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The flip side of "Is 'early retirement' insensitive ..."
Old 12-26-2020, 02:25 PM   #1
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The flip side of "Is 'early retirement' insensitive ..."

OK, I didn't want to hijack Boose's thread about being more sensitive in letting co-workers know about one's ability to FIRE, so I'm starting a new one on the phrases and language others use to let you know why they aren't working towards saving for retirement.

I'm stipulating here, of course, that I understand that very many people simply cannot spare any funds for retirement. That is a terrible situation that I hope can at least gradually be improved.

I'm talking here about your co-workers and acquaintances who are in similar or even better economic positions than you who were putting away the money. And I'm thinking about one particular co-worker in my unit, who made substantially more money than I did, but who constantly complained to me about her "crappy" salary and how she couldn't possibly save for retirement. Her favorite expression, which I have heard repeated many times by others as well was:
"I have to live!"
- which I took to mean "I refuse to sacrifice any of my lifestyle for the purpose of the future."

So what catch-phrases and wording have you all heard from those around you regarding your preparations in comparison to theirs, sometimes even insinuating that you yourself were just too afraid and timid, etc?
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:42 PM   #2
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FOMO.

Using the verb "invest" in a way that implies something other than the way I use the word. ("Invest in yourself" "Invest in your comfort" "Invest in your safety")

I didn't really talk much about my plans with others though. I figure everyone gets to make their decisions and live life the way they want. I may disagree with others' decisions but I try not to judge them too much. While FIRE was a good choice for me, I don't think it is necessarily the be-all-end-all for everyone.

In contexts where their decisions affect me, I try to find ways that I can influence that. Sometimes that means voting, sometimes that means expressing an opinion, and sometimes that means making decisions myself to change how I relate to them.
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:24 PM   #3
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I don't recall ever hearing these sorts of things when I was planning to ER, or now that I am. Because I never talked finances with acquaintances, work-friends, or anyone outside of direct family. I don't think I ever compared salaries with anyone in the last 10 years. Nor did anyone ask me to share.

If you are hearing these sorts of defensive responses, rather than try to judge what is behind them, it's probably a clue that you've overstepped.

And "I have to live" or whatever, might be a way to hide an uncomfortable, private situation. It might be code for... I'm recovering from a bad divorce, I'm paying for my parents nursing care, I'm helping raise my sister's kids, I'm still paying off medical bills from years ago, etc.

There are a million reasons why someone else doesn't have much savings, and not all of them can be explained away as character failings.

I wouldn't try to influence someone else's finances any more than I'd suggest they eat more broccoli.
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:32 PM   #4
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I don't mean to say that I ever initiated or shared observations, and I agree that not sharing is prudent. But my co-worker did! And I saw that the same phrase is used very often in many similar situations.
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:55 PM   #5
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So what catch-phrases and wording have you all heard from those around you regarding your preparations in comparison to theirs, sometimes even insinuating that you yourself were just too afraid and timid, etc?
Sounds like an invitation to gossip........

Those around me are living their own lives. I'm living mine.
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:57 PM   #6
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If you are hearing these sorts of defensive responses, rather than try to judge what is behind them, it's probably a clue that you've overstepped.

I wouldn't try to influence someone else's finances any more than I'd suggest they eat more broccoli.
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Old 12-26-2020, 05:29 PM   #7
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I don't mean to say that I ever initiated or shared observations, and I agree that not sharing is prudent. But my co-worker did! And I saw that the same phrase is used very often in many similar situations.
Yeah, I have heard that phrase enough times.
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Old 12-26-2020, 05:43 PM   #8
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This didn't come from anyone we know in person, but from an online financial forum. I don't remember which one. A poster divorced their spendthrift spouse, and their justification for getting into debt was always "I have a right to be happy".

My family's saying was "spend it now, you might not have it later". I saw how well that worked out, which is why I have always been a good saver.
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Old 12-26-2020, 05:51 PM   #9
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Not necessarily insinuating that I'm too timid to live, but that I'm a fool for investing in the stock market.

"I don't gamble."

or

"I'm not gonna bet it all on red!"

More of the same all or nothing attitude that can make people say, "I have to live!"
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Old 12-26-2020, 05:57 PM   #10
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I just don’t discuss it with anyone. It’s not a subject that comes up. A couple of people at work know I follow stocks and occasionally like to talk stock picks. Otherwise almost everyone around me wouldn’t know if I was on the border of bankruptcy or filthy rich as well as anything in between.

