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Old 04-16-2021, 06:44 AM   #21
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In my case it is what I have accumulated since I retired in late 2008. Before 2008, I was working so I wasn't depriving my portfolio of any investment earnings to live on. Then, I had the company stock whose value exploded in the 11 years I owned it, from 1997-2008. In that time, it's value per share grew by 3000% (yes, that's three-thousand). Those 2 things disappeared in late 2008, but my portfolio has grown more since 2008 than it had from 1997-2008.
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Old 04-16-2021, 07:01 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by jollystomper View Post
However, part of me also said, when we reached a certain income level. "if you cannot save and invest with this level of income you are an idiot", so I felt responsible to be a good steward with our earnings. The years my income exceeded $200K I put a lot of pressure on myself not to waste money.
Sadly, there seem to be more than a few idiots out there.

In early 2020 when the guy running my Monte Carlo simulation told me my net worth, I laughed. It wasn't a surprise- I track my holdings closely- but the number was something that just seemed out of reach, even though it was in line with projections I'd made starting 10 years earlier. It sank 2 months later, of course, but has rebounded and then some. As with others here, I can attribute part of it to hard work and good decisions but have to include being born with marketable skills and the grace of God thrown in.

I'm not gifting that much to DS and DDIL- they stand on their own two feet and live modestly- but I splurge a little on the grandkids (planning more flights to Chicago when we feel it's safe, taking the 2 older ones for overnights at the local Embassy Suites now, haircuts at Shear Madness). I'm also stashing a lot of spare money in their 529s. Right now they're 7, 4 and almost 2 years old and my goal is to have the total over $100K by year-end. Plenty of room to add to those accounts and it gives me a deduction on state income tax and shelters the $$ in the accounts from taxes.
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Old 04-16-2021, 07:08 AM   #23
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It never fails to amaze me everyday. I always thought I would have to work the rest of my life. After my divorce I was struggling in an empty house and in debt. Five years later I met the perfect partner and although we had low paying jobs we developed a plan that paid off in financial security.


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Old 04-16-2021, 07:38 AM   #24
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Yes I'm amazed and feel very fortunate.

When started as an entry level programmer I was grateful for the opportunity but felt underpaid. My plan was to get a couple years experience and get a better paying job. Along the way there was a interesting presentation that a peer had done. At this time we didn't have a 401k, only a profit sharing plan. He shared the data about what we might be able to expect in twenty years based on Megacorp's last twenty years of contributions and returns. Based on what little we were being paid would give me a million dollars in twenty years! This required me to do nothing but show up!

Along the way things changed and we did get a decent 401k and match. The profit sharing contributions were reduced but you could still get a 10% bump on your salary by smart contributions. When Megacorp went public there were options for certain levels and I was awarded some for 10 years. While not the big money you hear about people getting from FAANGs it was a great bump.

Last year I took out more money than I ever made, including options, and our balance is higher than before I took the withdrawals. We tried to blow some dough, and probably don't need to withdrawal anything this year. I still remember 1987,1999, 2008.... and I'm in a lawsuit against the new Megacorp and what they did to our profit sharing. I've collected 10k to date and look forward to my arbitration. I know we lost a six figure amount because of their negligence and would like it back. So far they're apparently paying out 3x your loss.
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:06 AM   #25
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Every day we feel blessed.
Lived frugally, saved something every paycheck, kept our heads down, working almost 40 years to retirement.
Thought of retirement "in the future", never really plugged in the numbers until about 5 years prior.
Had to work until age 60 to get retiree health insurance, but at that time, Pension income blew me away, SS and deferred comp numbers added to my amazement.
Compounding really does work.
Again, feeling blessed and thankful daily.
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:15 AM   #26
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Similar to some others here, I was not surprised that I achieved financial independence, because it was a long term objective that I planned and saved for.

However, as the bulk of my assets are in stock funds, I feel very fortunate that stocks have increased in value so much since my early retirement. I hope this remains the case.
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:34 PM   #27
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Part of me is amazed and humbled at hat we have been able to save and put away. I was not expecting this when it started work, 20 years ago, or may even 2008-2009.
I feel the same. I joined the Air Force back in 1993 as a high school drop out and that was because I was really persuaded to do so even though I was making "AWESOME MONEY!" as an assistant fast food manager. THANK GOD the Air Force allowed me to enlist under a quality of force waiver. No telling what I would be doing today if that single sheet of paper was marked "DISAPPROVED".

