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Curious Minds Want to know... Are Super ER Really Retired?
Old 02-23-2020, 07:46 AM   #1
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Curious Minds Want to know... Are Super ER Really Retired?

OK, so no judgment here, but just a sense of curiosity as it relates to how the super ERs are doing it? A response on another recent thread of someone saying they "retired at 38" prompted this. Not looking to argue what constitutes ER, but for the purposes of my curiosity (and probably others), let's assume it means you are living off your assets/pensions/annuities and not generating income through a side gig, spouse, other. From my own experience in the costs of raising 4 kids and having a SAHW, I would not have ever had cohones to launch super early. Sabbatical, maybe... permanent RE, not a chance. Clearly, if you don't have any kids, you will have an easier ER path. Additionally, I suppose there is the MMM crowd out there who is comfortable living on a very low level of income and making their own toilet paper, but for those that inspire for a higher level of RE income, I have to believe super ER is more difficult to achieve, especially the fatter your FIRE plans end up being. For those of you who "really retired" (as defined above... no cheating) say sub 45 - 50, curious minds want to know...

- How long have you been "retired"?
- How many kids are you/have you raised while in RE? How did you/have you planned for kid costs (i.e. cars, auto insurance, college, misc) in your plan?
- What are your primary sources of income (i.e. X% SWR, pension, annuity, other)?
- What level of income are you planning for and are you planning for any bigger bumps over time other than inflation?

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Old 02-23-2020, 07:52 AM   #2
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We retired a 50 / 45. Not SUPER ER as such. But no real hardship. No windfalls, no investment luck, just hard graft and saving. Early years were a lot more frugal than now, but that is all.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:08 AM   #3
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I can honestly say that I'm retired. I retired at age 46 in 2016. While I do not live the high life , my life is far from poor. The bottom line is I am not much of a people person so that is part of the reason I got out as early as I did from my job.

But I also have a pension, which I can collect with various amounts depending on when I take it. I have a tIRA, Roth Ira, and Social Security all waiting for me. So my situation gets better as I get older and I am of course 50 now.

I will say it wasn't easy to do at all. When I sold my condo and got the proceeds from that, I put that together with my other savings and investments and was able to create an income high enough to not work anymore.

Without my future Ira's, pension, and SS, I don't think I would have retired. But it's hard to accomplish for sure. But my nest egg is growing faster now that the snowball is rolling. My portfolio can only be up a third of a percent in a day but that means more money than I could make in a week if I had a job. It grows fast like that.

I think it helped that I am not one to listen to conventional wisdom but am the type of person who will try to reason things out for myself. So far I have not regretted retiring as early as I did, but there's no looking back for me now either. I made my decision and I am living with it. It sure beats working.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:51 AM   #4
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If stock trading doesn't really count then we retired at age 44/45 and our accounts are quite a bit higher than when we first retired. THANKS mr. market and your silly only go up attitude!
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:55 AM   #5
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DH and I are retiring in 3 weeks, I'm 45 and he's 44. We're both engineers, final combined salary/bonus $275k-$300k annually, MCOL area. And we likely would have stopped earlier if we hadn't dropped ~$350K on a house remodel 15 years ago.

No kids, which helps stabilize predictions, and our house was my inheritance (early, parents are still alive, thankfully!), so housing is ~$1k/month in property taxes.

We do have simpler tastes than a lot of people in our income bracket, but are living above the median. I think if you omit health insurance, our expenses including vacation budget are projected to be about $75K plus taxes, based on what we've been actually spending the last 5 years (we have a detailed budget/tracking spreadsheet, because engineers). This includes pulling out money every year to have in cash for the larger periodic expenses like a new car and such, and $10k for vacations if we want.

FIRECalc has us in the 90-some percent success, but c FIRE sim is at 100%, including estimated social security. Other than s.s., our money is in post-tax savings and 401(k)s, which we'll likely SEPP at some point. Once I get my bonus in a couple weeks we'll have our first year's expenses in cash, so the exact mechanics of withdrawals are TBD.

