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meanmrmustard 01-06-2010 08:44 PM

50 year old lawyer seeks enlightenment as to ER
 
Hi. Iím 50 year old lawyer. Wife same age, home with 4 kids aged 11 Ė 19. Downtown Toronto Canada. House paid off in 1999 (mortgage interest not deductible here in great white north, so greater incentive to pay it off asap). No debt. Savings, mostly in equities, $4 million (above and beyond house) achieved through combination of high earnings (varies widely year to year, but in good years can reach $1.8 million pre-income tax), relatively low spending (small house, two mediocre cars that we typically drive for eight or ten years or until they give out, fairly unsnazzy life style mostly consisting of long hours at work and making most of weekends with kids) and reasonably successful investing (about 7% per year compounded since January 1 2000 v. indexes which gained little or nothing over same period). Strong interest in investing. Must read Wall Street Journal every day, plus UK and Canadian financial and general interest papers or suffer junkie-like withdrawal symptoms. Hard to give a precise figure on annual spending because money seems to leak from many holes in the bathtub on teenager/kid stuff such as lessons, money for movies, concerts, skiing, clothes, food (difficult to dine out with family of six for less than $150), excursions, once a year trips (travel is expensive when you have to pay for six airline tickets and two maybe three hotel rooms). I would say maybe expenses are maybe $100,000 per annum, excluding income tax (many $hundreds of K every year paid in income taxes Ė by far my biggest expenditure). Three younger kids are in public schools which are good here, but oldest is in university at lower cost (roughly 16K per annum all in) than would be the case in the US because government subsidizes universities to a greater extent than in US. Health care is ďfreeĒ (i.e. my taxes pay for our familyís plus many other peopleís). I practice litigation in highly complex and specialized field. Hours ridiculously long. Much drudgery. Antagonism with other lawyers common. Court appearances and cross-examinations are stressful, even after 25 years of practice. Not surprisingly, early retirement has crossed my mind.

My assessment (if you disagree, let me know) is that ER is achievable financially. If I stop working extraordinary income taxes would mercifully stop. (There would still be taxes on interest and capital gains). Calculators, including the excellent FIRECalc calculator, seem to indicate no ďfailureĒ (i.e. wonít go bust), even in worst market scenario. ďRetirementĒ would probably consist of spending a lot more time on investing, with possibly better results (canít be sure), not much travel since kids are in school. Moving not feasible due to kids in school, aging parents in city, social and emotional links etc. I would pursue various creative or athletic interests. I was a commercial artist and free-lance writer back in law school days (law school is boring as hell, ya gotta do something to keep yourself entertained).

I just found this site. Seems great! It makes me wonder: why I am still working?

Hmmm. Various alternate, contradictory theories (Iím spilling my guts here people!): (1) Duty to clients: Iím in the middle of various lawsuits, most at appellate level, canít leave clients in the lurch; (2) Theory 1 is a lie, no oneís irreplaceable; real problem is Iím chicken; (3) Duty to partners: Iím head of firm and rainmaker; partners and associates screwed if I leave as legal work might go elsewhere; (4) Theory 4 possibly a lie, reality maybe is itís hard to walk away from prestige of being court room big shot (much as I may despise the life), might be hard to adjust to being anonymous guy in sneakers hanging around the public library; (5) Donít know what I would do with myself and donít want to face possibility Iíd wander around uselessly; (6) Theory 5 probably a lie, as I have many interests and like to read a lot, plus I work out fairly seriously and would love to do more in that department, also both my parents and wifeís are aging and will need assistance and more help soon.

Another thing. I throw this out for what it is worth, and would be interested in comments. I do not know a single person who has retired early. Occasionally lunching with lawyer/business types who I assume may have similar assets, I ask whether early retirement is in the cards. The response is astonishment. I am not sure if this is because people lack the money, so the option has not seriously occurred to them or because they love the life they lead.

aaronc879 01-06-2010 09:07 PM

If the $4M is after tax then I would say your good to go financially with your stated expenses. If you get along with the people at your firm and don't want to leave them hanging then I would suggest that you give them notice. I'm not talking the customary 2-weeks but more like 6-12 months. Give them time to figure out what they'll do without you. Maybe slowly decrease you're role even if that means less money.

Welcome and good luck!

Rich_by_the_Bay 01-06-2010 09:08 PM

Welcome aboard. Re: financial preparedness for ER, unequivocally yes, assuming you protect yourself from yourself within your retirement portfolio, and confine your other trading to play money alone. Really.

As to the nonfinancial gyrations that you identified, I have had very similar issues if not in the same priority. My solution was to fade out by working under half time until I either decide to keep that going, or just find the work to be too much of a hassle. Like yourself, I am in a high profile role in an intense environment, and still haven't figured out how much of my self-image is tied up in my work (a lot, to be sure), and I really like much of what I do.

Retiring at my age of almost 61 is considered early in my world, and is very counter-cultural. Everyone was concerned that maybe I was ill, or wondering how I would avoid stagnation. We'll see, but I doubt it given numerous outside interests and scattered kids and grandkids.

PS: I gave 4 months notice and agreed to hang around very part time for a few more months to help recruit and break in my successor.

Anyhow, congratulations on your impressive asset accumulation. Whether you retire or not, you have achieved financial independence early, no small feat.

Westernskies 01-06-2010 09:18 PM

You have the assets, get off the hamster wheel!

Case closed, counselor.

Welcome to the forum!

RedMist 01-06-2010 09:44 PM

Although not in your field, but being in a similarly financially-rewarding industry, the feelings you have developed are not unique, at least to me.

There are certain aspects of my job which I like a lot and other aspects which I absolutely hate. I think regardless how glamorous, lucrative or powerful a job is, the daily drudgery part will wear someone out over a long haul (20+ years).

For me, I wish I could take a long sabbatical (6-12mon) to get away from it all and rejuvenate. But I don't think I can do it because I work in a large firm and lots of things aren't within my control. Maybe a long sabbatical is what YOU need. Since you're the principal of your firm, you surely can plan ahead and delegate projects accordingly to accommodate a long leave.

Just my 2 cents.


RedMist

Rambler 01-06-2010 10:29 PM

You could be ready, financially you appear pretty well set. Emotionally? well you have to be the judge...pun intended.

We are within 10% financially, age 48, similar swings in income due to good years and less good years, but with the downturn I agreed (about this time last year) to hang around until end to 2012. Its Just DW and me at home now, but with 2 kids in college, the expenses are still kinda high.

Personally I am debating with myself about whether I can fully punch out or do something similar to what Rich in Tampa is doing, something part-time as I fade out. In my case, I am considering a Board seat or two, maybe current megacorp, or maybe a couple of smaller firms, but still have a couple years to get that worked out. I enjoy some of what I do, but not all of it. (For example, I am writing this from the airport in Shanghai, a city that I really do not like...but I really get-off on the success that I have helped bring to my mega-corp and to the people who work with me. There are just lots of plusses and minuses).

I guess what I am trying to say is: if you are the rainmaker, could you not do much of the rain-making with a lot less time than you are spending now? Could you not get the work and direct it, but do less of the litigation yourself? If you are the head, you really do need a succession plan (that is another reason I agreed to stick it out until end of 2012...my successor is not yet developed and ready). Do you have partners who you are comfortable with as potential successors? If not, then you have not done your job as head of the firm...sorry, that is just the megacorp sr manager in me coming out. Also, if they are not ready to take the reins, how did you intend to deal with this issue when you were in your 60s and REALLY needed to slow down?

Sorry, don't mean to rake you over the coals...that's not my intention. Just wanted to give you some food for thought. When it comes to ER, there ARE a lot of things to consider...your finances, your family, your firm, your people and their livelyhoods considering your importance at the firm, and the "whaddya gonna do with your time?" questions.

Just some food for thought. Stick around here and keep us posted on the progress of your considerations. I'm interested to see how it all works out.

Good luck!

R

Katsmeow 01-06-2010 11:17 PM

Like several here, I am also an attorney. I posted a few weeks ago that I didn't think that I knew any attorney who had voluntarily retired, whether early or not. I can certainly hypothesize some reasons for it.

I am mid-50s hoping to retire soon. I do think that there is to some extent an ego component for some people or even just the feeling of being someone who takes action and does things. Many attorneys are workaholics and, as you know, don't understand someone not wanting to work long hours, let alone retire. For me, the high stress level is a huge factor in my wanting to retire. We don't have as much saved as you do but feel we'll be OK.

The only caution I have for you is that you don't know your spending. You really need to get a handle on that and make sure you are right on your estimates.

I am not saying you have to have the same spending in retirement. I am actually looking forward to simplifying certain aspects of life resulting in a lower expense lifestyle. But, I have kept detailed expense records for years.

clifp 01-07-2010 12:09 AM

Interestingly I know two attorney who retired early (neither was partner). One of my best friends an IP lawyer at prestigious firm decide that he didn't want to become partner, ask to be allowed to work part-time, was refused and then quit. He does occasional consulting work (and lives a very spartan life). The other moved from private practice to corporate counsel at Intel. (#2 or 3 I think) and then retired from the law and is currently acting in regional theater. The guy had a great voice, and would burst into show tunes at the drop of a hat, by far the funniest lawyer at a party.

Evidently this harder for lawyers to do than most other professions but why not take a 6 month or 1 year leave of absence? That is what I did before ultimately deciding that working is overrated. Of course you'll face resistance from your fellow partners, but you can't be the first partner to leave. Ultimately an orderly wind down I think is more appreciated then a "I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore moment."

