Age FIRE became a priority


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
May 21, 2014
For me it was 40. Surely I saved alot in my 30's but to be honest I also blew alot of money. No regrets. It would not matter anyway, nothing that I can do about it now. I am curious to know at what age FIRE became important to you and the reasons why if you want to give it. For me, age 40 was the time in my life when I realized my dreams just were not going to come true unless I tried to save and invest money alot harder than I did in my 30's.
I've always wanted to retire early. I remember watching Karate Kid and Mr. Miagi said something about early retirement. I thought the old man was a genius: living in a cool house with a high school kid to wax his cars, paint the fence, etc. I must've been about ten.

I joined he army at seventeen partly because I thought the pension after twenty years sounded just awesome. That didn't work out, but I got a lot out of it, including a free education and a bunch of crazy experiences. I'm still on track to retire in my early fifties (assuming life works out perfectly according to plan for the next consecutive 15 years), which might be even younger than Mr. Miagi. :LOL:

I figure I was born to be a man of leisure. Unfortunately, I wasn't born with any family money. Pretty much the saddest story I can imagine [sarcasm].

I had paid off my student loans and was finally able to focus on long term retirement savings (other than the employee math which I made sure to grab since day 1). I've always been fascinated with compounding interest and knew how it could work. I like my job but if I want the OPTION to call it quits anytime before 67 I'll need to make plans today in order to do so. I'm certainly no MMM but I do strive to max out all tax advantage accounts whenever possible
The birth of my ER spreadsheet was in 2001, the year I switched from working full-time to part-time. I was 38 at the time. In the next 7 years working part-time, my ER spreadsheet (and ER plan) became increasingly active. Two events in those 7 years accelerated the plan: The first was my company ending open-ended telecommuting in 2003 (I was 40), something I knew at the time would be my eventual undoing (ER). The second was my reducing my weekly hours worked from 20 to 12 in 2007 (I was 44). I had to forgo eligibility in the company's group health plan and go on COBRA to retain health insurance for the next 18 months. I was reasonably sure "something" was going to happen by the end of 2008, 18 months later, which would result in my avoiding the following scenario - still working even 2 days a week but having to buy a costlier individual HI policy on the outside. And "something" did happen, my ER plan fell into place and I ERed 17 months later at 45! :)
Six. Being forcibly awakened five days a week, having to spend all day locked in a room with 50 other people, (mostly dolts with shtty parents) having my time monopolized by some autocrat in the form of an angry old lady who clearly did not like children and couldn't stop running her mouth, and just in general being told what to do and having expectations placed on me was no way way to live. I had to find a way to sleep in every day, avoid being told what to do and any expectations, and not have anything to do that required me to be round people, especially autocrats who won't shut up.

The answer more relevant to this thread (I reckon) is about age 25. I tried to calculate how much money a person would have to have to stop working and, over a number of weeks and a stack of legal pads, more or less stumbled into the 4% rule (this was back in 1982/83)

It was also looking more and more like I would do 20 in the Air Force and started looking seriously at what the pension might be in 13 more years and if it were possible to actually live on it.
Was attracted to the general idea at 21 but prepared a detailed plan at 36.

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I would say this year actually. I started to get ideas about FIRE when I was 28. This year I got more serious about it and am in the process of forming a legit plan on how to get there. I think the turning point for me was leaving one job I hated and ending up in another that was unlikable in completely different ways.

I figure that there are better things to do in life than be tied to a cubicle so I am going to do the best I can to get there as young as I can. I don't plan to go MMM-style, but definitely an aggressive savings plan and better expense management then I've had.
For me it was age 50, when my mega-corp merged with another mega-corp (so called merger of equals) that resulted in a new entity that destroyed our vibrant corp culture. Most execs bailed at that time or even before the new entity was finalized, but I held on for 3 more years of hell before taking a voluntary retirement package.
FI has always been more important than RE. FI became a focus at 39 when work was crushing me with frequent travel, unattainable goals, and constant reorganizations. I still haven't figured out what I want to do post-RE so RE isn't yet a priority, and I'm in my early 40s.
FI became a priority about age 14 when I was considering career options. Aiming for medical school seemed like a route to a decent income.

