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Anyone wake up and say "How did I accumulate so much?"
Old 04-15-2021, 05:01 PM   #1
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Anyone wake up and say "How did I accumulate so much?"

First, not a brag post, just a relative observation I bet many here share.

What goes up must go down... always in the back of my mind, so Eeyore shows his face from time to time.. None the less, I am amazed how "slow & steady" practices really do win the race when it comes to investing. I just turned 57 and DW will be 57 next month. We chose a traditional DW SAH plan after #1 of 4 was born 31 years ago. While DW and I both embraced the plan, I was a stressed out mess every time mama said she was pregnant. "How the H am I going to pay for these kids and one day retire?!" You just do what you do and I continued to throw my 10% (early years, which grew substantially later) into long term investing and setting the goal of a $1M. Life progressed, my business progressed and I continued to move the goal posts. Fast forward to today, all 4 kids are out the door (2 married), 3 grandkids, and I am shutting down my business at the end of the year with planned first withdrawals in 2022. DW and I grew our lifestyle over the years, but always lived way below our means. During my accumulation days, I ran my numbers (apparently ridiculously) so conservative (probably out of fear), that NOW I am switching to withdrawal mode, I have discovered I most likely have over saved and will have a "spending problem"... new muscle for me to start exercising. Yes, we have been a bull market for sometime and my conservative nature says I could lose a chunk, but I am amazed how my balances have grown way beyond my last set of goal posts and I am not doing anything.

The good news is I have 4 kids and 3 grandkids so I have definite opportunities to spend/gift while I am still around. I just never thought I would be in position to make these kind of choices. My nature is to be a good steward of what I have been given as opposed to a pure conservative posture (I can withdrawal low 2% and live in FatFire). I plan to to ride an AA between 60/40 - 50/50 through retirement for no reason other than it works for me and I can gift more (kids, grandkids, charities).

Did you blow past your retirement number and how do you make it work for you?
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:09 PM   #2
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We really did not have a number and were thinking all along at me working to 65 and the pension doing all the heavy lifting along with SS.
Then a couple of years back we started adding it all up and ^ got to your thread title ^
Not the same kind of dollars but I could go now at 60 OK. That's a big shift. Plan is 62 and 4 months but who's counting?
"99 weeks of work to go, 99 weeks of work. Knock one down kick it around, 98 weeks of work to go. "
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:11 PM   #3
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I have had somewhat similar thoughts some years after I retired. At the time I retired I had planned/saved/invested for years to be able to do that, and my plan worked, and I thought "good, all my efforts went as planned". But now 21 years down the road after pulling the plug, I am now at my highest net worth in my life, and my income streams are many many times more than adequate for me for the rest of my life--even after the next "big crash" occurs. And I sometimes wonder, marvel, question, puzzle--how did I get to this point? But, again like you, I do have heirs and a grand heir I can be gifting to. And I am contemplating how best to make an impact on the world for the better with a program of QCD's. A pleasant change of mindset from the working/earning/accumulation phase, to the withdrawal/gifting/charitable activity phase.
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:22 PM   #4
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:45 PM   #5
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Old 04-15-2021, 06:29 PM   #6
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I also don't understand how I got here and I spend A LOT. Like gifting down-payments to both son & daughter, floating my son 6digit amt to settle divorce [he ran out of money ..... guess that's why people go broke in divorce]. Overseas travel 4◊ a year. Pandemic hits and everyone is out of work for months [3 of 4 back ].

And the NW still goes up due to compounding.
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Old 04-15-2021, 06:34 PM   #7
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I guess I'll be the contrarian. I know exactly how I got here, because I've been planning for it and monitoring my progress since the early 1980s.
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Old 04-15-2021, 06:41 PM   #8
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We know we were very lucky.

It’s a combination of taking advantage of great stock options way back, and an amazing bull market from 2013 or so.

And probably still underspending.
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Old 04-15-2021, 06:52 PM   #9
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I never thought Iíd be here having divorced at 36 and getting out of the Air Force earlier than planned. Turned out to be the catalyst to building wealth, though getting remarried at 42 to a like minded woman was the bigger catalyst. As a team we earned, saved and invested along with having some fun. Now itís just managing things until we canít.
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:00 PM   #10
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+1. we are both amazed what the power of the American economy when combined with some common sense principles can produce. if we can do it anyone can do it.
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:03 PM   #11
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Probably had enough two years ago, but decided to OMY (twice). Meanwhile the market shot up 30+%, added to the savings from those years, plus those years reduced the gap until SS kicks in.