I think it’s become popular to demonize success. Just like it’s become popular to demonize anyone that dares to hold different political or social values or views. This coupled with the fact that the topic of money seems to still be taboo with a large number of people encourages many to just keep these kinds of subjects to themselves. Personally, I don’t blame them.
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Old 12-26-2020, 05:58 PM   #11
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I was a money lender back in my working days. I used to hear "everybody that gets divorced has bad credit, low savings, lives pay check to pay check... I too had been through a divorce with no bad credit and managed to keep saving. I would very very rarely gently call them on it. Most times I just would nod and agree. Any excuse will do.
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Old 12-26-2020, 06:11 PM   #12
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OK,So what catch-phrases and wording have you all heard from those around you regarding your preparations in comparison to theirs, sometimes even insinuating that you yourself were just too afraid and timid, etc?
Money is for spending. Usually, (well, always) meaning "Spend it now on magic beans or whatever all my friends who are jumping off the Empire State Building have"."

You worry too much. I care about today. Tomorrow takes care of itself. Not my family motto but my father's.As we all here know it's the opposite. Today's just fine. Mañana is an X. Today is your best tool to take care of tomorrow.

The ever popular: Why are you saving all that money? You can't take it with you. Not trying to take it with me. I'm trying to have it while I'm here.

You're wasting your time. You still won't have any money. Who knows where the money goes? It just goes! A head slapper. Absolutely incredulous.

Or, when I tell them how I'm saving so much money: You're crazy. Nobody can live like that. Or, sometimes: "Well see, you can do that. I can't.
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Old 12-26-2020, 06:20 PM   #13
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I don't mean to say that I ever initiated or shared observations, and I agree that not sharing is prudent. But my co-worker did! And I saw that the same phrase is used very often in many similar situations.
My BFF uses this phrase too, as well as a mish mash of others centered around rewarding themselves, they work hard so they deserve it, and living for today. They are living far above their means and one bad health issue or job loss away from financial disaster and have two teenage kids to put through college before they can even think of putting away ‘real’ money for retirement.

Though they are both high earners, with the lifestyle they want, they will never retire. Which is fine. I just hope the financial mess they’re on the brink of holds off until their kids are launched.

I think it’s hard to live in an UMC neighborhood and not want everything that’s around you. And it’s hard to go back to driving a Toyota or a Hyundai when your last two cars have been Porsches. Same with flying coach when you’ve been flying business for work.

They come to me occasionally for financial or stock advice, and I walk through how to do it, but they want it fast and time is not on their side at this point.
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Old 12-26-2020, 08:20 PM   #14
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I'm coming to believe that some people are simply not capable of planning ahead. I don't mean to judge here. I don't dislike them and I don't question their character. They're just wired to think only of today, never tomorrow.

I suspect there's a deep evolutionary reason for this. Perhaps if our environment (physical or cultural) changed dramatically, they might be the successful ones, and those of us who frequent this forum would not survive. Or maybe it's all part of some higher being's or deity's plan. Maybe it's just the way things are, and there's no reason.

But we all know the type. Always struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, but always in line for a double latte at Starbucks or the latest iPhone. Every conceivable cable TV package. Steady stream of new cars with the longest financing plan available. Credit cards maxed out and always paying the minimum.

Yet somehow, they seem to be as comfortable with their decisions as I am with mine. And it's true that none of us leave this world with any more than we brought into it. Who am I to judge?
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Old 12-26-2020, 08:31 PM   #15
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I never got into any discussions with folks regarding whether or not to save with retirement. During my first 20 years with Megacorp, the retirement package was so good that I saw many folks retiring in their early-mid50s. The general consensus among us younger ones was that we did save, but did not need to focus on saving specifically for retirement. We got slapped into reality in the late 1990s .

Most of my co-worker friends were not spendthrifts. The best example is when Megacorp changed their reimbursement policy for meals when traveling from "turn in your receipts over XX amount, and we will not reimburse anything that exceeds "YY" amount to "you have an allowance of ZZ per day for meals in this location, spend under ZZ you keep the difference, spend over ZZ its on you". An informal network soon grew of folks sharing, for various locations, good, cheap places to eat, to try to maximize the difference one could keep.