Rambler is absolutely right we all eventually retire, the only question is do you go out at the top of your game, gentle pushed out the door, or sometimes shoved, or worse case feet first in an ambulance.

Good luck and welcome to the boards.

traineeinvestor 01-07-2010 12:13 AM

I'm another private practice attorney working as a partner in a large firm hoping to retire early. I should hit my number at the end of 2011 but will scale back to part time work for 1-2 years after that (i) to give me an emotional transition and (ii) as a safety cushion on the finances as I really do not want to be forced to resume working after I FIRE and the money will have to last me/my wife for 40+ years.

The two year part time retirement should allow the firm to transition clients and the lawyers in my team with minimal disruption.

If you are not sure about retireing emotionally, you could consider either (i) a sabbatical or (ii) stepping down to a part time position. In the circumstances you describe, I assume your fellow partners would be flexible. If there is no one within the firm who could step up, it may be time to consider a lateral hire ( which I appreciate can take a long time to bring into a firm and even longer to fully integrate).

While the reasons for staying may have some validity (only you can know that for sure), you may want to scroll through this thread for some reasons why people should retire: https://www.early-retirement.org/foru...tml#post891353

The subject of lawyers retiring early is one that has come up before. In my current firm, several partners retired at year end (which is normal). Two were in their early fifties.

I agree with Katsmeow on the expenses. Once you have a handle on the expenses you will know if you are good to go financially. That said, your numbers look good to me. Query whether you will also get some capital back from your partnership when you retire.

My pre-retirement planning includes:

1. track expenses on a daily basis starting in December 2009
2. produce a long list of things to do in retirement (I'm actually starting on some now)
3. put in place medical insurance for the family which will continue once I leave my firm's medical plan
4. put a bit of work into that part of my social circle which is independent of work
5. make sure mrs traineeinvestor is fully on board with our family having no income :whistling:

donheff 01-07-2010 07:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891355)

My assessment (if you disagree, let me know) is that ER is achievable financially.

Based on your description of your current (non tax) spending you could safely expand your lifestyle in ER.

Quote:

Duty to partners: Iím head of firm and rainmaker; partners and associates screwed if I leave as legal work might go elsewhere; .
My wife has effectively retired from a major firm starting this week. She brought in a new group to her practice a couple of years ago and feels a bit of the duty you mentioned. She worked out a continuing relationship with the firm to handle that. She cut back to 1/2 time two years ago and closer to 1/3 time last year. This year she will be pretty much retired but remain as a non-equity partner on a sort of retainer with the firm so she can be involved with new clients she brought in last year and participate in some limited business development. You might set up something of that sort although, as I am sure you know, your perceived worth to potential clients will drop rapidly with you not around on a FT basis to hand hold.

chris2008 01-07-2010 10:03 AM

Hi,

This comes from a 51 year old corporate counsel, planning to ER in 2012.
My 2 cents: Please track expenses in detail (with at least as much effort as your investment research) before you make an irrevocable decision.
With your stated expenses and 20(?) years in practice, your income and ROI there should be more than 4M and a house.
My guess is that there is more than one hole in the expenses. Identify them!
It really is not “…Hard to give a precise figure on annual spending because money seems to leak from many holes in the bathtub on teenager/kid stuff such as lessons, money for movies, concerts, skiing, clothes, food…” once you have started tracking your expenses.
And corrective measures against holes are easier now than later under pressure.

We track in detail for several years now. So when we retire we know exactly how much we need (at least at todays prices) to keep our current lifestyle.

Good luck,
Chris

chris2008 01-07-2010 10:11 AM

... and, as someone recommended in another thread, try to live on the projected ER budget for at least a year while still working and before you take a decision.

Chris

Rich_by_the_Bay 01-07-2010 11:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chris2008 (Post 891502)
With your stated expenses and 20(?) years in practice, your income and ROI there should be more than 4M and a house.

Chris your points are well taken, as is your caution.

OTOH, the man has a paid-off house, no debt, $4mm + in investments, a $1.8mm annual income for at least a few more months, dividend income taxed at 16%, low cost tuition, and minimal health care liability. Could he blow it? Sure, but if you can't make it on that, we're all in trouble.

I agree with a careful look at expenses just as a sanity check. But I'd trade financial situations in a heartbeat ;).

LOL! 01-07-2010 12:28 PM

Maybe I mis-read his income level, but the high amount seems a one-off occurrence rather than a continuing amount.

Milton 01-07-2010 02:59 PM

By the sounds of it you are likely in a position to retire now if you wish, but as Katsmeow suggests, no one can say for certain because you don't really know what your total expenses are. Your rough guesstimate of 100K should not be considered reliable, and you would do well to keep track of all of your spending for the next six months or so.

Have you read Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicky Robin?

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891355)
Hours ridiculously long. Much drudgery. Antagonism with other lawyers common. Court appearances and cross-examinations are stressful, even after 25 years of practice. Not surprisingly, early retirement has crossed my mind.

No kidding.

FWIW, here are my comments on your points (1), (3), (4) and (5):

(1) If you have a decent practice, you will always be in the middle of various lawsuits, so that isn't worth considering. In any case, (2) is correct: no one is irreplaceable and clients come and go, so why not lawyers? You do not owe them your life.

(3) You don't know what will happen if you leave: it should be possible for you to pass on at least some of the work, which will build your partners' and associates' personal practices and should be welcomed by them.

If the other lawyers in your firm are so weak or inexperienced that you cannot count on clients remaining with the firm after you're gone, you need to work on developing their skills and promoting them to your clients.

(4) Prestige is nothing but high regard in the minds of strangers (what do you care what strangers think? Do they care what you think?). And I don't know of any litigation lawyers that are really a 'big deal' in anyone's minds but their own. You are not J.J. Robinette.

(5) This might be a big problem (although (6) suggests not), but if so you can easily fix it. Start cutting back on your hours and develop some outside interests and hobbies.

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891355)
I do not know a single person who has retired early.

Well, there are plenty of people on this board in that position! So you now have plenty of anonymous 'friends' who will be happy to share their experiences.

May be of interest: Early Retirement.

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891355)
Occasionally lunching with lawyer/business types who I assume may have similar assets, I ask whether early retirement is in the cards. The response is astonishment. I am not sure if this is because people lack the money, so the option has not seriously occurred to them or because they love the life they lead.

Another option: confessing that one is contemplating early retirement is not exactly a career enhancer, and many lawyers are champion gossips. I suspect that some of your colleagues with sufficient assets to retire may perhaps be contemplating doing so, but are too discrete to mention this to you.

Achiever51 01-07-2010 03:32 PM

Hi, MMM -- and welcome to the forum!

Although I'm not an attorney, I did have a very high profile career in MegaCorp with significant "psychic perks" that provided many once-in-a-lifetime memories. When I decided to retire early, some people simply couldn't believe that I could walk away -- but long ago, I separated myself from the job and I understood that WHAT I did was not the sole definition of WHO I am.

After I left MegaCorp, I wasn't really ready to retire fully, so I took on a challenge of running a local non-profit organization. After five years of that, I stepped down and now have enjoyed (truly enjoyed!) the past three years of retirement. I still volunteer for several charities, and would suggest that non-profit volunteerism is a wonderful way to stay active.

Unlike you, I DO know a number of very successful former lawyers, all of whom have created very very fulfilling next chapters of their lives. You apparently have the financial means to do it; now it's up to you to figure out when to take the leap.

Life is short and you don't get a chance for a do-over. If the life of an attorney isn't doing it for you, here's your opportunity to find out what does.

FUEGO 01-07-2010 03:55 PM

I'm currently a non-practicing attorney, so here's my thoughts. Develop a transition plan. You sound like a key person at your firm. It sounds like you are financially ready to ER. Sit down with your other partners and discuss with them that you are ready to make the transition into the next stage of life and want to make it as easy as possible for all concerned. 2-4 years seems like plenty of time to go to 1/2 time to 1/4 to no time. Get rid of active case management and actual legal duties - delegate them to others over the next year or so. Focus on rainmaking and training others to make said rain. Take the opportunity to hand off new/old clients to your other partners and/or sr associates as time goes by.

