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What changes/sacrifices have you made so that you can have ER/FIRE?
Old 03-11-2021, 12:31 PM   #1
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What changes/sacrifices have you made so that you can have ER/FIRE?

This thread is for the people that have made changes, plenty of people on here have not made any changes and that's great but no need to comment however if you've made significant changes please share.


One of the changes we made a few years ago was selling the newer, bigger, nicer home that was mortgaged and buying a smaller older home with cash we even had enough to buy a rental, we went from owing $1200 to making $800. Unfortunately we are not quite ready for ER yet.


Let's hear your story, what have you done and was it worth it?
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Old 03-11-2021, 01:04 PM   #2
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My spouse and I had some rough times the first years of our marriage. I grew up earning my own spending money and limiting my expenses to what I had. Wife grew up with no such controls. So we had many arguments as our finances went south. We finally got on the same page about a budget we could afford. Once we were both on the same page we :
(1) Always bought used cars and ran them into the ground. 1st new car wasn't until we were FI and in our 50's.
(2) Bought a much less expensive starter home than we could afford. Second home also was much less expensive than we could afford. We still live in that home.
(3) Paid off all student, car and home loans much sooner than required. Once we got fully out of debt, never returned.
(4) Generally lived well within our means and saved money when we could. In early years this meant questioning and avoiding many of our "normal" purchases that weren't really necessary (junk at grocery store, etc...). Also watching and controlling our reoccurring expenses. For example we would "bid out" our insurance every 3 yrs to keep costs down. Saving was much easier in later years with salary increased without raising our standard of living much.

We both found these steps well worth it. Not so much that they allowed us to retire early. That was in the back of our minds but not a real goal. Instead, we found that living within our means meant we never had to worry about money. Even the idea of losing my job (one income family) due to layoffs wasn't an issue. Having that extra money to hold you over until you got a new job took away a lot of stress which made life much easier and happier for us.
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What changes/sacrifices have you made so that you can have ER/FIRE?
Old 03-11-2021, 01:14 PM   #3
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What changes/sacrifices have you made so that you can have ER/FIRE?

^^^^^ +1. 1-4 are almost precisely what we did, except we choose to have a low-interest mortgage and we’re on our 4th fix and flip house.

Also, we failed to have kids. I say failed, because we tried every technique that science offered, more than once, but it just didn’t work out. The upside is, we dumped all of those avoided expenses into our retirement accounts. This was undeniably a major factor in allowing us to FIRE in our mid 50s.
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:05 PM   #4
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Other than leaving the Baltimore area, and putting three mountain ranges between where I am and the Washimore corridor, none.
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:29 PM   #5
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Oh, gosh, so many changes over the years--too many to list.
Biggest, most challenging was getting on the same page with DH regarding budget, savings, spending. I grew up with LBYM and a savings perspective, DH basically raised himself and had no idea about how to even pay bills, much less having a checking, savings acc or credit card. It took many years , many mistakes, much financial education for DH and many, many arguments/discussions to come to agreement.
Luckily, we both had union jobs with good pensions, along with 457's with automatic savings deducted early on. So we had a head start by the time everything came together.
There were many months that we barely had 2 pennies to rub together after paying bills, childcare, groceries. We would have camping vacations when kids were little to save money.
We were lucky that we were able to come out of mistakes in a better financial situation--refinancing to lower mortgage rates when we could, making better financial decisions over time.
Heck, even at the start of retirement, DH realized we still had to budget--LOL. No free for all with the retirement savings!
But, it's all good. We are blessed and we survived!
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:36 PM   #6
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We, very early on, decided to live on the smaller of our incomes. In 99, we were both making the same $55k. Fast forward 21 years & we have had a good ride never unemployed. DW left me in her dust on compensation and I'm just fine with it.

We moved to LA for 4 years for her career (again, no sacrifice) & we doubled our savings in 4 years over the 10 years prior to this (97-06). Don't be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone if you are younger if an opportunity comes up. Move around a little.
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:47 PM   #7
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I was going to skip this because I don't feel like we made sacrifices and we FIREd at 55, but it's definitely a matter of perception. Friends and family might think we sacrificed by always driving used cars into the ground, canceling cable before it was cool, keeping old cell phones, and just generally not buying the shiny new things that others feel they must have. And of course, LBYM. I found DH's pay stub from 2003 recently and saw that we kept his take home the same for at least 17 years. Raises went into the 457. We have traveled and enjoyed ourselves immensely--experiences more than things--and don't feel like we deprived ourselves at all. We had a goal and we stuck to it.