Back then, I figured I would do my 4 years and head back home and do something else. Well...life happens, right?

22 years later I could look back on an awesome career, a great pension, cheap health insurance and a mess load of education (formal and "living life").

Today, DW and I have a NW that boggles the mind and I am embarrassed to speak of it to anyone but my DW and strangers on the internet. Some luck, good timing, and a little perseverance got me where I am and I am eternally thankful for it.
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Old 04-16-2021, 01:59 PM   #28
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Anyone wake up and say "How did I accumulate so much?"

I certainly have.

Started an IRA at Fidelity in 1986. Opened a brokerage account at a small local bank around 1992. Signed up for the ESPP & 401(k) in 1995. Started out putting 5.00% in each, upped that to 15.00% each from 2002 to 2015. Transferred the brokerage account from the local bank (outrageous commissions) to Fidelity in 1998. Retired in 2015. Very fortunate.

I think there's something else worth mentioning in this thread. The past 40 years have made it pretty easy to be a successful investor. There’s been some blips along the way, the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981, Black Monday in 1987, desert storm 1991, Asian Contagion, Russia's meltdown, White House ‘scandal’ 1998, the 2000 bubble, 911, the credit crisis 2007-2008, etc.

But let's face it, during that time, there hasn’t been an ‘extended’ truly painful bear market.
Combine that with the federal reserve & their equivalents around the world, playing the zero interest rate game, & you have the financial markets without any competition.

Something tells me it will be very hard to match the previous 40 year market returns, in the following 40.
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Old 04-16-2021, 02:04 PM   #29
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For me, it's not so much that I wake up and wonder how we accumulated so much, but how it grew to so much.
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Old 04-16-2021, 02:07 PM   #30
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The last ten years has been great.

Inflation was lower than we expected.

Investment returns were considerably higher than expected.

It is all good.
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Old 04-16-2021, 02:21 PM   #31
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I am amazed to. With about a 32/68 AA I've hit about 9% growth out of both 2020 and 2021.
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Old 04-16-2021, 02:26 PM   #32
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Another reason why I feel blessed accumulating so much - I had fun doing it! And not just from the "watch our money grow" viewpoint.

I had a career that I loved, it was like a hobby many times. Almost never did I have the feeling "I am miserable, I need to grit my teeth to get through this, it is my penance to deal with now for a better future". It was almost always "I'm making this much, able to save and invest, and having this much fun at work and at home?? What is wrong with me??"
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Old 04-16-2021, 03:34 PM   #33
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I'm somewhat in the opposite position (not complaining, I've still been very fortunate). When I was in my late 40's, I was making really good money and projected a "fat fire". My company went bankrupt and I was really never able to replace that income. I'm 58 now and will have a comfortable retirement, but probably half of what I was anticipating.
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Old 04-16-2021, 04:30 PM   #34
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DW was a career teacher and generally loved it, we lived definitely LBYM and maxed out IRAs/403b and some savings. After teaching 20+ years she had 'the class from hell' and could not see going on but she saw herself as a teacher and we had been very tight on money most of our life, but I ran the numbers and told her she did not HAVE to work anymore, when it actually sunk in things shifted for her/us. She worked one more year (not has bad as previous year, but the psychological barrier had been breached. She retired in 2006, I followed in 2008, she still regards those to years as 'magic years' I liked my job, but decided it was time to go after some medical issues. Could have had more $ but can't get more time.
The surprise part if that our portfolio just contiinues to grow. We have been spending more, before COVID, but looks like leaving our boys far more than ever anticipated.
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Old 04-16-2021, 05:53 PM   #35
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Like the OP, I too am shocked at our nest egg at this point. I had a small creative art related business with one employee....me. My wife was an elementary school special education teacher. Combined, our incomes were not even what a good programmer would make with 5 years experience. But we saved. We saved and were frugal and still budget-traveled like crazy during her summer breaks. (Thank you, Rick Steves) All along I had that 1 mil goal in mind. Now, we knew that she might, just might, be eligible for a pension one day. But, that would require teaching for an entire 30 years. With her daily stresses, that seemed an impossible milestone, so I never really calculated it in to our plans. The world spins around, life goes on, and somehow we end up still together 28 years later. We pass the 1 mil mark in investments (champagne was involved) and that forgotten pension is suddenly back on the list of possible. With a new goal in mind, she focuses on the future and makes it thorough two more years. The market goes up and up as I spent my time winding down the business. A few years later, and here we are. Retired and living on a lake. Between the pension and the investments, we are taking in much more than we are used to spending. I keep telling her, you don't have to clip coupons anymore. She still does, as decades old habits die hard. The 1 mil mark has been past a long time ago, and we now marvel at what the market has given us. We still refuse to fly 1st or even business class (yet), because we know what is given can easily be taken. Still, we feel blessed every day to live in this time, have this opportunity, and also have each other.
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Old 04-16-2021, 07:54 PM   #36
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Gal and I never made much working for others, but we both like real estate, so started buying beat up old places that would benefit from our labor. This during times of 12+% interest, so the prices for un bank finance-able places were pretty low. Paying off high interest loans is like a guaranteed return on investment, so we accelerated the loan payments as much as we could.