This gives you a slow winding-down of your practice and a nice transition into ER. And saves you a ton of taxes. And keeps up good relations at the firm. Who knows - with reduced hours and reduced stress after a year or two, you may still like it and be able to stretch out the part time rainmaking role - ie "of counsel".

meanmrmustard 01-07-2010 05:57 PM

I logged in toward end of working day, expecting maybe one person would have posted some flippant answer to my post. Instead, I find many responses, every single one intelligent and thought provoking. I'm taken aback! Thanks guys! It's going to take some time to get my head around all the comments, some of which require some serious thinking on my part. A few quickie answers and comments:
aaronc879: advance notice to others in firm makes sense. I've been procrastinating bringing RE up. Why? Dread? Uncertainty? Dont know.
Rich in Tampa: Thanks. Gradual transition a good idea.
Western skies: Maybe it's that simple!
Red Mist: Can't see sabbatical for me. It wld piss everyone off. Might be great for you.
Rambler: Yr thought about succession plan a good one. Frankly I never really thought of what happens at firm if I get hit by a bus tomorrow (despite having read innumerable articles about succession problems in megacorps and everywhere else). You're right I have a responsibility. It also leads into discussion of issue: what happens if I RE. They are similar issues from point of view of firm. Never been to Shanghai. Want to go.
katsmeow: interesting that you also don't know other lawyers who RE. Probably true there's ego involved, foolish as it is. In novel Right Stuff, which I read years ago, what stuck in my mind was "ziggurrat of prestige" that military flyers must climb. They need impress the other pilots with flying machismo, but know that no one else outside their community knows or gives a ****. Weird. This law stuff is like that. A part of me needs to be the meanest, hardest working, smartest, toughest under pressure, guy with biggest court wins, striving for respect of my small group of similar legal types. Maybe its the same with surgeons. Where does this come from? It makes no sense. You're right re expenses, as per various other comments
clipf: I know lots of lawyers, at junior levels, who quit to become a [fill in blank], go in-house, travel the world, go to get some masters/doctorate degree etc etc. Legal profession is full of these over-smart, over-educated wanderers. I have interviewed many looking for jobs. What's rare as far as I can see is the 50ish type whos been in the thick of it for years, made a go of it, earned some bucks, who then REs, maybe because such people see themselves as tough survivors who have hung in there through thick and thin while others fell by the wayside, because such folks by habit base their self-respect on that survivor I-can-handle-anything, bring-it-on mentality. Then it seems to be harder to quit, even if possible to do it. See rest of thread. Yr right about the feet first part. A close friend of mine since about Grade 8, also a lawyer recently died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Food for thought!
tranineeinvestor: agree and thanks for thoughts. Lateral hire thing hard because what I do is very specialized. See above re expenses. Pretty sure they're OK because both me and wife have gone out of way for years to be frugal. Unspoken deal with wife: I don't make herkeep records, but she won't spend much. It works but I sometimes I wish I knew the details better. At the firm I know where every nickel goes.
donheff: fascinating about your lawyer wife retiring this week, and her transition. Can I ask age?
Chris2008: I don't know if should be more assets. $1.8mm earnings has been last two fiscal years, but has been a big upswing in recent years, more in few 100K per year typically previously, lower in current downturn likely. Like I said it goes up and down. I hear you about expenses. OK already! I guess I'll try to figure it out. Basically, unspoken deal with wife has, as above been she'll be frugal, and I know that's true, but she'll be damned if she's going to enter every expenditure on some spreadsheet, like in Your Money or Your lLfe. We're busy as hell. Plus there's four kids. Partly we haven't worrried too much because we know big items are under control. Mortgage paid off years ago. Cheap cars. Few trips. Rarely buy furniture or any big ticket item. Don't renovate.
MILTON: OK OK probably right, gotta get better handle on expenses. Yes I've read Your Money Or Your life years ago, and in fact that was what prompted my last unsuccessful attempt to get some recordkeeping going on expenses. Not not sure why I find this so hard. I guess its (a) six people involved, and (b) my wife's master of home domain, and not a record keeper by nature, although she's generally frugal, thank god. Maybe time for a talk. Thanks for thoughts re work-related hang-ups. You must be Canadian, and you're right I aint no JJ Robinette.
ACHEIVER: agree
FUEGO: You're right. A plan, and talking to other folks in firm of course makes sense. So far I have not brought this up at firm. Nor have I put pen to paper even privately as to transition steps.

Milton 01-07-2010 06:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891703)
Can't see sabbatical for me. It wld piss everyone off.

A sabbatical may not be possible in your situation; but don't discount it just because it would might annoy other people. FIRE generally involves thinking about what's right for you and not worrying about other people's (perceived) desires. Your primary responsibilities are to yourself and your family.

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891703)
See above re expenses. Pretty sure they're OK because both me and wife have gone out of way for years to be frugal. Unspoken deal with wife: I don't make herkeep records, but she won't spend much. It works but I sometimes I wish I knew the details better. At the firm I know where every nickel goes.... Partly we haven't worrried too much because we know big items are under control. Mortgage paid off years ago. Cheap cars. Few trips. Rarely buy furniture or any big ticket item. Don't renovate.

Sounds good. But no one is suggesting that you (or your wife) spend too much money. The point of the keeping track of expenses is not to reduce them, but to ensure -as much as possible - that your passive income will be sufficient to cover your foreseeable needs in retirement. While the exercise is not strictly necessary, it does provide peace of mind for those of us who are victims of this problem: https://www.early-retirement.org/foru...ome-20091.html.

plex 01-07-2010 07:17 PM

I strongly agree with doing a final, and thorough, audit on your expenses. It is the keystone to ensuring you can retire right now. With your assets, there is absolutely no reason for you not to be in a position to retire right now, if your expenses really are fairly close to $100k/year. This is not to cut your expenses, it is just a very important safety procedure before you start the (possibly long) process of winding down.

donheff 01-07-2010 07:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 891703)
donheff: fascinating about your lawyer wife retiring this week, and her transition. Can I ask age?

She will be 57 next Thursday. She started cutting back at 55. I pulled the plug on an enjoyable Federal career at 56, five years ago.

chris2008 01-08-2010 06:25 AM

Meanmrmustard,
When you track expenses the level of detail is up to your decision. YMYL is focussing on lots of detail.
Most people are turned off by recording the small items paid in cash. But cash comes from accounts and as a start you could record the cash amounts taken from the accounts just as "Cash out". If the total per month is very high for several months you will probably find it challenging to go more into detail.
Most of your other expenses also leave a paper trace, be it as invoices, checks or credit card statements. I would start with this existing documentation + create a monthly spreadsheet.
And after a year all this information produces all by itself the total per year.
(My own excel spreadsheet automatically projects all expenses into a column "estimated p.a.". Our total time for tracking takes not more than 2 hours per month, incl. a balance sheet of all assets).
If it is close to 100.000 p.a.: perfect
If it is more like 300.000 p.a.: better know now than after ER.
Chris

mark500 01-08-2010 01:05 PM

4) Theory 4 possibly a lie, reality maybe is itís hard to walk away from prestige of being court room big shot (much as I may despise the life), might be hard to adjust to being anonymous guy in sneakers hanging around the public library; (5) Donít know what I would do with myself and donít want to face possibility Iíd wander around uselessly;

Your situation is very similar to mine. I have decreased workload the past year and in 6 months plan to decrease it furthur. I suspect the loss of a paycheck and the respect and authority at work will be missed. A gradual change seems logical rather than cold turkey. Also, seeing the deaths of friends and acquaintances their 50s jolts you a little bit, and causes you to ponder mankind's persistent question: What is the purpose of my existence?

Milton 01-08-2010 03:38 PM

FWIW (not much!): 35 Year Old PI Millionaire Retires - Lawbuzz. :whistling:

On a more serious note: Richard Moll, The Lure of the Law (1991), is worth a quick read.

Danmar 01-08-2010 06:00 PM

Mustard: Expenses really are key. My wife and I have tracked every expense since 1993. I can tell you how much we spent on clothing in Septemder 2003 ($313). Not as difficult as you may think. Analyse your cheque book and credit cards each month. Obviously you can lump small items together as "cash". These items are about 6% of our current spending, very consistent, and include such things as groceries, taxies, cleaning ladies, books newspapers, etc. Should also have a net worth section in your spreadsheet so you can track that over time. Ignore real estate assets-treat them as expenditures. I am really good at this stuff. It helps that both my wife and I are accountants I think. In our case biggest discretionary expense is travel.

Katsmeow 01-08-2010 10:18 PM

Quote:

Pretty sure they're OK because both me and wife have gone out of way for years to be frugal. Unspoken deal with wife: I don't make herkeep records, but she won't spend much. It works but I sometimes I wish I knew the details better. At the firm I know where every nickel goes.
Keeping track of expenses is not really that hard. For us, we use credit cards (paid in full monthly) for almost all our expenses. There are some paid by check and a small, very small, amount of cash. Keeping track of the cash is ideal but if it under, say, $1000 a month (at your income) I wouldn't worry too much about it.

There are programs you can download your credit card spending into and then categorize your expenditures. I use YouNeedaBudget (YNAB) others use Quicken or various other programs.

However, figuring out where the money goes is pretty easy. Ideally you keep the receipts so you can check to see if what you spent at the grocery store was for groceries or you can look at a Department Store charge to see if it was for clothing, or makeup or linens or whatever.

But, really, I categorize all of our spending and it takes very little time.

meanmrmustard 01-11-2010 07:47 PM

Thanks everyone
 
Again, I would like to thank every one for their comments. Recent posts on theimportance of tracking expenses and low hassle ways of doing it were especially useful. I told my wife about the board and I'll get her to read the thread, plus I'll probably re-read it myself several times, to inspire me to start putting togther a plan for both tracking expenses, and transitioning out of law practice. Someone posted a link to a thread about people talking about when you have to stop thinking "I've only got one more year to go, but..." which I found particulary eloquent on the whole question of when to get out of the working world.

I know I have the money, so ER is really a matter of transitioning from treating ER as a kind of fanciful daydream to actually planning in a serious way how to do it. I think the exercise has made me realize that none of the reasons why I thought I need to keep working (a potent mixture of ego/desire for prestige/fear/procrastination/misplaced obligation) really make any sense.

flyfishnevada 01-11-2010 09:46 PM

Welcome! I immediately look at you finances and say, whats holding you back, but its personal decision and there are many things to consider.

As to the last part of your intro. There are many types of people. Some find a career and do it out of love. Others are just addicted to work, even if they don't love it. Some, like many of us value our free time. Don't let those other people's priorities dictate your decision. You only get one life and you should live it on your terms. Don't know if you were worried about what they would think, but if you are, don't.