In my later Megacorp years, retirement talk came up among those of us who were technically eligible to retire, and the issues were never lack of saving. They were more like medical (with pensions none of us would be eligible for ACA subsidies) or wanting to work to pay for things like kids college or being available to help support aging parents from their paycheck and not from their savings. Kids college was one reason I kept working. When several of my friends lost the last surviving parent of both them and their spouse, they retired within 6 months.

Probably the phrase I heard most often from my colleagues who were not choosing to retire was "What would I do?"
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Old 12-26-2020, 10:41 PM   #16
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Where I worked the YNABs outnumbered the YOLOs but there was an interesting disparity between functions. I was in engineering and we occupied one end of the building while marketing and sales had their offices at the opposite end. Visitors could pretty easily guess who sat where based on the kinds of cars that were parked in the lot that ran alongside our building.

It took awhile for me to recognize how long-term confidence can reasonably explain this discrepancy in spending trajectory. Engineers in tech companies are keenly aware what lies ahead over the long term-- the stars align in our youth but despite our best efforts, track record, etc, things have a tendency to fall off the rails in our middle age as obsolescence (whether real or perceived) is always just round the corner. We know what we have to do with the rapid succession of large raises coming to us during our honeymoon period.

By contrast the business and finance types seem less exposed to this long-term risk, so they can reasonably expect to go the distance without getting pushed out permanently in middle age. Professions where (real) peak earning years are back end loaded are similarly situated. While they usually need to do some degree of preparation, it's not as urgent to start as early as it was for people like me, so they can justify their splurges along the way.

As for explicit conversations involving retirement preparation, I recall only one. A colleague of mine found out I hadn't yet enrolled in our 401k after three years with the company, and he was livid-- he rushed out and returned with the enrollment form and wouldn't leave my office until I had filled it out and sent it in. I was going to do it eventually, but I was already two years late. I think I owe him a car.
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Old 12-27-2020, 08:03 AM   #17
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I know someone who seems to have an aversion to saving money and I often hear them say:
"You can't take it with you!"

I suppose they assume that some pension + SS will cover their retirement expenses, but I know that they don't even have enough savings to pay for unexpected expenses so that just adds to their credit card debt. I don't understand this attitude when I'm sure this person could easily build up some savings.
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Old 12-27-2020, 08:19 AM   #18
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I'm talking here about your co-workers and acquaintances who are in similar or even better economic positions than you who were putting away the money. And I'm thinking about one particular co-worker in my unit, who made substantially more money than I did, but who constantly complained to me about her "crappy" salary and how she couldn't possibly save for retirement. Her favorite expression, which I have heard repeated many times by others as well was:
"I have to live!"
- which I took to mean "I refuse to sacrifice any of my lifestyle for the purpose of the future."
OMG, I've heard that cliché "I have to live" way too many times. Depending on who said it, I would keep mum, or point out that one can "live" and still save - at least save SOMETHING on a regular basis. These same people reject tried and true methods of automatic payroll deductions for savings, LBYM, or as simple a cost saver as brown bagging one's lunch.
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Old 12-27-2020, 08:32 AM   #19
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The people in my innermost circle of close relationships are whom I care the most about and they have always known that I have worked hard and have focused on good money habits. They know me well and seem happy for me and not at all surprised that I FIREd this year at 54.

Secondary and tertiary concentric circles of relationships are still important and they mostly think I’m taking a “sabbatical” to figure out my next w*rk phase, since that’s what I put on social media and it’s what I say if someone asks.

Midlife “sabbatical” is also true, because, who knows? Someone might still want to give me money to do something I actually want to do. No need to burn bridges, slam doors and completely smash my professional “brand,” which will atrophy naturally.

When I really ponder it, the one who thinks about it all the most is between my two ears!
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Old 12-27-2020, 08:47 AM   #20
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When I said I would retire early, I heard "Won't you get bored?" When I shared with a friend with whom I thought I could share with that I would be FI the next year, she said without missing a beat "You can't take it with you!" I've heard "You're too young to retire." I've heard "Must be nice." Would have preferred to hear a simple sincere congratulations, but to be honest only heard that from 3 or 4. I was always happy for people when they retired. I have found that most people are not happy for you. A lot of blank looks and no verbal responses.
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