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Old 02-24-2017, 10:44 PM   #121
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There's a lot of evidence that indicates it is not that people who are unsuccessful then blame factors beyond their control, but instead that people who tend to see external factors as being the cause of what happens to them become less successful as a result.

Psychologists have studied this quite a bit. It's known as "Locus of Control." From our friend Wiki:
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In personality psychology, locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an aspect of personality studies. A person's "loci" (plural of "locus," Latin for "place" or "location") is conceptualized as internal (a belief that one's life can be controlled) or external (a belief that life is controlled by outside factors which they cannot influence, or that chance or fate controls their lives).
Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions: for example, when receiving exam results, people with an internal locus of control tend to praise or blame themselves and their abilities. People with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors such as the teacher or the exam.
In longitudinal studies, people who began with a strong internal locus of control become more successful, are healthier, have lower stress, and are happier. While it might seem that blaming "fate" for one's situation would provide some psychological relief, it doesn't appear to produce happiness long-term. Conversely, an inclination to take responsibility for one's situation may result in a bitter pill occasionally, but it tends to result in a happier person.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:59 PM   #122
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You knew their balances?? That doesn't seem right.
It was always a fear of mine that management would shortchange people with higher account balances, but until now I thought it was irrational!!
I think it make a difference in how big a company you work.... I knew everybody's balance, but I was 'in charge' of the 401(k) even though the CEO was officially the person who was...

Sometimes I would go through the investments to see if we should change any... we had a good number of available funds as that is what people asked for... but, 90% of the money was in 10 funds... and the rest was spread around with maybe one person in this fund and another in that fund...
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:01 PM   #123
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Psychologists have studied this quite a bit. It's known as "Locus of Control." ...
It sounds similar to the "victim mentality".
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:51 PM   #124
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I think it make a difference in how big a company you work.... I knew everybody's balance, but I was 'in charge' of the 401(k) even though the CEO was officially the person who was...

Sometimes I would go through the investments to see if we should change any... we had a good number of available funds as that is what people asked for... but, 90% of the money was in 10 funds... and the rest was spread around with maybe one person in this fund and another in that fund...


That still doesn't sit right with me. I understand management access to all the statistics but knowing the identities seems intrusive (e.g. should be illegal). Our megacorp plan used to publish a chart of age band vs balance band with # of employees in each band. I can't imagine Fidelity sharing the identities with megacorp.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:13 AM   #125
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It sounds similar to the "victim mentality".
Yes. And even if person is successful, if they have an external LOC, it would be logical that they are more likely to suffer from the "imposter syndrome." After all, if everyone tells you that you are great, but you believe your success is due to luck, you'll probably feel less deserving of the accolades, that you are just fooling them.

On a semi-related note, I recall some experiments on "learned helplessness" that various test animals endured. One group of animals could avoid an electric shock by doing a task, but the difficulty of the task resulted in them getting shocked, say, 50 times per hour. Another group of animals also did tasks, but they got shocked randomly at a rate of 30 times per hour. The randomly-shocked animals experienced higher stress, despite being shocked less often.
When we believe (accurately or not) that our actions don't impact what happens to us, it is not conducive to happiness.
I suppose the ability to accurately and objectively analyze outcomes and to correctly attribute responsibility to ourselves, others, or luck would be the optimum situation, rather than reflexively attributing almost everything to luck or, alternatively, to our own efforts.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:30 AM   #126
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Luck

The one that sticks in my my mind is when my wife met an acquaintance who she had not seen in some time, who told her she and her husband were "so lucky". At which time my wife told her he had died and she was widowed.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:55 AM   #127
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Speaking of not using the 401K, at my Megacorp, we had a project manager that was known for his cheapness in regards to the projects he was on and to his techs. This guy made really good money. I was talking to him one day with a couple of other people and the subject of the 401K came up. At the time, we were getting matched dollar for dollar up to 8%. That's when he said he doesn't contribute to it and all of his investments were in a taxable account. We all told him how "stupid" he was but he said he wanted full control of his money. I wouldn't doubt he had 7 figures in it.