Time passed and all of a sudden we had over 50 paid for doors rented and decided we would start selling - just in time for the 2008 real estate crash. Rather than sell we kept on renting places out and loaning accumulated money to real estate investors - and, not to fight the ocean, started plunking money into the stock market like every other person. And that is making money like mad.

Now we are back on the rental divesting path, and short of alien attack it's hard to imagine a scenario where we run short of money before we run out of life. Our lifestyle is still what it has been for the last 45 years, under $40k/year - I'll stew over the optimal $3.50 expenditure but making a $550k loan is quick and easy. money is funny.
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Old 04-17-2021, 12:43 PM   #37
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I was one of the lucky ones. I had a career that I loved. A wonderful employer(for the most part), challenging work, lucrative remuneration, plus monetary and travel rewards for overachievement. There were also lots of long days and business travel. So glad that I changed careers early on in my working life.

The best part...we both retired with good health and the financial ability to pursue our travel bucket lists.

Very thankful for what we have and where we live.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:02 PM   #38
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I was in my early 40's and attended a lecture by the author of some financial planning book, at a local Barnes and Noble. Naturally, there was a free analysis if you gave some basic info. The author called me a few days later, to follow up on the info I gave.
I distinctly recall him asking me when I wanted to retire - I replied 55. He told me that it would be impossible. Well, he was correct, I guess, 'coz I didn't retire until I was 60. But left out in the calculations was that despite LBYM, having young children means less disposable income. Once the kids were out of the house, we lived a little better but stashed away a heckuva lot more savings.
I often have the same wonder as OP: how did I get here? But I'm enjoying it now, and that includes spoiling the grandkids.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:43 PM   #39
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After 13 years of retirement we are astonished at where we are. We did the slow and steady 401K/IRA thing and Lived far below our means. Our biggest fear was medical expenses prior to Medicare so we continued our frugality.
We live in a lovely home and RV four months out of the year at least. I never thought we would continue to increase our net worth post retirement.

We were indeed lucky. Very little college debt and neither of us was unemployed ever, except for some years I took off for babies in the house. Our houses always increased in value. And the stock market, since retirement has been very good for us.

I’ve been reading here for years and had an account many years ago. It is very helpful to be encouraged and get solid personal experiences to help people down the road to FI.
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Old 04-17-2021, 03:16 PM   #40
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I am both stunned and feel blessed. I always lived below my means, even when I was single. But the most important factor in my wonderful, soon to be retirement, was choosing the correct spouse. Honestly, when I started reading this forum, I didn’t consciously understand that Dh and I had pensions and what that meant. I didn’t even even imagine retiring. I knew dh was putting money in something called a 401K but had no idea what that meant.

Since joining this forum in 2014, our retirement savings have doubled. Some of that is dh’s contributions from 2014-2019 (when he retired) but most is not.

I am so grateful I found this forum when I did. I especially appreciate that since then, I can fully articulate to our children (who were 22, 19 and 17 when I joined) what they can do to to prepare for retirement young, when so much time is on their side. Our kids are maxing out TSP’s and 401k’s and setting money aside, and that makes me so proud.
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