If there's a recession in the next couple of years and our investments take a dive, we could get contract jobs in our industry, but we're both hoping not to. I really don't ever want to work again, and our plan is based on never having to earn other cent. We plan on remaining "agile and hostile", tracking our spending and making adjustments quickly as needed. Sticking one's head in the sand and "hoping it all works out" has never been an option for us in any way, and we're not starting now!
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:15 AM   #6
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I think the word retired is inexact and loaded with too many connotations, and in many ways, if reflects the person who is questioning rather than the subject. For me (late 40s), I don't work for money. That may or may not change. I guess my DW and I are stay at home parents with teenagers.
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:41 AM   #7
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We’re not in the age bracket you highlighted (late 40s/mid 50s), nor are we technically fully retired yet, but have young kids and are FI, with the intent to RE.

I left my job at the end of the year. DH left his a year ago, but is consulting for several organizations and ironically making far more than his last job. He has a lot of flexibility and the money is good, so I would imagine he’ll keep doing it until the kids are in school at least. The extra $ gives us a bigger cushion and lets us do some work on the house sooner vs later.

We’re at 95% in firecalc, but with a fairly fat budget. Our budget includes 20k per yr for college savings, and line items for things like cars at 16, braces at 12, increased auto insurance, etc... We basically tried to add in every potential spend we could think of and make sure we can cover it. Our budget goes down by about 50k/yr post kids launching.

Our biggest near term wild card, other than the market, is a large new to us home with a lot of deferred maintenance. We’re still trying to get a handle on what a typical year will look like here. If I take on any contract work, it will be specifically ear marked for projects we’d like to knock out.

All that said, kids are a big part of the reason we want to RE. Two intense careers and young kids just wasn’t working. I’m hoping this gives us more time to spend together as a family.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:34 AM   #8
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I retired 11 years ago at age 45. Single (in a LTR), childfree.

One unbreakable condition of my being able to ER was that there would be no change to my everyday lifestyle (which isn't at all extravagant to begin with) with regard to money. I wouldn't have to "cut back" on anything to fit my budget. Furthermore, I built into my budget a surplus, or cushion, so that if I needed to go on a minor spending spree once in a while, it wouldn't bust my budget. All a spending spree would do is to reduce the cushion in my budget, perhaps for a month or two.

I am living solely from the investment income (i.e. monthly dividends) from my bond funds in the taxable account. Once I turn 59.5, the first of my "reinforcements" begin arriving. Those reinforcements are (1) unfettered access to my tIRA, (2) my frozen company pension, and (3) Social Security. Taken together, my overall financial situation only gets better and better. My main priority when I first ERed was to get from age 45 to age 60 intact. I am 11 years toward that goal and all is well. The ACA helped a lot, as it wasn't passed until 2010 and its exchanges and subsidies didn't exist until 2014.
Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

"I want my money working for me instead of me working for my money!"
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Old 02-23-2020, 01:09 PM   #9
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Retired at 33, 66 now with a 38 y/o Wife and two young sons who are all (but the wife) collecting SS. I was retired for about 17 years before meeting my wife. After 7 years of marriage my wife went to work as she was bored. I do not know if I am ER'd or not according to your rules?
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Old 02-23-2020, 03:07 PM   #10
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I retired at 49 a bit less than 10 years ago.

It's worked out very well. One last kid had to finish college - we took care of that by setting aside the money required. We didn't considered it part of our assets even though it was in our name.

We live off investments - dividends/interest/capital gains from sales. We haven't touched the IRAs yet, but have been converting to ROTHs (about a third so far). No pension.

I wouldn't have pilled the trigger if we hadn't been able to maintain our standard of living - and frankly we're living better than when I was working.

Life is good.
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Old 02-23-2020, 04:43 PM   #11
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An odd thread to be started by someone sitting on the edge of the pool with a flush nestegg but afraid to jump in.... no judgement... but the irony is interesting to me.
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:24 PM   #12
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- How long have you been "retired"? Little over 5 years.
- How many kids are you/have you raised while in RE? How did you/have you planned for kid costs (i.e. cars, auto insurance, college, misc) in your plan? No kiddos, obviously makes an early retirement more attainable.
- What are your primary sources of income (i.e. X% SWR, pension, annuity, other)? Pension from mil retirement.
- What level of income are you planning for and are you planning for any bigger bumps over time other than inflation? Maintain current level of spend which is quite reasonable. Pension is COLA protected, so that's a bonus.
Retired in 2014 at 40 Years Old
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
An odd thread to be started by someone sitting on the edge of the pool with a flush nestegg but afraid to jump in.... no judgement... but the irony is interesting to me.
Unless of course - if you were er ah pushed?