On a side note, he was always high stressed and loved going to construction meetings and going toe to toe with others. He ended up having two heart attacks with the last one happening in the office. The powers that be told him he was done and gave him 2 years "severance" to retire. He basically got paid the next two years, with all his benefits, to not show up for work. He was about 60 or so at the time.

Regarding the issue with retirement in MN. I plan on living here less than 182 days/year when I'm retired. It might even be 0 days/year. Taxes are too high here and I would have moved a long time ago if I didn't have dogs that need to be taken care of when I travel, which is generally weekly.
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:29 AM   #128
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I work with someone who is 65 or so. He has labeled himself a polymath during conversations we've had. So he must be smart about most things. Very difficult to converse with, even about work items.

He missed a benefits meeting where 401k and company stock were discussed. Afterwards he asked me a few questions, and said he wouldn't participate, because the company would have his money. He went on to tell me about the vesting in great detail. Unfortunately he had only skimmed the materials, and was mixing up the rules about stock awards and 401k. The 401k has no vesting requirements, even for the match. He had missed out on a few thousand dollars of match last year. I pointed this out, and let him know I wasn't telling him what to do, but he might want to speak with our benefits manager.

I overhead some younger people at the office discussing retirement savings. They agreed that the moving parts were not understood well. I felt that I could contribute something to the conversation, but went about my way after considering the big picture. Maybe I'll just drop a book on someone's desk and ask them to share with friends.
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:36 AM   #129
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It is interesting to see the heated debate of "luck".. I do get a little peeved when people say I'm so lucking to have retired early when I know it took a lot of hard work and discipline to get there. I also understand that I'm lucky to have been born in the USA and to good parents that taught me hard work and integrity will lead to success. When you work hard for something you appreciate it more. So for most people born in USA to middle class families should consider themselves very lucky. It is want you make of that "luck" that separates the FIRE people from the paycheck-to-paycheck people.... just my 2-cents...
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:13 AM   #130
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... So for most people born in USA to middle class families should consider themselves very lucky. It is want you make of that "luck" that separates the FIRE people from the paycheck-to-paycheck people....
Nice summation.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:24 AM   #131
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I suppose the ability to accurately and objectively analyze outcomes and to correctly attribute responsibility to ourselves, others, or luck would be the optimum situation, rather than reflexively attributing almost everything to luck or, alternatively, to our own efforts.
Yup. It can be a problem if you err in either direction. If you attribute too much to luck, you are a straw in the wind, a helpless pawn of fate. If you attribute too much to yourself, you are arrogant, controlling, and ungrateful.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:29 AM   #132
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Seems I'm swimming against the tide here, but 'dumb luck', (from my interpretation of it), has played a huge, and beneficial, role throughout my life.

Step onto the sidewalk...turn left or turn right? Perhaps/possibly/probably completely different outcomes, but in my uninformed state I seem to have always unknowingly 'walked towards the light' (so to speak).

A couple years after my late wife died, I was in online contact with, (among others), the lady who is now DW, (the best relationship I've ever had)....she was living/working about 220 miles from where I was temporarily located, and I was about to haul the 5th wheel in the opposite direction. She had to pass by one weekend because of her daughter's graduation, we met, and that was that.

(Prior to this, my oldest friend, of some 50 years, said to me "Something will turn up for you, it always does".)

Luck? I don't discount it, I don't rely on it, but I certainly embrace it.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:38 AM   #133
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I consider myself lucky. Our company got a 401k in 1986. Something I couldn't pass up - a great company match. So I maxed my 401k contribution. Then I didn't have enough $ to live on. Luckily I picked up additional work hours to make enough money to make ends meet while maxing the 401k. I had 0 retirement savings prior to that point.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:43 AM   #134
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I see a few replies in this thread that mention "luck". Luck has very little to do with it. People who are successful at retiring early aren't lucky. That would only apply if you won the lottery got a huge windfall inheritance, etc. Planning, discipline, having the courage to be financially "different" than your peers, that's not luck. All luck is anyway is the intersection of preparedness with opportunity.
Don't short change your hard work.
Luck ALWAYS has a part in it. As you've seen from the responses, you're in a small minority if you truly believe that it has little impact.