Now that we're FIREd, they ask what our secret is.
We did buy a beach house a few months ago so things are changing around here...
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:52 PM   #8
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We reduced our expenses 50% (part of that was alimony) in order to retire to Florida to live a middle class lifestyle. While working we were at a higher level lifestyle, but truly don't miss the majority of stuff we gave up.
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:52 PM   #9
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Never sacrificed. Drank and chased women, found a winning lottery ticket in the gutter. You mean some people here actually worked for it?
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:53 PM   #10
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Never sacrificed. Drank and chased women, found a winning lottery ticket in the gutter. You mean some people here actually worked for it?
Were the women you chased also in the gutter?
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Old 03-11-2021, 03:01 PM   #11
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Were the women you chased also in the gutter?
Just the higher class ones.
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Old 03-11-2021, 03:03 PM   #12
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Just the higher class ones.
Very good.
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Old 03-11-2021, 04:02 PM   #13
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Sacrifice made for ER: Left a bunch of stock options on the table when I quit. Would have been a nice bonus after vesting, but nothing that would really impact my lifestyle.

Change made for FI: Held my nose and bought a lot of stock in 2008. Apparently buying that boring old S&P500 fund was a good move.
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Old 03-11-2021, 06:13 PM   #14
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Sacrifices?

I am probably misunderstanding this usage of the word.

I decided on a goal, and figured out exactly what I had to do in order to get to that goal. To me, that's rational thinking, not sacrifices.

I took a job with lower salary than others I was offered, in order to get good retirement benefits. These included lifetime medical and mini-pension. But I don't see how this is a sacrifice since it was a free choice that I made of the options available to me.

I freely chose to ramp up LBYM and put every spare cent into my retirement effort (paying off the house, building my investment nestegg, and so on).

I didn't regard any of this as a sacrifice at all, so much as the exercise of free will in creating the future that I wanted for myself. Completely selfish motives, really.
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Old 03-11-2021, 06:37 PM   #15
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Not a lot of sacrifice. Did a "balanced" approach. Did not cut to the bone to maximize saving and investment, but did save and invest. Did not buy the most house we could get a loan for, bought half that much. Ate good food and had fun in Vegas / Reno.

Also did not retire really early. To retire as soon as possible was not the goal.
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Old 03-11-2021, 06:48 PM   #16
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25 years ago, I divorced a gal I was otherwise enamored with because of a continuing pathological lack of financial self control. Does that count ? That is the biggest standout as a financial action/event in my life.Your choice in spouse (or lack of) can really either make or break you.
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Old 03-11-2021, 07:07 PM   #17
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It wasn’t a sacrifice but it did cost us some dollars. We left our paid off house of 26 years and moved closer to our DD and grandchildren. It was only a difference in travel time of about 30 minutes but it was worth all the aggravation of moving and the cost financially. Our lives are significantly different with our involvement with DD’s family. Being 10 minutes away means we drop in on each other which never happened when we were more like 40 minutes away. Now we’re involved with them and I hope to make a positive impact on the grandkids lives. I know it’s made a positive impact on my life.

As for retirement, I left my job early. That impacted me financially by requiring me to control my spending. While working, I was not a reckless spender, but I spent pretty freely. In retirement, I have a budget that while very comfortable, is nonetheless restricted. Not too painful, but certainly a change. Worth it for sure. Even if it had to be less, it would be worth it. Makes one focus on needs versus wants.
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Old 03-11-2021, 08:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
Sacrifices?

I am probably misunderstanding this usage of the word.

I decided on a goal, and figured out exactly what I had to do in order to get to that goal. To me, that's rational thinking, not sacrifices.

I took a job with lower salary than others I was offered, in order to get good retirement benefits. These included lifetime medical and mini-pension. But I don't see how this is a sacrifice since it was a free choice that I made of the options available to me.

I freely chose to ramp up LBYM and put every spare cent into my retirement effort (paying off the house, building my investment nestegg, and so on).

I didn't regard any of this as a sacrifice at all, so much as the exercise of free will in creating the future that I wanted for myself. Completely selfish motives, really.

Sacrifice - surrender of something for the sake of something else.
You gave up money today for that money at a later time.
You gave up spending today by LBYM to save for retirement.
We did "sacrifice" a beautiful home that we really liked to find out later we really didn't like it or "need" it as much as we thought, we stopped living for only today (sacrificed) for a better tomorrow.
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Old 03-11-2021, 09:04 PM   #19
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I was also going to write that I don't feel like I have ever "sacrificed" anything. I just lived my life. My habits have never changed.
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Old 03-11-2021, 09:24 PM   #20
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Lived below my means for entire working career. Was so able then to FIRE at age 54 with three kids then ages 7, 11, and 17. And after FIRE built our dream house on acreage and paid for it with cash. No debt. Still no debt, and still living in my mortgage free home in a below my means manner.
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