RE became a priority after achieving FI at age 48.

Achieved RE at age 55.
I became determined not to retire poor at 36, started considering ER at 44, and started to believe FIRE was possible at 47. Now at 52 FIRE should be possible at 55, but with lower living standards. FIRE with all the bells and whistles will arrive at 60 (not much of an "RE", but you take what you can get).
When I was 48. Megacorp acquired by another megacorp. I just made the age/service cut to qualify to remain in the DB plan vs moving to a DC plan. It was then when I did the math and spent the time to read and understand the DB plan. It was an eye opener but I could see that there was a potential opportunity to realize every possible benefit from the DB plan. And I did.
For me, more importantly, I learned to lived debt free from my first job. If I did have the cash in the bank, I didn't buy it, simple as that (bought a new car for first job as current car kept breaking down, but paid off within a year)

This lack of debt has always allow me to save something. But really in my mid thirties and the post-2009 stock rise has the numbers started getting big enough that it has my FULL attention now, and I really have become religious about tending to my retirements needs.
Like others, I believe FI and RE are/should be independent. I'd be surprised if many people retire early without having pursued FI well before seriously thinking about retirement.

DW and I were always naturally LBYM minded. We started seriously saving and investing for FI at about 30. If I'd been devoting a lot of thought to retiring in my 20's, 30's or even early 40's - I would have concluded that I was in the wrong job or career, and done something about it then (that's way too long to be miserable in a job/career IMO). I didn't seriously think about retirement until my early 50's and it evolved over several years, it wasn't a sudden epiphany. Fortunately we'd already saved more than necessary based on past SWR history - 'ignorance is bliss.'

Not that we used SWR as a primary basis.

DW plans to work until at least 59 yo.
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I took a year's sabbatical at age 40 (1990). At the time, I thought the sabbatical's main purpose was to take a break from what had been primarily an overseas work career and think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my working career, which I assumed it would extend to the "normal" retirement age of 65+.

What I discovered during my sabbatical is that I really, really enjoyed not working and seemed to have absolutely no difficulty in keeping myself entertained. That's when the real research started as to what it would take to be FI so I could retire at the earliest possible time which I accomplished by the end of 2002 at age 52. And it has been just as wonderful as I expected.
I'd always contributed at least 10% to my 401k... but the first idea of "early" retirement came when my dad, then my retired at 62. That was considered early by many. My dad retired 3 years earlier than my mom and took the opportunity to do some of the travel my mom had (emphatically) no interest in. (Ex: loaded up his 4wd pickup with a kayak, mountain bike, and camping gear and spent 3 months going from San Diego- island hopping through Canada, up to Alaska - then down through Montana, Wyoming, Utah.... My mom was totally fine with *not* going on that extended camping trip.)

The idea was reinforced when my mom got a cancer diagnosis less than 1 year after she retired.

Then my brother and dad died of cancer - the idea of working till cancer took me freaked me out - I got SUPER serious. That was in 2007.

Fortunately, since I'd been maxing my 401k for several years, and married a LBYM frugal guy - it was doable to achieve the goal by age 55. The market runups and renewed focus on saving/debt reduction/etc had us hit the goal a few months before I turned 53.

The idea was
Like others, I consider FI and RE should be independent......


Focus on FI came first - right after high school. I wanted to get to the point where I could have a car, house and be financially independent to the point where I could work when and where as I pleased.

Focus on RE came second. I started my 401k at age 30, and maxed out as many times as the plan allowed. Also made several other investments targeted toward retiring early. I knew it was going to take a big chunk of change to first go part time and then retire early.
I originally became interested in ER at 23 or so...had never heard of FI but knew enough to know I'd need my retirement income to meet/exceed expenses. I'd been working hard to pay off student loan debt from 21-23, and at 23 I opened my Roth IRA. From 23-30, I saved an average of probably 30% of my income. More like 40% by the end, and no intention of increasing that. At 30 the plan was to retire at 51. That seemed plenty early to me and ridiculously early to my friends.