Here's the #1 reason - most (if not all) of us were born on the right side of the bell curve.

Almost everything we have starts with that one simple luck factor, IMO, and it's probably the biggest one for most.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:53 AM   #135
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That's what most of my former co-workers told me. It never seemed to occur to them to reduce their living expenses, and I never suggested it knowing what their response might be. Most couldn't imagine 'having less,' felt they were entitled to what they had, and more. Most of them made less than I did, yet they had nicer homes, cars and more/newer toys than DW and I. We make our choices, and live with the outcomes?

I had access to the contribution data on all our employees, about 2/3rds didn't participate in our 401k at all, and very few contributed 10% or more. And too many took out "loans" on their 401k's.
Yup. The concept of living BENEATH one's means doesn't seem to be a popular one.
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:03 AM   #136
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Psychologists have studied this quite a bit. It's known as "Locus of Control."
Bingo!

I think you have made an excellent point.

I have forgotten about this but I remember learning about it as a new teacher. Two students get an 'A' on an assignment. The external Locus of Control student says "The teacher must like me". The internal student says "My study and preparation paid off".
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:09 AM   #137
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Seems I'm swimming against the tide here, but 'dumb luck', (from my interpretation of it), has played a huge, and beneficial, role throughout my life.
I agree, up to a point. Good luck and go far to get one out of a bad situation. And bad luck can ruin the best of plans.

And, I have also observed that this is often true - Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. I think this is powerful for those of us whose 'luck' is in the middle of the bell curve.
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:10 AM   #138
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It is interesting to see the heated debate of "luck".. I do get a little peeved when people say I'm so lucking to have retired early when I know it took a lot of hard work and discipline to get there. I also understand that I'm lucky to have been born in the USA and to good parents that taught me hard work and integrity will lead to success. When you work hard for something you appreciate it more. So for most people born in USA to middle class families should consider themselves very lucky. It is want you make of that "luck" that separates the FIRE people from the paycheck-to-paycheck people.... just my 2-cents...
Yes, my brother always tells me I've been fortunate. Yes, I was fortunate enough to work and pay my way through college after he ignored the full ride GI benefits he'd had so he could work and party with his buddies (his words). I started investing part of my military pay into mutual funds immediately upon graduating, and continued investing upon entering the private sector (blue collar) while he bought boats, motorcycles, drank, etc. DW worked at her own career and we staggered shifts when our son came along so we didn't need daycare; He wanted his wife to be a stay at home mom even long after the kids weren't at home. He DID pay to put his daughter through college, as we put our son, but now he retired at 70 with no savings and I retired at 57 with a large portfolio (which he doesn't know about). Yet, I'm the one who had all the good fortune, despite our personal incomes being similar. Hmmm, interesting theory....
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:21 AM   #139
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And, I have also observed that this is often true - Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. I think this is powerful for those of us whose 'luck' is in the middle of the bell curve.
Yes, recognizing, rather than ignoring or misinterpreting, the luck that's handed to you is a major factor.

I was, financially and otherwise, lucky to be offered a position in Saudi where I could accumulate tax free money.......a guy I knew, equally lucky from the onset, bitched and complained about the very conditions that warranted the extra pay/benefits, and terminated his contract after a brief stay.

I recognized my luck and stayed as long as I could; he didn't, and missed out.
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:26 AM   #140
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I blame it on the US being so much smaller then.
Surely one Texas Ranger could have done the trick, if we had only had one.
Right. Canada's population at the time was under 500,000 while the US population was about 7,500,000. Should have been easy. But I think it's fair to say that the world is a better place with Canada in it.
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