Suddenly it's - "you know, we'll never spend the money", so finally retired two months ago and started making gifts of a few thousand $ to the kids, will ramp that up if the market continues to be kind.
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:11 PM   #12
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I guess I'll be the contrarian. I know exactly how I got here, because I've been planning for it and monitoring my progress since the early 1980s.
+1. The process was planned and thought out, and tweaked regularly. Now, I can't claim credit for planning to start investing just before the internet changed the world, but all that did was get me to my $ goal earlier. The most interesting part was the compounding curve. It seemed like I was creeping along from my 20s to my early 40s, then it went sharply up, up, up! That was fun.
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:57 PM   #13
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The most interesting part was the compounding curve. It seemed like I was creeping along from my 20s to my early 40s, then it went sharply up, up, up! That was fun.
Yes, I recall that period as well in my own journey to FI and RE.

I contributed to a 457 (deferred compensation) plan at my job. At some number of years into saving in that plan, my annual earnings within the plan began to exceed the amount of my annual contributions into the plan. It was magic, just like having another person working for me, and making duplicate contributions, and then contributions of ever larger amounts.

That 457 plan was what allowed me to retire early at age 54, before job pension could be tapped and before SS.

Fortuitously, after withdrawing from the 457 plan for a few years for living expenses, the feds and plan administrator changed the rules so that one who was in W/D mode could opt to "turn off" the payments. And then to rollover the remaining 457 balance to an IRA if so desired. That was a key piece of luck for me. I was able to then tap the job pension at a point after benefit amounts had grown, and could live on the pension (and later SS).

Then I rolled over the remaining 457 balance to an IRA, and that was a key piece which grew still tax sheltered, and now constitutes a significant part of my now highest ever in my life net worth.
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:57 PM   #14
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The process was planned and thought out
Ours really was not, but i give all the credit to frugal DW's attitude leaking into my freewheeling big spender brain.
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Old 04-15-2021, 08:16 PM   #15
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Well I do know how we got here: we prioritized saving and investing instead of blowing that dough. Maxed out IRA and 401(k) to extent possible. And took timely risks on company stock that paid off.

But it still is a little amazing that it added up as much as it has. I like helping folks with retirement related questions but I dread discussing anything that could signal how much we have. We praise the Lord for it.
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Old 04-16-2021, 04:54 AM   #16
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We know we were very lucky.

Itís a combination of taking advantage of great stock options way back, and an amazing bull market from 2013 or so.
Since about 2010, I have a spreadsheet listing my various investment accounts with their account balances. My main 401k account had about $250K in 2010. Today it is around $1.6M. I try to update it yearly and itís interesting to see how it moves. Much of it is from market gains as I only contribute 9% with 3% matching.

I did see that around a year ago, it went from $1.1M to high $800K because of Covid but then doubled to what it is today.

Itís interesting to see similar movements for my other IRAs although not as good as I invested in speculative stocks based on my brotherís advice who is a Wall Street analyst. There were some good picks but more awful ones. Since then, Iíve done mutual funds only.
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Old 04-16-2021, 05:36 AM   #17
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The compounding definitely works, as you get older. I just turned 51 two weeks ago, and started getting serious about investing in 1998, when I was 28. On a strictly dollar-gain basis, my five best years over that span are 2019, 2020, 2017, surprisingly 2021, and 2013. Of course, 2021 is still very young, so that will most likely change.

I can still remember what I thought of as my first big loss, dollar-amount wise. In 2006, in the course of a month, my investible assets went down about $30K, from May to June. That was about an 11% loss, which isn't anything to lose sleep over, but when I thought about it in dollar terms it was a bit disturbing. For comparison, in the whole 2000-2002 period, where I lost money every year, the total amount was only about $38,000. On a percentage basis, that was much worse, but because of the state of the world/economy (Tech bubble burst, 9/11 tragedy, recession, etc), it felt like everybody was suffering, some much worse than me. But to see $30K just "vanish" in a month, was a bit disturbing at the time.

Nowadays, I can see $30K sways in either direction, in the course of just a day, and I barely notice it. To me, if I think about that too much, it almost seems unreal. But, what goes down, comes back up. And what goes up, over the long run, usually keeps going up. So, I try not to think TOO deeply into it.
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Old 04-16-2021, 05:47 AM   #18
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Oh yes.
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Old 04-16-2021, 06:11 AM   #19
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Very much so. It's so weird seeing $30K+ gains in a day, or having $100K dips, and knowing that our nest egg is now making much more than we are, as we're both still working. I remember only 5 years ago, I flew out to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, and blowing $400 or so on round-trip airfare felt like a huge splurge, but we were saving the maximum in tax-advantaged accounts and I was still able to do that without worrying about it. THAT was when it really hit me.

Although the first big realization was when we hit 150+ on the Fidelity retirement planner, and I realized that I could budget for travel and eating out at nice restaurants regularly, not just our basic expenses. I'm glad I did it that way, set a low baseline for FI, and then add to what we will be able to afford in retirement.
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Old 04-16-2021, 06:28 AM   #20
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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.

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.

Today I feel blessed. While I enjoy this forum, I have to keep reminding myself that we here are the fortunate exceptions in having a true, very comfortable FIRE lifestyle, and it is something that most will not be able to achieve. 99% of our "problems" are "first world problems" that others wish they could have. That guides my attitudes and actions.
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