the proposed retirement destination in a country with national health
care. Not thoroughly free, but relatively (in comparision to the US).
- $370,000 - brokerage account with low/no fees - Index accounts and equities
- $100,000 - 401(k)
- $50,000 - CD at just under 4% locked up for 12 months
- $90,000 - MMF
- $80,000 - Bank accounts (looking for an investment home ....)
My only debt is the mortgages.

Any suggestions for creating better balanced, diversified investments?
Any suggestions for determining when I can retire? I do keep a spreadsheet of expenses/annual living costs (difficult with my DH, another story, see No. 4!), and believe we can live on $50/60 per annum easily.

3. I work in a highly stressful job (management - don't do it Spanky!!) and come close to burn out a few times a year. I'm ready to get out, but also am a little hooked on the challenge, fun (yes, it is sometimes) - I'm a type A, so I'm finding it difficult to unplug. I do think that I'll probably do some work always - maybe more of a semi-ER situation.

Do type A's survive well in ER?
Has anyone here been in a similar situation, and how did you get out?

I have been experiencing some health problems over the past couple of years - stress related - Crohn's for one which is pretty well in check now- but I know I need to throttle back.

4. My DH and I have been married for a couple of years. He hasn't been a good saver. Since marrying we have all his debt paid off, and he's maxing out his 401(k) now and putting money away. He's doing pretty good actually, but only has approx. $40k saved. That's good considering the debt he had! He would ER tomorrow if he had his way (lying on a beach somewhere for sure), but I'm his roadblock as I'm concerned about having ENOUGH money put aside so that we can bail from the hi-tech life, get out of dodge, but not look back thinking we should have put in another couple of years.

I could bail now, keep DH working to cover daily living expenses (mortgage is far less than rent in these whereabouts, and we're low maintenance) and I could destress, put my toe in the ER waters to see if I can deal (or how I would deal), better manage and arrange the investments (only get short amounts of time for it as I'm working all the time).

Or we put a firm date - two years out - down and both work our little butts hard to save as much as possible to then both bail out. I'm thinking of keeping the primary residence and renting it out (will well and truly pay for mortgage and then some), just to make sure we can get back in if we need to (how chicken am I?). We move everything down to the beach house, and look into part time or consulting style work to generate a little income to cover expenses etc. We would only need to generate approx. $40k per year, together, to keep us going if that house is paid off. DH is concerned that he won't be too employable as he's over 50 now. His idea of ER is lottery or SS - I tell him to keep dreaming on both accounts.

Am I smoking? I know I haven't mapped out too much in terms of numbers, but what do you think my possible pitfalls are, and where I need to spend more time? I have read that Health Insurance is of primary concern, but I will have that under control for substantially less than is available here.

5. Should I start to set up CD ladders now?

Has anyone had any experience in moving down to another country and how that works?

I've looked into PT'ing - ala Paul and Vicki Terhorst and a few others - but I think I need a home of some sort. I'm not into anything fancy, but just comfortable.

Any and all advice, thoughts and perspectives, very welcome.

Many thanks
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Re: Seeking FIRE Advice
Old 01-31-2006, 09:36 PM   #2
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Re: Seeking FIRE Advice

Rosalita, I'll take a shot at responding to a couple of your questions.

First, have you plugged any numbers into FireCalc? You can learn a lot by playing with that calculator to see what you will need to generate the $50/60k per annum you think you need. (HINT: Life is much better when you track your spending and know what your annual spending needs will be. Yes, it's hard to do but it will help you sleep better when you pull the trigger on your retirement.)

I added up your total assets, and if you sold your current residence and cleared $440k ($600 - $160) it looks like your total nest egg would be $1,170k (including your DH's $40k and excluding the equity in your retirement home). Using a 4% SWR rate, you could generate $46,800 per year ($1,170k x 4%). This should give you some ballpark idea of where you are today.

Numbers is hard
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Re: Seeking FIRE Advice
Old 02-01-2006, 08:53 PM   #3
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Posts: 26
Re: Seeking FIRE Advice

REWahoo - thanks so much for your reply.
I have tracked 3 years of annual expenses and have a pretty good handle on where our living expenses are likely to come from. The quandry is with all that extra time, will we spend more money just to stay entertained. I don't think so - my Dad sent me his expense spreadsheet for the first few years he was retired (they like to do somewhat similar stuff) and it was right there in the ballpark. So I'm hoping that's pretty accurate.

I did try the FireCalc a couple of years back and certainly will do that again.

Appreciate the suggestions. Sorry if the questions seemed low brow, I'm just getting going on this, and I don't come from a financial or engineer background.
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