At 30 I happened to be reading "Your Money or Your Life" at the same time my sister received a terminal diagnosis. She lived only 3.5 months past diagnosis, barely reaching 49 years old. All my plans changed. I re-looked at my budget and realized I could put another 10% into investments with no discernible change in lifestyle (what was I spending the money on?!). I immediately started doing so and decided I wanted to be FI by 41, with the option for ER at that time. Who knows what will happen re: retirement, but all signs point to achieving FI even earlier than 41, so I feel comfortable now. Too many people die young in my family. I need to enjoy some adult, nonworking years first.

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Up until I was about 45 my w**k (megacorp) was actually fun with minimal periods of misery. Then the amount of misery began to increase exponentially for various reasons so I started my "serious FIRE planning" when I was about 50.

I was initially planning to ER somewhere between 57 and 60, but the misery had become so great at w**k that I took the leap at age 55.75. Our DB Pension Plan had ended in 2008 (2009?) so staying longer really would not have added much to my monthly pension check (but I could have accumulated a lot more with a couple of extra years w**rking).

But I chose to give up my dream of having a second (vacation) home in order to save my sanity. Well worth it IMHO.
I started thinking about FIRE at age 24 (mid 1980s). I had a crude spreadsheet at the time that helped me conclude that liberal arts undergrad was not going to get it done. That led to business school (MBA) and Megacorp. I maintained various spreadsheets throughout my working career and always had a keen interest in investing and FI, and generally did a decent job of LBYM and staying on-track.

But, I would say that FIRE became a "priority" in early 2009 at age 48. Several things happened around this time... the economy was in shambles, work had become increasingly stressful, compensation was flattening, travel and workload increased, blood pressure was on the uptick, etc... but I also started to resent the fact that I had so little time for hobbies and other interests outside of work. I wanted to start a new chapter while I was young enough to keep the plot interesting.

So, I dusted off the old spreadsheets, added lots of new what-if scenario models, and started seriously looking for specific answers: When? What has to happen between now and then? The answers were more favorable than I thought. We were capable of retiring at that time, but the lifestyle "hit" would have been a little tough, and I was nervous with one in college, another about to start, and the highly uncertain economic condition at the time. I knew 55 was do-able, and that had always been the baseline plan. But given my work situation, it seemed like an eternity from age 48. So, we tightened the belt, doubled-down on savings, tweaked a few investments, and tracked the results continuously. With those actions and a cooperative market, I pulled the trigger at 52 in 2013.
When I graduated college I had two financial goals - buy a house and save enough to retire someday. I bought my first house in 1988 (age 26). Retirement then became the goal. Over the next 4 years we saved a very high portion of our salaries. At age 30 the goal changed from "retirement" to early retirement - with a target age of 50.
DH and I have always led a LBYM lifestyle with an eye towards building up the savings account balance. I'm not sure we had any idea of being FI or RE, but financial security has always been important to us. In our early 40's we started seriously thinking about FI and 50 is when we seriously started planning for RE with a target of 2016.
I (56) pulled the trigger a bit early and retired in August this year to spend time with my Mom before she passed away. DH is still on target for 2016 and counting the days!
I've been saving for retirement since after graduation, starting at 22. ER became an interest at 35, after my dad's Cancer diagnosis just 18mos after his retirement. Now 37, I have my plan to be FI by 42 including military pension. Whether or not I (we) RE remains to be seen. We might work longer for those first class tickets to Europe... (oh the shame!!). Either way, we will retire well before SS retirement age.
Probably about age 50, we realized that neither my husband or I could continue to work until 66 or later due to stressful jobs. So even though we won't be terribly early, it's a few years earlier than we thought we could.
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