Danmar 01-12-2010 12:08 PM

I have been thinking about the ego/prestige aspect of retirement a lot recently. In my case i really wanted to become anonymous after a fairly high profile carreer. Three years after retirement i am starting to miss a bit the profile i used to have. I am sure this will ebb over time but you should consider some kind of transition. i went cold turkey.

SEC Lawyer 04-21-2010 09:21 PM

OP, I empathize with you. Our situations are similar. Here are some thoughts:

1. It is critical to get a grip on your expenses, by which I mean "follow the money." Because taxes are so very high, the shift to ER is huge on that score. But you can get a feel for your other expenses. Determine what your "pro forma for retirement" spending will likely be, then add a cushion. Then add another cushion. Believe you will find you are already "there." I am. This is very liberating.

2. If you like being as lawyer (I do), then don't quit. But restrcuture your work to cut out everything you don't like -- even if that will "hurt" your on-going compensation. I am amazed by the fact that so many of the very fine lawyers that I have known have never quit practicing law. And I mean "never." As in, worked until they died. People who could have quit 30 years ago. And why is this? Because they do only what they want to do, and nothing else. An example is William Rehnquist, whom I was privileged to know. When he was asked in his 80s whether he would retire, he replied, "Retire to what?"

3. You DO have the resources to retire now. But rather than do that, in my opinion and experience this is when it starts to get interesting. Because if you can quit, then you can also dictate your terms for staying on. Not in a cruel or difficult way. Just matter of fact. Take advantage of that -- you've earned it.

Milton 04-22-2010 03:28 PM

Upon re-reading this thread, I agree with Chris2008. The OP has been a lawyer for 25 years and earns a very good employment income (which can be as much as $1.8 million pre-tax), plus investment income. Since he does not have a lavish lifestyle, his net worth of $4 million + house appears lower than it should be.

Income taxes are high, fair enough; but as a self-employed professional he has lots of deductions, and even after taking taxes into account he should have > $4 million. I wonder if there is more leakage than he realizes, and again encourage some form of record keeping.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928526)
If you like being as lawyer (I do), then don't quit.

This is sensible advice. However, his five arguments against ER do not include love of his work ... on the contrary, he mentions the ridiculously long hours, the drudgery, the antagonism with peers, and the stress.

I don't have the sense that he particularly enjoys being a lawyer any more; rather, he expresses a sense of obligation.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928526)
I am amazed by the fact that so many of the very fine lawyers that I have known have never quit practicing law. And I mean "never." As in, worked until they died.... An example is William Rehnquist, whom I was privileged to know. When he was asked in his 80s whether he would retire, he replied, "Retire to what?"

Well, we are all different; but that seems rather one dimensional to me. It is a bit sad that he didn't make time to pursue other interests when he had the chance.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928526)
[R]estructure your work to cut out everything you don't like -- even if that will "hurt" your on-going compensation. You DO have the resources to retire now. But rather than do that, in my opinion and experience this is when it starts to get interesting. Because if you can quit, then you can also dictate your terms for staying on.

Clients can be extremely demanding, at least in private practice. He has previously indicated that he does not have the ability to take a sabbatical. If he starts taking time off, or attempts to pass clients off to his partners, it is not unlikely that some (most?) clients will go elsewhere.

But you are quite right: even in the worst case, so what? At this point, he doesn't need to work so there is no reason to accept the drudgery etc. merely to protect that income stream. Might as well give it a shot and see what happens.

SEC Lawyer 04-22-2010 03:46 PM

William Rehnquist was one-dimensional because he didn't want to retire from his job? Are you serious? Although opinions do vary, I think we are talking about one of the brightest minds in the history of the US legal profession. Criticizing someone like that for being "one-dimensional" is absurd.

Here are a few other "one-dimensional" people: Michelangelo (he spent all that time painting the Sistine Chapel); Enrico Fermi (what's so important about nuclear physics anyway?); Michael Jordan (maybe you think he should have spent more time playing baseball and golf). The problem with your outlook is that it allows no room for greatness. Great people are almost always "one-dimensional." The few who aren't are polymaths, exhibiting an even scarcer variety of greatness.

Now, if our OP is not thinking of his career that way, then maybe he should get out. But I think a better solution is to find something to be passionate about, and then be utterly devoted to that. I realize this is likely to be a minority view on this board, as so many of you seem to hate your jobs and can think of nothing better than to escape from them.

Danmar 04-22-2010 04:36 PM

Welcome to the board SEC. Looks like you're going to liven things up.

Katsmeow 04-22-2010 06:55 PM

I think people who are one dimensional about their work ....that is those who love their work and are passionate about it are unlikely to be at this particular board.

As an attorney myself I actually know quite a few people like that. I am about to semi-retire (maybe retire) at the end of next week. I don't hate my work. It is highly stressful and I don't want the stress. In my case I have (I think if all works out) that I am going to be able to work part-time doing only the things that I like doing and that is great.

But I know lots of people who don't get the retirement idea at all. I was talking to a colleague and he just can't wrap his head around it. He says he wouldn't know what to do if he retired. Well...I have hobbies. I have interests. I have lots of other things I want to do. I've practiced law for over 30 years and now I'm ready to do something else with most of my time.

For him....well...he is one dimensional. And that is great for him. But you won't ever find him on this board.

Alan 04-22-2010 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Katsmeow (Post 928838)
I think people who are one dimensional about their work ....that is those who love their work and are passionate about it are unlikely to be at this particular board.

As an attorney myself I actually know quite a few people like that. I am about to semi-retire (maybe retire) at the end of next week. I don't hate my work. It is highly stressful and I don't want the stress. In my case I have (I think if all works out) that I am going to be able to work part-time doing only the things that I like doing and that is great.

But I know lots of people who don't get the retirement idea at all. I was talking to a colleague and he just can't wrap his head around it. He says he wouldn't know what to do if he retired. Well...I have hobbies. I have interests. I have lots of other things I want to do. I've practiced law for over 30 years and now I'm ready to do something else with most of my time.

For him....well...he is one dimensional. And that is great for him. But you won't ever find him on this board.

I also know several folks who love work and can't think of doing anything else. Whether I'd call them one-dimensional or not is something else, but I certainly don't judge them harshly. Good luck to them.

Milton 04-22-2010 08:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928758)
I think we are talking about one of the brightest minds in the history of the US legal profession.

Many would say that is not exactly high praise.:laugh:

One can argue about whether Rehnquist was a brilliant lawyer and/or judge (and I respectfully suggest that opinions are perhaps not entirely unanimous); but that quite a separate issue from whether he was essentially one-dimensional.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928758)
But I think a better solution is to find something to be passionate about, and then be utterly devoted to that. I realize this is likely to be a minority view on this board, as so many of you seem to hate your jobs and can think of nothing better than to escape from them.

Well, escaping from the demands of work is the implicit theme of this board, after all.

I do agree that the SEC can use a lot more passion in its lawyers.

SEC Lawyer 04-22-2010 11:23 PM

You are rather clueless, aren't you. SEC lawyers don't make seven-figure incomes or determine the course of human events.

But XSEC lawyers do.

And we'll do that long after you've taken down your inconsequential shingle and "retired early" because your working life is so meaningless.

I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.

Leonidas 04-22-2010 11:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928931)
I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.

From reading the few posts that you made during your tenure, I wouldn't claim to "know" you, but I would be willing to bet a nice sum that your departure has brightened the mood in many a room.

Have yourself a nice life.

(and another one goes on the ignore list)

Bestwifeever 04-22-2010 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928931)
You are rather clueless, aren't you. SEC lawyers don't make seven-figure incomes or determine the course of human events.

But XSEC lawyers do.

And we'll do that long after you've taken down your inconsequential shingle and "retired early" because your working life is so meaningless.

I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.

"Lumpen slums of cyberspace"? Is that the best you can do?

haha 04-23-2010 12:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bestwifeever (Post 928934)
"Lumpen slums of cyberspace"? Is that the best you can do?

Levittown?

audreyh1 04-23-2010 04:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928931)
You are rather clueless, aren't you. SEC lawyers don't make seven-figure incomes or determine the course of human events.

But XSEC lawyers do.

And we'll do that long after you've taken down your inconsequential shingle and "retired early" because your working life is so meaningless.

I'm checking out of here for a better place, like my own blog maybe. Regret dropping in earlier this week. Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.

Whew! Good riddance!

Gumby 04-23-2010 05:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928931)
I'm checking out of here for a better place

Here, let me help you with that. No, no need to thank me. Really, it was my pleasure.

ziggy29 04-23-2010 08:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928931)
Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.

Sorry I just noticed this. I was busy finishing my virtual bottle of Night Train.

REWahoo 04-23-2010 08:18 AM

I'm considering trying out a new sig line: "Charter resident of the lumpen slums of cyberspace."

Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

FUEGO 04-23-2010 11:26 AM

Excellent. I no longer have to physically travel to the slums to go slumming. I can do so here more conveniently.

audreyh1 04-23-2010 11:32 AM

I've never hung out in a slum before. And definitely not a lumpen slum - whatever that means! ;D

lumpen slum - from Urbis:
Quote:

Lumpen are the great unwashed masses of the urban poor. They rarely have a steady source of income, and may be exiled from the city-state with little provocation. They have few rights, and tend to live in the worst slum areas where the drain from the nexus towers can be acutely felt day and night. Still, they may not be arbitrarily deprived of life or property, and killing or assaulting them does count as a crime. Urbis - A World of Cities: Lumpen
or maybe:
Quote:

Lumpenproletariat

Roughly translated as slum workers or the mob, this term identifies the class of outcast, degenerated and submerged elements that make up a section of the population of industrial centers. It includes beggars, prostitutes, gangsters, racketeers, swindlers, petty criminals, tramps, chronic unemployed or unemployables, persons who have been cast out by industry, and all sorts of declassed, degraded or degenerated elements. In times of prolonged crisis (depression), innumerable young people also, who cannot find an opportunity to enter into the social organism as producers, are pushed into this limbo of the outcast. Here demagogues and fascists of various stripes find some area of the mass base in time of struggle and social breakdown, when the ranks of the Lumpenproletariat are enormously swelled by ruined and declassed elements from all layers of a society in decay.
....
The term was later used in the Communist Manifesto (where it is translated as “dangerous classes”) and in Class Struggles in France, and elsewhere. https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/l/u.htm
WOW! Had no idea things were that bad around here! Has me thinking "Escape from New York."