Layed off at 50. No kids. A couple of 'gigs' - aka jobshopper or contract engineer in those days. Maybe 1 year total. She worked 1 more year.

Mental in my case - low profile 'slacker' until my 'official' early age 55 pension check arrived. I fully understand OMY and the shift between the ears required in each individual case.

heh heh heh - Now I are one. A high class ER.
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:28 PM   #14
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I turn 46 next month. I知 probably targeting a retirement when I知 about 51-52 but there are still a lot of variables to consider before I develop a firm exit plan with a retirement date. My wife is younger so she may want to work a couple more years after I exit the workforce.

There won稚 be a pension for either one of us. We池e just planning to live off our savings and investment accounts. Trying to figure our our comfortable withdrawal rate that will still be safe for our ages at retirement. Leaning towards a goal to not have more than a 3.5% withdrawal rate. That will tell us when our nest egg is large enough to meet expenses plus some fun.

A recession, health issues, or major purchase may stretch out this timetable some for me. Either way this appears to be the decade that I値l finish my working career. I wonder what SS will be like when I知 eligible but I知 not going to rely on it for our safe retirement calculations.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:21 PM   #15
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I retired at 45 (about 3 years ago). No kids.

Income is all from investments until I draw social security. So far I've been spending about 2% of my investments but I expect that will eventually go up to 3% or so when I need to pay for health insurance (currently under my SOs work insurance).
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:37 PM   #16
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Retired 13 years ago at 48 from a programming career. No kids, divorced long ago.

Living solely on stock dividends - no pension, side gigs, inheritance, although I will start SS in 5 months. Cannot imagine how bad things would have to be to work again.

I started off with dividend income replacing my disposable income (that was my bar to clear for retiring), but the dividends have risen considerably faster than inflation (about 7-8% per year) to produce a large buffer for extra expenses now
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:52 PM   #17
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Not retired because I want a substantially fatter retirement, and want to get my wife to that state asap too so she can have more flexibility in what she does to earn money, but I passed my minimal FIRE target already. So in a pinch I could be retired at 47, but don't want to be yet. :P It's all investments, when I was unemployed for a year a few years ago and living off them, it felt pretty great to end the year richer than I started despite not having worked.
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:39 PM   #18
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- In our mid 30s. Only retired a few months, but had been on a sabbatical before that
- No kids
- Core spending is < 1% of our portfolio, but could be trimmed. With ample discretionary spend we figure $150k/year, though we won’t come close this year.
- We plan to increase our withdrawal % over time until we’re pulling 3-4% in our 50s.

No secret sauce here. Our careers were unexpectedly lucrative and we simply had other things we wanted out of life than employment.
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:57 PM   #19
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The first time I retired I was 47. I was spending about 2% of my portfolio. I got bored after 18 months and went back to work. Retired again at 53. My lifestyle/ travel is greatly upscaled as a result of the return to work but it wasn't necessary as I now have a 1.7% withdrawal rate. No kids, very lucky in my career, and early clarity on my goal all helped.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:11 AM   #20
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Retired 5 years ago at 47. Married and have 2 little ones in middle school.

Our portfolio size is 140x annual expense = annual withdrawal rate of .7%. We draw from a cash pile equaling to 7 years of living expenses, and replenish that every year with investment dividends.

We are in line for a family bequest that would bump up our portfolio size to more than 200x annual expense, but as that would entail the passing of a loved one, we hope it never happens and we don't need it.

I should add that while DW still works (450K/year), her income is simply icing on the cake. We don't need it for our living expense, so the money is usually directed toward long-term investments (real estate) and estate planning (term life insurance in irrevocable living trust).

Our annual expense is in the low six figures with a lot of fat. We see that decreasing once kids fly the nest.

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