Audrey

ziggy29 04-23-2010 11:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by audreyh1 (Post 929113)
lumpen slum - from Urbis:
Quote:

Lumpen are the great unwashed masses of the urban poor.
WOW! Had no idea things were that bad around here!

I guess I need to leave here, being in a small town, middle to upper-middle class and having showered this morning.

But I'm taking my Night Train with me.

bbbamI 04-23-2010 12:57 PM

https://thm-a02.yimg.com/nimage/a09198cd96108e16

Lumpen Rutherford....

Milton 04-23-2010 03:32 PM

I would reply to the ridiculous post, but I am done feeding the troll. :whistling:

travelover 04-23-2010 03:46 PM

Well, he lasted longer than I thought he would. :laugh:

Bestwifeever 04-23-2010 04:32 PM

I can't help it--this story is all over the Nightly News right now:

While US economy burned, SEC staff surfed for porn - Yahoo! News

"Among the most serious violators, said ABC, was a senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington who spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn."

I hope no one got caught accessing lumpen slum forums like ours!

haha 04-23-2010 05:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bestwifeever (Post 929215)
I can't help it--this story is all over the Nightly News right now:

While US economy burned, SEC staff surfed for porn - Yahoo! News

"Among the most serious violators, said ABC, was a senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington who spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn."

I hope no one got caught accessing lumpen slum forums like ours!

Can't you women come up with some slutty photos to give surfers a two-fer?

Ha

Westernskies 04-23-2010 07:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gumby (Post 928959)
Here, let me help you with that. No, no need to thank me. Really, it was my pleasure.

Damn, late to the party again...;D Sorry, must have been dragging my knuckles throught the lumpen...

Alan 04-23-2010 08:09 PM

I'm travelling at present but this was a thread I have been monitoring, and "holey moley", SEC finally popped his clogs big time.

Great link on some of the top SEC lawyers surfing the porn sites - I don't suppose many folks are surprised.

Bestwifeever 04-23-2010 08:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haha (Post 929221)
Can't you women come up with some slutty photos to give surfers a two-fer?

Ha

I'm sorry, you'll have to go to the lumpen slut forum for those--we're only the lumpen slum here.

NW-Bound 04-23-2010 08:47 PM

Hmm... No wonder I feel right at home here. For I have been working an erratic part-time and freelance work, and the following description fits me. :(

Quote:

Lumpen ... rarely have a steady source of income...

Westernskies 04-23-2010 11:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haha (Post 929221)
Can't you women come up with some slutty photos to give surfers a two-fer?

Ha

humpin' lumpen? :laugh:

Westernskies 04-24-2010 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bbbamI (Post 929163)

Based on where this thread is heading you may have to post a picture of the beaver...;D

bbbamI 04-24-2010 10:39 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Westernskies (Post 929398)
Based on where this thread is heading you may have to post a picture of the beaver...;D

You rang?....

traineeinvestor 04-24-2010 05:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bestwifeever (Post 929215)
I can't help it--this story is all over the Nightly News right now:

While US economy burned, SEC staff surfed for porn - Yahoo! News

"Among the most serious violators, said ABC, was a senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington who spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn."

I now understand how they failed to catch Madoff and others - they clearly had much more important things to do.

REWahoo 04-24-2010 05:53 PM

Yep. Leno pointed this out last night as proof at the SEC the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing...

kcowan 04-25-2010 07:35 AM

I wonder where Mean Mr Mustard has gone?

At least we know where the SEC Lawyers are hanging out!

ziggy29 04-25-2010 07:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kcowan (Post 929654)
I wonder where Mean Mr Mustard has gone?

My initial thought was "to the conservatory with a candlestick," but I could be wrong. :)

Moemg 04-25-2010 08:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928931)
Didn't realize these are the lumpen slums of cyberspace.


Does this mean we are eligible for the free cheese the government hands out ?

bbbamI 04-25-2010 08:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moemg (Post 929854)
Does this mean we are eligible for the free cheese the government hands out ?

:);D:laugh::rofl:

meanmrmustard 07-13-2010 01:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SEC Lawyer (Post 928526)
OP, I empathize with you. Our situations are similar. Here are some thoughts:

1. It is critical to get a grip on your expenses, by which I mean "follow the money." Because taxes are so very high, the shift to ER is huge on that score. But you can get a feel for your other expenses. Determine what your "pro forma for retirement" spending will likely be, then add a cushion. Then add another cushion. Believe you will find you are already "there." I am. This is very liberating.

2. If you like being as lawyer (I do), then don't quit. But restrcuture your work to cut out everything you don't like -- even if that will "hurt" your on-going compensation. I am amazed by the fact that so many of the very fine lawyers that I have known have never quit practicing law. And I mean "never." As in, worked until they died. People who could have quit 30 years ago. And why is this? Because they do only what they want to do, and nothing else. An example is William Rehnquist, whom I was privileged to know. When he was asked in his 80s whether he would retire, he replied, "Retire to what?"

3. You DO have the resources to retire now. But rather than do that, in my opinion and experience this is when it starts to get interesting. Because if you can quit, then you can also dictate your terms for staying on. Not in a cruel or difficult way. Just matter of fact. Take advantage of that -- you've earned it.

SEC lawyer: Thanks for post. I read it a long time ago, but was at the time involved in a bunch of s hearing at about the same, so I had no time to reply. I have been thinking about your post nevertheless ever since. I appreciate your post and thank others for their useful and interesting comments. Sorry it has taken this long to get back to site. Odd to discover many comments accumulated on thread over the months.

Comments: would have loved to have known Rehnquist!

You suggested I restructure lawyer work to cut out everything you donít like. Maybe. Thinking about it. Hereís the problem. Iím specialized, law-wise. You need to be immersed in the area I am in to be useful. The case law, regulations, political environment change constantly. Iím like a doctor who specializes in toenails. I really know toenails!! I was involved in all the Big Toenail Developments over the last 20 years. But itís hard to be half-in, half-out. I was kind of a pioneer when I started, but now there are younger, hungrier toenail experts out there. Hard to be an eminence gris in the fast-changing toenail world. Some times I think I should just get out, be an investor, and never think about toenails again.

Expenses: You and many other posters stressed I had to track family expenses. Obvious, but I had never done it. So I figured out what they were. This part is embarrassing to admit. Iíll lay it out anyway, in case it helps others engaged in similar beanhead behavour.

In post that started this thread I foolishly said I thought my expenses were 100,000K. Many commentators berated me for being foggy about this, and rightly so. Some suspected they were higher.

Prompted by posters, I started figuring out what family expenses actually were. Not easy. They had become somewhat intermingled over many years with my law firm expenditures, so eggs had to be unscrambled. Information retrieval problem: wife dealt with home expenditures and had Visa and chequing account statements in piles, but long list of debits and credits not much help in trying to get a grip on the big picture.

Preliminary conclusion a shocker: family expenses in 2009 about $225,000, excluding tax and investments. I could not believe it. What do we spend this money on? I got Quicken about New Year, 2010, and now use it to track all family expenses. Not rocket science, I realize. Expenses in 2010 up to June 30 about 100,000, so could be 200Kto 225K annually. We have jettisoned some doubtful expenditures.

My problem was that, although I paid attention to expenses at law firm and investments for years, I paid little attention to household expenses, and they were dealt with by wife, not a record keeper by nature. I thought there was no need to track expenses closely because sheís not a big spender, and we donít live a lavish lifestyle.

Itís not that expenses were out of hand, necessarily. The problem was that I was in la-la land as to what they were. Obviously, knowing oneís living expenses is key to any useful analysis of whether ER is possible, a question which pops up in my thoughts more and more.

200K to 225K amount just seems to be what it costs for care and feeding of four teenagers, aged 12 Ė 20, in urban setting, one in U. No big ticket items really, just endless smaller expenditures on food, dining out, ultilites, clothes, movies, house tax, insurance, gas, cable, getting stuff fixed, concerts, lessons, tuition, residence, school trip, family vacation, camps etc etc.

Fine (once I got over shock). Now I know. Thank you ER boarders for hectoring me to go though this painful but worthwhile exercise. How could I ever have thought I did not need to keep track of expenses? I can only say that I repent my bozo-like former life and am reborn.

So situation is this, to recap: Iím 51, lawyer, wife at home, four kids (12 Ė 20), about $4,000,000 plus in liquid assets, mostly stocks. Close attention to investments (really!). No mortgage, no debts. Expenses 200 to 225K although presumably not forever as ducklings exit the nest. Earn 1.8 million pre-tax in good year, but can be under a million in bad year. Varies. Pooped out and fed up with toenails. Can I ER? Should I ER? Enlightenment sought from this humble and penitent scribe to wise wizards of ER site.

Sarah in SC 07-13-2010 02:11 PM

If nothing else, you have learned some valuable info for planning purposes regarding spending. I'd spend some more time drilling down into the spending now versus spending in retirement question before I dumped the big toenail practice (possibly the best analogy I've ever read, and funniest, to describe a boutique practice of any kind!).

haha 07-13-2010 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 957405)
So situation is this, to recap: Iím 51, lawyer, wife at home, four kids (12 Ė 20), about $4,000,000 plus in liquid assets, mostly stocks. Close attention to investments (really!). No mortgage, no debts. Expenses 200 to 225K although presumably not forever as ducklings exit the nest. Earn 1.8 million pre-tax in good year, but can be under a million in bad year. Varies. Pooped out and fed up with toenails. Can I ER? Should I ER? Enlightenment sought from this humble and penitent scribe to wise wizards of ER site.

I give no suggestions to one with these stats. Just tell us more about doing this. And offload one of those bad years to me, could you? :)

Ha

nwsteve 07-13-2010 03:37 PM

Congrats on making such great headway in "really" understanding where the bucks go.
If you really want to lower the household spending of 200+K, I can assure you, if you drill down and attack the list of where the dollars go, you will find it relatively easy to carve off 20-30%. Much of what we see as "necessary" is, in fact, a matter of habit and/or inattention. The savings may not come in big bucks at one time but increments do matter. With a Million/yr income, it may seem like more work than you want so it really up to deciding it is a priority.
For example, examining the various insurance premiums you pay. If you have not reviewed your deductibles and coverages recently, and multiple cars, you an carve off 10-15% of your insurance bill. Not a huge number in 200k spending and a 1 Million income but the first of many savings.
Now you have your spending defined, suggest you break the expenditures into some categories of choices--eg non discretionary (look for doing different--see insurance above), critical to family happiness/values, nice to have, other
Then, ask yourself, what would happen if you no longer spent any of the bottom categories. Could you get the same satisfaction by spending the $ differently, or better by not spending at all.
Look at the 'critical to family happiness' group and make sure the $ are really the source of the happiness. What other ways would provide the same type/level of satisfaction.
You obviously have a lot of gifts. You will probably find an incredible number of ways that you can carve some big chunks with little or no lost in your or your family sense of worth. Once you and your DW have sorted out the categories, involve the rest of the family. Not only will they see things you do not, but you will also give your kids the gift of future financial independence by helping them to learn the value of choosing.
Best wishes achieving the life you desire.
Nwsteve

Milton 07-13-2010 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 957405)
My problem was that, although I paid attention to expenses at law firm and investments for years, I paid little attention to household expenses, and they were dealt with by wife, not a record keeper by nature.

Cf. The Millionaire Next Door.

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 957405)
200K to 225K amount just seems to be what it costs for care and feeding of four teenagers, aged 12 – 20, in urban setting, one in U. No big ticket items really, just endless smaller expenditures on food, dining out, ultilites, clothes, movies, house tax, insurance, gas, cable, getting stuff fixed, concerts, lessons, tuition, residence, school trip, family vacation, camps etc etc.

Many Canadians manage similar circumstances on substantially smaller budgets. On the other hand, some people spend considerably more and have fewer teenagers, or none at all. Only you know what is necessary and what is not.

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 957405)
So situation is this, to recap: I’m 51, lawyer, wife at home, four kids (12 – 20), about $4,000,000 plus in liquid assets, mostly stocks. Close attention to investments (really!). No mortgage, no debts. Expenses 200 to 225K although presumably not forever as ducklings exit the nest. Earn 1.8 million pre-tax in good year, but can be under a million in bad year. Varies. Pooped out and fed up with toenails. Can I ER? Should I ER? Enlightenment sought from this humble and penitent scribe to wise wizards of ER site.

You can retire tomorrow and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle; but I doubt that $4 million capital would be sufficient to fund $200,000-$225,000 annual after-tax expenses. That would work out to approximately a 5% yield/withdrawal rate: certainly possible, but aggressive.

As I see it,your options are essentially as follows:

(i) re-think what constitutes a "lavish lifestyle", and trim your expenses accordingly;
(ii) continue working and saving/investing until you have significantly increased your capital;
(iii) a combination of (i) and (ii); or
(iv) tinker with the assumptions until you are able to convince yourself that a 5% rate is sustainable in the long-term.

plex 07-13-2010 09:18 PM

You will either need to work a couple more years, until you have at least $5M-$5.5M, or you could retire now, if you could figure out how to realistically cut your expenses to $140K-$160k, with $160k possibly being while the teenagers are still around.

Tuition is going to possibly be a huge expense, state schools may be $10k-15k/year, but the expensive ones can be $30k-40k/year, and you are talking about doing it for four kids at the same time. I am leaning towards working 2-3 more years as pretty likely.

Katsmeow 07-13-2010 09:59 PM

Quote:

200K to 225K amount just seems to be what it costs for care and feeding of four teenagers, aged 12 Ė 20, in urban setting, one in U. No big ticket items really, just endless smaller expenditures on food, dining out, ultilites, clothes, movies, house tax, insurance, gas, cable, getting stuff fixed, concerts, lessons, tuition, residence, school trip, family vacation, camps etc etc.
I am a recently semi-retired lawyer with 3 adolescent children. My husband recently retired from his work as well. Back in the day we had spending a little less, but similar, to yours. We are retiring on far less net worth than you have. A few comments:

1. For me I was able to structure a very part-time arrangement (one day a week) doing the part of my work that I really enjoy. I have no ongoing responsibilities on cases but essentially consult with the lawyers that I used to work with. I am being paid a very nice amount for doing this. This made it easier for us to retire/sem-retire while kids are still at home. I will be glad to keep doing this work while I enjoy it, but could manage without it.

2. There are two basic ways to cut expenses. Cuts lots of litte ones (a bottom up approach) or cut a few big ones (a top down approach). Most people, in my experience, focus on the former. This is often easy to do and gives immediate rewards. This is where you cut out some of the lunches out, dine out less frequently, cut down Starbucks, buy clothes on sale, get books from the library instead of buying, and so on.

You undoubtedly can do a lot of this. I never felt that I was living a very lavish lifestyle, particularly since so much our expenses were child related. That said, I took certain things as a given. I was quick to replace things or upgrade them. I didn't sweat the small stuff. I would sometimes see lists of other peoples expenses and had to realize at some point that many of my ordinary expenses were things that most people could live without.

I knew people who had an income a quarter or a third of mine yet somehow managed to support a family with 3 children. So, yes, people were managing to somehow not have a $200 a month cell phone bill or a $150 internet and cable bill and so on.

I found that there were a lot of those small expenditures that could be cut.

But here's the deal. Doing that wasn't enough. (In your case, maybe it would be enough). In some instances I could have cut more, but I also felt that doing so was cutting into hobbies and activities that I truly enjoy. I knew they were luxuries but luxuries I didn't want to give up. So that led to:

3. Cut the big stuff. Ultimately you get much more bang for your buck by cutting the really big expenses. Here is an example. Right now, we have our big, expensive house on the market. Nice house. But we decided to downsize to a smaller house less expensve to maintain. Doing this will have us about $40,000 a year. Just that one change. I could vow to never go out to lunch, read only library books and never go to Starbucks...and I still wouldn't save as much money as simply moving to a smaller, lower maintenance house.

So I encourage you to look at not just your little expenses but the big ones as well. Those can be more difficult to cut but the rewards can be huge, so huge that those may be the only changes you need to make.

kcowan 07-14-2010 10:56 AM

I think you might want to look at a realistic savings plan. During your high earning years is when savings peak. If the next couple of years are in the mid-range, aim to save half of your net. Then work the extra number of years needed to support your retirement lifestyle. I would suggest that your earliest target date should be when you are empty nesters for the first time?

Make sure to get the buy-in of your spouse. This might take several iterations.

aida2003 07-23-2010 11:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chris2008 (Post 891502)
Hi,
This comes from a 51 year old corporate counsel, planning to ER in 2012.
My 2 cents: Please track expenses in detail (with at least as much effort as your investment research) before you make an irrevocable decision.
With your stated expenses and 20(?) years in practice, your income and ROI there should be more than 4M and a house.
My guess is that there is more than one hole in the expenses. Identify them!
It really is not ďÖHard to give a precise figure on annual spending because money seems to leak from many holes in the bathtub on teenager/kid stuff such as lessons, money for movies, concerts, skiing, clothes, foodÖĒ once you have started tracking your expenses.

I only read a few postings, since I was curious about the financial side of the thread, but there's little. Mostly about transition to ER, so pardon my disinterest on this.
Speaking of finances, I DO agree with Chris's advice that you should involve more math in your family's finances. It really sounds strange when you say you love investing and reading about finances/WS, but don't have a basic understanding about your money. Since you're very rich by income and Net Worth, I think you could afford to hire a personal accountant for a year or two to figure out your cashflow.
So, like Chris I also imagine you should be much richer than $4Mln + a house that you claim to be very moderate + successful investing 7%/year for 10 years.
You've been in practice for 20 (or 25, cannot recall) years. You earned $1.8mln/yr for the last 2 GOOD years. So, I kind of assume you made roughly a cool Mln in bad years. Taxes are say 60% (I've heard Canada is brutal in that regard, but hey, no need to buy health insurance). If you say expenses are ONLY $100K/year, so you must have had $200-300K/year to invest in bad years and $600k/yr (conservative #) in good years. It sounds like you had $3mln of savings alone for the last 10 years, not counting your early earnings + growth of 7% as you claim.
Anyway, something doesn't add up for me, but I understand it could be hard to count money when earning so much and perhaps it's hard to determine your outflow, but that's the most important part in your ER.

aida2003 07-23-2010 11:37 AM

Oops, sorry, I should've read a few posts at the end since now it sounds your expenses are almost $250K (QUITE a jump from $100k). So, how much do you pay in taxes? Just curious, because it still you should have more $$.
OTOH, I'm sure you could retire if your expenses went down to $100K like you initially claimed :angel::flowers:

survivor1998 07-25-2010 06:46 AM

You have the assets! What are you waiting for? Do you want to spend more time with your kids before they are gone? TRY PARTIAL retirement at first. Visit with your partners, get help with the cases you have, gradually stop working full time and stay as an "advisor" to help them with the "Marketing" aspects. You basically keep working part time to wine and dine and keep a back log of work coming in for them. Make sure your partners come along to establish a relationship w/the client. If you miss it, go back! If not, they have a relationship built and your home free! Please explore ways to cut your taxes. I have rental properties and stay active regarding their management so it is a great tax advantage. Consult your CPA or Financial advisor ASAP!

meanmrmustard 11-09-2010 05:31 PM

Back to check-in
 
Thought I'd check in and update. It's been a few months. Thanks all posters. I'm 51, still grinding away at practice of law although seem to have entered a recession-related slowdown lately, so earnings have dropped off, key associate lawyer I work with leaving to go in-house for a client of ours, another very good associate still with me. Portfolio doing OK, it's now $4.5 million, plus a few hundred K cash in firm account I haven't transferred to portfolio yet, plus modest house, mortgage-free. No debt. I now track all household expenses carefully in Quicken, a result of input from this board (thanks!). So I now know where household spending goes, and am glad I do, but don't seem to have succeeded in reducing outflow much. Wife not working, four teenagers. Lots going on, all somehow involving spending $. We don't seem to have snazzy lifestyle, yet our family household costs, including 20 year old in university are $210K to 225K/yr, excluding income taxes, but including property tax. Seems a huge amount to most people, I know. Lifestyle-wise, we do not look much different from other downtown families that I know, that likely earn a lot less. I really can't understand how the proverbial firefighter married to a teacher do it -especially with several kids. Easy to see why so many folk can't save anything and/or go into debt! Maybe its downtown lifestyle. Things would maybe be different if we were in small town or rural area. I don't seem to have taken steps to ER in any definite way, nor even started a transition process, so it seems I'm choosing by default to continue in salt mine for a few more years. Assets may seem high enough to most folks that ER is a no-brainer, but in fact, its not clear from FireCalc that I can confidently ER in all future market scenarios, as discussed by certain hard-nosed posters, above. Getting to say 6 million would make it a pretty sure bet. One recent development is I am getting headhunted a lot lately by big law firms, forcing navel-gazing: do I want to get out or not? Do I want to commit to working a few years in return for some big signing bonus (i.e essentially sell my firm)? Stay where I am? Pack it in now? Am I being too cautious? Guide me, anonymous sages and oracles!

Katsmeow 11-09-2010 09:32 PM

Quote:

We don't seem to have snazzy lifestyle, yet our family household costs, including 20 year old in university are $210K to 225K/yr, excluding income taxes, but including property tax. Seems a huge amount to most people, I know. Lifestyle-wise, we do not look much different from other downtown families that I know, that likely earn a lot less.
I do understand. I am also an attorney, 3 kids. Income not as high as yours but there was a time when we spent a lot and we were in considerable debt. That was then and this is now and we don't have the debt any more and are spending probably a third of what we spent 5 to 10 years ago, and that is with 2 kids in college.

Coincidentally, this weekend I was looking at some of my old records of spending and I was astounded at some of what I used to spend and take for granted.

Last month we spent about $200 for dining out and groceries were under $800. That is with 4 of us in the house, the youngest 14.

But 7 or 8 years ago, we routinely spent $400 to $600 a month on dining out. We ate out several times a week. At that time, our kids mostly ate lower cost kids meals and of course there has been some inflation but we spent much more on dining out then. Now? We don't dine out that often and frequently it is just DH and I rather than us and the kids. We pay more attention to where we dine out and how much it costs.

7 or 8 years ago we also spent closer to $1500 a month on groceries. True there were more people in the house then but still...

We freely bought DVD movies whenever we wanted them. Now we use Netflix and Hulu and an occasional Itunes TV series.

We went on one or two vacations a year staying at a nice place but not extravagant. Still that was $5000 to $10000 a year. Now we go on vacation every couple of years and spend less.

Some of our expenses were related to child needs (we had a child in a therapeutic school...sending him to college is actually cheaper).

Still...I realize that I used to be just much less concerned with how much things cost. I used to spend $100 a month to get my hair colored and cut. Now I go to one of those cheapie places every 3 months for a cut and when I was coloring bought the color at the store and did it myself. Big difference in cost.

10 years ago I bought a brand new Lexus with all the bells and whistles. It was over $40k even then. Two years ago I actually did buy a new car but it was a Prius (with cloth seats and I passed on getting a lot of upgrades) that cost much less.

Anyway, looking back on what I used to spend I am amazed by much of it. Some of it I would do again (many of the things that were child related). A lot of it I did without really thinking about it and just assumed it as part of upper middle class normality. But the reality is that most people just don't spend money that way.

From your first post: "lessons, money for movies, concerts, skiing, clothes, food (difficult to dine out with family of six for less than $150), excursions, once a year trips (travel is expensive when you have to pay for six airline tickets and two maybe three hotel rooms)."

Most people can't afford to do most of those things or do them on a very small basis. They don't do lessons or they do one kind of lesson and no more. They go to movies infrequently. They don't go to concerts that cost money and can't afford to ski. Their clothes are the basics. They don't dine out often. When they do, they don't go to places that cost $25 a person to eat. They go to McDonalds or something very inexpensive or just the parents go without the kids. They don't go on vacation every year. Or they go somewhere within driving distance so they don't pay for airline tickets. They stay with friends or family, etc. All of that spending is discretionary (well we need some clothes and food). It is nice to be able to do all that (and I know it from personal experience). But those are all wants and not needs.

Nords 11-09-2010 10:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 998450)
Getting to say 6 million would make it a pretty sure bet. One recent development is I am getting headhunted a lot lately by big law firms, forcing navel-gazing: do I want to get out or not? Do I want to commit to working a few years in return for some big signing bonus (i.e essentially sell my firm)? Stay where I am? Pack it in now? Am I being too cautious? Guide me, anonymous sages and oracles!

I see this all the time in military veterans of your age approaching a 30-year retirement decision, and I've prepared a small wake-up talk for them. Are you asking for the tough-love approach? If you are, then here's what it would sound like:

First, military veterans lawyers are notorious for having no reason to ER. Apparently you're doing what you love and would hypothetically only get better at it with age. There are lawyers on this board who are also ER or heading in that direction, but who perhaps accelerated their ER plans because their firms would not cooperate with specialization interests or part-time wants or telecommuting desires. They're willing to cut expenses and boost savings without a 101% guarantee of success. You do not seem to fit any of those criteria.

Second, you're not mentally or emotionally ready to ER. Don't even waste your time agonizing about it. You're not willing to reduce your expenses, you're not confident in the FIRECalc financial forecasts, and you're not focusing on what you'd do all day. Heck, you're even contemplating going after a civilian career better job offer. If you really sincerely gave a crap about ER then you wouldn't have to consult your navel. If you hated what you're doing or just wanted more control over your daily life then those "non-discretionary expenses" would vaporize in a heartbeat. You have neither incentive nor desire to change your behavior.

Finally, your $6M probability logic is mathematically protected from a whole flock of black swans, but it still leaves room for error. Would you feel better if you waited until you had $10M? $8M? $6.5M? What's your real number? Right now you're just pushing the finish line back because you don't seem to want the race to end. You could read Bernstein's comments on financial forecasts, especially part III where he implies that any success guarantee over 80% is semantically meaningless:
https://www.early-retirement.org/foru...les-32828.html

You would be surprised at the number of ERs who have managed to accomplish their goal on about one-sixth of your portfolio, with the same size of family. Some have done it with even less despite having more kids. Cutting expenses and relocation would accelerate that ER goal but are not always mandatory. Good thing for you, because you don't seem to be motivated to consider either one.

You're not being overcautious so much as you're being "not ready". In that situation, your ER now would be a miserable failure exceeded only by your unhappiness. Heck, your family would probably be even more unhappy with than you.

When the ER time is right, you can't expect to have the heavens part and for archangels to sound the trumpets. So... what would it take for you to truly emotionally and physically desire ER? Grumpy co-workers? Bickering partners? A loss of control over your time? A colleague's heart attack or a stroke? One of your own?

Start with a small ER-readiness cost-control experiment: try not to eat out for a week. Yes, yikes-- try to eat 21 consecutive meals from food that you've prepared at home. Just so that there are no misunderstandings, that means brown-bagging everything breakfast and dinner.

Then see if you can do it for a month.

Then see if you can persuade your family to do it for a week.

Maybe then you'll be ready to think about the threads like "city living without a car" or "expecting your kids to pay the extra college expenses above a public school" or "frugal cooking" or a subscription to the "Dollar Stretcher" weekly e-mail.

Or maybe you'll decide that you're not totally despondent over your current lifestyle and not unwilling to renew your membership in the "just one more year" club. Put away your dog-eared highlighted copy of "Your Money Or Your Life" (with all the notations in the margins) and read Marc Freedman's "Encore". What, you don't have a worn-out copy of YMOYL? Well, QED.

Judging from my personal experience on a much smaller scale, I would suspect that 95% of the board's membership is not sympathetic to the travails and trials of ER'ing on a $4.5M portfolio, let alone the issues associated with getting to $6M.

But that's just the talk I give to shipmates who don't see how I could possibly have achieved ER on less money than they think they "need". If you're looking for something other than the tough-love approach, then "Never mind"...

clifp 11-09-2010 11:09 PM

Nord's is one of the best writers on the forum, so I am not going to try and improve on his tough love.

So let me just add this thought. There is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to work. If you enjoy or probably more accurately feel challenged by your job than keep to doing it. I'm sure that the legal profession is intellectually challenging and probably feels good when you win case/help a deserving client.

I've been retired for more than 10 years and I am your same age 51. I was absolutely ready to take some time off and I don't regret my decision to do it. But big part of the reason I did quit is I found myself with sufficient assets to retire, sort of like a lottery winner. I know many people with similar assets and even a handful with $10+ million who continued to work. I enjoy the freedom to dp what I want and lack of pressure that early retirement brings, however there absolutely times I miss the sense of accomplishment/meaning that is associated with a good job. I imagine most everyone has good and bad years in the workforce. I can say that being retired is much better than a bad job, but not as fulfilling as a good job. So if I could find a "good" job I'd take even if I don't really need the money. Of course in this economy finding any job is a challenge so nothing is likely to change.

chris2008 11-10-2010 03:34 AM

Thanks for keeping us updated.
Nord's contribution is excellent - I will keep a printout in my ER file and re-read it when it comes to sending DH's and my termination letter at the end of 2011.

It seems that the recession related slowdown has also taken away much of your stress and thus the ambition to ER. This is perfectly ok.

If you continue to think about ER, here is what I have noticed in your posts:
You seem to have nothing to ER TO but just contemplate about ER FROM something. For a happy retirement decision I believe you need to find out what you want to get out of retiment - other than only free time.

You might also be shy to implement changes in your family life. Do you feel that the other members have a right to keep their lifestyle as now and uneffected from your ER?
Have you talked with them about your desire to ER, how stressful your work can be and what they would think about your ER? Or do you want to maintain a certain image?
If not, now that you have the numbers it is time to have the talk with your wife how to reduce your spending as a family in the best possible way.

kcowan 11-10-2010 10:19 AM

Another exercise in addition to the brown bag approachis to go through your closet and ID those items that have not been out for a month. Aside from seasonal items, such an exercise will illustrate that most of what you buy is not essential.

Similarly, look at your communications bill. It will be shocking to see what dribbles out every month that is not strictly required. Eliminated duplication and redundancy.

But only if you are serious about retiring...

Danmar 11-11-2010 08:18 AM

Hi Mustard. Nords post rings pretty true to me. I don't think your lifestyle is extravagant but agree you could reduce expenses if you were motivated. if I were you I would buckle down for a few years till kids were further along and your portfolio grew. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable with your savings level and in my case waited until we had 8 figures and a big pension. As you may recall I retired at 56. Stick it out for a while and get your head around ER more. In the end it will be determined by how much you dislike your job I think. Interesting about the expenses, eh? in our case there were no surprises as we had tracked for years. One thing we did find is that with more time available we found more exciting things to spend our money on. Now spend about 30% more than pre retirement. Work as long as you can take it. The extra money will come in handy.

Milton 11-14-2010 04:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danmar (Post 999002)
Work as long as you can take it. The extra money will come in handy.

But cf. Thoreau: "No one but a fool ever sold more of his time than he had to".

kcowan 11-15-2010 12:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 998450)
Thought I'd check in and update. ....
Do I want to commit to working a few years in return for some big signing bonus (i.e essentially sell my firm)? Stay where I am? Pack it in now? Am I being too cautious? Guide me, anonymous sages and oracles!

You are consulting the lumpen slums of cyberspace for advice?

I have worked for a large corporation in downtown Toronto. You environment is so far removed from the average respondent here that it is unlikely that you will get definitive advice. A parallel might be a player on Wall Street trying to learn here.

Before going any further, you should schedule a meeting with the family to discuss the issues you are grappling with. I did that and discovered some serious disconnects. Ten years later, I retired. But the ten-year trip was not easy...

Danmar 11-15-2010 01:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kcowan (Post 1000840)
You are consulting the lumpen slums of cyberspace for advice?

I have worked for a large corporation in downtown Toronto. You environment is so far removed from the average respondent here that it is unlikely that you will get definitive advice. A parallel might be a player on Wall Street trying to learn here.

Before going any further, you should schedule a meeting with the family to discuss the issues you are grappling with. I did that and discovered some serious disconnects. Ten years later, I retired. But the ten-year trip was not easy...

Good advice. Agree about the huge disconnect re him and the average poster here.

meanmrmustard 11-17-2010 07:47 PM

Thank you O Oracles and Sages
 
Whether or not there is a "disconnect" between me and the average poster on the board, I don't know. The benefit of the board seems to me that there are a lot of people at different stages of life and different financial situations, which is a good thing.

What is clear is that the responses I have had have been far more helpful to me, and thought-provoking, than I expected when I first started the thread last summer.

Many posters bludgeoned me over the head a few months ago until I started tracking expenses carefully. Had I not posted, and gotten an earful on that subject, I might not have started doing it. The forum made a difference.

As to latest batch of posts:

katsmeow, you seem to have a somewhat similar situation to my own, lawyer with teenage kids, and thanks for helpful comments about spending. The amount you spent on restaurants even in your extravagant glory years looks pretty economical to me! I guess that means if I wanted to cut expenses in a big way, all I have to do is get the wife to do more cooking. That probably makes me sound like a chauvinist pig, but I have no time or knowhow myself in that department, while she is at least ďat homeĒ. Effect on marriage may be negative, however. Is it worth it?

Nord, thanks for drill sergeant rant to the effect that if I wanted to retire I would just do it and stop whining. Maybe itís true, Iím too much of a wimp to retire! I had always though of it in the opposite way: do real men ER or eat keish?

Danmar I remember you from last summer. As I recall you retired later in life than where I am now, with more money, and also higher spending, so you represent the ďKeep on Plugging for a While, It will be Worth It One DayĒ point of view.

Chris2008: youíre right the recessionary slow down has been OK with me in some ways. I spent a reasonable amount of time this past summer and fall in a kayak, which was just fine.

Thanks to all others who took the time to post. I appreciate it! Iíll check in and update now and then.

kcowan 11-18-2010 10:33 AM

Mr Mustard does not sound very mean to me ;)

Katsmeow 11-18-2010 11:05 AM

Quote:

The amount you spent on restaurants even in your extravagant glory years looks pretty economical to me! I guess that means if I wanted to cut expenses in a big way, all I have to do is get the wife to do more cooking. That probably makes me sound like a chauvinist pig, but I have no time or knowhow myself in that department, while she is at least ďat homeĒ. Effect on marriage may be negative, however. Is it worth it?
Well I'm in US so remember to convert dollars to Canadian.

Truthfully I do much cooking myself. I also don't cook for kids except for special occasions. My kids basically fend for themselves (they are all teenagers). One of my sons and my daughter enjoy cooking. My other son doesn't cook but he sometimes can get his sister to make extra for him and he is good at using the microwave. They are all good at eating fruit which, after all, requires no cooking.

And, that is really the type of things that we eat. I eat a fair amount of frozen foods. I also enjoy buying already prepared salads from the store. Target here sells great prepared salads. I don't do much actual cooking. Sometimes I buy a prepared item from the grocery store and then heat it up. All that is probably more expensive than cooking from scratch. But it is all significantly less expensive than eating out.

You can also look at where you eat out. There is a huge variety in price out there. Also, around here restaurant portions are huge. DH and I went out to a Chinese place the other day and shared one entree and one spring roll order. We had plenty of food for half the price.

Danmar 11-18-2010 05:01 PM

I think you appreciate the various points of view. Good luck on whatever you decide.

GregLee 11-18-2010 06:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Katsmeow (Post 1002220)
I eat a fair amount of frozen foods.

Mmmm. Crunchy!

chris2008 11-19-2010 04:37 AM

If you think about christmas gifts: how about joining a cooking class together as a family or with DW? Some chefs of great restaurants give lessons and it can be a lot of fun.

meanmrmustard 11-19-2010 05:29 PM

[QUOTE=Katsmeow;1002220]Well I'm in US so remember to convert dollars to Canadian.

Canadian dollar pretty close to par now, due to US dollar nosedive.

Milton 11-24-2010 10:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by meanmrmustard (Post 1002077)
I guess that means if I wanted to cut expenses in a big way, all I have to do is get the wife to do more cooking. That probably makes me sound like a chauvinist pig, but I have no time or knowhow myself in that department, while she is at least ďat homeĒ. Effect on marriage may be negative, however. Is it worth it?

While I - of course - don't know all the ins and out of your marriage, I very doubt it would be worth it.

(1) there once was a time when you and your wife implicitly, if not explicitly, divided up your respective roles: including the fact that she would stay home and not work. The extent of her cooking responsibilities is something that should have been discussed then ... it is now probably a bit too late to renegotiate.

(2) any amount of money you manage to save from your food budget is likely peanuts compared to the emotional stress resulting from a negative effect on your marital relationship.


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